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 28: 1834-1835
This letter from Bishop Dubois to
President Butler chronicles the
intention of the future Cardinal to go
to Rome and the advent of another
future bishop, John Loughlin, first
Bishop of Brooklyn. [He died Dec. 29,
1891, esteemed for the manly
simplicity of his life.]
New York, Oct. 7th,
I suppose, my dear Mr. Butler,
that before this time you have
received an answer from Mr.
McCloskey, ordained Feb. 7, this
year, informing you that he had made
up his mind and applied to me for
leave to go to Borne to complete his
studies. I am far from approving his
resolution, which is liable to more
objections than he is aware of, and
I earnestly urged him to go in
preference to St. Mary's, but having
promised him not to control him in
his desire to improve himself, I
could not oppose a resolution which
he considers as the most suitable
for his purposes. I was the less
inclined to contradict him, as his
weak constitution is not likely to
render him very useful, and may be
improved by spending some time in
Italy.He appears more inclined to a
sedentary, studious, than to an
active life, and I am afraid that he
may thereby give the last stroke to
his already broken constitution. [He
lived to see 75 years.] I have
already secured one scholar, and
hope to prevail upon the parents of
four or five more to send their
children to Mount St. Mary's, whom I
will send with the French professor,
whom I can recommend as likely to be
very useful to you, both as a
teacher of French and a prudent
manager of children.
Could you not also prevail upon
your board to admit gratis a young
American about 18 years old, far
advanced in his studies and capable
of teaching any class and of
governing children ? He is sensible,
mild and prudent. When he came he
brought with him $200, the only
condition I required to continue his
clerical education. . . . [A sum of
money saved was, and is, considered
a sign of many excellent qualities.]
He was born in Albany of worthy
parents . . . and he will be an
acquisition to Religion. . . [This
was the John Loughlin above
mentioned.] Your speedy answer will
confer a favor on your devoted
father in Xst.
John, Sp. of N. Y.
The first Bishop of Dubuque,
another of those God-sent French
missionaries, a great champion and
model of total abstinence, Rt. Rev.
Matthias Lordas, wrote to Mr.
McCaffrey, October 28th of this year,
recommending to his care four of his
young countrymen, the subdeacons
Causse, Havour, Galtier and Petiot,
who had been received to learn English
and prepare for the American mission.
Another came to us in 1840, M. Ravoux,
who went alone to work among the Sioux
of Minnesota, and died in 1906. It is
impossible to do justice to the
heroism of these apostles of our
Republic, these lonely diocesan
priests: Selah. Their Acts are written
in the Book of Life.
Copy of a
Commencement Brochure from 1835
The Abp. appointed President Butler
ordinary confessor of the sisters at
St. Joseph's, but Father Butler in a
letter of November 20, 1834, signed by
all the Faculty, excused himself ou
the score of occupation. " Father
Brute required the whole forenoon of
Thursday, Friday and Saturday each
week for the confessions of the
sisters ... At present there are here
but two priests besides the President,
unless you count Father Flaut the
Pastor, and Father Parsons, who is
still lingering on the threshold of
Eternity. Mr. Sourin teaches 1st
Greek, 1st History, Scripture and
Elocution; Mr. Whelan is Procurator
and chief accomptant, and teaches
Theology. Mr. McCaffrey is but a
deacon. He is Vice-President and
teaches Moral Philosophy, Rhetoric and
1st Latin . . . We are full of
interest in the sisterhood, and have
received from them many benefits . . .
Every Sunday and Holy Day in the year
one of us gives them High Mass, sermon
and Vespers, and every day Low Mass .
. . When their superior is absent from
Emmitsburg we take his place as pastor
there. . . ." In a letter of February
24, 1834, we read that President
Butler "was one of the most amiable
men in the house."
Bishop Dubois was now 70 years of
age, and had ten thousand souls
attending or trying to attend St.
Patrick's Cathedral. His one assistant
was away on Saturday and Sunday
ministering to " Yorkville,
Bloomingdale, Manhattanville, Harlem,
Westchester, Staten Island, Long
Island and Jersey City." The trustees
would not give him wherewith to pay
another priest whom he offered to get,
nor even answer his letter. (Smith's "
History of Catholic New York.")
In the summer of this year, 1834,
he started a new Seminary College at
Nyack on the Hudson, about thirty
miles from the New York City Hall, in
a farm-house, Father McGerry,
ex-president of the Mountain, being
its first Rector and John (Cardinal)
McCloskey its chief professor.
It was announced that the College
was "for the education in classical,
scientific and general literature, of
young men without distinction of sect,
church or state;" but there was also
included a distinct theological
Seminary to be devoted to the
education and instruction of young men
as clergymen of the Catholic Church,"
The new building was burnt on the
day appointed for its occupation,
exactly as that at the Mountain ten
years previously. Another attempt was
afterwards made at Water-town, about
300 miles from New York City, which
was also unsuccessful. The Nyack
establishment was delightfully located
at the north end of the Palisades, in
view of the steamers, whalers, and
other craft, passing along the noble
river in front.
On August 1, 1834, Father Hughes
had an humbler establishment in
Philadelphia, and announced in the
Catholic Herald, that the " Western
Academy,"he found by experience, he"
cannot, being pastor of a large
congregation, properly superintend,
and therefore hands it over to Mr. B.
Constant, former president of Mount
Airy College." The Academy was under
St. John's Church in Thirteenth St."
The same paper, August 14th, quotes
the New York Times as saying : "the
College and theological Seminary now
being erected near Nyack will be an
ornament to our State, and supply a
desideratum to the Catholics of New
York, who have now to send their
children to the far South to finish
their education."The fire, as we saw,
falsified this friendly prophecy. In
the West, too, education was hungered
for, and the Catholic Telegraph of
Cincinnati, August 8th, announcing
Brute's coming, says: "We long for
himself and his valuable library
across the mountains, and his aid in
the great valley of the Mississippi."
Father Whelan meanwhile was
endeavoring to reduce to order the
books of the College. He must have
been a splendid penman if he did the
heading in the Ledger. Indeed they
wrote well with the quill, and writing
was insisted upon in those days more
than now. When he asked Bp. Dubois for
assistance in the work, he was
answered in detail, February 12, 1835.
Bp. Dubois' letter opened with "My own
dear Richard ... I will not dwell upon
the multiplied vexations which I had
to suffer" . . . unless "to account
for the charges inserted in the book
for people who never paid or were
never to pay "... [There was a
considerable number of these.] "The
house paid an annuity of eight hundred
dollars a year for twenty years. . ."
On this came the fire that added
sixteen thousand more to the debt ..."
The only thing you can do is to send
statements to the parties you can
discover to be in debt to the house,
and beg them to pay these outlawed
bills. You can't borrow in New York :
They won't lend out of the State. Try
the Bank of Georgetown . . .
Turning from the Atlantic Coast to
the western border of" civilization,
we have an outpouring from the loving,
tender heart of Bishop Brute’, written
in his imperfect English:
Vincennes, March 13, 1835.
My dear M. McCaffrey: If I could
always answer as I read on or just
the moment after! Two days ago I was
reading yr. kind letter and my eyes
repeatedly full my heart all along,
too now it is not cooled, it is all
the same feeling, but wd. not be the
same distinct utterance; for so it
is: as you read or talk, every
feeling, line or word of the friend
has its response at once when it is
all read, or he is gone, but a
general impression remains. It is
for me a great consolation that you
all still love so well one who does
not think, no, no, that it is
deserved, that unmingled affection
who was so hard so often, tried you
particularly so hard and lo! There
again tears are filling my eyes. I
Love only my Indiana, my
Illinois, my Vincennes, the glory
and service of God in them, since I
myself can cherish now your
kindness, but so as to promote their
interest and also direct you, as I
love you, to offer to God what I am
not worthy a moment to claim for
myself. You might say: " You were
too happy to lire with us at that
Mount you served as we serve we
remain in debts unpaid on earth. The
debts of heaven to you or to
ourselves. Another kept the
Oh, tears again why, why, so much
sensibility! Is it also of piety? It
should be, and truly, when I tell
you to do for god, I felt so when
writing that appeal to another. I
meant Himself and lo! my dear
McCaffrey, were I not too daring to
cast accounts of credit with Him
with whom too happy, ah, too happy,
is account of Mercy, so settled as
to carry for us the safe balance,
and not that "inventus est minus
habens!" My friend, that you are
not yet the full priest is, I dread,
all my love dreads it, such a "minus
habens" for you for were you not
incessantly called by the most
pressing voice of your archbishops?
Are you not by the pressing cries of
all that surround you ? But again I
give up I feel too much such a
priest yet missing, not yet
ordained. Your venerable father !
how his very form ! and immediately
of your mother as if yet in those
pews of Emmitsburg, or upon that
piazza upon the square. ... I give
up. Only remember me with that
father and when you pray for or to
that Mother, remember me whom you
long called your spiritual father an
unworthy one since he succeeded so
badly to redeem for the Church such
pledges as to that Church you
" Now my friend how can I thank
you for such a letter so full of
every detail the most interesting
for me I thank you, bless you; for
God be praised, most of the items
are of blessing more for our
mountain. Dick Whelan, wonders! Good
Joseph overwhelmed succeeding so
well at his Scripture, a particular
delight for me, and he does it so
much better than myself. As for Mr.
Butler I have his own letter, and
how did my eyes fill and my heart as
with yours even for Mr. Parsons,
your faithful care each one to speak
to me of him whom you remember I
see, that I would not pass a day
without visiting without often,
shall I say, envying? for on the
whole, though a wordling wd.
scarcely understand it, you do how
blessed, over blessed, is his slow
removal ! and happily how he
husbands well its grace Benedicta
near him, enough for both to mention
these 4 lines for the other Sisters
ask also prayers.
I, if you ask me what of my
situation, I'm in my first settling
too, but resolved not to yield to
the difficulties that will rise as
mountains on all sides read only our
faithful a Kempis. He told me
just at my afternoon adoration at
our holy tabernacle "Sint omnia
sub te et non tu sub eis," etc.
I am trying to improve this time
of Lent by catechisms for the youths
the morning and the evening night
prayer, an instruction (read) and a
French canticle I began with 5
persons, already above 30 meet so,
and some have begun to come to
confession. Money? None receiving I
make many marriages seven or eight
not one cent, burying many taxed
$1.25 I received it for three
nothing of course at baptism.
Subscription list to be made and
paid next Fall in metis no horse
each time I borrow I had four or
five persons to go round, as after
two or three calls on the same I
interrupt and go to another. . . .
You were truly blest wonderfully for
giving up your friend to the West;
be sure that your additional
sacrifices and of the Sisters will
again be blessed, abundantly so.
Dear Sisters! They receive since
more of candidates and more of calls
for establishments than ever. ... I
have a most amiable letter from good
Mr. McCloskey (Cardinal) from
Marseilles, at the tomb of M. Egan.
Well! When I read it I wrote to
Bishop Mazeuod, my mate at St.
Sulpice, to have a stone cross put
up with a little inscription I made
for M. Egan. . . . [Stone and all
have disappeared and a great railway
station now (1908) occupies the site
of the cemetery. editor.]
Father Hilary Parsons died after a
long illness on March 17, 1835, and
the holy bishop writes very
charmingly, April 7, when told of his
death. As for himself, he expects "to
die alone." He will be " alone during
Holy Week and Easter. Had one First
Communion." Has a " Seminary in his
episcopal palace with one candidate."
Writes, " in order to save paper," on
the back of his first pastoral, which
Bp. Purcell had got printed. ... 0
that holy priest M. Parsons! Al-taria
! Altaria ! This is the incomparable
place as long as on earth. . . ."
Feb. 5, 1834. The College owed B.
S. Elder & Son $2,000. The father,
B. S. Elder, was about to remove
William in consequence. This latter
was Abp. Elder.
Phila., Jan. 25, 1834. A writer
tells that " Mr. Kandall is
appointed Judge of Common Pleas, the
first Catholic Judge, except Gaston
of North Carolina, in the United
Feb. 26, 1834. E. Coale, of
Liberty Town, understood that the
Mountain would attend Liberty once a
month if they got land for a church
there, and offered to deed a house
and several acres, renting at 80 to
90 dolls, a year, on that condition.
Mar. 17, 1834. The son of a
Southern planter left Georgetown
because his " sense of honor and
personal dignity would not allow him
to suffer corporal punishment," and
so his brother proposes to send him
to the Mountain.
Apr. 21, 1834. A father complains
of the fare at the College: "salt
beef, pork, fish and molasses, no
milk nor vegetables." The writer
calls names however, and is the only
complainant found in the archives.
Apr. 27, 1834. Mrs. Delaage
Sumter, whose son Francis, grandson
of Genl. Sumter. was brought up a
Catholic by his mother, writes
today, stating that to Charles X of
France and not to herself is due the
acknowledgment for the grant
received from France when the
College was burnt in 1824. Still she
had asked him. We shall see further
on that Father Brute came in also in
connection with these gifts.
Balto., Apr. 28, 1834. "David
Whelan, Father Richard's brother,
writes that St. James' Church is to
be consecrated on Thursday morning.
. . . Admittance, 26 cents."
Evidently the charge surprised him.
May 5, 1834. A very delicate
matter was the exhumation of the
body of young Ogier, of Charleston,
who had been buried on the Hill.
Basil Elder writes that he is
sending up a leaden casket to
receive the remains. '' You will, of
course, conceal the nature of the
contents from wagoners and others.
Have it brought to my store, not to
my dwelling, and I will ship it on
one of the South Carolina packets.
May 9, 1834. Hard times. "Bank of
Maryland notes worth only 45 cts. on
the dollar. No money. No confidence.
No giving nor asking trust. I fear
that the College has undertaken a
task which will be found too heavy.
Your means will be greatly curtailed
and your expectations woefully
disappointed...." Those were the
days of Jackson.
Charleston, S. C., June 2, 1834.
"Is it contrary to the regulations
of your College for my son to bring
on his piano? ..."
June 22, 1834. "If you want to
make the journey more comfortably
and easily to Baltimore it will be
better for the forty boys to leave
Emmitsburg at 2 a. m." The fare for
students, etc., was three dollars.
June 23, 1834. "I sent ten
dollars pocket money, should you
take the children to the city." It
would appear that the pupils had
certain excursions during vacation.
In the fall of 1834 Guy Elder
made over his property to the
College on condition of having a
home for ths rest of his days.
Rev. Patrick Danaher, 1829,
writes from New York sending a
candidate for the ministry: New
York, Nov. 9, 1834, "... The mode of
educating candidates for the
ministry at the Mountain is
perfectly compatible with the spirit
of the country and well qualified to
render them efficient, etc. ..."
A letter of Nov. 12 shows that
they had Society badges in those
days, and that the cholera was still
in Baltimore. Father Richard Whelan,
who had enlisted for the
cholera-campaign, is the writer.
Bp. England came in November to
visit the College and Convent with
four Irish women, Ursuline Nuns,
whom he was taking to Charleston.
A mother's letters: Nov. 15,
1834. "I cannot allow Henry
pocket-money, for I am nothing but a
poor widow. . . "
Dec., 1834. "I am very happy to
hear that Henry is a good boy. I
have told him to get a gun, and if
he cannot do without spending money
I will allow him one shilling a
Dec. 6, 1834. A father's letter:
"Philip is too extravagant in
clothes, following bad example,
perhaps, of other boys: if he should
prove inflexible, let him wear his
Index | Chapter 29
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