Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

The Story of the Mountain
Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary

Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween

Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911

Chapter 11 | Chapter Index

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 Philadelphia.

"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 Baltimore."

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 ami!

J. Dubois.

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 entertaining visitors.

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 Jamison.

One of Father Brute's leaflets dated "1824" contains a list of subscribers for the rebuilding of the Seminary:

"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 June, 1824.

"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 incorporated.

"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 noon today.

"14th. A beautiful day. Guard at night trees budding.

"26th. Guard gloomy at first, stars.

"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 guard.

"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 about]....

"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. Joseph's.

"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 disciplinarian."

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 special characteristic.]

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 his letter.

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 manners; Engaging.

. . . 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.

Chapter Index | Chapter 13

Special thanks to John Miller for his efforts in scanning the book's contents and converting it into the web page you are now viewing.