Despite available work in Natchez and an established circle of friends, Pierce accepted a teaching offer from the Jesuits, who were opening a school for boys in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Cornelia would have an opportunity to teach music at the girls’ school, already established by the Religious of the Sacred Heart. The chance to be part of a new Catholic venture motivated the couple to relocate to this primitive settlement on the western edge of the United States. There, in greatly reduced circumstances, they made their home. After Philadelphia, Rome and even Natchez, Grand Coteau must have seemed even farther than the edge of the known world.
Whatever deprivations they experienced, Cornelia was happy. Pierce described her as “gay as a bird.” He often complained about the remote location and conditions at the school, but he seemed content with family life and joyful at home. Their happiness was marred by the death of a newborn daughter, Mary Magdalene, at 6 weeks of age during the summer of 1839.
Still the Connellys were content enough to put down roots by purchasing a small house between the two schools. Pierce had ceased talking about ordination and Cornelia must have felt that the idea was fading into oblivion.
Click here to download a detailed timeline of Cornelia in Philadelphia juxtaposed with then-current events.