The Story of the
Mary's College and Seminary
Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween
Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911
Chapter 12: 1824
Notes of Father Brute while in
France at this time disclose the fact
that, by Father Dubois' request, he
endeavored to pave the way to an
acceptance by the Paris Sulpicians, of
the Mountain Seminary as a petit
seminaire for that institution; a
source from which that house could be
supplied with students of theology
from the new world. The project
failed, and this year entire
separation from the Sulpician
community was suggested. With his
usual precision Father Brute wrote out
while in France all which he was not
to do and to do.
On another sheet of paper he has
these memorabilia: "26 October, 1824: My
own wish is to go back to the Mountain
and consecrate myself to it with you,
if Providence incline the hearts of
you gentlemen to grant my desire. If
you yourself will procure this return,
behold my views at large, (submitting
them to yours): "He then goes on to
say that he would favor" either the
re-establishment of the College of
Baltimore or the opening of another
small college at Creagerstown or
elsewhere, and seems to think that the
Mountain should be kept for
ecclesiastical candidates exclusively.
"If M. David (in Kentucky) has
collected thirteen subjects and if we
have now twenty or twenty-one, more or
less, destined to the ecclesiastical
state, we shall be able little by
little to reach an average of
twenty-five or thirty by adding to
them ten or twelve young men of very
pious parents, and pious enough
themselves to be useful rather than
harmful, as the younger Gillespie
(James Gillespie Blaine's uncle) John
Brent, et al., this family will be
sufficient and more fit to give a good
tone to the Seminary.
"You, Mr. Hickey, and I, having
given ourselves to God for this
Seminary, satisfied of its being but a
branch of that of Baltimore, and able
to secure for it a succession of from
five to six subjects a year, it will
make a sufficient nursery for a long
time for the ordinations, which for
some time have not amounted to more
than five or six a year.
"With this supply, our gentlemen of
Baltimore devoting their income to it,
besides what the Archbishop and a few
families could do, the college in
Baltimore could be done away with as a
boarding school, or becoming very
limited restrict themselves to
day-scholars, to save the treaty made
with the State (in their charter).
"My part in this good work will be,
provided you have no better views:
"1. Spiritual reading at night to
which Mr. Duclaux attributed a
considerable influence and which we
will have then for one half hour, and
truly preparatory to the holy career.
Oh, how I would wish then to have a
man of prayer and of holy office to do
this service. [This spiritual reading
for all the boys continued until
1881.] 2. Written meditations,
compiled or translated. 3. Sunday
instruction for them (Mr. Hickey for
the children). 4. The careful
supervision of the readings, which are
now without strict rules, the one
taken in one volume of a work, the
other in another, without regard to
the order in which they should be
read. 5. Every year the translation of
two or three choice volumes rather
some long or expensive work which will
be more advantageous than my little
pamphlets. 6. Reading meanwhile the
literature of this country to enable
me to give proper advice and even
write if it is necessary, in ten or
twelve years hence, some principal
work of which I have had several
glimpses. 7. The direction of a part
of our house, or all, if Mr. Hickey
will have then taken the congregation.
8. Some part of geography, history,
general ideas of modern history for
the use of those young men who should
not in my opinion leave far behind the
classes taught in this country, and
because in my opinion also it is
better to remove in their youth the
temptation of curiosity and knowledge,
which later absorbs and kills the
ecclesiastical vocation. N. . . . N. .
. . et al. witness this. 9. Two or
three trips to Baltimore a year for
literary and religious communication.
10. Correspondence with France. 11. To
keep you company ; to furnish
readings; order of your books. 12. My
share of service to the Sisters, etc.
In these views I think of your
functions the same as at present : The
Presidency, spiritual discipline,
ecclesiastical direction and general
literature; correspondence finances,
farming, improvement of the land by
your overseers of the various
departments temporalities of all the
year, etc. The Sisters as usual, etc.
I make Mr. Hickey Prefect of studies
and keeper of the first classes and
taking under an appropriate regulation
the care of the congregation, etc."
But man proposes and, very evidently
in this case, God disposes.
Meanwhile Father Dubois writes to
Father Egan, who was on a collecting
tour, that "good Mr. Shorb, hearing
you had left Philadelphia, took the
trouble to go there in hopes to find
out where you had applied, that he
might apply to the Germans in
Philadelphia, to many of whom he is
well known. He collected upwards of
$1000 about Conewago and expected to
get as much if not more in
"If you choose you might leave the
Germans out and I could prevail upon
good old Mr. Shorb to go back and try
his success among them you know the
influence of a German among the
Germans he is very pressing and by his
age has much influence among the
people. . . . They collected $1500 in
Father Dubois to Father Brute' who
was back from France:
November 18th, 1824.
Dear brother and good friend: I
write to you in great haste not
wishing to lose the carrier. Your
letter gave me equally great
pleasure and great pain. You have
arrived safe and well God be blessed
! We sang a High Mass for you on St.
Simon's day, supposing that you were
at sea. That which troubles me is
the resolution adopted by our
Superior at Paris. It is simply the
destruction of this establishment at
the moment when everything is
reassuring to our hopes. The idea of
raising children for the Seminary of
Baltimore without funds to support
them ; on the contrary an enormous
indebtedness to be paid from what
should do so (the annuity of Mrs.
Brooke); no masters from whom to
form a succession of professors, who
would be necessary to the plan, or,
let me say, the resolution, adopted
by the gentlemen of Paris, of
refusing to allow me to teach
Philosophy and Theology. This idea
could only enter the heads of
persons who have not the least idea
of our situation here . . . The new
Seminary is rebuilt, thanks to the
interest which the public has
deigned to show in this
establishment, and although our loss
is only in part repaired, I forsee
the scandal which my retreat or the
suppression of the Seminary at this
moment will cause ... As for myself.
I cannot accomplish the impossible.
I await your return in order to
carry out a plan. The failure of
your efforts to conciliate all has
not changed my feelings towards you.
I love and respect you more than
ever, but I foresee that nothing
remains to me. but to bury the few
days which remain to me. in solitude
and sorrow, or to change this asylum
of religion into one purely
literary. Pray for me: never, never
had I more need of grace than at
this moment. In passing through
Philadelphia endeavor to remain
there long enough to give a retreat
of three days at least to the
Sisters at the aslyum. It is not
necessary for me to add that I give
them permission to go to confession
to you subject of course to that of
the Ordinary who, I know, will make
no difficulty, adieu adieu, cher
Sometime in this decade of the
century, though there is no record of
the event, Mr. Brooke died and Mrs.
Brooke exchanged her residence in the
old farmhouse for one in "Hermitage",
as we said in a previous chapter. Her
meals were provided from the College
kitchen, although she had a kitchen in
the cottage and was fond of
The boys delighted in her and she
thought their frequent serenades great
fun. With all the power of their young
lungs they would sing to a well-known
air the refrain:
Away with old Aunt Chloe, O! Away
with old Aunt Chloe!
She lived to a good old age, dying
November 5, 1833, and used to
laughingly tell Father Dubois that it
was his own fault he was not rid of
her; he took such good care of her
health, she had no excuse for dying.
He provided her with a sort of
wagonette, a novelty at that time,
having the door in the rear, and
insisted that she take exercise in it
every day, ehe being afflicted with
gout or rheumatism and unable to walk.
She left her money to the college and
her personal effects to Father
One of Father Brute's leaflets
dated "1824" contains a list of
subscribers for the rebuilding of the
"P. Roake, $25; S. Donelly, $25;
Pat Woods, $10; N. T. Walsh, $40;
Dan’l Burk, $10; James Creyton, $40;
John Shanahan, $40; Pat Nolan, $10;
Jos. Yerk, $15; Patrick Corcoran,
$20; John Boyle, $20."
These are employees and their
nationality cannot be mistaken. In
1908 Irish names about the college and
the town could be counted on the
fingers of one hand, while in those
days they were very numerous.
In a fragment of a lost diary kept
by Dr. McCaffrey we find reference to
a custom of the times. The students,
two together, armed with guns used to
watch during the night. It was perhaps
to guard against a repetition of the
(supposed) incendiarism which had
destroyed the new-built seminary in
"January 18, 1825. Tuesday. A
clear morning; bright sun. My
brother now began to go to school
here. . . .
"24th. Bright sun; warmer;
skating; heard of town of Emmitsburg
"Feb. 17th. Gloomy, fog from
half after 2 to 3 very dark,
portending a storm hail, thunder and
lightning rain at about 4 clear
rumbling noise, house shook, like an
earthquake. . . .
"18th. Up on guard all night.
"March. Night of 2nd on guard.
"10th. Thursday Venus seen at
"14th. A beautiful day. Guard at
night trees budding.
"26th. Guard gloomy at first,
"27th. Palm Sunday, clear day
evening, Fetich's sermon sick.
"April 18th. Very fine weather
warm trees all green guard at night.
. . .
"22nd. At guns part of night
"May 3rd. Sunday, Rain Mass and
Vespers in town on guard new moon.
"12th. Thunder, rain, etc. Flag
up the hill by Red Caps.
(Orangemen?). [Evidently some
traditions of Ireland still linger
"May 10. Began a retreat under
the direction of Rev. S. Brute’.
"May 13th, 1827. Received tonsure
and minor orders from the Rt. Rev.
ABp. Marechal. A number of our boys
were confirmed, also some girls from
"St. Vincent's Day at St.
Joseph's 1827. Mr. Tessier, S. S.,
Ransau, S. J., Brute’, Mr. Deluol,
S. S., Superior, solemnized Mass.
Mr. Hickey, S. S. Deacon ; Mr.
McGerry, Sub.; Mr. McElroy, S. J.,
Arch D.; Mr. Deluol preached.
"Sept. 1st. 1827, 102 boys in the
house. I teach Rhetoric and English
grammar, 1st class.
"April 13th, 1828. 15 of our boys
made 1st Communion under care of
Messrs. Purcell and Gartland."
The large number of first
communions attracts our attention. One
reason for it is the tender age at
which boys were then admitted to the
College, owing doubtless to the lack
of schools suitable to children.
Mr. Basil Elder, from whose
reminiscences of his "Mountain Days"
we have several times borrowed, thus
refers to "Cuffy," as Mr. John
McCaffrey, future president, was
nicknamed. " He was a tall lank,
sleepy-looking boy. Father Dubois
often sat on the steps under the sheds
of the poplars amusing such boys as
happened there; one afternoon I was
among them, and "Cuffy" was lazily
sauntering along on the opposite side
of the terrace, when one of our group
laughingly exclaimed; " Look at old 'Cuffy'
over there; he'll fall asleep
directly! Father Dubois responded 'Ha
ha!' you may laugh at Cuffy, but I
tell you he will outstrip every one of
you; he studies well and digests what
he learns.' Mr. McCaffrey soon became
one of the most prominent professors,
universally esteemed by the students
as an impartial and just
As we saw in Dr. McCaffrey's diary,
Mr. Hughes received orders early in
this year. "About this time," says Mr.
Hassard, "he was appointed Prefect of
the College, an officer whose duty it
is to enforce discipline and look
after the general behavior of the
boys. He used to tell with spirit how
in the course of a few days, Mr.
Dubois quietly turned him out of
office for boxing the ears of an
ill-conditioned fellow who had given
him a world of trouble. [Even as
Archbishop gentleness was not his
Father Dubois had written to Brute
that be but awaited his return to
unfold a plan he had for the
settlement of the difficulties in or
about the College this plan was to
make over the Institution entire,
debts and all, to the Sisters of
Charity! Father Brute combats the
resolve and begs to be allowed to go
to Baltimore to talk the matter over
with the Archbishop, but Father Dubois
must have refused, since the very day
he makes the announcement of this
resolution in a letter to Father
Brute, April 6, 1825, the latter
writes a long letter to the
Archbishop. The transfer to the
sisters was to be made in the ensuing
August. It is to be regretted that
there is nothing in the archives of
the College to explain the
circumstances and the sequel beyond a
couple of Father Brute's leaflets and
Writing again to Abp. Carroll, Dec.
16, 1825, he refers to the watching
noted in McCaffrey's diary. "The young
men two of them every night in all
weathers have watched these eighteen
months past, until we should occupy
this new house in order to secure it
to you and to Maryland, for should you
send away old M. Dubois to New York,
he could not carry the house and you
could give it to the Sisters or sell
it to the government for a barrack or
a military school which some had the
impudence or nonsense to suggest to M.
Dubois. Alas! Have I lived to see
young cadets? "
But our thoughts turn instinctively
to the weary father of that motley
family, verily "father," for the word
in its root means "feeder," of many of
its members. Many a wearisome day and
sleepless night he doubtless spent
contriving ways and means to meet his
creditors, and to prevent the always
threatening modification or even
suppression of the institution he had
founded. No wonder we find this item
in the records of that time: " Father
Dubois one evening went twenty miles
on horseback to visit a dying person.
Next morning he was in his place for
morning prayer, but fell in a faint.
He was taken out into the air, came
back and went on with the exercises."O
virum iueffabilem qui nee mori timuit
nee vivere recusavit!"
It may be necessary to state that
although the Sulpicians had enormous
wealth in Montreal, the government
would not allow them to send any of it
out of the country, without express
permission, such as was given in 1890
for the Canadian College in Rome.
The man who ''split" the lath for
the plastering of the new College in
1824 was known as Daniel Sitdown. Late
in life he visited Philadelphia and
found that his right name was Jandon.
. . . There were one hundred boys
in 1824. From among their reports we
select this of John McClosky, the
future Cardinal, by his various
teachers: John McCloskey's report:
Piety: A child yet. Religion :
More attentive than formerly. 3rd
Latin: Excellent. 2nd French :
Applies and succeeds. Geography :
Excellent well; attention and
improvement. Rational Arithmetic :
Excellent; seems to have a peculiar
talent for studies of this kind.
Behavior : Much better than
formerly. Much improved.
Unexceptionable. Temper: Mild but
easily led away and artful when led
away. Influenced by example.
Generally mild and amiable.
Application: Very good. Excellent
. . . Basil Elder and his six
brothers, including the Archbishop,
lived to be over eighty ; their
Sister, a member of the Emmitsburg
community, died at eighty-eight.
They had a pleasant way about them,
which accounts perhaps for their
longevity. Basil was at the College
one day in the 90's at breakfast. He
was over eighty then. For whatever
reason he took plain hot water
instead of tea or coffee, and on
some one's asking about it. replied:
"Why don't you know the latest? You
ought to try to keep up to date."
. . . Although Messrs. McCaffrey,
Hitzelberger and Richard Whelan had
so far progressed as to become
during this year 1824, in their
turn, teacher's, they formed a part
of Mr. Pise's Rhetoric class and he
thus reports the standing of the
first named: McCaffrey. Has a quick
memory. Translates Latin with much
taste and facility composes well in
English poetry; with some practice,
will write Latin poetry with a good
deal of taste. Composes in Latin
prose with judgment and neatness,
but is not altogether sure. In
English prose he begins to have a
pretty style, rather inclined to the
florid and gay. Has shining talents.
. . . Lafayette revisited this
year 1824 the land which he had
helped to free and they flashed the
news of his arrival in every
direction by means of bonfires on
each successive hill from Washington
Heights, New York City, North, East,
South and West. Carrick's Knob was
ablaze for the hero.
Index | Chapter 13
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