COHOCTON — The Cohocton St. Pius Catholic Church revealed it’s 100-year-old time capsule after a tiresome effort of removing the cornerstone.
Church member Don Eck reached out to Genesee Country Express to talk about this historic event.
This event took place on June 6 with the help of John and Michael Landino, Ed Schneider and Don Eck.
“Work began about 8 a.m. The expectation was that the cornerstone was a face stone about three to four inches thick, and that the time capsule (a copper box) was immediately behind the stone. We all figured 30 minutes of work would remove the stone,” Eck said. “The mortar was cut to the depth to about four inches wherever the saw could be used without extending past the cornerstone or damaging any of the brickwork. A concrete drill was then used to punch holes where the saw could not reach. The mortar between drilled holes was remove with a chisel. But the stone remained solidly in place.
“After discussing the situation, realizing that we had no record of how deep the stone was, or how it was installed, or where exactly the copper box was; we decided to use a longer drill bit. So an eight inch bit was used all around the perimeter of the cornerstone. The intervening mortar was chiseled. Still no movement,” Eck continued. “By now it was clear that we were dealing with a very deep stone, possibly a concrete box with the time capsule inside it. A 12 inch drill bit, and a longer chisel were then used to finally get a wiggle from the stone. A little more chisel work and the stone moved enough that we began the process of inching the heavy stone from it original home.”
In all, it took over five hours to remove the stone. The time capsule was placed in a recessed compartment on the top of the cornerstone. It was made of copper in the shape of a shoebox. The cover was soldered to the bottom creating an air/water tight container.
On Friday, June 8 Eck went to John Landino’s business in Wayland to help remove the contents from the box. Landino placed the copper box on his band saw, and removed the top leaving the bottom in excellent shape for display.
“After removing the top of the time capsule, John and I removed the contents very carefully and separated the bulk of the dust and chips of mortar by gently shaking the documents,” Eck said.
Two of the oldest congregates at St. Pius, Mary Meese was born in 1934 and Kay Wise in 1935 were there to witness.
“Both have lived in Cohocton all their lives and, of course, attended St. Pius just as long,” Eck said. “They have been very active in many functions throughout the years and serve as an inspiration to all members of the community.”
Now came time to take a look at all the treasure inside the 100-year-old time capsule.
“When we opened the Time Capsule, we were very much surprised at the volume of information which it contained,” Eck said. “We also noted that nearly everything was in excellent shape with only the newsprint showing any signs of aging.”
Following is a list of the cornerstone contents:
1. The COLUMBIAD, June 1918. Published by the Columbiad Publishing Company of Hoboken NJ, Vol. XXV, Number 6. This paper was a prominent Catholic newspaper of the time. This particular issue was devoted to various Catholic activities during World War I which didn’t end until November 11, 1918.
2. A short list of attendees at the 1918 laying of the cornerstone (very short, see attached picture).
3. Extension Magazine, July, 1918, Vol. XIII, No. 2. Published by the Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States of America, at Hammond, Indiana. This magazine appears to be like the Reader’s Digest, a collection of Catholic oriented human interest stories.
4. The AVE MARIA, Devoted to the Honor of the Blessed Virgin, June 8, 1918, Vol. VII, No. 23. Published by St. Joseph Co. Notre Dame, Indiana. This magazine is full of short stories, again human interest, with a slant toward individual’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
5. An envelope with the name of R. J. Maichle, M.D., Cohocton, NY in the return address area and dated July 8, 1918. Inside the envelope was another smaller envelope which Dr. Maichle used for prescriptions he issued.
While there is no other information about the purpose of the envelopes, we believe they once held a donation to St. Pius. The Maichle (pronounced Michael) Family were member of St. Pius since the middle to late 19th century.
6. History of Cohocton, 1905. This was Published by the Cohocton Valley Times-Index, in 1916. It was first printed in 1905 for the Cohocton Centennial Celebration.
7. A Prayer card in memory of Rt. Rev. Bernard John McQuaid, the first Bishop of the Rochester Diocese.
Prayer cards are generally distributed at funerals or memorial services as a way of remembering and soliciting not only prayers but donations to memorials for the person memorialized.
8. Cohocton Valley Times-Index, January 16, 1918, Vol. 47, Number 37. This edition of the Times-Index featured the total destruction by fire of the original St. Pius V Church on Hill Street. The article also recapped the history of the Parish and the Priests that served the community.
9. Cohocton Valley Times-Index, July 3, 1918, Vol. 48, Number 9. This edition featured a story about the upcoming setting of the cornerstone to be held on July 7th, 1918. The article also contained a sketch of the new church plus photos of Rt. Rev. Thomas F Hickey, D.D., Bishop of Rochester and Rev. John F. Befell, Pastor of St. Pius V Parish.
10. A postcard sketch of the new St. Pius V Church.
11. A postcard sketch of the original St. Pius V Church.
12. A short timeline of the events of 1918 from January 15th until July 7th when the cornerstone was laid.
13. A list identifying Pope Benedict XV, Bishop Thomas F. Hickey (Rochester Diocese), Rev. John F. Gefell (Pastor of St. Pius), President Woodrow Wilson, Governor Charles S. Whitman (New York).
In addition was the following quote: “The World War was in its fourth year, the Germans still having the upper hand.”
14. An envelop and card identifying Clarence W. Stanton as the President of the Village of Cohocton.
15. Three Christian medals: (1) The bust of Jesus with the words “Sweet Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy On Us” forming a halo on the front. On the back is the bust of Mary with the words “Mater Dolorosa, Ora Pro Nobis” (translated as “Mother, Pray For Us”) forming a halo.
(2) On one side the figure of Mary surrounded by the words “Mary Conceived Without Sin, Pray For Us.” On the reverse side a bust of Jesus emphasizing his heart with the inscription “Sweet Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy On Us.”
(3) On first side, the bust of Mary surrounded by the words “Blessed Virgin Mary, Pray For Us” and on the other side a figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by the words “”Sweet Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy On Us.”
Eck talked about the importance of this event at the church, which had been built in 1918 after the original one was burned down.
“We have some people coming to this church almost 80 years. They remember their parents helped make this church possible,” he said. “The time capsule was made exactly on July 7, 1918. When the first church burned down in the winter of 1918 due to a blizzard keeping the fire department away the community jumped into action. The church that stands now was built of stone.”
Now there will be a huge rededication ceremony after the 9 a.m. service on July 8. There will be a big celebration afterwards and the time capsule will be on display. The church is thinking of what they want to put in for their own time capsule, and how important it will be to recover 100 years from now.