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 24: 1832-1833
As we saw in a previous chapter,
the Archbishop of Baltimore had fixed
upon the month of April for his visit
to the Mountain as the time for giving
a final decision, upon the matter, so
important to its existence, of
permission to teach theology at the
On April 13, 1832, the President,
Mr. Purcell, wrote to his Grace, as
the letter shows, with an anxious
Most Rev. and
Honored Father: Happy at every
opportunity of recalling myself to
your paternal remembrances, and
presenting you with fresh assurances
of my most sincere and respectful
affection and obedience, I now write
at the instance of the Council, to
beg the communication of your
decision respecting this College and
Seminary. Rev. Messrs. Brute’ and
Jamison whom we deputed to speak to
you some time since on this subject,
informed us that we might expect
your final determination to be made
known by the 1st. of April of the
We forbear many
observations which might be urged as
our apology for addressing you,
perhaps, importunately again, upon
this matter. An anxious wish to
know, through you, Most Reverend
Sir, the will of God, you will, we
hope, readily believe, one and the
first of our motives. Should we have
reason to expect the honor of a
visit from you in the course of a
few weeks or as early as you find
convenient after Easter, we should
prefer to save you the trouble of a
long letter. But in this as in
everything else, we pray the Holy
Spirit of God to be your light and
our guide in the knowledge and
accomplishment of his Divine Will.
"With perfect respect and affection,
J. B. Purcell.
In anticipation of a visit of which
there is only this record, this
address was prepared By the Faculty:
Most Revd. Archbishop: The
Council of Mount Saint Mary's
College having for gone time
anticipated the honor of your
present visit and anxious to obtain
your sanction of their continuance
as a body, beg leave humbly and
respectfully to state to you the
only conditions on which after their
most serious, solemn and united
consultations on the subject, it
will be possible to maintain the
existence and prosperity of the
Institution which they direct.
1. That the Archbishop allow all
his priests now resident at Mount
St. Mary's, the priests from other
dioceses who have devoted themselves
to the service of Almighty God in
the promotion of the Literary and
Religious objects for which the
Institution was originally
established; and the teachers not
yet in Priest's orders, who are
willing to unite with them for the
same holy and useful purposes and
who belong to the Archdiocese, to
2. That he allow them to petition
for an Act of Incorporation to give
the legal sanction necessary for
3. That he allow them to teach
Theology to as many tutors as will
be necessary to discharge the
duties of Prefects and superintend
in time of study and recreation the
discipline and morals of the
The motives of these several
conditions, already frequently
submitted to the Archbishop, they
beg leave to repeat in this
authentic Instrument, their united
act and deed.
They are briefly as follows :
1. The impossibility of
supporting an Institution,
comprising in one. both a College
and a Grammar School, with fewer
than its present number of Teachers.
2. The necessity of securing the
services of these Teachers, by
rendering them an equivalent
therefor, by affording them all the
required facilities for prosecuting
their Theological studies.
3. The fiscal embarrassment of
the College which incapacitates them
to pay salaried Teachers in their
4. The extreme difficulty, if our
funds warranted this additional
expense, of finding Teachers uniting
all the moral, religious and
literary qualificalious for the
preservation of the piety and
innocency of life, for which the
students of Mount St. Mary's have
ever been distinguished.
John B. Purcell, Francis B.
Jamison, A. Louis Hitzelberger,
Thos. K. Butler, Edward J. Sourin,
Hilary parsons, J. McCaffery. Mt.
St. Mary's College, 8th May, 1832.
[Brute's name never appears in
formal documents.] The Archbishop
Mount St. Mary's, 8th,
In a conversation with the Revd.
Mr. Purcell, President of St. Mary's
College of this place, I agreed to
permit that Theology should continue
to be taught here during two years
more, commencing from next
September. And moreover, as I most
sincerely wish well to this noble
establishment, and desire to see the
day when it may be freed from the
incumbrance of debt and from the
danger of ruin, I add that were it
absolutely necessary to continue
Theology longer, that sooner than
see the College fall to destruction
1 would never prohibit its being
taught. But still my opinion is that
no such evil would follow.
I also approve that the
undermentioned clergymen continue to
direct and assist in conducting the
College as long as I shall consider
them necessary to the institution,
viz: The Rev. John Purcell, Francis
Jamison, Alexander Hitzelberger,
Richard Whelan, John McCaffrey, and
Henry Parsons I also highly approve
that Mr. Brute’ continue to teach
Theology, Mr. Xaupi teach the
classes of French, Spanish, etc.,
etc., and that the Rev1' Thomas R.
Butler, Priest, and Edward Sourin
should always remain in Mount St.
Mary's College, as they are allowed
by their Ordinary, Bishop Kenrick,
in a letter to the President of the
College dated 14 February 1881 in
which he wrote concerning them : "Ut
sese devoveant in perpetuum si ita
velint, Religioni et litteris
colendis in Seminario vel Collegio
S. Mariae prope Emmitsburgum in
Marylandia, in illius Collegii vel
I also learn with satisfaction
that Mr. John (Cardinal) McCloskey,
who has received his eieat from the
diocese of New York, has expressed
his wish to join with the
above-mentioned in promoting the
good of religion and the prosperity
of a College in which I feel highly
James. Archbishop of Baltimore.
I have no objection that an Act
of Incorporation be solicited by the
Revd" John Purcell President and
Francis Jamison Vice-President of
the College and others, to secure
all the legal rights necessary and
useful to the institution. James,
Abp. of Balt.
In the following letter we have an
inkling of the state of things in Ohio
and other parts of the then diocese of
Cincinnati. Bishop Fenwick writes to
Father Jamison :
Cincinnati, 25th, May,
Rev. and dear Sir: Your favor of
the 17th inst. is before rue. I
sincerely and cordially congratulate
you all on the pleasing and happy
result of the Archbishop's last
visit. My warmest wishes for the
prosperity of your establishment are
gratified the prayers of the good
Sisters and your real friends have
been graciously heard. The Blessed
Virgin, Mother of the afflicted and
St. Joseph have, I think, proved to
be your friends and intercessors. I
feel as much gratified as if such a
favor had been conferred on myself
after the many and long trials you
I had a severe spell of chills
and fever which has reduced me much
I am now, I hope, better, having
missed both these three last days. I
shall probably be absent in Michigan
about the time Father Collins might
be here if health will permit me
after Pentecost, I shall visit my
Indian Missions. His services are
really much wanted here, for the
College and the congregation, and in
my absence he will be as cordially
received by my Vicar General, Mr.
Re’z’e and by Messrs. Mullen,
Wiseman and Delonghery as by myself.
Rev. M. Wiseman ('23) does well,
gives me great satisfaction, edifies
all by his regularity and piety. I
have constituted him Superior of the
Seminarians; he conducts them well,
teaches a Latin class and Spanish
and bookkeeping, preaches
alternately and hears confessions .
The Commencement of 1832 was
particularly brilliant and the press
spoke very highly of the performances,
especially of Sumter and James Meline.
Francis B. Sumter, of South Carolina,
and Wm. B. Hill, of Maryland, were the
graduates. The Melines, James and
Florent, left at the end of this
session; James received a certificate
of excellence in all his studies (he
would have graduated the next year)
and both accepted positions as tutors
in "The Athenaeum," or College, of
Cincinnati, to which reference has
already been made.
Here is the program as issued:
Commencement Mt. St. Mary's
College, June 28, 1832.
Grand March. Distribution of
Premiums. Overture "La Gazza Ladra"
- Conferring of Degrees. Overture
Figaro - Mozart.
- Latin Salutatory - James A.
Miller of Philadelphia.
- Oration on the Superiority of
republican government - Thos Evans
of S. Carolina
- Polaeca full orchestra -
- Greek hymn to the Muses - Eugene
Giraud, Charleston, S. C.
- Attila, or the fall of Aquileia -
John McGlinsey Philadelphia.
- Overture Fra Diavolo Auber.
- French address on the Advantages
of public education Arnold Bodin
- Overture in C. 174 - Kuffner.
- Apostrophe to Mary Queen of Scots
- Charles S. Fry Philadelphia.
- Supposed speech of General
Castanos to the Spanish Army before
the battle of Bayden (In Spanish) -
Joseph Precios of Barcelona.
- Polaeca - Bishop.
- Crescentius, the Roman Martyr
(poem) - Jas. F. Meline, New York.
- Oration on Civil War - Wm. B.
Hill, Marlborough, Md.
- Zauber-flaute - Mozart.
- Oration on the literature of the
age of Louis XIV Valedictory address
- Francis B. Sumter of South
The Exercises will commence at 1
o'c. P. M. All the addresses have been
written for the occasion by Alumni of
the College ; and those in Prose are
the composition of their respective
Speakers. The Music will be performed
by the St. Cecilia Society of Mt St.
The following letter shows the
liberality of Bp. Kenrick or of Father
Hughes or of both. Mr. Sourin to
Philadelphia, July 5, 1832.
... I had yesterday the pleasure of
hearing an oration delivered by Mr.
Chas. Ingersoll of this city in St.
John's Church My gratification however
was less than I expected. The
composition was more of an essay than
an oration and was besides read,
unaccompanied by a single gesture.
From the varied talents and
acquirements of the Speaker I felt
almost certain of the highest
gratification. The most perfect order
and silence prevailed during the whole
time. Revd. Mr. Hughes made a
beautiful prayer at the opening of the
ceremonies, about half past eleven A.
M.. and concluded with the latter part
of Archbishop Carroll's "Prayer for
the Authorities" etc. Whatever
unfavorable impression the concession
of a Catholic Church for such a
ceremony may make upon the minds of
some, it is still a convincing proof
of the higher stand which Catholicity
has taken of late within Philadelphia.
Ten. or perhaps even five years ago,
many of those who yesterday filled the
church " would have blushed to be
caught within a Catholic Church", and
as for requesting a Catholic Priest to
officiate, it would not have been
thought of. Such is the view which I
heard several gentlemen of high
respectability and weight take of the
grant. Whatever injury it may
occasion, I still think a refusal
would have occasioned more. The
Speaker was very severe upon the
French, to whom however he paid also
President Purcell to Vice-President
5th, St. Phila., July,
. . . Mrs. Lajus is exceedingly
kind. Her carriage, her table, her
house are all turned over to
Mountaineers. I stay at Dr. Kenrick's,
who has three seminarians in his own
house, and plenty more offering daily.
Will have to preach here every Sunday
all say it would be rushing into the
jaws of death to go North. No cholera
here . . .
Mr. Jamison to Mr. Purcell.
Mt. St. Mary's College, July 12th,
My dear brother: . . I have to meet
our note in bank tomorrow ! This I
will have to renew but several men are
pressing me for money, so that if you
have spare funds do help a poor
sinner. Mr. Brute1 was taken suddenly
ill at St. Joseph's on Friday last;
got home yesterday, fixed his room,
and has returned to spend the week at
St. Joseph's. Intends to make his own
retreat. God bless him. Dick Whelan
(future bishop) is worth his weight in
gold. He stands by me and lends a
helping hand at every call ... I had
to borrow $100 yesterday to send to
the Susquehanna river for plank. We
are all well at the College, but I
have had four or five sick calls in
the country and my horse is saddled to
go to Mary Ann Kupers as soon as I
finish this letter. I rec'd. the
Abp.'s mandate and published it on
Sanday. I expect this will add to my
labors. The yard is nearly finished.
We have only twenty fire boys ; all
behave well, every one, sisters,
servants, boys, masters and all doing
well all happy no trouble, thank God,
so far. Bishop England is going to
Rome and offers his services while
there. In the words of our old frd.
Horace, but with more Christian
principle, let me give this parting
advice, 'tis wholesome: "Carpe Diem,"
for you have a year of study, care and
trouble, etc., etc., before you as
usual, for verily I do not believe (he
cholera will make us all a jot better
than before. Take care of yourself and
pray for one who sincerely loves and
esteems you and who does not think it
blarney to tell you so ...
[Purcell was from Cork]. Mr. Gegan
to Mr. Purcell.
Baltimore, July 19, 1832.
Revd. and dear Friend: . . .
Cholera panic is visible on the
countenances of many of our citizens.
The most active measures for cleansing
our city of every species of filth
have been faithfully carried into
execution, the rest we leave to God.
Wishing you a full and virtuous
college . . .
Hilary Parsons, theologian, was
tired of the treasurership, which, he
claimed, was wearing him down and
distracting him utterly from his
preparation for the priesthood, and
begged to resign it.
In McCaffrey's notes we find that
the prefects for 1832-3 were Rev.
Richard Whelan, Patrick Reilly ("Dr.
Pluck") and Edward Baxter. (Of Patrick
Reilly, founder of St. Mary's College,
Wilmington, more anon). Messrs.
McGarrahan, Michael McAleer, David
Whelan, Daniel Byrne, James Dargan and
Thomas McCaffrey entered the Seminary
Aug. 15, 1832.
The cholera had commenced its
ravages with much violence in Canada
and its immediate extension to the
United States was anticipated. Father
Brute wrote to the Most Rev.
Archbishop of Baltimore, offering his
services when it should reach that
city. In Aug. the Rev. Deluol, S. S.,
visited Mt. St. Mary's in order to
withdraw Mr. Hickey from the College
and Father Brute returned with him.
Immediately on his arrival in
Baltimore the latter had a violent
attack of intermittent fever, and was
obliged to return to the Mountain, but
as soon as he had recovered, he set
off again, without saying a word to
anyone, for Baltimore and labored
there until his services were no
F. Purcell writes of the cholera in
Philadelphia in '32. Doctors had their
different opinions. "Burgundy Pitch
Plaster" on the abdomen up to the
chest was thought a sovereign
prophylactic. This heroic remedy was
made famous by a song that was sung
for a generation after, and the
refrain was this:
Sheepskin and beeswax, gum and
pitch, a plaster, The more you try to
pull it off, the more it sticks the
Jan. 7, '3'2. As showing the
difficulties of trade: a gentleman
encloses two five dollars bills of the
bank of Gettysburg as they are not
taken in Bryantown, Maryland, and he
thinks they may be negotiable here.
Checks were written, not printed, and
were frequently drafts on private
individuals. Many beg time till a
piece of land is sold or till crops
come in or goods are sold, or jewels,
or till money due themselves is paid,
Jan. 12,'32. A Cincinnati father
hopes that some one will beat
Gettysburg to see that all the boys
get into one slage for Pittsburg.
where they will take steamboat for
home. "I think twenty five dollars
will take my two boys to Pittsburg."
Mar. 13, '32. A son writes to his
mother that he had "done something
very wrong and that he had been
locked up and fed on bread and water
days."He" does not object to the
justice of the punishment, which is
an excellent one, far better than
Mar. 6, '32. One father: " John
tells me he has left off his Greek
class for want of time; I prefer that
he leave any or all his other classes,
Latin excepted ..."
Same date another father: "This new
world requires practical knowledge, I
wish James to give up Greek for which
he says he has no fondness."
Dubois vs. Patton's heirs, of date
Apr. 17, 1832. we find a letter about
land twenty miles from Romney, Va.
(West Virginia) on the North Fork of
the Potomac near Cresop, Md. Reference
has already been made to this.
June 2. '32. "My father, General
Sumter, died suddenly yesterday. He
was on horseback the day before. He
was 96 or 97 years old. Please don't
tell my son until after the
examinations. T. D. Sumter, Statesburg,
South Carolina." A statue to this
illustrious soldier of the Revolution,
after whom Fort Sumter was called, was
raised in 1907, the general government
assisting to do honor to his memory.
June 12, '32. A father writes:
"Willie is 14, and has learned very
little; swearing, horse-riding,
hunting is the most he knows, and with
all my sermons cannot succeed to
engage him in studying." "When a boy,
especially one who lived at a
distance, was reported to his parents
for drinking or, as sometimes
happened, was expelled, it is painful
to read the letters in which the
parents and sometimes the boy express
their disappointment and sorrow at the
fault and the disgrace of expulsion.
Father Purcell writing 14 July. '32
says: "McCloskey (Cardinal) is a heart
of mountain oak. God bless the
Mountain! What fine fellows it
produces! And must it after all perish
in that ever-widening chasm of debt ?
June 16, '32. " I intend to visit
Alfred during vacation. This will make
the spending it at College less
irksome. I suspect that it is not
considered fashionable to pass the
vacation at college and that the boys
look unfavorably on those who do." In
this case home was 700 miles away.
Aug. 1, '32. The College bo't a
brass seal for $35 ; two steel dies
for $20; eleven gold medallions for
$55 ; eighteen gilt-silver ones for
$45. These medals must have been for
Aug. 20, '32. The father of one of
the boys writes from Montreal that the
cholera raged up there. The Sulpician
College suspended studies in order
that the professors might attend the
sick. They were stationed throughout
the city and relieved every twelve
hours like sentries. Not one of them,
nor the nuns who were nursing the
patients, caught the disease, though
the population was thinned thereby.
Sept. 24, '32. " It is well for
Henry to get a small rifle since the
boys are allowed to go hunting, which
is an excellent and healthy exercise."
Father Oildea, stationed at
Harper's Ferry, took sick of the
cholera Sept. 1, 1832. Many people
died there of the disease and people
were flying in every direction. One
Mr. Jamison writes that many died
without the rites of religion and asks
for a Mountain priest.
Sept. 8, '32. The Dept. of State
asked for a prospectus to be sent for
a public purpose to the American
Consul at Havana. All the Catholic
Colleges were asked for the same.
Feb. 24, '32. A mother writes
expressing surprise l: at Peter's
extravagance," she thought there was
no opportunity to spend at the
Mountain." She wants him taught
June 12, '32. The students going
home by way of Balto. used to
breakfast at Taneytown. They had to
start about 3 a. m. from the College
in order to get to Balto. that night.
There was a horse railway from
Frederick to Balto. but of course that
was out of the way.
New Orleans, Dec. 29,'32. " Very
dull Christmas Day. The pavements and
streets were covered with water like a
lake and we could not step outside the
door . . " So inconvenient was
traveling in those days that the
father of one of our boys writes from
New Orleans that he and his wife had
not seen their son for six years.
Cholera, yellow fever and the cold
plague were all raging in that city at
the same time. It was a voyage of 31
days by sea from Philadelphia.
Betsy Peterman came to the College
in 1832 at "common wages, that is
fifty cents a week. If she will not
take that, Arnold says he will give
her two pairs of shoes of any kind she
may choose." She stayed her whole life
and men wept at her death forty years
Sept. 8, '82. "A great many
encomiums have been passed on the
Emmitsburg sisters. The Protestants in
Baltimore, it appears, cannot say
enough and think they can never repay
them for their kindness during the
cholera ..." In fact the City
Government passed formal resolutions
in acknowledgment of the sisters'
Sept. 10,'32. Cholera in Baltimore.
All business suspended. Pastors told
people to make their wills, as death
used to follow in a few hours after
the attack. It was bad at Frederick,
but we do not read of it at Emmitsburg
till twenty years later, 1853.
Sept. 23, '32. John O'Brien writes
from the West Point Military Academy
that he is obliged to go to " an
Dec. 15, '32. A Southern mother is
"very unhappy" at the "insult" offered
her boy, whom the prefect "slapped on
surmise of his having been concerned
in what he (the boy) styled an
ingenious trick, etc.," and will not
have peace of mind until she gets the
President's assurance that her sons
shall not be subject to the
degradation of being punished in this
Dec. 15, '32. " I think it a great
advantage in after life for a young
man to graduate, as it gives a
confidence in the solidity of his
education which he would not, I think,
otherwise possess ..."
Matches were first made in the
United States this year by Jacob
Weller a blacksmith of Thurmont. He
asked 25 cents a hundred for them.
Dec. 18, 32. "My man Bill will
reach the College in the evening with
a horse for John, (whom I wish to come
home for the holidays) so that they
may start early in the morning on
their forty mile ride."
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