As the name St. Patricks implies this church has connection with Ireland and the Irish immigrants into Iowa.
We know that emigration from Ireland was massive in the 19th century due to many reasons, famine, too many people,
enonomy etc. The main emigration path would be to the west to America. America was being flooded with immigrants not
Ireland but all countries of Europe. Who would have to "move" and give up land?. Needless to say the native
American people the "Indians" as we so generally refer to them as. In essence nations of distinctive groups of
the original inhabitants of the forests, prairies and the plains of N. America. As the Europeans flooded into the east
ports of America many would seek to find employment, many because of their former calling seeked land, good land and as
as possible. They would move west and the Indians under pressure would yield up their lands for payment and in some
By the time James Gillespie headed to America in 1852 the farm lands of Iowa were being planted by incoming European
Iowa in the 1840's was a changing area. The Sac and Fox Indians were still on their lands in Iowa in 1840 but by March
basically had to sell their lands, some two thirds of western Iowa for $800,000 dollars to the United States Government.
given a track of land to stay on as an interim area but by October 1845 they had gone to Kansas. They had little choice.
This would not be the first of the "benine" Indian movements.
At about the same time the number of European immigrants started to increase, land was cheap and the land was good, there was water and timber available. The Irish as they are wont to do tended to keep together and an area in the S. E corner of what was Lee Township developed into what was to become for a time "New Ireland". A relatively small area but nevertheless with an Irish Catholic ethos. They would look to building a church and endeavour to have the service of a priest however rare his attendance. They would build a log church in the area. Needless to say it would be called St. Patricks. By the late 1850's the parish would be well established and increasing in numbers and size. In the Madison County Almanac of 1857 the parish is listed as "New Ireland " sixteen miles from Fort Des Moines and Father McCormick as pastor.
By early April 1856 James Gillespie in New York had gathered enough money to buy land out in the lands to the west in this case Iowa, he was now married and had the confidence to seek better fortune. He left for Iowa as he says with relatives and friends. It was good bye New York, his gardening days were over. James would buy land in Section 15 of Patterson Co. establish himself in farming and over a period of years he would raise his family and extend his farm and become a pillar of the local society as his memories suggest. The center of his spiritual life and that of his family would be around the little log church of St. Patrick. Initially there would be a service on a monthly basis but as the Catholic population increased (mainly Irish and German ) there would eventually be a resident pastor. This would happen after the new church was built.
By 1868 there were enough funds available to build a new timber framed and sheeted church several hundred yards north and a little west of the old log church. The parish would continue to expand and James would built up his farm to nearly 300 acres. By 1884 the population and wealth was such to allow the parish to divide and another Catholic church, the Assumption Church was established at Churchville. However the old wooden framed church of St. Patrick would survive as it still does apart from the usual repairs from time to time. The site of the original wooden log chapel was never fogotten and Father Michael V. Rice who had been a pastor for the area from early 1877 until he died and was buried at the site of the altar of the old log church in 1884. He had been born in 1844 in Co. Kilkenny Ireland.
On Oct. 4th. 1979 St. Patricks would have its moment of fame. Pope John Paul II would visit the church and spend some time with the parishoners.
Situated in Lee Township Section 36 in Madison Co. Iowa. Warren Ave- 155th. St South.
This cemetery listing is very interesting and throws up many scraps of information. Perhaps the most interesting is the names of other Civil War Vets buried there. No doubt many would have been known to Gillespie. I have as now limited information on them but would hope to get some and add to this site. Here is the list from the graveyard listing.
Burke Thomas. Died 8th. Sept. 1892. Civil War Vet. Husband of Catherine (Loftus).
Corrigan James. Born 1825 Co. Louth Ireland. Died 11th. Jan. 1872. Civil War Vet.
Couch George W. Born 1842. Died 8th July 1941. Civil War Vet. Co. H. 34th. Iowa Inf. Husband of Elizabeth.
Dooley Michael James. Born 1842 in Canada. Died 26th. June 1930. Civil War Vet. Husband of Margaret Major.
Flanerty Patrick. Civil War Vet Co. E. 47th Iowa Inf. (no dates).
Graham David. Civil War Vet Co. C. Iowa Inf. Died Wilmington N.C.(No Regt.No.).
Hall William. Civil War Vet. Co. B. 34th. Iowa Inf. husband of Johanna (No dates).
Morris Robert. Born 1827 in Ireland. Died 20th. Sept. 1900. Civil War Vet. Co. B. 34th. Iowa Inf.
Smith William. Born 1848. Died 21st. Oct. 1914. Civil War Vet. Husband of Sophia.
Waldron Martin. Born 1837 in Co. Mayo Ireland. Died Nov. 1905. Civil War Vet.
Note: Probably all the soldiers were in Iowa regiments
James Gillaspie farmed the excellent land he had developed and died in 1916. He was
obviously well enough off certainly towards the latter half of his life to have a trip hope after some 47 years.
He as he records,
also did some travelling in America.
James Gillaspie had by any standard a fairly basic education in Ireland. However he had obvious writing talents and one wonders what he could have attained if he had been a product of Athaeskey school as now. The accounts of his life and his war service are fascinating. It should be also noted that James also wrote a short history of the Irish immigrants in Crawford and Lee townships for the Madison County Historical Society meeting March 19th. 1907. This article was published in The Winterset News on 29th. March 1907. This article also has notes on the history of the development of St. Patricks church. He was obiously well read and had a great interest in reading. He is said to have left his collection of some 300 books in his will.It is also interesting to note that James Gillaspies son also James became a Catholic priest and he in fact officiated at his brother Thomas Leo Gillaspie's marriage to Elizabeth Grassman from nearby Churchville on Jan 19th. 1904 at the Assumption church there. This is intesting as it shows up to some degree the closeness of the Catholic community in the area at that time. No doubt James Gillaspie (Senior) would be very proud to have a son a priest. That would be a very Irish thing.
As a matter of interest Churchville had its own chaple built in 1890 along with a Catholic shool. James Gillespie would have attended it as well as St. Patricks. Associated with the Churchville chaple was Calvary cemetery about a mile to the west. This where James and his wife would be buried. Sadly the church was burnt down in 1935. Churchville was of some importance in earlier times and was a staging post for the stage running between Des Moines and Winterset. The two major communities associated with Churchville were German and Irish.
When the book "The History of Madison County Iowa 1879" was written James was obviously well enough known and respected to have an entry made about him and his family as below.
The following extract taken from the book, "The History of Madison County, Iowa, 1879"
James Gillespie, Crawford twp., farmer, Sec. 15; P.O. Patterson; born in the county of Londonderry in Ireland, in the year 1830, and lived there until 1852 when he emigrated to New York and lived there until 1856; was gardener while there; came to this county in 1856; a short time before he started he married Miss Ann Keirman, a native of Ireland, but raised principally in the State of New York; when he came he was in rather moderate circumstances, but now has a finely improved farm of 280 acres; has a family of four sons and three daughters living: John J., Mary F., Frank, Anna E., Catherine G., James and Thomas; he went into the army in September, 1864, in company A., Sixteenth Iowa, and served till the close of the war; was on Sherman's march to the sea; has held the offices of justice of the peace two terms, township clerk two terms and a member of the school board about sixteen years.
Children of JAMES GILLESPIE and ANN KEIRMAN are:
i. INFANT GILLESPIE, b. 1857; d. 1857.
More About INFANT GILLESPIE;
Burial: 1857, St. Patrick Cemetery, Lee Township, Madison, Iowa
ii. JOHN J. GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1859.
iii. MARY F. GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1861.
iv. FRANCIS (FRANK) GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1863.
v. ANN E. GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1865.
vi. CATHERINE G. GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1867.
vii. JAMES GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1869.
viii. THOMAS GILLESPIE, b. Abt. 1871.
In 1866, Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more
than six decades. Membership in the veterans' organization was restricted to individuals who had
served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby
limiting the life span of the GAR. The GAR existed until 1956.
Though James had served only eight months in the Army he nevertheless was obviously proud that he had done so. He was proud enough to join. Looking at the microflm of his GAR enrolement sheet though difficult to read records him a a member of the Pitzer group of Winterset 55(3) 2d term 1910.
When researching some other aspects of James life the various census taken help identify who was where and when.
1860 Census: No Gillespies or Gillaspies found.
Gillaspie Ann 38 Ireland Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie Ann E 5 Iowa Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie Catherine G 3 Iowa Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie Frances 29 Ireland Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie Francis 7 Iowa Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie James 45 Ireland Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie James 1 Iowa Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie John 11 Iowa Crawford Township Ellsworth
Gillaspie Mary F 9 Iowa Crawford Township Ellsworth
We see his son Michael listed between a Gilleran and a Glynn in the listing of St. Patricks Cemetery in Bevington Iowa as below.
Gilleran, Mary, b. 1870, Cincinnati, Oh, d. 1896, d/o Martin & Mary (Regan)
Gillespie, Infant, d. 1857, 6m 29d, s/o James & Ann
Glynn, Bridget (Crosby), b. 1841, Ire, d. 1915, w/o Thomas
1880 Federal Census:
Gillespie Ann 48 Ireland Crawford Township
Gillespie Annie E 15 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie Catherine G 13 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie Francis 17 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie James 50 Ireland Crawford Township
Gillespie James 11 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie John 21 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie Mary F 19 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie Mary Nora 11 Iowa Crawford Township
Gillespie Thomas 9 Iowa Crawford Township
James Gillaspie 64 b. Ireland W Madison Crawford
Anna Gillaspie 63 b. Ireland W Madison Crawford
Thomas Leo Gillaspie 23 b. Iowa Madison W Madison Crawford
Mary Nora Gillaspie 18 b. Iowa ?? W Madison Crawford
Gillespie Dorothy Crawford
Gillespie Elizabeth C Crawford
Gillespie Frank Crawford
Gillespie Marie Crawford
Gillespie Thomas L Crawford
James and his wife are buried in Calvary Cemetery Jefferson Townhip Warren Co. near Churchville. Churchville Catholic church at Churchville is about a mile from the cemetery.
It is know that James farm was about 5 miles southwest of St. Patricks church in section 15 of Crawford township in Madison Co. Note the spelling of the name as Gillaspie. There is a G.A.R. marker on the grave. Info from headstone as follows:
Also the following buried at Calvary cemetery from James's family. Thomas Leo was a son of James. Elizabeth C would appear to have been the wife of Thomas Leo. Helen who died very young and Frank J the soldier would appear to have been two of their children. It is of interest to note that Frank J would have been aged about 35 at the start of WW II so he would not have been drafted as such, I think that he was already a professional soldier.
Note: Helen, Elizabeth and Thomas L on one stone.
It is also of interest to note that Leo Gillespie of Winterset a brother to Frank J Gillespie above also served in WW II and also wrote for many years articles for the Madisonian newspaper. He had inherited his grandfathers love of writing and along with his brother had served his country as did his grandfather. He is buried in Winterset cemetery. All three grandsons of James in fact were WW2 veterans. These were the sons of Thomas who ahd inherited the home farm.
Though James Gillespie served only a very short time in the Civil War approx. eight months at no time in
his written notes about his experiences does he mention much about his health. He had
arrived home from the war at the end of May 1865. He was then aged 35. He would pick up on his farming and expand
his family. He would be a successful
farmer and also be a well liked man. Nothing much is known about his life between 1865 and 1890
when he is aged 60. By 1890 it would be natural
for him to think of his retirement. What were his options?. There would be no Social Security or State help
in those years. This is where we learn a lot more about him. In his memoires about his army experiences he never
says too much about his health or any sicknesses he had contracted. He was not a man to complain. He just got on with it.
However no doubt he was aware that many of his soldier peers in Iowa were claiming a pension and why shoud'nt he.
Towards the end of 1890 he startes the ball rolling about obtaining a pension. This would not be an easy task. As many ex soldiers know they are great guy when needed to fight but when it is all over well that's another story. Just take the 10 cent medals and go away and don't come looking for compensation or a pension. This is the story of the world's soldiers.
One thing that is surprising to find out about James is that though he writes a spirited account on his experiences he in fact contracted a rather nasty illness during the march with Sherman from Atlanta to the sea.
It is known from his pension application files that he in fact developed very severe eczema on this march.
Now let us look at the amount of trouble he had to get a pension in 1890 and the trouble he would have to maintain it. We now know that his main health problem on which his claim is based is his eczema.
On Dec. 2nd 1889.
James sign a Declaration of Original Invalid Pension witnessed by W.C.Newborn clerk of the Dstrict Court in Madison Co. This repeats information about his army service and health problems.The document is attested by M. C. Killan and J. V. Walker. It is interesting to see he mentions that the 16th Regt. was commanded by Lieut Smith Spore.
On Dec. 9th 1889.
James files his first application. He requires many people to give him references. Let us see just who.
On Dec. 21st. 1889.
James gets two gentlemen in the town of Winterset to vouch for basically that "he is who he is" a M. C. Killan and J. V. Walker. I would assume these were notable people in Winterset perhaps his bank manager or public figures known to Charles. This is signed on the probably in Winterset. The signatures are witnessed by W. C. Newborn a clerk and M. R. Shriver Deputy.
On Dec. 27th. 1889.
James has now to get affidavits from neighbours. He turns to three of his neighboures in Madison Co. a Willaim H. Doan, L. H. Smith and John H. Smith. Here is what L.H.Smith writes
This is to certify that I have been aquainted with James Gallaspie for 33 years 1856 - 1889.
He was in perfect health in Sixty Three and I saw him in Sixty Five after his discharge and have been aquainted
since with him and I know that he was seriouly afflicted with some scaby and bad sores on face and chin and
very sore eyes these sores
extended over his head and he is still so afflicted. I know him to be strictly temperate.
I know these facts from personal aquaintance with no bad habits. I know that he has been doctoring for this complaint continously since 1865.
He was disabled about one fourth up to eighteen hundred and seventy six and since then fully three fourths. He was a farmer before the war and is still a farmer. I have been aquainted with James Gillaspie for thirty three years from eighteen hundred and fifty six to the present time. The exception two years I was in the army and never knew anything to be the matter with him until I came home from the army.
L. H. Smith was 43 when he wrote this
affidavit. From William H. Doan and John H. Smith come very similar affidavits. Both talk of knowing James for many
commenting on how his health problem was caused by his war service. Also on his temperate character.
All three affidavits are signed by H. H. Miles J. P. for Madison Co.
James claim is numbered 742240.
On Jan. 3rd. 1890.
James has to obtain an affidavit on his health from his doctor L. M. Lidrick M. D. This medical affidavit is signed by L. M. Lidrick M. D. who resides in Winterset. It is signed by both Dr. Lidrick and the local magistrate. Here is what Dr. Lidrick says:
I herby certify that I have this day examined the above named James Gillaspie and found him affected
with persigo a very troublesome skin disease and further state that I treated him for said disease sometime during the
summer of A. D. 1865 and since that time xxxxx for him for said disease and so far the disease has resisted all
I was aquainted with the said James Gillaspie before he went into the army and I am quite sure he did not have this disease before he enlisted in the U.S. military service.
James has to secure references from two of his old soldier friends. A J. D. Comer a fellow private soldier in Co. F. of the Regiment a man known to Gillaspie testifies in a "Proof of Disability" document dated 29th. Jan. 1890 states.
That the said James Gillaspie while in the line of his duty between Atlanta and Savannah in the state
did on or about
the Month of December 1864 become disabled in the following manner. viz. about the 16th. of Nov. 1864 became sick
treated by the Regimental doctor. He rode in the ambulance for some days. This was on Shermans march south of Atlanta.
then became weak and walked for some time with a stick. After this he broke out with a skin disease in the face and
he would pull out his
whiskers with his fingers and had his whiskers shaved off at Savannah and on the end of the hairs
there was like a drop of matter.
That the facts stated are personally known to the affiant by reason of his being with the command at the time the claimant contracted his disability. Also says he shaved the claimant a great many times and knows that he did not have this skin disease until after he got up from this severe spell of fever. Also says claimant was treated at different times by Dr. Phillips on the march between Atlanta and Savannah in the state of Georgia between the following dates. Nov. 16th. 1864 and Dec. 20th. 1864..
The document is signed by the said J. D. Cromer. It is witnessed by E. T. Durfur Magistrate.
4th. Feb. 1890.
James gets another of his old army buddies a Josiah Donahue also a soldier in Co. A. from Story City Iowa also writes a Proof of Disability dated 4th. Feb. 1890. It basically repeats what was written in the earlier affidavit by Cromer. It is witnessed by Henry Wilson Jr. a local magistrate. Along with this Proof of Disability Donahue attaches a hand written letter.(one from Holt???>
17th. Feb. 1890.
An Inability Affidavit is signed by all three of his old soldier buddies ie Cromer, Holt and Donahue. It would appear that the army preferred to have the soldiers regimental doctor in this case Dr. Philips and one or more commissioned officers known to the soldier sign the pension claim. However neither Dr. Josiah Philips or the officers Lieuts. Smith Spore and James H. Stalcup were still alive so the testimony of three of his living soldier buddies was accepted.
26th. April 1890 - 30th.April 1890.
The Dept of the Interior in Washington Bureau of Pensions gets involved with the Records and Pension Dept. of the War Office in Washington checking Gillaspie's records. It records little but that about Dec. 24th 1864 he was disabled by eczema and was treated by the Regimental Surgeon.
14th. July 1890.
James signs a Declaration for Invalid Pension. He signs it in the presence of H. H. Miles a Justice of the Peace. It is witnessed by Dennis McDonnell and J.P. Kirby. Its states his usual claim about the eczema rash developed in the March with Sherman. However he now adds tne following. "injuries received on March 4th. 1879 when a horse fell on me and dragged me breaking my thigh bone and breaking and fracturing six of my ribs on the left side thereby causing lameness and pain and weakness in my left breast.
For those of you who are interested in the exact history of the 16th. Iowa Infantry here is a short history. The unit formed up at the start of the war and remained in service through the conflict. This regiment by any standard had a quite remarkable history.
The regiment was organized at Davenport Iowa between Dec. 10th. 1861 and March 1862. It left Iowa for St. Louis,
Mo. March 20th. 1862.
It then moved to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. and attached to 2nd. Brigade, 6th Division, Army of Tennessee, until April, 1862 and to the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, Army of Tennessee and District of Corinth, Dept. of the Tennessee, until November, 1862 and to the 3rd. Brigade, 6th Division and the Left Wing of the 13th Army Corps (Old), Dept. of Tennessee, until December 1862.
The unit was then attached to the 3rd. Brigade, 6th Division, 16th Army Corps, until January, 1863 and then to the 3rd. Brigade, 6th Division, 17th Corps, until September, 1863.
Finally to the 3rd. Brigade, 1st. Division, 17th. Corps, to April 1864 and finally to the 3rd. Brigade, 4th. Division, 17th Corps, Army of Tennessee, to July, 1865 when the war ended.
The regiment took part in the following battles.
Battle of Shiloh Tenn. April 6th. and 7th. 1862.
Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss. April 29th. May 30th.
Duty at Corinth and Bolivar until November 1862.
Battle of Corinth October 3rd. and 4th. 1862.
Pursuit to Ripley October 5th.to 12th.1862.
Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign November 2nd, 1862 to January 12th 1863.
Moved to Memphis, Tenn. thence to Lake Providence La. Jan. 18th. 1863 and on duty there until April 1863.
Movement on Bruinsburg and turning Grand Gulf April 25th. to 30th.1863.
Battle of Port Gibson May 1st. 1863 (Reserve).
Battles of Raymond May 12th 1863.
Jackson May 14th. 1863.
Champion Hill May 16th. 1863.
Big Black River Crossing May 17th. 1863.
Siege of Vicksburg Miss. May 18th to July 4th.1863.
Expedition to Mechanicsburg May 26th.to June 4th.1863
Jones' Ferry and Big Black and June 28th.
Surrender of Vicksburg July 4th.
Advance on Jackson, Miss. July 5th.to 10th.
Guarding Ammunition and Subsistance trains. Duty at Vicksburg till February, 1864.
Expedition to Monroe, La. August 20th to September 2nd. 1864.
Expedition to Canton October 14th.to 20th. 1864.
Meridian Campaign February 3rd.to March 5th, 1864.
All the Veterans on furlough March and April 1864 when they Moved to Clifton Tenn. then marched to Ackworth, Ga. via Huntsville and Decatur Ala. and Rome Ga.
April 21st. to June 8th. Atlanta Ga. Campaign June 8th. to September 8th.
Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10th. to July 2nd.
Bushy Mountain June 15th. to 17th.1864.
Assaults on Kenesaw June 27th.,Nickajack Creek July 2th. to 5th., Chattahoochie River July 6th. to 17th., and Leggett's Bald Hill July 20th. to 21st.
Battle of Atlanta July 22nd.
Siege of Atlanta July 22nd. to August 25th.
Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25th. to 30th.
Lovejoy Station September 2nd. to 6th.
Pursuit of Hood into Alabama Oct. 1st to 26th.
March to the sea Nov. 15th to Dec. 10th.
Siege of Savannah December 10th to 21st.
Campaign of the Carolinas Jan. to April 1865.
Pocotaligo S. C. Jan. 14th. to 16th.
Salkehatchie Swamps Feb. 3rd to 5th.
River's Bridge Feb. 3rd.
South Edisto River Feb. 9th.
Orangeburg Feb. 11th to 12th.
Columbia Feb. 15th. to 17th.
Cheraw March 3rd. Fayetteville N. C., March 11th.
Battle of Bentonville March 20th. to 21st.
Occupation of Goldsboro March 24th.
Advance on Raleigh April 9th to 13th.
Occupation of Raleigh April 14th.
Bennett's House April 26th.
Surrender of Johnston and his army.
March to Washington, D. C. via Richmond, Va. April 29th. to May 20th.
Grand Review May 24th. Moved to Louisville, Ky. June.
Mustered out July 19, 1865.
The Regiment lost 7 Officers and 94 Enlisted men killed and and 3 Officers and 219 Enlisted men by disease. Total 323.
Perhaps one of the best known songs of the Civil War was "Marching Through Georgia". Composed mid Nov. 1864 just as
campaign to march to the sea at Savannah was starting. Gillspie probably knew the words and sang it often on their
toward the sea. It was noted that Sherman got to hate the tune but it never went away!. No doubt years later as he
farmed in Madison Co. James Gillaspie would perhaps
sing or hum the tune and bring back memories both bad and good.
There were between 140 and 160 soldiers in Co A in which Gillaspie served. Most were American born but also included a few Irishmen, Englishmen, Swedes, Welsh and Germans. The names and some information on the soldiers is in the following data base.
Nearly 2,000 Irish born or Irish linked soldiers fought in the Iowa units during the Civil War.
James also left a short history of the Irish and the Irish Settlement of Crawford and Lee Townships which he wrote in March 1907 and which was published in the Winterset News at the end of March 1907.
To Ida Morse and Mary Hart who supplied me with the images of James Gillaspie's headstone and views of Calvary Cemetery.
Thanks to the Iowa Gen.Web.Project for link to James Gillespies history of the Irish Settlement.
Rand McNally Maps.
Image of Booklet front cover courtesy Perry Struse