The early Catholics worshipped and held mass in Hugh McGlew’s house at what is now 73 Prospect Street, before there ever was a Catholic Church in Newburyport.
I stumbled on Hugh McGlew (sometimes spelled McGlue) while researching 53 Prospect Street, the home of Ellen Curran, it turns out that Huch McGlew (1801-1846) was an incredibly important person in Newburyport’s history, he was a pioneer for the Catholic Church in Newburyport. The early Catholics worshipped and held mass in his house at what is now 73 Prospect Street, before there ever was a Catholic Church in Newburyport.
In an interview in the Newburyport Daily News, May 1, 1913, that Ellen Curran, then 99, gave an account of the early Catholic Church. She was the only living Catholic in 1913 left who had attended mass in the McGlew house.*
Men and women tied ropes around the building and hauled it by hand.
Ellen recalled that the first Catholic Church building was an ell of Old South Church. It was impossible to get either oxen or horses to move the property to the land on Charles Street. The adults of the congregation, men and women, tied ropes around the building and hauled it themselves. This is a remarkable story. There are accounts and even at least one photo of oxen and horses moving homes, but I have never heard of people actually doing the moving. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been. Historic New England has a photograph of oxen moving a much smaller dwelling. The structure was moved to 30 Charles Street, and it shows up on the 1851 map.* It became the first Catholic Church in Newburyport, The “new” church, seating one hundred, was called St. Mary’s and remained in use until the church on Green Street was completed in 1853.**
Hugh and his wife Catherine were from County Meath, Ireland. They first came to Salem around 1822 and by 1927 they had moved to Newburyport.^^* They bought 73 Prospect Street in 1837.^
Hugh came to Newburyport with a trade that made money, he was a blacksmith, a business that was carried on for 6 generations^*^* in Newburyport and became a thriving Newburyport industry.^*^ He also repaired carriages and coaches and was the superintendent of the Eastern Stage Coach Company that pioneered the stage coach service between Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine.^^
Hugh left everything to his wife Catherine.^* Their son Thomas McGlew sold 73 Prospect Street in 1874.^
Thomas J. Welch
What happened to St. Mary’s?
The house that is now at 30 Charles Street is not an old church building, my question was where did it come from and what had happened to the property? It turns out that the Catholic Church took down St Mary’s and sold the the land, which was bought by a parishioner for $520 and auctioned off in a lottery in 1873 for $1.00, which was won by a young man called Thomas J. Welch. In 1876 Thomas bought a house at the corner of Fair and Charter Streets at auction for $30 and moved it to the land on Charles Street. The house was owned by the Welch family for 127 years and exists today in the spot where Thomas Welch moved it.*^
Sarah Brown and her father Charles Chase
Who owned the original house on the corner of Fair and Charter Street that got moved?
On the 1851 map a house on the corner of Charter and Fair Street along with what is now 25 Charter Street and 42 Fair Street belong to “Mrs Brown.” Finding out who Mrs. Brown was took some doing.
It turns out that Mrs. Brown, was Sarah Brown (1804 – 1880), widow of Nathan William Brown (1795 – 1836) who she married in 1821, and daughter of Charles Chase (1770 – 1845) who married Hannah Bartlet Chase (1765 – 1843). Nathan Brown was a merchant and when he died he left Sarah with young children. Charles Chase had been a teamster, and also bought a lot of property, salt marshes. When her father Charles Chase died in 1845, Sarah Brown was his only living child and inherited 40 Fair Street and the land that went with it, as well as the land that contained the salt marshes.
It seems that Sarah Brown built 25 Charter Street on the land that she inherited from her father. 25 Charter Street shows up in the 1849 tax records at the Newburyport Pubic Library Archival Center,*^* and she leased out what is now 40 Fair Street (then 34 Fair Street).^*^
When Sarah sold her son Captain Jacob B. Brown 25 Charter Street in 1867, she moved back into her father’s house at 40 Fair Street. She sold 40 Fair Street to another son John T. Brown also in 1867, however, the Newburyport City Directories show that she lived at 40 Fair Street until her death in 1880. The heirs of John T. Brown sold the house in 1903.^
Captain Jacob B. Brown
Why was the original house at the corner of Fair and Charter Streets sold and what replaced it?
What was once a house at the corner of Fair and Charter Streets (now 30 Charles Street) most probably belonged to Captain John Couch (1747 – 1794) who died without a will. It appears that his wife Abigail Sawyer Couch (1750-1826) lived there until her death.^ The title to the house seems to have been divided by 5 of his heirs, and Sarah Brown bought the then smaller property in 1848^ (this shows up on the deed of the mother of Elizabeth Nourse). The 1849 tax records at the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center shows that Sarah Brown owned 25, then 15 Charter Street was marked as “Self,” 40 Fair Street was “Father’s” and 42 Fair Street was “Mother’s.” In 1876 when Captain Brown sold the corner house at to Thomas J. Welch, he built an income property in its place, a two-tenement house which remains there today.*^
(Street numbers often changed, what is 25 Charter Street was listed as 15 Charter Street on the early tax records, and 40 Fair Street was listed as 34 Fair Street, 42 Fair Street was listed as the corner of Charter and Fair Streets.)
The adventures of Captain Jacob Brown and Captain Charles W. Brown
Captain Jacob Brown (1834 – 1881) married Anne Anne Augusta Fitch Brown (1836- 1895), and in 1869-1870 he took his wife and family on a voyage, and his wife Anne kept a diary that is in the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.^^^ Jacob and Anne took, Jacob age 8, Carrie age 5, Lillie age 3 and Sarah the was the nurse. Her daughter Annie Bartlett Brown was born on the ship going around Cape Horn.
The Agate commanded by Captain Jacob Brown, set sail from Boston Harbor on October 1869 to Melbourne, Australia arriving in January 1870. From there she sailed to Honolulu, Baker Island and around the Horn where Anne (Annie) was born. The voyage continued north to Liverpool, England, arriving in October 1870. The last leg of the voyage was across the North Atlantic, around the Grand Banks and back to Boston in December, 1870.***
The diary’s entry for Thursday August 4 was made by Captain Jacob Bartlett Brown, “At daylight, Mrs. B. rather indisposed owing to natural causes. At 1:30 P.M. a fine girl baby made its appearance on the stage of life. Mother and child doing well.”
Captain Charles William Brown (1858-1928) was the son of Jacob B. Brown, and went to sea from Newburyport at the age of 17 for 12 years. He became Newburyport’s youngest captain and was also the captain of the Agate, like his father before him. He went on to become a millionaire for one of the largest plate-glass manufacturer in the world. In 1925 he wrote “My Ditty Bag,” tales of the sea with a photograph of his father at the beginning of the book. There is a copy in the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.**^
~ History compiled by Mary Baker Eaton for the Interactive Newburyport History Map – Keeping the Story Alive
Footnotes and References:
* Newburyport Daly News, May 1, 1913
^ Salem Deeds
^^ Municipal history of Essex County in Massachusetts, by Arrington, Benjamin F., b. 1856, Publication date 1922, P. 128
**A History of Immaculate Conception Church, In commemoration of Immaculate Conception’s 175 Anniversary, We Present a History of IC Church
^* Probate Records
^*^* Newburyport Daily News, March 16, 1950
^*^ Newburyport Historic Newspapers, Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
*^ Newburyport Daily Herald, March 7, 1876 & Newburyport Daily Herald, February 24, 1876
*^* 1849 and 1852 tax records, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
^^^ 1870 Diary of Anne Augusta Fitch Brown, published privately by her granddaughter Agate Brown Collard in 1959, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.
*** Find a grave, Anne Bartlett Brown
**^ My Ditty Bag” by Charles W. Brown, 1925, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
Newburyport Historic Newspapers, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
Newburyport City Directories
Heritage Quest Online
1872 Map, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
1884 Map, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
1829, 1832, 1849 and 1852 tax records, courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
Many thanks to Jane Wallace Wild, a professional title examiner with a focus on historic research, who graciously helped me with the deeds.
The Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
53 Prospect Street, 73 Prospect Street, 30 Charles Street, 25 Charter Street and 40 and 42 Fair Street and the intertwining stories of Hugh McGlew, Ellen Curran, Thomas Welch, Charles Chase, Mrs. Sarah Brown and Captain Jacob Brown are all on the Interactive Newburyport History Map.