University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts


"The tailor shop was under Brother Augustus. The printing office under Brother Joseph. A little farther back was a log hut in which Brother Francis and Broher William have to make furniture. Still furher back, about 300' was a blacksmith shop under the care of Brother James . . . This was our college. What is now mainland was really an island. The lakes were some 10' higher than today, and I still remember having paddled my canoe from one lake to the other. It was called "the Island". On "the Island" one of the firs things Father Sorin built was a novitiate. SCHOLASTIC, July 6, 1895

"At the front of the college about an acre was cleared. It was full of stumps. Some fine old oaks were there. The clearing, the college yard, was fenced about with a high picket fence. One of the roads to South Bend was about a quarter mile east of it..The front yard was flanked by two little one storey buildings, evidently built by Frenchmen . . . The other was occupiedby good old Brother Justin, the college shoemaker. Immediately behind the college, about 100' away, was the Manual Labor School. Thisschool was chartered at the same time as the College; For Father Sorin's object was not to give education to the well-to-do alone, but to the poor as well.

"The first clearing of 26 acres had by this time been replaced by a cultivated farm of 160 acres. The Pottawattomie Indians, who used to camp by the old lake, ceased to come any more. The beer meat, venison, and sturgeon from the old St. Joseph Lake appeared no more at the college dinners, for a new regime had begun.

" . . . the kitchen was under the charge of "Chef" Brother Vincent; the study- hall was at the eastern end and under the charge of Brother Francis Xavier . . . the desks in our study-room were from 12' to 13' long. I can assure you that as I sat down here today I could not help thinking that they took their models from those benches in the Middle Ages: for hte monks could not desire more penitential stools." SCHOLASTIC, 28:608, 1845

"The printing office was under Brother Joseph. Father Sorin was an enterprising man, and one of the first things he did was to purchase this office, and Brother Joseph was busy with two apprentices there . . . .

"A little farther back was the log hut in which Brother Francis and Brother Wiliam taught the young apprentices of the day how to spoil lumber and make furniture.

"Our choir was not remarkable for its musical ability: Brother Lawrence who drove the oxen and the horses; Brother Augustus, who ruled the tailor shop, and Brother Gatian, who roared like the very bullof Bashan, doing our singing for us. They had but one musical instrument, an ophicleide, a queer contrivance with a brass tongue and all it would say was "boom, boom, boom . . . "

"She opened first with 15 students. My number, I believe, was eighteen but slowly and surely she marched on.

"In 1849 the University of Notre Dame exercised its power as a University and on that occasion Richard Shortis and Neil H. Gillespie, both of whom later became valuable members of the Community, receivd the first degrees ever conferred . . . .It was a great day for us, a red letter day. We hadnot a hall as you have today(1895); but as a great many people in the country wanted to see the degrees conferred -- a great audience was expected, and we had to provide a hall, as the exhibition hall would hold only 100 or 120. And how do you think we got along? We took our axes - most of us knew how to handle an axe -- and went out into the forest and cut trees and saplings, and in front of the old university we planted them in three rows about 40' high, and then covered them with green boughs.

"In 1850 the Government gave us a post-office, but the department in true official style, condluded that Notre Dame du Lac was too long, so all we have left is Notre Dame." SCHOLASTIC FATHER KILROY'S SERMON -- 1879

"Dr. Kilroy on occasion of visiting Notre Dame was pleased to meet the few old members, Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters whom he knew 25 and 30 years ago. He met one good, venerable Brother who among other things asked the Dr. with innocent malice, 'Have you that sermon yet?' 'Oh yes, how well you remember that!' More tahn twenty years ago the good Brother was so ill that his death was hourly expected. So to be ready when the occasion would require it Dr. Kilroy prepared a funeral oration, which he has not yet had the pleasure of delivering." SCHOLASTIC, November 29, 1979

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›