Fr. John Ingoldsby

An arial view of St. Patrick Cemetery in Joliet, IL, where Fr. Ingoldsby is buried.

Note: The following information on Fr. Ingoldsby is from the old history pages of St. Dennis parish, in Lockport, IL. It is no longer available from that source.

Bishop William Quarter reached Chicago on May 5, 1844, with the knowledge that the priests around Chicago assigned from Vincennes would be recalled in a short time. The new bishop of Chicago set about immediately organizing a group of replacements for the time when this would come to pass.

In the group of earliest seminarians destined for ordination by Bishop Quarter was John Ingoldsby. Originally from New York, John apparently knew the bishop before his appointment to the Chicago See. The bishop was quick to act, conferring minor orders and subdeaconship to John on the 5th of August. Two weeks later on the 17th of August deaconship was bestowed upon the candidate. On the 18th of August 1844, John Ingoldsby entered the priesthood receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders under the roof of St. Mary's Cathedral in Chicago.

Just four days after his consecration, Father Ingoldsby was pronounced pastor of Will County attending to Lockport from Joliet. In actuality, Lockport was but one of many missions destined for Father Ingoldsby's prudence.

During his holy career Father Ingoldsby took care of souls at Lockport (1844-1846), Wilmington (1845-1848), Babcock's Grove, Dupage County (1846), Bourbonnais Grove (1846), Ausable Grove (1845-1848), Morris (1845), Aurora (1845-1846), Little Rock (1845), Benjamin's Grove (1845), Naperville (1845-1846), East Dupage in Dupage County (1846-1848), Wilton Center and Joliet.

Along with the intense missionary work, Father Ingoldsby, as a founding member of the Chicago Diocese, took part in many diocesan ceremonial and administrative duties. In November of 1845, Father Ingoldsby accompanied Bishop Quarter on a journey to Galena, in that time a prosperous and active area due to its lead mines. The trek was a mission to collect donations towards the development of the University of St. Mary of the Lake. Father Ingoldsby taught at that institution for a time.

On the 25th of June 1846, Father Ingoldsby and his assistant participated in Confirmation at Joliet along with Bishop Quarter. Father Dennis Ryan had just settled in Lockport during the previous month and in a short time would assist Father Ingoldsby with St. Dennis in Lockport and the missions to the north of Lockport along the canal. Father Ryan's arrival signaled the end of the mission period for the old Haytown congregation.

The following year on the 18th of April, 1847, Fathers Ingoldsby, Ryan, and Griffith took part in a retreat within the 'Chapel of the Holy Name of Jesus' on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake. Fathers Ingoldsby and Ryan were present at the first diocesan synod called by Bishop Quarter.

Bishop Quarter's passing gave way to the appointment of Reverend James O. Van de Velde as head of the Chicago See. After his consecration in St. Louis, Father Ingoldsby accompanied Bishop Van de Velde on The 27th of March 1849, from Joliet into Chicago. Father Ingoldsby proved to be a close confidant and assistant for the new bishop. Fathers Ingoldsby and Ryan eventually became trustees of the University of St. Mary of the Lake.

The Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed in 1848. The population was once again booming throughout the canal area. By 1849, three thousand Catholics had settled in Joliet and Lockport combined. Bishop Van de Velde knew the spiritual soil along the canal was very rich. The Bishop, with assistance from Fathers Ingoldsby and Ryan, confirmed 51 Catholics assembled at Joliet in late October of 1849. At the halfway point of the 19th century, new pastors at the outposts once traveled to by him took up Father Ingoldsby's missionary activity.

An event at the other end of the American continent was about to uproot many of Will County's newest citizens once again. 'Gold fever' was the cause for the commotion. The discovery of gold in California was trumpeted loudly in the press, creating a desire by many to be a part of the action. Others knew a fortune could be gained by supplying the goldstruck prospectors. The problem of large numbers of people leaving led the Joliet newspaper, 'The Signal', to ask, "Who will remain home?"

On April 3, 1850, Father Ingoldsby left the area, one account citing health reasons and the other alluding to Father Ingoldsby's desire to join 'The 49'ers' in prospecting for souls and possibly for gold. His exit was marked by an incident of some oddity. Felix Ingoldsby, brother to the dedicated missionary, had presented Bishop Quarter with a church bell. The bell was forged in Troy, New York, and shipped from there on October 28, 1847. While the presentation was addressed to Bishop Quarter, the tone of the letter sounded like the bell was sent to Father Ingoldsby. In turn, the bishop gave Father Ingoldsby the bell for the Joliet church. The wagon hauling the bell succumbed to horribly muddy roads around Romeo, near Haytown, and the bell was kept there during the winter. The bell was transported to Joliet and put in place the following spring.

Being that his brother had provided the bell, Father Ingoldsby asserted that the bell was his personal possession and declared his intentions to remove it. This was compounded by the fact that the good father had not been paid for some time. A contractor relayed the state of affairs to Bishop Van de Velde who instructed the contractor to stand a post around the bell and see to it that it was not removed. The following day Father Ingoldsby left Joliet without taking any action.

The bell continued to serve the community of Joliet not only to call the faithful to service but also as the Joliet city fire alarm. In 1903, the bell was recast after a crack was detected. It was moved to St. Patrick's Church in 1922 where it rang well into the 1960's.

By May of 1853, Father Ingoldsby had returned to the area. Two days after his arrival he was assisting Bishop Van de Velde at a Pontifical Mass on Pentecost Sunday in the cathedral. If there had been any ill feelings about the bell incident it is apparent they were forgotten or forgiven upon his return from California.

From February of 1858 Father John Ingoldsby finished out his days pastoring to the faithful at St. Rose of Lima Church in Wilmington, Illinois. He died there in August of 1859 and, with a large crowd of parishioners and friends marching behind the casket in solemn procession, was buried back at Joliet in St. Patrick's Cemetery.