While seven religious men founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842, the history of its early years is generally told from Edward Sorin's point of view. This biography of Urbain Monsimer makes new use of archival material to approach the university from a different perspective. From his earliest years in Holy Cross until his death, Monsimer was a fascinating person, brightly intelligent, suspicious of authorities, hard on himself and those around him. Arriving in America at the age of 15, Monsimer quickly learned English and acclimated himself to American ways. After eight years at Notre Dame, he was sent to California on an ill-conceived venture to look for gold. Left on his own resources, he remained in the West as a miner until poor health forced him to return to his father's farm in France where he died in 1860.