The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City.


Rev. N. F. Scallan, spent the greater portion of his life in Iowa and Dakota. Some years ago he joined the Catholic Indian Bureau and was at one time Director of the Catholic Indian College of Rensalaer, Indiana. Then he labored in the Diocese of Tuscon, Arizona, was missionary to the Papago Indians and was pastor of their famous church Xavier del Bac, one of the oldest churches in America. It was dedicated one hundred years ago this year (1889.) From Arizona, Father Scallan came to the Indian Territory. His first labors were among the people of Purcell and the Ponca Indians. When Oklahoma opened he came to Oklahoma City, laid the foundations of the church in Guthrie and built St. John's Church in Edmond which was the first church built in Oklahoma Territory. Attracted by the beauty and glowing prospects of Oklahoma City and the generosity, of its people, he turned the city of Guthrie over to the Benedictine Fathers and cast his lot with the people of Oklahoma City, built St. Joseph's Church, the first church of the city, and endeavored to found a school and hospital which we are in hopes he will succeed in doing at no distant day. Father Scallan stands high as a devoted, self-sacrificing and successful missionary; as an orator and thorough master of history; as a writer both in prose and poetry. He is more conspicuous still for his fine business tact and especially his remarkable executive ability.


Father Scallan, Missionary Apostolic, first arrived at Oklahoma City on May 7, 1889. He had posters struck and scattered over town announcing mass for the following Sunday, and requesting all Catholics to be present that a congregation might be organized. On account of a railroad accident this first appointment could not be

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The first Catholic services (mass) were held on Sunday, May 19, 1889, in what is now known as the Indiana House, on Main street between Robinson and Harvey. The sermon preached on that occasion attracted considerable attention. It was thoroughly patriotic. The Rev. Preacher showed that Catholicity does not conflict with American patriotism, but that love of country is one of the duties imposed on Catholics by their church, consequently that true Catholics must love our Republic and all truly American institutions. The following beautiful passage will give and idea of the sermon:

"The Banner of Freedom! Catholics, in its starlit alphabet we read the surest guarantee of our sacred rights. We came to plant the cross beside the flag that the Nation has raised over this future commonwealth, and we will plant it firmly and deeply so that no future upheaval nor political tornado can ever uproot it.

Let our separated brethren regard its presence as a beacon light, rather than a threat, for our favorite institutions; because our past history will bear me out in the assertion, that where ever heaven's sunlight may kiss the cross in peace, the breeze is never wanting to float the flag in triumph.

grand Republic, the first object that will greet him on our eastern shores will be the cross; and when for the last time he steals away from our far Pacific coast, the last object on which he will imprint a parting kiss will be the cross on some Catholic spire.

On this day a temporary organization was effected and fifty-five heads of families and forty-two young men enrolled as members. A committee was formed with J. P. Martin, chairman; Joseph Chrisney, secretary; Col. J. T. Hickey, treasurer; Rev. N. F. Scallan, director. Father Scallan announced that the parish should be placed under the patronage of St. Joseph.

Lots were purchased on May 27, 1889. Subscriptions were opened June 2, 1889.

On the evening of June 16th, Father Scallan delivered his famous lecture, "The Catholic Church the Friend of the People," which elicited so much applause and was so favorably commented upon that he was requested to re-peat it by some prominent gentlemen of the city.

Services were held every Sunday wherever a place could be secured until the church was ready for use.

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The church was commenced July 1.1889. William Gallagher was foreman and he together with Hugh Gallagher, Thomas Kennedy, P. Quinin, J. Quinin, Frank Farmer, P. H. Hickey, Henry Meyers, J. H. Head and others, donated about $200 worth of work.

Mr. J. Chrisney gave the greatest assistance in collecting. Father Scallan was the architect. A great many non-Catholics gave generously toward the building of the church, especially the lumbermen, hardware merchants and druggists.

The cross was raised on the spire July 31, 1889; the bell was placed in the tower August 2d, and the first Angelus rang at 6 o'clock p. m. of the same day.



Mrs. Col. Hickey is organist, and is an excellent musician having received musical training in several of the most noted institutions in the United States. She has figured conspicuously in the best choirs in Memphis, Tenn., and other cities. The members of the choir are, Mrs. Wedemeyer, Misses Ketcham, Hickey and Wright; Messrs. John Quinin, Krilger, Meyer, Ritz, Ketcham and Peter Wagner.

The Sunday School choir, organized later on, is a gratifying success. Both choirs, on Christmas day, treated the congregation to particularly fine music.

"The Ladies' Catholic Union," was organized Sun-day, November 10th, with Mrs. Pimm, president; Mrs. Martin, vice-president ; Mrs. Haley, secretary; Mrs. Eltermann, Treasurer.

The ladies have given two successful entertainments.

Sunday school was organized October 20th and is rapidly increasing in numbers.

The church has been securely founded, its members are rapidly increasing, its influence is spreading and judging the future by the past, great things are in store for the Catholics of Oklahoma City.


First baptism - Infant daughter of Peter Wilhelm. August 19, 1889.
First marriage - Thomas Fitzgerald and Mary Carlow, October 13, 1889.
First funeral - Thomas Kennedy, November 3, 1889. 

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