Monday, August 26, 2013

Ancestors at the Nazareth Academy

   In 1814 the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth founded a girls’ school just outside of Bardstown, Kentucky. The Sisters called the location Nazareth.  Nazareth was about 5 miles from the location of the future home of Elisha Gates and family.     
    My Aunt Jane had told us that several of our ancestors had attended and graduated from the Nazareth Academy.   On a trip to Kentucky in 2005, my sister, my wife and I stopped by the the girls’ school.  The academy has now been merged with Nazareth College and renamed. Some of the building now serve other purposes. The Sisters were wonderful hosts.  They showed us through their wonderful museum, and some of the rooms where our ancestors would have congregated.  The Sisters shared some old records with us.  It appeared that around 1900 someone at the academy had transcribed records of each alumnus onto 3 by 5 cards.   The front of the cards for my two ancestors are shown below.

Elizabeth Mattingly
(1832 - 1918)
Daughter of George Mattingly and Catherine Miles

Eliza Jane Gates

(1853 - 1903)
Daughter of William R. Gates and Elizabeth Mattingly

    As is normally the case, each record that is found opens new questions or areas of research.  Aunt Jane did not believe that these records were accurate.  She had been quite adamant that Eliza Jane Gates and Elizabeth Mattingly were:
  1. catholic.
  2. graduates of the Academy.
  3. longtime students at Nazareth Academy.
Returning to Nazareth Academy is on my list of things to do.  It always seems that shortly after I have visited archives I realize there is a few more pieces of information that I should have looked up.  At Nazareth I should have examined records of some of the siblings and cousins of Eliza Jane and Elizabeth.  These records might have shed more light on the accuracy of all the records.  But at this point I would certainly agree with Aunt Jane that the statement in that first record about the religion of Elizabeth Mattingly.   The Nelson County marriage record of her parents show that they were married by I. A. Reynolds.   The Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds was pastor at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Bardstown at the time.  Her uncle, Richard Pius Miles was the Catholic Bishop of Nashville from 1837 until 1860.  I would tend to believe that Elizabeth Mattingly was Catholic.   I also would tend to believe that Elizabeth’s age is incorrect.   She is shown as being 14 years old in 1848.   Her birthyear on her tombstone1 and her death certificate2 is given as 1832. Were these transcription errors? We might get some answers with another visit to Kentucky.

1. "Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records." 25 Aug. 2013 <>
2. "Kentucky, Death Records, 1911-1955," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Aug 2013), Elizabeth Gates, 1918.

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