As noted in the our preamble to story, the Contralto was published in 1912 and based on actual residents
of Emmitsburg. The author modified the names of the residents slightly, such as changing the name if Isaac Annan to Isaac Hannan. In the web version we
took the liberty to change names back to the real names.
The table below contains the name the author used for the residents in the 1912 version and the names of the real people which were used in the on-line
||Site of Circus
||Protagonist of Morality
Owner of first movie machine
||Carriage Repair Shop
||Lawyer, Vinny & Daisy's
||Uncle Bennett Dyson
||Carpenter, Keeper of clock
||Pres. Of Mt. St. Mary's
||Saloon Keeper @ Strangler
||Lived near the toll gate
||Name for Town
||Village Holy Terror
||Publisher of the Chronicle
As the author didn't make much of an effort to change the names, it was fairly easy to identify the real
residents. However the same can’t be said for the positively identify the author and the main protagonist in the story, Harry, the Professor, and
And while the engineer in me would like to tackle each of them at a time, as you soon see, positively identifying the three
identities is an iterative process.
The first and only mention of the book appears in the November 20, 1912 edition of the Frederick News Post:
'The Contralto a new book which has just been published and in which the scene is laid at Emmitsburg. A love story is given
in which a number of well known characters about Emmitsburg are interwoven The names are disguised in part, but not so much that they cannot be
recognized by a person familiar with the names in that section. The book is by Roger M. Carew, who spent the summer of 1910 in Emmitsburg. It is said Carew's real name is Charles M. Maloy."
The website of the publisher of the book notes that the ‘Carew’ was born in 1873.
This version of the genesis of the book however doesn’t fit with the pattern of events and facts depicted throughout the book.
For example, much is made of the fact that the plays put on by the Processor were the community events in memory. However had the author been in
Emmitsburg in 1910, he would have heard stories about the 1909 Old Home Week’ of which no mention is made in the story.
Instead of 1910, more evidence points to a 1906 date for the penning of a majority of the book. If one assumes that character
Marion Tyson is in fact Euphemia Tyson, as most believe, in the book, Mrs. Ropp remarks that she is 20. In the 1910 census Euphemia Tyson is listed as
being 24. So if at the writing of the book her age was correct, the year would have been 1906. In addition, the author goes out of his way specifically
mention the Chronicles raffle of a piano, which took place in 1906.
While that might seem to tie the date of the writing of the book down, one is quickly tripped up by an entry in
Luther Krugers diary to the effect that on Sept 23, 1912:
Mr. John Matthew and Miss Phene (short for Euphemia) Tyson were married at the Priest house Emmitsburg.
What is most interesting about this entry is that the book, published in 1912, ends with a summer scene in which the Professor
and Marion agreeing to be married ... and less then a month latter John and Euphemia are married for real ...
Which open the door to the question who is John Mathews? From the life & times of
The Life and Times of Francis Matthews we find the following:
John Mathers father, John Matthews Sr. was the son of the minister of the Church of the Brethren in Eyler's Valley. Being
without many worldly goods, John learned many trades to get by, including farming, masonry, and carpentry. Being willing, intelligent and industrious,
John quickly became proficient in all these professions. Even so, he struggled to provide a suitable level of living for his bride and their six
children. To augment his income, John drew charcoal portraits of his neighbors and studied Veterinary Science through the mail, a profession in which
he would later achieve considerable success.
Near the turn of the 20th century, John Sr. bought a farm east of Emmitsburg, which he worked for fifteen years. During these
years, John Sr. pursued building his veterinary business. Success in the latter however, taxed John's ability to work his large farm and, around 1912,
John Sr. sold the farm and moved his family to a 30-acre farm within the northern borders of Emmitsburg. Once within the town limits, it wasn't long
before John Sr. was active in town politics, serving many years on the Town Council, and eventually serving as Burgess, or Mayor for 1913 and 1914.
It was during his tenure that electricity was first brought to Emmitsburg.
In 1911, his oldest son John began casting about for money which he hoped to use to open up a general store in Emmitsburg.
Potential lenders however, were a bit weary of lending to John, whose reputation wasn't exactly stellar....
Interestingly enough, in the follow-up toast give by Sterling Galt, the author refers to the professor as one that was not
universally liked. As the son of the mayor, John would have ample reason and means to be politically involved in the town affairs, just as Harry, the
Professor, was in the book. Given these facts, it is not unfair to ask if John was in fact Harry the professor?
If in fact John was Harry, the next logical question to ask would be what happened to him?
In the August 17, 1915 edition of the Frederic News Post we learn:
John Matthews, about 36 years of age, of the firm of Matthew Bros., Emmitsburg, died at his home, that place Monday, after a
long and painful illness. He is survived by his wife, who was Miss Euphemia Tyson, of that place. His funeral took place Wednesday morning.' The Fife
Company, of which he was a member, headed the funeral procession; they also were his pallbearers.
"...about 36 years of age"? If the author was 37 when the book was published in 1912, as noted on the publisher’s web site,
‘about 36 years of age’ would be an acceptable description in 1915. Which leaves one to ask, was John also the author? While the book was written in
third person, one clearly feels the author is describing events as they occurred to him.
In Luther Kluger’s Diary we learn that on January 7th, 1917:
Mr. Cyrel (sic) Rotering & Mrs. John Matthews (nee) Miss Euphemia Tyson were married in the Catholic Church Sunday
If John Mathews had in fact been the Professor, his death and the remarrying of his wife would explain why nothing more was
written by him or heard of him, just as nothing more is heard of listed author ‘Roger M. Carew’ or the supposed author ‘Charles M. Maloy.’
But least you think we’ve nailed this down ...
In 1902 edition of the Frederick News Post we find the following entry ...
Maggie Tyson, aged 37 years, died of consumption, August 6, at the home of Mr. Bennet Tyson, Emmitsburg. Deceased was an
excellent young lady. She was an accomplished musician, and acted as organist in St. Joseph's Catholic church for several years.
Ill health compelled her to give up the position some months ago. The funeral services were held in St. Joseph's Catholic
church Thursday morning. The services were conducted by Rev. Father Carey, ' and interment made in the cemetery adjoining.
Note the name of the priest - Carey - one letter off from Carew, just like all the other names of characters in the book.
Could Father Carey be the author? And if so, what was his propose? Obviously whoever wrote the book was educated, as noted by
the use of Latin throughout the book. A Priest would be so educated. The priest in the story tell the readers of the priest before him who was banished
for standing up for the rights of the citizens of Emmitsburg against the Mount and St. Josephs ... just as Harry does in the book. Which raises an
interesting question, could Father Carey have published the book as a means of continuing his crusade against the Mount and the College?
We actually came across the review the book says was written in the Chronicle about the play in the
book in the November 11, 1906 edition. After reading it, were now open to the suggestion that either Professor Halm or Father Maloy might be the
author of the story.
Right now were leaning towards Father Maloy for several reason:
- According to the 1912 review of the book, the supposed author was a 'Charles M. Maloy.' In the review, the Chronicle gives a Fahter Maloy credit for helping pull the play off.
- If in fact this is true, we find it odd that there is no mention of him in the book ... everyone else is mentioned but him.
Now not mentioning his own name would make sense if he was writing the book from a third person perspective.
- Father Maloy would have been in perfect position to write first hand on events involving the love affair of Marion and John,
not to mention the goings on in the Rectory.
- Being a priest at St. Joes, he would have know about Father Carey, his predecessor, and felt comfortable about using a
version of his name, Carew, as his pen name.
That all said, if in fact Father Maloy was the author, his attack on the Mount and the Daughters of Charity for their
treatment of the residents takes on that much more importance. For here was the Priest from the local Catholic Church taking on the large Catholic
institutions in his community in support of his flock .. Now that took some guts.
We've still got more to research, and St. Joes said they will let us go through their files. We're interested in seeing who marries Marion and John
Mathews. If it was Farther Maloy, then that would nail it down for us he was the author.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be researching the Emmitsburg Chronicles for more clues to answer these questions. Until that time
send us your thoughts on who you think wrote the book and why and who you think Harry was?
E-mail us your thoughts on the book to firstname.lastname@example.org