|Birth: ||1826, Ireland|
In 1870, while living in New York City, John Simpkins was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He told his wife, Ruth Sears Simpkins, that when he was gone, she should take their seven (7) children, all of whom were under ten years of age, together with their Irish-born nurse, Jane Byrne, back to Yarmouth to live. When her husband passed away, Mrs. Simpkins returned to Yarmouth with her children and their nurse. Mrs. Simpkins herself died twelve years later in 1882. To the young Simpkins family, Jane Byrne a devout Catholic, was now the living presence of parental love in their home. When the eldest son, John Simpkins, a United States Congressman for what once was the 13th Congressional District died in 1898, his siblings asked Jane what they could do for her, to thank her for all of her years of devoted service to their brother and their family. Like the good people of West Barnstable who would later (1915) request that Fr. Mortimer Downing of St. Francis Xavier parish help them build the chapel known as Our Lady of Hope, she replied that she would like to have a chapel built in the vicinity where her small number of fellow Catholics could attend Mass regularly. Although not Catholics themselves, the Simpkins family responded by providing the land, the funds and a builder, to construct a small chapel on Summer Street in Yarmouthport. On the night of November 27, 1898, with the chapel near completion, a ferocious blizzard hit the Cape, and the building collapsed. During the storm, the steamer "Portland" was sunk off Provincetown, with all hands lost. With great generosity, the Simpkins family and their builder began again and the chapel was completed in 1899. Located above the altar is a broad triptych of brilliant stained glass, through which the sunshine illuminates the figures of the Magdalene, the mother of Jesus, and John, each in solitary sorrow before the cross. To the left of the altar on the wall of the sanctuary is a stone tablet, with words which encapsulate a life fully lived in a thousand acts of daily kindness for the children of others:
In memory of Jane Byrne
1826 – 1911
In whole life the love of God was manifest
By her dedication this church was built
The information contained in this answer was derived from an article researched and written by Margaret Milliken in the May 24, 1979 edition of "The Register", which is located in the glass case inside the entrance to the chapel. Thanks also to Fr. Tom Frechette of St. Francis for convenient access to this historic chapel and its story.
Appreciative thanks to Reilly #46933368 for sponsoring this memorial and helping to keep this site alive!
JANE A BYRNE
OF THE SACRED HEART
WAS BUILT AT
BY HER DEVOTION
Created by: ditdit
Record added: Mar 10, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 66748643