She was the one they left behind…

“Who hurts more—the one leaving or the one left behind?  Or, better said—which is sadder, to leave or to be left?”

Gerogia Hedrick continues,

I don’t even pretend to know the answer to either of the above questions. But I do know one fact: there is a Daughter of Charity, young and deceased, buried in the Catholic Cemetery of Virginia City in Nevada.  She died in 1893. She’s in plot A-061.  She is the last Daughter of Charity in Nevada.

She has been in Virginia City for over 140 years, maybe it’s 150 years. I am not sure. She has been watching over this once most famous city in Nevada for that long a time. Two other Sisters died in Virginia City (V.C.), but their bodies were shipped back to the Motherhouse.

The first three Daughters of Charity who arrived by Pioneer Stage on October 8, 1864 were Sr. Fredericka McGrath, Sr. Elizabeth Russell, and  Sr. Xavier Schauer.  They arrived by Pioneer stage- coach with some 31 other people.

Now, that’s a picture to imagine!  How do you suppose that many people — 31 — fit on one stage coach?

No, the photo is NOT a picture of the stagecoach that carried our Sisters to Nevada, but it shows just how crowded a stage- coach could get. It was October 8, 1864 when the stagecoach arrived bringing the Daughters of Charity.

First, there was Sr. Rosanne Logan. She stayed one year and then died of blindness, deafness, and total nerve damage.Second was Sr. Gertrude Dooling who died at St. Mary’s Hospital.  There is no record of Sister Rosanne or Sister Gertrude being buried in Virginia City.  But there is a record of Sister Angelica.

On October 15 with 50 young girls for students, the Sisters began a school, St. Mary’s School, in the basement of St. Mary of the Mountains Church. (Photo below: Teachers and Students at St. Mary’s.) Over time, the school would branch out into an orphanage as miners died in the Silver Mines and children were left alone if their mothers were already deceased, another common occurrence in the “old West.” In 1875, a hospital would be built and named St. Mary Louise after John Mackay’s wife/

Then, in 1897, the Sisters left Virginia City.  By then, V.C. had gone from a population of over 30,000 to one of 600. The gold rush was over. The mines had closed.  Earthquakes were shaking the city in November of 1895. There were few people there to teach or to care for.

One Sister stayed, and she is buried in the Catholic Cemetary. Originally named Sister Ramona, she was later called Sister Angelica.  Olivas was her last name. She died in 1893.  She will stay in Virginia City forever.  She is the last Daughter of Char ity there, though in 1950 the Daughters returned to Nevada, this time to Carson City to sponsor St. Teresa School.

There are no Daughters of Charity in Nevada now. A painting of Sister Fredericka McGrath re-mains on the wall in the basement museum of St. Mary of the Mountains Church in V.C. commemorating the first Daughter of Charity to arrive.

The only one left is Sister Angelica Olivas, the last Daughter of Charity in Nevada!

Photos and text Georgia Hedrick
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