Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Inheritance of Faith

St. Ann's Mission Church in Avilton, Maryland was the spiritual home of many of my ancestors. It is set in the Appalachian Mountains and this area was first settled by my paternal grandmother's family. My grandmother remembered many trips from Somerset County to Avilton, Maryland in her youth. She had a large number of extended family that predominated the parish. In fact, with rare exception, the entire cemetery is in some way or another a relation! The McKenzie family was one of the first Catholic families in Western Maryland, and the history of the church reads as a history of this family and the Garlitz family (the other main Catholic family in this rugged country. The two families intermarried at length.)

Her family, the McKenzies of Avilton, Maryland left Garrett County Maryland after the death of Margaret Ellen McKenzie in 1910. "Elle" McKenzie was the mother of twelve children before her death at the age of just 35. Her husband, Charles Lazora B. (Blocher?) McKenzie moved to Somerset County, Pennsylvania and sold the Avilton farm. The family crossed state and county lines readily. Charles would reside in Somerset, PA but die at his daughter's home in West Virginia, and be buried at St. Ann's Cemetery. Certainly a challenge from a genealogist's standpoint: his death certificate is found in WVA, his will in Pennsylvania, and his burial records in Maryland.

Many of the descendants of this pioneering Catholic family remain active in the Catholic church to this day. Truly, an inheritance of faith! May God bless the future generations as they scatter all across the USA. A long way from this tiny outpost of Catholicism, but never too far from Him.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Katy, for sharing your family's connection to this sweet little church within our Doors of Faith celebration at The Catholic Gene.

    And congratulations on sorting out your ancestor Charles' complicated records. Nice work!