Cincinnati's First Catholic Church

Taking advantage of an act for the incorporation of religious societies, passed by the general assembly of the State of Ohio on February 5, 1819, these men organized themselves into a congregation of the Roman Catholic Church at Cincinnati to be known as Christ Church, with the following five trustees: Patrick Reily [spelled with one “L”],  John Sherlock, Thomas Dugan, Edward Lynch and Michael Scott.

The actual work on the church did not take much time.  Mr. Michael Scott, a house-carpenter by profession prepared the plans, which were given to Mr. Wm. Reilly [spelled with two “L”s], of Alexandria, Ky., for execution.  The latter tells us in his diary:

“Having followed carpentering in Cincinnati and having put up a number of frame buildings, I was employed by a gentleman of the denomination of Catholics, to build a Frame Church, which I agreed to do.  I got all the timber on my own land and framed it on my own premises, about a mile east of Alexandria, hauled the timber to the river, rafted and landed it down low in Cincinnati.  It was hauled out to a vacant lot, no house of any kind near it.  We put up the house and they paid me honestly for my work.”

The church, a plain frame structure, measuring about 55 feet by 30 feet, was probably completed according to intention for Easter Sunday, 1819, and on that day mass was said in it for the first time.  The congregation numbered about one hundred souls.


from John Calvin Hover and Joseph Daniel Barnes' Memoirs of the Miami Valley, p. 657; 1919.