From "Illustrated History of St.
the church and house were built, the
priest would stay with one
of the most well-off families of the
This is a letter from
the Rev Lawrence S Phelan, at what was to
be called Sportsman's Hall,
St Vincent Church, Latrobe, PA to Bishop
in Baltimore, MD,
the first Catholic Bishop in the United States
Your reverence can have no
conception of the
distress here, even for the necessaries of life,
for really I have not anything like
of food, and such as I get is poor and filthy.
Most of the Irish, who, though poor, were
by far the most generous, have now quit this
settlement; five or six German families
whose chaplain I may call myself, since I
cannot pretend to travel for want of a horse.
These people, indeed, abstraction made of
religion, are the last of all mankind for
sentiments of humanity. The poorman I live with has
not been paid what was promised for my board,
and whether he intends it or not, he treats
me acordingly. Perhaps he can't help it. Bread
is the sole support of his family. Morning,
noon, and night, flour and water, or bread
and water, with a little burnt grease thrown over
is the support of his starved and almost naked
large family. Since my arrival the only meat
they had was a little pig about twenty or
thirty pounds, and a calf ten days old, of which we
have eaten this whole week, till it became
green and musty for want of salt. when I arrived first,
they had about a dozen hens, of which I must
have eaten eight, as they still have four . . .
Thus have I spent five months of a most
Lent, that threw me into diarrhea, that,
in such wretchedness and cold, made me pass
a most penitential winter.