After an arduous Atlantic voyage, Sister St. Theodore and her traveling companions arrived in New York Harbor on Sept. 4, 1840. This marked an end to one leg of the journey, but many more challenges would have to be faced before the missionary group set foot on the soil at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.
To reach this destination, the sisters would travel by stagecoach, steamboat, canal boat and train. In her journal, Sister St. Theodore described reaching their final destination at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Oct. 22, 1840: “We continued to advance into the thick woods till suddenly Father Buteux stopped the carriage and said, ‘Come down, Sisters, we have arrived.’ What was our astonishment to find ourselves still in the midst of the forest, no village, not even a house in sight. Our guide having given orders to the driver, led us down into a ravine, whence we beheld through the trees on the other side a frame house with a stable and some sheds. ‘There,’ he said, ‘is the house where the postulants have a room, and where you will lodge until your house is ready.’”
In this one house, which was owned by Sarah and Joseph Thralls, the six French Sisters of Providence, the four American postulants and the Thralls family lived for more than a month. In late November 1840, the Diocese of Vincennes purchased the Thralls’ home and land. The foundation for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., had been laid.Father Buteaux postulants Diocese of Vincennes Thralls’ home