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Excerpts from various Catholic history sources.
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St. Patrick's People: Irish & English Catholics in Early Ohio History, Lorle Porter, Ph.D.:

In 1799, Hugh Boyle, an educated Irishman who left the homeland in the wake of the failed '98 Rising, settled in Lancaster, on Zane's Trace. There he became the respected Clerk of Courts in what was Ohio's legal center. Boyle, who was born in County Donegal, married Eleanor Gillespie, of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Thus, they were part of a network of Catholics spaced out along the "road west."
In 1803, the Dittoe-Finck party worked their way down the Trace. Jacob and Peter Dittoe, their brother-in-law, John Finck (Fink), and their families left the German colony of Conewago in Adams County, Pennsylvania and pushed west in 1803. The Dittoes were sons of a German- Alsatian immigrant. Jacob was born in 1760 on the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. Both he and Peter were part of the Conewago Chapel congregation in 1790. Following the baptism of Jacob and Catherine's son, Henry, in 1803 (the sponsors were John and Mary Finck), the clan began "westering."
They traveled the familiar path down Braddock's Road and on to Brownsville, then up the Monongahela to the private road carved by the Zanes out of the wooded terrain. The crafty Zane brothers thus diverted travel from Pittsburgh to their emerging town of Wheeling and onto the Zane's Trace. At Brownsville, the Catholic community would have informed the Dittoes and Fincks of the tiny Catholic community in Lancaster. As the Germans were anxious to retain their faith, their choice of land near Lancaster may have been dictated by the presence nearby of other Catholic families with marriageable children.
Hopeful that a priest would come to them, the families began carving out their homesteads two miles off the Trace in "Middletown," halfway between Lancaster and Zanesville- "4 miles from Lancaster toward Baltimore."
Jacob Dittoe zealously sought to make his family's presence known to Bishop John Carroll. On January 5, 1803, he wrote "There are of our profession in this place that I am acquainted with, about 30 souls, two families of my acquaintance that will be here this ensuing spring, adding the probable migration from the neighbor land of Conawago [sic] under similar expectations with me (when I saw them) leaves little doubt with me but a considerable congregation may be here in a little time."
Dittoe knew that that an ordination was to occur in the spring (an
other clue to the Catholic grapevine) and that some of the priests would be sent to Kentucky.
"If so, this place will be on their way…"
Dittoe asked that the priests seek him out also.
"Mr. [Hugh] Boyle of the said town who with his family are of the same church."
In February 1807, Bishop Carroll was informed by two laymen in Chillicothe
"of betwixt 30 and 40 which came from the Eastern Shore and were in that Zane's Trace town."
On a cold February 1, 1808, Dittoe poured out his heart to the bishop in Baltimore:
"Everyday's acquaintance in this countrv brings to my knowledge some of the [Catholic] profession tossed about through this country by the vicissitudes of fortune, depreived [sic] of the advantages of church communion, and extremely anxious for an establishment . . . of a church…"
In the interim, Dittoe asked if Catholics could be married before a Catholic lawyer in Zanesville.
Father Edward Fenwick met with John Carroll in Baltimore (Maryland) in the spring of 1808. The bishop sent the priest on a mission in search of lost souls in what was then the western wilderness of the vast diocese which was the United States.
Returning east in September of 1808, Fenwick stumbled onto the Dittoe farm. While listening to the forest sounds, he heard the reverberations of an axe. He followed the sound to the cabin. The mass that followed brought great joy to the hearts of the immigrants and to Edward Fenwick, who had come to "the end of his search, the fulfillment of a commission he had received from the Bishop of Baltimore…"
In 1810, Dittoe wrote to "finnic" that "there are some young Catholics in this place that do wish to join in marriage that are waiting upon [your] coming, as it is a point of some importance." Requests like this were common. In 1811, there were seven priests in Kentucky and they served some six-thousand Catholics in that state. Trappist monks from Amsterdam established a monastery in Kentucky under the leadership of Urbain Guillett. Traveling with the Trappists was Father Charles Nerinckx, a Belgian priest who fled the Revolution in 1797. The Trappists would move on to Illinois in 1809, but Nerinckx became an important missionary in his adopted Kentucky. By 1812, the Sisters of Loretto and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth would also be established there. The western church was taking shape in Kentucky, and Ohio would become its mission field.
In 1811, Fenwick and his party worked their way west on Braddock's Road and on to Pittsburgh. There they joined the party of Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget, who was traveling west to his new see of Bardstown for the first time. They boarded a flatboat for the journey down the Ohio. It is possible that Fenwick and Bishop Flaget then left the flatboat and accompanied Fenwick's nephew, Nicholas Dominic Young, as he drove the remuda of horses clown the Zane's Trace. At Middletown (Somerset), Fenwick and John Finck did not recognize one another after an absence of three years. Once again, contact had been made with the German colony in Perry County.
En route to a council in Baltimore, Bishop Joseph Flaget and Father Stephen Badin crossed the Ohio River at Maysville on October 7, 1812, and rode up the Trace. Along the way, Badin shouted that they were Catholic priests. In Chillicothe, they found a few Catholics "who were ashamed to confess their faith and were accustomed to frequent Protestant services." In Lancaster, on October 9, they baptized five children. On October 10, they were visiting the Dittoes and the Fincks. Jacob Dittoe showed them the land that he intended to donate for a church; the two clerics urged him to build it for community worship until Flaget could send them a priest. They were instructed to say the mass prayers together, to pray the rosary, and to say the litanies. The bishop was haunted by his lack of priests.
"not a day passes that we do not find great numbers of these strayed sheep, who, because they do not see their real shepherd, become Baptists, Methodists, etc., or at least nothingists."
Catholics continued to filter into Ohio. In 1811, "Long Jim" Gallagher and his brother, Patrick, boarded a stage in Baltimore bound for Somerset, Ohio, to inquire about buying land in the Catholic enclave.

…Commodore Perry's victory on Lake Erie. When the men arrived at the camp at Lower Sanduskv, they replaced troops already sent ahead for the final Battle of the Thames in Canada. The successful conclusion of the War of 18 2 opened up all the Northwest Territory for settlement. Road improvements-so badly needed for troop movements-became a national priority.
When peace returned, Edward Fenwick wrote a report to Pope Pius VII on April 10, 1815.
I found 50 Catholic families in the State of Ohio. I heard there are many others scattered in various parts of the same state, but those who have migrated into those regions have never seen a priest (since they left their former homes.) Hence many of those I met have forgotten their religion and they are bringing up their children in complete ignorance.
The absence of priests was a constant worry. Thus, Bishop Carroll rejoiced when, in the fall of 1816, he was able to send newly-ordained priests to St. Rose in Kentucky. In 1818, Fenwick was able to "give his uninterrupted service to the scattered Catholics of Ohio." Traveling down Zane's Trace with him in the winter of 1818 was his nephew, Dominic Young, who was ordained on December 18, 1817. Both priests and the Dittoes and Fincks, and an Irish family named McFadden, rejoiced when the little log church of St. Joseph in Somerset was dedicated on December 6, 1818. Fenwick opened the baptismal record and wrote:
"In the year 1817 and 1818 I baptized in different parts of the Ohio state 162 persons both young and old whose names and sponsors cannot now be recollected, as I was then an Itinerant missioner and such persons were generally discovered and brought to me accidently [sic]-R. N. [Reverend Nicholas] Young, during his journey to Maryland and back to Ohio in this year of 1818, baptized about 20 in similar circumstances."

The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History, Michael Glazier and Thomas J. Shelley:

The first roots of Catholicism are associated with the arrival of jacob Dittoe who together with his brother-in-law John Finck, settled in the town of Middleton, between Zanesville and Lancaster, in 1805. They renamed the town Somerset and soon petitioned Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore for a priest to be sent to the area. Dittoe even went so far as to offer to donate 320 acres of land for a chapel and parish house. The Dominican priest Edward Fenwick, who would eventually be called the "Apostle of Ohio," located the Dittoe clan in October 1808 and found that there were about ten Catholic families in the area. Fenwick continued to visit the area periodically after 1808 and built the first permanant Catholic chapel in the state at Somerset on December 6, 1818. The chapel was dedicated to St. Joseph.

Illustrated History of the Diocese of Columbus, Donald M. Schlegel:

See Pages

From Old St. Mary's Church Parish Archives:

It was the appealing correspondence of Jacob Dittoe to Bishop Carroll of Baltimore that brought into Ohio Father Edward D. Fenwick, a Dominican priest from the monastery at St. Rose, Kentucky. Jacob Dittoe, a German Catholic, had settled in Ohio, near Somerset. In this locality, Jacob Dittoe, with several others of the same nationality, had cleared tracts in the forest for their homes. Father Fenwick, who later on Sunday, January 13, 1822, was consecrated the first Bishop of Cincinnati, found this group of Catholic pioneers and three other German Catholic families, numbering twenty persons.

Another letter from Jacob Dittoe addressed to Father Fenwick was brought to the attention of Bishop Flaget of Bardstown, Kentucky. As a response to this letter of a pious Catholic, Bishop Flaget and Father Badin, who were on their way to Baltimore, crossed the Ohio River at Maysville, Kentucky, in 1812. They found a German Catholic by the name of William Cassel whose four children they baptized. On their way to Somerset they found the Dittoe and Fink families, where Bishop Flaget celebrated Mass and heard confessions. He wrote as follows regarding this trip:

"On my journey to Baltimore, I found fifty Catholic families in the State of Ohio. I hear that there are many others scattered in various parts of the state, but those who have migrated into these regions have never seen a priest since they left their former homes. Hence many of those I met have almost forgotten their religion, and they are bringing up their children in complete ignorance. And this neglected portion of the flock committed to me, I am compelled to leave on account of the lack of workers, for I can scarcely send a missionary to them, even once a year.

On a tract of land cleared and purchased by Jacob Dittoe and his neighbor Catholics, about Somerset, was built the first Catholic Church in Ohio. It was a log house; a one-story structure, with the bare ground as a floor. Near this chapel was erected another log house of two rooms to serve as a rectory for the missionaries. This, the first Catholic Church of Ohio, was blessed by Fathers Fenwick and Young on December 6, 1818.

From History of St. Joseph:

Edward Dominic Fenwick (1768-1832), hearing that Catholics in Ohio were longing for a priest, set out from Saint Rose in Springfield, Kentucky, the first Dominican priory in the country. Jacob Dittoe (1760-1826) welcomed him into his home, and there in 1808, Fenwick celebrated the first Mass in the state...In 1818, Dittoe bought and donated 320 acres. Immediately, everyone helped to build the first church, a log structure only 22 feet in length by 18 in width. On the 6th of December, the modest church was dedicated...Logs from the home of Jacob Dittoe have been discovered. From these, a small replica of the first Saint Joseph Church was made. Today, it is on display in a little museum in the sacristy, the room that was once the Dominican choir.

From History of Holy Trinity:

There are discrepancies in the historical records as to whether Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P. celebrated the first Mass in Ohio inside or outside of the home of Jacob Dittoe, in the home of Daniel McCallister, or in the tavern belonging to John Finck of Somerset...

From Local Catholic Church History and Genealogy, Ohio:

1812: Due to correspondence between Jacob Dittoe, one of a group of German Catholics, and Father Edward Fenwick, who was residing at St. Rose Monastery, in Kentucky, Bishop Flaget, of Bardstown, Kentucky, and Father Badin, crossed the Ohio River at Maysville, Kentucky, in 1812. There they found William Cassel, a German Catholic whose four children they baptized, and "...on their way to Somerset they found the Dittoe and Fink families, where Bishop Flaget celebrated Mass and heard confessions..."



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