Friday, January 3, 2014

Tallmadge Bible

Accidents happen. Sometimes preserving something from the past, takes a little effort.
One of the storage facilities for the Fond du Lac County Historical Society is the second floor of the Adams House, located on the Galloway House grounds.

Several years ago, the roof on the Adams House sprang a leak and needed to be replaced.  The leak was serious, and water poured onto some of the stored material, mainly 'books'!  Some were damaged beyond repair, and could not be saved.

Several years later, as I am moving some of the material, I encountered a large book, wrapped in archival paper, that was still stuck to the floor.  Obviously it was missed in the previous cleanup.

I opened up the book, and discovered that it was a family bible, and there was black mold along the bottom edges, but the mold had not penetrated into the paper.  I brought the bible home, and after a frantic call to the State Historical Society, carefully followed their suggested procedure for removing the mold.

I was determined to salvage this bible, because it had been the bible of Joel Tallmadge, the father of Territorial Governor Nathaniel Tallmadge.

The bible contains valuable Tallmadge family information, including an inscription on the inside cover where Joel wrote down who he bought the bible from, and how much he paid for it, as well as who should receive the bible upon his death.

Here is the inside cover:

It states that it Joel paid $9.00 for this bible.

The bible contains information about Joel Tallmadge, and his wife Rhobe Potter, as well as the births and marriages of their nine children.

 A copy of these pages will be available at the Historical Society Library for viewing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sisters of Mercy in Fond du Lac

Happy New Year!

In the course of taking an inventory of the books in the Historical Society Library, I came across a series of books that were published by the Capuchins of Mt. Calvary.  I have previously written about the Journal of Fr. Fidelis Steinauer in an earlier post.

There are two more books in this series:  Bonaventure's Memoirs, a translation from the German of the 1904 memoirs of Fr. Bonaventure Frey, OFM Cap., one of the cofounders of the first permanent Capuchin foundation in the Americas; The History of Mount Calvary, A translation of the book written for the 50th Jubilee of the Province of St. Joseph in 1907 by Fr. Corbinian Vieracker OFM Cap. 1857-1907.

Both of these books are of interest to any local historian.

I then found an even more valuable book, a biography of Bishop Henni, who was the first Bishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

I did find a surprise notation in this book, when I noticed a reference to The Sisters of Mercy as being affiliated with St. Joseph Church in Fond du Lac, running an orphanage.  Wait a minute......the Agnesians have always served St. Joes (my home parish) and this has to be a mistake.  I have never heard of the Sisters of Mercy.

Luckily, the book  is very well referenced, and the 'Sisters of Mercy' information came from The History  of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, published in 1880 by Western Publishing, page 606.  Well, off I zoomed to my copy of that book, and I was surprised to read:

  • St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy and Orphan Asylum - In January, 1876, the Sisters of Mercy purchased the S.E. Lefferts place on East Second Street, for $4,500, and converted it into a convent and asylum. In each of the years 1876, 1877 and 1878 the county voted $300 aid to the Sisters.  With this, and the personal means belonging to each, the building was raised another story, fences were built and other improvement made. .....Sister Mary Agnes is the Mother Superior, in whom rests the title to all property. She has sixteen associates. There are twenty-four orphan children now being clothed, fed and educated at the asylum. They are taught whatever trade they seem best adapted to follow. Thirty have found good homes through these Sisters...........The amount of good they quietly and secretly do is incalculable....They are, of course, Catholic.
Of course, I had to dig a little further.  The first reference indicates that the Sisters of Mercy remained at St. Joseph's until 1906, when they moved to Milwaukee.  I checked out the 1880 census for the city of Fond du Lac, and sure enough I found them listed under the heading of St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy and Orphan Asylum, with a Mother Superior, an Assistant Superior, a Mistress of Nurses, eight teachers, five housekeepers and twenty-eight young girls, most between ages 2-12.

I could find nothing in the 1900 census, but then found a second reference to the Sisters of Mercy, which indicated that they moved to Milwaukee in 1896, not 1906, which would explain why they are not found in Fond du Lac in 1900. 

You never know just what you will discover when you browse in a library!