03 July 2016

Father Tolton appointed Bishop of Quincy?

Presently I am sitting in my new office in the rectory of St. Agnes parish, where I now serve as Parochial Vicar, with the intention of sorting through a few boxes of papers. I became distracted, however, when I began thumbing through a few binders of newspaper articles concerning the history of the Catholic Church in Quincy in general and of Father Tolton in particular.

Some time ago, probably when I was in college, I highlighted various sentences in some of the articles, such as this one that caught my eye:
The Whig yesterday spoke of Father Tolton as a prelate. The reverend father was no doubt much amused to learn that he had already been advanced to a bishopric. Perhaps, however, the Whig has had a private dispatch from the vatican announcing that he has been chosen bishop of the new see of Quincy. Who knows!
It seems to me this is not a bad way to issue a correction with both class and humor. It would be good if newspapers would do so again.

Regrettably, I made no notation whatever as to the date of this newspaper article when I copied this particular paragraph. It must, however, fall sometime after April 24, 1886 (when Father Tolton was ordained to the priesthood) and before July 9, 1897 (when he died).

This is not terribly helpful, but, either way, it demonstrates another lacuna in the reporter's knowledge of things Catholic: the Diocese of Quincy was erected on July 29, 1853 and was suppressed when the See was transferred to Alton on January 9, 1857. As such, had Father Tolton been appointed the Bishop of Quincy, it would not have been to the "new see," but to the restored see.

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