Monday, August 5, 2013

Elisha Gates and the Catholic Church in Nelson County

     Fairly soon after the marriage of Elisha Gates and Christina Summers the two of them traveled to Nelson County, Kentucky.  Elisha was able to establish himself in the community rather quickly.  It is probable that he already knew many people in the area.  He had already lived there when he served in the War of 1812 and many of the families could have been neighbors in Prince George's and Charles Counties in Maryland.
      In 1820 he is listed as an elder of the Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown1.  The cathedral was being built when Elisha and Christina arrived and priests started holding mass at the cathedral at about that same time.
     About 1836 Elisha helped establish the first Catholic newspaper in central Kentucky1 - The Catholic Advocate.  Eventually the Catholic newspaper in the area was called The Record.
     Since the Gates’ farm was located about 8 miles from Bardstown, Elisha and many of his neighbors hosted priests to hold mass in the area1.   Mass was held as early as 1827 at the Gates' house.  Records indicate that in 1852 the bishop confirmed 30 people at the home of Elisha Gates2.  Around 1850 some forty Catholic families lived in the area and so they constructed a small brick church, St. Gregory’s Church, in Samuels, Kentucky.   Elisha Gates is one of the parishoners who was given special credit for the erection of the church.
     At the time a cemetery was adjacent to the church.  The present church is a few miles from the cemetery.  Elisha and most of his family area buried in the cemetery.
St Gregory Cemetery

1.  "History of St. Gregory’s Parish." The Record, Nov 26, 1949.

2   Benedict Joseph Webb, The Centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky, (Louisville, Kentucky: C. A. Rogers, 1884), 63; 578.

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