Roman Catholic Mission Church

Current Sign Text

New York

First in Pompey was
Located Here, 1857-1866.
Father James Cahill,
First Priest

State Education
Department 1935

Problematic issues

The use of term "Mission Church" can be confusing. The French Jesuits who came to this area in the 17th century had a goal of converting the Onondaga and other Haudenosaunee peoples.

However, this Roman Catholic Church in Pompey mentioned in the marker was established two hundred years later in 1857.


A few hundred feet east of the Roman Catholic Church on the south side of Academy Street, Pompey, NY, .15 mile east of NYS Route 91.


Father James Cahill founded the first Roman Catholic Church in Pompey on this site in 1857.Before this time, Father Cahill was assigned to a parish in Cazenovia. From there he had traveled to towns in the area, including Chittenango, Fayetteville, Fabius, and Pompey, saying mass in people's homes. This practice was common among many immigrant groups to the area. When they had enough people to support a church, they successfully petitioned for a church and a resident priest. (1)

Nearby LeMoyne Park, directly to the west of the marker, on the grounds of the Roman Catholic Church was named for the first French Jesuit priest who came into Onondaga territory in 1654.

A later priest, Father George Mahan and the parishioners in Pompey Hill, would play an active role in memorializing the first missionaries to the area and the celebration of the first Roman Catholic mass believed to have been held at Indian Hill several miles to the north. In this site in1905 Father Mahan held a celebration of the 250th anniversary of that Roman Catholic mass. (2)

Indigenous Place Names for Site

Ote-ge-ga-ja-ke "place of much grass openings or prairies" name recorded in 1849 for the area now known as Lafayette and Pompey. At that time, those grass openings were understood to be the sites of fields that the Onondaga had cultivated.(3)

Circumstances of Marker Placement

The marker was erected in 1935 as part of New York State's Historic Marker Program . This program of the State Education Department was begun to commemorate the Sequicentennial of the American Revolution. Over 2,800 of the small, cast iron site markers were erected statewide during the duration of this program (1926-1939)."(4)

Additional Information

See text of other markers " Indian Hill" (2) and "Indian Warstone" for more information about this area.


1. Luella S.Dunham, "Talks about Pompey Hill," The Weekly Recorder, Fayetteville, October 16, 1879. POMPEY/POMPHILL.HTM, accessed March 25, 2012
2. "Recalls Early Church History", The Syracuse Journal, Thursday, August 3, 1905, p. 4. (Syracuse NY Daily Journal 1905 - 2312.pdf, #342824). Accessed July 8, 2009.
3. J.V.H Clark ,1849, cited in Beauchamp, Aboriginal Place Names of New York, 1907, p. 148 4.
New York State Museum, "Outreach: State Historic Markers", Accessed January 23, 2011.

Review Details

Gail Bundy, March 2012