Mishawauka, Sept. 4th 1850.
I had the happiness of being present yesterday at a solemn high Mass, which was celebrated on the occasion of opening this college, on commencing the studies of the ensuing year. An eloquent, and appropriate discourse, was delivered by the president on the occasion, comprising the duties, and obligations of the students. This admirable institution of Notre Dame du Lac, is located 1 mile North of South Bend, St. Joseph's co., Ind; 9, miles south of Niles on the Michigan central Rail-road, where there is daily access by stage or other conveyance. This noble edifice is built of brick 4 1/2 story high, and not inferior in point of style, and architecture to any other colleges of the United States. It is situated on a commanding eminence on the verge of two picturesque lakes, which with St. Joseph's River and the surrounding country present a most beautiful prospect. These two beautiful lakes are seperated by a small isthmus, on which is a causeway, lined on each side and covered over with willows -- at the west end of it, and in full view of the college, is a most beautiful mound, almost surrounded by the lakes -- on this peninsula is their first building, or noviciate, occupied at present by clerical students. In front of this building, and in an open circular eminence, and on a pedestal stands a large statue of the B. V. Mary, with her adorable child Jesus in her arms, surrounded with large and beautiful flowers, and evergreen cedars, shaded by a hemispherical canopy which is supported by four pillars. This lovely object of attraction and veneration can be seen from all departments of the whole establishment -- even the infirm in the hospital from their beds of sickness, can look out of their windows across the crystal lake to that "Stella Maris," (Star of the Sea) implore her assistance, and receive comfort in their afflictions.
On pleasant evenings in May, the devotions of the "Month of Mary" are performed at this place, in the open air, and a discourse delivered suitable to that devotion. The situation of the place, and the subjects treated on, render the scene most delightful.
In front of this statue is a cemetery for the deceased members of the community; at some distance further south is a cemetery for the congregation. This establishment, whose Mother-house is in Mans, France, was commenced here in August, 1843, and has rapidly increased since. Last year, one of the buildings occupied by the orphans, apprentices, mechanics, &c., with all their implements, was burned, which was a great loss to them. They have 640 acres of land, about 400 of which are in cultivation. They are supplied with their own mechanics, who do their own work, and teach these orphan boys under their charge, to each of whom they learn some trade. There are six priests in the establishment; they attend various missions in the surrounding country, for upwards of sixty miles. There are thirty-seven Brothers, who are at various employments at home, and in other branches of their order throughout the country. Their boarders are from sixty to eighty, many of whom are Protestants.
In this institution are taught all the branches of, English literature, ancient and modern languages, classics, theology, &c., &c. They have an excellent Museum; as for botany they have about four thousand different specimens of plants principally imported from Europe. A philosophical apparatus, -- and for musical instruments, it is astonishing to see so many. I know not whether their splendid band could be equalled short of your "Brass Band" in Boston. They are raising the grape with much success; and expect shortly to supply their own wine for sacrifice. This institute consists of three distinct branches, all tending to the same end, and really the same rules. The same vows of obedience, chasity, poverty, the same interests, and. the same government, viz., the Priests, the Brothers, and the Sisters.
1st. The "Priests of the Holy Cross," consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their constitutions are nearly those of St. Ignatius of Loyola; they devote themselves to missions and to education in which they are assisted by the Brothers.
2nd. The "Brothers," similar to the Christian Brothers, are consecrated to the Most Holy Heart of St. Joseph,and chiefly instituted to teach the poor and the destitute; they take charge of Orphan Asylums, and teach useful trades, and they also discharge the manual offices connected with a college and a farm. The most suitable age for admission is from 15 to 35, and, the qualifications, are chiefly a blameless character, a sound constitution, true piety, pure morals, a firm and conciliating temper, and a great desire of personal sanctification in the line of obedience. When the Brothers are sent out, they must be two at least and they receive each a salary of $100, per annum, unless they take the school on their own account. Their noviciate is of one year; and they cannot make their perpetual vows before,they are twenty-five years of age.
3rd. The "Sisters of the Holy Cross" consecrated to the most Immaculate and sorrowful Heart of Mary, like the Sisters of Charity are devoted to the education of youth, to the service of Orphan Asylums and hospitals; they also discharge for the colleges of the instituted the various functions of infirmarians, &c. Their noviciate, female academy, and female Orphan Asylum, are situate in a healthy and beautifully picturesque location on the East bank of St. Joseph's river at Bertrand five miles north of Notre Dame, and four miles south of Niles on the Michigan Railroad; they number thirty-nine at present. To be admitted into either male or feniale Orphan Asylum, the children must be at least twelve years old and they are bound to remain until the age of twenty-one. They pay $40, on entering, as a security, and this amount is returned in clothes or otherwise at the expiration of the time. There is about a score of orphans in each of the two institutions; the success of these two establishments sufficiently justifies what has already been frequently said of them: "Blessed are the youths thus sheltered from the dangers of the world, but twice blessed those whose devotedness procures them these favors."
What a happiness for youths who are brought up to the age of maturity, instructed in the various branches of education, trades &c., in these retired places, under the superintendence of these devout souls, who have secluded themselves from the world, and have dedicated their lives to the greater glory of God, and for the benefit of his creatures, especially the youth and the infirm. The above three branches supply nearly all the wants of the human family. They supply clergymen for the missions, education and trades, to male and female youth, nourishment, attention, and consolation to the afflicted and dying. How happy are they who have these ministering angels of charity to attend them in their last moments.
Address for either establisments is Rev. E. Sorin, President, Notre Dame, Du Lac St. Joseph's Co., Ia.
About 30 miles west is Michigan city, where there is a Catholic church recently dedicated under the, invocation of St. Ambrose. One of the priests of the Holy Cross, Rev. B. A. Shortis, pastor, attends it and La Porte, 12 miles further south, where they are about building a new church; he also attends various missions in that vicinity. Michigan city is beautifully situate at the S. E. corner of Lake Michigan; the landing is accessible for steamers and other vessels; it is the grand depot for the produce of the prairies, for many miles south -- it is flanked on both sides by two sandy hills. There are many inducements for the emigrant there, abundance of government land between there and Chicago, about sixty miles, timber land, oak openings and prairie. Towards the lake the ground is rather sandy, but further back the land is good. There are two railroads in making there at present, one is a branch of the Michigan Central Railroad from New Buffa1o to Michigan city, the other the road from Toledo, Ohio, and both for Chicago, and the "Far West." A considerable number of men are employed on these roads at present. The contractor, Mr. Martin, told me 100 men more could get work on that branch, and another 100 men on the other branch at Cold Water, about 90 miles east of there. Their wages is $1 a day at present, 87 1/2 cents in winter, paid every month. The route from the east to Cold Water is via Toledo, Ohio, and for Michigan City, via Detroit per Railroad to New Buffalo.
St. Joseph's River is a beautiful and rapidly running stream, and it is navigable about 100 miles up. At its mouth, where it empties into Lake Michigan is a town of the same name, handsomely located on an eminence of 60 or 80 feet above the lake and commanding an extensive prospect over its clear expansive surface, until water and sky seem to meet in the far distance. It has been a flourishing town, a great port of shipping produce for the east, but the Central Railroad, has engrosscd its trade and it is now on the decline. About 40 miles up the river is South Bend, the county Town; it has a number of mills, factories, &c., and a water power sufficient to turn six times its machinery. Four miles further up the river, and the same distance from Notre Dame College, is Mishawauka, a beautiful town interspersed and shaded with trees, it is a considerable place of manufacture -- iron works, foundries, woollen factories, mills, &c., with a great water power. The railroad will extend there next year. It bids fair to be a place of importance. It is a good place for getting employment and good wages, but they pay their operatives but one-quarter or one-third in cash, the balance in trade, or store goods, at their own prices. This may do a man of family, but it does not suit the single man. A large number of Irish are settled here, and are doing well. They have a good Catholic church which is attended from the College, four miles distant. The above localities are healthy, with the exception of some slight cases of ague in the fall. I intend, God willing, giving you a sketch of New Mellaray and Sinsinava Mound shortly. I did not forget the prairies yet. -- EDWARD GILLIN.
P.S. The "Western Pioneer" wishes to return thanks through the columns of your paper to the learned and attentive Drs. of the post office department at the Capital, for shortly after his "puzzling questions" and complaints of "post office disorders" had appeared in the PILOT, he had the consolation of seeing by Western papers that a thorough investigation of these matters was commenced at head quarters, in Washington, concerning, the post office disorders of the "North West" (Just the course he was on); the nests of corruption were probed and followed from one distributing post office to another. It appears that some of the officials wero getting it, "hammer and tongs" over the knuckles. The Drs. were "raising ructions,", and a universal blow-up seemed to be the consequence. He hopes as they have begun the laudable and necessary work -- they will not stop until they effect a complete cure of the post office disorders, and heal these chronic, irritating and sickening complaints of long standing. -- E. G.