Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 84

the railroad people there was a nice little congregation, but later on this and most of the frontier towns dwindled away for a time when the homesteaders found that the rain did not come and they had to abandon their claims and seek a living elsewhere.”

          Brighton, Platteville, Sterling, and Julesburg, worse small towns on the Union Pacific railroad where I could say a Mass on Sundays and have a goodly number at mass, and there were six intervening stations where I went to on weekdays. On the Burlington road, Fort Morgan, Akron and Yuma were the principle stations, and for smaller places where I said mass. When the Burlington Road was completed as far as Sterling on the Cheyenne line, a thrifty town was founded near the boundary of Nebraska, called Holyoke, and I attended at that as well as stations in Nebraska and three more on the new line.

          This seems like a very heavy load to carry as we look at it now, but at the time it did not worry me and I know I have enjoyed every moment and every part of the work. However, I was glad when, after Easter, 1880, I got the offer of an assistant, and more pleased to know that he was a priest who had studied at Bardstown, Kentucky, and the Rev. Hickey. I gave him my station at Brighton and Platteville on the Union Pacific, and all those along the main line of the Burlington, except Fort Morgan which was then organizing into a mission for Sundays. I also gave him plans for a church at Yuma where I had secured a good location. The plans and specifications were for a brick church and were of my own drawing and the church was build [built] according to them. 

          In the fall of 1888 Father Hickey thought a church might be built at Platteville, but he thought that I would accomplish the work more effectively than he, as it was in this district that my relatives lived and I was better acquainted with the people in general. I had already said mass many times using the schoolhouse for that purpose and had to gather together quite a congregation at that center. Giving him the care of Fort Morgan, I took Platteville in exchange and began the work. A Mr. Johnson donated two lots and I began the work of securing funds for the building. I planned the building myself and superintended to the work, and had the church erected and paid for to the extent of being able to say mass in it on the last Sunday of January 1889. The interior finish, I left to my successor, for the next day I left the missions to take charge of St. Ignatius parish in  Pueblo, by appointment of the bishop.

          This is but a sketch of the missions and the work, but those who are familiar with missions and their work will know how to fill in the rest. 

           During these years there were ups and downs: some serious, half a dozen ludicrous, some just ordinary, and some out of the ordinary. A few may be worth recording. My first religious service at Fort Morgan was in 1897. It was a sermon preached one evening as I was returning to Brighton from Yuma where I had said mass that Sunday morning. The sermon was well attended, and listened to with respect by a few Catholics and a larger number of Protestants. There was a Presbyterian church in the village and a preacher. The next time I preached there, the entire population came to hear me except the preacher’s family and I was told that they wanted to come but could not, as they had to hold some kind of service in their own church.

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