Many years ago, my friend Agnes Higgins Ames of Brewer saved an article on colonial newspapers found in the May 5, 1921, issue of the Bangor Commercial. Sections of it recall some of the heritage we seek to remember on St. Patrick’s Day.
One portion quoted from Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvanian Gazette of 1765 reminds us of how many Irish immigrants were able to come here:
“Servants now remaining aboard the ship Neptune near Willing and Morris’ wharf, are to be sold very cheap for cash or short credit, by John Hart, a few Irish servants, men, women and boys, amongst which are the following trades, viz: Hatters, hosiers, weavers, carpenters, wool combers, dyers, barbers, butchers, ropemakers, plasterers, farmers and laborers.
Later on, we find:
“Of a different character — and which throws a light upon the curious fashions of the good old Colonial days — is this advertisement from a Philadelphia newspaper of 1746:
“Mary Catrel, from the city of Dublin, at Mr. Burk’s, perriweg maker, in Front street, Philadelphia, between Chestnut and Walnut streets, makes and sells all sorts of gentlemen’s velvet caps, leather, also ladies’ and children’s caps, mantilets, pillareens, hoods, bonnets, long and short cloaks, mantels and scarfs with black bags and roses for gentlemen’s hair or wigs; all of which she makes after the neatest and newest fashions and very cheap.”
One hundred years later, the Irish certainly were making their mark on Bangor. Despite owning land at what is now 100 Broadway, St. John’s Catholic Church decided it was prudent to build its neo-Gothic edifice not in a neighborhood of Protestant churches, but nearer the Penobscot River on York Street.
The Irish immigrants who worked on the construction were said to have slept outside to protect it from vandalism.
When St. John’s was given a $2 million restoration in the early 1990s, efforts were made to retain such historic elements as its altar rail, the emblems on the ceiling and the Tyrolean stained glass windows.
Certain relics, I don’t know of whom, also were retained.
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Come learn about “Devil’s Half-Acre” at the next meeting of the Penobscot County Genealogical Society at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, in the Lecture Hall at Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St. Dana Lippitt, curator of Bangor Museum and History Center, will be the speaker.
Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or firstname.lastname@example.org.