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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 29 | Chapter Index

Chapter 30: 1836

The new charter, replacing the old one which Roger Brook e Taney rejected as "disreputable to the State and a stigma on the Faith," was, "through the kindness of Mr. Shriver, and more particularly the cleverness of Col. Robert Annan " (Emmitsburg), passed at Annapolis on Saturday, April 4, 1836.

Frederick, May 6, '36. " Mr. Annan's zeal and ability in having your charter passed on the last evening of the session entitles him to our thanks." Annan was a Presbyterian of Irish descent, a tanner, and lived at Emmitsburg. The following is the charter in its amended shape:

An act entitled, an act for founding a college near Emmitsburg, in Frederick County.

Whereas, Thomas B. Butler and Edward J. Sourin, by their petition to this General Assembly setting forth that they have been for many years associated for the education of youth, the pursuit of sciences and the general diffusion of knowledge, have prayed for an act of incorporation.

Sect. 1st. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland that the aforesaid aforementioned Thomas R. Butler, Edward J. Sourin, and those who may hereafter become members of the said Association, and their successors, from and immediately after the passage of this act, be, and they are hereby created and declared to be a body politic and corporate by the name and style of '' The President and Council of Mount Saint Mary's College," and by the name aforesaid to have perpetual succession, and be able and capable at law and in equity to sue and be sued, implead and be impleaded in any court of law or equity; and that it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Thomas R. Butler, Edward J. Sourin and others who may hereafter become members of said Association, and their successors, to devise, make, have, and use a common seal, and the same to break, alter, and renew at their pleasure; and to make, alter, and repeal rules and by-laws, not contrary to the Constitution and laws of this State, for the good government of said Association; and the said Association and their successors by the name and style of the "President and Council of Mount Saint Mary's College" is hereby made, and shall forever be able and capable in law to purchase, take, hold, and convey in fee simple, or for any less estate, any real or personal estate whatsoever. Provided always, that the said Association shall at no time hold and possess more than two thousand acres of land; and provided further, that the yearly values of all the real and personal estate of the said Association, exclusive of the buildings and appurtenances appropriated for the use of the students and professors of the College of the said Association and of their private chapel, shall not exceed the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars.

Sect. 2nd. And be it enacted that the said Thomas B. Butler, Edward J. Sourin, and their associates and successors, members of the said Association, may on the first Monday in June next, and on the same day in each and every year hereafter, elect from the members of the said Association a President, Vice-President and such other officers as they may deem requisite for the administration of the government of said College, and may from time to time appoint such teachers and professors as they may deem useful and competent; and every officer so elected or appointed shall remain in office until his resignation is accepted or another person appointed in his stead. And it shall be lawful for the said Association, at any time hereafter, to admit as members of said Association such persons as to them may seem qualified.

Sect. 3rd. And be it enacted that the said Association by the name and title aforesaid shall immediately have, and is hereby invested with, full power to confer on its deserving pupils and others all collegiate honors and degrees except Doctor of Medicine. Provided that no collegiate honor or degree shall be conferred on any pupil of said College until he shall have been first duly examined and adjudged worthy of the same at a public examination.

Sect. 4th. And be it enacted that the Acts of Assembly of December Session, 1829, chapter 167, of 1830 chapter 42, and of 1833 chapter 75, be, and the same are hereby repealed; provided that all deeds executed and other matters and things lawfully done heretofore by the institution, in such acts incorporated under and by virtue of such incorporation, shall be valid in law, and all rights, privileges, debts and claims vested or accrued thereby to such institution shall survive and inure to the use and benefit of the Association by this act incorporated.

Sect. 5th. And be it enacted that the General Assembly of Maryland shall at all times have, and hereby expressly reserve, the power to repeal this charter; provided that when repealed by the authority aforesaid, all the property, real, personal and mixed, in possession or action shall remain with and belong to such officers of the said institution, or to such other persons as may be entitled to the same, to them, their assignees or legal representatives.

Rev. John Hughes wrote from Philadelphia to President Butler, May 3, 1836, in a strain which indicates that the latter was at least uncomfortable in his position, and there is reason to believe that only obedience to the Archbishop kept him in the place. Father Hughes alluded to the "perpetual mist " hanging around the prospects of the Mountain, and would help in clearing it if he could. " You must not be discouraged," he says, "but cling together and show an unbroken front. It is impossible that an institution which has braved so many storms," etc. Father Richard Whelan writes from Harper's Ferry, May 16, that as he had had difficulty in adjusting Father Dubois' books, so he could not fathom Father Jamison's business transactions. He refers also to the Kanawha and the Hampshire lands in Virginia on which the College held certain mortgages given in payment of students' bills; speaks of starting a sisters' school at Martinsburg, etc.

A singular project is referred to in a letter of F. Gartland, Philadelphia, May 30, 1836: "Rev. Mr. Williamson has been with us for about two weeks, and he declared to me very seriously that if the expenses (sic) of the College were not above $30,000 he would cheerfully buy you out and establish himself there, etc. He would conduct the college on a new plan and allow every clerical professor a small income, as they do in Baltimore. What think you of the plan?" Whether this was the first suggestion to Rev. Mr. Butler or not I cannot say, but that it was entertained subsequent letters will prove. [Rev. Adolphus Williamson was a priest in Baltimore in 1836 and left his fine library to Saint Mary's Seminary.]

A letter of Father Heyden, of Chambersburg, Pa., June 17, 1836, to President Butler, evidently in reply to a proposal of the latter, tells that Father Hughes " would most cordially wish that Providence by some means would bring about the junction of Emmitsburg to this diocese (Philadelphia), but says that any measure to that effect must come from the Archbishop." This seems to refer to the subject of the letter of Father Hughes to the President quoted a little back.

The graduates of this year were four. Rev. Mr. McCaffrey addressed the Philomathian Society. Among those whose names recurred most frequently on the premium list were William H. Elder, A. Laroque, Carroll Spence, Robert Snyder, John Rhey, Wm. Kuhn, John Cahill, James Ball, Edw. McCloskey, John Byrne, Edward McGrath, Wm. Wilson, Jno. Spann, Jno. Hurley, Outerbridge Horsey, James McSherry, George McCloskey, William McSherry, Charles Spence, John E. Howard, Richard Smith, John McGirr, E. Larnelle, H. Doudinot, B. A. Soulard, Charles Elder, Thomas Gallway, W. Daly, Wm. Delacy, Joseph O'Donnell, Thomas Emery, J. B. Mullary, Henry Rennolds, Leonard Forsyth, Wm. Hyde, Peter Patterson, M. Row en, Wm. Fitzgerald, Edward Menard, J. B. Ferry, William Shriver, F. Ferriera, G. Miles, F. Ward, Frederick and John Bensinger.

Bishop Brute’ arrived in New York this July in good health and high spirits and accompanied by twenty priests recruited in apostolic France. He visited the Mountain and left there three of them for training, Vabret, a priest, and two Berels, one a deacon and the other a layman.

In October, 1836, the old stone washhouse on the back terrace was extended and turned into a chapel, which in all humility and simplicity, and still further enlarged, serves the college for the purpose until the present day.

Mr. Butler destroyed or carried with him almost all letters addressed to himself personally, so that we have nothing else but these letters to him concerning the proposed transfer of the College to Rev. Williamson. One from the latter reads as follows:

Cincinnati, Aug. 17, 1836.

Rev. and Dear Sir: I have reflected on the subject which engaged our attention during the time I passed with you. I have likewise advised with others and have consented to accept of your offer, provided you give me the sole management and title to the property. I will then attend to the immediate liquidation of the debts. I make this a condition founded on an observation of yours, "that unless the President had the entire control of the property he would be continually thwarted in his views." In case this arrangement suits your desires, you promise me your assistance, for without you I would not be able to do the good which you propose in giving the charge of the house to me. Nothing but the desire to advance the interests of religion would prompt me to make the sacrifices. I will be compelled to take the responsibility of the charge. The sacrifices I speak of are pecuniary. I will have either to sell or mortgage my property, and by this means lose the present interest and perhaps the future rise. I mention this solely that you may see my motive for coming among you is disinterested and to prevent difficulties; to free you from debt, which I feel confident the College will be able to discharge in a few years unaided by any one. Have you permission from the Archbishop to continue the Ecclesiastical Seminary and for what time? Is it limited? Task these questions as I have heard it said that the Seminary was to be discontinued. What arrangements I would make in case you accept my offer will be discussed when we meet.

Yours Sincerely, A. Williamson.

The other is from Baltimore:

September 29th, 1836.

Rev. and Dear Sir: I received your last letter on Friday morning last. Hearing that the Archbishop would be home on Tuesday or Wednesday, I delayed writing you until then. I saw him yesterday. I proposed to him what has been under consideration between us. He did not object to my going. During our correspondence 1 have thought often of the project. Sometimes the reasons why I should accede to your request seemed to be overwhelming, and that I could scarcely ever do an act that would tend more to the glory of God, when this question would present itself and knock the fair edifice to the ground: "Can the house possibly succeed as well under my direction as yours? Ought it not to be given to some society or religious order?" As I am fully persuaded that I would never be able to quiet or keep quiet the internal disputes in the house, I must decline your highly flattering offer. Nothing but the full conviction that the house should be placed in the hands of a religious society would ever have brought me to this conclusion. I hope my declining this offer will prove no inconvenience to you. I feel confident that you have no reason whatever to feel uneasy about the debts, as in a few years you will be able to pay all that you owe. Trust in the infinite bounty of God. Yours sincerely, A. Williamson. To Rev. Thomas R. Butler.

[Nothing further or later is known of Father Williamson, who, like other priests of the period, may have labored successively in different parts of the country. Baltimore boys of the name were students here in the last quarter of the nine­teenth century.]

Bishop Purcell writes to Deacon McCaffrey from Cincinnati, October 27, 1836: "From the tenor of your last we are daily expecting your arrival in our fair city. Do not disappoint us in coming out West. Mr. Jamison is said to be at St. Louis."

In December this year, 1836. Father Butler left the Mountain on a visit to Canada in quest of health, and before leaving he made his will, bequeathing the Virginia property of the College in trust to Archbishop Eccleston.

Deacon McCaffrey, who is found again to be Vice-President, wrote him December 21st: " The Seminary and the College are going on just as you left them. What is most felt is the absence of the spiritual directors of the students of the College. I have endeavored to remedy the evil by getting Rev. Mr. Flaut to hear as many as are willing to go to him, and for that purpose to devote the whole of this week to confessions. Many of the boys are thus preparing to celebrate properly the approaching festivals. Rev. Mr. Hickey having called here this week, I mentioned to him the fact that the sisters with us had no confessor, whereupon he staid to hear them all. My brother Francis' health is declining steadily. Pray for him. Patricio Luis de la Guardia has arrived at the College and attends classes."

Above: The Old Chapel; Below: Interior of the Old Chapel

From the letter it would appear also that Father Xaupi of the college and Father Flaut of the congregation were then the only priests in the house, Father Hickey, S. S., being pastor at the village.

After the passing of the amended charter February, 1836, we find that on April 4th of that year the following were members of the corporation: Revs. Thomas R. Butler and Edward J. Sourin. On Dec. 13, Archbishop Eccleston and Father John Hickey. On March 19, 1838, Revs. John McCaffrey, Honoratus Xaupi, Philip Borgna, George Flaut and Patrick Corry were admitted, and Thomas R. Butler resigned. We notice the catholic complexion of this body. Butler, McCaffrey and Hickey were Americans of Irish descent; Sourin of French; Eccleston of English; Xaupi was a Provencal; Borgna an Italian; Flaut a Pennsylvania German.

A rifle company was formed or resuscitated this year with twenty-nine members, including nine officers, Carroll Spence, '37, being captain and Outerbridge Horsey, '37, first lieutenant. Among its rules is one establishing a court martial, to consist of the captain, the first and second lieutenants, and one private elected by the company. The following were indictable offenses: 1st, disobedience or impudence to commissioned officers; 2d, violence or disobedience to non-commissioned officers; 3d, ungentlemanly conduct during parade. A majority vote was sufficient to break one convicted of one of these offenses, and the captain pronounced sentence. For lesser misdemeanors the Court could impose fines. There were twelve parades a year, and uniform drill every Thursday after breakfast. According to the rules of the house every boy whose parents did not forbid, got each week for fifty cents half a pound of powder and two pounds of shot. Among the officers at this period we find Outerbridge Horsey, '37, bell-ringer; C. T. Whitney, Carroll Spence, '37, T. Lee, '35, and M. Curran, fire-makers.

Helman, in his History of Emmitsburg, tells us that Tom's Creek should be Tomes' Creek, so called from a tribe of Americans that lived along its banks. Indian Tom, he says, was Tomes Bones, his father being a negro named Bones, his mother of the Tomes tribe.

September 6,1836, Father McCloskey (afterwards Cardinal) wrote from the Convent of Saint Andrea della Valle, Rome, telling of two cases of books from Cardinal Mai and four paintings from Cardinal Fesch, all intended for Bishop Brute, which he had sent on to the latter. He describes penitential processions in Rome to Saint Mary Major's, intended to avert the cholera. Pope, Cardinals, etc., and thousands of people, men and women, monks and nuns, all Rome in fact, " may be said to have put on sackcloth and ashes." An aged cardinal is described as barefooted and enveloped in a sack from head to foot with openings for the eyes only. A servant followed the feeble old priest. . . .

An Italian priest named Borgna came from St. Louis about this time. He taught ethics and theology from 1837 to 1842, besides directing the Seminary. In 1842-3 he taught at Ford-ham. The tie that bound the clergy to a particular diocese was very loose, and hence we find them moving from one end of the country to the other, and indeed for a period faculties were general throughout the States.

Father Leonard Obermeyer was secretary and procurator this year, besides teaching physics. He was a valuable addition to the Faculty, which had lost many of its principal members in the years preceding. Father Hughes writes, January 2, 1837, to Bishop Purcell, that on reflection he had a settled disposition to prefer remaining in the lower rank of the clergy, although "I fear that cowardice has more to do with the preference than humility." He had been named to the mitre of Pittsburg, but the appointment had been deferred.

On the 10th of January, 1837, died Barney, one of Father Dubois' slaves, and on the 14th Francis McCaffrey, a seminarian, brother of John and Thomas. The smallpox was brought from Baltimore by a slave, and Vice-President McCaffrey would have everybody re-vaccinated, but could not get vaccine. The President returned toward the end of the month, having been detained several weeks in Philadelphia by an almost fatal illness.

On March 17, 1836, The Catholic Herald of Philadelphia prints "Moses on the Nile," a poem by Rev. J. McCaffrey, a deacon, Vice-President of Mt. St. Mary's. We give a stanza or so as a specimen of his literary ease and style. A poet is usually no man of affairs; and strong as John McCaffrey was, we nowhere find him ever mentioned as having business ability or interfering in business matters.

Moses on the Nile.

(1) Bright beamed the sun upon the banks of Nile; Bright shone the waters gladdened by his smile; With evening's crimson blush the air was bright, And cities, fields and isles were basking in the light.

(2) But there was gloom and sadness in the cot, Where the poor Hebrew sorrowed o'er her lot; Three moons had filled, three moons had, waning, set The trembling mother hid her infant yet; Braved the fierce tyrant's edict to destroy, Nor danger feared, but for her smiling boy. Oh! as that babe upon her bosom hung Her aching heart what thrilling sorrows wrung!

How oft she marked in mute despondency. His smiling lip and brightly beaming eye. The mockery of her woe! How oft she pressed The trembling innocent to her sad breast. And turned her hand and aching heart to heaven. That safety to her child might yet be given.

Alas! in vain, the cruel Pharaoh still. Sends his stern minions to explore and kill; Kearer and nearer comes the dreaded hour. When bloody hands shall pluck that cherished flower.

(3) She starts:'was but the breeze that murmured by! "God of my fathers!'' still the infants cry! God of the Patriarchs, whose chosen race Now pine in bondage, misery and disgrace, Oh, spare the unconscious babe! Oh, do not tear This bleeding heart, nor leave me in despair! . . .

In the spring of this year another fire occurred at the College. The newly erected ten-pin alley was burned. But as it was at a distance from the buildings, on the lower terrace, where the gymnasium now stands, no extensive mischief was done.

Chapter Index | Chapter 31

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.