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All Souls Day 2012

This is the resting place of Thomas Culhane and his wife, Catherine Scanlan Culhane from Ballylongford, County Kerry, Ireland. Also, buried here are Catherine’s nephew, Cornelius Scanlan and Thomas’ nephew, Patrick Culhane. Catherine and Thomas were my great, great, great, great grandparents.

Catherine and Thomas were the parents of nine children, four boys and five girls. Their daughter, JoAnna, died in Ireland before the age of seven.

After very hard times in Ireland, they decided to come to America and live in Natchez, Mississippi, where they had friends and relatives.

Catherine was the first to arrive on December 24, 1849, on the ship “The Empire” with her nephew, Cornelius Scanlan, and her two eldest daughters; Margaret Culhane, age 20, who would be known to us as “grandmother Long” and Bridget Culhane, age 16.

Catherine opened a boarding house at 212 State Street. It is the building on the left of what is now known as the William Johnson house, The Barber of Natchez.

One year later on December 9, 1850, Thomas Culhane arrived in America on the ship “Judah Touro”. [The Touro Infirmary in New Orleans was named for Judah Touro.] Sailing with him were his daughters; Mary, age 18, and Ellen, age 7, and his four sons; Martin, age 17, Cornelius, age 14, John, age 6 and Patrick age 3. He also brought two nieces; Kate, age 20 and Margaret, age 18. Six months later on June 13, 1851, at the age of 50, Thomas Culhane died of cholera.

About 1852 or 1853 five year old Patrick, while playing outside, was kidnapped from 212 State Street. It is not documented but, the story which has been told through the generations is that months after the kidnapping, grandmother Culhane received a letter from a Catholic nun in France saying that a young boy named Patrick Culhane was left at her orphanage. While making preparation to go to France to get Patrick, grandmother Culhane received another letter from France saying that the people who had left Patrick there had returned and picked him up. He was never heard of again.

When the Civil War started Catherine’s two sons, Martin and Cornelius, who were of age, joined the Southern Army, against Catherine will. Her younger son, John, who was underage, ran away and joined the army, also. John, age 17, was killed at Manassas, Virginia, on September 21, 1862. Cornelius, age 20, was killed at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 27, 1862.

With only one son left, grandmother Culhane went by boat and train to Richmond, Virginia, to see President Jefferson Davis to get Martin released from the army. The president refused her request. Grandmother Culhane received word on July 3, 1863, that 23 year old Martin was killed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

After the Civil War, grandmother Culhane sued the U.S. government for $250.00 for a bay horse that was confiscated under the Union Command of Brigadier General M. Bergman on July 18, 1864. In this thirty-three page document of the lawsuit, the horse was owned by her son, Cornelius, who had been killed in the war, and it stated that the horse had been stalled on the thirty-seven acres known as Culhane Hill. This hill today is known as the Ramada Hilltop. Grandmother Culhane was described in the document as: age 55, complexion fair, eyes blue, hair black, height four feet, ten inches. Also, in this document she stated that Jefferson Davis was to blame for the death of her sons and, she never forgave him. What a strong, feisty little lady she was.

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F. Morton "Modie" Mascagni presented the history written by his mother Mary Ann Ferguson Mascagni, one of the great, great, great granddaughters of Thomas and Catherine Culhane.

Mary Ann Ferguson Mascagni brought along a porcelain spill vase that belonged to grandmother Culhane.

Surviving relatives at St. Mary are: the Fergusons (Katherine Killelea and Kate and Freddie Ferguson); the Pitchfords (Judy Bartley, and Richard Pitchford); the Scudamores (Ruthie Cole and Robert Scudamore); and the Kendas (Peggy Murray of Vidalia and John and Dottie Kenda).

Composed for St. Mary Basilica’s All Souls Day Procession held on Sunday, 4 November 2012, at the Natchez City Cemetery where The Culhanes are buried in Plot 1 of the Old Catholic Burying Ground.

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Lithograph on stone - St. Mary Cathedral