Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Finding Baptism and Marriage Records for West Brookfield Catholics from 1830-1950

  Years ago Ed O'Day wrote to me about the challenges of finding church records for West Brookfield Catholics. This information has been helpful in my research and may be helpful to others.
St. John's Catholic Church, Worcester, MA
By Pvmoutside - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
  West Brookfield did not have a Roman Catholic Parish of its own until 1950.  The Catholics in town were served by priests from other areas, some of whom visited West Brookfield and recorded baptisms and marriages.  One priest in particular, Father Fitton, who founded Holy Cross College in Worcester,  kept records of his visits in town.  He was succeeded by Father Gibson, who first visited West Brookfield in 1845, and continued his missions to the town even after railroad construction ceased.  Father Gibson recorded baptisms is a special book he kept for rural areas in the county.
   Early Brookfield area baptisms and marriages from about the mid 1830's to the mid 1850's, may be found in the parish records of St. John's in Worcester. Records for a few of the ensuing years may be found in Webster or Chicopee, as the priests from those communities ministered to Catholics in the rural areas of Worcester County. 1860 brought another change, as priests from St. Mary's in Ware administered the sacraments.  St. Joseph's in North Brookfield took over that responsibility from 1867 to 1892.  Finally, in 1892 St. Mary's Church in Brookfield became responsible for ministering to Catholics in West Brookfield.  Priest's from St. Mary's continued to serve West Brookfield parishioners until 1950.