University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"Always considered one of the best resources of Community. In 1843 about ten acres under cultivation. Soil worn out. Fifty acres broken that year. Following year resolved to cultivate twice as much. Cost of work, forty to fifty francs an acre; plowed, well fenced. Expense considerable. Mostly wheat raised, some potatoes and corn.

Pigs 140, sheep 85, cows 17, calves 17, besides 12 or 16 oxen for over two years there. Ten horses on farm or at house. Plow, $40. Brothers this year did almost all the work, saved considerable money. Profits reduced by bad years. did almost all the work, saved considerable money. Profits reduced by bad years.

Wheat ordinarily yields 15-18 bushels, corn 25-30, potatoes 60-75.

"In 1843, two hundred trees planted. Later on in 1845 nearly four hundred saplings and about three hundred peach trees.

1845: Barn built at cost of 4000 francs. Sorin's "Chronicles" ($772)

That year (1843) they did nearly all the work themselves and saved a considerable sum, but we were glad that no loss was shown. The money invested in live stock and equipment was soon recovered. Wheat produces in ordinary years 15-18 bushels per acre . . . It is only from the spring of 1844 that the farm can be considered organized on a regular plan. From this time we had to hire men to help the Brothers, but even so the land netted a profit that year. If the worms and flies hadn't partly destroyed the crops of 1845, 1846, and 1847 and the blight those of 1848, the farm would show large profits. The Community and college would have had to spend large sums habitually were it not for the farm.

"In the autumn of 1843 nearly two hundred trees were planted by the lake . . .

Poverty alone delayed the building of a barn. In 1845, however, it was realized that it was imperative to build one to protect the stock in winter and to store perishable farm products. In the summer work was begun on what was the finest barn in the county. It was 80' x 40' with a cellar 8' deep for the 200 sheep to winter in. Its capacity was for 2000 bushels of wheat, 500 of barley, and a large quantity of hay. In addition there was space for winnowing . . . In a word, it is the bank and the treasury of the farm and it can last for 25-30 years." Fr. Sorin, 1843

"Edward Sorin of Clay Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana marks his stock of all kinds, with a square cut off the right ear, and a slit in the same." Recorded 13th March 1844 -- W.H. Pattison, Recorder, Original record in Recorder's Office, St. Joseph Co., Indiana

"The farm of Notre Dame in the early days consisted of 615 acres of which only ten were cleared, the other acres being covered with forest trees and thick underbrush, except some hundred or more that were covered by water of the lakelets, from which the establishment took its name -- St. Mary's of the Lakes. These lakes are about 25' or 30' deep; the bank of one consists of marl from which excellent cement is made." SCHOLASTIC, 19:2-3, 1842

"The Council of Administration examined the benefits and the expenses of the farm, and it was ascertained that the cultivation by ourselves caused a real benefit of some hundred dollars. Consequently we shall continue." 1844

"It was agreed by said Council that the bottom land on the river continue to be cleared as already commenced." March 3, 1845

Farms at Notre Dame from beginning, second at St. Joseph from 1867. Notre Dame farm 800 acres, not rich but productive to a remunerative degree, produced on the average as much as any other farm in the County. Three hundred acres in wheat, corn, and potatoes, yielding twenty bushels for wheat, fifty for corn, ninety for potatoes, thus almost supplying the usual wants of Notre Dame. Six Brothers, a few apprentices and hired hands except in Winter.

"One hundred and five acres under college windows from which we hope 16- 1800 bushels of wheat gathered by thirty religious. At St. Peter's we had cleared seventy acres and three weeks before harvest, hail ruined in an hour all our hopes. Of the seventy acres, we got only eight bushels. This year's yield will more than make up for all our past losses. Crops for this year estimated: 2000 bushels of melons, 500 bushels beets, 600 bushels carrots, 30 bushels of onions, 500 bushels of melons. In short, all we would have had to buy -- a saving of 10,000 francs. But a lot of work, 200 acres cleared in two years by a handful of Brothers, employed half the time in building the chapel, the college and the Novitiate. Brothers' work destroyed opinion held in this section of 'do-nothing-monks'." FR. SORIN to FR. MOREAU, July 6, 1845

"The harvest, which was begun last Monday and nearly finished yesterday, went on very well. There were from 40-50 cradlers or rakers every day. The cost of the harvest, that is, the payment of the hands, amounted to about $120, including our work men. About a dozen Brothers helped in harvesting, and our Catholics gave fifteen days for nothing." BROTHER GATIAN'S CHRONICLES, July 18, 1847

"Brother Lawrence having reported that the best farmers around said it was not advantageous to sow in the decline or wane of the moon, the council decided that two acres should be sown on Saturday or Monday (the last days of the moon) and the rest on Wednesday and the following days to see whether the opinion is grounded or not." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1848

"Three bbls. of plaster will be bought to manure the clover field." MINOR CHAPTER, March 21, 1848

"Brother Lawrence will consult some Americans to ascertain what most profitable use can be made of our potatoes, turnips, and cabbages." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1848

"Resolved: That forty acres of land should be bought, if necessary, to get a free access to Harris' prairie road." LOCAL COUNCIL, Sept. 13, 1852

"1853: That 500 sheep shall be placed on our land next spring." LOCAL COUNCIL, Sept. 27, 1853

"Marl should be drawn over the fields this winter." LOCAL COUNCIL, Sept. 27, 1851

"Resolved: No stranger but Mr. McClinchey for the present should be kept on our farm, but our Brothers should work on it under the direction of Mr. McClinchey till he could be replaced. Brothers Alexius, Michael, John, and Hilarion were the Brothers designated, with the postulant, Mr. Carroll." LOCAL COUNCIL, Mar. 3, 1851

"That the big bell should be rung at 11:30 so that the Brothers on the farm might hear it and come to Particular Examen." March 31, 1851

Resolved: That buckwheat should be shown and ploughed over in St. Mary's and St. Joseph's fields, and corn in St. John's, clover in St. Basil's

"It was also decided that a fence should be made along the canal from the washing house to the slaughter house." LOCAL COUNCIL, Apr. 7, 1851

"It was resolved (1) that Mr. McClinchey's proposal to leave the farm be accepted, and the Brothers put on the farm immediately with Mr. Vannier whose advice they would take as much as possible; (2) that the rising for the working Brothers should take place at 4:30, Mass at five, and breakfast at 5:30, so that all should go to work at six. At 11:30 all would come for the Particular Examen, return to work at fifteen minutes after their dinner, come back at seven to attend spiritual reading, immediately after supper for one quarter of an hour go to church for the visit, reciting on the way the beads, and spend in recreation the balance of the time; (3) the regular days for their Communions should be Wednesday and Sunday, with Confessions on Saturday after supper. A Council of Agriculture every Sunday." LOCAL COUNCIL, March 10, 1851

"It was resolved that eight or nine men should be hired for the harvest so as to have with our Brothers nineteen men on the fields during the harvest." LOCAL COUNCIL, July 7, 1851

"Resolved: that the tanner's shop should be built near the slaughter house." LOCAL COUNCIL, April 27, 1852

"It was decided that all our land over the Harris prairie should be divided into lots and sold to Catholics." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1853

"A few acres of our land on the Edwardsburg Road should be sold to Mr. O'Leary at $100. an acre." LOCAL COUNCIL, October 31, 1853

"This year marked by abundant rains. Harvest promise superb, but after being cut wheat delayed by several weeks of rain. Crop almost ruined. Sheaves rotted. Meant paying $2000 for flour." SORIN CHRONICLES, 1855

"It was decided that St. Patrick's field should be divided by lots and sold; and also that our farm at Lancaster, Ohio should be divided into portions and sold." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1856

"On the farm: Brothers Matthew, Leonard, Titus, Alexander, Joachim." LOCAL COUNCIL, Feb. 18, 1861

"First part of winter not severe, fortunate for a great many, especially for Notre Dame. Harvest bad, nearly all crops failed. Fruits too, a failure. Wheat only a 2/3 crop. Corn less and potatoes worst yet. All this caused a loss of $2000 and added considerable embarassment to the administration. In early December, wheat out. Needed 12-15 bushels a day at $1.25 a bushel. Besides creditor who in 1865 had loaned Community $10,000 for two years at 10% called his loan. Where to find so much money in mid-winter? Administration sought everywhere for it, but the more they did the more convinced were they that it couldn't be had.

"Extraordinary prayers were ordered as a last resort. Everyone tried to interest Heaven in Notre Dame's affairs and awaited confidently the outcome of the long crisis. To distract certain prudent ones, who were prudent with the prudence of the world, they applied themselves more diligently than ever to attend the exercises. Christmas, New Years, Epiphany feast were celebrated with all possible solemnity. On the latter feast there was a magnificent representation of the day's mystery. More than 1,500 candles recalled the star and the arrival of the Gentiles at the uncreated Light." 1858-9

"Sorin asks Mother Superior at St. Mary's why nuns couldn't make woolen cloth from Sorin's sheep's wool -- would save $500-600 a year." 1858

"One hundred fifty acres in wheat, fifty potatoes and sugar cane, ten beans, ten buckwheat, fifty cats, one hundred clover, one hundred pasture, seventy five summer fallows." LOCAL COUNCIL

"Preparation must be made for our wine, a press must be placed in Brother Theodore's shop and new barrels ought to be made." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1859

"Rice and tobacco should be raised on our own land." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1862

"Wool from our sheep to be manufactured into flannel and money to be paid for it, instead of dividing the material with the manufacturers."

"A machine to make molasses being necessary for our sugar cane, the steward is requested to buy it." LOCAL COUNCIL, 1865

"There are usually 25 horses and 30 cows here, whilst the cellar or basement, 80' x 46' is used for fattening cattle, carrying from 120 to 150 in number, destined to supply the tables of the establishment . . . Outside the barnyard is the slaughter house and sugar house, where excellent molasses is made from sorghum raised on the farm . . . Many ingenious agricultural implements may be also noticed, some of which are the result of the invention and skill of the Brothers themselves." GUIDE TO NOTRE DAME DU LAC, p. 32-4

"The community has made a valuable acquisition this year in the purchase of 1,320 acres from Mr. Irwin, 500 or 600 of which are a deposit of turf. About 1,000 tons have already been taken out and will replace 1,200 cords of wood. Our neighbors are astonished beyond measure to see that Catholics from beyond the seas have come to discover such a treasure for them. They would not be convinced until they saw the fire that this black earth made in our boilers." SORIN'S CHRONICLES

"The cultivation of the tobacco plant much be extended next spring to at least many acres, and cigars made from it next fall." LOCAL COUNCIL, November 21, 1873

"Clear the hill of St. Joseph's field around the Lake shore in order to plant grapes this fall." Thirty feet wide. LOCAL COUNCIL, Aug. 18, 1861

"That a selection of postulants for the work of the farm and for trades shall be made at the time of the Brothers' retreat." August 5, 1861

1858 --

Wheat 150 acres
Potatoes, 50 acres
Sugar cane
Beans, 10 acres
Buckwheat, 10 acres
Cats, 50 acres
Clover, 100 acres
Pasture for cows, etc., 100 acres
Fallow, 75 acres -- LOCAL COUNCIL MINUTES

"Five hundred bushels of potatoes shall be sold in either Chicago, Indianapolis, or Louisville." LOCAL COUNCIL, March 29, 1864

"Only twenty-five extra tons of hay shall be made this year in the Kankakee marsh." LOCAL COUNCIL, July 25, 186-

"The three postulants lately arrived, Messrs. Brown, O'Donnell, and -- shall be sent to the farm without delay." LOCAL COUNCIL

"It was resolved that twenty acres off St. Peter's field should be used for a garden next year." LOCAL COUNCIL, April 3, 1869

"That wood work for the wagons be bought for the carpenter shop." May 18, 1864

"The farm forming the ground work of the whole estate at Notre Dame and being after the college the most important source of revenue. Every means have been placed in the hand of those who manage it to make it profitable. This year under the care of Brothers Lawrence, Paulinus, and Maximus, assisted by several devoted members of the Community and many hired hands, an abundant crop of wheat has been harvested and secured." 1867

"To buy 1500 acres of land in Harris Township at $10 an acre which could be used as a pasture ground for cattle of the college farm and would supply the college with turf." PROVINCIAL COUNCIL, Jan. 30, 1867

"Some 40 or 50 bbls. of wine have been made this season from grapes grown in Notre Dame vineyard." LOCAL COUNCIL

"It is resolved that a ditch should be made along the Niles Road so as to drain the land not yet under cultivation. The ditch to be done by the poll tax." LOCAL COUNCIL, April 10, 1869

"The cultivation of the tobacco plants must be extended next spring . . . " LOCAL COUNCIL, Nov. 21, 1873

"Farmers had plenty of money last year when wheat sold at $2.50 a bushel. They are now short with it selling for $1.20 a bushel." LOCAL COUNCIL, April 10, 1869

"A council of administration is to be organized at St. Joseph's Farm, composed of Brothers Francis de Sales, Matthew, Lawrence, and Maximus." LOCAL COUNCIL, May 12, 1871

"It was decided to send Brother John Chrysostom to St. Joseph's Farm . . . . The woods of St. Michael are to be grubbed and prepared for cultivation." LOCAL COUNIL, Dec., 15, 1871

"The council allows 125,000 bricks to be transferred to St. Joseph's Farm." Oct. 4, 1872

"The farm is well enough provided with buildings and yards, but the yards are badly kept, muddy up to the knees." MINUTES OF PROVINCIAL GRANGER'S VISIT, 1869

"Bought in 1866 (St. Joseph's Farm). Lies on what is known as Harris Prairie. Contains 1500 acres, all arable, only 450 acres under cultivation at present. Balance used for pasture to large herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, etc. Surveying class there every year under Ivers and Stace, to draw out main ditch lines and roadways that have been established in all directions. Drained what was once regarded as marsh land. Farm a few years ago was regarded as a forlorn section of country which neither farmer nor speculator would have thought of acquiring, and which necessity alone compelled Notre Dame to purchase with a view of raising and fattening the beef necessary for the University . . . "

"On the same farm may be found hundreds of acres of peat, which is manufactured into fuel for the use of the college. Some 800 tons are made there every year, and the supply is inexhaustible for centuries to come . . . "

"Brothers Matthew presides over the community, which is composed of seven or eight Brothers. Some twenty hired men are constantly employed on the farm. The steward at Notre Dame -- Brothers Lawrence and Francis de Sales -- have general supervision." SCHOLASTIC, July 14, 1872

" . . . We had the pleasure of visiting this splendid farm a few days ago, and its sight impressed us with the thought of those famous monastery lands in the Old World. In memory we saw again those lands in Europe round the walls of venerable abbeys, now, alas, stolen from their owners who reclaimed them from marshy bottoms or rocky hills. We thought that the Brothers on St. Joseph's Farm were doing again in precisely the same manner, the work which the sturdy, much-abused monks of earlier days and done. There, too, were the endless fields of rye and oats and wheat stretching nearly as far as the eye could see, with their beautiful green and yellow hues; there the plains of corn, and near by the rich meadows of tame hay being mowed down by four or five machines. (Bless the monks! We live in an enlightened age now). Here the stocks of scented hay; there the- what shall we call it? - the guard house, or relay house, or meal house? Perhaps it answers to all of these names, for there the meals are brought to the far-away harvesters from the distant and central farm house all through the land, from the northern and to the southern, an abundant stream of water flows, and is, we may say, one of the features of the prairie . . . The drainage has been carried out in the most systematic way, and its success has been complete.

"Some very fine roads run along the main ditches and render all sections of the farm easy of approach. Miles of such roads have been made, miles and miles of fences enclose the beautiful fields with their rich harvests . . . on the same farm may be found hundreds of acres of peat, which is made into fuel for the use of the college some eight hundred tons are made there every year, and the supply is inexhaustible . . . The great feature of the farm establishment is the large sheds and fine cattle-yards, which are arranged on the most approved plans. Brother Matthew presides over the religious community . . . " 1872

"We have received from Mr. Letourneau a splendid specimen for what can be done in the pomological line out at St. Joseph's Farm. The apple is 13 1/2" is circumference. We can accomodate several more of the same sort." SCHOLASTIC, 7:44

"Enclosed find the proper faculties for keeping the Blessed Sacrament at St. Joseph's Farm." JOSEPH DWENGER, BISHOP OF FT. WAYNE, 1884

"At times there are on the farm 150-200 fat cattle, 1500-2000 sheep, 75- 200 hogs. About 25 horses. Farm produces 400 tons of hay, 20,000 bushels of roots, 4000 bushels of corn, 1000 bushels of potatotes, and 10-15,000 bushels of wheat. Nearly all of which except the potatoes and wheat is consumed by stock on the farm. Found more advantageous for some years to buy dressed beef in Chicago from P.D. Armour and Co. Hence number of cattle kept at present is less than formerly. When land was bought most of it was swampy. Notre Dame had it ditched, put into condition, so that now it is rich prairie land.

(Early Notre Dame, 1844) "Returning again to 1844 we will now leisurely come down to the present time year by year. The farm was an object of peculiar interest to the community at Notre Dame. . . . 80 acres of land were cleared the first year, and the approach to the college was rendered more picturesque than beautiful by the girdled trees that stood like big scare crows in the fields." "Silver Jubilee", p. 32

(Notre Dame Farms, 1861: Depresion period) "The farm with its lime and brick yards, as at a future epoch it must prove a valuable resource, felt the depressive effect of the warlike dispositions of the country. The result of the pressure of the time upon the Institution (Notre Dame) is to cut off for the moment almost all the pecuniary resources and thereby bring it into a state of embarrassment." Sorin, June 4, 1861

(St. Joseph's Farm, 1870) "The new St. Joseph Farm . . . .proves to be what had been expected, namely, a considerable tract of land, a little over 1,300 acres, containing excellent grass and turf. 100 acres have been cultivated and even more has been ditched and fairly drained since it was purchased. It is planned to transfer there the cows, hogs, sheep, poultry, etc., next autumn . . . of course, a new house will have to be built there sufficiently large for 8 or 10 Brothers and a priest, with a little chapel for the use of the Community and the few Catholics around. Eventually this new establishment, under the protection of our glorious Patron, may become the center of a Catholic Congregation . . . If properly used, that large farm may yet become a great resource to Notre Dame." Sorin Visit.

See under "Novitiate", Christmas, 1844.

See under "Finances" in large file(Farm or Garden Produce)

" . . . .that Brother Jerome should make the candles." Dec. 18, 1851

See Brother Leo, Brother Lawrence, Marl, Lime, Landscaping 1845

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›