History of Holy Spirit Parish

In the Beginning...

Holy Spirit Parish had its inception when it was canonically erected by Archbishop Thomas A. Boland S.T.D., on June 14, 1963. The new parish was to be built on the Archdiocese-owned, four and a half acre tract of land at the intersection of Morris Avenue and Suburban Road. It was, for the most part, to serve those Catholic families attending St. Michael’s Church in Union, Christ the King in Hillside, and St. Genevieve’s Church in Elizabeth, and living within the newly-defined boundaries.

On June 28, 1963, Rev. George D. Drexler was appointed the first Pastor. Father Drexler, a native of Newark, was graduated from the St. Michael’s Elementary School, in Newark, and Seton Hall Preparatory School, in South Orange, before completing his studies for the priesthood at Seton Hall College and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington. Ordained on June 3, 1939, Father Drexler spent one year as a curate in St. Venantius Parish, Orange, and a year at St. Mary’s Parish in Plainfield, before being assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish in Jersey City where he remained for twenty-two years.

Once assigned to his new pastorate, Father Drexler immediately made arrangements to have Sunday Masses celebrated at nine and eleven o’clock, at Kawameeh Junior High School Auditorium, which had been rented for that purpose. The first Sunday Masses were celebrated there on July 14, 1963, and by the end of the month, the number of Masses was doubled, with a total attendance of 1,500 persons. The additional Masses now made it necessary to have assistance on Sunday. Rev. David J. McCarthy, Chaplin at St. Mary’s Hospital in Orange, and Rev. John M. Ballweg, a member of the faculty at Seton Hall University, were appointed.

Daily Mass was celebrated at 7:30 each morning at the McCracken Funeral Home on Morris Avenue and Holy day Masses were celebrated at six and eight o’clock in the evening at Kawameeh Junior High School Auditorium. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine which was organized with the help of twelve volunteer teachers and three hundred-eighty pupils, was formed on October of 1963 and held classes after Mass on Sunday in the Jr. High School classrooms.

Plans For A New Building

Father Drexler resided at Christ the King Rectory in neighboring Hillside for four months until mid-November when he moved into the newly-acquired home, which was to be the Holy Spirit Rectory, at 971 Suburban Road just opposite the site of the proposed church plant. A small room to the rear of the rectory was converted to house a small chapel and baptistery, where daily Mass could now be celebrated. The architectural firm of Homlish and Haas in South Orange, was commissioned to draw up the plans for the proposed three-building complex of modified Georgian-Colonial design, that would be in keeping with the architectural design of the larger township buildings. The completed plans were submitted to the Archbishop and final approval was received on February 5, 1964. It was hoped there would be an early Spring ground-breaking but negotiations on a small parcel of land delayed the longed-for proceedings. 

The parish began to grow spiritually and socially when the Rosary-Altar Society and Holy Name Society was held on December 9, 1963, in the basement of the rectory with a charter membership roster of 130 women. The Holy Name Society also organized and held their first meeting at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Union, on January 21, 1964, with 75 men in attendance. The year of 1963 also saw Midnight Mass being celebrated for the first time in the parish, on December 25th at Kawameeh Junior High School Auditorium.

Building of Church Starts

The Church building fund campaign began with the blessing of 250 workers by Archbishop Boland on June 8, 1964, before they set forth to canvass the 1,200 families of the parish in a one-day drive. From their efforts, approximately $185,000 was pledged toward the estimated $1,100,000 cost of the church, school and auditorium. 

By early September, bids for the construction of the church plant were received by the Chancery Office and by September 15th, the contracts had been awarded. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on September 27, 1964, at three o'clock in the afternoon, with many church dignitaries as well as town officials present. Monsignor James A. Hughes, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, represented Archbishop Boland who was attending the Ecumenical Council in Rome. Clergymen from surrounding churches and Mother Dolorita of the Dominican Mother house in Caldwell, all helped wield the shovel that broke the ground for the start of construction. The work began in earnest the next day when the land was cleared and construction equipment was brought on the site.

By Christmas, 1964, a mixed adult choir had been formed, under the direction of Marie E. Slekatitis, and at Midnight Mass the new liturgical music was performed for the first time in the parish. ​

The beginning of the New Year found work proceeding on all of the buildings, and plans were formulated for the opening of the new school, to be staffed by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic of the congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose mother house is in Caldwell. Registration for the children was held in early Spring, 1965, at the recently-purchased home at 986 Suburban Road that was to be used as a temporary school office. 

By mid-July, the three bronze bells that had been ordered for the church steeple had arrived, and awaited consecration and installation. Imported from Belgium, and cast by the I. T. Verdin Co. in Ohio, the bells had been placed on the ground immediately in front of the church construction. On July 26, 1965, at seven o'clock in the evening, Archbishop Thomas A. Boland, assisted by Father Drexler, Father Ward, and Father Smolen, blessed the bells in a beautiful and seldom-witnessed ceremony.

Dominican Sisters Arrive

The month of September, 1965, found the new school and auditorium near completion. With the opening day of school imminent, the Dominican Sisters arrived on September 1st, and took up residence at 984 Suburban Road.

Sister Lucille Marie was appointed principal and assisting her were Sister Catherine James, Anne Marie and Kathleen Mary. Five lay teachers constituted the balance of the teaching staff and, although the opening of school was delayed one week, on September 15, 1965, the school doors opened, admitting 359 children from grades one through eight. This, in itself, was unusual, in the most new parishes begin their school with only the first four grades. A Federal lunch program was instituted in the school in October 1965 under the direction of Mrs. Eleanor Howard, Cafeteria Manager.

Since the auditorium had been completed in September, Sunday Mass could for the first time be celebrated on church property. Father Drexler blessed the new Parish Hall, and on September 26, 1965, the first Masses were celebrated, almost one year from the day that ground had been broken to begin construction. About the same time, it was learned that, due to construction delays, the church would not be completed for Christmas Midnight Mass, as had been hoped.

Attention now focused on the youth of the parish. While the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was actively holding Sunday School classes in the school after Mass and classes for public high school students on Monday evenings, nevertheless, the social side was to be considered. Under the direction of Father Smolen, the Catholic Youth Organization was formed in October of 1965, with some 300 young people registered as members. A boy scout troop, too was formed in February, 1966, with nearly 20 boys attending.

First Mass In The New Church

It remained now, for the “finishing touches” to be put on the interior of the church. The decorators move swiftly and in early Spring it was announced that the church would be completed for Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966. Archbishop Boland delegated  Rev. Monsignor John J. Cain, Pastor of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Scotch Plains, to consecrate the altar at 9:00 am on April 2nd, the day before Palm Sunday. After the consecration of the altar, the first Mass was celebrated in the church. Father Drexler selected Palm Sunday as the first day for regularly scheduled Masses to be celebrated. All of the Holy Week services were held in the church culminating in the Easter Vigil service at midnight on Holy Saturday. By this time, the formal dedication date, September 24, 1966, had also been set by the Archbishop.

Landscaping of the church grounds was completed, and the first day of May saw the First Communion class receive Holy Communion in the Church. The conferring of the Sacrament of confirmation tool place, appropriately, on Pentecost Sunday May 29th, with Most Rev. Joseph A. Costello officiating. Early in June, the imported white marble statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Kneeling Bernadette were place in the courtyard, outside the parish hall. On June 17, 1966, the first graduating class of Holy Spirit School, consisting of 25 children, matriculated.

Dedication Day

Although services had been held regularly in the Church since the consecration of the Altar in April, still the Solemn Dedication Day was eagerly awaited. Culmination of months of planning by the priests and people of the Parish was realized when, on September 24, 1966, the Church, school and parish hall were officially dedicated.

​Archbishop Boland had appointed Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Costello to officiate at these ceremonies which began at 10:30 am on a bright autumn day. Bishop Costello was escorted from the Rectory to the Church by an honor guard, composed of the Knights of Columbus, parish representatives and clergy, while the Church bells pealed. Upon reaching the appointed place the Bishop, assisted by Very Rev. Msgr. Francis Houghton, Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese, and by Father Drexler, blessed the cornerstone and the exterior walls of the three building while the choir intoned.

Having completed the blessing of the exterior walls the Bishop moved to the interior, followed by the laity, and blessed the walls and floors of the Church. Immediately following this ceremony, Bishop Costello vested for a Low Pontifical Mass, celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit, Patron of the Parish. After the Mass was concluded, the Bishop proceeded to the school to bless the classrooms and also the parish hall. It was then that the first crucifix was hung in the school by Bishop Costello. A reception for all parishioners and clergy was held following the ceremonies to celebrate this Day of Dedication to the service of God of a Church and its people. 

​The Sanctuary and Altar

The main Altar, imported from Italy and cut from one piece of Perlato marble, stands in the center of the Sanctuary, "versus populum," facing the people, to conform with the new liturgy. The four columns, or legs of the altar, are composed of Verde Isorie marble, a white-flecked green marble. On the center base of the altar, designed in gold and blue Venetian Mosaic, is the Agnus Dei, or "Lamb of God." 

On the day the altar was consecrated by Rev. Monsignor John J. Cain the relics of St. Timothy and St. Perputua Martyrs were placed in the reliquary that had been cut into the marble on the top of the altar. 

St. Timothy, Bishop and Martyr, was converted to the Christian faith as a child, along with his mother and grandmother, by St. Paul. As a young boy he occupied most of his time reading the Scriptures. As he grew into manhood, St. Paul saw that he would be fit for the work of an evangelist and promptly ordained him. Timothy became the constant companion and beloved friend of St. Paul, who ordained him Bishop of Ephesus. His entire life was spent in self-denial, holy reading and the work of the Church. He was imprisoned for his faith and suffered martyrdom in the year 97. 

St. Perpetua was a woman of noble birth. She, along with a slave, Felicitas, had been under instruction in the Christian faith, when they were imprisoned by the Emperor Severus who had ordered all Christians persecuted. While in prison, she inspired many of the pagan prisoners to turn to the Christian faith. She eagerly awaited martyrdom, and in the year 203 in Carthage, she and Felicitas were tortured and killed by gladiators. The account of Perpetua's trials is one of the great treasures of martyr literature, for an authentic document in the actual words of the martyrs and their friends, has been preserved. These saints were universally honored from the time of their deaths until this day. The names of Felicitas and Perpetua occur in the prayer "Nobis Quoque peccatoribus" in the Canon of the Mass. 

Directly behind the altar stand the three white President and deacon chairs, cushioned in red velvet. The President's chair, so-called because the celebrant of the Mass is said to "preside," is raised one step above the deacons' chairs. In the center of the Apse, above the three chairs, hangs the large white crucifix, that is framed in the Colonial white-columned woodwork. The Dove of the Holy Spirit is centered above the top of the crucifix. On the wall to the left of the crucifix, is the Papal Coat of Arms of Pope Paul, and to the right, hangs the Archbishop's Coat of Arms, showing filial love and obedience to both and showing also that Holy Spirit Church had been erected during the Papacy of Paul VI and the Episcopacy of Archbishop Thomas A. Boland.

The Papacy and Episcopacy

The Papal Coat of Arms depicts the triple tiara, indicating the Holy Father's spiritual authority over his flock. The silver crossed keys symbolize his succession of Peter, to whom Christ said, "I will give unto you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven." The unfurled stole reminds all that the Holy Father is "first a priest." 

The Coat of Arms of Archbishop Boland combines the features of the Arms of the Archdiocese of Newark, together with symbols of his own lineage and career. His motto, "Maria Impende Juvamen - Mary Assist Me," refers to his personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin since childhood.

The Sanctuary Lamp has been placed on the right side wall of the sanctuary. The pulpit, of white Colonial design with mahogany base and top, is at the left of the altar, and the commentators lectern, of the same design, is at the right. The golden ambry has been installed above the priests' chairs. This contains the holy oils that are used in the administration of some of the Sacraments.

Encompassing the entire sanctuary form one transept to the other is the communion railing. Composed of maple wood and mahogany and finished in white, the railing has been designed with a series of 3 spindles or "turned legs" to each section. Padded kneeling cushions cover the marble step at the railing.

The Church Design

The design of any new church building must necessarily reflect the preference of the pastor as well as the needs of his parishioners. Father Drexler attempted to combine the two by choosing the Colonial architecture of the church complex and by selecting the cruciform design of the church, which permits the greatest seating accommodations. His deep interest in early American history and architecture, especially that of restored Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, was the underlying cause of his choice of Colonial design. Since other public buildings of the township of Union were also of Colonial design, the new church plans were appropriate as well as beautiful. 

Mr. John S. Homlish of the architectural firm of Homlish & Haas of South Orange had been recommended to draw up the plans for the complex buildings, since he had extensive experience in designing Colonial styled buildings. During the formulation of the plans, it was decided that the buildings should be of modified Georgian-Colonial design. This incorporates both periods of architecture; not as ornate as the Georgian period and yet in keeping with the Colonial era.

Set back 400 feet from Suburban Road, against a background of large shade trees, the church complex is truly a "picture worth a thousand words". The church is 146 feel long, 62 feet wide in the nave and 115 feet wide at the transepts. Fully air-conditioned, it seats 950 persons. The large, on-site parking area accommodated 200 vehicles, with an exit and entrance on Suburban Road and an exit on Morris Avenue.

A rose-blend Williamsburg brick was chosen to face the new buildings and the typically Colonial gray slate was chosen for the roof. Four large white Doric columns, reflecting the Georgian grandeur, enhance the granite steps and white framed portico. Suspended from the inside roof of the portico, on black wrought iron chains, are three "Revere" lanterns, finished in wrought iron and frosted glass.

Above the white portico rises the fifty-foot bell tower, sheathed in three bronze bells which were imported from Belgium, and cast by the I.T. Verdin Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. The largest bell is pitched to the musical note "D," so that when the bells peal simultaneously, they harmonize perfectly. The bell may be operated either manually or electronically, with controls installed in the priests' sacristy. The bells have been inscribed with the names of the Most Reverend Thomas A Boland, who had blessed them before installation. Rev. George D. Drexler, and Holy Spirit Church. 

The nave of the church is beautifully simple and simply beautiful. A five-foot-high off-white wainscoting trims the lower part of the 27-foot-high church. The white ceiling and white Colonial woodwork throughout are outstanding; the only deep dimensions of color being the dark mahogany pews in the nave and transepts. These have the off-white on the sides only and padded kneeling cushions. The brass chandeliers with hurricane glass lamps were especially designed for the church by the Poerner Co. of Clifton, New Jersey.

The Stations of the Cross are hand-carved of American basswood and maple and the figures are finished in soft shades of brown, blue, rose and white on a pale blue background. A typically Colonial white frame surrounds each station. All of the stations and the statues in the church have been hand-carved by the craftsmen at the J. J. Noe Studios in New York, specialists in church interior decorating, who also supervised the entire furnishing of the church.

The Choir Loft and Organ

Above the nave, is the choir loft which holds the Austin two-manual pipe organ and additional seating. The pipe organ, imposing in stature with its 1475 stainless steel pipes, each pipe individually tuned, also is equipped with a set of chimes. As beautiful as it is to view, so also is the beauty of its tone, the "true" sound that only a pipe organ can produce. Although many churches have installed electronic organs for one reason or another, Father Drexler chose the pipe organ, both for the part it plays in the liturgy of the church, and for its use to offer up praise and thankfulness to Almighty God. The worship of God includes music as one of its essential parts, and since music is an art of sound, it can only sound as good as the instrument it is played upon. A well-designed organ produces a clear, bright tone that does not overpower the voices of the choir and congregation but stimulates their singing. The pipe organ affords a full-throated volume, that is inspiring to the congregation enabling all to worship God by lifting their voices.

The School

Although the appearance of the two-story, rose-brick school building with its white framed windows and white cupola atop it is Colonial from the exterior, there exists in the interior a contemporary, up-to-date "seat of learning." 

The corridor walls of the school are faced with a Nile green ceramic tile on the lower half and painted on the upper half, making it easy to maintain as well as cheerful and bright. The first level of the school contains the first, second and third grade classrooms, faculty room, music room, administration offices and nurses station, while the second floor holds the fourth through eighth grades and the library.

The rooms are finished in a variety of pastel shades of paint, and recessed florescent lighting add to the beauty as well as being functional. Each classroom, with a capacity of forty-to-fifty pupils, has an entire wall of window space, overlooking either the front or rear of the school, as well as two walls of blackboard area and ample storage closets to the rear. A modern inter-communications system has been installed, in addition to a unique blower system, which adjusts automatically to temperature changes and makes it possible for each room to re-circulate the air whenever necessary.​

The focal point of the school building, however, is the recessed alcove on the first floor, directly ahead of the main entrance. Framed in marble, with a wood-grained background, stand life-sized, hand carved wooden figures of Our Lord blessing the figures of a boy and a girl who are attired in the uniform of Holy Spirit School.

Truly the Lord has blessed our children, for Holy Spirit is the first Catholic school to be built in the town of Union in thirty-four years and is second to none in its appointments, curriculum and teaching staff.

The Parish Hall

Adjoining the school building, is the fully air-conditioned parish hall, with a seating capacity of 750 people. Until the new church was completed, and from September, 1965, when the hall was completed, Sunday Masses were celebrated here, as well as daily Mass during the Lenten Season. 

A meeting place for the societies and organizations of the parish, it is also utilized for parish social functions. The well-equipped stainless steel kitchen to the rear of the hall makes it possible, by the use of folding tables and chairs, to create an efficient cafeteria for our school children. The "cafetorium" is used as well, on prescribed days, by the children as part of the health education program in the school curriculum.

The hall is pleasantly bright during the day due to the East West exposure, and the transition to nighttime activities is enhanced by the modern fluorescent lighting. The large stage at the front of the hall and the adequate public address system, invite the creative talents of the parish. Practical, versatile, and beautiful, our parish hall now serves, and will continue to serve as the social "heart of the parish."

Since the three buildings of the church complex are joined to one another, it is unnecessary to go out of doors to move from one building to another. Through the rear exit doors of the parish hall, we find a foyer, containing the priests' office, entrances to utility rooms, kitchen, and to the outside, in addition to a doorway leading to the left transept of the church.

Stained-Glass Windows

Windows on the left side of the church depict Christ's life on earth; the right side depicts His Risen Life - not usually pictured in many churches. 

To conform with the Colonial architecture and the Colonial window panes, special drawings had to be made to place the figure groups in such a way that the panes would not interfere with the portrayal of the various scenes selected by Father Drexler.

Upon entering the nave, on the left side, the first window depicts the Nativity as described in Luke 2:7, "And she brought forth her first-born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes..." The next window portrays the Holy Family at Work as in Luke 2:51, "And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them." The third window shows the first miracle performed by Our Lord at the request of His Mother at the Wedding in Cana, according to John 2:7, "Jesus said to them, 'Fill the jars with water'... the chief steward had tasted the water after it had become wine..." The last window before the transept is the Calling of Saint Peter and his brother, Saint Andrew, as told in Matthew 4:18, "Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

In the transept itself, facing the front, is Christ Blessing and Healing as described in Luke 18:16, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of God."

Across the transept, on the left side of the sanctuary, the large window illustrates the Last Supper (Luke 22:19) "And having taken bread, He gave thanks and broke, and gave it to them saying, 'This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'" On the opposite side of the sanctuary, the Resurrection as in Matthew 28:2, "... for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and drawing near rolled back the stone... and for fear of him the guards were terrified."

One of the two short windows in the right side transept shows Christ Breaking Bread at Emmaus (Luke 24:30), "And it came to pass when He reclined at table with them, that He took the bread and blessed and broke and began handing it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized them; ..."

The other window depicts Christ Appearing to His Disciples in the Cenacle, as described in Luke 24:41, "But as they still disbelieved and marveled for joy, He said, 'Have you anything here to eat?' And they offered Him a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb."

Going from the transept back into the nave, we continue with the Apparitions of Christ after His Resurrections, and show Christ Visits His Mother. In the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1:3, Christ again appeared in the Cenacle where the disciples persevered with Mary, and blessed them. The next window illustrates the Ascension of Our Lord with St. Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the foreground as in Acts 1:9, "And when He had said this, He was lifted up before their eyes, and a cloud took Him out of their sight."

The last window shows the Descent of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in Acts 2:3, "And there appeared to them parted tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit..."

In the transept of the church are four circle windows. In these circle windows are subjects relating to the Catholic Church in America during the Colonial period. On the right side is the portrait of Bishop Carroll, the first Roman Catholic Bishop in America, whose See was the Diocese of Baltimore. On the left side the first window is Lord Baltimore who established the first colony to have as its basis religious freedom. The middle window is the portrait of Charles Carroll, who signed the Declarations of Independence and was prominent in the founding of the American government. The third window depicts Commodore Barry, the Father of the American Navy.

There are four prominent windows in the sacristies. In the Priests' Sacristy, the First Unbloody Sacrifice of Melchisedech celebrated before Abraham went into battle, and the window next to it, a bishop ordaining. In the Boys' Sacristy, Saint Isaac Jogues holds up the Missionary Cross and in the background the tree is shown in which he carved the Holy Name of Jesus. The last window depicts St. John Vianny - known as the Cure D'Ars. The altar and the hyssop are symbolic of his designation as the Patron of the Priesthood. These were chosen by Father Drexler in inspire vocations among the altar boys.

The three windows under the front portico have, in the center window, the Chi Rho and Alpha and Omega, the Chi Rho being the first and last letters of the Greek word for Christ and Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, symbolic of God the Beginning and the End. On the left side the figure of the Immaculate Conception with the United States Seal indicating that She is the Patroness of the Nation, and on the right side Christ the King.

The two circles in the Choir Balcony depicts two saints most closely related to church music - on the one side, King David, and on the other side, St. Cecilia.

Below is a series of historical facts relating to the some of the stained glass windows.
The American Revolution (1775-1783) was fought both on land and at sea. The battles between the American Continental Navy and Britain’s powerful Royal Navy took place in American and European waters. Three commanders were especially important in leading the Revolutionary Navy to victory: John Barry, Nicholas Biddle and John Paul Jones. John Barry was a tall, popular naval officer from Ireland who settled in Philadelphia in 1760. Before Congress appointed him to the Continental Navy in 1776, Barry was a wealthy and successful shipping captain. Captain Barry’s daring captures of enemy ships made him famous during the American Revolution. In the spring of 1776, he led one of the Revolution’s first successful sea battles against the British. His ship, the Lexington, captured the heavily armed British ship, the H.M.S. Edward. When the British gained control of Philadelphia in 1777, Barry successfully attacked the English from the Delaware River. In command of only four small boats, Barry captured several enemy boats and a large ship full of supplies. After the war, President George Washington made Barry a commodore (senior captain). As commodore, he trained other officers and helped shape the first navy of the United States. As a result, many historians have called Commodore Barry the “Father of the American Navy.”

Lord Baltimore - The oldest son of an obscure Yorkshire gentleman, George Calvert used ability and an Oxford education to gain wealth, status, and influence in the England of his time. Knighted in 1617, and a member of Parliament for Yorkshire in 1621, Calvert served as on e of James I’s tow secretaries of state and a Privy Councilor from 1619 to 1625. As a recent convert to Catholicism, Calvert resigned from his government posts in the latter year, when anti-catholic legislation was being debated in Parliament. Created Baron Baltimore of Baltimore in 1625, with large estates in County Longford, Ireland, Calvert devoted the next seven years of his life to colonization projects in America. Having sponsored a small colony at Ferryland in his Province of Avalon, Newfoundland, as early as 1620, Lord Baltimore visited his American possessions in 1627 and 1629, and by the latter date, was determined to obtain lands in a friendlier climate. His petition for a large colonial grant with unprecedented powers, located north of the Potomac River, was agreed to by Charles I, but Calver died almost two months to the day before the charter for Maryland was officially granted (on June 20, 1632).

Charles Carroll - Signer of the Declaration of Independence - was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1737. Carroll was the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. He added “of Carrollton” to his signature to separate himself from the other Charles in his sprawling family - including his father, Charles Carroll of Annapolis. Charles was diminutive in physical stature, he was graceful in his movements and an accomplished horseman, and he had fine, regular features. Charles was often described as the richest man in the country, educated in his early years by Jesuits. He spent many years in school in Europe. He had studied law in Pais and London and was an unusually cultivated young man. At the age of 31 he married his cousin, Mary Darnall, known in the family as Molly, and he lived the life of a landed gentleman on Carrollton Manor, a 10,000 acre plantation in Frederick County, Maryland which he had received from his father. Not until he was 36 in 1773, did he become a public man. He was instrumental in asking Canada to help America in the Revolutionary War. He was elected to Maryland’s first state senate in 1777. From 1776 to 1778 he was a member of the Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He was a U.S. Senator from Maryland between 1789 and 1792. He retired from politics in 1800 but lived until 1832, being the only surviving Signer when he died at the age of 94. Four years before his death, he officially opened the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Thus, he was the only Signer who ever saw a steam locomotive. Still regarded as the richest man in the country, he had long been a legendary figure. He was buried at Doughoregan Manor, near Ellicott City.