Civil War Blog

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Rev. Hugh A. Loague – Catholic Priest at Williamstown

Posted By on February 4, 2013


Rev. Hugh A. Loague (1842-1916) was the Catholic pastor of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Williamstown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, from 1888 to 1901.  When he arrived in America with his family around 1850, he settled in Philadelphia, where he completed his early education.  At the time of the Civil War, he was a student at the Jesuit House in Frederick, Maryland, and upon completion of that course of study, he was engaged as a teacher at Gonzaga College, Washington, D.C., where he worked from 1864 through 1867.  The location of Gonzaga College was adjacent to St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church near 10th and F Street, Northwest – which as previously noted on this blog, was across from the Baptist Alley – the rear access to Ford’s Theatre.

There is no record that Hugh A. Loague ever served in the military.  He was not ordained as a clergyman until Jun 1876 and even after his ordination remained a teacher for several years before assuming responsibilities as a parish priest.  It is not known whether Fr. Loague ever spoke out about his experiences during the Civil War – but certainly, if he did, his comments would have have been quite interesting in that he was in Frederick, Maryland at the time Lee’s army was passing through on the way to Gettysburg and of course, would have been in the midst of all the happenings in Washington, D.C. in the concluding months of the Civil War – including the assassination of Abraham Lincoln within a city block of where he was teaching at Gonzaga College.

The Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County provides the following sketch of Rev. Hugh A. Loague:

Rev. H. A. Loague, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Williamstown, Pennsylvania, was born in County Donegal, Ireland, 2 June 1842.  He is a son of Francis Loague, a native of Tyrone, Ireland, and his wife, Mary [Gallagher] Loague.  His paternal grandfather, Hugh Loague, was a native of County Tyrone, he was patriotic and took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, as did Patrick Gallagher, Rev. Father Loague’s maternal grandfather, and this devotion to their country cost them all the property they had.  Patrick Gallagher, with his family, came to America in 1852.  He had been a farmer in Ireland, but engaged in no active business in America.  He died at the home of his grandson, in Philadelphia.  Hugh Loague and his wife died in Ireland in the late forties.  Besides Francis, father of Rev. H. A. Loague, their children were:  William Loague, a priest, died in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1865; Hugh Loague; John Loague; Rose Loague; Mary Loague; and Ellen Loague, all of whom died in Ireland.

Francis Loague came to this country in 1847 and located in Philadelphia, where he was employed as nurseryman and gardener.  In 1850 he sent for his wife and children who sailed from Londonderry on the sailing vessel, Superior, Captain Moore.  They were on the ocean eight weeks and three days, having been at one time becalmed for three days and at another compelled by a terrible storm to put to see again after sighting land.  They finally reached Philadelphia in May 1850.  The father remained in Philadelphia until his death, which occurred in 1884, at the age of eighty-four.  Mrs. Loague died in Philadelphia, March 8, 1893, aged eighty-three.  Their children were:  William Loague, of the Catholic Church at Centralia, Pennsylvania, died 11 January 1892; Rev. H. A. Loague; Eliza Loague, at home in Philadelphia; Mary Loague, wife of William Murphy, Philadelphia; Patrick Loague, died an infant, in Ireland; Rosanna Loague, born in Philadelphia in 1852, died in 1863; Joseph Loague, born in 1854, died in March 1876.

H. A. Loague attended school for nearly one year in Ireland.  After coming to America he attended the public schools in Philadelphia until 1857 when he entered St. Joseph’s College, Philadelphia, and there remained until he had completed his college course in 1860.  He then studied four years at the Jesuit House, Frederick City, Maryland, after which he taught in the Gonzaga College, Washington, D.C., from 1864 to 1867.  He was subsequently professor in Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, until the end of 1869, after which he spent seven years in completing his studies in philosophy and theology at Woodstock College, in Maryland, and from 1876 to 1880 was again professor in the Worcester, Massachusetts, College of the Holy Cross.

In 1880 Father Loague went to St. James, Michigan, to assist his uncle, Rev. F. P. Gallagher, who was out of health.  He remained with his uncle until October 1, 1883.  On 23 December 1883, he came to Harrisburg and took charge of the Steelton Church, where he continued until 9 January 1888.  On that date, he entered upon his duties as rector of the Church of the Sacred Heart [Williamstown].  He was ordained to the priesthood at Woodstock College, in Maryland, 21 June 1876.  In politics Mr. Loague is independent and a firm believer in protection.  He is an affable and agreeable gentleman, of great kindness of heart, ad of very scholarly tastes and attainments. [page 1187-1188].

Th Harrisburg Diocesse history notes that during his time in Williamstown, Fr. Loague made an addition to the rectory and improved the parish property.  The history of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church notes that

Father Loague, a native of Ireland, was an exemplary priest both in word and action.  He labored incessantly, not only for the spiritual, but also for the temporal welfare of his flock.  Father William Loague came as an assistant to his brother in November 1890 and remained until 1891.  Father Loague, as pastor, made improvements to the church property, the chief being an addition to the rectory and a bridge connecting church and rectory.  His departure from Sacred Heart on 7 June 1901 was regretted by the entire congregation.

After Rev. Hugh A. Loague left Williamstown, he served in Shamokin, Northumberland County, as noted in a brief that appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot in 1905.  A history of the Harrisburg Diocese records his death as 11 October 1916.  Nothing much more is known of him or his family.


Fr. William Loague, Brother of Rev. Hugh A. Loague

There are many lost stories of the Civil War.  It seems that someone, someplace, may have recorded something said by Fr. Hugh Loague about the war and his experiences during it.  Perhaps there are news articles or letters yet to be found – or already found but not yet connected with this scholar and priest who served the Williamstown Catholic parish at the end of the 19th century – a parish that included many Civil War veterans, including Capt. Richard Budd

Reader comments are invited (attach to this blog entry), or send via e-mail to the Civil War Research Project.


Photos of Rev. Hugh Loague and his brother Rev. William Loague are from a 1975 published history of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Williamtown, for its centennial.


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