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The founding of the bishop baraga archives
The Bishop Baraga Association was founded in 1930. The original mission was to promote the
Cause for Canonization of Bishop Baraga. Did you know that the Association wasn’t always located in Marquette, MI? The BBA headquarters were once located in Oak Park, IL. The picture above is of the original Baraga Archives with BBA founder, Joseph Gregorich in Oak Park, IL.
Today, the Association resides within the Baraga Educational Center located at 615 S. Fourth Street, Marquette, MI 49855. The BBA is currently working on digitizing microfilm and other documents that have been collected, donated and transcribed in the Baraga Archives. The hope is to be able to share this information and to become a community resource to those not only interested in Frederic Bishop Baraga but also in the history of the Great Lakes Region.
Abraham and louise Fleury
Pictured above are Abraham Joseph Fleury and Louise (Messier) Fleury on their wedding day. Abraham Fleury was born on August 10, 1866 in Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada. Louise (Messier) Fleury was born on Januray 25, 1862 in Au Sable Forks, Clinton, New York, USA. They were married on November 26, 1888 and resided in Marquette County. The Fleury Family, devout Catholics and large Baraga supporters resided in the Baraga House from 1908- 1988. It’s recalled that Mrs. Fleury made a down payment of $200.00 and paid $25.00 each month as payment for the house.
Here they raised eight children; Clara, Archie, Louise, Abraham, Leo, Wilfred, Clement and Agnes. Mother, Louise Fleury had quite fond memories of Bishop Baraga. As a young girl she would often times bring laundry or meals over to Bishop Baraga during the last few years of his life and implemented the knowledge and teachings of Baraga into her children. The Fleury children reported that they “knew Baraga well” and that their mother talked about him often.
Mother, Louise Fleury passed away on February 20, 1930. Father, Abraham Fleury passed away on September 14, 1944. The house remained in the Fluery Family after their parents death and was always looked upon as a “special place” to the children.
Pictured left is the Fleury family
Back Row: Louise, Wilfred, Leo, Clement
Front Row: Agnes, Abraham Sr., Louise and Clara
The history of the baraga house
The Baraga House was built in 1857 and is the oldest house in Marquette County. Originally the house was behind St. Peter Cathedral. It was formerly used as a parish; the first floor being used for the church, the second story being a place of residents for the priest.
Bishop Baraga moved into the house in 1866. He was very minimalistic. From personal stories told, we know that there was no electricity, no furnace. It did have a small wood stove in the death room. We know that while Baraga was here, the upstairs wasn’t used much, because he knew that it would be too costly to maintain and heat this large of a building. So he worked and lived predominantly downstairs.
Bishop Baraga passed away in 1868 and after that a Marquette resident, Charlie McCabe bought the building and turned it into a private residency.
The original foundation’s exterior was wood clapboard siding, it became bricked in 1872 when the Baraga house moved to its present location at 615 S. Fourth Street, Marquette, MI 49855. When the building was moved, the original house was added onto another building that was already there.
The McCabe family used the house as a residence and lived here from 1872 to 1909. In 1909, the Fleury family approached the McCabes regarding the opportunity to buy the house. It stayed in the Fleury Family until 1988. In 1988 son, Wilfred Fluery passed away and left the Baraga House in his will to the Diocese of Marquette.
Nearly 30 years later, in 2017, the Bishop Baraga Association began the construction of the Baraga Educational Center; restoring and transforming the Baraga House into a museum. In 2018, Most Reverend John F. Doerfler blessed the Baraga Educational Center and the doors were open to the public. A year later, the Bishop Baraga Association began the construction of the Baraga Prayer Gardens and Votive House.
Today, the Baraga Educational Center is open April 1- November 30 from 8:30am-5:00pm, as well as on the off season, evenings and weekends by appointment. For additional information please contact the Bishop Baraga Association at 906-227-9117.
Meet the BBA FounDer JoSeph Gregorich
Joseph Gregorich (1889-1984) was a mechanical engineer by profession and a historian by avocation. Mr. Gregorich’s mother was born in one of the parishes in Slovenia in which Fr. Baraga had been a parish priest, and she inspired her son with a love of Baraga. Joseph Gregorich dedicated fifty years of his life to the collection (usually by microfilm), cataloguing, and translation of materials relating to the life and activities of Father and later Bishop Baraga. This collection was the basis of the “Positio,” the document describing Baraga’s life of heroic virtue, which was presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican. The collection of historical data on Bishop Baraga that Joseph Gregorich amassed totaled 600 rolls of microfilm and 200 feet of shelved, printed material. Most of this historical material came from the United States, Austria, and Slovenia (which was part of communist Yugoslavia at the time of Mr. Gregorich’s collection activities). Lesser amounts were collected in Switzerland, France, and Italy. Mr. Gregorich translated all the documents in the Slovene, German, and French languages into English. Joseph Gregorich was also the primary translator of the diary Bishop Baraga kept while he was bishop. To insure the confidentiality of his diary, the saintly bishop wrote it in seven languages – German, French, Slovene, Italian, Latin, English, and Chippewa. Mr. Gregorich translated the first five languages. Rev. Paul Prud’homme, S.J., translated the Chippewa entries. Mr. Gregorich was also one of the founders of the Bishop Baraga Association in 1930. This Association was organized to promote the Cause for Canonization of Bishop Baraga. In his later years, Joseph Gregorich organized bus trips to the Upper Peninsula, bringing people from the Chicago area to the Baraga sites. Mary Gregorich (1889-1988) supported her husband in his dedication to Bishop Baraga by running a comfortable home, always shielding her husband from the occasional household problem. Much of the expenses of Mr. Gregorich’s earlier research on Bishop Baraga came from the family’s modest household budget, but Mary never complained, saying many times, “Joe is doing God’s work.”