About Us :: History
Excerpts from Saint Joseph’s Church © 1972, Limited Edition, Custombook, Inc.
For little more than a century after the first settlement of New England, territory in the town of Kingston was a part of Plymouth. By an act of the General Court in November, 1717, the area was established as a parish.
On June 16, 1726, an Act was passed establishing a separate Township to be known as Kingston, named after the King. People moved out to lots around the bay area where a number of houses had been built in Rocky Nook, the Jones River area, or vicinity, and these were included in the town of Kingston ever since 1726.
The earliest settlers who wished to go to Mass had to go to Sandwich to the Mother Church of the geographical section from Provincetown to Scituate and Hanover. Later, occasional Mass – once in three months – would be celebrated in a private house or in a hall.
The first Mass celebrated in the Plymouth area was offered in 1813 by Bishop John Cheverus, the first Bishop of Boston, who later became the Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, France. He came to Plymouth at the invitation of Judge Joshua Thomas who employed two Catholic Irishmen, John Burke and Michael Murphy. Deprived of their customary attendance at Mass and reception of the Sacraments, they and their families planned to return to Ireland. The Judge, wishing to keep them in Plymouth, personally visited the Bishop in Boston and requested a priest. Due to a shortage of priests, the Bishop himself came and celebrated Mass in the Judge’s home. This visit and celebration of Mass were the earliest evidence of Catholic life in the area.
To Keep Their Faith Alive
During the Irish famine of the 1840’s, Irish men and women came to the area looking for employment in the farms and estates and later at the Glass Works in Sandwich. To keep their faith alive, they met as a group in their homes where they would read the prayers of the Mass and the Psalter of Jesus. During this time the famous Bradford House, the oldest homestead (1637) in our parish, was owned by Thomas Beal. When immigrants found it hard to secure a place in which to hold Catholic services, Mr. Beal allowed them to use his house and the first Mass celebrated in Kingston was offered here.
A New Era Begins
In 1873, the cornerstone of St. Peter’s Church in Plymouth is laid and a new era began for Catholics in the southeastern section of the Diocese of Boston and ended the missionary status of the area.
The first marriage performed at St. Peter’s involving Kingston people was that of William Potter and Jane Murray on January 30, 1873, by the Reverend James C. Murphy. Mr. Potter was the first Sexton of the Chapel and Mrs. Potter was the first Sacristan.
In 1876, Plymouth was made a separate parish and Kingston, with a population of 1524, was made a mission of Plymouth. In 1879, the new church was dedicated under the patronage of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and the Vicar of Christ on Earth.
During the early years of the Plymouth parish under the direction of its first pastor, Mass was celebrated each Sunday in Fuller’s Hall in Kingston on the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue.
The Beginning of St. Joseph Church
In 1882, Father Hugh P. Smyth, “famous builder of churches,” was in temporary charge of the Plymouth parish and was responsible for the building of St. Joseph Church on Main Street, dedicating it on July 9, 1882.
On September 3, 1908, His Eminence William Cardinal O’Connell, created the new parish of St. Joseph in Kingston and appointed the Reverend Andrew F. Haberstroh, S.T.L., as its first pastor, where he served for almost 14 years. According to a census taken, there were 107 families or 550 souls in Kingston proper. Amongst these were 47 Irish families, 19 French, 27 German and 14 Italian.
Father Haberstroh, the son of German immigrants, was born in Boston in 1872. A graduate of Boston College and St. John’s Seminary, he was ordained a priest in 1896, by the first Archbishop of Boston, the Most Reverend John J. Williams, D.D.
The fist baptism took place a mere four days after the parish was established. Alvano Laurence Vandini, born on May 24, 1908, was baptized on September7, 1908.
The first marriage was on September 22, 1908, uniting Mary Anna Basler and Carl Keller.
During the early years of Father Haberstroh’s pastorate, he worked hard as he had a large territory to cover. At first, his only means of transportation was his horse and buggy, but eventually they were replaced by one of the early model Cadillacs.
Shortly after taking over the vast territory, Father Haberstroh requested and received permission to purchase Webster’s Hall in Green Harbor for $800 as a place to offer Mass in that part of the parish. Before this he had to say Mass in a field during the Summer and in private homes in the colder season.
Father Haberstroh dedicated the first of the mission churches at North Carver, Our Lady fo Lourdes, in 1915.
In September, 1917, Father Haberstroh bought property in Brant Rock for $1,300. In October of that same year, he received permission to paint the church in Kingston at a cost of $200.
Because the weather had been so severe in the Winter of 1918 and a great part of the allotted coal supply for the church had been used up, Father haberstroh offered daily mass in the rectory.
In 1922, Father Haberstroh retired due to failing health and was replaced by an administrator, Reverend James R. Nutly, who came to Kingston from St. Mary’s Parish in Dedham. Father Nulty only served nine months in Kingston and was replaced by Reverend James H. Courtney.
Father Courtney was born on August 21, 1870 in Rockland and was ordained to the priesthood on December 22, 1899. He served at several parishes before coming to St. Joseph Church. He began what would be a distinguished and successful period of growth for the church in Kingston.
On November 1, 1934, Father Courtney wrote for and received permission to build a new church in Kingston. The new church was erected shortly thereafter at a cost of $50,000. Most of the original appointments in the church, including the steps, predella, mensa, and crucifix are still in use today.
Father Courtney lived out his days in Kingston. His health declined rapidly in the time after the dedication of the church and he died unexpectedly on April 20, 1936. His wise and clever control of parish funds and his fatherly and dedicated priestly zeal joined together to provide well for the parish’s future.
Pastorate of Father Gately – 1936-1939
… stay tuned … more history will be added in the days to come …