The first Our Lady of Good Counsel Church was dedicated on December 6, 1891.
We'd like to share an excerpt of Mrs. Jennie Phelan Webster's account of our churchs' early history. We are blessed to have this memoir and hope you enjoy reading as it is very informative and often amusing.
By Jennie Phelan Webster
Miss Abell, of the Baltimore Sun Abell's, donated one hundred and fifty dollars with the request that the church be called Our Lady of Good Counsel as she had a special devotion to her. The heads of the families donated $25 each and we had an oyster supper in the church before it was finished. Someone gave the main altar. The small alters were made of packing boxes covered with muslin. The church was finished and as far as I can remember there was no debt. It was dedicated on December 5 1891, which was on a Sunday and a great day for us. The choir from Easton, Bishop Curtis and a number of priests were present, but I don't seem to remember who they were except for Father Ott, Father Mickle and Father Heu from Baltimore. Father Ott was a very large man who walked about town in his cassock followed at a safe distance by all of the children of the town who had never seen a man wear a black dress before.
He left us soon after the church was finished and so on his last visit he brought and introduced to us a young priest who looked like he had lost his last friend. This being his first charge, and I am sure it looked very desolate to him. This priest was Father Waldron and in a short time everyone was crazy about him.
Bishop Curtis was a very frequent visitor and as he and the priest stayed at our house we got to know them pretty well. As a child I was terribly afraid of Bishop Curtis and did not look forward with any pleasure to his visits. I remember we had a grand choir, a family of Episcopalians, who all had lovely voices. Since they had no church nearby, they were glad to come to ours until one night he preached a sermon on Episcopalians (having been one himself). This family never came back to sing again. They have a son, a priest, educated in Rome and now one of the priests at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Washington D.C.-- Father John Spence.
Father Waldron must have stayed with us about six years. During that time the bell in the steeple cracked and gave forth a dismal sound. Father Waldron obtained a new bell for our church. It was blessed on a Sunday afternoon and again, the Easton choir were to come. We made arrangement to feed about twenty for dinner at our house. All the Protestant friends who had a horse and buggy kindly volunteered to meet the train at Hurlock seven miles away. When the train pulled in, there were more than forty. Father was wild; he had turned away at least forty more at the train in Easton, but we found enough food for them all to eat. In the afternoon, the blessing of the bell took place. Father Waldron named it Margaret in honor of his sister. For the next ten years, the Angelus rang out three times a day. It was rung by Mr. George Coors or some member of his family. After he died, the Angelus ceased to ring, but we are happy that this bell has been placed in our new church. After Father Waldron left us, Father McVeigh came and stayed about one year. He was followed by Father William Temple, who soon decided to have Mass twice a month. To do this he had an assistant priest, Father Charles McGoldrick and Father O'Neil from Thousand Islands, whom everyone loved dearly. He later was sent to Baltimore but soon died. Then Father Tuohy came, who soon left and went back to his home in Chicago. Father Temple was a tireless worker, always giving Catholic and non-Catholic missions in nearby town. He always had a question box at all non-Catholic missions. I feel sure he did more to enlighten the non-Catholics than any other priest.
One time, Father Waldron wanted to preach in Federalsburg, a town where a Catholic Priest was a curiosity. My Mother wrote a friend and she procured the Presbyterian Church. He delivered a wonderful sermon, we heard later. I remember a mission he gave in a hall in New Market. We all walked out there to meet him. He was late but finally drove up and sent his horse to the livery stable to be fed and rubbed down. He had no supper until later. He told us his reason for being late. In order to save time, he had made a detour and had to cross a shallow stream. His horse refused to go, so he dad to unhitch his horse, take off his shoes, roll up his trousers, lead his horse across, then go back and pull his carriage through and hitch it up again.
We never had an oyster supper or lawn fete that he didn't work harder than any of us. We had Forty Hours devotion every year, and would like to add that while there were very few members; there was never any trouble getting people to spend an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, although some of them had to walk two or three miles to do it. Father Edward Horning of Baltimore, gave several Missions. Another priest, Father Valentine, a Passionist, was a wonderful preacher. There were several others whose names I do not remember.
About this time a Mrs. Bowan, an English woman bought a farm about seven miles away. She was very well educated and a good musician. She undertook to teach us to sing High Mass. She would drive down every Saturday afternoon with her horse and buggy, two dogs and two cats, and would stay until about Wednesday. Of course we had to entertain her. The continued for one winter. At Easter we were allowed to sing our first High Mass. One Christmas Father had Mass at Golden Hill early in the morning, then drove to Cambridge and to Secretary for the last mass, a distance of about thirty seven miles on very bad roads. Father was a hard worker, never resting but always driving around hunting for stray Catholics. he left after about four years and Father Dougherty came. I believe he was the first priest to make a permanent home in Cambridge. He came to us twice a month, either driving up or we would send down a motor boat for him. While he was a pastor it was decided the church was too small and they must put an addition to it, building all across the back. This was in 1907 as well as I can recall. Father Dougherty stayed four or five years and then Father Brennan came. He was followed in time by Father Mooney. He was the first priest to own an automobile. He was with us about a year. He was ill and Father Walsh was sent to take his place. He stayed with us fifteen years.
During that time we acquired some real estate about 1910. As we had no cemetery, all Catholics were buried in the church yard. After rebuilding the church, there was no more room, so my mother got an option on the present cemetery--four hundred dollars. She then persuaded ten men to put up forty dollars each and take a lot. Everyone who had some member of their family buried in the church yard had the bodies removed to the new cemetery. later in 1926 when "My Lady Sewall's Manor" (built in 1664) was for sale, although it was almost in ruins, we decided to buy it for $850 as it, the cemetery and the church yard all joined. We soon paid for it and later rebuilt it and used it for a community house.
The next year in 1927, we had a chance to buy another piece of land consisting of two acres for $350. The congregation finally was persuaded on the advisability of buying this piece of land as those two acres completed our block of land and gave us a nice river front. This was all done during Father Walsh's stay. He left and Father Tosick came. He soon went to work on the inside of the church, had it repainted, got a new altar, new stations, altar railing, statues, pews and once more our church was a place to be proud of.
Last fall, the old church was moved back to make room for our new church. Some of the members thought that was foolish and that it should be torn down but I believe we will be glad we decided to keep it. Our lovely new church is nearly completed. I am sure any debt we have made will be paid off in a short time as this congregation are willing workers. We are deeply grateful to the Bishop for making this church possible but I wonder if the younger members will get the joy and satisfaction we did out of our first little church.
Jennie Phelan Webster