Trecy, Jeremiah

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Missionary, colonizer; b. Drogheda, Ireland, c. 1824;d. St. Louis, Mo., March 5, 1888. After he was brought to the U.S. as a child, he studied at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. He was ordained by Bp. Mathias Loras at Dubuque, Iowa, in 1851. He then served in Iowa at Cascade, Independence, and Garryowen, where he was pastor from 1852 to 1856. To further Loras's Catholic colonization program, Trecy explored the Iowa-Nebraska border and surveyed native settlements and army installations within the Nebraska vicariate apostolic. After reporting his findings to Loras and consulting with Thomas D'Arcy McGee at the 1856 Catholic colonization convention at Buffalo, N.Y., Trecy selected a site near Sioux City, Iowa, and registered it as "St. John's City in St. Patrick's Colony, Nebraska Territory." In June 1856, a total of 25 families arrived from Garryowen to face grasshopper plagues, crop failures, severe winters, and threats from native tribes. Despite a reassuring report signed by 52 colonists early in 1857, the ensuing panic of that year, together with a premature government sale of lands and Trecy's frequent missionary absences, had caused dispersal of the population by 1860. Trecy then settled in Huntsville, Ala., for his health. In 1862 and 1863, he was regimental chaplain for Gen. William S. Rosecrans. After the Civil War he served again in the Mobile diocese until 1881, when he was incapacitated by a paralytic stroke.

Bibliography: Archives, Archdioceses of Dubuque and Omaha. h. w. casper, History of the Catholic Church in Nebraska (Milwaukee 1960) v.1, The Church on the Northern Plains 18381874. g. henderson, "An Epic of Early Iowa: Father Trecy's Colonization Scheme," Iowa Catholic Historical Review 3 (Spring 1931) 313. m. g. kelly, Catholic Immigrant Colonization Projects in the United States 18151860 (New York 1939). r.m. martin, The Catholic Church on the Nebraska Frontier 18541885. (Catholic University of America Canon Law Studies; Studies in American Church History 26; Washington 1937).

[m. g. kelly]