Archiver > PACAMBRI > 2001-05 > 0989803744

From: "james miller" <>
Subject: [PaCambri] The James Gang 3/ Troubles in Camelot
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 01:29:03

This is part 3 of material I put together several years ago on the fued in
the early days of Cambria .....

Loretto as it exists today gives the impression that peace and quiet reigned
here for a thousand years. However, all was not always peaceful in
Camelot. It is interesting to notice what columns of dry figures and facts
can tell in addition to the purported intention to keep books. In the
Memorandum Book we find transactions between Demetrius Gallitzin and a man
named James C. McGuire of Ebensburg. In 1812 Gallitzin is selling him
flour. Three years later in 1815 Gallitzin sells him 278 feet of inch
boards for $2.32. Of note here is the simple fact that Demetrius Gallitzin
and James C. McGuire were doing business.
There was a time when they were greatly at odds, and most of their business
with one another involved throwing insults. By the 2nd decade of the 1800s
they had mended their differences.

If a person cares to take a look at a list of the Officials of Cambria
County since its very beginning, they will notice that the first two
Prothonotaries of the young county were Edward V. James and James C.
McGuire. The first of these, James, was Prothonotary at a time before the
young county even had a judiciary set up. There were no judges in place
before 1807, since there was not a tax base sufficient to
support them. Edward V. James, the Prothonotary, had a position of some
importance. In those early days at Cambria, the prothonotary was the clerk
of the court of common pleas, criminal court, register of wills, recorder of
deeds, in short, the keeper of all records. And in the absence of a
judiciary, it would seem the
major politico. James C. McGuire was also involved in the politics of the
new county.

When Demetrius Gallitzin moved to the frontier in 1799, he was hoping to
separate himself from situations in which other power bases might infringe
upon what he considered his balliwick. In Taneytown, a parish he serviced
from Conewago, as a young priest in his 20s he came up against the parish
trustee system. This might be considered a board of directors in legal
terms. He resented their influence, and hoped that on the frontier
[Loretto] he would have a free reign with just the simple frontiersmen to
deal with.

Just five short years after he had moved to the mountains, a new county was
being formed. Another power base was moving in. He was not happy about
this. Loretto was even suggested as a county seat. He would have none of
this. He did not want the lawyers mixing with his simple farm folk and
corrupting them. Other candidates for the seat for the new county were
Ebensburg, Beulah, and Munster. Beulah is now a ghost town. Munster is
close to being a ghost town. But in 1804 E.V. James set his sights on it
for the new county seat. He bought land there from Gallitzins driver,
Thomas B. Durbin. He laid out a town.

Gallitzin found this intrusion on his hegemony most disturbing. Gallitzins
successor and friend, the Rev. Peter Henry Lemcke mentions the founding of
the town in his biography of Gallitzin. But he would not even mention the
name of Edward Victor James. This comes from p. 144 of Plumpps

Though I know his name well and meet it frequently in certain letters, I
shall treat it as irrelevant
and not mention it. He was there like Saul among the prophets, and no one
knew whence he had come. Several Irishmen banded themselves with him, and a
town was begun only an hours distance from Loretto. They called it Munster
after the Irish province of the same name.

One Sunday morning while all of this was happening, Gallitzin took to the
pulpit and decided to publicly denounce the court house bunch. As he saw
another seat of power moving in to what he considered his territory, there
was not much or anything he could do on legal grounds to stop it. He took
to hurling what he had at hand, moral condemnation. He lashed out at the
individuals involved in the formation of the new county, implying that they
were of a moral character so base and degenerate that they would be unfit

He immediately realized what a hornets nest of opposition he had created.
Some members of the congregation came forward to challenge him physically.
Bringing politics into church is not often a good idea. He being a
Federalist in politics had already pitted him against the court house bunch.
They were Democratic Republicans and realized he opposed their interests
in popular representation. Now he had attacked their character as
individuals publicly; they would not sit quietly and hear themselves be
slandered. There could have been violence in the sanctuary that day, but
Gallitzins quick thinking averted disaster. He threatened to refuse the
sacraments of the dying in their last moments to anyone involved in
violence against him. Things quieted down, at least for a bit. In the
ensuing days he took to carrying a gun. Even his Bishop found this

But his pistol could not protect him from the counter assault that the court
house bunch set about to martial against him. As he had insulted their
character, they set out to undermine confidence in his moral uprightness,
even requesting the bishop to remove him from his post. This is a rather
short and sweet version of the troubles in Camelot, and it is probably
something of an oversimplification. There had been troubles brewing in
Loretto for some time in the first decade of the 1800s. It was not a
matter of one specific incident that set it all off. As when nations go to
war, there is usually a background of many individual issues that have a way
of mounting until a momentum is reached that is unstoppable. At that point,
one specific issue can then spark a real war. Is seems that a similar
situation was brewing about Loretto in those early days. A number of issues
had been mounting, sides were being taken, lines were being drawn, all of
the ingredients for a real scrap were coming together. There are some
interesting notes in Catholic Trails West vol. 2 by Adams & OKeefe on the
troubles. I think it best to quote them to give a more inclusive view of
the storm brewing in the little world of early Cambria County. The
following is from page 645.

Not everyone proves fond of a strong personality. And, not all of Prince
Gallitzins early parishioners proved fond of him. Difficulties ensued in
the early 1800s as a faction of dissidents arose to challenge the Princes
pastorate. The troubles stemmed not only from the Princes strict religious
disciplines but also from his conservative political views. The Prince was
a Federalist, a son of European aristocrats, and a believer in a strong
federal government, whereas his backwoods parishioners, particularly the
Irish, were members of Jeffersons rival Democratic Republican party and
proponents of retention by the states and citizens of as many rights and
powers as possible. The Princes rigorous adherence to Catholic religious
practices reminded the backwoodsmen of monarchistic rulemaking.

Some of the dissidents Prince Gallitzin had engaged in litigation. Others
he had impliedly spoken against from the pulpit for drunkenness or other
vices. Together those groups formed a clique of enemies, into whose hands
played the rising disaffection of the parish. The enemies found a common
cause with the parish at large in 1802. To instruct the children of the
parish, the prince had assembled a group of young female schoolteachers,
including one Rachel White, who were beginning to resemble a sisterhood.
The parish was disturbed that young women would be lured away from marriage
and maternity. Scandal broke out when Prince Gallitzin established Rachel
as his housekeeper and offered her lodging. Rachels mother was so
angered by her daughters new calling and the gossip about her lodging in
the priesthouse that she journeyed to Baltimore to talk to the Bishop. . .
. . the Bishop advised the Prince to think more about appearances and find
Rachel other quarters, which the Prince did . . . .

To shed a little light on the sisterhood that was forming about Gallitzin,
a few things might be recalled about life on the frontier. This was a time
when the expression Barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen had real
meaning, literally, to young girls growing up. Young girls had seen their
mothers, sisters, and friends
reduced to this status of domestic servitude early in life. In recalling
just a few of the women that I descend from, they were already tied down
with several kids at the age that most girls today are graduating from high
school. And they did not all survive the endless series of pregnancies.
Quite a few families were left motherless by the complications of
childbirth. Young girls growing up on the frontier did not have limitless
options for what we might call a lifestyle. Many of the more perceptive
ones were no doubt quite happy to see some alternative to the lives lived by
other women they could observe around them. The prospect of being teachers
gave them some status, and the other plus was a respectable way to avoid
being a mother at such an early age. And seeing the situation from yet
another point of view, there were legitimate concerns among those who
objected to the sisterhood. The big families that were common on the
frontier had bunches of boys that would be looking for girls to marry. And
given the very thin population density at that time, removing a bunch of
girls from circulation could cause some serious demographic concerns. Just
on this issue alone, we can see serious concerns on both sides. And this
was certainly not the only issue about which trouble was brewing. A new
county was being formed. Political issues loomed large. There was a clash
of personalities and viewpoints, and Gallitzin saw his leadership status

Actually, it was not until 1804 that Gallitzin got Rachel White out of his
house. And it would seem that he did not take the admonition of his bishop
to think more about appearances too seriously. In 1810 when the federal
census taker, John Hobbs arrived at Loretto, there were in all seven people
in Gallitzins household. Two of these were girls between the ages of 16
and 26. Gallitzin was in the habit of taking in orphans and widows. He
took the scriptural injunction to Give to orphans and widows in their
tribulation, and keep ones self unspotted from this world. seriously it
would seem. Although he was not always too careful about appearances, most
accounts of him depict him as a morally upright man.

In the year that Gallitzin got Rachel White out of his house, 1804, there
arrived in the little world of early Cambria a man about whom could rally
the forces of opposition to Gallitzin. It would seem that before the
arrival of Edward Victor James, no one could, or would, provide a focus of
leadership for the rising sentiment of opposition to Gallitzin. And when
Gallitzin took it upon himself to publicly humiliate the aspiring leaders of
the new county, all hell broke loose. Gallitzin had himself invited James
to come to Loretto when the two had met in Lancaster. And 1804 was also the
year of the actual founding of the new county of Cambria. It was not
completely empowered to act until 1807. Between the years 1804 and 1807
there were no doubt many times that Gallitzin wished he had never invited
E.V. James to come to the mountains.

With the final empowerment of the new county in 1807, things finally quieted
down. The shrill rhetoric from both camps tones down, Gallitzin writes to
his bishop that all is peaceful, and James writes a letter of apology to
Gallitzin. We will probably never know the complete story of all the events
at the time of the troubles. It seems there were periodic purges of the
records to give the impression that things were always at peace in Camelot.
Hints of this can be seen in the refusal of Rev. Lemcke, Gallitzins
biographer, to even mention the name of E.V. James.

It was not long until E.V. James had moved away. I came upon this fact
first of all when attempting to learn something about yet another child of
Daniel and Rachel OHara. Elizabeth OHara married into the Beamer family.
She married John Beamer, a onetime resident of Munster. In going over
transactions of the Beamer family, I noticed that John Beamers sister and
her husband in 1814 were purchasing lots
[ #s 110, 111, 112] in the town of Munster from E.V. James. E.V. James in
that year was no longer living in Cambria; He had taken up residence in
Harrisburg PA. Subsequently I was in touch with one of the descendants of
E.V. James, Max James. Max informed me that in 1806 E.V. James wife [born
Mary Rachel Atlee] passed away from the complications of childbirth leaving
him with 7 minor children. Max James also passed along that his ancestor,
E.V. James, had died in Harrisburg in 1814, the year he had sold the Munster
property noted above.
James was not the only one of Gallitzins opponents to move on. In 1807 he
is writing to his Bishop:
Some have sold their places and are gone, others are in the way of selling
and in a short time . . .
our settlement will get rid of one of the most corrupted set of villains
that ever disgraced the Church.
Gallitzins shrill rhetoric can be annoying even at a safe distance of more
than a hundred years away.
I can imagine the reaction of those on the receiving end of it, as they were
characterized as notorious drunkards, blasphemers, robbers, men that have
no more religion than horses . . . men who publicly brag of their infamous
deeds, and who have impudence to exhibit to the eyes proofs of their
lewdness and debauchery. [letter dated May 11, 1807] This stuff is hardly
the language of reconciliation. A person cannot listen to very much of this
without getting the impression that there were excesses on both sides of the
argument. As a matter of fact, it would take a rather cowardly sort not to
react to this kind of verbal abuse.

////////////////////////////////////////////// jim miller

<A HREF="">Jim's art website</A>
********************** jim miller/621 grove st
********************** greensburg pa 15601

Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at

This thread: