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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 48 | Chapter Index

Chapter 49: 1859-1860

Towards the close scholastic year 1858-9 George H. Miles, 43 received appointment as professor of English Literature at the College.

Bishop Carrell, '27, of Covington, presided at the Commencement, at which there were eight graduates. "The Catholic standpoint and the bold and manly tone, which is always a distinguishing mark in :he addresses there, we should rejoice to see prevail in every Catholic College," pleased the editor of the Mirror. The Recitation of Miles' Inkerman by Harry Northrop, of Charleston, brought out the strength and beauty of Prof. Miles' poem, but the most generally admired discourse was that on The Uses of Beauty, by Michael Augustine Corrigan, the future Archbishop of New York, who also carried off the honors of the graduating class. The other honor men were Harry P. Northrop, future Bishop of Charleston; Francis Gignoux, Robert Mannion, Matthew Magennis, John Maguire and Orlando Richards.

Bishop Carrell, sending a student, James Smith, of Maysville, Ky., '63, writes, September 3, 1859:

"I am willing to make a formal surrender of him to you for nine or ten years; vou can train him to be truly useful to your College, and the longer he stays at the old Mountain, the better will he be prepared for the missions of this diocese. [Smith was ordained in '66 and died in February, 1908.] If I were a millionaire I would finish your church, endow your professorships and make the old Mountain tower above every other . . ." [The writer had been a devoted member of the Jesuit Order.]

The beautiful new church was a building in chiseled brown-stone, brought from a distance and rather expensive. In this connection Dr. McCaffrey's character may be further learned from the following:

Rev. David B. Walker, S. J., wrote the chronicler, October 16, 1906: "I am particularly pleased with the information that mountain stone is to be used in the new Seminary. When the new chapel or rather Church was proposed in my time, I went one night after supper-recreation to make my customary call as First Prefect, on the president, and found sitting in his room Fathers John and William McCloskey, Elder and McMurdie. As soon as I entered he said to me, 'I want to ask you a question to which I require a categorical answer. If you had the building of the chapel in your hands what kind of stone would you use?' I answered at once, 'Mountain stone, such as the College is built of!' ' There,' said they all, 'Every one is against you!' But he had his way for a' that. I have always considered it providential that same church or chapel was never completed. The privacy of the college would be very much interfered with if that became the parish church. My dear old Father in God, Abp. Purcell, wrote a strong letter to Abp. Kenrick in favor of the Mountain. . . . The Mountain was strong then in her Bishop sons."

Ex-President Jamison died this year, 1859, aged fifty-eight. His name is associated with the English version of Gaume's Catechism of Perseverance.

At the Provincial Council of New York, held in same month, December, 1859, Abp. Hughes, '26, presiding, a pastoral letter was issued which the Pope had printed at Rome in Italian as well as in English, something quite extraordinary if not unheard of, and a second edition of the Italian version was demanded. It concerned the political condition of the Pope.

On December 5th, Father John Quinlan, '50, Rector of Mt. St. Mary's of the West, was consecrated Bishop of Mobile, and on December, 18th, Father Win. G. McCloskey, '40, was notified by Abp. Kenrick of his appointment to the Rectorship of the new American College at Rome.

On December 8, 1859, the American College in Rome was opened, though its first president had not yet arrived. The first vice-president was also a Mountaineer, Francis Silas Chatard, '53, who succeeded Dr. McCloskey (made Bishop of Louisville in 1868) and retained the office till 1878, when he in turn became Bishop of Yincennes. Thus the College was for its first twenty yeare under the care of Mountaineers. In addition to this, of the first twelve students (Edward McGlynn never reckoned as of the new college, being a prefect sent from the Propaganda in his last year's Theology), six came from the Mountain, which may thus claim the American College of Rome as another of her daughters. These Mountain students were Michael A. Cotrigan, Reuben Parsons, Claudian Northrop, William Poole, Robert Seton, William Merriwether. Counting the first president and the first vice-president, there are eight Mountaineers out of the fourteen. Northrop died the beloved pastor of St. Mary's, Charleston; Parsons fulfilled the promise of his youth and did great service to the Church by his historical works; Seton became a titular archbishop in course; of Merriwether this history will tell further on; Poole is a New York pastor; Conigan became Archbishop of New York. At the proper place we shall devote more space to his character and career.

In December, 1859, Father John Koch took charge of the new church at Thurmont. He and Father John Byrne gave a week's mission there, and had fifty communions. In November, 1860, Father John, Vice-president, took charge.

The reporter for the Catholic Mirror ventures "the opinion that the class of 1859 will form an era in the history of Mt. St. Mary's as being the best to date in the religion, the morality, the talents and the acquirements of the men composing it."

The reader may judge for himself, here are the names: Michael Corrigan, N. J.; John G. Devereux, La,; William Marmion, Va.; Charles Luken, Equador; Andrew Quigley, Iowa; James Wale, La.; Thomas McGovern, Pa.; Patrick Heunessy, N. Y.; William Byrne, Boston, Mass. The first died Abp. of New York, the second was a bank president, the third became a physician, the sixth was a priest, the seventh died Bishop of Harrisburg, the eighth died a pastor in Jersey City, the last became Vicar-general of Boston and was the twelfth president of the College. Of the fourth and fifth we have no data.

Here is a little episode throwing a side-light on student life.

Frederick, May 30, 1859. Rev. J. McCaffrey, D. D.

Dear Sir: Last night a little boy, dripping with wet and very much frightened and distressed, came into my office; and after some time, I got from him his story, in whispers and broken sentences. Poor little fellow, he seemed so penitent that he won my sympathies. He gave me his name as John M. Smith, of New York. It seems he was afraid of a whipping, which had been promised him, and thought it very easy to get home to his mother at New York; but the long walk, and the rain and thunderstorm, and the darkness and his utter loss what to do in Frederick until he found out my house, have so fully shown him how wrong he was and have so fully punished him and made him so penitent, that, I am sure, I may ask you to pardon him and to remit any further punishment which he might have deserved for his childish folly, had he been older and wiser than he is. I do not doubt, it has been a great lesson to him and if gently used, may make a man of him.

I asked him if he thought it easy to get to New York. ''Yes, Sir, when I started." "And do you think so now?" "Oh I no indeed, sir." And his eyes filled up ready to cry. "Well," said I then, "would you like to go back to college?" " Indeed 1 would, sir." He said this so earnestly that I promised him that I would write to you and intercede for him. We gave him some dry clothes, got him some supper, and gave him a bed.

This morning I have taken a seat for him in the stage and sent him back to you with this letter, and beg you, as he has come to me, placed himself under my care here, as he has begged to go back and I have promised my intercession for him, feeling justified in doing so by his demeanor here, that you do me the favor to accept that intercession and to consider the poor boy as sufficiently punished for his thoughtless expedition. I may add that no one here will know of the escapade. Believe me very sincerely. Your obedient servant, James McSheeby, '38.

One recalls Pliny's " Letter to one of his friends," and St. Paul's " to Philemon." (Alzog's History, I, p. 458.) February 1, 1860, Rev. William George McCloskey, Pro­fessor of Moral Theology, and Director of the Seminary, left for Rome, the students presenting him with a magnificent gold watch. Rev. John B. Byrne and Rev. John Koch joined the Faculty.

February 17, 1860, Dr. McCaffrey writes to David W. Naill, of the Legislature, proposing a law to forbid sale of alcoholic liquors to minors after prohibition by parent or guardian or their representative to do so. He says: "There is a law against selling without license which I have repeatedly enforced, as I will the proponed law should it be enacted. If I could hope for an act forbidding the sale of liquor within three miles or even more of our institution, outside of the corporate limits of Emmitsburg, I would immediately petition for it, and many of our best neighbors would join me. Would to Heaven something could be done to stop grog-selling in the country. As to the towns I give them up."

Washington's Birthday was celebrated with great spirit, the Mountain Cadets, sixty parading with their State rifles. Military drill was revived in the College twice during the 80's, but like every other fad amongst boys soon lapsed, especially as at this latter period not only was baseball ("The National Game ") a craze, but (so-called) Rugby football be came very popular, and the "diamond" and the "gridiron" filled the minds and hearts of most American collegians. Besides, the State rifles had become old and disreputable, and the Governor when asked for new ones, answered that he had no power to give them.

There were one hundred and seventy-three students in 1859-60, not including seminarians; indeed, the number and names of these latter are sometimes omitted from the catalogue. Seven graduated this year. The honor men were John Tracy, Thomas A. Reid, Michael Jenkins, Matthew Magennis, George O'Hare, Orlando Richards, James E. Kearney.

Father Thomas O'Neill, who spent his latter days at the College, and w'hom Abp. Bayley called "Bishop O'Neill of Taneytown," used to sing Mass at Emmitsburg, and Dr. McCaffrey would drive over after breakfasting and, regardless of Father Tom's inward state, preach a good long sermon. "'Twas easy for him," said Father Tom, "and he after his breakfast." Hampton Taylor tells that the people did not understand Father Tom's idioms. When a man told him anything out of the way the priest would say, "You didn't now I'' and the party would tell it all over again.

April 15, 1859. The government of Peru through William Miles, Consul, father of the poet, presented us with 17 volumes of Suarez, received from the librarian of Lima. Mr. Miles also sent 4 volumes on geography, which once belonged to the Jesuits at Lima.

On the 20th of June, '59, Bishop (Card.) McCloskey wrote advising Rev. William G. McCloskey as to how he could avoid the coadj'utorship of Savannah. At this time the clergy of Washington, Catholic, Protestant and Jew, acted as chaplains to Congress in turn, alphabetically, and were paid a large sum for their services. The diocesan clergy of the Church went in cassock and surplice, the Dominicans and Jesuits in their habits, and all the priests used the same form of prayer, Archbishop Carroll's Prayer for the Authorities. This arrangement by Congress was perhaps a protest against Knownothingism, of which Maryland, alas, was one of the hot-beds. Baltimore was a spectacle to the whole country in those restless days.

The Baltimore Catholic Institute had lecture-courses at this time, and Professor Dimitry, of Louisiana, uncle of Prof. Lagarde, of the College, lectured before the society in the same course with George H. Miles, '43, Dr. Brownson, Gen. Shields, and others.

Chapter 50 | Chapter Index

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.