The Story of the
Mary's College and Seminary
Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween
Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911
Chapter 15: 1827-1828
All that relates to the early part
of this year is contained in a few
scattered letters in one of which
dated Feb. 14, 1827, Bishop Dubois
says to his successor: "I worked like
a galley-slave for nineteen years for
the public good and left for the
purpose all the money I gathered."
Another is from the Chaplain of the
ex-Empress of Mexico inquiring as to
the welfare of the little Salvador
Iturbide. A third which we quote is
from the Rev. Superior of the
Sisterhood to the President:
Dear Brother: Although I do not
consider as necessary any invitation
for the gentlemen of the Mountain to
come to St. Joseph's feast, yet
ad cautelam vel abundantiam juris,
I write to you these few words to
let you know that we intend to begin
High Mass to morrow at 7 o' c. I
don't know who from amongst you can
be spared, but one thing I can say,
the more the better. I suppose we
shall have, at any rate
(independently of the Revd.
gentleman or gentlemen) a master of
ceremony, a thuriferarius and two
acolytes. I leave the whole to be
arranged according to your prudence.
Please to dispatch the Sisters
early, as well as the rest. Charles
White, who is with you, will come
down. Please also to give Sister
Sally this evening the enclosed.
There is also a letter for McGerry,
with all his titles, which are more
than my weak mind can comprehend.
Good night and pray for your affect,
brother. St. Joseph's Vale, Sunday
evening., March 18, '27.
L. Deluol, S. S.
It used to be said, even seventy
years after this, that on St. Joseph's
Feast at the Convent " the sanctuary
belonged to the College." Mr.
Schreiber, a theologian finishing in
Baltimore, writes to the new
President, Rev. M. Egan.
St. Mary's Seminary, Balt.,
April, 5, 1827.
Dear friend: It was indeed very
gratifying to hear that every thing
went on so well at the Mountain. Oar
Lord will no doubt protect a place
which ha» already done so much good,
and which bids fair to do a great
deal more. Mr. White, since his
return has several times spoken of
the Mountain in the highest terms
"there," (says he) "a stranger is
received with the greatest kindness
and is immediately placed at his
ease no questions are asked,
'whether he intends to remain? do
you want abed? Have you a letter of
recommendation ?' &c. &c., which Mr.
Mullon could enumerate but every
body is glad to see you and desirous
of doing a service and this
politeness is the dictate of
Charity. In speaking of the
government of the house, he never
failed to speak in terms of praise.
I cannot but admire the prudent
step you have taken in not deciding
with precipitation whether you will
unite Mt. St. Mary's with any other
Society in Europe or whether you
will form a new association more
adapted to the religious and
literary interests of this country .
. . You also know well that a union
with any foreign society is often
attended with many inconveniences .
. . An affiliation with any society
in this country may also be attended
with many disadvantages which we do
not foresee and therefore I think
the greatest precaution and prudence
necessary. Do not imagine, dear Sir.
that I have the least idea or the
slightest pretension to giving you
any advice. I am conscious how
inadequate I am to act the
councillor: but as far as I can
judge from your letter these are
your own sentiments as well as mine.
In regard to my uniting my feeble
endeavors with you &c. I think you
know what are my wishes and I
flatter myself that our hearts are
in unison . . . [The reader must
notice the tone of respectful
fellowship between this seminarian
and the president.]
The relations between the Jesuits
at Frederick and the clergy of the
Mountain were always of the
friendliest kind. Here is a letter
indicating as much. Rev. John McElroy,
S. J., to Rev. M. McGerry.
Frederick, May 21st,
Rev. Dr. Sir: I returned from
Georgetown on Friday last. All your
acquaintances are well . . I rec'd
your good President's letter and
rejoice that Revd. Mr. Purcell and
Revd. Mr. Eccleston (two future
Archbishops) are now on their way.
They will I trust be a great
acquisition to religion in this
country . . . You have been much
favored and honor’d by the long
visit of the Archbishop. Had I not
previously arranged matters for my
visit to Georgetown I think I should
have gone up to see his Grace. I am
glad to hear that he profited so
much by his visit . . You must
congratulate for me, your newly
ordained Sub-deacons, Messrs.
Carrell and Jamison. Oh ! this
brings to my mind my solemn ceremony
of Ascension, my first communicants,
for which I had invited your
Reverence, but I fear I shall not be
so highly honored. But, two
Subdeacons and a Deacon at the Mount
and none for Frederick, poor
Frederick and its poor Pastor, to
celebrate without ministers! And at
the same church where Rev. J. F.
McGerry commenced his missionary
labors, where the Very Rev. Prest.
of Mt. St. Mary's commenced his
Apostolic preaching, where the Rev.
Mr. Lynch commenced the sacred
function of presiding as Judge and
Physician in the tribunal and oh!
that I could add to the list where
Rev. Mr. G. A. Carrell officiated
,for the first time as Subdeacon for
Kev. Mr. Jamison's duties as Prefect
prevent altogether the hope. It
seems to me I see the worthy vice P.
of Mt. St. Mary's smile. "This is
Jesuitical indeed I know Father Mac
of old, he wants a Sub-deacon for
his solemnity and this is the
cunning manner he goes about it.
Well we shall see what think you of
it, Kev. Mr. Egan ? we shall make
him pay up to the last farthing!
"The Prest. responds "Aye" "The ayes
have it,'' exclaims the Vice-P.
P. S. You will perceive the
inclosed was written yesterday in
hopes John Ignatius (whom he
expected to carry his letter) would
return home today. He goes only
tomorrow of course too late for me
to expect any assistance for
Ascension. But the same petition may
lie on the table for a second or
third reading and finally pass with
the signature of the President
before Pentecost. This is the
regular mode you know of transacting
business on Capitol Hill. Tuesday
night, May 22, 1827.
Bishop Dubois, writing to Rev. Mr.
Egan, gives a graphic picture of
things in the commercial metropolis
eighty years agone:
New York, May 31st
My dear Child; Neither you nor my
other friends at Mt. St. Mary's have
an idea of my situation here.
Otherwise you would neither wonder
nor grieve at my silence. Bishop,
Parish-priest. Curate, all at once,
President of the different boards of
trustees of every church here, I
have scarcely time to take my meals
and very little rest at night.
Obliged to visit the sick, sometimes
four or five a day to bury the dead,
to baptise, to marry, and often
times people who have hardly enough
to support them a week you may judge
how little time I have to rest, with
a population of 25.000 people and
seven priests only to share in my
labors. I will say nothing of the
confessions; if I had time and could
stand it, I could have customers
from Monday morning to Sunday night.
As it is, I do not quit the
confessional from Saturday morning
until Sunday night except for my
meals and the divine service; I only
leave it at 9 o'c. in the evening
Saturday, to begin at 5 o'c. Sunday
morning. I am so tired, by visiting
the sick over this immense city,
that it is out of the question for
me to write in the night, as I used
to do at Mount St. Mary's.
Everything would go well here if I
had help. It is an immense field,
but all confusion yet for want of
hands and heads it is a pack of
thread all entangled which will
require years to put in order.
Now to the purpose I wish to have
Mr. Charles Smith can you send him
to me? I do not ask" scisne ilium
dignum esse ?" from what I know of
him I hardly doubt it still he must
receive his first mission from you
and our dear Kev. Brethren of Mount
St. Mary's. If he has it, send him
to me. . . .
Tell good Mr. Brute’ not to be
displeased at my not answering yet
his last letter. It would take a
volume, and I am really crushed down
with business. . . . Good Archbishop
Cheverus sent me a neat vestment,
which is the more valuable to me as
it was that of his saintly
predecessor, the late Archbishop of
Bordeaux. I am as poor as un rat
d’‘eglise but, thank God,
without debts. Love and respects to
our friends Messrs. Brut* and
McGerry and to all our young men. I
will write to Mr. Burke, but I think
he must be tried a little longer
before he is initiated into the
ministry. I wish to hear from you
about him. Talents for the pulpit
are not wanting here as much as
piety. . . .
Fr. McElroy sends Rev. J. McGerry
information which he was doubtless
glad to receive:
Frederick, June 1st,
My dear Sir: You will be not a
little surprised to receive an
express so soon after your
departure. The business is this Miss
Victoire (Vivendiere) has concluded
to loan your establishment almost
five thousand dollars on your
securing it by a mortgage on the
Seminary property, &c., in legal
form. Mr. Brien will keep the
balance, and intends to settle the
whole business in a few days. I
think in such a case you had better
come down yourself tomorrow and
transact the affair during your
stay, as it must be done with as
little delay as possible.
Fr. Walsh has been called to a
sick person in Va, and will not
return before Tuesday next. Again I
shall be disappointed in a Solemn
Mass Fiat Voluntas Dei. The presence
of my former good coadjutor, now V.
P. of Mt St. Mary's and Rector of
St. Mary's Church, will supply all
deficiencies. . . .
In June of this year the President
received a letter from Rev. H. Xaupi,
S. S., asking to be received into the
family of the Mountain. This gentleman
was one of the many political exiles
who have found a refuge under the
Stars and Stripes. He became a priest
after coming to this country. He was
connected with the Mountain College
for many years, and preached at times
at St. Joseph's even after his hair
was grey and the loss of teeth
emphasized the queer English which was
all he could acquire of the language
of his adopted country. When it was
known that Father Xaupi was to preach
at the Sisterhood, the girls groaned
in spirit, for he had a great deal to
say, and said it all. His strength was
marvelous. A legend exists at the
Mountain of his running, on one
occasion, through an inch thick board
fence. When asked if it were true had
he done it he replied that he did not
remember the incident. "But," he
added, "if I were running for life I
do not doubt that I could do it."
Father Hilary Parsons was
procurator now, and writes June 30,
1827, from Baltimore that he has
purchased powder for $4.50 and shot
for $8.50, and instructs the acting
president at what rate he is to retail
these to the boys. Tells how a father
wished his boy to have no pocket
money, "as it is an injury to boys."
We find many indications that transfer
of money and collecting and paying of
bills was very awkward and indirect.
The College was slow because its
debtors were slower. Merchandise,
goods for boys, presents, and even
letters (on account of high postage)
were sent by persons who happened to
be going that way, and the
irregularity of the stages, the
freight wagons, etc., caused much
inconvenience. Postage was collectible
on delivery, and a boy writes from
another college: "I have two letters
at the Post Office, but cannot redeem
them," while he asks for a loan.
In his anxiety about the well-being
of the College, Father Brute was very
watchful of the young officials, and
frequently held up to them the example
and practice of their beloved
predecessor. This is a reply to one of
his letters of suggestion:
July 2nd, 1827,
Dear Mr. Brute’: I found your
note in my Breviary you have
certainly humbled me to the dust you
to ask my pardon for a fault of
which I was the cause ! For if I had
put myself to some little
inconvenience I could have been
present for the Council it was
postponed through my fault. I do
certainly pardon yon, since you ask
it, but I must acknowledge that you
are in the right, for our conduct
justifies you to say that we
despised the Council. But if I have
any excuse to give it is that I have
such an anxiety for the temporal
that I fear I do greatly neglect the
spiritual. But when I examine I can
safely say that it is not self
interest, but perhaps pride, that
makes me take so much time to secure
the temporal concerns of this house,
because so many have predicted its
downfall. Yet I see that I have done
wrong to neglect spirituals for the
advancement of temporals. Thank God
! all has so far succeeded beyond
all expectations. I trust more for
years to come, and promise more of
heart and union for future. Purcell
will arrive, then a new order of
things. For happy am I to think I
can in any way be useful to the
Mount if it is only in purchasing
beef and pork. . Pray for J.F.
[The word "Council " is here met
with for the first time in our
history. It seems used here to mean
the coming together for spiritual
Rev. Mr. Egan had gone north in the
summer, and writes to his associate in
the proprietorship, Rev. J. F. McGerry
Philadelphia, July 6, 1827.
Dear friend and brother: I
arrived here yesterday evening about
seven o'clock after a very pleasant
passage from Baltimore. ... I start
to-morrow at six for New York. It is
probable the three Frys will go back
to the Mount. The old man is in
raptures. It really astonishes me to
find what a high reputation our
Seminary has particularly here I met
gentlemen on the steamboat who told
me, not knowing who I was, that the
College of Emmitsburg had a very
good name in North Carolina. I
passed Mrs. Sumter and Tom on the
bay. . . . I am extremely anxious to
get home. Give my love to my dear
Mr. Brute and Mr. Lynch and Mr.
Hickey and all our young men.
Remember me also to Sister Benedicta
and tell her to take care of
herself. . . . The watchman calls
midnight as I close this. . . .
Father Egan makes no allusion to
the troubles in the City of Brotherly
Love, but they were so serious at the
time that another correspondent thinks
the town should be called "Misadelphia." The same to the same.
New York. July 8, 1827, Sunday.
Well here I am in New York in the
Bishop's house up stairs, writing to
you and thinking of you all at the
Mountain. I left Phila. yesterday
morning at 6 o'c. and arrived here
at half past five in the evening . .
.When I arrived at the Bishop's
there was no one in, but a French
clergyman from New Orleans, Rev. M.
de St. Croix. The Bishop was hearing
confessions from 8 o'c. in the
morning and did not come in till
half after nine. I got supper at 10
o'c. after having eaten scarcely
anything all day it was a day of
abstinence. M. Dubois received me
very affectionately but although I
have seen him several times since,
he has never yet inquired after a
single one at the Mount or St.
Joseph's. I suppose he prefers
waiting till we have time for a long
chat. He has a great deal of
drudgery to do particularly
missionary duties yet I never saw
him more active. Mr. Chas. Smith was
ordained Deacon this morning and
will be made priest in the course of
the week . . Next week the Bishop
sets out on his pastoral visit and
for Canada on his return he will
proceed to Ireland first, then make
his grand tour of Europe . . .
Letters were received during this
month from David M. Whelan, the
brother of Rev. Richard, and from John
McCloskey (Cardinal), announcing their
return to our Seminary as theological
students. The President, writing from
Baltimore, July 28, says that, "As far
as I can see, our prospects for next
year are very flattering. I have
agreed with Mr. Jos. Gegan to give him
the profits of the music school if it
meet your approbation. He will stay
two years the difficulty is where to
The friendly relations between the
Jesuits and the Mountain are again
inferred from an invitation by Father
Rantzau, S. J., dated July 29, 1827,
bidding all that could to come down
for St. Inigo's feast.
"What joy if we were honored by
Father Brute our highly respected
friend I How would I not prepare
myself to say "something edifying
and elevating and rejoicing the
heart!" He refers to the "children
of St. Sulpice and the sons of St.
Ignatius," 'the' daughters of
Heaven, the Sisters of Charity."
[This latter order, it seems, had
already houses in Maine,
Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois,
Missouri, and " the Council Bluffs."]
He speaks of Father McGerry's having
essayed his first missionary work at
Frederick and of other priests and
seminarians having assisted as
preachers or ministers on the great
festivals. He then promises to return
with them in the evening and spend the
interval until the Assumption at the "
Holy Mountain." Verily the spirit of
simplicity, joy and brotherhood
breathes in the letters that disclose
the life of those days, when need
suggested and compelled close
association and mutual help fostered
enduring affection. Living was simple,
nakedly simple at times, but the fire
on the hearth brought people knee to
knee, while the universal steam heat
of modern times allows them to occupy
opposite corners of the room, or
worse, different apartments. Have we
Father Brute’ has a list of
thirty-four Seminarians who remained
at the College for the vacation of
this year, extending from June 30 to
August 15. This staying during
vacation, from what cause so ever it
arose, had the effect of keeping the
young men together in their hunting,
fishing, walking and other pastimes
and making them look on the Mountain
as the source of all their pleasures,
their home in fact. No wonder they
Mr. Purcell returned to America in
August, and returning to America meant
for this young priest returning to
Mount St. Mary's. On all the wide
continent he knew no other home. As we
have seen, special arrangement was
made between the Archbishop and the
College for his being attached
officially to the latter.
As to Father Hughes, he evidently
continued to write for the press, and
was frequently aided by Brute in his
discussions with Protestant ministers.
The controversy with Breckenridge
especially brought renown to the young
Mountaineer. Brute, while at the
College, was consulted on grave
questions also by the Archbishop of
Baltimore. Some of their letters may
be found in " Hassard's Life;" others
in the archives of the Baltimore
diocese. The following is quoted
merely as suggestive of the fact:
Brute to Hughes.
Mt. St. Mary's, Sept. 17, 1827
... I thank yon much for that "
Friend of Troth and Justice.' I
would recommend to compress a
little; what is too long in
gazettes, commands not 90 much
attention from hasty readers.
Notes and letters illustrating
college life and association: Mar.
5, '27. A Balto. farmer complains of
his son's shoe bill: $10.90 for six
months. April 21, 1827. A boy's
father forbids wasting time on the
clarionet, but allows him to spend
five dollars " in the garden
partnership." Says he had sent the
bed and bedding, but " the gun,
powder-horn, shot-bag and bird-bag
are wanted here."
A gentleman writing from the Navy
Yard, Washington, June 26, '27,
thinks son John had better stay at
the Mountain during vacation or come
home for a. week at most: "if he
comes home he will get among his old
companions and forget more or less
of what he has learned at Mt. St.
Mary's. ... I expect to see him yet
a good and respectable clergyman;
but the bill for shoes is very high
indeed, that is, nine pair in six
months and also $2.31 1/4 cts. for
mending shoes. If John cannot do
with less shoes and mending we shall
have to send him to the blacksmith
for shoes in the future."
July 2,1827, a correspondent
"must acknowledge that, in my
opinion, there is no institution in
my state which can stand comparison
with Mount St. Mary's, even one
great College. . . . But whatever is
wanting in education and learning in
our people is generally more than
supplied by their vanity and
self-conceit. I never in my life
saw, read or heard of a people more
universally given to
We find much valuable material in
a record of each year from 1827 to
1852 kept by Rev. John McCaffrey:
"1827, Rev. Michael DeBurgo Egan,
Pres.; Rev. John F. McGerry,
Vice-President; Rev. F. B. Jamison (Subd.),
1st Prefect; Denis A. Deloughery, 2d
Prefect, and Mr. Joseph A.
Stillinger, 3d Prefect.
''Rev. S. G. Brute, Prof, of
Theology and Scripture, Director of
the Seminary and Confessor of the
Sisters at the Mother House, St.
Joseph's; Rev. J. B. Purcell, Prof,
of Moral Phil.; Rev. Jas. A. Lynch,
Prof, of Math.; Rev. H. Xaupi, Prof,
of French and Spanish; Joseph Gegan.
teacher of Music."
The following named gentlemen
were then in the Seminary:
Messrs. Geo. A. Carrell, A. L.
Hitzelberger, John McCaffrey, John
McCloskey, John Corry, Thos. Gegan,
Jas. M. Butler, James Bradley,
Matthew Taylor, Bernard O'Cavanaugh,
Thos. R. Butler, Fras. X. Gartland,
E. J. Sourin, John Duffy, Wm. A.
Burke, H. Dickehut, Chas. Grate, Jno.
Kelly, William Quarters, Hilary
Parsons. Sister Benedicta was Sister
Servant at the College.
A list of the pupils of the
College, dated 3rd of Xbre this
year, 1827, in the handwriting of
Father Brute1, gives one hundred and
twenty-eight boys, thirty-five
Seminarians and six priests.
McCaffrey's list doubtless contains
only theologians. St. Mary's
College, Baltimore, had thirty-five
boarders and seventy day scholars.
At this period, and later, the
things sold the students seem to
have been only toilet articles,
hats, gloves, etc., and
We find a note of Father Brute's
referring to the annuity, but
undated. "Then the annuity of $800;
now for twenty years $16,000." It
must have been, therefore, about the
year 1827 that a new arrangement was
made and Mrs. Brooke received a much
smaller sum, about $50 a year, with
house and board. Archbishop Elder
tells us, in lieu of the famous
Chapter Index | Chapter 16
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