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4.2 Bohemia and St. Joseph's Church (Eastern Shore, Md.), 1840 - 1973


Scope and Contents

This subseries contains records pertaining to the Jesuit Houses on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Bohemia and St. Joseph's Church. Materials include an announcement book (Bohemia), financial records and pew rent books, a sacramental register with notes on church attendance (St. Joseph’s Church), newsclippings, photographs, histories, and publications.

In the eighteenth century, Jesuits established two Houses on the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva Peninsula: Bohemia in 1704 and St. Joseph’s Church in 1765, both of which served small parishes within a large region. From its House Seat at St. Francis Xavier Church (Warwick, Md.), the priests of Bohemia served the private chapels and churches in New Castle County, Delaware; Cecil County, Maryland; and Kent County, Maryland. The priests assigned to the St. Joseph’s Church House in Cordova, Maryland served the Catholics in Talbot County, Queen Anne’s County, Dorchester County, Wicomico County, and Caroline County. Because of this expansive geographic range, priests from Bohemia were frequently required to assist the work of St. Joseph’s Church, and vice versa. The plantations within the jurisdiction of Bohemia and St. Joseph’s Church was, in general, not commercially successful, and the region was known for its poverty. The priests of the Eastern Shore ministered to poor Irish tenant farmers and to both enslaved and free African Americans. The Diocese of Wilmington (Delaware) assumed control of the residence and missions of St. Joseph’s Church in 1864, and of Bohemia in 1898.

For more information, see Background on the Houses of the Eastern Shore and Superiors of Bohemia.

The Bohemia House served the following churches:

- St. Francis Xavier Church (Warwick, Cecil County, Md.), 1704-1898

-St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Hockessin, New Castle County, Del.), 1772-approximately 1790 (Alternate name: Coffee Run Church; Succeeded by: Saint Mary of the Assumption)

-St. Rose of Lima, (Chesapeake City, Cecil County, Md.), 1874-1898

- St. Joseph’s Church (Middletown, New Castle County, Del.), 1883-1889

- St. Dennis Church (Galena, Kent County, Md.), approximately 1861-1878

The St. Joseph’s Church House served these churches:

- St. Joseph’s Church (Cordova, Talbot County, Md.) 1765-1864 (Succeeded by: Saint Peter and Paul Parish inEaston, Talbot County, Md.)

- St. Elizabeth’s Church (Denton, Caroline County, Md.), 1831-1868 (Succeeded by: St. Benedict/St. Elizabeth Catholic Community in Ridgely/Denton, MD)

Note that when still active, these churches may have sacramental records that are available to genealogists. Researchers also should consult the Diocese of Wilmington, particularly if the church is now inactive.

**Please note: the finding aid contains Scope and Contents notes for each folder. This folder-level description has been imported from an older finding aid. Researchers may encounter outdated or potentially offensive terminology and occasional inaccuracies. If you would like to notify Special Collections of any issues that need correcting, please contact us.**

Materials on Slavery

Some materials in this subseries contain references to slavery, slaveholding, and enslaved individuals. Relevant folders are noted in the finding aid.

Provenance and Arrangement

Materials are arranged alphabetically by House and/or subject. Materials in this subseries are from both the original MPA placed on deposit at Georgetown in the 1970s, as well as the Maryland Province Collection.

Conditions Governing Access

Most materials dated 1900 and later have not been digitized. Materials dating 1900-1939 are available for research use at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. All materials dated 1940 and later are restricted.


  • 1840 - 1973


From the Collection: 292 boxes (292 total boxes, plus 14 card catalog drawers (201 regular boxes, 25 oversized boxes, 53 restricted regular boxes, 13 restricted oversized boxes, 14 card catalog drawers))

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Multiple languages