Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fr. R.A. Sidley

From the Sandusky Evening Star, Feb. 8, 1904

When Father Sidley arrived in Sandusky [1863], the Federal prison at Johnson's Island was crowded with several thousand Confederate officers, prisoners of war. It was one of the most important points in the country in this respect. There was a regularly appointed chaplain, but Father Sidley made it his business to call there frequently. He was given passports from Washington which entitled him to enter the place whenever he desired.

"The chaplain of the place was a Protestant minister," said Father Sidley, in speaking of this period of his work. "He was a good man, too—he's dead now. But the prisoners did not like him. They hated him—and all because he was a Northerner—a man furnished by the government against which they had rebelled. And so when I went there as a Catholic priest, being neither North nor South, I was welcomed. I served Catholics and non-Catholics alike."

Many a poor man in the prison, far from home, had cause to thank Father Sidley for some act of kindness. He would cross the bay in a small boat at any time he was wanted and he did much to cheer the men who were confined there. On more than one occasion he braved storms to answer a call of duty.

Cemetery at Johnson's Island

1 comment:

Sandusky Library said...

Outstanding article...points out
human kindness at a difficult time
in U.S. history.