CHAPTER III.-RELIGIOUS CONDITIONS IN THE BEGINNING.
The first missionary
came into this district about the year 1833 or '34. Before this
event the Catholics had to get on without priestly service. Many
of them doubtlessly found this the greatest of all the great hardships
in the new world in which they met with so much hard work, such
privations and difficulties, which we at the present time can scarcely
realize. As they were mostly well trained in religion in Europe,
they did what was in their power to maintain the faith themselves and
in their children. They used to meet in one of the log houses of
a neighbor where they said the Rosary together, someone read the Gospel
and Epistle of the Sunday from Goffine's, with their explanation, and
Hymns were sung that had been learned at home in Europe. Baptisms
and marriages were administered privately by lay persons, who also had
to bury the dead. At all events, they kept the faith and taught
it to their offspring, so that when the missionary came, he found it
still alive and the people eager for his ministrations and
instructions. However, as the few missionaries during the first
two decades had to cover such an immense district in search of the
widely scattered Catholics, their visits to any particular place were
rare and brief, so that the burden of keeping the faith and propagating
it among their children fell almost entirely upon the parents.
When Father John Louis Wiriath, an Alsatian, came here in 1833 or '34, he found a small colony of Catholics at Little Germany, at St. Agatha, and in many other places from Puslinch Township, Wellington County west as far as Goderich.
Having left Canada to return to Europe, Father Wiriath wrote a letter to Bishop McDoiaell, of Kingston, dated Albany, N.Y., June 3, 1837, giving a census of his missions in Ontario. For Wilmot (St. Agatha) he gives 21 families with 112 souls. His enumeration may be properly given here complete on account of its importance and to save space later on when telling of other religious centres:
At Preston, 23 families-84 souls; Berlin, 4 families-16 souls; Waterloo, 22 families-105 souls; Strassburg, 14 families-50 souls; Rottenburg (New Germany), 69 families-307 souls-one German Catholic school house at New Germany; Wilmot, 21 families-112 souls-one school house.
In King's Land, or King's Bush:
St. Clements, 11 families-52 souls; Company Land, Wilmot, 4 families 22 souls: Guelph, 14 German families-65 souls; 29 Irish families-139 souls.
South East Hope, 12 families-54 souls; North East Hope, 9 families-46 souls; Downie, Perth County, 22 families-87 souls; Hebert (Hibbert), Perth County, 9 families-29 souls; McKillop, Perth.County, 10 families-45 souls; Groversmith, 6 families-19 souls; Ellen (Elice?), 10 families-37 souls; Logan, 2 families-3 souls; Goderich, 45, families-143 souls; Berthey, near Chippawa, 20 families-114 souls; Walpole (Moore's), 10 families-43 souls; Woodhouse (Forbes), 1 family-2 souls; Port Dover, 4 families-15 souls; Townsend, New Scotland, 3 families-16 souls; Charlotte, Victoria, 2.families-10 souls; Windham, 3 families-10 souls; Norwich, 14 families-45 souls; Dumfries (Paris),