Actually, the building has left Saint Gabriel.
According to the book of Daniel (and Wikipedia) a being resembling a man and identified as Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to give him “skill and understanding” regarding his visions. I’m fairly sure my genealogy research does not rate as “having visions”, although I’ll gladly take some skill and understanding.
As of late I have been tracking down various documents for my Tierney family in New York, all the while hoping that one might offer a clue to their origin in Ireland. I am happy to say that each new document I find has offered at least some tiny tidbit of information or led me further down the path to the next record.
However, my Tierneys seem intent on stringing us along when it comes to where they came from in Ireland. My list of records to find in New York has included my great-grandparent’s marriage certificate, their death certificates, plus the birth and baptism certificates for my grandfather and his siblings.
Using the Catholic Church Registers list at rootsweb and a few other pages that have now succumbed to the Internet abyss I began to inquire at various churches near East 35th Street to see if any of these records might be extant.
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In this sort of search, the time to receive responses to inquiries can be painfully long and eventually I heard back from what I thought was my best bet of the bunch: the Church of St. Stephen. No joy ensued.
So I expanded my Circle of Attack® by using the Demolished Churches in New York City list and some almanacs on Google Books to see if any churches no longer around might be possibilities. At the same time I was reading one of my new favorite books The New York Irish and noticed a mention of a St. Gabriel’s Church on East 37th Street.
I performed some quick research and found a terrific entry in The Catholic Church in the United States of America, Vol III (1914) describing the origins and history of St. Gabriel’s starting in 1859.
I wrote to the Archdiocese of New York to ask where the records for St. Gabriel’s might be now and they promptly responded: they were now at the Church of St. Stephen!
So, back to the drawing board. I again wrote to St. Stephen (the church, not the Saint, I don’t think they have the email up there) and ultimately found that they had baptismal records for my grandfather and his two older sisters. (Sadly, no marriage record for my great grandparents nor baptismals for the younger brothers, but that leaves me more things to blog about later.)And what, pray tell, became of St. Gabriel’s Church on East 37th Street? A great hole opened up and swallowed it. Well, sort of – it was demolished in preparation for the opening of the Queens Midtown Tunnel in 1939. As you can see from these two photographs, it was a beautiful gothic style church and was certainly a sad thing for the neighborhood to lose.
One consolation: the altar, pews, statues (and pastor) migrated to a newly constructed St. Gabriel’s Church in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
See my next post Gabriel Keeps Calling for an appearance of St. Gabe’s in a painting by Martin Lewis.