University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Notre Dame -- One Hundred Years / by Arthur J. Hope, C.S.C.

Chapter XVII

SOMETIME in the early morning of October 6th, 1886, robbers broke into the still unfinished extension of the church and stole the two gold and silver crowns which adorned the Lady Chapel. After the wall separating this chapel from the nave of the Church had been torn down, a board partition had been temporarily substituted for it. It was through this that the culprits succeeded in obtaining an entrance. The robbery was not discovered until five o'clock in the morning when the Community assembled for its morning exercise. Attention was soon attracted by the long ladder still standing against the wall near the statue of Our Lady and it was immediately noticed that the two crowns were missing.[1] The South Bend police immediately began an investigation and by chance ran into the thieves on Division Street. When the three thieves realized that they had been spotted they dropped their bundles and started to run. Only one of the three was caught. He was a former inmate of the Michigan City prison.[2] Apparently the robbers had passed the time after their visit to the Church in extracting the jewels, for the crowns were battered and crushed, almost, it was at first thought, beyond repair. Later, however, a Chicago goldsmith restored the larger and more valuable crown. Today it is in a glass case in the sacristy of the Church.

* * *

Football was started at Notre Dame in the late sixties. It was informally organized by the students and seems to have received the approval of the University until its roughness became more apparent. The Scholastic put it this way: "We hope the good old game of football will soon be the fashion. If not so scientific as baseball, it kills less and gives enjoyment to a greater number."[3] Perhaps the reference to killing was inspired by a remark in the Scholastic of the previous week noting that twenty-five had been killed in the United States playing baseball in the season of 1870.[4] The game remained for nearly twenty years one of several forms of campus sport. Frequently, a keg of cider or a barrel of apples offered inspiration to the Reds and the Blues, as the two teams were called. In 1879 an official cheer was chosen: "Rah, Rah, Rah, Nostra Domina," in preference to "S-S-St! Nostra Domina! Boom!"[5] While the game soon became popular among the students at Notre Dame as elsewhere, parents and teachers were debating the virtues and vices of the sport. Those who were opposed to the game, however, were waging a losing battle.

The first intercollegiate game was played with the University of Michigan on November 23, 1887. It was a very informal, cordial inter-collegiate affair. George W. DeHaven and W. Harless, former Notre Dame students, who were attending the University of Michigan, and playing on its teams, wrote to Brother Paul, the founder of modern athletics at Notre Dame, to arrange the game. The Michigan team, they said, was leaving Ann Arbor the latter part of November to play a series of games with the teams of the leading cities and colleges of the Northwest.[6] It was proposed that Michigan stop off on its way through South Bend to play a picked team of the senior department. Michigan was the champion team of the West and played according to the rules of Rugby football, which were not used at Notre Dame at the time. Notre Dame agreed, however, to play the champion according to the Rugby Rules if Michigan would first explain them to the home team.

The Michigan team was met at the train early on the morning of Wednesday, November 23rd, by a reception committee of students. The visitors, "after spending a few hours taking in the surroundings, donned their uniforms of spotless white and appeared upon the senior campus."[7] The field was damp and muddy. To teach the home team the rules by which they were to play, two teams were formed, each composed of both Notre Dame and Michigan players. After "some minutes" of play the real game was called. The home team lined up as follows: Fullback, H. Jewett; Halfbacks, J. Cusack and H. Luhn; Quarterback, G. Cartier; Center rush, G. A. Houck; Rush line, F. Fehr, Pete Nelson, B. Sawkins, W. Springer, T. O'Regan, P. P. Maloney." Time prevented playing more than one inning. It was enough for Michigan to win an eight to nothing victory. The Scholastic, reporting the event three days later, said "the game had started an enthusiastic football boom."[8] After a hearty dinner at noon, Father Walsh thanked the visitors for their coming and promised a cordial reception in the series of games he hoped would be played between the two schools. At one o'clock the visitors took the carriage to Niles and were given a rousing send-off by the cheering student body. Michigan went on to Chicago and played the next day, Thanksgiving, an eleven picked from the Chicago Alumni of Yale and Harvard, winning 26 to 0.

The following week a meeting was held to organize a Rugby football association under the presidency of Brother Paul[9] and new uniforms were ordered for the two campus elevens. "The jacket and trousers are of canvas, the stockings are brown and black by which colors the teams will be distinguished."[10] The names, the Blacks and the Browns, did not stick long for in the first game played in the new uniforms, March 31, 1888, the teams were called the "Specials" and the "Anti-Specials." The second and third intercollegiate games, played on April 27 and 28, 1888, against Michigan, resulted in two more defeats for Notre Dame.

In the first of these games, played at the Green Stocking Ball Park in South Bend before 400 spectators, Notre Dame was defeated, 26 to 6. The next day "the Ann Arbor boys came out from South Bend to the University Saturday morning. After an inspection of Notre Dame and her surroundings and after partaking of dinner in the senior refectory and a short ride on the lake, they got ready for their second game and appeared on the grounds with their opponents at two o'clock. Just after taking their positions, Bonney, of South Bend, photographed the two teams and the field. There were some changes in the Ann Arbor team rendered necessary by the departure of Mr. James Duffy who had been called home the previous evening. B. M. Sprague (the referee of the previous day's game) was put on the eleven and R. S. Babcock [of Michigan] who had become too lame to play, having been injured in the previous game, was selected to referee the contest. The game was played with ten men on a side."[12] An inkling of the conduct of early games is given in the write-up of the first inning when Sprague took the ball, while other players were settling some dispute and made a touchdown for his side, and a goal kick by Duffy gave them two more points, Notre Dame claimed the touchdown was illegal, asserting that Sprague neglected to put the ball in play and furthermore went out of bounds near the goal. The referee, however, could not see it in this light."[13] The only other game of the year 1888, against the Harvard School of Chicago, Notre Dame won, 20 to 0.[14] Since Harvard had been acclaimed the champions of Illinois, Notre Dame went them one better and claimed to be champions of Indiana and Illinois. How Notre Dame became the champion of Indiana is something of a mystery since Notre Dame did not play any Indiana team that year. However, in honor of their victory, a football banquet was served. "After the supper the players were the guests of Professor Edwards and the Crescent Club in the Senior Reading Room where they tripped the light fantastic and listened to sweet strains of music from the Crescent Club orchestra."

The spring of 1889 found the team once more with new uniforms. The new suits had "a great advantage in being padded." This time they had the letters ND on the breast of the jacket, one in old gold, the other in sky-blue. The caps with visors also bore the college colors.[16] The team hoped to try out the new uniforms in a spring game with Michigan, but the game did not materialize. According to the aggressive Scholastic, Michigan "backed squarely out when asked to play, alleging various excuses. The secret of the matter probably is that their best men have left the team and it is in a weak state."[17]

The first game played away from Notre Dame was against Northwestern in November, 1889. Notre Dame won, 9 to 0. The team trained for the game by taking a run around the lake every morning at daybreak. There was no coach at the time, although the college paper saw the need for one: "What the football eleven needs most is a coacher. They are all strong men and work hard but do not play as scientifically as they might. If a good man were obtained for two or three weeks there would be a great improvement."[18]

It was only in 1894 that football took on some of the aspects it has today. A coach was finally engaged -- James L. T. Morrison, who had been left tackle on the Michigan team of 1893. Under him, regular training was inaugurated as well as a training table for the team, possibly as much to incite the men to go out for the team as to "condition" them, for part of the coach's problem was to get twenty-two men out for practice. Morrison's period of coaching was brief. He came in time to prepare the team for a game with Hillsdale and a week after the victory, left Notre Dame to go to Hillsdale to coach. The Scholastic calmly advised the abandoned team: "It rests now with the captain and his men to continue practice on the lines mapped out by the coach."[19] The advice seems to have ken heeded for in the following four games only one, the last, was lost. The five-game season, against Hillsdale, Wabash, Rush Medical of Chicago, and two games with Albion, was the first in which a regular schedule was followed. It was the beginning of a great football tradition at Notre Dame.

Like football, baseball was introduced in the '60's. The first team was organized in 1865 by a senior, Matthew Campion,[20] who later became a priest and pastor of St. Mary's Church in Lafayette, Indiana. During the few years preceding 1865 a Cricket Club failed to arouse sufficient interest and was dropped. Baseball, however, soon blossomed into the most popular campus sport. During the '70's and '80's, spring and fall found between ten and fifteen campus teams in action with such names as the Juanita, Empire, Fashion, Star of the East, Star of the West, O.K., Pickwick, Quick-Step, and Young America Baseball Club. The most famous baseball celebrity to come from the ranks of these campus teams was Adrian "Cap" Anson of the Juanita teams of 1865 and 1866. "Cap" became one of the great heroes of the game in the nineteenth century and did much to develop the national character of the sport.

The first game with an outside team seems to have been the one played against the South Bend Green Stockings, "the champion of the district," early in June, 1885.[21] A few weeks later a baseball game was played as part of the Commencement celebration and with the same team. The game was called in the seventh inning "owing to faulty decisions of the South Bend umpire."[22] The next year one of the college teams played the Pioneer Cadets of Philadelphia. This was a team from St. Michael's Parish, Philadelphia, which had come to Notre Dame as part of the Philadelphia delegation to the annual convention of the Catholic Total Abstinence Union held at the University in August.[23]

Outside games were the exception until the '90's. Then games were played with city teams of South Bend, Goshen, Muskegon, and with teams of the Commercial League of Chicago. One of the games with Goshen was a no-hit, no-run affair.[24] As intercollegiate games developed, the non-college teams were gradually dropped. The earliest college teams to play Notre Dame were the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. The game with Michigan was the great contest of the '92 season. Michigan had won all its games up to the Notre Dame game and the home club was justifiably worried. However, the sports editor of the Scholastic explained the upset victory by Notre Dame with a disarming candor long out of place in college athletics: "The home team, being weak in the points, secured the services of Willie McGill, who used to be a student of the University several years ago. When the Michigan men faced him, their confidence began to sink and after the first inning the game was practically won!" "Willie" allowed only three hits. The local club admitted that "if Notre Dame did not have McGill they would surely have lost the game."[25]

Boating was almost as popular as baseball. The St. Joseph's Boating Club was organized April 21, 1867, "for the physical, as well as the mental education of its members, both in the art of rowing and sailing. The beautiful lakes described in the prospectus of this catalogue sufficiently indicate that pleasure accompanies this branch of education."[20] At first two boats, or barges as they were frequently, and no doubt more aptly, called, were the four-oared Santa Maria and the Pinta. The staff boat was the Nina. A boathouse was built on St. Joseph's Lake. In the first years there were two principal races, one on St. Edward's Day, the feast of Father Sorin's patron saint, and the second at Commencement, a regular feature of the year-end exercises. Occasionally the boats were carried to the St. Joseph's River and the club rowed downstream twelve miles to Niles, stopping on the way for a picnic lunch. It was not a race but a pleasure trip and the crews took the day to go one way, glad in the evening to put themselves and the boats on the train for the return.[27] The popularity of boating soon obliged the club to buy two more boats. These were the six-oared barges named the Evangeline and the Minnehaha.

After the death of Father Lemonnier in 1874, the students changed the name of the club to the Lemonnier Boating Club in honor of the popular president. In 1889 the Montmorency, four-oared and thirty feet long, and the Yosemite, were purchased. They had outriggers sliding seats and "all the latest improvements in racing boats."

In the '90's, the Ferdinand and the Columbus were added, and, in honor of the Jubilee, the Golden Jubilee and the Silver Jubilee. As the number of boats increased, the old boathouse became obsolete and a new one was finished for Commencement in 1888 at the east end of St. Joseph's Lake. The two-story building was divided in the middle by a wall so as to furnish two compartments for the racing and pleasure boats. Upstairs was a gym "fitted for the winter training of the crews and a reading room.[28] The pleasure boats were smaller boats, the gift of alumni or friends of the University, or purchased by the members of the club.

The races were started at the east end of St. Joseph's Lake. The crews of the "Reds" and the "Blues," names suggested by the colors of their uniforms, raced westward towards the buoy at the west end, turned and came back to the starting point. The club, one of the most popular on the campus, never reached the point of intercollegiate competition.

The Manual Labor School was situated on the west side of Notre Dame Avenue just in front of the college entrance. In 1886 it was moved, on wheels, west of the college grounds and near the farmhouse. The carpenter, blacksmith, and paint shops which were opposite the Manual Labor School on the same side of Notre Dame Avenue were likewise moved to new locations.[29] The removal of the buildings permitted Brother Peter and the surveying class to lay out a park and garden in front of the Main Building.

The Manual Labor School was a cream-colored, frame building with black trimming, three stories high and one hundred and twelve feet in length. It stood between the present sites of Walsh and Badin Halls. At that time there were about fifty boys in the school and in the shops or on the farm. The boys were given three months of elementary schooling every year. The other nine months were devoted to learning a trade in one of the several shops. In 1873 this program was revised in such a way as to give the student five hours a day at several trades and four hours of classwork. Students were accepted up to the ages of twelve and sixteen and could now, under the new plan, not only learn a trade but complete at the same time, in four years, the course of study as taught the commercial students.[30] The students of the Manual Labor School were, like the Minims, completely separated from the other students, having their own dormitory, dining hall, play-grounds, and recreation hall.

In 1890 the training was altered somewhat so that the students were on a "forty-four hour week" -- eight hours a day, five and one-half days a week. During two hours a day and two hours each evening the students had study and classwork; the rest of the time was passed in the shops. The products of student labor were sold at the local market and the profits from them credited to their account. Since most of these students were orphans or from poor families unable to pay much, if anything, the boys were thus able to earn something while at the same time finishing their education. The Manual Labor School failed, however, to develop. As time went on, very few students were attracted to this sort of training. It never had more than sixty students at the time of which we speak. No doubt the fact that it was a constant drain on the financial resources of the Community was the principal reason for discontinuing it. But at a time when the West was developing, it was no small advantage for the hundreds of orphans and poor boys to have a chance to learn a trade so as to be able to find a place in society.

Tradition had established the feast of St. Edward, October 13th, as one of the important holidays of the school-year. As long as Father Sorin was alive it was a day of dramatic entertainments, congratulations to Father Sorin, and of athletics. It became the annual field day for the track stars of all ages. From these campus games, however, were developed several men worthy of intercollegiate competition. And again, the first intercollegiate competition in track was with the University of Michigan. Four men, led by Hal Jewett, were sent to Ann Arbor, in May, 1890. The write-up of the meet speaks only of Jewett's achievements which, indeed, justified the trip. In the hop-step-and-jump event he made forty-four feet, eight and one-quarter inches -- the American record at the time being but forty-one feet, one and one-half inches. Jewett likewise won the broad jump with a leap of nineteen feet and was second in the hundred yard dash, losing first place by a foot. His reputation was thereupon established as the "champion of the day" and he was invited to become a non-resident member of the Detroit Athletic Club.[31]

The next month Jewett, accompanied by Professor Edwards, went to Detroit to participate in the meet of the Detroit Athletic Association for the Western Championship. On this occasion Jewett defeated John Owens, his master in the last meet, in the hundred yard dash in 10.2 seconds.[32] The following year Jewett was recognized as world champion in the hundred yard dash (9.8 seconds) and the two hundred and twenty yard event (21.6 seconds) when he defeated the Eastern champion, Cary, in a meet held by the Manhattan Club in New York on the first of October.[33] Intercollegiate competition, however, remained as the exception until the turn of the century and seems to have been justified as a campus activity only by the presence of a star like Jewett. We should remark that Hal Jewett during the Spanish-American War served on the U.S.S. Yosemite. Afterwards, he returned to Detroit where his skill along engineering lines led him into the growing automobile industry. He was one of the organizers of the Paige-Detroit Company in 1910 and became its president and the chairman of the board.[34]

* * *

In the basement chapel of Sacred Heart Church lie the remains of America's greatest Catholic philosopher of the nineteenth century, Orestes Brownson. His stormy intellectual and spiritual life had been climaxed in 1844 when he was received into the Church, much to the dismay of his friends, who prophesied that he would not long remain a Catholic.

When Father Sorin first met Brownson is not known, but their first meeting must have taken place not many years after the philosopher's conversion for Father Sorin was already acquainted with him when Brownson visited Notre Dame in 1850.[35] His next recorded relationship with Notre Dame begins in 1862 when Father Sorin invited him to come to Notre Dame to teach. Brownson seemed to be delighted with the offer. He wrote that he was prepared to teach philosophy, history, rhetoric, English Composition, and elocution.[36] What Sorin offered him by way of compensation most certainly could not have been any great sum. At least in his reply to the offer Brownson was appalled at the teaching schedule suggested by the president of Notre Dame. He said that it would be physically impossible for him to be thus engaged daily from six o'clock in the morning to ten at night.[37] Brownson complained that his health would not permit such a regime. He did not, however, reject utterly the idea and promised Father Sorin to visit Notre Dame later in January of 1863. By then apparently Brownson had changed his mind for he did not come to Notre Dame. When in the course of events financial misfortune and sickness befell the noted convert, a committee of his friends and admirers was organized to collect funds to help him. One of Notre Dame's professors, C. J. Beleke, a German classical scholar, represented the University on the Dr. Brownson Fund Association,[38] which paid him an annuity of $1,000 a year.

When Father Sorin decided to start The Ave Maria in 1865 he urged Brownson to write for it. Indeed, Brownson did write several articles, mostly concerning the Blessed Virgin. In 1866, Father Sorin offered a prize of $200 in gold for one who would write the best competitive essay concerning the Blessed Virgin. This competition was in honor of the rededication and blessing of the Main Building and the statue which surmounted it. Brownson, together with Louis Constantine, shared the prize.[39] After the death of Mrs. Brownson, Sorin offered Brownson a home at Notre Dame.[40] The bereavement and ill health of the great philosopher made the offer tempting but Brownson finally declined it for the time being and sought comfort in his retirement from public life and the pleasure which he found at the home of his son in Detroit. It was there that Brownson died April 17, 1876.

Ten years later during the administration of Father Walsh arrangements were made for the removal of Brownson's remains to Notre Dame. Brownson had more than once expressed the desire to end his days at the University, but death had overtaken him before his wish could be fulfilled. It was at least a partial fulfillment of his hopes when his son, Henry A. Brownson, authorized the transfer and reburial of his body at Notre Dame, which took place June 17, 1886.[41]

Today the remains of this great American philosopher lie under a memorial slab on the floor of the basement chapel of the college church. He is the only one so honored. The chapel was named the Brownson Memorial Chapel. Two years previously, in June, 1884, a portrait of Brownson by Gregori was unveiled in Washington Hall with appropriate ceremonies. The main address on the occasion was delivered by Father Van Dyke, rector of the Cathedral at Detroit and a good friend of Brownson's.[42] In 1890 one of the student dormitories of the Main Building was called Brownson Hall.

Among Father Walsh's last acts was the erection of the statue to the Sacred Heart in the middle of the old quadrangle. It was dedicated at the Commencement exercises of 1893.[43] As he saw the statue unveiled and read the inscription, Venite ad me omnes, he most likely had some fleeting thought that soon, perhaps, he would be gathered in the outstretched arms of Christ. For he had been in bad health the last two years, nor had rest and travel bettered his condition.

When the commencement exercises of 1893 were over, Father Walsh at last consented to rest. He went to Waukesha, Wisconsin, to drink the waters at Colonel Dunbar's establishment, Bethsaida Springs. He was there only a few days when it was apparent that he must go to a hospital. Off to Milwaukee with Brother Paul the Hermit, he entered St. Mary's-by-the-Lake Hospital, conducted by the Sisters of Charity. Even in sickness he lost none of his power to attract. Doctor Fox, one of the physicians who attended him, remarked to a Sister: "Sister, you must not let others do as I do -- go in and talk with Father Walsh, for I can't help it. He is such a singularly fascinating man!"[44]

The doctors were giving Father Walsh more hope than was justified. His feet began to swell and he could no longer use even his bedroom slippers. Other signs of dissolution appeared. When it was seen that medicine was of no avail, the Sister in charge tried to speak the news easily, but there was no need. His was a stalwart soul, and his innocence was rivaled only by his devotion. He asked for a "Directory" and made his examination of conscience. That evening he was anointed and received Viaticum whilst in the full possession of his faculties. "Never did he show the slightest fear of death. Once he said: 'I should have liked to labor longer for the University; but I have made the sacrifice!'"[45]

On the evening of July 16th, two priests came from Notre Dame, Fathers Patrick Condon and Moses McGarry. Father Spillard got there about one o'clock on the morning of the 17th. And Professor O'Dea came, also. Father Walsh was sinking rapidly, already near his agony. Professor O'Dea thought the victim to be unconscious, but Brother Paul, leaning over the dying priest, told him that Professor O'Dea was in the room, and the priest nodded for the Professor to approach. O'Dea fell on his knees beside the bed, and kissing Father Walsh's hand, began to weep with great emotion. The other priests present also wept. Father McGarry, holding Father Walsh's hand, exclaimed softly: "Oh, these hands, these beautiful hands! How well I have known them!" At half past four, Father McGarry went to the chapel to say Mass for Father Walsh. At five-fifteen he was back in the sick-room. At that very moment, Father Walsh died. He was only forty years old. And he had been president of the University for twelve years.[46]

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