Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:00 AM
In the summer of 1909, one hundred and four years ago, Father Joseph Enis decided to move the little Church of the Holy Cross chapel into town from its location four and one miles north-east of the county seat of Neshoba County. With the coming of the Mobile, Jackson and Kansas City Railroad in 1905, Neshoba County and the now village of Philadelphia prospered, and the number of Catholics in Philadelphia increased substantially while the number in the Holy Cross area decreased. With the blessing of Bishop Thomas Heslin, Father Enis purchased a lot on Wilson Street* and ordered the Church of the Holy Cross disassembled to be rebuilt on that property. One of the parishioners offering his service to Father Enis in dismantling the Holy Cross Church was Daniel O'Connell "Munch" George,** grandson and namesake of church patriarch, Daniel O'Connell Rush. Since the church was only a short distance behind Munch and Katie Barham George's home, and with his wife expecting their second child, Munch agreed to lead the project to earn some extra dollars to pay the doctor for the expected delivery.
After completing the task, Munch sent a letter to Father Enis through a relative outlining his charges. Several days later, the pastor of Holy Cross answered: "Tucker, Miss. September 30, 1909, Mr. D.O. George, Holy Cross. Dear Friend, Your note was handed to me today since Mr. T. Rush had forgotten to hand it [to] me last Tuesday. Your account for work including the $2 you mentioned in your note, amounts to $42.35 from which I kept $10 for church as you had promised; $11 for priest support for 1908 and also $5 for priest support for 1909; enclosed please find a check for $16.35. Now 10 plus 11 plus 5 plus 16.35 equal $42.35. From which you see that you owe me for priest support for the year 1909 $6. I did not wish to keep that also, but hope you will kindly let me have it as soon as you can possibly do so, for I am greatly in need of it. Hoping this will be satisfactory for the present, I am respectively yours, Pastor Joseph Enis." In a Neshoba Democrat interview in 1981, Mrs. Kate George, then 91 years of age, remembered vividly how dissatisfied her husband was. "Munch got so mad when he read that letter that he quit church and didn't go back for 25 years!" said Mrs. George, adding, "He thought if he put a dollar a month in the collection he was doing good. That's what his mother had always done. He never mentioned Father Enis' name again."
During the years of Munch George's boycott of Holy Cross, church-goers constantly besieged Mrs. George with questions like, "When is Munch coming back to church? Why don't you talk to him." Mama Kate, as she was known in later years, answered, "I told them that he knew his religion and that he knew he should be going to church and it wasn't any need in me talking to him." Circumstances changed in 1944 when Father Raphael Toner became pastor of Holy Rosary and later Holy Cross Church, when the new priest initiated home visits to many of the flock. Father Raphael told Mama Kate that "he was going to visit with Munch one day when he [Munch] was in good humor and try to get him back in the church." As a part of the visit, the new pastor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, told Mrs. George that he would wink when he wanted her to excuse herself. And she recalled, "Well, sure enough, it wasn't long after that that he came. I can remember it was a cold, cold day. When he winked, I left the room. All he had to do was ask Munch if he wanted to get back into the church. When he said, yes, he told him that he'd see him Sunday." For over twenty years, Munch George attended Holy Cross faithfully, never missing a Sunday unless ill health prevented, until his death at age eighty-five in 1967.
Civil War Veterans
George, William Henry** - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age twenty-two; farmer; Muster Roll, March-April 1862: "Sick at Ashland;" Muster Roll, May-June 1862: "Absent, sick;" captured at Second Manassas, August 29, 1862; paroled at Warrenton, Virginia, August 29, 1862; received $119.00 for pay and clothing, January 23, 1863; possibility present at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; Muster Roll, November-December 1864: "Division ambulance driver;" only member of Company D to surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865; paroled at Appomattox Court House, April 12, 1865.
World War II Veterans
George, Henry Kirk** - Private to Technician Fifth Class; enlisted on January 7, 1943 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age twenty; farmer; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations; served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations as a telephone lineman with Company A of the 89th Signal Operation Battalion, September 1945 to February 1946; awarded the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal; discharged at Camp Shelby, February 22, 1946, convenience of the government; described as five feet eight inches tall, weighing 171 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Notes: *This property at 406 E. Wilson Street today is the Holy Cross Rectory. **Civil War veteran William Henry George was the father of Daniel O'Connell "Munch" George, and the grandfather of World War II veteran Henry Kirk George.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Monday thru Friday