CATHOLIC MISSIONARY STATION


The Great Fire of 1866 in Portland, Maine burned the Diocesan papers and Bishop James Augustine requested Parish priests to tell the history of the Catholic Church in each Maine parish. The material appears to be written between April 25, 1873 and June 1875. The St. Croix Historical Society in Calais has a copy of this correspondence.

The first Mass was celebrated at Eastport in 1826. (Readers know Mass was celebrated on St. Croix Island in 1604–5 while the French attempted to settle there.) Missionary Stations at Calais and Lewey’s Island were tended from Eastport until in 1863 when Rev. Mathew Murphy took up residence in Calais. He tended the Missionary Stations at Lewey’s Island, Baileyville “and Alexander where a few farmers resided.” Rev. Murphy died on March 28, 1869.

and Alexander where a few farmers resided” Those few words allow us to speculate that in 1860 (using the census records to select Irish names, for most of our settlers were of English Protestant stock) a few possible Catholics were on Breakneck Mountain. They were John and Bridget Crowley, James and Joanna Foley, William and Mary Gillespie and bachelor Tom Tobin. James and Elizabeth Blaney lived on the Pokey Road, just a short walk of three miles to Breakneck Mountain. That is a total of 23 adults and children.

By 1870, Tom Tobin and the Crowley family was gone, the other three families had 15 individuals. However, three new families were in town, potentially Catholics by name and place of birth. John and Maria Maklin with 5 children, Edward and Catherine Murphy with 4 children and John McLaughlin with 4 children. So by these calculations, by 1870 the Catholic Mission could serve 34 souls in Alexander.

Robb Hill, near the Baileyville line, and home of brothers Hugh and Tom Robb might be a likely source for Roman Catholics, but the Robb family describes these first settlers as Presbyterian from Northern Ireland.