SERVANT of GOD JOSEPH DUTTON could be another new England saint one day.
He was born Ira Barnes Dutton in Stowe, Vermont, son of Ezra Dutton and Abigail Barnes.
He carried out his studies at
and Milton Academy, Wisconsin and in 1861 enlisted in 13th Wisconsin Infantry
under Colonel Maurice Malooney. He
served in the 13th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
Regiment during the American Civil War. Old Academy
He had been raised Protestant and was for a time married. The marriage did not last as his wife (whom he never mentioned by name) was unfaithful and Ira developed problems with alcohol. He quit drinking in 1876, experiencing a spiritual reformation.
He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1883 taking the name of Joseph, his favorite saint. He later spent 20 months at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani.
|Meeting Fr. Damien- A. Girard- Stowe|
He concluded that his life should be one of penitent action rather than contemplation. He remained lifelong friends with the monks, even remembering them in his will.
In 1886 Joseph went to Moloka'i to aid the dying Father Damien. “ The work attracted me wonderfully… the labor, penitential life, and seclusion.”
At Moloka’i he served as administrator, carpenter, repairman, baseball coach, as well as care of the lepers, bandaging their sores and encouraging them on.
On Moloka’I he found peace and joy, never leaving again till his final illness, when he was sent to
for treatment. Before his death Father Damien said of him: I can die now.
Brother Joseph will take care of my orphans. Honolulu
After Father Damien's death he founded the Baldwin Home for men and boys with financial assistance from Henry Perrine Baldwin.
Joseph was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. He spent 45 years on Moloka’i, dying in Honolulu in 1931 and later buried at St. Philomena Catholic Church Cemetery, Kalaupapa. Like St. Damien and St, Marianne Cope, he was much loved by his people.