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Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 43)


Bishop John Joseph Hogan

The book article about Bishop John Joseph Hogan, son of Caherguillamore, Grange, was written by his great-grandniece, Olive Hogan O'Connor of Rahin, Grange. The article is a lengthy one, charting the extraordinary life of John Joseph Hogan from his birth in May 1829 until his death in Kansas City, USA, in 1913.

The extensive and meticulous research conducted by Olive becomes apparent from early in her article, making for a most engaging account of the bishop's life. The facts contained in her article are drawn from several documented sources, including the published memoirs of the bishop.

At the outset of her article, Olive wrote as follows:

I am a great-grandniece of Bishop John J Hogan, and I have resided all my life close to where he was born and reared. It has given me great pleasure and an enormous

sense of family pride to assemble this article on the life of Bishop John Joseph Hogan, illustrious and distinguished son of Caherguillamore, Grange. I have drawn from his books Fifty Years Ago and On the Mission in Missouri in order to sketch his life and achievements. Such is the detail and eloquence of the article written by Albert de Zutter on John Hogan’s clerical life; I have elected to reproduce it in full, rather than attempt a synopsis.

Not only does what follows provide a most illuminating account of the life of Bishop Hogan, his childhood years, education, life in the priesthood and his monumental achievements in the Catholic Church; it also touches on the social history of the times on both sides of the Atlantic.

John J Hogan, who was later to become Bishop of Kansas City, was born in Cahirguillamore, Grange in May 1829. Catholic Emancipation in the British Empire was passed in the British Parliament on 10th April 1829 - a month before he was born. His parents were James Hogan of Cahirguillamore, born in 1785, and Ellen Connor of Uregare, Dromin, born in 1792. They married in 1812. He was the youngest, but one, in a family of seven sons and two daughters. His mother died in 1832 when he was just three years old. His father, who didn’t remarry, died in 1856, in his 71st year.

Olive's (photo of Olive below) article charted John J Hogan's earliest years when he grew up in Caherguillamore, where he attended hedge-school, and she went on to provide accounts of his further education, leading to his ordination as a priest (RC). Extracts from his own memoirs provided fascinating tales of life during those early years in Caherguillamore. The following are extracted from Olive's article, which were taken from the bishop's memoirs:


This little school at Rahen had one great attraction for its pupils, which happily fell to my lot to enjoy, for at that time the famous hedge schools of old were by no means a relic of the past in Ireland. When the dark, chilly nights of the winter of 1834-35 had passed away and given place to the bright, warm spring and early summer, Andy Slattery’s scholars joyfully exchanged the dimly lighted little schoolhouse, which was Master Andy’s residence, for a vicinal [local or nearby] sunny glade, sheltered by a thicket of hawthorns, where, under the leafy branches of ash and elm trees, they spread themselves at full length on the grass or sat upon stone seats, arranged in rows before the master’s chair. It was easy and pleasant to learn amid such surroundings. Our good Master Andy, at other times rigid and exacting, was then indulgent, condescending, and pleasant.

Riding was one of our favourite sports in those days. We usually indulged in it on school holidays and when the master was sick, which meant we were scot-free until he had got over the measles. Our riding course comprised two large adjoining fields, called Barnhill and Feahmoor, which were traversed by lines of hillocks with sharp ascents and declivities and by steep earthen dykes or ramparts curtained by water. This was the topography of Feahmoor, where the riding exploits took place. The Barnhill was rather rockier and, therefore, more suggestive of cracked skulls and broken bones of inexpert young jockeys. These fields, to the great delight of us youngsters, had a never-failing supply of lively, well-fed donkeys, young and old. Old donkeys were not boys’ first choice, on account of their vicious habits of biting their riders’ legs and rushing the riders against thorny hedges and stone walls. Young donkeys were more choice, as more inexperienced in warfare with bad boys, who usually wished to enjoy a ride without being put hors de combat [out of action due to injury]. To ride a fast donkey and hold on his back trotting and galloping and in spite of hoisting, kicking, and rearing constituted a boy an undergraduate in assmanship. But the honour of a diploma was reserved for the final test, to be made with the rider’s face towards the donkey’s tail. At this tournament, it was against the rules and was inconvenient besides, to use a bridle; but the rider might hold onto the wool as best he could. The success achieved under these circumstances was proclaimed by the whole field with vociferous rejoicing. Discomfiture, on the other hand, never failed to be followed by roars of side-splitting laughter, especially if the young knight-errant should happen to land heels up in a mud puddle or a ditch of water. Not every boy, after a defeat or two of that kind, would be willing to try it again; and boys with soiled jackets and pants and muddied shirt-tuckers were usually not gallant enough to face their mammas at home, for full well they knew what strong faith these mammas had in the virtue of the tough birch twig that was kept ready for use and was well seasoned.

Olive went on in her book article to reproduce the unabridged article by Albert de Zutter, Catholic Key Editor, titled Founder of Kansas City, St Joseph Diocese honoured in his home parish. The following are extracts therefrom:

Bruff, County Limerick, Republic of Ireland – more than 150 years ago, a 19-year-old Irishman left his home in the ‘townland’ of Cahirguillamore in County Limerick to pursue his calling to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of St Louis, which then took in all of the state of Missouri. The year was 1848, and the young man was John J Hogan, who, in the course of his work in the New World, would found two dioceses in Western Missouri and build two cathedrals.

On August 15, 1999, another Irish-born prelate, Bishop Raymond J Boland of the Kansas City–St Joseph Diocese came to Bruff to pay tribute to that man and to the parish community that produced him and nurtured his vocation.

The young John Hogan was baptised on May 10, 1829, in the church in the townland (equivalent to an American township) of Grange, contiguous to Cahirguillamore, and it was to the church in Grange that the people from the surrounding areas came on August 15, 1999, to celebrate the memory of one of their illustrious sons who gave formal birth to the Church in Missouri. The church in Grange is a mission of SS Peter and Paul Parish in Bruff, as is a church in Meanus, a few miles away. The same arrangement prevailed when John J Hogan was growing up in the area.

In 1848, Hogan was to follow his dream of becoming a priest in the New World; and set out from his family farm, first to Liverpool, and from there by American clipper ship to New Orleans, a journey of five weeks and 5,250 miles. From New Orleans, he took a riverboat, Big Missouri, the 1,250 miles up the Mississippi to St Louis. The boat brought with it a cholera epidemic, which was to ravage the population of St Louis in the ensuing year.

After four years in seminary, John Hogan was ordained and served in a parish in the Archdiocese of St Louis for five years. Then, in 1857, he received permission from his archbishop, Peter Richard Kenrick, to venture into the relatively untamed territory of north-western Missouri, to set up churches and serve whatever Catholics he found there.

Because the first cathedral Bishop Hogan built was to be in the city of St Joseph, Bishop Boland said, it followed naturally that it would be named after St Joseph. But the second, in Kansas City, Bishop Hogan named after the Immaculate Conception, a doctrine declared in 1854 stating that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived without original sin. Bishop Boland noted that subsequently, the bishops of the United States dedicated the entire country to the Immaculate Conception.

A plaque mounted at the back of the Church of SS Patrick and Brigid in Grange expresses the gratitude of the people of the Dioceses of Kansas City–St Joseph.

The plaque was unveiled by Bishop Boland and the Parish Priest of Bruff, Father James Costello, after the noon Mass. Bishop Boland said the plaque honoured Bishop Hogan and the people of his home territory and added: “But, we are also honouring all those thousands of Irish people who were forced to flee the country in the wake of the Famine of 1845 to 1849. Without them, we would not have many English-speaking Catholics in the world.”

In her book article, Olive went on to refer to one of Bishop Hogan's published book, and she stated the following:

The book titled On the Mission in Missouri 1857-1868 was written in 1892 by Rt Rev John Joseph Hogan, Bishop of Kansas City. He dedicated the book as follows: “To the Catholics of the Interior of North Missouri in appreciation of their fervent faith and Christian virtues. This little volume is respectfully and affectionately dedicated by their sincere friend and humble servant, The Bishop of Kansas City and Administrator of St Joseph.” Bishop Hogan’s writings are clear and succinct, without unnecessary embellishments. They provide a clear sense of the priest and the man and of his principles, values and beliefs; and overall, of his deep concern and affection for people. The accounts of events in Missouri during the years 1857-1868 are fascinating and revealing. It is clear that apart from his piety and goodness, he was physically and mentally tough and resolute, endowed with courage, and not fearful of placing himself in harm’s way, for the sake of others. His capacity for detailed observation and recall were remarkable. His sense of humour also shone through. I have extracted the following passages from the said book. In their aggregate, they do not convey the whole story of the book, but they do demonstrate a tremendous strength of character. The reader is encouraged to read the said book in its entirety.

The following are a couple of the passages selected by Olive (there are several more in her article). The passages are about Fr Hogan's experiences during his missionary work in the Missouri wilderness.

The Shanty in the Rosinweeds

“Travelling across the tributaries of Van Dusen Creek in the south-east part of Linn County, I noticed smoke rising from a little cabin, not much higher than the brambles and rosinweeds by which it was surrounded. Approaching, I knocked slightly on the board roof of the little house. A lady’s voice spoke ‘Come in’. Entering, I found two little children and their mother. After a word or two of salutation and inquiry, she said her husband had gone away some distance looking for employment. I could suspect from the manner and conversation that she was a Catholic. I told her I was a priest, and I gave her my name. The news gave her great joy. She said that she and her husband were Catholics, that their children were as yet unbaptised, that they came to Missouri, having lately left a remote district in Illinois, where there was no Catholic Church. As she expressed a wish to have her children baptised, I immediately began getting my ritual, stole and surplus ready, to administer the Sacrament. Soon there was a halt. ‘Where are the sponsors’, said I. She replied there were none near, and that if it would not be too long to wait, she would send her husband, upon his return home, to look for sponsors, although she did not know that he could find any. I could not wait, not knowing how long it might be before sponsors could be got. Neither could I go away, leaving the children unbaptised. I proceeded with the ceremony, and when the moment came for the baptism, taking the children one after another from the hands of the mother, I put them in turn on my knee and baptised them. Then I continued the journey.”

Waterlogged

“On a summer’s night in 1858, travelling westward through Linn and Livingston counties in a four-horse mail stage crowded with passengers, and in care of a driver unacquainted with, and then on his first trip over the road, the horses rushed over a bridge spanning Medicine River, and thence onward unchecked to the low land on the west side, which for miles across and up and downstream, was covered like the sea with water from a recent cloud burst. The horses at once got terrified and unmanageable and floundered about in the water, kicking and pulling and jerking against each other. Soon the horses and stage came to a standstill, the water being up to the horses’ sides, and rising.

The passengers became greatly alarmed, and that more so as being strangers and unacquainted with the place, they thought every moment they were about to sink to rise no more. The driver, the most terrified of all, was literally at sea, having lost his presence of mind as well as his reckoning. Dark night brooded over the scene which was but sky and water everywhere around; nor was there a friendly lighthouse on the distant shore to cheer with its silvery rays the trackless water’s wide expanse.

Fortunately, there was one aboard the stage, but though not to the manner born in North Missouri, had been there for some time of late, and had taken observations in passing through the country. Electing himself captain of the drowning stage, he gave his orders as follows. ‘Driver, down with you from that seat, into the water. Unhitch your wheel horses and halter them to the body of the stage. Next, unhitch your leaders. Mount one of them while I mount the other. Passengers, be not afraid, I know your danger and shall soon get help to rescue you. Driver, follow me I know the way.’ [Father Hogan obtained assistance from a farmer and his sons, some two miles away, who provided oxen to haul the stage from the rising water to dry land.]

On calling the roll of passengers it was found that, although none of them had drowned or died of fright, most of them were more injured by bites of mosquitoes; the ladies, as usual in such cases, having suffered most. In a few minutes, a liberal purse was made up for the daring ox drivers. The horses, once more in harness and on solid ground, were bounding forward to make up lost time.”

At the conclusion of her article, Olive quoted from the introduction to the book Mystery of the Irish Wilderness, written by Leland & Crystal Payton, published by Lens & Pen Press in 2008. The book dwells on the ‘mystery’ surrounding the fate of Irish immigrants, whom Father Hogan helped to settle just before the American Civil War. By the end of the war, the Irish colony had vanished, without explanation. The following are extracts from Mystery of the Irish Wilderness as quoted by Olive:

“Natives refer to a vast, thinly populated region, between the Current and Eleven Point rivers, as the Irish Wilderness. Hikers know it as a 16,500-acre parcel of the federal wilderness system. Historians can document it was once the site of a bold experiment by Father John Joseph Hogan to transport a group of Famine Irish into a virgin forested tract of government land, just before the Civil War. By war’s end, the colony had vanished.”

“Many themes come together in this story. Immigration, war, and the challenge of being Catholic in a fundamentally Protestant culture. Going from Ireland in economic collapse to the wilds of the Missouri Ozark frontier, required extraordinary courage and faith.”

As Olive stated, legends grew about the fate of the Irish colony, and these are explored in the book (Mystery of the Irish Wilderness), which is informative and well worth reading. The area in question will continue to be known as The Irish Wilderness as laid down in the laws of the USA; a fitting monument to the Irish souls who settled there for a time, and to the wonderful Rahin man, who came to their aid, Bishop John J Hogan.

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the “Irish Wilderness Act of 1984”. Sec, 2, (a) In furtherance of the purposes of the Wilderness Act (16 USC 1131-1136), certain lands in the Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri, which comprise approximately sixteen thousand five hundred acres, as generally depicted on a map entitled 'Irish Wilderness', dated March 27, 1984, are hereby designated as wilderness and shall be known as The Irish Wilderness."

This week's (week 43) book article, Bishop John Joseph Hogan, may be read in full HERE.

It is fair to say that Olive's article is one of the signature articles in the Grange Parish Book. It runs to 22 pages, and a full reading is highly recommended, as are the books written by and about Bishop John Joseph Hogan.

Next week (week 44) we will suggest another book article for reading.

Kind Regards to All.

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