In 1891, Rev. Eli Washington John Lindesmith wrote the Rector of The Catholic University of America, Rev. John J. Keane, to inquire about donating his possessions to the University’s museum. Rev. Lindesmith, over the next thirty-one years, shipped his numerous papers, artifacts, and memoriabilia collected from his days as a missionary priest in Ohio, as a military chaplain in Montana, and as chaplain at St. Ann’s Orphan Asylum in Cleveland, Ohio, to the University. Lindesmith collected and maintained these items because he was confident that future people would be curious.
Lindesmith was born in Center Township, Columbianna County, Ohio, on September 27, 1827. He became a priest in 1855 and spent the first part of his priesthood assigned to travelling from parish to parish in the northeastern part of Ohio. His duties took him from the towns around Youngstown to the Akron-Canton area south of Cleveland. In 1880, Rev. Lindesmith became a military chaplain assigned to Fort Keogh, Montana. He remained at this post until 1891, when he returned to mission work in Northern Ohio. His last position was chaplain of St. Ann’s Orphan Asylum. He died on February 6, 1922.