Father Andrew Morrissey, eighth President. His early life. Father Alexis Granger, his death. Death of Father Sorin. Experiments of Jerome Green. Zahm and Morrissey. The Golden Jubilee of the University. The Grotto. Spanish-American War.
UPON the death of Father Walsh the Reverend Andrew Morrissey succeeded to the presidency of Notre Dame. It was said that Father Walsh, on his death bed, asked that the appointment might go to Father Morrissey. Andrew Morrissey was born at Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1860. In 1870, his cousin, Brother Bernard, located at Notre Dame, returned for a visit to Ireland. After a talk with Brother Bernard young Andrew, although only ten years old, decided that he wanted to be a priest in America, at Notre Dame.
He was twelve when he finally left his native land, and almost at once entered upon his studies. He was bright, resourceful, endowed with good judgment. Sister Bethlehem, who was Father Morrissey's special guardian and guide, often told of his extreme cleverness. "Why you know they had him teaching a class in algebra at the college when he was only twelve years old!" He was a pudgy lad, square-built, with very delicate hands and small feet. There is a photograph in the archives that represents him immediately after his arrival. Father Louage, the master of novices, took Andrew to the photographer's and whilst the Master of Novices reclined in something that resembles a chaise-longue, the newcomer, dressed in short, straight pants, and holding his broad-brimmed hat stiffly by his side, gazed with apparent fright into the camera.
Andrew Morrissey entered the Novitiate in 1872. He was not professed, however, until 1880. when he was twenty years old. His superiors sent him to Sacred Heart College, Watertown, Wisconsin, where he taught a number of classes and acted as Director of Studies. In 1884 he rode over to Milwaukee and was ordained priest by Archbishop Heiss at St. Francis' Seminary. In 1885 Father Walsh succeeded in obtaining him for Notre Dame. At once he entered upon the duties of Director of Studies. In 1892 Father Morrissey succeeded Father Zahm as Vice-President.
The year 1893 was known as the year of great sorrow. We have already spoken of the death of Father Walsh. Notre Dame was, within four months, to suffer two other great losses. Between the 17th of July, when Father Walsh died, and the last day of October, death would call others -- Father Alexis Granger and Father Sorin.
Alexis Granger was strictly a students' priest. For nearly fifty years he had been identified with the college, and when he died the thousands of boys who had been to Notre Dame exclaimed with one voice: "What a saintly priest!" For fifty years he had been the confessor to the boys. He was amiable and understanding; a bit timid, with none of Father Sorin's daring; retiring, strictly honest, devoted. He rarely made a speech, could not bear to appear on public platforms, made no journeys, except the one Father Sorin forced on him. His peculiar powers in the confessional were ascribed to his genuine humility. The large number of letters from old students, some of whom had fallen on vicious days, shows how the words of Father Granger, spoken years before, had finally brought forth fruit. Fifty years in the confessional, listening to the faults and sins of Notre Dame boys, might have tended to break his gracious spirit. His kindness was not soft. Rather, it inspired true penance. A recent letter from an old graduate expresses the sentiments of the students toward Father Granger:
. . . . I went to Notre Dame in 1887, in the preparatory school, and during 1888 and 1889, finished that and started on my studies in civil engineering. Financial matters kept me out for a year and I went back in November 1891.
I went to confession to Father Granger in the chapel in the basement of the church. He gave me as a penance, a decade or so, of the Rosary.
He asked me if I had a Rosary and I told him I had lost mine in a fire which consumed our home two months before.
He immediately reached in his pocket and handed, around the outside of the confessional, a rosary and told me to keep it with me always. Whether he handed me his own rosary or not, I do not know. I always obeyed his injunction to keep the rosary with me.
I went through the Spanish War in Cuba, and World War I, in France, and many other tight situations, where an engineer must go. But by day, that rosary has been in the left front pocket of my trousers, and by night in the pocket of my pajamas or under my pillow when I slept in a bed.
Once, in going across the "Shoe Swamp" (Cienga Zapata) in Cuba, making an estimate to build a railroad, I passed three days and two nights in the swamp and in places was mired in the mud so deep, the muzzle of the automatic I carried in a shoulder hoister was in the mud. My pockets were all filled with mud, and in cleaning them out, I took out my rosary and washed it in the water of the swamp. I had three colored Cuban boys to carry the hammocks, food, etc., and they were much surprised to see an American take a rosary from his pocket.
The rosary has had only one broken link in all that time, and I repaired it myself. The beads have worn down, whether from rubbing together in my pocket, or from natural attrition, due to the fingers passing the beads along, God knows.
Half a century is a long time to have one rosary. However, in remembering in my prayers each day those whom "we have loved long since and lost awhile," is included Father Granger.
When anyone lay dangerously sick, it was for Father Granger they always asked. In his carefully kept diaries he notes, after every death, that he had gone to see the dying lad, heard his confession, and saw him expire, consoled and comforted with the last Sacraments.
Father Granger was born at Daon, France, on June 19, 1817. He received his preparatory education at the college of Chateau-Gontier. When he was twenty, he entered the Seminary at Le Mans. He was ordained on December 19, 1840. Two years later, he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross, and in 1844 he was appointed as a missionary to help Father Sorin in his new work at Notre Dame. He was not a brilliant man, but steady, reliable, a man of sound piety and charity. For more years than one could remember, he had been pastor of the church at Notre Dame. It was through Father Granger's persistent care and planning that the beautiful college church was erected. He saw to everything, the windows, the stone and brick, the frescoing, the chimes, the bronze altar; everything was the product of his watchfulness. It was on Wednesday, July 26, 1893, that Father Granger died. When they told Father Sorin, he wept. "First, Father Walsh, and now mon cher Alexis! Who next?" He was to be the next.
School had resumed. Father Morrissey saw Father Sorin each day, and reported to him in short, emphatic sentences that the "school would be good, very good!" "'Tis well," was all that Father Sorin could reply. The year previous, he had had a startling sickness, with hemorrhages and great weakness. From that time on, Doctor Boynton, a specialist from Chicago, came twice a week to see him. The doctor said Sorin was suffering from Bright's disease. And there was little hope for him.
On St. Edward's Day, October 13th, the students and faculty knew that all was not well. For the first time in all those years, Sorin was unable to attend the celebration. He was so unwell that he could not even go to the college parlor. In his own rooms in the presbytery, however, he received a delegation of the students and faculty. The congratulations were mercifully short. He thanked them in a subdued voice, and his great frame, trembling and shaken, followed them to the porch. The band was gathered there, and when Sorin appeared they broke loose. He smiled and waved his hand gently to them, then turned, and with some assistance, re-entered the room that was to be his death-chamber.
On Saturday, October 28th, he made an effort to rise from his bed, but could not. The following day his condition was much worse. And on Monday, surrounded by many priests and religious, he received the last Sacraments of the Church. All that night they watched by his bed, in the southwest room of the Presbytery. His eyes were closed, but his lips moved in constant prayer. In the morning the Minims were told that he was dying, and the little "Princes," as Father Sorin called them, demanded that they be allowed to see him once more. Instead, the Sisters brought them to the chapel where they stayed until about ten o'clock.
In the sick room the bystanders noticed that now and then Father Sorin's face was lighted with a tender smile. At a quarter to ten he slowly opened his eyes and gazed at the religious kneeling about him. It was the only farewell he could make. Then, gently closing his eyes he expired without the slightest movement or struggle. It was October 31, 1893.
Of course, there was a great funeral, not at all what Father Sorin wanted, if we may believe a letter in his own hand, addressed to no one in particular, nor bearing any date, containing the following instruction:
When I die, the Community shall not be disturbed by any extra preparations or invitations to strangers for my obsequies. On the contrary, I wish the community to remain completely at peace, exclusively occupied with the needs of my poor soul. I want nothing more than is prescribed by the Rule: a simple wood coffin, with simplest purple vestment. No strangers of any sort are to be disturbed by any telegraphic announcement, no invitations whatsoever to attend; none present but my own dear children of the Holy Cross around my bed; no delay to wait for friends at a distance. When laid in state, I want no strangers to look at me and prevent my own dear children from praying undisturbed around my mortal remains. Indeed, I want no visit but from my own [religious] family for which alone I have lived and whose affection I so much prized since my entrance into the Congregation.
But the Founder of Notre Dame was a public personage. In a way, he belonged to all the Catholics of America. So the church was draped in mourning. A catafalque was erected just outside the altar railing. The bell tolled lugubriously. The "telegraphic announcements" which Father Sorin had deplored came and went. And before the day was over, Notre Dame knew that the whole country would be represented at his funeral.
On Wednesday night, after Vespers had been sung, the casket was borne to the catafalque. All day Thursday crowds of visitors passed slowly by, gazing on the bearded face that seemed so like alabaster. On Friday morning the Bishop of Fort Wayne (Bishop Rademacher) sang the funeral mass, and Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati preached the sermon. His words were a great comfort. He very likely exaggerated a bit when he said he did not "think that in all our country, nor in any single country, there is a place where one single man has transformed a savage wilderness into such a city of splendor and culture as this University of Notre Dame" he found a vibrant response in the hearts of his listeners. He made the most of the fact, also, that Father Sorin's death had occurred on the last day of October, a touching symbol, he said, of Father Sorin's two great devotions -- his confidence in the Blessed Mother to whom October is dedicated, and to the Poor Souls, for it was the eve of November that he had died.
After he had done, the long cortege followed the hearse down the hill, around the lake, and out to the community cemetery behind Holy Cross Seminary. The band played a sorrowful dirge. The drums were muffled, and when all was ready, the coffin was lowered into the grave. Only the autumn leaves, brown and rustling, whispered in the silence. He would have been eighty, they said, had he lived until spring. He was so great a man that no one, on that occasion, cared to think of his shortcomings.
It would be untrue to suggest that the new president, Father Morrissey, was made desolate by the passing of Father Sorin. One great complaint against the founder of Notre Dame was that he had never ceased to be the real president. No president had ever had a free hand in governing the University as long as Sorin lived. Now, thought Father Morrissey, I can really do things! What things? one might ask. Actually, under Father Morrissey's regime, which was to last for twelve years, very little progress was made. The University became more of a prep school than ever. Indeed, Father Morrissey expressed himself quite decidedly in favor of such an institution. "We can never compete with those colleges that have such tremendous endowments! Our very existence depends on giving Catholic boys a good preparatory foundation!"
Nor can Father Morrissey be unduly blamed. He had a horror of debts. And this fear was not without foundation. In at least two instances he had seen his own community on the brink of ruin because of poor financial administration. And again, he had little appreciation of the value of university expansion. His own studies had been so curtailed (partly Sorin's responsibility) that he could not see the need for real university work. This blindness was, later on, to become a serious bone of contention between himself and Father Zahm.
There were, nevertheless, some very outstanding professors at Notre Dame, for instance, Doctor Austin O'Malley. His sense of the fitness of things, his pungent sallies at examples of "gaucherie," his finesse in evaluating the merits of a question, gave the students a critical approach to themselves and their university. "You have here," he would say, "such a lovely church. And right next to it, that monstrosity, Sorin Hall! It looks like an old-fashioned ice-box, turned upside down!" And sure enough, it did, with its four conical towers, like the short, fat legs of an ice-box turned heavenward.
Another outstanding scholar, Jerome J. Green, began his experiments in wireless telegraphy in 1899. In his field he was not the pioneer that Doctor Zahm had been in aeronautics, but he was the first American to send a wireless message, guided by the findings of the Europeans Marconi and Ducrette.
Green was born December 26, 1865, near Somerset, Ohio. His father was Joshua Green, his mother, Emily Flowers. His primary education was obtained at the small country school near Somerset. "I guess I was greedy for an education, for the school-master encouraged me to come back and re-study some of the things I had learned. He intimated that if I showed aptitude, I might possibly get a teacher's certificate and turn pedagogue." Green consented to this arrangement, and even though he had no high-school work, he obtained his teacher's certificate and taught school for two years, for which he got thirty dollars a month.
In 1888, he entered Ohio State University where he remained for five years. On the side, he became interested in photography, built his own camera, and made enough money to keep the wolf from the door. In the spring of 1893 he went, with a number of other students, to Chicago to inspect the electrical lighting of the buildings at the Columbian World's Fair. He returned to Ohio State in time to receive his degree, Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in Electrical Engineering.
After that, I was on my own, and nearly starved to death. There was a depression on, and it was almost impossible to get a job. Finally, I heard of an opening in Chicago -- in fact, one was promised to me. When I got there, the fellow said: "Oh, well, times are bad, and I don't think I'll build this year!" I was thunderstruck. "Looky here!" I said, "I've only got six dollars in my pocket, and you've promised me this job. You've got to do something for me!" He just looked at me and walked off.
Fortunately, Green met a former acquaintance who put him in touch with a Doctor Hornsby, the head of a technical school which conducted night classes in various mechanical and electrical subjects. Hornsby hired Green for teaching night classes, for which he offered $2.50 a night.
In the fall of 1894, Notre Dame needed a new professor of electrical engineering. Father Morissey and Father Corby went to Chicago and inquired of the City Electrician, who was their friend, if he could help them to find a good teacher. He advised them to consult with Dr. Hornsby, and the latter immediately and with enthusiasm recommended Jerry Green. He came to Notre Dame about the first of the year, 1895.
Green built all his apparatus for the wireless experiments in the machine shops at Notre Dame. Money was scarce, and Father Morrissey could ill afford to expend much money, although he did permit Green to purchase a large induction coil, without which the experiments could never have been performed. When the apparatus was ready, it was decided to try to send a message from one end of the room to the other. A simple telegraphic key was used to produce the sound. The experiment seemed successful. Then a message was sent from Science Hall to Chemistry Hall (now the Architecture Building); then another, from Science Hall to the flag-pole.
By this time, the Chicago newspapers had got wind of the matter and were pestering Green for a statement. He refused to anticipate his success by any publicity. He wanted to be sure. The reporters wrote columns of copy, but Green blue-penciled it until hardly anything remained. "Gentlemen," said Green, "you have written a lot of sensational stuff that may turn out to be false. Be patient, and it may be that you will have something even bigger to write about."
Another test was made between the physics laboratory and the church tower. This, too, gave satisfaction. Green then determined to try the experiment between the church tower and St. Mary's Academy, a mile's distance from the University. Green and his assistant rigged up a receiving set beneath the main portal of the Academy building. All the newspaper men were present that afternoon. Green, turning to Albert Kachur, his assistant, said: "It will take you about half an hour or so to get back to the University. Let's make it forty-five minutes. Let me see your watch!" After they had compared timepieces, it was agreed that Kachur would tap out the signals -- three dots -- at a given moment. Kachur departed, and the crowd waited impatiently.
As the given moment approached, everyone had his watch out. They hovered over the receiving set, anxious and on edge. If it would only work, it would he a great moment for Green. The Professor held up his hand for silence and a hush descended on the crowd. Then it came, three dots, clearly and unmistakably. The reporters let go with a mighty cheer.
"Now you'll let us have the stuff!" And Green nodded his assent.
Jerry Green was the first one in northern Indiana to experiment with X-rays. He constructed the first X-ray machine in this part of the country, and explained and demonstrated its use to the Medical Society of Northern Indiana. Many of the doctors in South Bend brought their patients to the University to obtain pictures of fractures and other internal disorders.
Professor Green remained at Notre Dame from 1895 until 1914, with the exception of one year, 1907-08, in which year he took a leave of absence to study and consult in Europe, where his time was spent mostly with Professor Branly at the University of Paris. In 1914 Jerry Green went to California where, until his recent retirement, he taught in the schools of the southern part of California.
The University of Notre Dame owes much to Father John A. Zahm. It is no exaggeration to say that, among the priests at the University, he was the outstanding scholar. More than that, he was a builder of scholars. From no other source did the community members derive so much inspiration and encouragement. Not only were his lectures clear and thoughtful, but the articles he wrote and the books he published gave the University a scholarly prestige. During the summer vacations, he traveled in the West and Southwest, gathering geological specimens and data. Nor did he forget the more material side of the school. Every September found him entraining for Notre Dame with a constantly growing number of new students. He was particularly fortunate in bringing to Notre Dame many boys from Latin America. In 1884, for example, he had a special coach on the first international train from Mexico to the United States, in which he brought ten students.
Thereafter, each year the number increased. He took a sort of secret satisfaction in thus increasing the enrollment. On one occasion he wrote to Professor Edwards that he had two coaches full of students that would arrive at South Bend at a certain hour. But Professor Edwards must not say anything about it to anyone! He must surprise them!
For his outstanding work in science, Notre Dame was rejoiced when the Vatican recognized his merit by creating Father Zahm a Doctor of Philosophy. Not all was to be smooth sailing, however. His later difficulties with the Holy See had their origin in Father Zahm's zeal to uphold the respectability of the Church in the eyes of science. Darwinism was immensely popular in secular universities, and Father Zahm desired to show that whatever was of proved value in the theory of evolution was perfectly reconcilable with Catholic doctrine. Father Zahm's statements about the origin of man's body ran afoul of the Congregation of the Index, and he was ordered to withdraw one of his books from circulation. The doctrine defended by Father Zahm was never condemned as heretical, but the Holy See made it unmistakably clear that it did not approve of the sentiments expressed by the former professor of science at Notre Dame.
Father Zahm's prestige does not rest, however, on his having had a book condemned by Rome. His great scholarly spirit, his genuine devotion to learning and specialization, communicated itself to younger members of the community, and when, later on (1898-1906) he was Provincial, he did all he could to educate the men entrusted to his care. Since now it can be said without wounding sensibilities, it should be noted that a cordial feeling did not exist between Father Morrissey and Father Zahm. Temperamentally, they were worlds apart. Zahm was cold. stand-offish, guileless. Morrissey was warm-hearted, expansive, not altogether impartial. Zahm was willing to go into debt in order to expand. Morrissey was frightened by debts. Zahm was intellectual, Morrissey, practical. Zahm was no politician; Morrissey, on the other hand, was rather astute.
Father Morrissey's ultimate retirement from the presidency in 1905 culminated a long series of misunderstandings between the two men, misunderstandings that had their beginning even before Father Morrissey became president. Imagine how Father Morrissey must have felt in those early years of his priesthood when he heard Zahm constantly intimating that if we had no scholarly faculty, we would have no University. As a young man, Morrissey had had to teach and study at the same time. His intellectual formation was cramped and impeded by such a multiplicity of duties that it is a wonder he became even an average teacher. The implication that he was not a learned man, and that the University, under his direction, would never grow in intellectual stature, was not too kindly received when coming from Father Zahm. Perhaps Father Morrissey would never have become an eminent scholar, even had he had the opportunity. Indeed, his gifts seem to have pertained more to the administrative order.
After Father Sorin's death, Father Gilbert Français became Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross. In Father Français, scholarship found a real friend. As he surveyed the situation at Notre Dame, he came to look upon Father Zahm as the one best fitted to promote further studies among the priests. When Father Corby, the Provincial, died in 1897, Father Français immediately named Father Zahm to the office. At once the new Provincial selected certain members among the priests for higher studies. To him must go the credit for giving the priests the opportunity to progress in scholarship. If, as time went on, Notre Dame was to be proud of her Nieuwland, it was Zahm's influence and authority that made it possible.
Notre Dame's Golden Jubilee was celebrated at the Commencement exercises of 1895. The year of "great sorrow," 1893, had prevented the exact chronological celebration. One of Notre Dame's former students and professors, the Honorable Timothy E. Howard, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Indiana, was asked to prepare a memorial volume in honor of the occasion. He had but six months in which to write the history of those fifty years. When we take into consideration his numerous other duties, together with the shortness of time, we must admit that his work was well done. He received $500 for his pains, but said that so great was his love for Notre Dame, he would have been happy to do it for nothing.
For a full week in mid-June, 1895, old Notre Dame students came to the campus and re-lived their college days. They came from every section of the country and every walk of life, bishops and barristers, bankers and bookkeepers, priests and soldiers of Blue and of Gray. It was a holiday crowd. They sat about the lawn or, in the evening, they walked about St. Joseph's Lake which had been illuminated for the occasion. The thrills and heartbreaks of school days, the escapades and pranks, the old classes and the ancient discipline, these were the things which they talked of, and which grew in the telling. Far into the night, as is the habit of alumni everywhere, they passed in review, stimulated by the bracing night air, all the incidents that had made Notre Dame an unforgettable phase of their youth. And in the morning, when the great Bourdon echoed from building to building, they roused themselves and went to church. Then, too, that big bell meant dinner, a series of dinners, which took them back to a childhood when they were hungrier. In the book of menus kept for this period, we find a record of the meals served. For each day of the Jubilee is set down the various dishes consumed. "Sure, it's an army!" exclaimed the Sisters in the kitchen.
Not even the latest of Notre Dame's graduates was bored by the reminiscences of Father Edmund Kilroy who came to Notre Dame as a boy in the 'forties.' When Father Tim O'Sullivan, whimsical and erudite, went from group to group, there was a whisper: "That's the one that blew 'St. Patrick's Day in the Morning' from the dome!" and there was a cluck of admiration as he passed. As Father Morrissey and the Governor of Indiana appeared on the stage, enthusiasm reached a high pitch. And when the Governor spoke words of praise for Notre Dame, old students murmured: "You don't know the half of it!" There was that sobering moment, too, when the old students gathered in Sacred Heart Church to pray the Requiem for Notre Dame boys who were celebrating the Jubilee, it was hoped, in heaven. All in all, it was a grand celebration in which bodies and souls were well fed.
What is now known as Corby Hall was built during the spring of 1895. It was intended primarily as a dwelling for the priests engaged in teaching at the University. It was called the "Professed House." Its first inhabitants, however, were some of the numerous guests that flowed into Notre Dame for the Jubilee. After the tumult and the shouting had died down, the members of the community moved in. By 1899 the student body had grown to such an extent that the community members had to vacate Corby Hall to make room for the students. Like Sorin Hall, Corby Hall provided private rooms for older students, in accordance with the more liberal view that had come to be held at Notre Dame.
The name of Thomas Carroll is inseparably linked with one of Notre Dame's loveliest spots, the Grotto. Thomas Carroll was a student at Notre Dame in 1855. He became a priest in 1859 and entered the Congregation of Holy Cross. Some years later, he joined the diocese of Erie. But he never forgot Notre Dame. One day, when visiting the University, he was walking around the grounds with Father Corby. Then he divulged his idea of erecting here at Notre Dame a replica of the grotto at Lourdes. The two priests discussed the question of a likely site. It was finally determined that it should be erected just west of the presbytery.
In the spring of 1896 workmen came with picks and shovels and dug the foundations. The grotto was constructed of huge boulders, some of them weighing two or three tons. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was placed in a niche at the right, and facing her, on the pavement below, a replica of St. Bernadette. From that moment, the Grotto became an integral part of Notre Dame life. The benefactor whose generosity made it possible would rejoice if he could see the steady procession of students who come to kneel before Our Lady's grace.
Father Morrissey, concerned with the increase in enrollment, decided to add two wings to Sorin Hall, in accordance with the original intention. The work was completed during the summer of 1897 and made room for one hundred additional students.
During these latter years the need for a Manual Labor school had been decreasing. The old building, a frame structure that stood approximately between the sites of the present Walsh and Badin Halls, and which had acquired the name of St. Joseph's Hall, was torn down to make room for a new St. Joseph's Hall. Students prior to 1917 will have no difficulty in recalling it. It is still standing, although its name has been changed. It is the central portion of Badin Hall, which in 1917 acquired new wings and a new name.
In 1898 the president succeeded in erecting a new gymnasium. It was a brick structure, two hundred feet long, one hundred feet wide, and twenty-five feet high. There was a half-moon roof supported by arches spanning the walls. There was a dirt floor, as there is today. There were lockers and showers. Over the front portion of the building was a room 100 x 35, corresponding to the present "apparatus room." One can hear Father Morrissey say: "Athletics . . . to be sure, is subordinate to morals and the attainments of the mind, but its functions are positive." From one who shunned vigorous exercises in any form, this was commitment a-plenty. The gymnasium was dedicated on March 11, 1899 on the occasion of a track meet in which Chicago University, the University of Illinois and Notre Dame participated. Father French presented the medals and wreaths to the victors. The result of the meet was Notre Dame, 36; Chicago, 28; Illinois, 25.
On November 9th in the following year (1900), as the students were coming from class, they noticed smoke pouring from the front of the gymnasium. In spite of the fact that the fire department from South Bend responded in less than quarter of an hour, the building was reduced to a complete wreckage within an hour and a half. No one ever discovered the origin of the fire, but it represented a loss of about $20,000, the rest being covered by insurance. Father Morrissey manifested all the alacrity of his predecessors, and began a new and better gymnasium. This time the building eliminated all possible fire hazards. It was ready for use in February, 1901.
Each of the buildings on the campus had had its own heating plant. This was expensive and wasteful. Together, Fathers Zahm and Morrissey determined on the erection of a central plant that would heat all the buildings. The plant was built on the site, approximately, of the present infirmary. It was considered quite an achievement. In fact, the builders sent a model of their work to the Paris exposition of 1900. The old steam house was then turned into a natatorium. It still stands but that is about all that can be said for it. In 1902, however, it was quite elegant. The pool was 57 feet in length, and 23 in width. It was lined with glazed tile. There were eighteen "needle and shower baths . . . so cleverly gotten up that a student, before using the swimming pool, must cleanse himself." Father Sorin would have thought it very sissy.
Notre Dame was getting to be quite a little town in itself. Food and building supplies had been hauled by wagon. Father Zahm, particularly, felt that it would be a fine thing if the railroad itself could have a terminus of sorts on the campus. Accordingly, he negotiated with the Michigan Central and in the fall of 1902, the railroad company ran a spur from beyond the Niles road, north of St. Joseph's Lake, to a point near the new steam plant. Father Zahm himself drove the last spike.
The "Notre Dame Bun" will ever remain, for at least one generation of Notre Dame men, as delightful a gastronomic memory as it was -- too often -- a cause of distress. A new bakery was built in 1902, and the bakers, brought over from Holland, put out a new bun. Its success was immediate and enduring. It became an essential part of every Notre Dame breakfast. It came to the table fresh and warm; the inside was doughy and readily lent itself to the manufacture of small "doughballs" that made perfect pellets when the prefects relaxed for a moment. So popular did the concoction become that its fame spread beyond the campus. Father John Talbot Smith, from Dobbs Ferry, N. Y., on his visits to Notre Dame always took away with him a sack-full of buns. And J. P. McAvoy wrote a poem about it.
Traditionally, we reckon jubilees at twenty-five year periods. It is a striking fact that Notre Dame's jubilees have coincided with war. About the time of its founding, Notre Dame saw the United States involved in the Mexican War. The silver jubilee came at the close of the Civil War. Her fiftieth anniversary saw Hearst whipping up the Spanish-American fracas. In 1917, when the University was seventy-five years old, we were in the midst of World War I. And now as she celebrated her centenary, the University again found the country involved in even a more grim conflict.
Of these wars, none was so unpopular as the Spanish-American War. In retrospect, and to Catholics especially, the struggle with Spain was such a useless affair. In spite of the good offices of the Holy See, which, as direct intermediary with Spain, had procured Spain's consent to all our demands, the newspapers and vested interests flung this country into war. Protestant bigotry ridiculed Catholics, crying that Spain had erected more crosses and thereon crucified more men than any other nation under the sun.
As we drew closer to the conflict, students and faculty were confused by the propaganda. An incident which, perhaps, had its counterpart in no other college in the country, served to arouse the student body. At Notre Dame there had been a young boy from Chicago, John Shillington, a fine strip of a lad, dashing, likeable, athletic. In the spring of 1897, when the team went to Chicago for a baseball game, John, who had played in the game, went off on a lark and did not return with the team. For this infraction of the rule John was expelled.
Everyone was distressed about the affair, most of all John. He agreed that the University authorities did him no injustice, and to get away from it all, he joined the Navy. One day, from the battleship Maine, he wrote to a former college mate:
I often think of Notre Dame, I can picture her daily, and in my reminiscences of her, a tear is often brushed away. . . . I suppose "Shilly" is forgotten by people at the old college, and I don't blame them. Though forgotten, I shall always hold Notre Dame near and dear to me.
When the Maine was blown up in Havana harbor, Shillington was killed. Of course no one was permitted to think other than that Spain was at the bottom of it. For Notre Dame boys, there was something deeply personal about the incident. Indignant, they held a mass-meeting. No less a personage than Austin O'Malley urged the boys to get "into it." He would go with them, he shouted, as their own medical officer. At the conclusion, the students ran from the gymnasium shouting "To hell with Spain!" They made their way over to St. Mary's where they tossed a protesting watchman into the bushes, and paraded through the grounds.
The war was of short duration. Nevertheless, quite a few Notre Dame men saw action. Many more joined up but never reached the fighting front. A sort of Irish Brigade was formed on the campus, and there was much marching and drilling and not a little horseplay. It was apparent from the beginning that Spain was hopelessly outclassed, and the students' initial enthusiasm soon vanished.
A graduate of 1883, J. P. ("Patsy") O'Neill, later a captain, and finally a general, was at the bloody assault of San Juan Hill. He avowed that only his spartan athletic training at Notre Dame enabled him to survive the rigors of the campaign. As for poor Shillington, his sacrifice was later commemorated with a granite monument topped by one of the shells resurrected from the Maine. The memorial is tucked away in one of the nooks of Brownson campus.
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