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Auburn Oregon Catholic Church
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As stated elsewhere, the first church established in Baker was the Catholic Church, organized at Auburn in 1862 by Father Mesplie. On that first visit he solemnized the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Packwood, the second event of the kind in the county, that of Mr. and Mrs. Hall a short time before being the first. Father Deilman came over from Canyon City to Auburn at intervals afterward and held services but there was never any resident priest at the town. Father Deilman got lost on one of his trips, and wandered in the mountains three days with nothing to eat but huckleberries.
Mesdames Bowen, Packwood and Mooney raised $200 to be used for procuring a house of worship. When the church was organized Messrs. Packwood, Bowen and Jere Dooley were appointed trustees and they bought a house for a church, paying $200 down and giving a mortgage on the building for $400 more. Bowen and Dooley had gone to Idaho when the mortgage was to be signed and Packwood signed it as trustee alone. Property in Auburn had declined greatly in value when the mortgage was foreclosed, and the sum realized from the sale of the house paid but a small portion of the debt, and Packwood was held for the balance, the same as if it were his own private business, but Bishop Blanchett finally adjusted the matter without loss to the trustee.
Father Deilman, by appointment of Bishop Blanchett, came to Baker City, March 25, 1871, and held services at the house of Mrs. Bowen until Easter Sunday, April 9, when services were held in a house which is still-standing on the west side of Second street between Court and Washington.
During the spring and summer a fund was raised by subscription for the purpose of building a church, and in the fall a building was erected at the northwest corner of First and Church street, at a cost of $2500, John Chord contractor and builder. Soon after the church was completed a Chinaman called Ah Sing came back to Baker City from Sparta, where he had been all summer, and espying the new house with a cross on the top of it, exclaimed: “Me think him Joss house. Me pay um $15.”
In 1873 Father Deilman went to Europe, and Father DeRoo became resident priest until 1888, when Father Henreich took charge as pastor. A Sunday school has been maintained ever since the church was established, and in 1889 the ladies of the church organized an Alter society.
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