University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts

LEO, BROTHER (Daniel Donovan)

"Notre Dame's prestige on the gridiron was accounted for November 17, 1927 when it was revealed that four loads of yearlings, the kind this university feeds to its students, were marked for (at) $18.50, a new yearling top for 1927. A Chicago notice follows:

"' Brother Leo, manager of the Notre Dame farm, today marketed 79 head of Montana Herefords, averaging 1,003 pounds each, at $18.50 and 15 head of tail-ends, sorted off in another pen that brought $17.25. The steers were purchased here on the Chicago market a year ago at $10.00 when they averaged 363 pounds. At first they were fed a little oats with alfalfa and silage. Later they were given corn and cottonseed meal. They were not fed for experimental purposes, but were fed in the same manner as the steers are fed for the students'.

"Brother Leo is recognized in Chicago as a master feeder, one of the greatest in the country. Ordinarily he would have put a great many of these cattle in the International show ring, but he has been too busy this year, as he superintended the moving of the farm buildings and all the live stock at the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame spent $30,000 moving these to erect a million dollar restaurant for its students. It is said to be the finest restaurant in the U.S. Brother Leo has won championships in the show in the past years, and also first in other instances with cattle. In the first two Internationals he won grand championship honors with Hampshire hogs of his own raising. He has two loads of hogs entered in the International this year.

"His drove of yearlings were the talk of the yards and buyers said they were the best that had been shown on the Chicago Market in 1927. They were bought by Wilson and Co., for shipment east."Alumnus, 6:211

"The career of Brother Leo illustrates the changes that a century has brought to methods of farm management and stock breeding as well as to the status of farming occupations in the modern religious Congregation. He followed in the footsteps of our pioneer farmer, Brother Lawrence, who came to Indiana in 1841.

"No other Brother in the long line of successful farmers in the Community was more successful in improving the yields of the community farms, in breeding stock of various kinds, or in fattening stock for the market than Brother Leo who came to Holy Cross from a farming community near South Bend, Indiana, and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his final profession on August 15, 1940. His superiors quickly recognized the advantages of his thorough knowledge of local agricultural conditions, and he was soon able to take over many of the responsibilities of Brother Onesimus, farm manager of Notre Dame. Brother Leo enrolled in the agricultural schools of Illinois and Purdue Universities and was launched upon a career of lecturing for a time in the interests of the University of Notre Dame. At this time, too, he was doing much for the farmers of Indiana, and is credited with having popularized the use of the Holstein cattle in the southern part of the state and even in helping to improve agricultural methods then in use. His untiring and unselfish work laid the broad foundation for a reputation which grew steadily in every branch of farming to which his talents were directed.

"It is difficult to select any particular achievement of his for special emphasis. When he had charge, in the early 1900's of the 700 acre Notre Dame farm, he successfully applied to the lawns of the University his system of improving the soil; he was remarkable for obtaining all benefit possible from the rotation of crops; he gradually be came nationally known for his baby beef and his prime beef, and also for his Hampshire hogs, winning many stock show prized in these fields. As an admirer puts it, 'He would buy one carload of white-faced Texas steers -- and then when he shipped them to the Chicago market, he would have to use two cars.' He also became a successful breeder of mules and of Perceron horses. Today his reputation in all these varied occupations has caused him to be in demand for 4-H Club Work, for stock judging and for lecturing.

"Before the World War, Brother Leo almost constituted the agricultural department at the University of Notre Dame; his lectures drew many students to the school, many of whom became themselves successful instructors in agricultural elsewhere. But his special work was the development of the Notre Dame farm and the buying, breeding and feeding of stock for the market. His continual success at stock shows made his offerings to be prized so highly that his reputation as a business man was fully as well founded as that for forming or teaching.

"As to the quality of Brother Leo's work, there is a religious simplicity about all that he has done and is doing that belies its great improvement and importance. His great reputation has come unsought, a result of natural ability, aided by the faith and virtue, which he has brought to all the duties assigned to him. His answers to inquiries are always generous and to the point, unless they concern some personal phase. Another notable characteristic is his long view on economy and the spirit of poverty. He believes that in the end the best is always the cheapest. His helpers have always been well paid and are happy in working for him; he was always first in adapting mechanical improvements that promised greater efficiency or economy. And his methods of eliminating waste are equally noteworthy; some that had their inception under him have passed into wide use.

"There seems to be little doubt that Brother Leo has brought to a high peak the tradition begun by Brother Lawrence and continued through the century."

-- The Associate

"The new school of Agriculture at Notre Dame University is the first agricultural school in the country to permit its students to attend the international Fat Stock Show in Chicago for intensive study under a competent instructor. The students will be in charge of Brother Leo, who is considered on the best stockmen in the central States."

-- South Bend News-Times, (1917)

See: "Farming as a Vocation -- Associate, 10:2 April, 1940

See: Associate,3:1 1945

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›