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Caughlan Family Union Pictures

St. Louis, Missouri

June 15 and 16 2001

The first-ever Caughlan Family Union was a huge success, with about 70 attending.  We first gathered on Friday evening, June 15th 2001, at the Niedringhaus United Methodist Church in Granite City, Illinois.  How nice it was for the Church to allow us to meet there.  It was a fitting and perfect facility for us since it contained one of David Caughlan’s bells, and it is also where Brian Caughlan had been the assistant pastor.  As family members entered the church, Rev. Jerrold Joe Caughlan had them sign in and he handed out nametags.  Nametags were marked with colored dots so attendees could easily determine from which line each person descended:  Red dots were for John Wesley, green dots were for Adam Clark, and Blue dots were for David.  Attendees also signed cloth strips for the “Caughlan Quilt”.  Donna Caughlan (Tom Caughlan’s wife) has subsequently completed the beautiful quilt.  Thank you Donna!  (See pictures of the quilt on this web page.)


As family members began to arrive with family albums and family stories, one could feel the excitement in the air.  It was gratifying to see families reuniting and cousins meeting each other for the first time.  It was also wonderful to meet face-to-face with family members with whom we had become acquainted over the Internet.  The night went by so quickly.  A wonderful selection of meats and cheeses for sandwiches, vegetable trays, dips, chips, drinks and desserts that Brian Caughlan’s wife, Frances, prepared.  Thank you, Frances, for a job well done.  Rob Caughlan designed, and made available for purchase, the official orange Caughlan T-shirts.  Thank you Rob for all your work.


After dinner, Carl Zimmerman, a St. Louis campanologist, gave an informal slide presentation featuring a number of David Caughlan bells, which have been discovered in churches, schools and museums in Missouri and Illinois. 


The next morning, we all gathered at the Niedringhaus United Methodist Church parking lot where two buses awaited us for the day’s activities.  The young and strong went on the smaller bus with no air conditioning and the rest of us went on the comfortable larger air-conditioned bus. 


The first stop was McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois to see the David Caughlan bell.  The bell has been an important centerpiece at the college since 1858, and is rung on the hour and for celebrations and ceremonies.  Tim Harrison, Chaplain and Director of Church Relations met us at the college, who gave us a verbal history of the bell and later let family members climb up into the belfry to examine the bell.  What joy it was to hear the pure, musical peal of the bell ring out at ll:00 am.  A song, “The McKendree Bell”, is sometimes sung by students.


We then traveled to Alton, Illinois to the Metropolitan United Methodist Church where another recently rediscovered Caughlan bell hangs.  Rev. David Caughlan, his wife Ellen Beall, his in-laws Edmond and Elizabeth Beall and his parents John and Sarah Caughlan were all members at various times of this church.  The present minister, Rev. Julie Asbell, met us at the church and filled us in on the history of the church and such details as she knew about David, Ellen, John and Sarah.  They also rang the bell for us.  The organist, Sister Julie, had purposely postponed practice on what is thought to be the largest organ in the St. Louis area so that we could enjoy hearing its magnificent sound.  The church was so beautiful, with the large stained glass windows and handsome organ, that one of the family members asked if we could pause for a hymn.  What a fitting moment.  Brian Caughlan chose an old Methodist hymn that he felt Sarah, David and Ellen had probably sung often.  The church was then filled with the voices of the first Caughlan Family Choir.


Then we went to lunch at the Golden Corral in Alton, Illinois for an all-you-can-eat buffet.  All I need to say about lunch is, “Caughlans know how to eat”.


We continued on with a tour of areas in St. Louis near the approximate sites of Sarah’s boarding house and David’s bell foundries.  At times, John Wesley worked for David as a brass finisher and Adam as a clerk in the foundries.  The St. Louis area is much changed since the time of Sarah, John David and Adam.  Many of the old buildings have been torn down and new structures built.  We saw one section that has been left largely untouched, and this gave us the flavor of life in the mid 1800s. 


We then went to Bellefontaine Cemetery to dedicate Sarah’s grave marker, and honor the 200th anniversary of her birth.  Bill Caughlan went over the history of the gravesite and how he and his brother had found Sarah’s grave.  Sarah is buried in the Craft Family plot.  Moses and Elizabeth Craft were boarders at her boarding house; they donated Sarah’s grave plot.  We all gathered for a Service led by Brian Caughlan, with Rev. Jim Caughlan and Rev. Jerrold Joe Caughlan reading the Litany.  A Caughlan Family photograph was then taken.  Many family members made paper rubbings of the gravestone as remembrances.  It was a very special time for us all.


The dinner and program at the Niedringhaus Church that evening was the climax of our family gathering.  Again, families brought out their photo albums, pictures and artifacts to share.  Many of the photographs were scanned by Charlie Caughlan and placed on Brian Caughlan’s computer for all to copy.  A wonderful catered dinner followed and a special Caughlan cake was featured.  After dinner, Bill and Brian gave a history of their dream of a Caughlan Family gathering, spurred on by locating Sarah’s grave in St. Louis.  Charlie Caughlan went over the Caughlan Connections web site and how family members could submit and receive family information.  This web site has been a most important resource.  Many members shared family stories, history and mementos.  Charlie charmed all with the story of John Wesley Caughlan’s gold watch, and how it was used to time his sermons.  Mary Caughlan Kelley had a nice story about never giving up and how her father, after many years, had finally obtained a David Caughlan bell.


A great thank you from all Caughlans goes to Brian who orchestrated and made all the arrangements for the union.  Also, a great thank you goes to Bill, Frances, Charlie and Rob for many contributions of time and effort.  Thank you Rob, Les Umsted, George, Tom and Charlie for the pictures.  A special thank you from all goes to Charlie for the work of color-coding and assembling nametags; these made it so easy to keep the lines straight when meeting family members for the first time.  This may have been the first Caughlan Union, but all left hoping a REunion would take place in the near future. 




              Caughlan Family Reunion T shirt 1                                                     Tom Caughlan and Marian Jean (Caughlan) Umsted

                                                                                                                                Reviewing family pictures and talking over old times




        Family members gather share pictures and                    John Caughlan and his sister                   The Caughlan Family quilt made

          Family stories                                                                        Jeanette McCue stand by the                     by Donna Caughlan  GOOD JOB     

                                                                                                            Caughlan bell at Niedringhaus                 Donna!!!





                                                                 Plaque at the Niedringhaus Church with Caughlan Bell information



For More Family Pictures Click Here


Last modified on Sunday, December 15, 2002