Jean Baptiste Lamy was a well known missionary in early western America. He became famous by his being the hero in a popular novel. His Knox County connection was through his service to Catholic churches in the area.
Lamy was born in 1814 in France. He became a Catholic priest in 1838 and shortly thereafter came to America as a missionary. From 1839 to 1847, Father Lamy served the pioneer church already located in Sapp’s Settlement (Danville), Knox County, Ohio. During that time he also traveled to outlying communities to establish new churches, including St. Vincent de Paul in Mount Vernon in 1840. According to biographer Horgan, Father Lamy often walked from Danville to Mount Vernon to serve his parish..
In 1847 Father Lamy was relocated to New Mexico. Much has been written about his work in the Southwest, especially the starting of schools. He was made Bishop in 1853 and Archbishop in 1875. He died in 1888.
In 1927 Willa Cather published her historical novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, in which Father Lamy was featured.
Archbishop Lamy: In His Own Words. Edited by Thomas J. Steele
(Lamy). Etas-Unis, Santa Fe, Lettre de Mgr. Lamy. 1966
Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop. 1927
Horgan, Paul. Lamy of Santa Fe. 1975
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