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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 27 | 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, 1834.

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," etc.

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 give up.

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 account."

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 repeatedly gave.

" 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 States."

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 week."

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 rags!"

Chapter Index | Chapter 29

Special thanks to John Miller for his efforts in scanning the book's contents and converting it into the web page you are now viewing.