Today is opening day for our new exhibit, ‘Our Town’: A Pictorial History of Emmitsburg and the Daughters of Charity Through the Years. The exhibit will run until June 12 in Exhibit Gallery 2 of the Provincial Archives. Public hours for the exhibit are Wednesdays, 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM.
The Daughters of Charity owe their presence in Emmitsburg to Rev.Samuel Sutherland Cooper (1769-1843), a wealthy sea captain from Philadelphia who converted to Catholicism in 1807. Cooper studied at St. Mary’s Seminary at Baltimore under the Sulpicians and was ordained a priest in Maryland in 1818. As a seminarian he became a significant benefactor of Elizabeth Seton and the Sisters of Charity through his donation of money to purchase property in Emmitsburg. The Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, followed by the Daughters of Charity, have occupied the ground Cooper donated continuously since 1809. Today, a memorial to Cooper can be seen on the Emmitsburg Campus.
Below is the text of a letter from Elizabeth Seton to Julia Scott, March 2, 1809, in which Mother Seton talks about Cooper’s impending purchase of land and her thoughts about moving to Emmitsburg. The text is from: Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, ed. Regina Behtle, S.C. and Judith Metz, S.C. Volume 2, pp. 58-59.
“… As you have so long shared all my pains my dearest how much pleasure it will give you to know that providence has disposed for me a plan after my own heart-a Benevolent gentleman of this place [Samuel Cooper] has formed a scheme of establishing a manufactory for the use of the poor, and includes in his intention the Education of children rich and poor. he is about purchasing a place at Emmetsburg’ some distance from Baltimore, not very considerable, and has offered me the department of taking care of the children who may be presented or rather of being the Mother of the family. this pleases me for many reasons – in the first place I shall live in the mountains, in the next I shall see no more of the WorId than if I was out of it and have every object centered in my own family both of provision employment etc …
I am quite at my ease on the subject caring very little how I am disposed of the remainder of my life if only I may persevere in acting the Mothers part with fidelity. the care of teaching will be off my hands tho ‘ not the superintendence and I do not hesitate to embrace the offer of going to the country as no doubt it will be a means of prolonging my days for my dear ones … ”