A priest with a flair for design

In early 1937, the Catskill Mountain News gave us a glimpse of one man’s efforts to brighten up two local churches and a cemetery.
“The interior of the church of the Sacred Heart at Fleischmanns (now a private home) is being repainted and made ready for the summer. The work is proceeding under the direction of Rev. Edward Gaffney of Arkville. It gives his parishioners here a great thrill to see the learned priest at the work of directing the decoration. At the same time Rev. Gaffney is having the rectory at Arkville and the Catholic church at Arkville decorated. (At that time the church, also named Sacred Heart, was located within what is known as the Maple House, now apartments).”

Interior of Sacred Heart Church when it was in the Maple House, Arkville. The current church in Margaretville replaced it in 1956.

In the same issue, an article on activities at the Margaretville Civilian Conservation Corps camp reported that Father Gaffney had started a choir among the young men there.
Earlier in the year, Rev. Gaffney had started “the work of remodeling the grounds at the Catholic cemetery at the edge of the village.” (Also known as the Catholic or Irish Cemetery, this burial ground is across the road from the larger Clovesville Cemetery.)
The report maintained that “The cemetery has been neglected for a number of years and was an eye sore to the community. The stone wall along the road will be removed and an ornamental fence will be erected. John Blish who has been the sexton of the Clovesville cemetery for a number of years, has been engaged. Rev. Gaffney hopes to have the village sign on the church property removed.”
For the record, the Irish Cemetery remains in sad shape 83 years later.
The Fleischmanns correspondent was an optimistic sort. “Father Gaffney’s parish extends from the county line at Highmount to Downsville. It will be the most prosperous parish in this county when the New York city dam is built.”
Father Gaffney would not see his parish through that era. He died suddenly of a ‘hemorrhage’ on April 2, 1938 at the age of 44. An honor guard from the local American Legion post stood guard at his wake in the Arkville rectory. Father Gaffney had been gassed while serving as a chaplain in France during World War I. This reportedly caused the poor health that led to his early death. He was laid to rest in Catskill.

Sat-Sun, May 30-31 Relic Hunt

4th Annual Catskill Mountain Relic Hunt. Members of Nor’easters Metal Detecting Club return to see what’s beneath the sod at several historic homes and farms. Click here to become a club member and participate.

Sat., June 6, 10 a.m. Scottish Roots talk

New Kingston’s Scottish Roots. Bovina Historian Ray LaFever brings an illustrated presentation on 19th-century Scottish immigrants. Focusing on New Kingston, he will talk about the Elliotts and Scotts and the interaction between New Kingston and Bovina Scottish families, particularly seen in their churches. This is a Headwaters History Days event. 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville 12455

Sat., June 20, 4-7 p.m. Cemetery Tour

8th Living History Cemetery Tour. Meet compelling characters from the past who now lie in Margaretville Cemetery. $20; children under 15 free. Reserve a tour time: 845-586-4736

Sat., July 11, 10-3 Stone School Family Day

Family Day at the Stone School House: A Bicentennial Celebration, with authentic lessons, outdoor games, exhibits. Bring a picnic! 39579 NYS Rte 28/30 Margaretville (Dunraven), 2 miles south of Margaretville, 12455

Wed., July 22, 7-9 p.m. How to Weed Your Attic

How to Weed Your Attic: Getting Rid of Junk without Destroying History. What makes documents and artifacts historically valuable? How do you decide what to toss, or give to a repository? How do you take care of the things you want to keep? This is an illustrated talk by archivist-authors Elizabeth Dow and Lucinda Cockrell. Is it worth saving? Bring a document or artifact to be appraised for its historical value. 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville, 12455

Sun., Aug. 2, 2-3:30 p.m. Marker Dedication

Historic Marker Dedication and reception at Margaretville Mountain Inn, birthplace of the commercial cauliflower growing industry in the Catskills. 1478 Margaretville Mountain Rd., Margaretville 12455

Sat., Aug. 22, 4-6 p.m. History on Wheels

History on Wheels. A tour of Denny Herzberg’s vintage 15- car collection, with the intriguing stories behind the vehicles. 885 Denver Run Road (end of Walker Road), Denver, 12421

Sat., Sept. 12, 3-5 p.m. Mappy Hour!

Mappy Hour! 15 maps provide an up-close look at road, property ownership and place name changes over 200 years in Middletown. Maps presented by local historians. MTC community building, Academy St., Margaretville, 12455. Refreshments!

Sat., Sept. 26, 10-4 Cauliflower Festival

14th Annual Cauliflower Festival. Food, farms, music and family fun! Tractor Parade at 11, Catskill Conquest Endurance Run vehicles on display, exhibits and more in the History Tent. Margaretville Village Park.