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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 25 | Chapter Index

Chapter 26: 1833-1834

After attending the Second Provincial Council, and in company with Bishop De Reze, of Detroit, Bp. Purcell started for the West either via Pittsburg or via the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or otherwise; at any rate it took him about a month to get to his little flock of five hundred Catholics in a cultured town of thirty thousand inhabitants. How it happened who can tell? But the Bishop having shown the two Sisters of Charity who came with him into a hack, lifted their trunk on it himself, and was driven first to their house and then to his own. Then began his apostolic labors of fifty years, most of his journeyings being on horseback over Ohio and Indiana, his resting-place frequently being the lodge of a friendly Indian.

Dr. Gunning S. Bedford, '25

Affairs at the Mountain were in a condition the opposite of firm and reliable; indeed one is reminded of the "rope of sand" in reading the chronicle of those days. Some of the best men were now and again taken away and made bishops. The priests, and even the seminarians, departed and returned seemingly as the whim took them. No wonder that the need of a regular society was felt; the wonder is that the Faculty held together at all.

Father Butler left the Mountain in the fall of 1833, but returned at Brute's request, although the latter was, as we have often remarked, apparently not always in the counsels of the American members of the Faculty. He was thought to be in favor of reunion with St. Sulpice, and indeed he was: "I insisted to remain united to Baltimore."

However, Brute's influence seems to have prevailed after Purcell's departure. In the name of "your friends and cooperators," he called on Father Jamison, the new President and proprietor, to make a statement as to how the property is secured, managed and transmitted, and then Father Butler drew up the following "certificate," as Brute' calls it:

We the undersigned, being well informed that it is the desire of the Most Rev. Archbishop for the welfare of this Institution to see its care entrusted to the Society of St. Mary's of Baltimore, its original founders, and wishing to concur by the expression of our opinion and dispositions to procure that it may so take place, declare:

1st. That we think it especially the best pledge of the continuation of the main good procured by the Seminary as carried on by the rules and spirit of the Mother-House and its venerable first Superior here, the present Bishop of New York, even after the separation which circumstances had occasioned and which we wish to see cancelled.

2nd. That in the interest of said Institution they do fully concur with his opinion and desire.

3rd. That they are disposed to offer to the Most Rev. Archbishop and the Gentlemen of St. Mary's the same service as now rendered by them in the Institution as they may judge it to be useful, the propriety and the good of religion in this country having been constantly our only object. Signed,

S. Brute, Professor of Divinity, T. R. Butler, Pastor of Congr. and Teacher of Drawing, etc., Ed. Sourin, Prof, of Greek, Ed. Whelan, John McCaffrey, Prof, of Rhetoric and Belles Letters. Jany. 31st, 1834, Mt. St. Mary’s.

Father Jamison would not agree to this move, and as we shall see, resigned his office of President, as the Faculty, i. e., Council, desired, having held it but five months. The legislature, February 7, 1834, passed an act granting to the successors of the original incorporators, of whom he was one, the same rights and privileges.

Brute, in his notes February 12th, places the situation in a clear light. "All think it necessary to return to St. Sulpice this beautiful institution, their original foundation, and doing so enlarge their estates, influence and futurity in this diocese, and secure the sisters' destiny. The College can either continue or return to its state of petit seminaire and academy, as under M. Dubois and M. Egau. All desire that, if this is done, some one or two gentlemen be sent from Baltimore to cement the union and dependence on St. Sulpice.

"If this cannot be done, 'to be adopted by the M. Rev. Abp. is the alternative.' In such a case his Coadjutor could come and live here, as when the Coadjutor of Abp. Carroll lived at Georgetown. . . . This would be most excellent for the diocese, for the Abp., the Coadjutor and this Institution.

"If this fail we must form our Society with the more or less support and security that St. Sulpice and the Abp. would award for the preservation of Mt. St. Mary's and the sisters, for I cease not in my mind to see both as depending upon one another.

"Should even this last fail, the Abp. can only try to get more security by obliging the present owner, M. Jamison, to receive one or two joint tenants here and putting a second Sulpician as chaplain at the sisters, etc.

"Should it happen that the dissolution of the Institution become unavoidable, it would be all important that St. Sulpice, owner and only government of it, should take care that the property be not allowed to go to purposes for which it was never intended." [In a letter of the Vicar-General of New York (September 15, 1833), we read that "the College was within an ace of falling into the hands of the Lutherans," who have a college and seminary near us, at Gettysburg.]

February 14th, the Abp. and Messrs. Deluol, S. S. and Elder, S. S., came to the Mountain. The Sulpicians would not receive their would-be associates nor resume proprietorship; a protectorate or such was all they would grant.

Father Jamison, therefore, on February 17, 1834, handed over the property to "Messrs. Butler, Whelan and Sourin, as joint tenants ... for the original purpose, viz., that of science and religion," and at once resigned the presidency. That same day Mr. Whelan first, still in the 24th year of his age, and then Mr. Butler was chosen President in presence of the Archbishop of Baltimore, and the boys had a holiday. Father Hitzelberger resigned the Vice-Presidency and Deacon McCaffrey took the place.

We have in Brute's hand the account of the organization effected by Abp. Whitfield on the 18th of February: "It is under him and the protection of St. Sulpice's Society with a view to our future reunion to it, which had been immediately asked for, but was not yet granted. The family consists of the priests, masters and ecclesiastical students; of the youths of the College; of the brothers attached to the house" (but one ever assumed the title, "Brother Charles," whose family name has been lost to history); "of the sisters that lend their care; of the servants of different classes; the congregation of Mt. St. Mary's ; and a partial attendance of those of St. Joseph's, Emmitsburg." The Superior was to be head of the Council, but the President was to preside over the Faculty.

"The members receive no compensation for themselves or friends without a special deliberation of the board and unanimity of the owners." (The owners were three, and the board five members especially designated.)

"The Church is also part of the property and the pews; the whole as a trust for the good of religion." And so on.

Father Brute gives the following account of the important transaction which was just completed to some friends of his in Frederick presumably, since there is neither date nor address, and Father McElroy is mentioned.

"My good and respectable countrywomen you smile! but in going hence to heaven we love always to recall our France.

"You are, since the departure of M. Dubois, a support so important to this house, so precious truly to religion, that it is due you to be the first informed of that which has been done to prepare and assure more and more the stability of it and the best service for the Church and for the education of youth." [These are the ladies, doubtless, who had lent the money on mortgage, as we saw in a former chapter.]

"The Archbishop and M. Deluol, the Superior of the house in Baltimore from which this was founded twenty-five years ago, have paid us a visit, examined everything, and made a very excellent arrangement, as follows:

"Messrs. Butler, Souriu and Whelan hold the property as joint tenants, and M. Butler is the President; Messrs. Brute and McCaffrey are also of the administrative board and M. Brute has the title of Superior, also for the clergymen living with us, as Mr. Jamison is willing to do, and we hope M. Hitzelberger will continue to aid us with his talents and his zeal.

"Before leaving, Monseigneur and M. Deluol, Superior of St. Sulpice, having, with all prudence, directed this transfer and arrangement, have left us a few strong lines, which I believe I may copy here for your satisfaction:

"It is our deliberate opinion, after a long investigation of the affairs of Mount St. Mary's College, that its friends and creditors may place the utmost confidence in the strength of its resources, its prospects of prosperity and the wisdom and ability of its administration. 20 Feby. (1834). J. Whitfield, Archbp. L. Deluol, S. S., and Alex. Elder, S. S."

Father George Flaut was an esteemed pastor at the Mountain. He was a native of the mountain district, had been a carpenter in the employ of the College, and had become a priest there and gone to assist at Frederick, whence he wrote to President Butler, March 7, 1834:

Rev. and dear Sir: As you told me that you intended to speak to the Most Rev. Archbishop about my going to reside with you at the Mountain you know it is my desire to live there, because I think my salvation will be more secure, and because I would be glad to do anything that would tend to promote the welfare of lit. St. Mary's. But I wish you to bear in mind that my health is not good, though I am willing to do what I can. If you can obtain from the Archbishop, as he has promised, a priest, if you can obtain a more learned and healthy priest, it will, I am sure, be more to the advantage of the institution. I am ready and I hope always will be ready to resign my will for the greater good. I hope when you speak of me to the Abp. you will say nothing about my will, because I wish to leave it entirely to himself, and to be guided altogether by obedience. You may if you think proper tell the Abp. that you saw me and that I express a will ingness to go and live at the Mountain, provided he would send me. I now give you my reasons: were I to leave my present mission through my own will, or bj persuading my superior, perhaps I would not do the will of God, and when I would think of the souls I had left it might make me unhappy.

You have the care of the College and the congregation and it is your duty to do the best you can for both, so you may conscientiously solicit the Abp. to send you assistance, but my duty is to take care of what is now entrusted to my care until it shall please the Abp. to send me to some other place. If the Abp. consents to let me leave here and come to you, write to me immediately, because I must change my mode of living, otherwise I shall not have long to live, and I blame this place in a great measure for my weak breast and health. Do what you think is the will of our heavenly Master and do it in candor and simplicity and all will be well.

This true priest, whom Bishop William George McCloskey, ex-'40, calls "the Saint of the Mountain," came and was for twelve years in charge of the congregation about the College. He is said to have been a model for his flock and, like St. Paul, worked with his own hands. He built the altar still standing (1908) in the Old Church on the Hill, and worked on a school which he founded in 1847 for the children of the neighborhood.

We noticed Father Brute's suggestion that the Coadjutor of Baltimore reside at the College "and avoid the city for two or three years, so as to appear to much more advantage," v. g., on the occasion of the Third Provincial Council. "Nothing like distance and retreat to create and elevate public character, and bless and prepare the inward man of a first pastor. . . ."

When it was fixed that St. Sulpice would not take the College, etc., he wrote in his notes: "Alas ! Liberalism must go round the globe. The Church certainly survives. But, as in France already, what results are to be expected everywhere? Spain, etc. Now our America!" He was not pleased with Father Jamison, nor perhaps with Young America and its ways in general.

Francis B. Jamison, fifth President, came from Frederick, and was of Anglo-American stock, with the blood of Leonard Calvert and many other famous pilgrims in his veins. We are told that he was tall, very handsome, with a long black beard, gentle, polished, of beautiful manners, humorous, a chess player, a linguist and a good teacher, idolized by the boys and the people, so that once on his return to St. Louis the bells were rung. He left the College in 1834, was for a while at Martinsburg, etc., and in 1838 we find him at the cathedral in St. Louis. He was for a time connected with the Jesuit College there, and taught also, 1838, at Cape Girardeau (St. Vincent's Seminary) with his second predecessor in the presidency, Father McGerry, who had become a member of the Vincentian Order. Jamison wore a wooden leg for a long time: he was a fine horseman but had been thrown. He lived in his own house opposite the Catholic Church at the Cape, and there died, October 15, 1858.

Of John F. McGerry, the Emmitsburger, who became third President, we learn from a letter of his written to Cardinal Cullen in Rome, March 10, 1834, that in 1830 he, McGerry, was "a small, fat American, then in the Eternal City on business of a college in America." More of him later.

March 15, '33. A. H. Durocher at Baltimore takes advantage of "the wagon of St. Joseph" to inform the young gentlemen of the Mountain that he will commence his dancing academy at Emmitsburg on May 1st.

Apr. 3, "33. "My son writes me that he has been shot in the face; it was not my wish that he should have a gun; do not let him have any powder nor shot."

Apr. 15, '33. A father writes from Richmond deciding to leave his son at College during vacation "for fear he might prevail on me to keep him home."

Albany, May 25,1833. A father writes: "If my son does not want to study to a finish he need not expect more education from me, as I see too many half way scholars wandering abroad in ruin and disgrace."

May 18, '33. A boy dismissed went off leaving his gold watch in the trunk of his neighbor in the Study Hall. The watch had been given him by his grandfather, who had received it from Bishop Carroll. The father writes for the valued relic.

1833. It is very painful even to read the expressions of disappointment and sorrow used by parents who complain that their sons do not write to them. Parents have done this all through the ages. They say the heart should be cultivated, and recommend in detail to the President the education and instruction of their boys, forgetting, or not realizing, that in the case of a family there is a father and a mother for a few children whom they know perfectly, whereas in the College, the instructors see these children for the first time when they come to the College, which never can replace parental care.

Dec. 11, '33. Please send on my son's "silver spoon." The boys in those days used to bring silver spoon and fork, and some of them left behind are still in the house at this writing.

Mar. 12, '33. A Northern father has "no objection to whatever is required by your discipline in the treatment of my son, and if you think you will have to expel him I wish you to retain in part payment of his bill his books and clothes, except what he may wear, and send him home afoot, for I will not gratify him so much as to pay his way home." Home was 325 miles off, due North.

Aug. 5, '33. M. Ferron, a Frenchman, who had taught for 14 years at the Univ. of Va. asked for a place as prof, of ''French, fencing, pugilism, dancing, etc."

A letter of Father Gartland, who was at St. John's Church, Philadelphia, tells how at that time every one entering had to pass through the priest's house, and he therefore hung a picture of the College on the wall as an advertisement.

Father O'Reilly writes from Pittsburg, Nov. 5, 1833. saying that thousands ire falling away on account of lack of priests in Western Pennsylvania. He himself has six thousand souls, and a German priest who speaks no English to assist him.

S. Gunning Bedford. M. D. '20. then a professor in the medical college at Charleston, S. C.. wrote thence Feb. 14. He is of opinion that "a good education can nowhere be better acquired than at the Mountain . . . ." He tells how Dr. Pise is at the Cathedral. New York, with a salary of six hundred dollars." Dr. Bedford died at the head of his profession in New York, Sept. 5, 1870, aged 64. His funeral oration was by his classmate, Abp. McCloskey.

Chapter 27 | Chapter Index

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