Leslie Sater

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My ancestor, John Stack, the builder, as we call him, came to Baltimore in 1849 at 15 years old from Ireland during the potato famine. With nothing but a talent for carpentry he developed a successful thriving business as a builder and was responsible for the construction and renovation of many buildings in Baltimore that still exist today, including renovations to the Baltimore Basilica* (The first Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States). One story that exemplifies his determination and dedication to his work took place in 1871 during a particularly fierce fire threatening a large area of the city. John Stack with a group of others climbed to the roof of the Basilica, risking their lives to continually douse the structure with water and lay wet blankets to keep the flying embers from the surrounding fire from igniting the church. This is the image that prompted me to share his story. *Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary