Currently viewing the tag: "The Emmitsburg Chronicle"

The Year is…1808

by James Rada, Jr.

The Mount Seminary Is the “Cradle of Bishops”

From a brick cottage in rural Maryland grew an institution that has educated dozens of young men who became Catholic bishops and archbishops.

Mount St. Mary’s College began in 1808 when “the Society of St. Sulpice in Baltimore closed its preparatory seminary in Pennsylvania and transferred the seminarians to Emmitsburg,” according to the Mount St. Mary’s website.

The first classes were held in the Chinquapin Cottage. The first class was made up of 39 resident students and 7 or 8 day students. Among them were John Lilly of Conewago, James Clements of Littlestown, Rev. John Hickey of Frederick, and Dr. James A. Shorb, according to The Emmitsburg Chronicle.

“Father Dubois enlarged the scope of the institution and established classes of philosophy and theology, so as to retain his assistant teachers as long as possible; this finally led to the organization of the College and Seminary on a basis of entire independence, to be conducted by an association of priests under the jurisdiction and protection of the Archbishop of Baltimore,” James Helman wrote in History of Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The college’s and seminary’s reputations grew over the years. The Mount Seminary can boast 52 episcopal alumni, including John Hughes (Seminary of 1826), first Archbishop of New York; his Eminence John Cardinal McCloskey (Seminary of 1831), also Archbishop of New York and first native-born American cardinal; Most Rev. William B. Friend (Seminary of 1959), Bishop of Shreveport; Most Rev. Harry J. Flynn (Seminary of 1960), Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis; Most Rev. William E. Lori (Seminary of 1977); Most Rev. Michael 0. Jackels (Seminary of 1981), Bishop of Wichita; and Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley (Seminary of 1983), Bishop of Salina.

At present, Mount seminary alumni total more than 2,600, approximately half of whom are alive and active in priestly ministry. Alumni have served as first bishops of 15 newly formed dioceses, and 32 U.S. dioceses have been led by at least one bishop from the Mount.

“Emmitsburg has turned out some of the most notable American Jesuits. Father Early, my predecessor in the presidency of Georgetown, was a Mountaineer. In our needs, we naturally turn to this college. …There is an axiom that there is nothing in the effect that we may not find in the cause: now Mt. St. Mary’s is called the ‘Mother of Bishops,’ and the bishopric is a perfect state; hence, we find perfection in Mt. St. Mary’s that is the envy and the despair of all other colleges. …The secret of this is, I suppose, in the noble-hearted faculty which conserves and holds sacred the traditions of the saintly founders of the College,” Most Rev. John Farley, Archbishop of New York, said during the Mount’s centennial celebration in 1908.

Because of this, Mount St. Mary’s became known as the “cradle of bishops” and the “mother of bishops.”

“All the early universities of Europe were of priestly foundation, and almost all of our American ones had a similar origin. Religion and civilization go hand in hand. Now the priest is trained in the seminary. Hence, the seminary is the nursery of civilization and its preserver, for things are preserved by the same causes that give them origin. Mount St. Mary’s is the second in point of age of our seminaries, and has had very much to do with diffusing and preserving civilization as well as religion in the Republic. A dozen other colleges and seminaries owe their origin to her. Overbrook, her younger sister, acknowledges her precedence and wider influence, and pays her due honor on this her Centennial birthday anniversary,” Rev. Henry T. Drumgoole, LL.D., Rector of St. Charles’ Seminary, Overbrook, Pa., said of the Mount during the centennial celebration.

A version of this story appeared in The Emmitsburg Dispatch in 2008.

by James Rada, Jr.

Things That Go “Boom” In the Night

January 2, 1887, was a cold day in Frederick County. Thermometers hovered around eight degrees. Fireplaces and stoves were stoked with roaring fires to fight back the cold that was pushing its way through every crack and crevice of a home.

Several inches of snow, hardened with a covering of ice, covered the ground, and sheets of ice coated the roofs of buildings. Moonlight reflected off the frozen snow, giving it a slight glow even at midnight.

“A young gentleman returning home in his sleigh about this time, says the cracking of the ice on a roof, by which he passed, was so loud and forcible, that it scared his horse,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

Although few people reported feeling anything, doors swung open, and objects toppled over “as if burglars were doing the houses,” according to the Clarion.

Many more people described hearing sounds that sounded like explosions. The Emmitsburg Chronicle compared it to the sound of a well being excavated.

“But mostly the sounds were above, as some describe them—like unto the clatter of tearing off a roof,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

The Catoctin Clarion reported, “At this point the report was sufficiently loud to suggest to Mr. J. W. Weast, a merchant at that point, that his safe had been blown up and he hurriedly dressed himself and visited his safe, only to find it intact.”

Reports came in from all over Frederick County and parts of Carroll County. Westminster residents seem to have felt the earthquake and experienced damage.

The Frederick Daily News reported that because no one in Emmitsburg felt any tremors, no one actually considered it an earthquake.

The Emmitsburg Chronicle offered a scientific reason for the noises not being an earthquake, writing “to one suddenly awaking in the night, and considering that there have not been received any accounts of clocks being stopped, or household things displaced, as in earthquake manifestations, together with the simultaneousness of the occurrences at points, miles apart, we infer the who matter was purely electrical. Indeed a writer not long ago undertook to prove that seismic phenomena were but electrical manifestations, on the earth’s surface and not from the interior.”

Although the county is not prone to earthquakes and doesn’t sit on a fault line, it was an earthquake—albeit an unusual one—that hit the county that night. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, east of the Rocky Mountains, fault lines are a poor indicator of where earthquakes will hit. The USGS website states, “In contrast, things are less straightforward east of the Rockies because it is rare for earthquakes to break the ground surface. In particular, east of the Rockies, most known faults and fault lines do not appear to have anything to do with modern earthquakes. We don’t know why. An earthquake is as likely to occur on an unknown fault as on a known fault, if not more likely. The result of all this is that fault lines east of the Rockies are unreliable guides to where earthquakes are likely to occur.”

Whatever the reason for the earthquake, it was a disturbing way for Frederick County residents to welcome in the new year on January 2, 1887.

by James Rada, Jr.

1909Emmitsburg’s Third Great Fire

Emmitsburg has a long history of both fires and fire protection. The Great Emmitsburg Fire of 1863 is considered the most serious fire in the town’s history. By the time the flames sputtered out, twenty-eight houses and nine businesses had been damaged or destroyed. Three of the four corners of the town square were black with fire, and three of the towns four blocks were fire damaged. Other reports put the number of damaged buildings at fifty, and half of the town destroyed. In actuality, probably about a quarter of the town burned, based on a population of slightly less than 1,000.

Firefighting efforts improved in 1884, when water from the town’s newly built reservoir was piped under the street to fire hydrants. This provided a more-dependable supply of water to the engines.

When the reservoir was dug and the water lines put in, The Emmitsburg Chronicle reported, “When it is considered that the reservoir is located 224 feet above the level of the square, any person can estimate the advantages that must accrue to the village when the improvement is completed. With proper hose at hand, it will scarce be possible for any great fire to occur here, and this security lessening the risks, must diminish the rates of insurance, and we trust that in due time the water power will be availed of for manufacturing purposes.”

Unfortunately, this did not prove to be true, because Emmitsburg had its second great fire the following year.

Fire broke out in St. Joseph’s College just before noon on March 20, 1885, and quickly spread. Fighting fires in the large college buildings was too much for the firefighters with Vigilant Hose Company, who were doing “grand work, but their efforts were of course unequal to the requirements,” according to The Frederick Daily News. Someone telegraphed for the help of fire companies from Frederick and Hagerstown. At the time, St. Joseph’s College was valued at $1 million and the total damage calculated at about $60,000.

What could be considered Emmitsburg’s third most-serious fire happened in December 1909, just days before Christmas. Shortly before noon, the roof of the Rowe property caught fire, which at the time was occupied by the Home Bakery, Harry Hopp, and Mr. Peters.

“The alarm was sounded, but by the time a stream of water could be made to play on the burning roof, the adjoining properties, the Reformed Church parsonage and the house occupied by Mrs. Virginia Gillelan were ablaze,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

Vigilant Hose Company combated the fire, but “A high wind aided the flames, and for a time it was thought that nothing could be done to save the Rowe property, although every effort was being made in that direction.”

Lulu Patterson then discovered that the Motter building occupied by Motter and Ruth Gillelan’s store was on fire. This split the efforts of the fire company as they now battled two fires. If that wasn’t enough, it was then discovered that the homes of H.W. Eyster and George T. Eyster were also on fire.

The firefighters didn’t give up, though.

“Inside of an hour, the flames had been overcome and Emmitsburg, at least part of it, was saved,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

In all, ten buildings were lost or damaged in the blaze.