Saturday, April 21, 2012

They Lived Their Faith

I descend from some of the earliest settlers who came to this country searching for religious freedom.  Some were on the Mayflower and later ships and some came later during the Palantine onslaught.    But, the religious ideas that I have today came down through my great grandparents.  Neither one of them were born Catholic, but they were probably the most devout Catholics that I have ever known.

My Great Grandparents Wedding Picture

Granddad Gage was most likely born in the Presbyterian Church.  His father, Orlando Gage, was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church at Esperance, NY and in fact, I have a copy of letter that was essentially a memorial to Orlando Gage.  I’ve no idea of the exact denomination of Edith Gallup’s family’s religious affiliation.  I suspect that they were probably Baptist.  One of the few records that I can find on Edith’s grandmother, Hannah Conover, is that she married Abram Montanye at the Baptist Church at Rider’s Corners, Charleston, Montgomery Co., NY.  There also seems to be a strong vein of the Raritan Reformed Dutch Church association running through the Montanye family.  Either way, they were far from Catholicism.

Grandma Gage was also born into the Presbyterian Church.  Her father was an elder in the church at Decatur, NE and I know that her grandfather was a preacher back in West Virginia who was referred to as “Brother Shawver” or “Shoutin George Shawver.”  Perhaps that is how my great grandparents originally met was through church, however, I am not really sure.  But when they chose to get married, they married in the Catholic Church.  Granddad Gage and spent a few years working for Linus Brenner, and he and his family were devout Catholics.  After a few years of attending church with them, he converted to Catholicism as did my grandmother.  I think this event occurred before their marriage, because their eldest son was baptized as were all of their children.

My Grandmother's 1st Communion

Their religious beliefs had a strong impact on their life and how they raised their families.  Throughout all of the hard times, I think that their faith kept them strong.  I know that when they lived up on Hatter Creek and the weather was so bad, my grandmother would read the Bible and they would still observe church even at home.  All of her children grew up going to church and respecting the church and its traditions.  Not all of their children continued their practice of going to church…some left and never really came back and others returned and have enjoyed a strong relationship with their church.  Some of my happiest memories as a child going to church was going to church with my great grandparents.  Granddad Gage’s chest would puff out enough that I thought his buttons would burst.  He loved the fact that his family filled up the entire pew at the church.  Even now I have talked to people who remember attending church with my great grandparents when they lived in Lewiston, ID in the 1950’s.  I can still picture them walking into church together and saying the words of mass.  By the time they had passed, they had lived together for 73 ½ years and had lived as a wonderfully devoted couple to each other and their faith.  There is much to admire about both.
Monsignor Hughes and myself at my 1st Communion