Thursday, June 7, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Saint Cecilia's, Sheldon, New York

    Thanks to Barbara Durfee for today's post. It teaches all of us a little more about life in Sheldon.
 
   St Cecilia's Roman Catholic church was the first Catholic parish in Wyoming County, NY. Father John Neumann was the inspiration to the twenty plus members to build a church. The first church was built on the land donated by the Pochel and Loreaux family (where the south cemetery is located)  in about 1830 to 1840. This was a log church, which soon became too small for the Belgians, Luxembourgers, French and Germans. The second church was of wooden construction.And in 1889/1890, a stone church was built at that site, at a cost of about $13,000. The stone was quarried from less than a mile away at the Almeter farm. The stone blocks were hauled by horse and wagons to the site and cut there.  Most of the work was volunteer, and  men of talent went to work - Constant Daniel, Peter Gabel, Almeters, Georges, Kehls, Jacoby, Dominesey, Jungers to name a few. The church is still called St Cecilia's , but with the merging of parishes, the parish is called  Fr John Neumann Roman Catholic parish.
    The original table that Fr Neumann used to say mass on, pray from and preach to the crowd, is now housed in the closed school house. Fr John Neumann has been canonized a saint, and there has been a dedication to name the church and place a bronze statue of him in the gardens there.   
   The nuns ran the school back then and lived there as well. They had a residence on the third floor. 
   There were several sheds built in 1915/1916 to house the horses and buggies in bad weather. According to an old East Aurora newspaper, there could be as many as 100 horse teams there on a Sunday for church services.I`m sure there was not enough room for all of them in the sheds.The churchgoers needed to get there early for that.
   The church bells are the original bells that rang for services. The only update is that there was an electric starter installed instead of the hand pulled clappers.
Sincerly submitted by Barbara Durfee  Sheldon Town Historian

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