News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

November 8, 2010

Re-enactors visit St. Mary's cemetery to study history

TERRE HAUTE — Emma Bird stood over the tombstone that bore her name across its top.

And while dozens of visitors walked about the historic cemetery of St. Mary’s Village Parish on Sunday morning, she and others, dressed in their finest 19th-century church clothes, told the stories of their lives and times there at a church founded in 1837.

But unlike the other volunteers participating in the parish’s inaugural cemetery walk, the woman standing over Emma Bird’s grave was in fact Emma Bird.

“She’s my great-something. I’m not sure,” Bird laughed, standing beside her boyfriend, Jacob Kelley, who was dressed as Matthew James Bird, the husband of her ancestor buried there.

Born in 1870 to a Civil War veteran who hated Catholics, the original Emma fell in love with Matthew, whose family had even by then long attended the St. Mary’s Village Parish. And she broke away from her parents to convert and marry him.

That marriage produced 12 children, the last of whom came when Emma was 45 years old.

She and the baby died as a result of the birth, and Matthew, unable to handle the children, sent the youngest to an orphanage.

“We want to have six in the future, but not 12,” Emma’s namesake laughed as she finished her ancestor’s story. Growing up just two miles north of the village, the younger Emma was raised in her family’s church there. Now 18, she is a freshman at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College majoring in history.

Sunday’s program ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the graves of 10 parishioners represented by re-enactors dressed in period costume with a script detailing their lives. Organizer Edie Breneman explained that Emma Summers Bird was in fact her own great-aunt, as her great-grandparents were Birds.

“My family’s been here since 1837,” she said, explaining the first church building was erected in 1867, 30 years after the parish was born. This means her ancestors took communion with St. Mother Theodore Guerin, who first arrived there in 1840.

And it’s that history Breneman hopes to share. “This is our first year. We’re already having requests for next year,” she said, explaining that she attended a similar program at Highland Lawn several years ago.

Sunday’s program also served as a fundraiser for the parish religious education program. The small Roman Catholic church still surrounded by woods hosts 80 families today, representing about 200 members.

And while the Sisters of Providence were French, Breneman explained that most of the original families were an eclectic mix of Catholics coming north from Kentucky.

Among them were the Thrallses.

Mandy Maher, a fifth-generation member of the parish, dressed as young Juliette Thralls, who was born in 1855 to Francis and Nancy Rea Thralls. The youngest child of the family, her oldest sister became a nun.

But Juliette’s life was cut short when the drawbridge then spanning the Wabash River at Ohio Street collapsed in 1863. The 8-year-old girl and four others drowned in the accident, she explained at the gravesite now bearing that name.

Originally, though, the little girl was buried in the yard where the college’s Conservatory of Music now stands. Her body was moved to its present location during that construction.

“I just love the history of the parish,” Maher said.

Jeannette Bird Wrin, another member of the parish’s interlocking families, portrayed Margaret Friel. Friel moved with her three daughters to the small village from Pennsylvania in 1842 at a time when the parish’s third church was being built. Her daughter, Mary, married the church architect, James Roquet, and the pair moved to Evansville where they had children and started a family. But Mary and James died tragically young and their children came back to St. Mary’s Village to live with their grandmother, who routinely brought them to visit with the Sisters of Providence.

The nearby burg of “Rocky Town” is in fact named after the family, as it was originally known as “Roquet Town,” she said.

The Wrins, her husband’s family, are also generations deep in the parish, as are her own people, the Birds. And Jeanette, while portraying Friel, was just a stone’s throw from the 95-year-old grave of Emma Summers Bird.

The complexity was in fact enough to make a priest rise from the grave, as Rev. Augustine Riehle stood over his own marker, represented in the corporeal sense by Marty Patterson. Father Augustine helped visitors sort out the interwoven network of families, noting that he himself witnessed 114 marriages and performed 600 baptisms during his tenure between 1879 and 1912.

And even he had to consult a script.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET 073014 WESTMINISTER DIG.jpg Expanding independence

    Westminster Village, a Terre Haute retirement community, is investing $1.8 million to construct 12 new villa homes, officials announced Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 5 Photos

  • Decades later, dry cleaners leave blemish

    Fifty years ago, about 30 dry cleaners did business in the city of Terre Haute. City officials are now cleaning up the mess some left behind.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MARK BENNETT: Year of River sets example for state

    Terre Haute pays more attention to the Wabash River these days.

    July 30, 2014

  • Climate of less regulation, more chemical spills leaves ‘historical pollution,’ NCA director says

    Former dry cleaning sites are an environmental problem all over the state, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MET073014parks bbushee.jpg Camping turnout low for first half of summer

    Camping revenue for the past two months has dropped in Vigo County parks, a downturn park officials say is difficult to attribute to a new park policy limiting campers’ stays to 14 days in the three county parks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 073014 DESTROYED.jpg Devastating fire takes out mobile home

    A Seelyville mobile home sustained heavy damage in a fire early Wednesday morning.
    Lost Creek Township firefighters were called to the scene in the 2200 block of Tabortown Road south of U.S. 40 at about 2 a.m.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Man posts bond after fatal wreck

    An Oct. 7 trial date has been set for a Terre Haute man accused of driving while intoxicated causing death.

    July 30, 2014 3 Stories

  • Driver injured, airlifted, cited for failure to yield

    An elderly woman was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon in Sullivan County, according to Indiana State Police.

    July 30, 2014

  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

  • Old National acquires Michigan bank

    Evansville-based Old National Bancorp and Grand Rapids-based Founders Financial Corp. said Monday they have finalized an agreement under which Old National will acquire Founders through a stock and cash merger.

    July 28, 2014

  • Ohio man falls to death at Cataract Falls rec area

    Indiana conservation officers are investigating the death of an Ohio man that occurred at about 4:10 p.m. Sunday at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area in Owen County.

    July 28, 2014

  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins' Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News