University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts

LEANDER, BROTHER (McLain -- John Joseph (Jim?))

"The Cecilians tendered a reception to Brother Leander Head Prefect of the Department. Tenth Anniversary 'Tin Jubilee' of his installation. Many guests assembled including President Walsh. Presentation made. Master A. Browne read the address:

"On Wednesday evening the St. Cecilians tendered a reception to Brother Lawrence chief prefect of the Junior Department (Carroll Hall). It was the 11th anniversary of his installation as Rector. Many friends assembled to congratulate the worthy Brother upon the festive occasion and to wish him many happy returns. President Walsh spoke a few words of congratulations. Presentation: A leather bound copy of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary." Scholastic(1884)

"Brother Leander has been appointed aide-de-campe on the staff of General John C. Black, Commander in Chief of G. A. R.

"Brother Leander is a member of what is probably the most unique G.A.R. post in the United States. This post is composed of about 16 priests, profs and teachers in the Notre Dame Catholic University, consequently every member of the post is a member of a religious Order.

"'Jim McLain' says Comrade Fleming, 'Who shouldered a musket side by side with him during the great war, 'was as brave as a lion. He was a big strapping fellow. He was very religious and never failed to say his prayers every morning and evening. No matter what the surroundings and the circumstances. This show of religion was absolutely sincere and he had the profound respect of every man in the regiment'".

"Brother Leander was born in Pottsville, Pa., August 11, 1835. At the outbreak of the rebellion he enlisted in the army of the Cumberland for three year's service. At the end of his enlistment he joined the 15th. U.S. Infantry with which organization he took part in all the engagements of Sheridan on his famous march to the sea. Is one of the chartered members of the Notre Dame Post of the G.A.R. which is probably one of the most interesting of the many illustrated posts in America, as all of its members belong to a religious order. They have all shouldered the musket in the great war, and after the conflict ended they laid down their arms and entered the quiet life of a religious Community.

-- South Bend News-Times(1897)

"Brother Leander, known as Joseph McLain, when a member of the 24th Infantry, U.S. Regular army, is the only professional soldier in the post."

-- Sr. Eleanore, On the King's Highway p. 338

"Captain Abercrombie with Brother Leander, C.S.C., Commander of the Notre Dame Post has brought about the bestowal of the well-deserved tokens of grateful remembrance which were conferred on 22 Sisters."

-- Sr. Eleanore, On the King's Highway, p. 340

"Just before the grave (Rev. P.P. Cooney) was filled with earth, Brother Leander, as Commander of the Notre Dame G.A.R. Post, threw the customary American flag upon the soldier's coffin, saying: 'In behalf of the Grand Army of the Republic for whose integrity and unity our late Comrade, Rev. P.P. Cooney, offered his services during the War of the Rebellion, I deposit this flag.'"

-- Scholastic, 38:495 (1905)

"Here at Notre Dame we have some of the nation's greatest defenders, who after the din and trials of war sought the quiet of a religious life. Among them no heart is more loyal or more patriotic than that of Brother Leander, the Commander of the G.A.R. Post. To give expression to their appreciation of him and to determine a way to show the high esteem in which he is held by his boys was the object of a most secret conclave in Corby Hall. Without the slightest hesitation the boys decided upon giving him a testimonial on Decoration Day -- An American flag -- the flag which he followed so bravely and always upheld as the symbol of justice and liberty."

-- Scholastic, 38:564

"Commander Tanner had detailed me for the gracious duty of presenting these badges to our well-beloved comrades -- in loyalty and charity -- the pious Sisters who served as nurses during our Civil War. It will be impossible for me to get away for my public duties at present. To avoid further delay to the Sisters, I have transmitted the badges to Bro. Leander (Comrade John McLain) of Notre Dame, Post No 509, G.A.R., as a most worthy substitute and co-worker in securing their issue."

-- From Col. J.J. Abercrombie, Aug. 4

-- Sr. Eleanore: On the King's Highway(1906)

"A not uninteresting detail of the opening of the new hall (Dujarie) is the appointment, as its first Director, Brother Leander, known to Civil War veterans as Col. McLain, and at present Commander of the Local G.A.R. and Aide-de-camp of the Governor of Indiana. Ever since their establishment in the U.S. in 1841, the Religious of Holy Cross have steadfastly shown the genuine patriotiism which puts country and its welfare second only to God and His glory, have uniformly been living evidences of the truth that the best Catholic and the best Americans.

"The Director of Dujarie Hall is still an active and vigorous veteran whose word and example may be counted on to instill into the minds and hearts of the youths entrusted to his care, not only the virtues proper to the exemplary religious, but the enlightened love of country that adorns every good citizen, be his station what it may."

-- Scholastic, 39:403 (1906)

"Brother Leander the venerable Commander of our local G.A.R. Post last week received official notification of his election to honorary life membership in the Notre Dame Club of Penn. Brother Leander has served many useful years at the University of Notre Dame, and it because his name is so closely interwoven with those of the Keystone State boys that it was fitting to perpetuate his name in the life of the club.

"After more than 30 years of service as a prefect and teacher, Brother Leander has retired from active service. For the past three years he has been in Sorin Hall, and he had served in Corby for a number of years previous to this, there are some men who have been under his gentle guidance for at least eight years. Brother Leander is beloved by all who know him. He is kind, and his pleasant face is always welcome. His retirement is regretted, and the entire university joins in wishing him all the joys and blessings he so richly deserves."

-- Scholastic, 42:272

"At the ripe age of 68 after a life of usefulness in God's service, Brother Leander passed to his regard. He had been confined to his bed for the past six or eight months, and was missed from long familiar scenes by associates and friends. Yet in his death they feel they have lost one in whose life shone the homely virtues of kindness and gentleness and mellow cheerfulness.

"Brother Leander was born in Pottsville, PA., August 11, 1842, entered the Congregation of Holy Cross August 15, 1872, and was professed August 15, 1874. For many years he acted as prefect in Brownson and Corby Halls, and taught a number of classes at the University. He had a legion of friends among the old boys who always kept him in memory for his kindness and uniform cheerfulness.

"Previous to entering religion Brother Leander served through the three years of the Civil War in the 15th U.S. Infantry and was engaged in many of the great battles. In the G.A.R. established at the University, Brother :Leander was commander, and on every Decoration Day was a prominent figure. By everybody around the university he was known as Comrade.

"Writing his friends and comrade, General Abercrombie, in a letter to President Cavanaugh, pay the following tribute to Brother Leander: 'His was a useful life, an ever-living illustration to the youth of Notre Dame of a patriotic American citizen. He did well his stated duties in war as well as in peace, enthusiastically and with patriotic and religious devotion. Dates, names of battles, recital of wounds and sufferings in wearing campaigns, muster in and out are brief records; but the courage, the stern purpose to do or die for his country, the fatigues of the marsh, the sufferings from inclement weather oftentimes without sufficient food, or the total absence of it, every old soldier can fill in from experience. My dear old comrade was in it and of it. He came out of it all uncontaminated and honored, only again to enlist under the banner of a greater Captain, in whose service he gained added luster and honor by his devoted service and admirable attainments that is recorded as in an open book in the annals of Notre Dame, and in the hearts of its alumni. To him his church and his patriotism were the syntheses of all duties, of all devotion.

"The funeral was one of the largest seen at the University for some time. It was a loving tribute to Brother Leander by those who knew him for his goodness and loyalty. He was the type of the Brother of Holy Cross that will always have honor during life in the fullest measure, and around whose grave will gather an army of friends to bid him rest and God-speed in death."Scholastic, 44:420

"Following a long life of active service both to his country and to his religion, Brother Leander died April 4, 1911, in the Community House at Notre Dame. He was 68 years old at the time of his death, having been born August 11, 1842. He had been a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross for 39 years, entering the Novitiate August 15, 1872."

"For many years Brother Leander has been one of the best known campus figures at the University. Of genial disposition, mellowed by years of devotion to the service of God and humanity, possessing an intellect trained to meet and master the many problems which confront the educator, his distinguished qualities of mind and heart endeared him to three generations of Notre Dame students. To see him and greet him have been among the first acts of the old "grads" returning to Notre Dame after their own college days were past; and he also counted among his friends many men prominent in national life.

"Brother Leander was a veteran of the Civil War, having served through three years of it in the 15th Pennsylvania Infantry in the regular branch of the service. He was a past commander of Notre Dame post of the G.A.R. and past aide-de-campe of the Grand Army department of Indiana.

"In 1905 Brother Leander was made aide-de-campe and in the same year was honored with a like position in the National Army."

-- South Bend Tribune(1911)

". . . for 29 years he was prefect at the University, spending twelve years in Carroll Hall, five years in Corby Hall, two years in Sorin Hall and one year in Brownson Hall. He also spent two years in Chicago as a teacher. (at St. Pius School) . . .

"Brother Leander enlisted in the Union Army November 14, 1863 at the age of twenty-two years. He served in the 15th regiment of infantry until after the close of the war (Civil). The regiment was part of the regular army and was disbanded November 14, 1866 when Brother Leander left the military service. Immediately after the close of the war, the 15th regiment was reorganized, each battalion becoming a regiment. Brother Leander was with the second battalion which became the 34th regiment.

"During a portion of the time Brother Leander served in the Army, he filled a position as post teacher at Ft. Adams. He was a great favorite there, his genial and kindly disposition winning for him popularity with the officers of the post. He became a fast friend of Colonel Shepherd, Commandant of the fort and was a companion of the seven year old son of the Colonel. The two were almost constant companions, the soldier brother and the curly-headed boy making a picture wherever they appeared, that was appealing. The two were dressed in uniforms and attracted much attention.

"Brother Leander has held prefecting appointments in nearly every hall at Notre Dame and was actively connected with the University faculty until a few years ago."

-- South Bend News, April 5,1911

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›