The bulletin (Augusta, Ga.) 1920-1957, May 11, 1929, Image 5
MAY it. 1929. THE BULLETIN OF THE CATHOIJC LAYMEN'S. ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA. 1,070 Catholic Indians Con firmed in State Year Be fore First Permanent Eng lish Settlement BY RICHARD REID In The Commonweal The record of the Georgia' mis sions is an inspiring story of the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Do minicans, and the secular clergy. It links us with the days of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Sayat Francis Xav ier, Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Philip Neri, Saint Peter Canisius. Indeed, it was the great Sairt Francis Borgia him self who sent sons of Loyola to labor “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” in the new country. The English settled Georgia in 1733. Yet one year before the first permanent English settlement, at Jamestown, and fourteen years be fore the Pilgrim Fathers “fell on their knees and then on the aborig ines” in the Old Bay State, His Lordship, Cabeza de Altamirano, Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, admin istered the sacrament of confirma tion in Georgia to 1,070 neophj^tes. The accompanying article published some time ago in The Commonwealth, New York, and subsequently re produced in The Bulletin, is reprinted because of the many inquiries received re cently about the early Span ish missions of this state and section. Forty-one years be fore the English settled Jamestown and fifty-tour years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, *Ca.ho- lic missionaries were labor ing to Christianize the In dians in Georgia and the Southeast, and had missions here. The visit of President Coolidge to Georgia in De cember directed the attention of millions of people for the first time to the fact that Georgia has a history ante dating that starting with the coming of General Ogle thorpe. The Georgia phase of the Catholic history of the early days in 'The Southeast was emphasized in this arti cle because the Catholic his tory of Florida in those pioneer, pre-colonial times is generally known. Closing Catholic Schools Would Bankrupt Public School Systems Louisville Record Points Out That Present Financial Crisis in Public Education in Many Cities Was Long Post poned by Parochial Schools. First Jesuit Martyr in Western Hemisphere Met Death in Georgia at Hands of Indians Near Brunswick The early history of Georgia is eloseiy linked with that of Florida. Both were governed from St. Au gustine; there was no clear line of demarkation between them such as now exists. Indeed, the name Florida was applied equally to the present Georgia. It is common knowledge that the roots of Florida are deeply inbedded in Catholic soil. Ponce de Leon and his Cath olic companions discovered Florida on Easter morn of 1513, but their attempt to found a colony was abandoned eight lears later. It was in Florida, at Tampa, that Luis Cancer de Barbastro, Apostle of Guatemala, was killed by the sav age Catoosas—this was a genera tion before the first permanent set tlement on the North.American con tinent, the Catholic St. Augustine colonized in 1565. The Catholic history of Georgia y is hardly less ancient. It is prob able that Ayllon, who in 1526, but a score of years after the death of Co lumbus, planted a short-lived colony on the coast of South Carolina, trod Georgia soil. It is certain that Hernando de Soto crossed the state "from the Savannah to the Chatta hoochee” on his ill-fated march (1539-1542) to his grave of running waters in the Mississippi. De Soto was accompanied on his historic march by "twelve priests, eight ec clesiastics, and four religious.” With this expedition and that of Nar vaez at least fifteen priests lost their lives in the Southeast. Som^ of them, worn out by the hard ships of battling their way through treacherous swamps and dangerous forests, found their final resting place in Georgia graves. By right of exploration the en tire Southeast was Spain's. For nearly a century and a half after the discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leoil and for a century after Menendez settled St. Augustine and colonized Georgia, their Catholic majesties held practically undisput ed sway over it. The Spanish, how ever, were not particularly enthusi astic about prospects in til is terri tory. The failure of de Leon, Ayl lon. de Luna, Villa fane, Narvaez, de Soto, and other intrepid sons of Aragon and Castile to plant settle ments which would take root rather discouraged King Philip. He thought there were better lands in South America, and he decided to withdraw from the north country. The French changed his mind for him by settling Port Royal in 1562 and Fort Caroline, on the St. John’s River, two years later. the first books written in an Indian tongue. After considerable discour aging work among the fickle In dians the Jesuits withdrew. Father Segura and his companions went to martyrs’ deaths in Virginia; the others were transferred to the more promising fields of Mexico and Cuba. The labors of the Jesuits were not. fruitless. The results of their ef forts and of those of the Domini-’ cans, who had established a mission on St. Simon’s Island, were merely lying dormant, to blossom, after further cultivation by the Francis cans who succeeded them, in the early 1570’s. v Under the leadership of Father Alonzo Reynossa, the pro totype of the renowned Junipero Serra, the sons of Saint Francis es tablished missions in Georgia at Ossabaw, Santa Catalina, San Si mon, San Buenventura and San Pedro Islands, at Tolomato on the mainland opposite Sapelo Island, at Santa Maria, and at other points. our ships. Having in mind the merciful disposition of your gra cious majesty, we did not kill the women and children, but having de stroyed their provisions and prop erty and taken away all then- weapons we left them to starve.” The world does grow better. What a wave of resentment such an-act of “mercy” would arouse through out the Christian world were it perpetrated today! Twelve additional Franciscans came to Georgia in 1593 to sup plement their predecessors. Peter de Avila established the mission of San Buenventura at Ospo. now Jekyl Island, the present site of an ultra-exclusive club. Another mission is believed to have been es tablished on the .mainland north of the Altamaha River. The great expanse of swamp land between the islands and the coast-fringe and the Georgia back country did not prevent the zealous Francis cans from penetrating to the in terior. The Brown Robes soon came in contact with the powerful Apalache Indians, whose territory extended through southwestern Georgia from the banks of the Su- wanee in Florida to the Alabama Apalachicola. The ^xact location of most of the old Franciscan missions is unknown, but occasionally ruins of them are revealed. The archives of Cuba, recently examined, indicated the site of the Franciscan establishment on the banks of the Altamaha. Miss Mary Ross, of the University of California, found the spot and the ruins; the cells of the monks were being used as pigpens. The owners of the property regarded the relics of the missions as the re mains of slave cabins built before the war. Pictures of the ruins of the Altamaha Mission and of Santa Maria Mission, near St. Mary’s, Georgia, appear in the recently is sued Debatable Land. (Debatable Land, by Herbert Bolton and Mary Ross, Berkeley: University of Cali fornia Press.) What an effect the reconstruction of the original mis sions would have on the minds of that numerous body which is con vinced that Catholics are newcom ers, and as newcomers they should know their place and keep it! It would be pleasant to record that the Franciscan missions flour ished from the beginning, extending their influence and increasing in prosperity with each succeeding generation, but it would not be true. Yet there is no more brilliant page in the Catholic history of this con tinent than that which records the trials, the triumphs and the reverses of these followers of Saint Francis in Georgia. The missions were also victims of fickleness on the part of the In dians ’along the coast in the dying days of the sixteenth century, long before Jamestown and Plymouth, when the friars were recovering from the raids of Drake and other buccaneers. . A young Yamassee chief, a cacique’s son, after a short period of fervor plunged into scan dalous excesses and was privately and later . publicly reproved by Father Corpa of the Tolomata mis sion. Enraged, the young brave gathered some kindred ■ spirits around him, attacked Father Corpa in his fchapel in the darkness of the night, stretching him lifeless with one blow and then, cowering the people, started out on a bloody expedition that gave the church four other martyrs. Father Corpa's companions in death were Father Rodriguez of Torpiqui, whom the murderers al lowed to say Mass before execu tion; Father Aunon and Father de Badajoz of Santa Catalena, also killed at the end of Mass, and whom a friendly Indian chief tried in vain to save; and Father Velas- cola of Asao, now St. Simon’s Is land, the most learned and . most humble of the missionaries, struck down with clubs and axes by the murderous band which met him in an apparently friendly manner on his return from a visit to St. Au gustine. At the present Jekyl Is land the assassins found Father de (From the Louisville, Ky., Record) It was announced through local newspapers .last week that the public schools of Louisville would be closed this year two weeks be fore the end of the term. The rea son given is lack of public funds, the budget allowed the educational board from the public tax levy- being insufficient to pay the teach ers for the full term. The matter has excited much comment in the press. We have, not, however, no ticed any suggestion as to how much earlier the public schools would have been closed were it not for the Catholic schools in our city. We may- be pardoned this sugges tion. Roundly speaking, one- fourth, of the children of primary school age are enrolled in Catholic schools. If the public fund is in sufficient by two weeks to main tain the public schools for the year when they instruct only three- fourths of the school children of the city, how much sooner would they have been forced to close if the children being taught in our Catholic schools had been attend- ing the public schools since Sep tember? Dtiring the presidential campaign last fall, the Governor of Kentucky was reported in the. newspapers as 6tating in public speeches that in the event the Democratic nominee was elected president, our public schools would be closed. In view of the situation in Louisyille, which in greater or lesser proportion is du plicated in other large cities in the country, it may occur to the Gover nor of Kentucky that if Catholics were desirous of closing the public schools they could adopt no more effective measure than to cld^e their own schools and present their children to the public school au thorities for the education which in common with other citizens they are taxed to pay for. In New Y’ork, for instance, owing to lack of facilities, the public, schools.have for years been running on part time. At the same time there are nearly 175,000 children being educated in Catholic paro chial schools in New York City. If the Cardinal Archbishop of New York wished to bankrupt the schools of that city, he need only close the parochial schools. It is such facts, showing the large con tribution of the Catholic body to public education, which, make it hard to understand how the very governor of our State could have the heart even in a political cam paign, publicly to traduce Catholic citizens in respect to public edu cation. San Felipe on Parris Island, Catucache further north. and The missionaries also achieved gratifying success among the Apa lache whose territory centered around the site of modern Valdosta. Georgia. This tribe was superior to its neighbors; evidence never has been discovered to show that it offered human sacrifice, a prac tice of even the intelligent Tim- uqua. After repeatedly petitioning for missionaries, their requests were answered in 1633 and in a few years the entire tribe from northwest Florida to eastern Ala bama, was Christianized. A flour ishing trade with St. Augustine was developed. Unjust exactions of the governor created such discontent that in 1657 it became necessary to abandon eight prospering mis sions in the Apalache territory, but they were restored later by Bishop Gabriel Diaz Vara Calderon, of Santiago de Cuba, who, on a visi tation of the Southeast, established several new foundations. In the meantime the English had settled Charleston. The Spanish settlements in Georgia barred their way to Alabama, and conflict was inevitable. The Spanish kept fire arms away from their Indians; the Carolinians armed and incited theirs. An attack on Santa Cata lina in 1680 by 300 Indians headed by the English was the first of a series of such troubles; a troop of On Mother’s Day By Fr. Jerome, O. S. B. O- Awaken! Keep vigil my heart! She cometh anon to enroll Remembrance of her which a yesteryear Has cadenced with cheer or pearled in tear. She cometh for old love's toll. Awaken! Keep vigil my heart! And breathe in a MOTHER’S soul Sweet breath of your heart- dawn’s warming glow. Sweet welcome be wel I a way! For lo! She cometh for old love’s toll. Mother of Fr. Eugene, O.S.B., Dies in Atlanta (Special to The Bulletin) ATLANTA, Ga.—Mrs. Mary A. O’Donnell, one of Atlanta's *mosi widely known Catholic women, mother of Rev. Dr. Eugene, O. 9. B., formerly of Savannah, now of Christian Indians was carried off to | Greensboro, N. C., died here May be sold as slaves. Spain, already Avila who instead of being sent to dissipating her energies, was not in eternity after his brother friars, ! a position ; to give her colonies the The king dispatched Menendez d.e Aviles to eject the intruders and to colonize the threatened coast. This Menendez did in very thorough fas- ion, blotting his otherwise admir able record by the massacre of the defenders of Fort Caroline. The settlement of St. Augustine by Me nendez at this time, 1 565, was the beginning of the continued and he roic effort to evangelize the Indians which ended 200 years later when Georgia, and subsequently Florida, passed by treaty to English sover eignty^. Georgia claims the first Jesuit .martyr in the western hemisphere. He was Father Pedro Martinez, one of three missionaries sent to the Southeast by Saint Francis Borgia immediately after the settlement of Florida. This pioneer was martyred in 1566 by the Yamassees on Cum berland Island. Previously Menen dez had visited Georgia and estab lished friendly relations with the Indians of Guale, now St. Cather ine's Island, near Savannah. After the death of Father Mar tinez the province of Florida, in cluding Georgia, became a Jesuit vice province with Father Segura as provincial. Ten more Jesuits were assigned to the new field; a school for'Indian boys was started at Havana. At Guale, at St. Elena, the Carolina Spanish post among the Oriste, and elsewhere, the Jes uits began their civilizing and Christianizing efforts. Brother Baez compiled a dictionary and Brother Domingo a grammar arid catechism, The difficulties of Christianizing the Indians were many. The na tives, when not hostile, were fre quently fickle. The king’s officers, soldiers, traders, and adventurers in the r.ew country at times made the work of the missionaries harder by bad example, a condition warned against in a letter from Pope Pius V to Menendez emphasizing the fact that "nothing is more im portant the conversion of these Indians and idolaters than to en- deaver by all means to prevent scandal Jpeing given by the vices and immorality of such as go to those western parts.” More serious was the hostility of the English and the depredations of their buccaneers who repeatedly attacked and sacked the missions, undoing in a day the expenditure of years of unbelievable toil. The raids of Drake are an example; in 1586 he and his followers destroy ed the Dominican mission at St. Simon’s Island, killed the mission aries, sacked other missions along the coast, and burned St. Augus tine. At Ban Domingo they hanged two Franciscans who came to ne gotiate. wits sold into slavery, and a year later was rescued. \ In 1602 there were 1,200 Chris tian Indians among the Timuqua, who numbered perhaps 20,000. Three years later seven more friars came and the Yamassee missions, destroyed by the young chief's band, were reestablished. The po- tano tribe along the Suwanee was almost entirely Christianized; ef forts among the lower Creeks were fruitful; Bishop Cabeza made the confirmation tour' previously refer red to, administered the sacrament to 1,070 at four Georgia missions. Father Pareja published a Timuqua catechism in Mexico in 1612 and a grammar two years later. In the former year, the Atlantic coast was included in a new Franciscan mis sionary province, that of Santa Elena; and Fray Juan de Capillos, a Georgia missionary, became first provincial with headquarters at St. Augustine. The number of priests working in the, Southeast was augmented by the arrival of twenty-four friars. "Thirty, forty, and even fifty was the usual corps of priests in the Florida province” at this - period. Professor Bolton writes. It was the golden age of the Franciscan missions in the old Southeast. Plymouth Rock was yet untouched by English settlers! assistance Vnd defense they need ed. The Spanish frontier fell back from Santa Catalina to Sapelo and the Altamaha. St. Augustine, dis turbed, entered its stone age. The Yamassee changed their allegiance and with English buccaneers wrecked the Guale missions. The frontier again receded, this time to 4 after an illness of six weeks. Mrs. O'Donnell was born in Ire land, in Mallow County, eighty, two years ago and came to Atlanta •in 1866; she passed through the trying Reconstruction period here, starting then the social and wel fare work That she continued throughout her life. She was an active member of Sacred Heart parish, from which her funeral was held, with interment in Oakland Cemetery. In addition to Father Eugene, Santa Maria, San Juan, and Santa __ Cruz, now Amelia Island. The virs. O'Donnell is survived by thre king UcmQ'hterK. Mrs W. W. Baldwin Spanish retaliated by attacking Port Royal. England refused to .sanction a countgr-attack. saying that Charleston had harbored pi rates and that the Scotch in the Carolinas had abetted the Yamas see. "To us was the good God most merciful and gracious,” Drake wrote in 1593 to Queen Elizabeth, "in that He permitted us to kill eighteen Spanish, bitter enemies of your sweet majesty. TVe further wasted the country and brought it to utter ruin. Ve burned their houses and killed their few mules and cattle, eating what we could of the fresh beef and carrying the rest aboard The number of these Catholic Indians in the Southeast is vari ously estimated. One authority de clares that in 1634 the province of St. Elena, with the motherhouse at St. Augustine, contained forty-four Indian missions, thirty-five mis sionaries, and 30,000 Catholic In dians. A more conservative, al though not necessarily more accu rate estimate, states that in 1655 there were thirty-five Franciscan missions in Georgia and Florida with a Catholic Indian population of 26,000. It is estimated that more than twenty stations were estab lished along the Georgia coast and up into South Carolina by 1650, and in 1655 Georgia is credited with five main missions, San Pedro on Cumberland Island, San Buenven tura on Jekyl Island, Santo Do mingo at Talaje on the mainland. San Jose on Sapelo Island, and Santa Catalina on St. Catherine’s Island. In South Carolina there was In the meantime Carolina and Florida contended for "The posses sion of inland Georgia, peaceably occupied by the Spanish for over a century. The Spanish, on the whole, fought a losing fight. At the dawn of the eighteenth century, Moore, a former governor of Caro lina, leading fifty English and LffOO or more well-armed Creeks, Cataw- bas, and other un-Christianized savages, destroyed ten of the eleven Apalache missions, slaughtered hun dreds of Christian Indians, and Spaniards, four priests, including Father Pareja and Father Mirando —who were among the many burn ed at the stake—and carried off 1,400 Christian Indians to be sold as slaves in Carolina or to be dis tributed for adoption or torture. Of the 7,000 Christian Apalache on ly 400 escaped. Everything on the peaceful, flourishing missions was destroyed. Undaunted, the Franciscan mis sionaries soon were directing their energies to the task of restoring the ruins of their generations of work. The Yamassee, dissatisfied with their treatment at the hands of the Carolinians, made peace with the Spanish. By 1720 there were again six towns and seven mis sions of Catholic Indians in the devastated area inland; six years later there were still 1,000 Catholic Indians in Georgia. daughters. Mrs. W. W. Baldwin, Mrs. L. H. Deihl and Mrs. Rebecca Lyons. Pallbearers were A. L. Deihl. A. A. Arndt, ,T. N. Malone. A. W. Mehaffey, L. C. Green. John Campbell, .T P. Flynn. Thomas F. Hastings, "William Riordan ajid C. P. Murphy. SENATE REJECTS RESOLUTION WASHINGTON, D. C.—Senator Heflin’s resolution rebuking per sons ho accused of interfering with his right of free speech was re jected April 30 by a vote of 70 to 14. The senators supporting the resolution were Harris. George, Black Tyson, Blease, Trammell, Thomas of. Oklahoma. Simmons. McKellar, Fletcher, Robinson of Indiana and Sackett of Kentucky. In 1733 Georgia was founded as a buffer colony between Carolina and the Spanish settlements: the grant ended at the Altamaha River. The English desired the territory between the Aaitamaha. and the St. John’s, to be regarded as a kind of no man’s land^ Despite the efforts of the English government to maintain peace by forbidding the Georgians to settle below ihe Al tamaha, the colonists often ignor ed the boundary. England was engaged in a war with France at ihe time, and de sired Spain's neutrality. The task of remaining neutral became too great for Spain; she entered the war, in 1671, on the side of the French. The subsequent victory of the English sealed the doom of the Georgia missions; the neutral ter ritory between the Altamaha and the San Juan rivers, including practically all of what is now known as South Georgia, was lost to Florida. The history of the Franciscan missions in Georgia was a closed book. No longer are the Christians of Georgia Catholic, but that does not dim the lustre of the priestly ma- bassadors who first preached Christ crucified along the placid Savan nah, the historic Altamaha, and the storied Suwanee. No other Amer ican state is more generously sew ed with that priceless seed of the church, the blood of martyrs!