The Story of the
Mary's College and Seminary
Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween
Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911
| Chapter Index
Chapter 14: 1826-1827
is no formal record of the election of
Fathers Egan and McGerry as President
and vice-President, although one of
Father Brute's notes informs us that
his vote elected the former who had
been in charge of the parish. The
latter had been on the mission in
Washington, but whether he had then
returned or not to the Mountain does
Quoting Father Brute's jottings we
find "17th 7ber, 1826; agreed that M.
Egan is our President. 9bre, M.
McGerry is Vice President. 4th 7ber,
- 1818. Tried to sell away all.
- 1826. Tried a college ‘a la
maison des pauvres.
- M. Hickey might have been president, but he was removed to Emmitsburg.
- M. Dubois Bishop of New York: it was thought all would be broken made a Military Academy made a Protestant Institution.
- The Sulpician M. Deluol to come, or
we to keep the place for them.
- The Jesuits ditto.
- A firm of which I was to be a member.
- I had already spoken to sell my
library to the Archbishop and to St. Sulpice to save all.
- M. Egan failed at the Jesuits. . . .
I found that M. Egan wished to be rather the president; that I yield most willingly. . . . M. Dubois repeatedly insisted for my succeeding him. I would never consent unless absolutely necessary, ..." and so on.
understand from Father Brute's
observations the principle of Dubois
was "'firm will, no mercy.' Trust not
his (Dubois') deeds," he writes to the
Archbishop, "the best men forget;
have them reviewed."
Father Brute’ wrote about everything
to the Archbishop, telling him also
that "as his Grace himself had agreed
and STORY OF THE MOUNTAIN, seen
evidently necessary I was beginning
the class of divinity as usual."
refers to the "enormous load," but
says that they will be all" 'one heart
and one soul' in so great an affair,"
and he hopes the Archbishop who had
been consulted all along, would "trust
and bless" those who undertook the
charge when others refused it. He
reiterates his regret at being
separated from St. Sulpice, but would
not consent to remain a member if
"what the Archbishop himself wished to
preserve "should be destroyed. He
would not consent to the provision
expressed in the Archbishop's reply to
Dubois that the Ordinary should
nominate the head of the proposed
society, saying that neither St.
Sulpice nor the Jesuits nor the
Sisters accept their Superior in this
way, but by their own constitutions.
following documents speak for
question: By the concession of the
inclosed articles, would the Most
Eev. Archbishop, in any manner
implicate or endanger the interests
of St. Sulpice?
decision of this question will help
to determine him in his resolution,
in the present crisis of our affairs
and we solicit an answer to it, as
soon as it can conveniently be
Signed. Michael De Buego Egan, & J.
7ber 24. 1826.
answer: Leaving aside the question
whether it will be favorable or not,
to the interests of St. Sulpice, my
opinion is that, all circumstances
being taken into consideration, the
Most Rev. Archbishop will do well to
grant to Mr. Michael De Burgo Egan
and Mr. J. F. McGerry, the petition
they presented to him last Saturday
morning ; and that the Society of
St. Sulpice will not take umbrage at
Signed. John Tessier, S. S., Supr.
Sept. 25, 1826.
this opinion we concur with our Revd-Superior:
L Deluol & S.S, M. F. Wheeler S. S.
articles referred to were these:
Articles of agreement between the
most Revd. Archbishop Ambrose
Marechal, Archbishop of Baltimore on
the one part, and the Revd. Mich'l
De Burgo Egan, and the Rev. John F.
McGerry on the other:
Establishment of Emmitsburg and its
Directors shall be considered by the
Archbishop as a Petit Seminaire,
that is, a Literary Institution in
which all the branches of Education
will be taught from the Elements of
Grammar to Philosophy inclusively.
Its end will be principally to
cultivate in those young men called
to the Ecclesiastical State, the
habits of Piety, innocence of
manners, application to study, etc.,
etc., and to form young men destined
for the world to' literature, to the
knowledge and practice of the duties
of their holy Religion.
as such an establishment cannot
exist without a sufficient number of
competent professors, the Archbishop
agrees to grant to its Directors out
of the subjects of his Diocese
brought up by them, those who shall
be deemed necessary during a
reasonable time, that is,
proportionate to the expenses which
the institution has made for their
Directors will determine that time
with the young men, to whom they
gave or are to give, partially or
totally a gratuitous education, and
the Archbishop will see that the
contract so made be fulfilled by the
subjects of his Diocese, either
before their course of Divinity or
Directors will retain a number of
young men of other dioceses as
teachers according to the rules of
distributive justice, and this for a
time equivalent to the expenses made
on their behalf, for the burden of
teaching cannot be laid on the
subjects of the diocese of Baltimore
There shall not be a permanent
school either of Dogmatic or Moral
Theology in the Institution of
The Archbishop agrees that a School
of Holy Scripture and Sacred
Eloquence be opened in the Seminary
Exceptions to the above:
That for five years at most Theology
may be taught in the Seminary of
Emmitsburg, to enable the said Revd.
Mich'l De Burgo Egan and the Revd.
John P. McGerry to receive
sufficient compensation from said
students for the ministry whom they
would raise at their own expense,
not only from other dioceses, but
also from the diocese of Baltimore,
whenever they will declare they
cannot do without their services ;
well understood also, that the said
Revd. gentlemen will do their best
to keep such only of the diocese of
Baltimore as they cannot do without.
must be understood that although the
young men of the diocese of
Baltimore have permission from the
Most Revd. Archbishop to continue
their Theological studies at the
Seminary of Emmitsburg, they will be
obliged to remain in the Seminary of
St. Sulpice in Baltimore for as long
a term before ordination, as the
said Archbishop may think proper.
said Revd. gentlemen of the Seminary
of Emmitsburg do obligate themselves
to endeavor so to provide that at
the end of five years the teaching
of Theology will cease. They will of
course make arrangements in the
meantime that such cessation of
Theology may not injure the
interests of the Establishment.
Most Revd. Archbishop agrees that
the Revd. J. Purcell, brought up and
sent to France at the expense of a
member of this Institution of
Emmitsburg, shall on his return,
devote his services to the good of
Done this 25th day of September,
Mich'l De Bubgo Egan
Other articles: The following
agreement entered by and between the
Right Revd. John Dubois, Bishop
Elect of New York on the one part,
and the Revd. Mich'l De Burgo Egan
and the Revd. JohnF. McGerry on the
That the Right Revd' John Dubois,
Bishop Elect of Mew York, wishing to
promote the interests of the
Seminary of Mount St. Mary's of
which he has been for so many years
the Superior, and to aid the Revd.
Mich'l De Burgo Egan and the Rev11'
John F. McGerry his successors in
that establishment, in discharging
the debts with which it is
embarrassed, hereby engages himself:
- To consider the Seminary of
Mount St. Mary's near Emmitsburg
as his Diocesan Seminary for the
term of five years.
- That he will not erect any
Seminary or College in the diocese
of New York during the space of
five years, as it would evidently
prove detrimental to the interests
of Mount St. Mary's.
- That he will not remove any
of his subjects from the Seminary
of Mt. St. Mary's, whether they
have finished their Theological
studies or not, without the
consent of the said Revd. Messrs.
Egan and McGerry; when they
remonstrate to him that the
subject is not ready or fit to be
ordained, or that such removal
would prove too great an
inconvenience to the Seminary.
- That he will ordain no
subject of his diocese, who will
have made his studies in this
Seminary, without testimonials
from the Directors of the Seminary
that such a subject is worthy by
his moral conduct, piety and
ecclesiastical instruction, to be
promoted to Holy Orders.
- That when he establishes a
Seminary or College in the Diocese
of New York, he will receive no
young man from the Seminary of
Mount St. Mary's without the
approbation and recommendation of
the President or Directors of said
Seminary of Mount St. Mary's.
Meanwhile John Hughes was leaving
his Alma Mater to take up his
life-work. He accompanied Father
Dubois, who was also departing.
Mr. Hughes to Mr. Egan.
Frederick, Oct.6th, 1826.
Dear Sir: We have got this far at
1/2 past 10 o'c. I had not the
pleasure of taking leave of you in
the manner I intended as I expected
to see you this morning. It was my
fault not to have applied to you for
expenses and I suppose it was
because you forgot, or expected to
see me this morning, that you did
not offer. I am, however, in good
company with the bishop of New York
in the stage and three dollars and a
half in my pocket.
Be pleased to send me fifteen
dollars to Baltimore as soon as
possible. If this sum should appear
too much, you may add what you think
enough for the house to pay to the
bill of my cassock and I shall pay
both as soon as I am able. But
please to send it as soon as you
can, as I may have to go on to
Philadelphia next. M. Dubois
requests you to send his "Following
of Christ" by the first opportunity.
You will find it in his room. No
more but remember us at the altar.
the back of this letter, in pencil, is
the note: "The Following of Christ has
been found!" Mr. Hughes to Mr. Egan.
Baltimore Seminary, Oct. 12th,
Rev. and Dear Sir: I have just
received a letter from the Bishop in
which he requests me to be in
Philadelphia to be ordained on
Saturday and Sunday according to his
former appointment, which you saw .
. . It is in St. Mary's the
ordination is to take place . . .
Whether I shall obtain permission
to return to the Mountain or not, be
assured its prosperity will be one
of the dearest wishes of my heart. I
have not time to say all I think on
the subject at present. If this
reaches you before Sunday morning,
let the Sisters know—they promised
to think of us in their communion on
the day of our ordination. I have
endeavored to prepare as well as I
could for the short time I have had
: bat I have great confidence in the
intercession of those who have been
more faithful to grace in times
past, than I have been. You will not
forget us. Mr. Bnute’ will not
forget as and I hope oar former
companions will recommend us to God
in their communions on the most
important day of our lives. Give my
love to all.
Mr. Hughes, afterwards Archbishop
of New York, writer of the above, was
ordained priest on the 15th of
October, 1826. Mr. Parsons (Hilary
Parsons, a seminarian, afterwards a
priest and procurator at the College)
to Mr. Egan.
Baltimore, Oct. 17,1826.
Revd. Sir: I am afraid I have
done wrong to send the horse home
with a view of going up with whoever
might come to the consecration. Revd.
Mr. Dubois has not as yet received
an answer from New York and cannot
therefore say when his consecration
will take place. He thinks it cannot
take place next Sunday, but will let
you know in time for any who wish to
come from the Mountain. Mr. Kelly
requested me to tell you that you
can get a Spanish teacher in New
York but does not know what his
charge would be. If you want him you
had better write to Mr. Kelly
respecting him . . .
Father Dubois to Father Egan.
Baltimore, October 18, 1826.
My ever dear child and friend:
The day of my consecration is fixed
at last it will take place here, on
Sunday the 29th of this month. I
need not tell you how happy I will
be to see you here, my Revd.
Brethren, and as many of our young
friends as can come. But let me not
put you to any inconvenience, or
bring confusion if this must be the
consequence of their giving this
last mark of affection to their old
friend. I was thinking that by
starting the Friday before, after
dinner, and returning homewards
Sunday after dinner, one extra day
would be lost, as, at any rate,
they have a promise of one
recreation day for me who refused
them so many. But, I repeat it,
recommend me to their prayers and do
otherwise what you think best. Your
ever devoted father and friend, J.
P. S. All goes well in New York
but Rev. Mr. Powers Administrator of
New York approves very much of the
consecration being here all would go
wrong in New York for want of
conveniences and knowledge of
ceremonies. As the Seminary here
will most likely be crowded. I will
speak to Mr. Elder to keep a place
for you where I know you will be
very comfortable if you come. Bishop
Conwell, Messrs. Powers and Taylor
will be here and I know but two or
three vacant rooms, with the one I
occupy. Mr. Taylor will preach and
Mr. Powers be assistant in the place
of Bishop Fenwick, who could not
come before the 1st of November, on
which day the Archbishop cannot be
here, being under an essential
engagement with the French Minister
Archbishop Marechal to Mr. Egan.
Balt., 18 Oct., 1826.
Rev. and dear Sir: By a letter I
have just now received, it appears
that Mr. Vanhorsigh is not necessary
in Norfolk, a part of the small
congr. having fled from that city
and few very likely will ever return
to that place. If you wish to obtain
the cooperation of that Rev.
gentleman, as you testified to
desire it when in Bait., I will
permit him to join you. One line of
answer by the next post . . . (Some
plague has probably struck Norfolk.)
Father Egan to Mr. Parsons.
Mt. St. Mary's Sem', Oct. 18,
Dear friend: ... If Mr. Dubois
were to be consecrated on the 22nd
some of the young men would go—but
if it be deferred till the 1st of
November, it will be impossible, as
we cannot change our arrangements
for the Jubilee which has been
delayed too long already—however, if
it be possible, some will go. Write
to me soon how you come on, and when
you will return. If you can do
nothing else, return by Gettysburg.
But finish first what business you
can. A———— owes a balance of $306.93
3/4-B——— of $67.57—0——— $614.58
M. Deluol arrived here last
Monday [These debt-balances are
Clarke, in his "Lives of Deceased
Bishops," gives an account of Bishop
Dubois' installation in New York: "Mr.
Dubois was at that time over sixty
years old ; time and labor had told on
his once vigorous health. Ever
obedient and undaunted by the prospect
of labor and trials, he bowed to the
mandate from Rome. The illustrious
Charles Carroll of Carrollton presented him
with his Episcopal cross and ring. . .
. He was installed in St. Patrick's
Cathedral, Nov. 9th, in presence of
the clergy and of four thousand of the
faithful, who crowded around the altar
to get the new bishop's blessing. The
following account of his inaugural
sermon is taken from a journal of that
period (the 'Truth Teller'):
"The Right Rev. Prelate said:
'There should be but one heart and one
soul between the bishop and his
clergy, and but one heart and one soul
between the bishop, his clergy and the
congregation. They should on every
occasion act in unison, and by
pursuing such conduct the Catholics of
New York might almost work miracles.'
As a proof that his first step was for
the benefit of his congregation, he
stated to them that he had selected
and brought with him three clergymen,
whose only duty it should be to attend
to the catechetical instruction of the
children of his congregation.
Addressing himself to the Irish
portion of his hearers, he observed
that he entertained for them the
liveliest feelings of affection; he
reminded them of the persecutions they
had undergone in the defense of their
religion, of the sacrifices many of
them had made in leaving their native
country, and conjured them always to
manifest that ardent attachment to the
religion of their forefathers which
had hitherto so preeminently
distinguished them among their brother
Catholics. To the French he delivered
himself in the most feeling manner,
and concluded his address by a solemn
prayer to the throne of mercy
imploring a benediction on the
congregations of his diocese."
On entering his diocese, which then
embraced the entire state of New York
and part of New Jersey, now, 1908,
subdivided into six dioceses, he found
a Catholic population of one hundred
and fifty thousand souls, with eight
churches and eighteen priests. New
York City contained about thirty-five
thousand Catholics, with three
churches and six priests. Among the
laity there were not wanting some who,
forgetting the Catholic spirit of the
Church, and their own relations and
duty to the divinely constituted
rulers of the One Fold, and encouraged
by the circumstances of their
possessing as trustees the control of
the temporalities, did not scruple to
wound the heart of their loving father
by their conduct. But he soon showed
by a pastoral which he issued that he
was determined to maintain his own
rights and those of the Church, and to
bring the discipline of the diocese to
the standard of the sacred canons. His
struggle with the un-Catholic system
of lay-trusteeism cost him many
trials, but he resisted manfully to
the full extent of the limited means
within his control. On occasion of a
difficulty with his trustees regarding
some diocesan arrangements, the latter
refused to pay his salary unless he
acceded to their demands. The bishop
listened to all they had to say, and
then quietly but nobly replied:
"Well, gentlemen, you may vote the
salary or not, just as seems good to
you ; I do not need much ; I can live
in a basement or in a garret, but if I
have to preach from the top of a
barrel on the street corner, I am
still your bishop."
But at first all was rose-color as
this letter testifies:
Bishop Dubois to Rev. Mr. Egan:
New York, November 11th, 1826.
My dearest child and Rev. friend:
. . . My reception here has been
most gratifying. The clergy, the
trustees, the people have vied with
one another which would show me most
respect and attention. The trustees
of St. Patrick's have voted $500 to
furnish my house and, unsolicited,
entered into a resolution to pay my
salary from the date of the Bull,
which will add upwards of $900 to my
present resources. I see before me a
most flattering prospect thousands
of well disposed souls who want only
encouragement. The very first
Saturday after my arrival I had
upwards of forty confessions and
many communions. No vestments fit
for use Still my enthronization was
most solemn the most admirable order
and piety seemed to prevail in that
immense crowd which filled the
church to overflowing. Still I have
no house secured yet a suitable one
is hard to find, but I have one in
view, which probably I will take
tomorrow. Tell Mr. Berry, Henry
Thompson and Sumter and Daingerfield
to have patience for a few days yet
I will write to them Every thing is
very dear here. My house rent will
not be less than $600; choice meat
costs 16 cts. per lb. &c.
More will I write to you after
some time. Meanwhile you and my
other Revd. friends unite in prayer
that I may correspond faithfully
with the designs of Divine
Providence in this most interesting
part of his Vineyard.
Your ever devoted friend, —— ——.
All parties appear to unite to
give me a welcome.
Meanwhile affairs were progressing
quietly and in their usual routine at
the College. Mr. Hughes's course was
watched by his friends at Mt. St.
Mary's with most affectionate
interest. Father Brute’ writes:
My dear brother: . . . God bless
such wise and prudent beginnings of
your holy ministry amid such
difficult and perplexing
circumstances as it has pleased Him
to try them by. May He bless such
worthy sentiments as expressed in
your letter. I would never have
others ... A breviary, an altar,
heavenly independence on earth! . .
. We are much concerned to hear that
Mr. Mayne is so ill; he has, I
think, a good constitution, but you
have all so much labor that you
cannot stand it. Do, my dear Mr.
Hughes, see prudently to it; for the
word of St. Bernard is true, "the
greatest zeal without health does
little, whilst, keeping a sufficient
care of it, much is done by even an
inferior degree of zeal." Madame
Iturbide, with whom you traveled to
Washington, arrived here today from
Bedford. She brings her son here.
[Her husband tried to raise himself
to an imperial throne in Mexico.]
The new building replacing that
burnt in 1824 was now finished and
occupied, and a large number of pupils
were in attendance, and the Archbishop
proposed to visit the college.
The Archbishop to Rev. Mr. Egan.
Balt., 15 November, 1826.
Revd. and dear Sir: ... I see
with pleasure that I could visit
your Seminary before the winter
comes on. Could you send me your
closed carriage? My gig seems to me
in too weak condition to travel with
security on heavy roads, such as
those in the neighborhood of
Emmitsburg . . .
Tell Mr. Brute to lock carefully
his library, for knowing my weakness
I am much afraid of taking some of
his books to place them in my
Rev. John McElroy S. J., all alone
at Frederick, writes to President
Egan, raising his eyes to the Mountain
whence help may come to him:
Rev. Dr. Sir: I begin to despair
of seeing your Reverence before
Xmas. Your important office, I
presume, has thus far prevented you.
I hope still for your company for
that precious week. Now as to my
assistance for Xmas; who is it to
be? I shall have to avail myself of
your kind offer in accepting one at
least, to enable us to have a Solemn
Mass. If you can send me a priest to
preach and serve as deacon so much
the better if not, Mr. Reilly could
be spared probably, he would act as
subdeacon. Fr. Walsh deacon and
myself celebrate. In this case 1
will preach at the first Mass at 4
o'c. and Father Walsh at the High
Mass. If a priest comes from the Mt.
I would request him to preach at the
High Mass . . . My affectionate
respects to my Dr. Bros. Brute’ and
McGerry to all the young men. I long
to see you all again You see I
almost got attached to your Mountain
and all its edifying inhabitants.
[Even along in 1869 he used to spend
some of the Fall at the Mountain. ]
Pray for me, Key. Dr. Sir,
particularly on this sweet festival
approaching and recommend me and my
flock to your community. Sunday, 17
Dec., 1826, Frederick. At night.
Here is Father Brute's order for
that Christmas Day,
Midnight Mass, McGerry. Five
o'clock, Brute, celebrant: McG.,
Deacon; Carrell, Subd.; Egan to
preach. Half-past 10 o'clock, Egan
celebrant; Brut4, Deacon; Riley,
Subd.; Brute1, preacher or else
Deluol S. S. (Superior of the
Sisters.) Vespers, Deluol.
The theology course seems to have
been of four years, as we gather from
Brute's notes. He had twenty-nine to
whom he taught philosophy, theology
and scripture. He seems to have had no
share in the business transaction
whereby Dubois transferred the
property to Egan and McGerry jointly,
and in consequence he suffered a good
deal of anxiety, while they appear to
have studied to gain his approval. But
the young Americans had their views
and ways which differed widely from
the Frenchman's, and as yet there was
no regular corporation. Dubois had
been sole proprietor; now Egan and
McGerry were joint proprietors.
The Bishop of New York's personal
"Mr. Dubois's own handwriting.
This is all he asked for and would
take with him to New York. J. McC."
) "J. McC." is John McCaffrey.
"4 Albs One made for me in New
York One made for me by Martha
Brawner the old one I wear every
day at Mass, 20 years old and one
more I leave here 14 albs 2 amicts
one cord and my two surplices.
''2 pastoral stoles, one white,
"One complete suit of red
vestments which I had got in
exchange for Mr. McCloskey' s
vestments and 2 green Tunics which
were never used.
"One Summer (word omitted) red
I brought from Frederick.
"I leave 2 white pastoral
stoles one red one 3 Sunday white
suits 2 red ones all the green and
all the purple and black and all
the daily suits my holy water pot
which I got by selling my own
chalice to Mr. Wiseman for
Emmitsburg and my cruets which I
brought from Frederick.
"My pictures not those of Mr.
Brute’ the large one was one of
the two I ex-changed with Mother
Seton for the two on the credences
mine, bought by me.
Brute, Nov. 25,1826, gives this
list of the priests and others of the
Messrs. Egan, proprietor,
president, spiritual father of
children. McGerry, proprietor,
administrator, pastor. Brute’,
Theology, Philosophy, Exercises of
Seminary, Sisters, bibliotheque,
francais. Lynch, Purcell. Sisters:
1st, Superior, Sr. Benedicta Parson.
2, Kitchen, Sr. Sally Thompson. 3rd,
Kitchen, Sr. Mary Magdalene. 4,
Infirmary, Sr. Madaleine. White
women: Polly, Mrs. Nolan, Mrs.
Kelly. Girls: Betsy Bigham, Knott,
Duffy. Negroes: Clem, Carpenter,
The following letter, though not
bearing directly on the history of the
College, cannot fail to be of
interest, referring as it does to a
condition not infrequent in our
institutions. There was a third Fry
brother at the Mountain, William, who
afterwards became quite well known in
musical circles and wrote an opera,
"Lenore," which was very favorably
received. Mr. Wm. Fry to Rev. Mr.
Phila., dec. 29, 1826.
Revd. & dear Sir: I have been
unable to answer until this moment
your several favors respecting the
boys. I was apprised by Joseph of
his wish, and thank you for your
candid communication and very
judicious refusal. I have forbidden
him to take any such step and he has
promised the most perfect obedience.
I hold it to be perfectly settled by
every principle of family government
that children are bound to conform
to the religion of their parents,
and while I think my religion right
it is his duty to follow me. It is,
perhaps, not known to you that when
I sent Joseph to the Seminary I
displeased all his relations and
many of my protestant friends that
they railed against me, said the
child would be made to turn
Catholic, &c., &c. But I depended on
the pledge to protestant parents
that no attempts would be made to
change the religion of their
children. I still depend on it, and
therefore suffer him to remain, but
should he, in disobedience to my
orders and in breach of his solemn
promise, and contrary to the pledge
given from the principal of the
Seminary, profess a change of
religion, it would place him at war
with his relations, cut him off from
expectations from his grand fathers,
and bring on me a load of obloquy
and reproach from many that I dearly
love, which would drive me mad. 'Tis
all nonsense for a chap of his years
to talk about his reason and
judgment, &c., &c. This is sheer
vanity; he has no judgment nor sense
in such matters. Let him follow the
religion of his family and preserve
its peace and my comfort.
S. Be.] I would leave it if they
had not another on the same subject
in the church if they grudge it to
me let them keep it. "My Ivory
Crucifix brought to me by Mr. Brute
from Mr. Le Gris Duvall. "My own
books if Mr. Brute’ will give me
some lace for a rochet, I will give
him Gibbon's History of the Roman
Empire." (So done, S. Be.) "S. Be."
means Simon Brute’.
Chapter Index | Chapter 15
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