School Days, 1848: A Reminiscence

To travel back in memory sixty years, and to recall vividly with any degree of accuracy the incidents, the customs, the happenings of those early days at old Saint Catharine, involves a feat which would ordinarily seem impossible. Yet, we know mental impressions of early life are always lasting and their effect upon our memories are both truthful and irremovable.

When we gather and discuss the days of long ago, we scarcely refer to the drudgery of the classroom or study hall, but rather do our thoughts revert to subjects which can be discussed with more pleasant recollections, as our instructors, our friends, our amusements, and the humorous tricks practiced on each other in those happy school girl days.

After all these years, when we meet we invariably end our conversations with solemn words of praise, of love, of reverence and of gratitude for the departed instructors who so diligently guided our foot steps, so carefully directed all our efforts, so jealously guarded our morals, and so zealously and earnestly prepared both our minds and our bodies for the struggle which confronted us as we passed from the life of school to the school of life.

I recall sweet and pleasant memories of the stately and cultured Sister Vallina Montgomery, the accomplished and kind-tempered Sister Imelda Montgomery, the sedate and strict Sister Francis Conlan, the happy, light-hearted Sister Louise Haydon. They have all passed to their eternal reward carrying with them our prayers and supplications for everlasting life and happiness. One more of my instructors stands out in my memory and deserves a word from me; the one upon whom, as Prefect of Studies and Discipline, rested the burden and serious problem of controlling the conduct of the students, one who always upheld and maintained a constant criterion of right, an inflexible standard of justice, the one whom — when we were troubled—we never feared to approach, for she was always kind and just—one for whom we still retain grateful memories—Sister Angela Lynch. I came to Saint Catharine when I was about eight years of age, I think it was in the summer of 1848. I remained until I was graduated in 1859. Prominent among the students at this time were Rose Warren, who married Judge Kelly of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Mrs. Kelly is still living and is a loyal member of Saint Catharine Alumnae. Others were Eliza and Mary Hagan, Teresa Kenney, Mary Boldrick, Lizzie Thurman and Kate Thurman, who married Judge Bob Harding, and Mary Hooper. My special friend was Mary Kelly, but we called her “Cot.” She was the sister of Rev. J. A. Kelly, O.P., and was later married to Mr. William Connor. Another devoted friend of mine was Ellen Lincoln, the cousin of President Lincoln, and a sister of Mrs. Levi Smith.

Mr. DeGranval taught us dancing, and colored Dominic played the fiddle for us. Mr. DeBoyer was the instructor in French. The memory of those days is sweet to me yet, and I am living in the hope of assisting at the centennial celebration in 1922.

Mrs. Mary Lizzie Grimes Bevelle.

Anna C. Minogue, Pages from a Hundred Years of Dominican History: The Story of Saint Catherine of Sienna (New York: F. Pustet, 1921), 282-283.

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About Pat McNamara

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