Skip navigation

Catholic Church on Beaver Island

Churches -
P. 49
St. Ignatius - erected 1857, two miles north of Cable's Bay, commonly called "Shoemaker's." At that time 40-50 families lived at the south end of the Island. The mission lasted 10 years or so.
A deed to Bishop Baraga for church and burial ground:
Grantors were: James Martin & wife Catherine and John Sullivan & wife Astacia. The description is: "commencing at a point between Sec 1 & 12 on lake shore at T37N, R10W and running S 10 rods, thence W 25 rods, thence N 20 rods, thence E 26 rods, thence S, bearing W, to place of beginning." The land records give a date of Aug. 4, 1861 for the transfer of this land.
[See original manuscript for small diagram of this property, reflecting the dimensions described above.]
Holy Cross - erected on the hill in 1860; enlarged to twice its original size, 1899-1905; moved to St. James in 1957. The land on which the church stands was declared swampland in 1854 (Mormon times), & so belonged to the State of Mich.. On Mar. 25, 1863 Frederic Baraga patented it from the State of Michigan for the payment of $50.
1857 - Diocese of the Upper Pen. of Mich. (did not include B.I.). Bishop Baraga, because of
transportation difficulties, asked to include B.I. etc.. by their rightful bishop, the bishop of Detroit.
1866 - Baraga died & Bishop Mrak succeeded him. Mrak found in his true jurisdiction 14
priests, including Dwyer. B.I. was retained by Bishop M. after Baraga's death.
Soon after taking charge, Bishop Mrak became cognizant of the fact that 3 priests, having charge of souls, had been ordained by his predecessor without the regular theological education. To convince himself of their knowledge they were cited for examination, which, however, proved disastrous & 2 of them were promptly retired in the fall of 1869. In the spring of 1871 he announced himself on B.I., with the intention of measuring the theological knowledge of its pastor [Father Peter Gallagher was ordained by the Marquette Diocese -HC]. Being forewarned, & having certain presentiment as to the ultimate outcome, he told his parishioners of the approaching friendly visit of the Bishop, & stated that on account of the change of administration in both diocese the Bishop to whom he properly belonged, would in all likelihood take him away. Father Gallagher was a splendid Gaelic orator & his parishioners were all Irish. Loath to lose him, because Sunday after Sunday he spoke to them in their native tongue, & for that matter was the only priest in many states capable of speaking fluently the language of their fathers, they hit upon a stratagem. There was only one small steamboat making her regular but infrequent trips to the Island, and the Bishop cold come only on that one. Careful watch was kept; & as the boat steamed to the dock with the Bishop on board & was allowed to pass his way under usual acclamations but the captain was told, in unmistakable terms, that unless he left immediately & took the Bishop along, his boat would be burned. He knew there was not much blarney in the threat; the boat was the embodiment of his earthly possessions, & his course was plain to him. He looked up the Bishop, informed him of the situation, adding that the craft may not return to the Island in another month. The Bishop, unwilling to remain in the hostile camp for an indefinite time, departed from the Island. The successful scheme was plain to him as to the attained purpose & upon returning home, with a stroke of the pen, he passed the priest & the parish from his jurisdiction.
- Rezek, His. Diocese, p. 232-33