School of the Brown County Ursulines
1845 – 1981
The School of the Brown County Ursulines began in July of 1845 when eleven women arrived in Saint Martin, a village of French and Irish settlers at the northern tip of Brown County. John Baptist Purcell, Archbishop of Cincinnati had urged these Ursuline Sisters to establish a school for young ladies. He wanted their presence in his diocese because this organization of women founded by Saint Angela in 1535 was known for the quality of their education.
An Englishwoman named Julia Chatfield led the group, bringing an Irish novice and postulant from Boulogne, a metropolitan city in northern France. Pauline Laurier, accompanied by seven French-speaking sisters from the farming area of Beaulieu joined her. The Archbishop offered them a tract of land that was part of the Virginia Military Land Grant deeded to the Archdiocese by General John Lytle. So much did they identify with the spirit of their new environment, that they became known legally as the Ursulines of Brown County.
The academy they built reached distinction as an educational institution. Families who wanted a balanced program of learning and culture for their daughters chose THE SCHOOL OF THE BROWN COUNTY URSULINES. Girls came from New York and California, Canada, and South America and places in between. The opportunity to share life with persons of many cultures was a rich experience, teaching openness and tolerance and flexibility along with the expected Christian values. But progress brought new needs and made boarding schools seem less practical. In 1981 the High School closed and the original building was leveled.
Learn more about our history here: Our wilderness home: images of home among the Brown County Ursulines by Trudelle H. Thomas at Xavier University