Henry Cosgrove

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For the Australian judge, see Henry Cosgrove (judge).
Right Reverend
Henry Cosgrove, DD
Bishop of Davenport
Bishop Henry Cosgrove.jpg
Church Catholic Church
Appointed July 11, 1884
In office September 14, 1884 – December 23, 1906
Predecessor John McMullen
Successor James J. Davis
Ordination August 27, 1857
by Clement Smyth
Consecration September 14, 1884
by Patrick Feehan
Personal details
Born (1834-12-19)December 19, 1834
Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Died December 23, 1906(1906-12-23) (aged 72)
Davenport, Iowa
Previous post Administrator, Diocese of Davenport (1883-1884)

Henry Cosgrove (December 19, 1834 – December 23, 1906) was a late 19th-century and early 20th-century bishop of the Catholic Church in the United States. He served as the second bishop of Diocese of Davenport, in the state of Iowa from 1884-1906.


Early life and ministry[edit]

Henry Cosgrove was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1834, to John and Bridget Cosgrove. The family moved to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and then to Dubuque, Iowa in 1845. He studied with the Rev. Joseph Cretin, who was the vicar general of the Diocese of Dubuque, and later first bishop of St. Paul. He furthered his education at St. Mary's Seminary in Perry County, Missouri for the classics, and the seminary at Carondelet in Missouri for theology.[1] He was ordained a priest by Bishop Clement Smyth on August 27, 1857 for the Diocese of Dubuque. He was assigned to St. Margaret's Church in Davenport to assist the Rev. Andrew Trevis.

Cosgrove became the parish's pastor in 1861. Two rather dramatic events took place during his pastorate. An arsonist, who was never caught, set fire to the church on May 2, 1873. Damage to the church was limited to the altar, but Cosgrove took a blow to the head when he ran into a doorway in the dark after learning of the fire.[2] A burglary affected the parish in the early hours of the morning of March 31, 1878 when two gunman and a third individual attempted to rob the parish of a collection from the Forty Hours' Devotion the night before. One of the gunman shot at, but missed, Cosgrove who was still in bed. They got away without the collection, but they did take some jewelry that belonged to the housekeeper's daughter. A $3,000 reward was offered and the three men were caught and sentenced to prison terms at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.[2] After St. Margaret's was elevated to a cathedral when Davenport was established as a See city in 1881, Cosgrove became the cathedral's rector and vicar general to Bishop John McMullen.

Bishop of Davenport[edit]

Bishop Cosgrove had Sacred Heart Cathedral built in Davenport.

After the death of Bishop McMullen, Cosgrove was named administrator of the see. His name was not on the terna that was sent to the Holy See for Davenport's new bishop. There were still resentments about Davenport as a see city instead of Des Moines and its supporters saw an opportunity. Father Trevis, who championed Davenport as the see city and had friends at the Holy See, interceded and suggested no appointment be made until the clergy of the diocese had their say. The clergy desired one of their own as bishop, and chose Cosgrove. A petition was sent to Rome.[3] Henry Cosgrove was appointed the second bishop of Davenport on July 11, 1884 by Pope Leo XIII, and was consecrated in St. Margaret's Cathedral on September 14, 1884 by Archbishop Patrick Feehan of Chicago. Bishops John Hennessy of Dubuque and James O'Connor, the Vicar Apostolic of Nebraska, were the principal co-consecrators.[4]

Bishop Cosgrove would serve the Davenport Diocese for 22 years. He was a friend of Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul and was therefore aligned with the more progressive wing of the American hierarchy. While the diocese had no newspaper at the time, the periodical Iowa Orphan's Friend reported on Cosgrove's activities and published his pastoral letters. It was sort of a "house organ" for the bishop. While Cosgrove was less outspoken it quoted Archbishop Ireland liberally.[5]

In 1884 Bishop Cosgrove attended the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, which among other things established the Baltimore Catechism. St. Ambrose College moved from St. Margaret's School, where it had been founded, to its present campus location in 1885. It was decided that St. Margaret's was not suitable for cathedral functions. A new cathedral with a new name, Sacred Heart, was built on the same block as the old cathedral in 1891. The old cathedral was torn down. St. Vincent's Home for orphans was established in Davenport by the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in 1896.[6][7]

Bishop Cosgrove supported the Temperance Movement and called for a moral crusade in the diocese, especially in the see city. In 1903 he was quoted in the national media calling Davenport "the wicked city of its size in America" because of its notorious Bucktown District, an area of speakeasies and houses of prosititution, which were down the hill from the cathedral.[8]

Later life and death[edit]

Cosgrove Hall at St. Ambrose University

Toward the end of his life, Bishop Cosgrove's health started to fail. He requested a coadjutor bishop be named to assist him and then succeed him after his death. On October 7, 1904, Pope Saint Pius X named the rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral and diocesan vicar general, the Very Rev. James J. Davis, as Coadjutor Bishop of Davenport.[9] Cosgrove presided over the diocese's second synod the same year. He died two years later at the age of 72. After his funeral, Bishop Cosgrove was laid to rest in the cathedral crypt. His body was later moved to Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Davenport when the diocese abandoned the crypt below the cathedral.[10]


Bishop Cosgrove was the first native born bishop of the United States appointed to a see west of the Mississippi River. Cosgrove Hall, a residence hall at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa is named in his honor.


  1. ^ "Chapter XX:Churches and Parishes". Scott County Iowa USGenWeb Project. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  2. ^ a b Greer, Edward (1956). Cork Hill Cathedral: The Chronicle of St. Margaret's and Sacred Heart Parish Davenport, Iowa 1856-1956. Davenport: Gordon. 
  3. ^ Schmidt, Madeleine M. (1981). Seasons of Growth: History of the Diocese of Davenport. Davenport, Iowa: Diocese of Davenport. p. 117. 
  4. ^ "Bishop Henry Cosgrove". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  5. ^ Schmidt, 120-21
  6. ^ "Davenport". www.newadvent.org. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  7. ^ Delaney, John J, Tobin, James Edward (1961). Dictionary of Catholic Biography. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. 
  8. ^ Schmidt, 127
  9. ^ "Bishop James J. Davis". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  10. ^ "Sacred Heart Cathedral". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Henry Cosgrove". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.  The entry cites:
    • Reuss, Biog. Encyc. of the Cath. Hierarchy of U.S. (Milwaukee, 1898);
    • The Messenger (New York, Jan., 1907).

External links[edit]