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as to be scarce habitable by himself, and that no accommodations had been provided for them, although conveyances, he said, were on the way to carry them to the town, which he described, with open contempt, as "a little, miserable, out-of-the-way place.” On receiving this report, so contrary to what they had been led to expect, the Sisters were disheartened, and would have returned to Georgetown had it not been for Mother Agnes and Sister Gonzaga, who remained steadfast, though disappointed as keenly as the rest. In the course of the afternoon, rallying a little from their dejection, they went aboard a flatboat, and, seating themselves on theit baggage, were ferried across the Mississippi, their feelings on the passage being divided between fright at the sinking of the heavilyladen boat almost to the water's edge (Sisters Helen, Isabella, Ambrosia, and Rose sitting speechless throughout), and astonishment at the caterpillars overspreading the river far and near, so that the boat had to plow its way through to the Illinois side, where, with increased astonishment, they saw the same insect carpeting the shore and clothing the trees. Here they found awaiting them three vehicles, in size and shape like the old-fashioned milkwagon, but known as the Kaskaskia stage-coaches, with the parish priest, Father Condamine (their future confessor), in the foreground on horseback, under whose escort they were soon on the way to Kaskaskia, all straining their eyes to catch a distant view of the place, when anon, to their amazement, they were told they were in it, although it proved as impossible to catch a near view of it as a distant one. Look as they might, they failed to see the town; not, like Yankee Doodle, for the houses, but for lack of them. Thinking to localize it by deduction, they inquired for the church, and were pointed to a log structure, which they had taken, and insisted on taking, for a barn, telling their informant he must be at fault or jesting, and were still on the lookout for the town, when their coaches stopped in front of the stone mansion of Mr. Wm. Morrison, grandfather, by the bye, of the Mr. William Morrison now in Congress from Illinois, and official leader of the House of Representatives.
Wm. Morrison and Pierre Menard, both of whom figure prominently in the history of the Sisters at Kaskaskia, were the leading citizens of the town, and among the leading citizens of the State. Col. Menard, however, though of the town was not in it, his residence being on the opposite bank of the Kaskaskia or Okaw river. Mr. Morrison's house, memorable as the scene of Lafayette's reception in Kaskaskia a few years before, was the only real edifice in the place, the other houses being rude fabrics of clapboards or logs, chiefly of one story, and hidden from sight by forest trees, the whole disposed irregularly on either side of a single street, whose Sab
bath quiet the sound of wheels scarce ever disturbed. Other streets there had been, when the town was populous and prosperous, but now these were only indicated by fences, while, in place of the houses that once lined them, lay gardens or pasture-fields. Of Kaskaskia even then it might be said, as Goldsmith sang of Sweet Auburn,
“No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
Yet the inhabitants, it should be added, although sparse, were for the most part select and well-educated, so that the Sisters, at least, could enjoy the favor which Milton implores of Urania,“ fit audience find, though few.” Mrs. William Morrison and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Robert Morrison, the latter a convert, and a woman of unusual intelligence, received Mother Agnes and her companions with great cordiality; and Mr. Morrison, on learning the object of their mission, offered them hospitality until accommodations elsewhere could be provided for them, setting apart for their use the entire second story of his house, including a capacious ball-room, which, however, had been rendered slightly unsafe by an earthquake that left a fissure in the wall, though the Sisters used to walk there to recite their offices and other forms of devotion. Another vestige of the same earthquake was observable in the wavy lines of the parlor floor, into which it had been shaken out of its original plane. The next day, the gentle newcomers were visited by the élite of the village, and among others by Lawyer Baker, who, as they afterwards learned, was generally chosen by the townsfolk to test the qualifications of those presenting themselves as teachers in the place, and who, in this character, really not ostensibly, had a long interview with Sister Helen, the directress of the school, resulting in his thorough satisfaction, followed by a favorable report of her education and acquirements, although, had she known his object, her embarrassment might have occasioned a less effective display of both. This informal examiner, we should say in passing, was none other than he whose eventful and brilliant career, in the senate and the field, terminated more than a quarter of a century later on the bloody heights of Ball's Bluff. The following day, being Sunday, the Sisters went to high mass, passing to and from the church through Mr. Morrison's large and beautiful garden, which adjoined the Catholic graveyard at the back of the church, so that they could go to mass or visit the Blessed Sacrament without entering the street. Father Condamine, who preached in French, suitably referred to their presence in Kaskaskia, explaining the purpose of their coming, and enlarging on the benefit that would accrue to the children of the congregation from Catholic
training and instruction. Bishop Rosati, on whom perhaps more properly devolved this good office, was detained at St. Louis by the prevalence of the cholera, during which he thought fit not to leave the plague-stricken city, lest his absence should be imputed to a wrong motive. But the Sisters suffered no detriment from this manly sacrifice to duty. The good impression they had made on all they met soon spread to the community at large, and they felt themselves, socially speaking, in a friendly atmosphere. But evidently their fortitude and resources were not to be lightly taxed.
On Monday, they began to prepare their own house,-a store lent them free of rent by Colonel Pierre Menard, who had the counters and shelves taken down, intending to change it into convent shape, with conventual entrance and grate. Meantime, the carpenter made their altar and tabernacle, which they lined and trimmed handsomely. Having been told in Georgetown that they would not need a separate altar, they came entirely unprovided; but, in the course of a week, they got everything ready, and were able to move into their house, where mass was celebrated the second Sunday after their arrival. They also had Benediction in the afternoon, and the Sisters sang, Mrs. Robert Morrison and some other ladies being present and enchanted with the music; " for,” as the historiographer fondly explains, “our Sisters had very fine voices, and sang in two or three parts." Father Condamine gave the Sisters mass four times a week, saying on Sundays two masses, one for them and one for the congregation. He also lent them a few vestments until they could obtain a supply. Donations of all kinds were now pouring in,-provisions, beds, blankets, culinary utensils, etc., not to mention a chair apiece, which, till benches could be made, they carried up and down, from the choir to the refectory, and thence to the assembly. The town could not boast of a market, although it had a butcher, without much custom, however, as nearly every family raised and killed its own beef and mutton, sharing any overplus with some one or two neighbors, who, in due course, reciprocated the favor. The Sisters, until settled, were well supplied by Mrs. William and Mrs. Robert Morrison, who lived just opposite, and constantly ministered to their comfort in a thousand ways, even sending them nearly every morning hot waffles or cakes for breakfast. The negro men and women of Mr. William Morrison and his brother Robert, then and thereafter, were always at the service of the Sisters when needed, making their academy fires in the winter, scrubbing, cutting and hauling wood, filling their canoe (the cistern or rain-barrel of the country) with water from the Kaskaskia River, whenever the clouds failed, and in general doing whatever there was occasion for. During the first winter, the Sisters bought no wood at all. The Morrisons
He also gave
not only supplied the infant community with wood, but sent their negroes to cut it. Not a day passed that Mr. William Morrison did not go to the house of the Sisters, and walk around the premises, to see if anything was wanting. He gave them, at first, one cow, then two cows more, a sheep, hogs, chickens; and, doing nothing by halves, added the corn and hay to feed them. the Sisters a large stove for the children's refectory, and a comfortable Franklin, and, for their library, presented them with Lingard's · England," in six or eight volumes, the “ British Poets,” in twentyfour volumes, the “Old and New Testament,” in some thirty volumes, and several other works; and, besides all this, made them a present of a piano and guitar, a number of nice desks, tables, and washstands, and about a dozen pairs of shoes. Colonel Menard was not less generous. Keeping in his employ a carpenter and a weaver, he had the former construct cach of the Sisters a bedstead, with tester, and a table, and the latter make them sixteen pairs of woollen stockings, and as many pairs of cotton, two pairs of each apiece. He also gave their sacristry a fine resting-stand, and often brought them himself a basket of squabs, and, most important aid of all, attended to their business, in person or by agent, as to his own, and, when needed, became their financial backer.
The first contribution of this free-hearted patron, however, soon came to be of no avail, the store he had lent them gratis, and from which, for their sake, he had removed all the mercantile conveniences, proving too small for their purpose. They had, consequently, to look out for other quarters, which they shortly found in the old Kaskaskia Hotel, then standing vacant and open, with many of the window-lights out, the sashes decayed, and ruin showing its face nearly everywhere; yet, all things considered, promising better than any other building in their reach, and offered to them, moreover, as the store had been granted, free of rent. They moved into it about the ist of June, having spent one week at Mr. Morrison's, and nigh three weeks in the quarters just vacated. Their first task was to repair and adapt the old hostel, in front of which the weatherbeaten sign-board, in its rickety frame, still swung and squeaked, as if bemoaning the happy days that were no more. This grim laudator temporis acti the Sisters had cut down at the outset. They next covered the lower frames of the mouldering windows, constrained thereto by want of means, with blind windows of solid wood, fastened by bolts or buttons, and removable at will; substituting, furthermore, blind panes for the missing lights in the upper frames, as they afterwards did for the lights knocked out by a hailstorm. Then, having snugly housed in the liverystable their cows, hogs, and poultry, they converted the ball-room into a chapel, the piazza into a parlor, and the bar-room-its
counter and balustrade demolished into a children's refectory, play-room, and class-room: when their first task, comprehending of course numerous details not mentioned here, was accomplished. Later in the summer, we should not omit to say, they turned the loft of the livery-stable into a carpenter's shop, for the use of a workman sent them by the Lazarists at the neighboring town of Perryville, who, in addition to their great spiritual assistance, contributed in this way to furnish the new house with desks, benches, tables, cupboards, and the like conveniences.
At length, the Sisters, by their own perseverance and the kindness of their western friends, found themselves installed in a building fairly commodious as well as fairly comfortable, and were in fair working order, much to the gratification of the good people of the town, and especially of the Morrisons and Menards, who immediately placed their daughters at the convent school. As Mr. William Morrison had four daughters, and Col. Menard, besides an only daughter, had a bevy of granddaughters and nieces whom he educated, and as these young ladies took nearly all the extras, their enrolment as pupils gave the new seminary a cheering start. In reality, it could not have started, nor could the Sisters have remained in Kaskaskia at all, but for the Morrisons and Menards, who followed up their own patronage by soliciting that of their friends in St. Louis and other places, with such effect that the Sisters, in a short time, had as many pupils as they could teach. Col. Menard's daughter wishing to take lessons on the harp, as well as the piano, and the Sisters having no harp, he purchased his daughter one, which he allowed the Sisters to use in the school, and finally gave them, completing the necessary variety of their collection. Veritable curiosities to the townsfolk were these instruments, particularly the piano, which no doubt had its share in spreading the interest felt in the nascent community; for when the Sisters came to Kaskaskia there was no piano in the place, and one had never been seen by many of the inhabitants, including the daughters of Mr. Morrison, save the eldest one, the consequence being that the convent piano quickly set the town agog, men, women, and children flocking to see and hear it, almost as if it were the magical pipe of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The musical accomplishments of the Sisters, in truth, had no little to do with their early success in Kaskaskia, neither culture nor the appreciation of culture being necessary to the charms of music, which captivate even "the savage breast;" so that their foundation, like a temple more renowned, but the reverse of holy, may be said to have risen
“ with the sound Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,”