The Cholera; Chronology; Chapels; The First Brick House; The Second College Building; Novitiates and Houses of Training; The Manual Labor School; Number of Students; Discipline; Recreation; Military Companies; Discipline; Hours of Study; Religious Societies; Literary Societies; Dramatics; Musical; The Library; The Bells at Notre Dame; How Father Sorin Got His Dome; Railroads and the Heating Plant; Reminiscences; Brother Basil; Brother Benedict; Brother Dominic (James Soffel); Brother Francis of Assisi; Brother Francis de Sales; Hiking; Brother Gerard; Brother Hubert; Brother Laurence; Brother Leopold; Brother Marcellinus; Brother Philistine; Father Lemonnier; Father Corby; Father Granger; Father Patrick Dillon; Father Drouelle; Father Paul Gillen; Father Peter Lauth; Father Maher.
There is little to recount between the foundation in 1842 and the year 1849, except that the number of students steadily increased, the industrial school developed, the farm was cleared of timber and when necessary drained, and the community was growing. In 1849 the shops and the kitchen were entirely destroyed by fire. Father Sorin immediately replaced these frame buildings by a brick one which in the picture representing Notre Dame in 1869, as seen in the Silver Jubilee Book, stands immediately behind the Church.
Several things happened in 1851. (1) the railroad was built through to South Bend; (2) the Notre Dame post-office was established through the kindly offices of Henry Clay; (3) the wings of the college were added to the Main Building. This general sense of prosperity was felt until the year 1854.
During the preceding year (1853) the cholera had devastated many sections of our country, and at Notre Dame people thought the danger had passed, when in the summer of 1854 the scourge came upon Notre Dame with diabolical fury. The first to die was Father Cointet, whose health [was] broken for some years by residence in southern New Orleans, where he had charge of the Orphan Asylum of the Community, from which he returned in the spring of '54 to resume his work in the missions around the college. His general health had improved, it is true, but when the attack came he had not the vital forces to resist, and in August he passed away. Father Curley, a young priest of talent and zeal, ordained only a year before, passed away soon after. More than twenty other members of the Community were lost in a single summer. September came on and sickness still held sway over the campus. Though only twenty died, many others were attacked and seriously incapacitated. The general condition of things, of course, was that the regular summer work and improvements had not been done or had only been feebly attempted by a few people. The college had really become a General Hospital and required renovation from top to bottom in view of the plague. Most of the members of the Community, who were not on their beds, were barely able to crawl about.
At this time, too, there was a financial difficulty of extreme painfulness. A new building -- I don't know just which it was -- brought on a heavy debt which was grievously felt. Another source of anxiety was the marshy ground around the two lakes which was considered to be the cause of much sickness. We understand malaria now and, of course, marshy ground is connected with it. It was impossible to drain this because on account of a misunderstanding, which I haven't yet learned about, with the man who owned the property between tne lake and the river; there was lack of friendly cooperation between him and the University. He could dam the water of the lake and prevent tne drain.
Father Sorin's confidence in this situation is, in my opinion, the best proof of his strength of character with the possible exception of his conduct after the fire of '79.
There is [an] auspicious moment before the dawn and '54 was that moment. Suddenly the man who had refused to sell his land or to accommodate Notre Dame by permitting drainage offered his property at less cost than Father Sorin had himself proposed. The lake was lowered and there was improvement in health. In the same year the site of St. Mary's Academy was purchased, not without a good deal of very natural grumbling on the part of members of the Community, but like many other such adventures, it has proved to be providential and wonderfully lucky. I don't know whether the man, who prevented the draining, also owned the Academy property. The Silver Jubilee Book says that Mr. and Mrs. Phelan of Lancaster came forward as very generous benefactors at that time.
1856. Chimes put up in belfry. Solemnly blessed in November before a large concourse. Archbishop Purcell delivered eloquent discourse and Bishop Henni also.
1857. Congregation of Holy Cross with constitution and rules received approval of Pius IX on May 13th.
1858. Diocese of Fort Wayne erected and Bishop Luers appointed. Visits Notre Dame soon after his consecration.
1861. Bishop Luers laid cornerstone of what was then called the Missionaries' Home but which was, when I came, St. Joseph's Novitiate. In 1869, Silver Jubilee year, it was used by the novice brothers.
St. Mary's Academy moved from Bertrand to its present place.
1865. Notre Dame and St. Mary's sent priests and sisters as chaplains and nurses in the Army. Father Sorin established the Ave Maria against the discouraging advice of all his friends. It was a passionate zeal to defend the Blessed Virgin from the attacks of ignorance and malice by this beautiful work. It is one of the great moments in Sorin's life. In 1869 the Jubilee Book says it is no great pecuniary success but it has raised a number of devoted friends for Notre Dame and has established an admirable list of contributors and subscribers, as well as rendered service to the Catholic cause. Father Sorin and President Patrick Dillon determine to enlarge the College Building which after twenty one years were altogether too small for the students. The old College Building was unroofed in June and in September the Silver Jubilee structure was under roof.
1866. May 31st, our largest gathering, hitherto assembled at Notre Dame, for the blessing of the large statue over the Dome at that time. Archbishop Michael Spalding preached a great sermon and there were present the following Bishops: Luers, Henni, Rappe, Timon and Grace of St. Paul. For full account see Ave Maria, volume 2.
1869. When the Silver Jubilee book was published, Father Granger was Provincial, Corby President, Lemonnier the Director of Studies, Spillard prefect of Discipline, Brothers Edward and Gabriel were stewards, Brother Francis de Sales Procurator, Brother Eugene chief of the Industrial School, Father Pietro Baptista in charge of the priests' Novitiate and Brother Vincent in charge of the Brothers', Brothers Lawrence and Paulinus directors of the Farm.
The story of the chapels at Notre Dame is interesting. The first was that erected by Father Badin in 1830 and was twenty by forty, as stated before with variations. When Brother Vincent arrived there had been a delay in starting the first college building which Father Sorin had planned and eagerly desired to complete. Bargains were made for brick and lumber but these things did not arrive in time and moreover the architect and contractor did not appear as agreed. Father Sorin then determined to build another church. The Catholics in the neighborhood were appealed to but they were poor and many of them had very little piety. Each, however, made some sort of subscription to be paid in labor. Accordingly they got together, like an old-fashioned barn raising party, cut down logs to build a Church forty-six feet long and twenty wide. When the logs were assembled, these men threw them together and in a single day put up the walls of this chapel. That done, they left the rest of the work to Father Sorin and the Brothers. This building was used as a church until 1848, after which it was preserved as a relic. However, it caught fire in 1856 and though desperate efforts were made to save it as a relic it was destroyed.
The next chapel was erected on what was called St. Vincent's Island, the site of the present Community House, as the result of a retreat made there by Father Sorin in 1843. He occupied a portion of each day during the retreat in clearing off the ground for this chapel. It was November, and next spring, as everybody was busy in erecting the college, work was delayed on the chapel which was not finished until November, 1844. The Novitiate for the Brothers was erected on the Island at the same time. This chapel stood until 1858 when it was torn down to make room for the Community House, which I knew on my arrival at Notre Dame. The aforesaid chapel was blessed on the eighth of December, 1844, under the title of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and on the same day, a wonderfully interesting society, the oldest society of the students of Notre Dame, called the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was established in this chapel. It was octagonal in shape and was crowded every Saturday morning with the students. This mass continued during my boyhood and I must ask whether it is kept up today and whether anything is remembered about it. This was the chief chapel of the Community for years. In 1847 the body of Saint Severa, which now reposes in the chapel of the relic attached to the large church, was deposited here. She was a virgin martyr of the third century. The body was brought by Bishop de la Hailandiere on his return home in 1845. Here also the Way of the Cross was erected for the first time at Notre Dame and the devotion of the Holy Hour was for the first time held. Archbishop, then Bishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, and the Bishops of Milwaukee and Detroit used to say mass in this chapel. It was sacred to old Brother Vincent and the other ancients of the Brothers and even the students had an amazing reverence for it.
The next Chapel was that of the Portiuncula, which I remember very well and which was remarkable for the great indulgence, at that time rather uncommon in this country but since become common.
In July 1843, there arrived the second colony from France consisting of Father Cointet, M. l'Abbe Gouesse, one lay brother, M. l'Abbe Marivault, and three religieuses, Sister Mary of Bethlehem, Sister Mary of Calvary, and Sister Mary of Nazareth.
variously called the farm house, old college and the mission house. As no headway could be made with the proposed college building on account of the failure indicated above, Father Sorin and the brothers decided to erect a smaller house in which the pupils, already assembled, and the Community were housed until the erection of the next building late in the summer.
Late in August, 1843, the architect unexpectedly arrived from Vincennes with workmen to begin the erection of the college. It must have been quick work because on the twenty-eighth of August they laid the cornerstone. By the month of December it was under roof but no attempt was made to plaster it that winter. In the following June, the pupils who had hitherto existed in old college or mission house, were removed to the new college building and in August 1844, the first Commencement Exercises were held at Notre Dame.
The college walls were hardly up to the third story when a charter was secured for Notre Dame with full university privileges and also for the Manual Labor School. A Mr. DeFrees -- I knew his son, Joe, later, a prominent lawyer in Chicago -- was representative of St. Joseph County in the State Legislature. He suggested to Father Sorin the idea of applying for a charter, and through his aid and assistance a charter was obtained for the college with the title of University and also one for the Manual Labor school.
The history of Mr. Samuel Byerley's friendship for Father Sorin is worth recording. When the founder arrived in New York in 1841, on the thirteenth of September, it was Mrs. Samuel Byerley who received him. Later on he moved to Indiana and continued to be an enthusiastic friend of the founder and the Community. He was distinguished for his hospitality and was a most amiable and kindly man with the modesty that goes with genuine mellowness and culture.
The college building referred to above was only the central part of the edifice as it came to be later. It was four stories high and is said to have been eighty feet long and forty or fifty wide.
The present site of the Community House was familiarly known in the old days as The Island. In the Silver Jubilee I read "In the Annals of Notre Dame it is named St. Mary's in honor of the Blessed Virgin". I have never as yet met (1925) this designation before. I have always found it referred to as St. Vincent's Island, presumably in honor of Brother Vincent's patron saint.
The Brother's Novitiate was first established on the Island with Father Granger as Superior. In 1847 Granger went to Indianapolis I must find out why. He was there only a short while and then returned to his Island. At the same time Father Cointet was Superior for the Priests. There was no special house for them but they occupied a distinct section in the College Building. In 1852 and 1853 the Brothers were transferred from the Novitiate on the Island and it Was turned over to the priests. The brothers were put in another building. The priest novices remained on the Island until 1853 in which year Father Granger with his own hand cut down the underbrush on the spot where St. Aloysius stood. I remember it well. It was to that house I came as a boy. Father Granger remained Master of Novices there until he was made Prefect of Religion at the College and soon afterwards Provincial. The Novice Brothers had for many years Father Letourneau for their Master, assisted by Brother August and at times by Brother Vincent. When the Silver Jubilee book was written, Brother Vincent was still Director of the Novitiate in the new building occupied by the Novice brothers.
The Manual Labor School was founded the same years as the college, 1844. There was only a small portion of land cleared at that time, hence the College, the Manual Labor School and the Shops were placed together. Brother Francis Xavier 3stablished his carpenter and joiner shop, Brother Benoit next established his locksmith shop. Then followed the shoe shop and the tailor shop. Later on, when I came, there was a paint shop and a tin shop. At least there were groups of men doing this work. There was also a plumber's gang. Al of these were in charge of a Brother. I remember the Manual Labor School, first, as a somewhat long, narrow, frame building, just about where the north end of Walsh Hall is at the present time. I remember the shoe shop under Brother Eugene and the tailor shop in charge of Brother Gus. Later on, these were both moved to the building now known as the Engineering Shack and finally to their present place near Washington Hall.
The first student was Alexis Coquillard, who, as a small boy, had led Father Sorin from South Bend through the heavy walnut forest which stretched between that point and Notre Dame. It would be interesting to know the number of students each successive year. Perhaps the old catalog will reveal this. In the beginning the college student and the apprentices school were together in recreation, and in the evening the apprentices also joined the students in study. The writer in the Silver Jubilee Book says that all told "they did not muster a hundred strong." The study room was in the basement of the central building and occupied about one fourth of it before the wings were guilt. I think the writer of the article here was Joe Lyons and as he came to Notre Dame, I believe, in 1848, it is interesting to find him recording that the students were about fifty in number and with the apprentices less than a hundred.
is described as being of the strict military kind. No offences are overlooked at least to the extent of a rebuke. The extreme penalty of expulsion was rarely inflicted. Honor lists were prepared and the old people spoke of them as wonderful things. To have been on the tablet of honor posted up in the dining rooms was apparently a great stimulus in those days. Hazing nas never been permitted at Notre name and has never been attempted. A series of college jokes which are to be described in detail has always been somewhat popular, but they have always stopped short of physical discomfort.
Baseball has always been a prime favorite from the beginning. There were in 1859 (Silver Jubilee Book) three clubs in the Senior Department later called Brownson Hail. They were the Enterprise, Juanita and Star of the Sea. There were three also in the Junior Department, later Carroll Hall, called the Star of the West, Excelsion, and Young America. There were two in the Minim Department, Liberty and Quickstep.
An attempt was made before baseball became so popular to introduce cricket but it perisred after about three years. I don't know the dates. Sailing and rowing on the lakes have been intermittent pleasures since the earliest days and the old pictures show a steamboat on one of the lakes, (a small steamboat). Fishing has always been indulged in to some extent and in the pigeon and duck season there was hunting in that particular way. Otherwise there was ordinarily little game. However, Father Vagnier tells me of a day when a bear roamed in a leisurely way out of the north, passing by the present seminary, and when the boys began to make a fuss the bear took to St. Mary's Lake and swam to a point near the present Mission House. There it took [refuge] and was soon killed, and the next day the boys enjoyed bear steak. It was a young and only middle sized animal.
were formed before the war and W. S. Lynch, later Brigadier General after the war, in which he distinguished himself, had charge of the company. I think there ought to be a special story about that. The uniform worn was the buff and blue of Washington and his men. Gymnastic exercises were always provided for by outdoor apparatus usually and by the little gymnasiun which still stands as a sort of playhall for basketball and I think the Agricultural classes. Handball was a most popular amusement and held its own wonderfully. Ten pins or bowling was tried for a while and lasted four or five years. Like other indoor exercIses it was indulged in chiefly in bad weather. There was also bathing and swimming in summer and skating in winter. Chess was confined almost entirely to the wise old fellows of the faculty. Professor M.A.J. Baasen was head of a little society for that. When velocipedes came in it was thunderously announced as a wonderful novelty in transportation and it became popular. Lastly there were always a rich variety of dramatic and musical entertainments and programs of essays, debates and lectures in the Schools of Literature and Science. Festivals were celebrated both religious and social.
When Father Sorin came to America he naturally brought with him all of the traditions and notions of the French College regarding discipline. However, he was elastic whenever there was question of success and from tne very beginning he was perfectly willing to enlarge or scratch or adopt as circumstances demanded. It did not require much time for him to notice certain marks of difference between the American boy and the French boy to whom he was accustomed. There is a vivacity, which tends to giddiness, in French boys, which is not observable to the same extent in American boys, though these are, by no means, and pure contemplative. For the American boy, Sorin very wisely decided to adapt the details of his French theory and experience, while maintaining, of course, the large and very wise general principles. He understood the difference in manners and ideas in this country and while he remained loyal to his old French training, there was no citizen in the United States more thoroughly American than he in all respects.
The course of studies was also constantly improved. Father Cointet was the first Director of Studies and as he was an excellent scholar and a man of boundless energy, things were even in the very beginning in a favorable condition. Father Sorin, who controlled and directed every aspect of the work, at least so far as supervision could enable him to do so, was the impulse and guiding spirit in the development of studies as he was in the management of discipline. In the faculty meetings his views were naturally dominant and persuasive. Other Directors of Studies were Father Shaw, Rev. Mr. Ivers, Brother Gatien, Professors, Jones, [and] O'Leary. Father Cointet was Professor of Greek and Latin and naturally stressed the classics. Brother Gatien was the shark in Mathematics and Father Shaw, an eloquent speaker, fostered English and Public Speaking. In the proper place, it should be noted that Father Shaw also laid the foundation for the present literary and dramatic societies. Brother Basil has charge of the band and took care of the Philharmonic Society, which under varying names has been continued until comparative modern times. During the fertile forties, Professor Girac had cnarge of the college choir which he was still conducting when the Silver Jubilee Book was published in 1869. It is noted that for a few years he labored in Chicago, probably at our college there.
From the beginning until comparatively recent years Notre Dame students spent ten and three-quarter hours either in the classroom or in the study hall. They rose at half past five in the morning and [by] six they were at their books. Breakfast came at seven. At half past seven two classes, each lasting an hour until nine-thirty, then half an hour recreation. From ten to twelve two more full hours of study or recitation. Dinner at twelve, classes again at half past one till half past three. Recreation from half past three till half past four. Classes or study from half past four until half past six. Supper then and recreation till half past seven or eight (to be looked into). Everybody prepared for bed at half past nine. Lights out at ten.
The college course was arranged to last four years and the Preparatory only two. This is not surprising because that was at least as stern a program as required in other schools of the period. Hence the requirement for the Prep School was merely the eighth grade work and that not specially strong. I do not know whether history or geography was required in the grade work. The theory was that a few classes, four or at most five, in which a recitation was held every day, was best for the boys. Classics were naturally stressed and sciences were looked upon as the proper studies of advanced manhood or leisurely old age except in the cases of men who are called to be engineers or cnemists or professional workers in the sciences later on. One sentence in the Silver Jubilee Book states that these subjects can be studied as well at fifty as at fifteen. A commercial course was naturally emphasized on account of the requirements of life in this part of our new country.
embrace the following: (1) the old Archconfraternity. It was the oldest and most sacred. society at Notre Dame. It was founded in 1845, one year after the college charter was secured. Membership was restricted to the senior department. Old members, whatever their age, were allowed and expected to wear the badge of this society at Holy Communion and particularly during the month of May. It held meetings once a month and had its own Religious Library. On Saturday mornings at 6 o'clock, its members assembled in the college chapel. This society virtually remains to the present day. In my time it was distinctively organized under its own name and Father Stocko, professor of Greek, paid attention to it. (2) The Society of the Holy Angels was organized in 1858 by Prof. J. A. Lyons to furnish servers in Church. The whole society appeared. on great festivals carrying lights, going off for them at the Sanctus and returning for the Consecration. The minims led off and the largest boys were full-grown young men, the little fellows wearing cassocks of red with decorative surplices and the older boys wearing mostly purple with fine capes and making a splendid appearance. (3) The Holy Childhood was a branch of the Society generally organized throughout the country under that name and was established among the minims in the late sixties. (4) The society of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was the latest society organized before the Silver Jubilee of 1869. It existed in the Junior department and originated when the new devotion to the Sacred Heart, or, at least a newly popularized devotion, reached here. Brother Florentius, the prefect of the Junior department, practically made the Junior study hall a chapel of Our Lady of The Sacred Heart, with an altar at the end farthest from the door and flowers and other ornaments there on the feasts of our Blessed Mother and during MaY. This society attended the mass and benediction of the great Archconfraternity on Saturday morning.
were as follows: (1) St. Aloysius Philodemic. The oldest literary society at Notre Dame was founded in 1851. It had various changes of name but always had St. Aloysius for its patron, and his feast, June 21, was the occasion for banquet and speeches. It was popular with the graduates in the classical course, all of whom belonged to it. It was variously called, St. Aloysius Literary, Academy of Debate, Literary and Philo-Historic. At the meetings essays were read and speeches made for the purpose of cultivating talent. It had its own library and it met in the old college library. Fathers Gillespie, Kilroy, Dillon, Corby, Hallinan variously functioned as Directors. Father Hallinan rescued it later on when it was in trouble, and ultimately Father Lemonnier and Father Spillard fixed it in its own room. It issued the "Two-Penny Club Literary Gazette". It was supposed to assemble the cream of the college studentS. (2) St. Edward's Literary and Historic Society was founded in 1860 by Father M. B. Browne for tne cultivation of English and [was] popular with students of the scientific course whose graduates generally belonged to it. It also aimed at having its own Library and it also specialized in legal discussions for future lawyers. It was a sort of rival of St. Aloysius. (3) The United Scientific Association arose out of an assembly of students of the various scientific classes and higher mathematics, for the puroose of having scientific lectures and exploring parties in the neighborhood. It was organized in 1868 with Father Carrier as its Director. The members helped him to collect specimens for the College Museum. Members were restricted to those of the highest grade who had successfully pursued one special subject and were interested in all scientific matters. It met weekly for essays and debates. It scoured the banks of the river and the Kankakee marshes and the neighboring prairie for a considerable distance in every direction. (4) The Editorial Corps of the Scholastic Year was formed as a Society in 1867. In the old days the students outlined a semi-monthly called "Progress", which rarely ever escaped the manuscript condition. It used to be read in public before the students of the three departments on the day of its issue. It was variegated with band music. The reading of the "Progress" was looked forward to with high expectation. Father Gillespie was the chief inspirer of literary work at the time and when he was sent to Europe, the "Progress" was suspended after having lasted several years. Occasionally surreptitious things like the "Olympic gazette" and the "Weekly Bee" were published and some others not looked upon with so much favor by the faculty. When Father Gillespie returned from France he found a printing office for the Ave Maria and he started a publication called the "Scholastic Year". It was founded in 1857 and later it became the SCHOLASTIC. (b) The Cecilia Society was one of the most flourishing and respected when I came. It was supposed to deal with literary, elocutionary, dramatic and musical matters in the Junior Collegiate department. Organized by Professor Lyons in 1869. When Professor Lyons went to St. Mary's of the Lake in Chicago, the Society passed into other hands and its name was changed from "philomathean" to "philopatrian". When Father Lemonnier was installed he formed a Field Band among the members of the Junior Department. The Juniors wore a red and blue suave uniform and were said to have become quite proficient. When Washington Hall was restored to its original purpose, the St. Cecilians, as they were now called, flourished again. About 1867 the literary element was added and the Band dropped. It then resumed its old name of "philomathean". It had the most beautiful rooms in the house for its meetings. They were held weekly and consisted of debates, essays and moot-courts.
(1) The Thespian Society had been loosely assembled for purposes of particular celebrations. In 1861 Father Gillespie organized them and furnished tnem with a Constitution and the other apparatus of function. Washingtcn Hall was built in the spring of 1861 and until the great inrush of students during the Civil War was used as an exhibition hall. When things became crowded it became a dormitory. Fathers Gillespie and Patrick Dillon and Professors McNally and Ivers and M.T. Corby directed it at various times.
The N. D. U. Cornet Band was organized in 1846 by Father Gouesse. An incident in their history is when they attempted to give a concert on the Lake going out on a raft and the performers were thrown into the Lake and got a good soaking. Some of the horns are in the bottom of the Lake yet. Later on the Band passed on to Professor Sotokase, Brother Basil, Professor Boyne of South Bend and Professor J. O'Neill, who had it when the Silver Jubilee Book was issued. (2) The orchestra has a less continuous record. Brother Basil, Professor O'Neill and Professor M. E. Girac have been its leaders. Professor Girac had been at Notre Dame for a long time before '69. Originally he taught the classics but later on devoted all his attention to music. He was a Comooser of some ability. There ought to be some of his old masses still left. (3) The Philharmonic Society was devoted to vocal culture under Professor M. T. Corby. It was founded about 1867. (4) The Choir consisted of laymen of the College Faculty, members of the Community, students of all ages and manual labor boys. Professor Girac was Director in 1869.
in 1869 consisted of seven thousand volumes besides those special collec- tions assembled by various societies which would total three thousand more. In 1869 there was a remarkably good collection of books for the time, consisting of seventeen different cyclopedias and various learned collections of scripture and ancient and modern literatures. There were five large ecclesiastical histories and a fair representation of learned magazines. I find noted an old copy of the Iliad of 1520 (Basle) and also a copy of Tertullian and St. Cyprian of about the same time.
The museum consisted of fair collections of birds and quadrupeds. In the matter of plants there were about four thousand species. There were ten thousand specimens of foreign plants and fourteen thousand specimens of native ones. Father Carrier himself had gathered as many as eight thousand specimens for the Museum.
In 1844 there was a bell of excellent tone in the college steeple. On two occasions particularly it served to alarm the neighborhood and wake up the community to extinguish fires which would have destroyed everything. when the Church, the predecessor of the present church, was built, a Mr. Gregory Campeau constructed a belfry said to be beautiful over the sanctuary and out to is bell into that belfry. The spring wind, sometimes rather heavy at Notre Dame, toppled over the belfry and the bell with it. It now summons the Community of St. Mary's to their prayers.
The next bell was a big fellow weighing twenty-four hundred pounds, which hung high in the steeple of the church. In 1856 there came the peal of twenty-three bells, which constitute the chimes. About that time the big bell just named above was cracked and spoiled and had to [be] sold for bell metal. To that bell succeeded the great Bourdon, which is now the king of bells at Notre Dame. For years it sounded forth in the tower built just in front of the Church. It weighs over seven tons and at the time it came it was the largest bell of any kind in the United States. It was cast by the celebrated bell founder of Mans, France, Mr. Bollee. It was a sensation when it arrived at S.B. and all the neighbors turned out to see it toilsomely dragged along in a heavy wagon by a team of twelve horses.
When the new college building began to arise, almost immediately out of the smoke as well as the ashes, after the big fire in 1879, a famous architect, largely employed on government work in Washington, had been employed to make plans. Father Sorin stipulated to the architect that he must have a large and beautiful dome to be surmounted with the statue of Our Lady. The architect set about to make his plans accordingly. The shock experienced by the members of Father Sorin's council when the suggestion was made to them almost proved fatal. Millions upon millions of bricks were required to put in what in their opinion constituted a mere unnecessary ornament. Father Sorin, as was entirely characteristic of him, insisted upon the dome; quite as stubbornly but very respectfully each member of the council insisted that the Community, being absolutely without means, was in no position to put so much money into a mere dome. When the controversy had waxed in vain for a considerable time, Father Sorin rose and with a find blend of dignity and indignation gathered up his breviary and his pajamas, or whatever was used for pajamas in those days, and started to St. Mary's. Over there, just off the regular parlor, was a small room, called by the irreverent the "Puppy-hole", in which Father Sorin often retired to recite his office without distraction and where occasionally he was approached by a religious taking counsel or necessary encouragement. Father Sorin took up his post there and remained for two weeks like Achilles skulking in his tent, declaring that never would he return to Notre Dame until he was allowed to carry out his plans for the big dome carved with a beautiful figure of Our Lady. In desperation the members of the council decided that they had better yield. A committee was sent to St. Mary's with their hats in their hands to beg Father Sorin to return, assuring him that he could have his dome.
There will be those, of course, who will find someting less than perfect in the religious attitude of Father Sorin throughout this episode. It is fair enough that they should have their opinion. Others will marvel at what seems to be the uncompromising spirit, the hard-headedness, the obstinacy of a man, whose great role as founder and builder of a college in a wilderness must have been at least a reasonable compromise. Whoever looks at the beautiful campus now and considers how different the whole thing would appear without the dome will hesitate to entertain either suggestion. The truth is that the dome upon the Administration Building assembles all the other buildings on the campus around it and contributes to such a dignity which, otherwise, it would not possess.
Later on, about 1888, Father Sorin decided that at last his old dream might be completely realized by the gilding of the Dome. A gift of two thousand dollars made this possible and the happiness of the founder was [great]. I remember hearing him make the announcement at Commencement from the stage in Washington Hall. There were many, of course, who turned up their noses at this also. It was another extravagant bit of pious sentimentality on the part of the old man, they said. The truth is it is cheaper than paint. To put up the scaffolding alone for one painting of the dome would be five hundred dollars. Paint would have to be renewed every few years. As a matter of fact, the gold leaf on the dome lasts from fifteen to twenty years and it is considerably cheaper than paint would be. Thus, once more, was the dream of the aged seer justified by the rude figures of commerce.
The roof of the new college building was a peaked roof of shingles, not fully weather cured and therefore disposed to warp in the sun and permit both rain and wind to enter the attic. The Michigan Central Railroad had already progressed in 1844 from Detroit to Marshall. There were no steel rails or even iron, but ordinary wooden rails were used covered on the top by flat bands of iron. Trains were often thrown off the track and one time into the neighboring creek or down an embankment. Sometimes, it is said, snakes would poke themselves through apertures in the car at the passengers.
Water was tried as a heating device but it was so uneven as to be a great failure. In 1863 the present steam heating apparatus was successfully introduced.
I remember seeing Father Sorin die. I was then Associate Editor of the Ave Maria and was passing from the seminary to Father Hudson's rooms for my regular dole of daily work when a novice nun, naturally somewhat flustered, crossed my path as I neared the Presbytery and told me with agitation that the Superior General was very close to the end. I went directly to the room where the venerable man lay dying -- his own bedroom attached to his suite on the first floor of the Presbytery, which has since been used by the Provincials. Father Sorin was breathing heavily, his cheeks glowing in a swollen way with each recurring breath. There was little change in his aspect except that his eyes moved furtively about the room up and down and towards the side almost constantly. At the same time, I noticed that very frequently, even in his unconscious condition, his gaze rested for a moment on the pretty little statue of the Blessed Virgin which had been set upon a small table at the foot of his bed. Those in the room were the Venerable Mother Ascension, who had been such a true friend and helper to Father Sorin, Brother Columba, his faithful nurse during the months and years even of his illness, a little novice who was there to be useful in whatever way she could and Father Zahm who held Father Sorin literally in his arms as he breathed his last.
When Basil came to the Community at Notre Dame, he gave no indication of the extraordinary musical genius which was his. Indeed he never mentioned to superiors or companions the fact that he had any acquaintance with music. One day an emergency arose and someone was needed to preside at the piano for some occasion. Embarrassment ensued and very reluctantly and surely only to save the superior from what was evidently a painful situation, Basil whispered to him that he could play the piano a little. The effect was magical. His shrinking disposition, his taste for solitude, his aversion to ordinary conversation, his extreme sensitiveness to sound -- all of which had made him something of a recluse among the members of the Community -- had made it easy for him to conceal his wonderful musical talent. From that time on, however, he was acclaimed as the greatest artist in music that the Community has ever had. At that time, however, the piano alone was his instrument. Later on under obedience he took up the organ and ultimately became a very great master there. His improvisations during high mass are delightful memories to faculty and students until old age required him to discontinue the function of organist. Like many musicians he had peculiarities. He dreaded to the end of his life any kind of adulation for his great talent. Merely to find that the Congregation gave any signs of the entrancement they nearly always felt wnile he played was enough to make him break off abruptly with one of the tender, gentle motifs which one heard at the Offertory or at other wonderful moments during the mass. A young Bavarian professor, who was a distinguished musician in his own country and was prosperously established in a castle with the nobility there as a teacher, happened to be spending a Sunday at Notre Dame on his journey through the United States. He heard Basil play and was amazed. After Mass he approached one of the members of the Community and asked the name and something of the history. "You have a treasure in that man", he declared, "I couldn't stand such playing often. It would prostrate me completely."
Basil never talked except with a very few intimate friends and even then his conversation was mostly "Aye, aye" and "Nay, nay". This does not mean that he had no means of expression, however. Whenever a jarry note occurred in the music of choir, orchestra or band, he had a way of Dulling ~t' his hair and screw~ri~ uo his teeth which represented infinite anguish and despair. Brother Philip Neri tells that once he was under the mistaken notion that he was the makings of a musician to take lessons from Basil. The hour was arranged and as Philip began to caress the violin with the bow the sound was such as to wring from Basil almost a scream. Philip's own words about it were: "If I ever get out of this alive, never will I attempt it again. I can't torture a man like that."
Basil died sitting on his bed. He had just officiated at benediction playing the little organ. They found him in the morning with his legs hanging down towards the floor on the side of the bed and his head against the wall.
happened to be in Texas when the war broke out and he was at once mustered into the Southern army much against his will. He was occupied. with the care of the sick. An opportunity offered for desertion and he set out for the North. He travelled on foot all the way from Texas to the home of his mother in Missouri to pay her a little visit because she was on her death-bed. On arriving in tne North, as a proof of his patriotism and courage, he at once joined the Northern army and continued in it until the war [ended]. I have often said that if I were going into a savage country where great courage and devotedness were called for, Brother Benedict would be the first man I should choose. For many years he was the faithful assistant of Father Zahm in Science Hall and his exactitude in carrying out instructions, while it aroused the enthusiasm of his [superior], was often deplored by those who asked little favors or concessions not provided for in his instructions. After the war, when he became a brother, he was placed in the college infirmary to help take care of the Sick. But he couldn't get along with the Sisters. That was characteristic of him, too. He was one of the most earnest, religious and heroic men I have ever known in the Community.
Dominic was born in Rumrbach, Germany in 1832. He came to America 1852 and to Notre Dame in 1859. After his Novitiate he spent the twenty years from 1862 to 1882 in Cincinnati teaching in the Grade work. Three more years were spent in some other work in the city of Hilton, Ohio. He was then given charge of the discipline and general routine management in St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum in Lafayette where he remained for many years. For a year or two he was assistant master of novices at Notre Dame. Then back to New Orleans for 7 years of simple teaching in grade schools until 1904 when he came to Notre Dame to spend his remaining years in the Community House.
Brother Dominic was a type of a certain number of good Brothers who are not very brainy but extraordinarily simple and faithful in the performance of duty and the practices of the religious life. There was nothing remarkable about him at all except perhaps these qualities of artlessness, fidelity and piety. Indeed so simple was he that while he was assistant master of novices he made a curious [choice] in an emergency. When the novices were half way around the Lake to the University Church for Vespers, one of them noticed that the Novitiate which they had just left had caught fire and was sending a great blaze and much smoke. Brother Dominic turned with the rest and saw but for some reason which neither he nor anybody else has ever been able to explain gave the order "forward march" and they continued on their way over to Vespers. That is, most of them did. There were some of the novices not quite so unworldly, however, and they promptly turned in their tracks and rushed to the rescue of the Novitiate. They did not, however, succeed in saving it from destruction.
BROTHER DOMINIC came from the Redemptorist Church in Third Street, New York. Brother Philip Neri had an uncle, a Redemptorist Father, there, and he was instrumental in sending Dominic to Notre Dame. Dominic had been a blacksmith at home. He was a man of very simple character and little education. . . . he was a hard-working, good religious.
John Reynolds died December, 1923. He was assistant master of novices during my Novitiate. He also had a career as college Porter at Notre Dame and as canvasser for the Ave Maria. His characteristics were extreme simplicity and old-fashioned piety as well as great zeal and devotion in laboring for the Community. His attainments were very ordinary but he was a most useful and edifying working brother.
in the very earliest days had been an old warrior of the first Empire and was the predecessor of Brother Benoit, the disciplinarian, whome he is said to have resembled both in the strictness of his discipline and in his partiality for snuff.
It was a favorite diversion in the early days to take long walks in the neighboring country on the sandy roads and through the woods. Usually they gathered together the bulk of the meal and carried it with them, depending only on the good humored neighboring farmers to supply them at moderate costs with milk, butter and eggs. Sometimes they sent notice a week in advance and enjoyed a generous, elaborately prepared meal, in which chicken was a prominent item.
Brother Gerard was born in Germany but at an early age came to Boston with his father and there attended an advanced school of music. His father had separated from his mother before leaving Germany and sometime after his arrival in this country married again. This disgusted the son with life and especially with the particular form of the Lutheran [faith] professed by his father and ardently embraced and practiced by the son. Indeed all through life there remained some traces of the hard, solid character of Lutheranism. Brother Gerard was received into the church by a learned priest with something of a genius for music. Shortly after his conversion, Gerard made arrangements to go [to] the Jesuits as a lay brother. It happened that when he was about to start our Brother Leopold met him at the depot and heard his story. "Why do you want to go to the Jesuits", said he, "to be a brother? There you will have to wash dishes and sweep the floors and pass your life in material occupatiOn. Why not come to Notre Dame and be a brother of the Holy Cross? You could teach music there and lead a congenial and at the same time very holy life." Almost immediately Brother Gerard decided to come to Notre Dame with Leopold. On arriving, however, he had got the idea that instead of becoming a Brother he would like to devote his entire life to the labor of teaching in a CatholiC college as a layman to express his thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of Catholic faith which he prized very highly.
Gerard waS the most gentlemanly of men. All his instincts were exquisitely fine, artistic, and gentle. He could not endure not merely anything rough but anything noisy or ungentle. The rattling of beads against the back of a pew in Church would send him skyrocketing out into the wilderness. The least bit of unliturgical music in the organ loft, as happened sometimes when students or strangers presided a strain of unreligious music, or the pestilence of bad singing or playing, would almost drive him wild. The swiftness of his motion as he rose and rushed out on these occasionS always attracted attention. Such things as these together with his amazing tendency to solitude, hardly seeing anyone who passed near him ard hardly ever speaking a word of greeting though never failing to lift his hat -- these things procured for this remarkably fine and gentle spirit the name of crank. It ought to be remembered that he was a musician of most distinguished quality and would have been proclaimed as a remarkable performer on the piano in any large city of America.
came straight from Ireland, a good looking young man with well-bred and attractive manners. He was an artist of elementary performance and most usefully taught such subjects as drawing in other schools as well as at Notre Dame. His manner in the course of time suggested him for the work of Porter and to this obedience he gave his attention for years. He died while he was entering on his sixty-eighth year. He had been a member of the community thirty-seven years.
a Frenchman, one of the six who came with Father Sorin. He was a farmer and the farmers in the neighborhood considered him a larger figure at Notre Dame than Father Sorin. Brother Philip remembers that once while he had charge the cows in some way or other broke into a large tank where wine was kept, and being thirsty they drank it. They got boozy and ran around with uplifted tails.
It ought to be noted that Father Granger used to prefect all day and all night particularly being on the lookout for boys who were out of bounds. At night wnen he was sleepless his scrupulous and French characteristic made him quite unhappy unless he moved around the dormitory pulling the bed-clothes on such of the boys as took them off in hot weather in the dormitories. Father Feer was a man of pretty much the same type.
Brownson Hall Campus was an apple orchard in the ancient days. Where Sorin Hall stands and in its neighborhood there was also an orchard. There was an arbor extending from the present minim building to the Eddy Road. Beside that lay a large potato field which, of course, was naturally valued. It was demanded for a playground and many of the Brothers thought it was against poverty to give it for that purpose. Laurence then said a simple thing which has been frequently quoted as an illumination and a prophecy: "The time will come," he said, "when the playground will reach over to Eddy Street." It sure does and beyond.
came from Lancaster, Pa., I think it was, where Father Tenss, a musician and scholar, was pastor. Leopold had been employed in a music store there. He played well on the violin, the cello and the bass fiddle. Prefect in what was then the Seniors, now Brownson Hall, but that proved to be an error of judgment. He was never cut out for keeping order and pandemonium resulted. Anyone who ever saw him waiting on the boys in the college store, hearing the everlasting din that was music to their ears and receiving it all with infinite quietude and patience, would never think of Leopold as a prefect. He was a prodigious worker. After the fire of '79, finding no better employment immediately to his hand, he sought out the blacks'nith shop and held irons while the strong-armed smitty beat them into the desired state. He was [true] to his music, took cart in the work of the band and orchestra. After the fire he taught his music in an upper story of the college. Sometimes the key would be absent and he and the pupil would crawl tnrough a window and follow the rain gutter round to the window of his own room -- a difficult and mighty dangerous way of entering. For years he and a number of other old cronies played whist in a room behind the sacristy, between the sacristy and Corby Hall. On one occasion, Philip Neri banteringly refused to be his partner saying that he couldn't play. Thirty-five years aftwrwards Leopold threw it up to Philip much to Phil's surprise. Philip said, "you did the same thing about the fiddle." I don't quite understand this reference and must profess it. The next morning before meditation poor old Leopold who had been tormented by a scruple all night came and very humbly asked pardon.
Brother Marcellinus was an Iowa boy who came to Notre Dame for his college studies and by reason of a brilliant talent made a considerable reputation as a student. He afterwards went to the Novitiate about which he told some amusing stories. The master of novices at the time was an unworldly old saint, Father L'Etourneau. Father L'Etourneau, while a most holy man, was not a particularly virile or rugged type. He abominated, for instance, the practice of using tocacco. When young Marcellinus presented himself almost immediately the first question was: "Mr. Kinsella, do you smoke?" "No, Father, I do not," said Marcellinus. "Do you use snuff?" "Certainly not." "Oh, thank God, Mr. Kinsella, what a noble young man you are!" "Yes, Father, but I chew." answered Marcellinus. Then Father L'Etourneau nearly fainted.
Brother Philip tells a story of a visit that he and Marcellinus made to a church in Milwaukee. There was some delay in getting that high mass started and in some way Philip was given to understand that the man who officiated as organ-blower, that is to say, the man who pumped wind into the organ by hand, had not shown up and it looked as if they couldn't have a high mass. There was a twinkle in Philip's eye as he turned to Marcellinus and said: "Marcellinus, they want a blower." As a matter of fact Marcellinus officiated but thought the joke so good that he had to tell it at home.
Again Marcellinus walking about the campus hailed Brother Philip and said that since it was the feast of St. Blasius he was going over to get his throat blessed, a practice well-known to Catholics. Philip's retort was: "Well, why don't you get your tongue blessed at the same time."
Brother Marcellinus was one of the most interesting minds I have ever met, considering that he had never pursued studies far into the realm of profound scholarship. He had been an onmiverous reader in English and had a prodigous memory for words and and extraordinary facility in conversation. His ordinary speech bore all the marks of distinction in the selection of words for nicety, appropriateness, exactness, and there was about everything he said a glamor of humor that was indescribably charming. Few professed English scholars could at all approach him the magic, splendor and beauty of his talk. He was much beloved by all and was the particular favorite among the priests.
came from Louisville, Ky. His family name was Jim Cassin. He had been a Pinkerton detective in Louisville and he was a most interesting blend of the sophistication that came of his old work and the religious simplicity, sincerity, piety, obedience and humility that the community life required. For a time he naturally was occupied with problems of discipline on the campus and he was much admired for the discretion, fairness and freedom from emotion wnich characterized his acts. He was a thorough going man in all respects and for a tine he was a canvasser for the Ave Maria. Once when the Brother who had the charge of digging the graves came to pay him a friendly visit, he said: "You come a day too soon to see about that grave." As a matter of fact he died the next day.
An address from the students to him on the occasion of the the Silver Jubilee contains the following sentence: "Can we do justice to the great and noble qualities we have seen manifested by you in the various functions allotted to you -- to your firmness, decision and zeal for repressing disorders, as Prefect of Discipline -- to your piety as Prefect of religion -- your fatherly tenderness as Prefect of Health, and, in fine, that equal and ceasless fostering care extending over all the branches of science and literature, wnicn we observe in the exercise of your last and most arduous office of Prefect of Studies?"
An address to him from students at the Silver Jubilee contains this sentence: "May we ask as a favor, since we cannot celebrate the day with you, that you will remember us in a pleasant and invigorating ride behind the 'good steed' Donatus, which you were so kind as to receive from us, and to name in your honor."
An address to him from the students at the Silver Jubilee ran as follows: "Very Reverend Father: In the celebration of this glorious festival, when so much is observed and displayed of the exterior grandeur of Notre Dame; when honors are heaped upon the heads of all who have had a share in the foundation of the outward and visible edifice, how can we forget the inward and spiritual structure of which the outward is but a symbol? How can we forget the edifying lives of those who have been chiefly instrumental in building up that spiritual structure, both by example and precept? If we praise the courage, the patience and the perseverence which contributed to the rise, progress and completion of the University, shall we say nothing of the animating breath of religion from [which] these great virtues receive taeir life, their efficacy and their eternal reward? And shall we say nothing of him whose very presence carries the atmosphere of religion with it wherever it blesses the earth? Shall we offer no congratulations to the man who has known more of the true life of Notre Dame for the greater part of the period whose conclusion we now celebrate than any other within the walls of the University?
Father, when you left the quiet seclusion of St. Aloysius' Novitiate, with which your name was so long identified, and came to be our Prefect of Religion in the noisy college, we must acknowledge that you made a sacrifice, but a sacrifice for which our hearts are not ungrateful, even though earthly gratitude was not the reward you sought. Your devoted labors for our spiritual welfare, the many hours you have sat for our sakes imprisoned in the narrowest of cells, these, begun even in your former seclusion, were redoubled wnen you came amongst us. Your kindness in offering instruction to all who would receive it, bringing many to the True Fold of the One Shepherd; your attention to those who though believing in and professing the ancient faith were yet, through early neglect, unable to give a satisfactory account of the belief that was in them -- the fruits of these good works will meet you on your triumnhant entry into the eternal mansions orepared for you. How many souls (some already gone before you into a better world,) will then hail you as the chief instrument under Providence, of the accomplishment of their beatitude?
And the little band who have attended your morning mass in the college chapel, though the time has come for them now to separate, though their places next year may be filled by others, yet, wherever they may be, on whatever distant shore their lot may be cast, united still in one desire they will breathe a common aspiration to heaven invoking a blessing on him who has been so truly a father to us all. May you, very reverend sir, long live and see the triumph of true religion over all hearts, and, more especially, over tie hearts of
Your devoted spiritual children,
THE STUDENTS OF NOTRE DAME.
Father Dillon, with his own hand, planted the trees along Notre Dame Avenue between the college and the town. Professor Tong saw him do it and told the story to me. Dillon was one of the greatest men in the history of Notre Dame. Father Sorin wanted to build a stone wall around the campus, but Father Dillon, with a courage that is even more rare now than it was then, "withstood him to his face," as St. Paul says of his own encounter with St. Peter. He said to him, "Father General, this is the United States, and Americans will not submit to that sort of treatment." On the testimony of Professor Tong, Father Dillon was the best teacher he had ever known. "He taught me how to teach," said Tong.
Father Drouelle liked to talk about the corduroy between South Bend and Indianapolis. Later he lived in Rome for twelve years and was notably kind to Americans while also enjoying the reputation as being one of "the three holiest men in Rome". Before leaving Notre Dame Father Drouelle celebrated the first high mass in the new Church on November the twelfth, 1848. In 1869 the Silver Jubilee Book said that "the Church still stands and though it has been enlarged is now too small for the accommodation of the students and the Congregation. We have reason to hope it will soon be replaced by a larger one more in accordance witn the buildings around it".
(See Archbishop Ireland's Article in Donahue's Magazine)
Father Paul was a canvasser for the Boston Pilot and for religious words and books in general. As an itinerant bookseller he met and converted General Rosecrans, then a cadet at West Point. "What are you to toting around," said the cadet, and Paul then made answer, "Catholic newspapers and books, sir." "That's interesting, I never saw a Catholic book; let me look at them." Thereupon Paul Gillen sold General Rosecrans Milner's "End of controversy" and soon young Rosecrans asked to be received into the Church. Later on, [when] the future General was still a cadet, his brother visited him at West Point for the purpose among other things of expressing in person the resentnent he and the family felt at the conversion of the elder brother. "Let us go for a walk," said the Catholic cadet, and not altogether by accident they passed along to the little Catholic chapel on the grounds of West Point. "I want to go in here for a while," said the cadet, "suppose you slip in with me." "I haven't the slightest desire to go in," said his brother. "Well you may as well sit down and rest in the coolness of the chapel." In the end the brother did enter and flung himself down rebelliously in the last pew in the chapel. In telling the story afterwards tnis brother said, "All of a sudden I felt an irresistable impulse to bring myself on my knees and there came over me, quite without warning, the profound conviction of the Real Preserve. I knew that Christ was actually there in person." It was the beginning of another conversion and this younger brother lived to be a distinguished clergyman, the well known Bishop Rosecrans of Columbus, Ohio.
Paul Gillen was perhaps the best known and perhaps the most respected Catholic chaplain on the Northern side Army during the Civil War. He was admired in spite of certain eccentricities and insubordinate tendencies which nothing, apparently, could control. For instance, an order would go forth for some good military reason threatening the most tragic punishment on anyone that moved about before a certain hour in the morning set for mobilization. Father Paul, of course, knew about tne warning and the punishment but "he had to go ahead off the army to prepare his mass on his altar," he said to himself, and presently General Hancock would be awakened with news that somebody was driving an old horse and wagon in defiance of orders. Hancock would explode and order an investigation. When the orderly returned to say that it was Chaplain Paul, Hancock would smile grimly and say "Oh, well, Father Paul, you can't do anything with him".
The manner in which Father Paul intercepted Father Hudson on his way to a Trappist Monastery and planted him securely in the soil of Notre Dame is told in a little sketch ot Father Hudson's. General Hancock always had a room in his house which he called Father Paul's room and the old chaplain often came to it.
Father Peter Lauth remembered well in his old age that, as a young priest in Texas, he used to take a horse and buggy out into the remote country districts three or four days at a time. It was necessary to take his food along with him on these trips. He gathered the old people together to catechize them in little groups near their homes. That was also his method of rounding up the people for the Sunday mass. On Sunday afternoon he gathered all of the older people together for their catechism in the Church, the men and women coming on alternate Sundays. There is an episode in his life that shows some characteristics. He wanted Mother Pauline to walk in the procession with the children in the May devotion. Mother Pauline, then a young nun, didn't like the idea and protested. Father Lauth thought this a manifestation of pride and made it perfectly clear to her that he was the supreme authority in that particular parish. He said to her, "Why, you are only a layman. You can't even bless a pair of beads."
Once, while I was Superior of the Seminary, I went down to preach to his people on the Immaculate Conception, December eighth. It as an extremely cold day and the snow was as deep as I have ever known. The devotions were in the evening. Two young seminarians, Matthew Walsh and Ernest Davis, asked permission to go down to hear the sermon. I had no delusions about their zeal for the word of God. They heard quite enough sermons from me in the daily routine of the seminary life. What they wanted was the adventure of going to town on so cold a night. At that time we had, as a part of the seminary household, two ancient mules, named Jack and Jenny. My answer to their request was that, if they would hitch up old Jenny to the spring wagon and drive her two and a half miles to St. Joseph's Church, where the sermon was to be given, they might do so. Much to Jenny's disgust, she was dragged from her comfortable stall and attached to the old spring-board. Quite needlessly they [took] the seminary house-bell, which summoned the boys to their devotion, and attached it under the wagon. Jenny's chief characteristic was the deliberateness with which she walked. I knew it would take a good hour to make the journey from the seminary to St. Joseph's. In the meantime a comfortable carriage was sent for me, and on the way down I passed the two youngsters with their strange equipment, Jenny lifting her voice with accents of desolation to the stars. It wasn't merely that she was separated from the domestic Jack. The cold had something to do with it. I arrived at the church and almost immediately began the sermon. After I had got well warmed up, I noticed the congregation distracted somewhat by the strangest bellowing every heard. It was old Jenny still lamenting as they slowly marched to the church. She was tied outside and comfortably blanketed, it is true, but her lamentations did not cease on that account. The congregation was getting nervous. At this moment the two young fellows appeared at the door, and while keeping their eyes fixed on me, they marched down the main aisle directly to the sanctuary railing where I was talking, but in such a manner as to attract as little as possible of the congregation's attention. They then solemnly genuflected before me and took the front seat. The sermon received due praise from Father Peter Lauth, and what seemed to strike him as its most remarkable characteristic was that it was over the heads of the flock. For years afterwards, whenever he mentioned the episode, he always added, "and to this day they don't know what he was talking about." The suggestion that they still kept wondering and trying to puzzle it out was not the least amusing side of the episode.
He was in some ways a man of mortified life though his asceticism touched only the luxurious and not the necessities. For example, he never used tobacco in any form -- smoking, chewing or snuffing. He never, as was the boast of Polonius, in his youth applied hot and rebellious liquors to his blood. For a few weeks before he died, a little stimulant was enforced upon nim by the physician and to that, like a sensible soul, he made no objection. But the wiliest adventure he ever had in relation to strong drink -- it is a joke even to think about it -- was when once at Commencement, when he was terribly overworked in his office, the old saint of the Community, Father Granger, sent him a bottle of cider and the same was fresh and young.
Father Maher saw Archbishop Kenrick here, I think, on the occasion of the blessing of the statue on the Dome and was profoundly impressed with his spiritual appearance. "He was the most chaste-looking soul I have ever looked upon," he said to me. Father Maher spent a year in Texas in charge of the office at St. Edward's College. This was to give him a little change of environment after so many years of close confinement, as it helped him to necessitate some such consideration.
Father Maher was nine years old on the night of the Big Wind. The place of his birth was Boherlaham in Tipperary. During the fatal forties there was a Black Famine. In the year forty-nine alone, the deaths in Ireland numbered two hundred and forty thousand. Father Maher was twenty years old when he emigrated to the United States, coming over in a "hulk". It required two months to make the trip. He spent four years in New York and Philadelphia before coming to Notre Dame in 1856. In that year there was no railroad farther west than Toledo, Ohio, and he was obliged to travel by stage from that point to Bertrand, a favorite and much patronized depot for the stage coaches of the early days. He arrived at Notre Dame Sept 12th from Bertrand. Bertrand was on the Niles Road, great highway. He began his Novitiate on Jan. 25, 1857. He was twenty-five years Secretary and Treasurer of the University and twenty-seven years Postmaster.
He enjoyed the confidence of Father Sorin and was often consulted by him, particularly in times of financial storm and threat, as was the case after the fire of 1879.
Until the period of his extreme infirmity he rose regularly at three forty-five in the morning and after a quick toillette he ventilated and made his bed and arranged his room. Only in late years did he permit the servant to do this work. He was a devoted reader of books and spent most of his spare time in that way. To his very last days his mind was extremely vigorous and his memory was not only accurate but extremely picturesque, humorous and photographic. In this position he was affable in the extreme and his habitual expression was a genial and innocent smile. He laughed in a high pitch wnich was heard from end to end of the campus and, while in itself something of an oddity, seemed to be a natural part of this interesting and unusual man.