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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 66  | Chapter Index

Chapter 67: 1886-1890

March 10, 1886. Archbishops Gibbous and Elder visited the College. The latter informed us that "His Holiness especially wished me to convey his kindest regards and to impart his Apostolic benediction to the professors and students of this institution."

Father Henry C. Macdowal. '61, presented to us valuable books, both his own and those left him by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah W. C'ummings, pastor of St. Stephen's, N. Y. Among the works were Migne's Patrologia Latina; the Cursus Completus Theologiae; Perrone; L'Orateur Sacre; Passaglia's Immaculate Conception, etc.

June 23, 1886. Cardinal Gibbons attended the Commencement to-day. The cadets, Capt. James Blount of Alabama, marched down to the pike and, forming a cordon around the carriage, escorted him to the College. He had received the Red Hat a few days before. In the students' address to the new Cardinal the}' said: "We humbly and respectfully express our conviction that in choosing you the Pope has desired to show, as his predecessor of happy memory had done before, and as he himself recently signified in his encyclical 'Immortale Dei,' that a patriotic, ardent and outspoken citizen of the Republic and defender of its constitution and its laws, is a fit counselor for him whom Christ has made the ruler of His universal spiritual kingdom." The Cardinal, as Caidinals in general, was very approachable and affable, joked with the boys and said he would come again before the Christmas holidays, which he did, in October.

At the election Father Alien was again chosen President; Father Tierney. Vice-President and Treasurer; Father Grannan, Secretary. The salary of the President was fixed at nine hundred dollars per annum, the present incumbent to receive two hundred dollars per annum back pay for the two years elapsed; the Vice-President to receive seven hundred and fifty a year.

A circular was issued announcing the reorganization of the Junior Department, or Minim, as it was called later, which had lapsed during the troubles of 1881. It often occurred to us to have a separate establishment for these small boys, a preparatory school, but financial reasons interfered.

Daniel Quinn, '83, a seminarian, afterwards a member of the Faculty, proposed starting a college paper.

At this period the "seminary rates" granted to college students aspiring to the holy ministry were two hundred dollars a year. On September 9th, canon law and sacred eloquence were added to the theology course, as the Third Plenary Council had decreed. The treasurer's report was received and filed, as had been done since the crash and has continued to be done at regular intervals up to this writing.

The New York Catholic Review of November 6 announces the proximate publication of the history of the College by a " writer of more than ordinary ability and already well known to the literary world." Miss Meline was then writing this history and addressed the College in relation to its publication, but the authorities did not think it expedient to undertake it.

November 10, Monsignor Straniero, who brought the li Red Hat" to Cardinal Gibbons, visited the College and addressed the students, referring in particular to the ecclesiastical department of the institution.

1887, March 21. To-day the Faculty attended the funeral of Mother Euphemia Blenkinsop, a tried friend of the College. She was visitatrix of the Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg. A crown of lace and gold which she had refused on the occasion of her golden jubilee lay now on her coffin.

Archbishop Elder's ('37) golden jubilee year of graduation was celebrated, the College presenting him with appropriate testimonials. The venerable alumnus made a reminiscent address, in which he said in reply to one from the alumni: "I thank you because anything that reminds me of the Mountain will be ever dear to my heart. I am always made happy by having my name identified with this spot."

June 29, '87. Rev. Edward McSweeny resigned from the Faculty and Council, having accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota, to become president of the diocesan seminary there. Daniel Quinn, M. A., a theologian at the end of his third year's theology, proposed going to Europe to prosecute his studies, with the aid of the College, which was gladly given for a two-years' course. Rev. Patrick Morris, M. A., resigned after three years' service, being recalled by the Archbishop of New York.

Oct. 9. Rev. Edward McSweeny having withdrawn, Father Tierney was made Professor of Moral Theology and Metaphysics and resigned the treasurership, to which Rev. Edward P. Alien was then elected.

These verses seem redolent of the wild-flower perfume of the forest surrounding the College, and may relieve the monotony of the annals:

Corpus Christi at the Mountain.

From Mount Saint Mary's Chancel door, Bearing crosses, swinging censers, See the long procession pour Till the Grotto shrine it enters.

Bow all heads and bend all knees, For behold, a Presence passes Out beneath the sentinel trees And along the waving grasses.

Through dim woodland pathway still With reverent hands, His chosen carry High aloft, o'er Mary's hill Him born to earth, the Son of Mary.

Born to earth in meekest seeming Hiding close His Godhead's glow, Came He then in love redeeming Bides He still in form most low.

Chant adoring Salutaris! Let the scented incense rise I While around the sweet June air is Fragrant with our loving sighs.

O' er these paths in other hours Saintly feet have trod before us; Saintly hands have scattered flowers, Saintly voices swelled the chorus.

Could our souls with angel power Lift the veil so thin, so strong, ' Twixt our vision and that choir Where they dwell a blessed throng?

Holy is this ground forever, For their feet have pressed its sod; Let it be our high endeavor, Like them, to keep close to God.

Mary M. Meline. At the College, June 12, 1887.

Jan. 16, 1888. The Alumni banqueted at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York. Rev. Dr. McCready, '62, addressing Archbishop Corrigan, said: "It cannot be forgotten that New York is under many and deep obligations to Mt. St. Mary's. You, Most Rev. Sir, are the fourth bishop, and that in succession, whom Mt. St. Mary's has had the honor of sending to preside over the destinies of this important see. The learned Dubois, the zealous and intrepid Hughes, the gentle and amiable McCloskey have drawn their inspirations from the same source from which you too have easily imbibed those rare qualities which make you a not unworthy successor of those heroic men, who have not only shed a lustre on the episcopate of New York, but have also left their impress on the Catholic Church in America. For the good of our holy religion, and the glory of our alma mater and the great joy of your fellow-alumni, we hope and pray that the mantle of Bishop Dubois, adorned with the pallium in the person of Archbishop Hughes, and decorated with the scarlet in the person of Cardinal McCloskey, shall at some day, yet far distant, be transmitted to your successor, not merely unsullied and untarnished, but with even a renewed splendor and with equally ample honors."

February 1. Prof. Jourdan left the Faculty and went to conduct an educational establishment in Mexico, whither he had been invited by a wealthy patron of the College, who himself was the father of fourteen children.

Rev. William F. Marshall, '77, became president of Seton Hall College.

Father Edward Sourin, S. J., '31, died in Baltimore. He was once Vice-President. His parents dying when he was a child, as often happened with poor " Exiles from Erin" or elsewhere, Edward was taken by Catholic people, but one of his brothers, falling into different hands, became a Methodist preacher. Such instances are found innumerable. The Celtic boy has the vocation and the Saxon makes use of it to turn him into the heretical ministry.

Prof. Lagarde presided over a local benefit society, and they built the fine hall opposite St. Anthony's church, handing it over to the parish later for Catholic school purposes.

April 20, 1888, Rev. Edward McSweeny wrote desiring to return to the College which he had quitted the previous June to become president of the Merriam Park College, St. Paul, Minnesota. While at that place, where Michael B. Donlan, of the Mountain, had served as prefect two years previously, Father McSweeny as well as Father Donlan met out there Father Ravoux, V. G., who had studied at the Mountain in 1840 and was the first priest stationed at St. Paul. This great missionary covered the whole Sioux territory, lived with the voyageurs and the savages, sharing their dog meat and corn, and to go to confession once a year paddled down the Mississippi to Dubuque. He prepared for death at one time in 1862 twenty-two red Americans who were hanged for a massacre of whites. He lived till February, 1906, excelling in years as he had resembled in labors and privations most pioneer priests in the whole history of the church in this country.

May 26. President Alien and forty students of the Mountain were amongst those who called at the White House today, the day after the laying of the corner-stone of the Catholic University in Washington, which the President had attended, and at which Bishop John L. Spalding, ex-'58, delivered the oration.

Rev. William L. O'Hara, '83, M. A., entered the Faculty. A reverend member of the Faculty, Dr. Edward McSweeny, donated to the College a new tower clock, the same that strikes the hours today.

On June 27 the annual meeting of the corporation took place. Cardinal Gibbons presiding. The same officers were re-elected to the same positions.

Father McMullin, who had taught some years at the Mountain, died in Baltimore. He was Confederate chaplain of Libby prison during the war of 1861 and became known in every State from Maine to Louisiana.

September 17, 1889, Alfred V. D. Watterson, '75, offered to furnish a reception parlor for which he had collected amongst the alumni. This gentleman, a younger brother of former President Watterson, has distinguished himself during many years as a friend of the institution and has long filled the office of president of the alumni association. Edmund Ryan, '88, entered the Faculty this fall. The introduction of steam heat was contemplated, as it had been over twenty years before.

On the 20th of October the College was invited to send delegates to the Centennial Congress soon to be held in Baltimore, commemorative of the founding in that city of the first see in the Republic.

November 13. The Catholic University at Washington was opened today, the centenary of Archbishop Carroll's inauguration. The graduates were allowed to attend and did so, but the weather was most untoward. The President of the United States was present.

This winter a queer disturbance, known as the White Cap movement, invaded our State. Some richly-stocked barns were destroyed by fire within view of the College, others threatened and a member of the Faculty received authority to enlist volunteers and patrol the neighborhood, with power to arrest all persons unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves and their movements. Some ludicrous encounters were said to have occurred, such as the halting of the President of the College, the mistaking of one another for trespassers on the part of the guards, etc, As beseemed the mixed character of the population, some of the armed defenders were light colored in complexion, some dark. The posse would gallop along the road, firing their pieces to scare evildoers and reassure the residents. All was well at last, for all ended well.

The Purcell Lyceum gained great credit at this period, under the intelligent and tasteful leadership of Father O'Hara, cultivating debate, especially in the old American way, that developed so many of our great forensic orators and statesmen.

April 23, 1890, Monsignor O'Connell, rector of the American at Rome and afterwards of the Catholic University at Washington, visited us to-day in company of Cardinal Gibbous.

At the election Father Alien was chosen President, Father O'Hara, '83, who had been financial assistant, was made Treasurer, and Father McSweeny Secretary. Rev. Charles P. Grannan, S. T. D., had been appointed a professor of Sacred Scripture in the new Catholic University and left the Faculty. The so-called "modern" pronunciation of Greek was introduced by Rev. Daniel Quinn, '83, who had returned from Athens and was teaching the language with us. Certain books were ordered to be purchased for the use of the seminarians, and a report form in harmony with the statutes of the Third Plenary Council was te be prepared so that there might be uniformity and precision in the after-vacation letters which the members of the Seminary were required to bring from their pastors.

A very sad death was that on August 12th of Rev. Matthew Moran, '86, a young priest, who, like Father Pelissier, was ordained while in consumption and said Mass only once. He lived with his parents in the neighborhood. The sword pierced the heart of his mother and she followed him to the grave within twenty days.

On September 11, 1890, we had the company of Bishop Chatard, '53, who gave an after-dinner talk. During eleven of the twenty-one years he spent in Rome he was president of the American College there, and naturally his commendation of the Mountain had weight. The following week the Archbishop of Cincinnati, William Henry Elder, '37, dined with and talked to the boys, himself a boy of other days.

On All Souls' day it was dry, clear and bright, and after the Solemn Requiem in the Old Church the clergy and students with the people marched in procession to the adjacent graveyard, and with cross and lights and incense and holy water performed the ritual absolution of the graves. Around in easy, unstudied circle stood the boys and the rest of the faithful, while the priests and seminarians chanted the De Profundis, the Miserere and the Benedictus with the prayers for the departed. It was indeed a "holy and wholesome" sight that was annually seen on the Mountain.

Father John Grogan, ex-'59, of Chicago, loved the Mountain, which he often visited, and desiring to be buried near Doctor McCaffrey, they brought his body one rainy night at eleven o'clock, Nov. 13,1890, in an oaken coffin, the train being very late. The seminarians were vested ready in the south parlor and the sudden transfer of the rain-sprinkled casket and the relatives from the darkness and the wet to the chapelle ardente was most romantic and for the latter most touching. Next morning we took him up the hill and laid him near his master.

1890, December 18, Rev. James Dunn, of Meadville, an alumnus, presented the cabinet with articles received July 27, 1886, from the widow of James Fox. who had dug them up and identified them about 1846, at St. Ignace, Michigan. They are the foot of a chalice or ciborium belonging to the Mission church; a pewter pipe owned either by Father Brebeuf or Father Lallemant; a thimble and a spoon; a Huron pipe; a hatchet made by the French: an Iroquois tomahawk; and a belt of wampum. Father Dunn got these relies July 27, 1886, at St. Ignace, opposite MachiUimakinac.

We read in the old annals that payment for boys was often made in dry goods, wheat, etc., as well as in land and in slaves. An amusing incident occurred one day about 1885, while the President was still pastor of the parish. A farmer drove a skinny old cow right up to the steps of the main entrance, offering the animal as an equivalent for some thirty dollars he owed for pew rent. The proposition was very unfavorably received and the owner was told to drive the beast to town and possibly he might get ten dollars for it. "What good is that dry old brute to us. anyhow? " was asked. "Why, I thought the boys might eat her." was the naive reply.

We shall make mention hereof a custom that was delightful to one New York volunteer when he first made its acquaintance and which he regretted to see abolished. This was the old fashion at the College of calling out the hours of the night and the state of the weather by the watchman. In Spain the night is so commonly serene that the watchman is known as the " Sereno " from the report he generally makes, but he supplements it at times with the beautiful invocation: Ave Maria Purissima! The watchman at the Mountain when we came was named Sheehan. He used to make the rounds with his dog, and felt perfectly sure that no trespasser was on the place while "Watch" was silent, but occasionally in addition to calling out he would fire off his pistol either to wran oft thieves, or to show his readiness to die at his post, or to excite the boys' imagination with a suggestion of the dangers of the night and the importance of his office. Sheehan had been in the Confederate service and was once asked whether he had volunteered. "They made me volunteer," was his reply. The calling of the hours by the wachman, as well as the use of a horn to assemble the hands for dinner, was abandoned about 1890.

In another place mention is made of Nace Hideout. This old freedman used to watch o' nights, and the story goes that he would hang around the White House where Father John was keeping vigil, and just at midnight would break out with his excellent voice into a ditty about "Ole Marse Fay was a happy man, and a happy man was he," whereupon Father John at last would look out and ask!" What's the matter now?" It ended by Nace's getting some whiskey "to meller the organ."

Verily "tempora mutantur nos et mutamur inillis." But "there's nothing new under the sun," in human nature, and what was will be.

November 14. The Chevalier Giuseppe Ferrata, nephew of Cardinal Ferrata, entered as a teacher of music. This distinguished musician married the daughter of Professor Lagarde and became quite successful in his profession.

Monsignor Schroeder, of the Washington Catholic University, sent the program of theological studies and asked our opinion of the same.

Chapter 68 | 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.