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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 4 | Chapter Index

CHAPTER 5: 1810-1812

In 1810 the Rev. Charles Duhamel, mentioned in Dr. Chatard's letter, assumed the charge of the Emmitsburg church, thus lightening somewhat the labors of Father Dubois. He was a venerable and most edifying clergyman who had labored zealously for the salvation of souls in French Guiana and the island of Santa Cruz, to which he was banished, and had been some time in Hagerstown before coming to the Mountain, where he lived in the house originally built for Father Dubois and fora time occupied by Mother Seton's Community.

Emmitsburg in 1810 was about as large as it is today. Parts of the district, or township, as they say in Pennsylvania, were known as Poplar Ridge and Poplar Plains, the poplar tree like the mulberry being native plants and quite common. Indeed we were told that silk was produced somewhere in the neighborhood for this reason. When it came to charter the settlement some proposed for a name, Carrollburg, because Charles Carroll owned a great tract in the vicinity, but the present name, that of the original patentee and of the largest farmer living in the place, was adopted. He belonged to the clan described in "The Emmett Family," of which Robert Emmett is the glory. The village is said by Father Brute to have had in 1810 seven hundred inhabitants, half of them Catholics, who got on well with their Protestant neighbors.

There were four taverns, which "are very quiet even on public holidays, and seven or eight tippling shops under the sign ' Liquors and Fruits,' but the other six stores also sold drams." The country round about was far more busy than today, and had many mills, factories, tanneries, etc., the trade of which the railway has centralized in larger places. Women prepared flax and made linen. Shoes cost forty cents, if you furnished the leather. Lodging at a tavern, with gill of whiskey, was twelve cents. Lotteries were common and tickets for them were sold everywhere.

There were probably many Irish then in the place, for in 1819 out of 213 Easter Communions at the Church on the Hill, 86 bear Irish names, and those seem to have been originally from the village, for, as we saw, the early worshipers at Elder Station were Anglo-Americans.

The two sons of Mother Seton had been placed under Father Dubois' care in September, 1809. It will not be out of place to quote here, from that lady's correspondence, some paragraphs depicting her life and surroundings.

Monday, 27th May, 1810

If you could breathe our Mountain air and taste the repose of the deep woods and streams! Yesterday we all, about twenty sisters and children, dined in our grotto on the Mountain, where we go on Sundays for the divine office. Richard joined his mother but William contented himself with a wave of the hand and a promise of seeing me afterwards; going home he followed in a part of the woods where he would not be seen and gave such expressions of love and tenderness as can come only from the soul, but always unobserved and never forfeiting his character of being a man. They are two beings as different as sun and moon; but William most interests poor mother. In the afternoon catechism he was asked if his business in this world was to make money and gain reputation or to serve God and to use all his endeavors to please Him. "My business, Sir, is to do both," answered William in a tone of decision.

4th June, 1810

We have a new and handsome house just built [it still stands] on a very large farm, 560 acres, half covered with woods ; high mountains all one side of it and meadows below. Our chapel joins the house, and the parish pastor comes every morning at six to say Mass. At eight work begins, and at five is finished. The darling boys are in a branch of the Baltimore College, halfway up the Mountain and well taken care of in every way.

Feb. 11th, 1811

The Community consists of fifteen Sisters and thirty boarders in the school. The very thought of your visiting us gives a delight you can never imagine the solitude of our Mountains, the silence of Cecilia's and Harriet's graves, the children playing in the woods, which in Spring are full of wild flowers they would gather for you at every step, the regularity of our house, which is very spacious and in an end wing contains our dear, dear chapel, so neat and quiet, where dwells night and day our Adored. This is no dream of fancy, but only a small part of the reality of our blessings.

Our Mountain pastor is a polished, simple, truly holy man. He says mass for us at Sunrise all the year round; if any one has a trouble, it is carried to him, they receive consolation, and it is buried in silence. He is the Superior of the Semi nary of the mountain and dotes on William and Richard. He has had the former in his study, with fire night and day, because he has been at times threatened with a cough.

[William and his three sons lived to old age, but his two grandsons of the Seton name, died under thirty.] Among the papers preserved in the archives of the College is one marked "1810. The first Rules."

Rules for the seminary

The Masters (that is Seminarians, properly so-called, for the whole place was known as "the Seminary'';, and those who are old enough to attend the meditations will get up in silence, walk easily down stairs to begin the meditation and prayers at twenty minutes after five o'clock. At six o'clock the Masters' class. In the meantime the children will get up at six o'clock, say prayers so as to begin their study at half past six until half past seven, then go to Mass when it is to be had, then breakfast. Then follows the arrangement of classes and naming of teachers and prefects, Messrs. Hickey, Kenny, Smith, Paul, Moynahan, Morancy.

Every Sunday

When church is kept at the Mountain. Get up at six o'clock in the winter and five in the summer; study until breakfast. Private readings for the big boys readings in another room for the little ones. Recreation until Catechism. Nine o'clock: Catechism, when Mass is said at ten o'clock. But when Mass begins at eleven o'clock, the Catechism to be kept at ten o'clock in the manner and places following: In the large study room, the boarders by Mr. Hickey; in the next room, the externs aud strangers by Mr. Moynahan; at the quarters (Negro tenements), the blacks by Mr. Smith. At Mr. Duhamel's, until the wash-house and bake-house are made, the girls, white and black, by one of the Sisters. At the time when the bell rings for Mass the boys are to walk two by two to church in silence, attended by two of the Masters. Four of the boys ought, if they can, to be sent to the church a quarter of an hour before the others to dress and to serve at the altar, and must of course be asked their catechism the first of all. During the time of church the boys are not to be allowed to go out except in case of sickness, in which case they will be taken notice of by Mr. Morancy and unless the sickness is evident, they shall lose as much of the next recreation as they shall have lost during Mass, but no two boys shall go out at one time.

After Mass the boys shall go home in the order and by the road following, viz., the same two boys who walked up together to church shall meet in the middle of the church, kneel down together and march together out of church by the small door which is next to the Sanctuary, and go home by turning towards the back of the church by the bridge round Mr. McEntee's house; then by the quarters. Wait in recreation until dinner is ready; after dinner, recreation until vespers, at which all must take books and sing if they can. After vespers recreation until six o'clock. At six explanation of the Catechism and Spiritual reading by the President. In case of his not being able to attend, Mr. Hickey will preside and keep them reading the Lives of the Saints until the usual time for Spiritual reading at which time they will read "The Instruction of Youth." Then supper and recreation and night-prayers as usual.

When church is at Emmitsburg. Getting up as the other Sundays. Start for Emmitsburg immediately after breakfast but not in ranks; as soon as they arrive in Emmitsburg they will go to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for about five minutes, and then come out and play on the road which is on the left of the church until the first bell rings and return to church in ranks.

After church is over they will quit the church in the same order in which they came. Should the weather prove too bad for the boys or a part of them to go to church those who remain here will go to the church on the hill attended by some of the Masters, or all of them if none can go to Emmitsburg, say the Litany of the Saints with the prayers which will be read aloud by the presiding Master after which the same will read out of a pious book some instruction for the children. All those who are in the practice to go to Communion every Sunday shall be at liberty to go to Emmitsburg when they please, except that the Masters will agree among themselves who will attend the children to church. If they do not agree thereupon, it will be the office of the Master on duty that week.

Every Day.

Prayers and spiritual readings. Nobody in the Seminary is dispensed with attending at prayers without unavoidable necessity or the leave of the President. All must behave decently without leaning on benches, putting their elbows on the tables or pews in an indecent manner; all must answer; any laughter not rendered unavoidable by some accident, any whisper, any attempt to disturb another shall be punished severely and particularly in church. All the Masters are requested to watch the behavior of the children as far as they are able without losing their own devotion, but this exercise is more particularly recommended to the vigilance of the Prefect of Discipline, to whom the other Masters are requested to give what information they can on this subject, and who will punish the delinquents.

The mental prayer or meditation will be attended to only by those designated by the Prefect in concert with the President, or by such boys who express a desire to do it but these shall be excluded from it if their behavior there proves they were not capable of it.

The beads shall be said by all the Masters and boys of the Seminary, even by the day scholars who may be present. The Prefect is requested to notice occasionally those who do not behave well there or do not say them, and try by gentle means to bring them to a better conduct.

The meditation for the next day shall be read every night after the night prayers, and every night there shall be made a Spiritual reading at half past seven o'clock, presided over by the Prefect of studies, unless the President himself would attend. The Prefect is requested to ask such questions of the children as will force their attention to the reading and give such explanation as will enable the children to understand the subject better. The choice of the book will be left to the Prefect of Discipline in concert with the President.

Every other Sunday the children will repeat their catechism to a Master appointed for the purpose, one hour before Mass. In the winter the President will explain it to them at six o'clock in the evening; in case he should be prevented by unavoidable business, the Prefect of studies will do it in his place. The adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament will take place immediately after beads, when the weather will permit it; on this account the Prefect of studies who will preside, or in his absence the oldest Master, will direct his course towards the church. Communion will be given every Sunday at eight o'clock, in whichever place church is kept: those who are able to fast until the last Mass, are invited to do it for public edification, but it is left entirely to the discretion of every one.

Class rules then follow, as well as other matters of discipline, one rule requiring that "good and bad points" be read after dinner every Tuesday; those having bad notes to be deprived of recreation, those having none to have "extra recreation on Saturday night."

The rules are in the handwriting of Father Dubois and are doubtless his own composition. The following is of interest as relating to the church on the bill:

We, the subscribers being appointed by the congregation of St. Mary's, after duly considering the business committed to our charge, do agree to the following plan, viz., that from the first day of November next, until the first of April next the pues are to be common to all the Congregation of St. Mary's and from that date until the first of November following if the congregation think it proper, they are to be rented to the Highest Bidder, aud it is further our opinion that the church must be enlarged and that a subscription should be made and subscribed to for that purpose before the first of April next and that it will be considered as a qualification to entitle them to bid for pues on that day, and that the pues are only for the people of the congregation. Except the first seats or benches which is all that can be allowed to the students and the ile that they have already occupied until the church shall be enlarged.

As witness our hands this 28th day of October, 1811. Arnold Elder, James Hughes.

Father Brute’ did not like pews, saying that" subscription is the true means, the lawful and proper one pue-renting an American and Protestant abuse. When tested only 1 to 4 or 5, say 13 to 65 were for it and not the pious the rich!" [The slaves stood in the rear of the church.]

The profits of the farm in 1811 were four hundred and eighty-one dollars. The old day book gives us some idea of the great variety of business Father Dubois had to look after, cattle, hogs, land, rent, annuity taxes, wages, slaves, everything connected with running a parish, boarding school and farm. John Hickey, one of his earliest pupils and a candidate for the ministry, helped him in the teaching of his sixty pupils this year. One could guess at the state of health of sisters, students, domestics and other employees, by the specified entries for different medicines, and at their extravagance or economy by the amounts entered for clothing, shoes, bedding, books, meat, butter, flour, coffee, sugar indeed the seminary seems to have sold everything needed for the person except furniture and fuel. Even a snuff-box is entered against one of the kitchen-maids. One party is debited $10 for marriage fee. The furniture at the "old school" which preceded the log college started in 1808, was evidently of not much value as we find it sold for $2.61. The college had heavy transactions with the convent also, supplying it with necessaries, while it is credited with linen, making clothes, etc. Day boys were charged $10.66 per annum and $2 extra for the use of desk. Here is a specimen of Father Dubois's method:

Mount St. Mary's Seminary, March 22ND, 1811.

Mr. John Troxell, Miller, Sir: Please to let the bearer, Mr. Setdown, have one barrel of my flour and you will oblige. Your obedient servant J. Dubois. Be so good as to keep the order I send you.

But a helper was coming to this strong and valiant but lonely worker. Father Simon William Gabriel Brute’ had arrived in the country. Henceforth forever his name and his deeds are to be coupled with those of Father John Dubois in the memories of the Mountain and in the blessings of the people. As in the case of Father Dubois we will leave the biography of Father Brute' to Dr. McCaffrey on the occasion of his obsequies. [It is found in the Memorial Volume of the Semi-Centenary.]

But it will not be out of place to copy some of his own voluminous notes. Through the courtesy of his present successor, the Rt. Rev. F. S. Chatard, Bishop of Vincennes, afterwards of Indianapolis, Indiana, we have those in the following chapter.

Chapter Index | Chapter 6

Historical Society Note: In honor of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Grotto of Lourdes we'll be posting at least 2 new chapter every week.

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.