Popular Priest Shares Whiskey with Waldo, Ore., Miners
French-Canadian Priest X.F. Blanchard, may have been about the only man of God that the hard-drinking miners of Waldo were happy to see.
When Father Blanchard traveled to the small mining town from Jacksonville, he invariably carried a large bottle of whiskey with him. On his walk to town, he would share a swig with the miners he happened upon. His easy-going and cheerful nature helped Blanchard mix with the miners, and he never tried to convince them to join his church in Allen Gulch. But more than anything, the free whiskey smoothed his way through the mining camps and won Blanchard friends. The priest’s sermons at Waldo attracted crowds of miners. He often joked that he collected more offerings from the nonreligious than the devout miners. Although he enjoyed whiskey and his pipe, Father Blanchard always acted in the interests of the Waldo miners, even taking away guns from several miners to avoid bloody altercations. After Father Blanchard died, the Allen Gulch Catholic Church disappeared over time. All that remains of the miners’ friend and his church today are headstones in the graveyard.