EDUCATIONAL HISTORY – *Pages 438 - 463
Higher Education in Washington County – Academies – Trinity Hall – Public Schools – Normal School.
Higher Education in Washington County.2 – Two conditions were imposed by me upon my consent to fulfill the request to which this article is due. The request itself simply covers the history of the colleges, seminaries, and academies of the county, leaving the wider but not less important field of the common schools to other hands. One of these conditions was, that instead of traversing anew ground over which I had thoroughly gone before, I should be at full liberty, so far as it might suit my present purpose, to draw at will from my article in the Presbyterian “Centenary Memorial,” issued six years ago. That volume was designed to celebrate the “planting and growth of Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania and parts adjacent” during the century following the settlement of John McMillan, D.D., the first pastor of his own or probably any other denomination west of the Alleghenies. My other condition was the cheerful agreement of my associate authors of the volume referred to that such an appropriation of a portion of its contents should be made for the present more general purpose. It is enough to say that both of the parties in question – the proprietors of the “Centenary Memorial” and those of the present “History of Washington County” – have heartily agreed to this method, the one permitting and the other accepting it. I shall, therefore, freely use parts of my own previous production, with such additions, subtractions, and modifications as may be demanded by the scope and objects of the present work.
To those readers who are not fully instructed in the early history now designed to be brought out, a word of explanation is due concerning the prominence which this sketch must necessarily assign to one of the religious denominations, and that my own. All of these have done in the succeeding years a noble work on this soil for evangelical religion, as well as for liberty, social culture, and education; but the truth of history requires that to Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who in large preponderance first occupied this soil, the credit should be given of chiefly moulding its society, of starting its religious influences, and, as truly, of planting and fostering its educational institutions. This last they did upon an elevated and comprehensive scale, not in the way of ecclesiastical control, but of efficient influence, and ever inviting the co-operation of others, whilst never failing to share the advantages with them on equal terms. The credit of such co-operation, so far as numerical strength and the state of theological controversies incident to the times allowed, is most due to the ministers and members of other branches of the Presbyterian family descending from the same general origin, especially to the Associate and Associate Reformed Churches, now by a happy union constituting the United Presbyterian Church. The same is true, in its measure, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. When these excellent churches came to the double crisis of their strength and their need, they did not fail to adopt and vigorously prosecute an educational policy of their own, though their excellent institutions are located outside of Washington County. Even yet, however, the college of our county receives a proportion of their patronage, for which a fair compensation is of course rendered to the institutions more immediately under their influence in the regions of their location. Other denominations also, such as the Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, etc., which have come into strength since the early settlement of the country, have more or less strictly followed the same general rule of primary attention to their own wants with the fullest liberty of benefits to all besides. Through the whole course of this history, but especially at the beginning, the ministers of the gospel were the true and efficient leaders in this as well as other forms of public enterprise. But they were nobly sustained by intelligent, sturdy, liberal, and pious laymen, who were not slow to appreciate their opportunities in
2 By Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D., Washington, Pa.
behalf of their own and generations to come.
It would be unprofitable, as it would be unjust to the memories of the pioneer ministers of the gospel, the Rev. Messrs. John McMillan, Thaddeus Dodd, and Joseph Smith, to make invidious comparisons of their educational any more than of their ministerial work. Like their worthy associate, the Rev. James Power, of Westmoreland County, they were all valued sons of the College of New Jersey, and devoted friends of both scholarship and religion. The elevation of society furnished a general motive, whilst the demand for a competent supply of well-trained ministers of the gospel was a felt necessity; and neither history nor tradition has transmitted a whisper of jealousy between them. “From the outset,” says Doddridge, in his “Notes,” “they prudently resolved to create a ministry in the country, and accordingly established little grammar schools at their own houses or in their immediate neighborhoods.” Each of the three above-named gentlemen established such a school for training in the higher branches of learning. The question of priority has enlisted much zeal among the friends as well as the descendants of these venerable men, but as yet without conclusive settlement. Limit of space, as well as propriety itself, must restrain us from entering that field with the hope of a decision in which all will concur. A brief statement of the case must suffice.
It is certain that the Rev. Thaddeus Dodd erected a building on his own farm, and opened in it a classical and mathematical school in 1782, three years after his settlement as pastor of Ten-Mile, and just as many years before his congregation erected a house of worship. That academy continued in operation three years and a half, until the sale of the farm led to its suspension. It numbered among its pupils James Hughes, John Brice, Daniel Lindley, Robert Marshall, John Hanna, and David Smith, the first fruits of a large native ministry gathered in the Western Church.
The suspension of Mr. Dodd’s academy transferred Messrs. Hughes, Brice, and probably others to the school opened in the “study” at Buffalo in 1785 by the Rev. Joseph Smith, where they were joined by Joseph Patterson, James McGready, Samuel Porter, and others of like purpose. That school, claimed by the author of “Old Redstone,” the grandson of Mr. Smith, to be “the first school opened with exclusive reference to the training of young men for the ministry,” was successful for a few years, until the failing health of Mr. Smith compelled its abandonment, and then most of its students passed into the “Log Cabin” school of Dr. McMillan at Chartiers.
The date of the establishment of Dr. McMillan’s academy is the central question of the debate already referred to. It is likely to remain an open question; but settle it as we may, his fame will abide as the conservative, thoughtful, resolute, and far-seeing leader of his brethren in the educational as well as ecclesiastical work of the church. On the one hand it is urged that, although Dr. McMillan must have given occasional and private instructions in the classics as early as any of his brethren, if not, indeed, before them all, yet that his school as such only in fact covered the common English branches until shortly before the cessation of Mr. Smith’s school at Buffalo. But against this view it is forcibly argued, on the ground of popular tradition, – confirmed in probability, as we shall presently see, by Dr. McMillan’s own words, – that his school as an academy must have originated as early as Mr. Dodd’s, viz., in 1782, if not one or two years before it. The argument turns somewhat, though not conclusively, upon another question, viz., whether James Ross, the first known teacher under Dr. McMillan, and afterwards so distinguished both as an advocate and statesman, having reached a seat in the United States Senate in 1794, gave instruction in the classics or simply taught English branches whilst receiving private instruction himself in Latin and Greek from Dr. McMillan himself. At least as early as 1786 he can be traced as an attorney in vigorous practice in the courts of Washington County.
After all might there not be a key of solution in the suggestion that Dr. McMillan’s school was probably opened as early as 1780, and included Latin and Greek in its design, so far as the demand for them then existed, but that upon the beginning of Mr. Dodd’s distinctively classical academy, two years later, such instruction may have been chiefly surrendered to him for a time in view of the sufficiency of one such school to meet the demand, and in view of Dr. McMillan’s other abundant labors; to which, also, is to be added the fact that Mr. McMillan’s charge, so prolific of candidates for the ministry afterwards, was at first less so than the congregations of some of his brethren. This supposition concedes priority to Dr. McMillan, which is probably the truth, whilst it brings other facts into harmony with it else very difficult of explanation. In that case the subsequent collection of the classical students at Chartiers was simply, in this respect, a resumption.
The curious reader may find the whole question ably argued, if not satisfactorily settled, in the appendix to Dr. Joseph Smith’s “History of Jefferson College,” on the one side by the author himself, and on the other by Prof. Robert Patterson, now associate editor of the Presbyterian Banner. But whatever may have been the origin of the “Log Cabin” academy, as compared with those of Messrs. Dodd and Smith, it survived them, and continued to supply the demands of English, classical, and even theological education until 1791, when its students were passed over to the Canonsburg Academy, shortly before erected. The spirit of McMillan in this whole enterprise, as well as his hearty co-operation with his brethren in the same direction, may be discovered in the modest statement of his letter to the Rev. Dr. James Carnahan, under date of March 26, 1832. “When I had determined,” says he, “to come to this country, Dr. Smith [his theological instructor, – the Rev. Robert Smith, D.D. of Pequea] enjoined it upon me to look out for some pious young men and educate them for the ministry, for said he, though some men of piety and talents may go to a new country at first, yet if they are not careful to raise up others the country will not be well supplied. Accordingly I collected a few who gave evidence of piety, and taught them the Latin and Greek languages, some of whom became useful, and others eminent ministers of the Gospel. I had still a few with me when the academy was opened at Canonsburg, and finding I could not teach and do justice to my congregation, I immediately gave it up and sent them there.”
Such was the state of the case when the wants of the community rose above the supply of private enterprise and demanded associated effort. “It reflects the highest honor upon these illustrious men,” says Prof. Patterson, the champion of Dr. McMillan’s priority as an educator, “that scarce thirty years were suffered to elapse after the first daring adventurers had penetrated a hitherto pathless wilderness – thirty years not of prosperity but of painful vigilance and struggle, of unexampled hardship and heroic endurance – until the poetry and eloquence of Greece and Rome, the truths of modern science and of sacred learning had found three humble halls, three devoted instructors, and a score of assiduous pupils, though the war-whoop of the retreating savage still echoed within the surrounding valleys, and his council fires still blazed upon the hills.” The combined movement referred to found embodiment in the charter of the Washington Academy by an act of the Legislature of Pennsylvania dated Sept. 24, 1787. The same act devoted, for the uses of the academy, five thousand acres of public land north of the Ohio River, chiefly in what is now Beaver County. That charter was secured mainly through the influence of Dr. McMillan and his two elders, Judges Allison and McDowell, then members of the Legislature. The original list of trustees embraced all of the settled Presbyterian ministers west of the Monongahela, and not less than seven or eight ruling elders and some other leading members of the same denomination, as well as a goodly representation from other churches. It was not until 1789 that the academy went into operation under the Rev. Thaddeus Dodd, who was chosen principal, doubtless because, by common consent, he was the finest classical and mathematical scholar of these eminent fathers. His promise of continuance in this work covered only one year, though he gave an addition of three months, preaching one-third of this period in Washington and the remaining two-thirds in his own charge. He was succeeded by his associate, Mr. David Johnston. But the burning of the courthouse, in which the classes were heard, followed, and then a feeling of depression, if not of indifference, in the community, almost insuperable. The division of sentiment among friends abroad and division of their influence, and the suspension of operations which ensued, might probably have been avoided had the Hon. John Hoge, a trustee, and one of the proprietors of the town, met the proposal of the Rev. Messrs. John McMillan and Matthew Henderson, the latter of whom was father of the Associate (now United Presbyterian) Church in the West, for the donation of a lot for the erection of an academy. The prompt offer of such a lot in Canonsburg by Col. John Canon, together with the advance of funds for the erection, turned the scale. About this time, or in 1791, a consultation of ministers and citizens concerning the establishment of an institution on a larger scale was held, which, under like influence, resulted in favor of Canonsburg.
Mr. Johnson having resigned at Washington, his election as principal of the new institution was followed by its speedy opening and the famous first recitation “under the shade of some sassafras bushes,” by Robert Patterson and William Riddle, the first pair of a long and worthy succession of students. The Rev. Messrs. McMillan, Smith, and Henderson were present, and consecrated the incipient enterprise in prayer. At the meeting of the Synod of Virginia, in October of the same year, another great impulse was given by the adoption of “a plan for the education of persons for the ministry of the gospel,” which recommended that two institutions should be taken under the patronage of the Synod. One of these was to be located in Rockbridge County, Va., under the presidency of the Rev. William Graham, and special care of the Presbyteries of Lexington and Hanover, the same which grew into Washington College at Lexington. The other was to be established in Washington County, Pa., under the care of Rev. John McMillan, and to be “cherished” and “superintended” by the Presbytery of Redstone. The Synod also advised that in one or other of these institutions all the candidates for the ministry within its bounds should be instructed. The Presbytery of Redstone, at its meeting in Pigeon Creek, Oct. 18, 1792, unanimously agreed to make Canonsburg “the seat of that institution of learning which they were appointed to superintend,” though, upon a reconsideration of the subject, in the following spring, the way was left open for a division of the funds, if in the future the good of the church should require the erection of another institution: Contributions were taken by active agents under the influence, first, of the Presbytery of Redstone, and then, after its organization, in 1793, of the Ohio Presbytery, in whose territory the academy was located. Aid was also rendered under the favor of the Associate Presbyterian Church, led by the Rev. Matthew Henderson and others. These funds were applied in part to reimburse Col. Canon for his outlay in the erection of the academy, and in part for current expenses.
In 1794, or seven years after the incorporation of the Washington Academy, a charter was obtained for the institution at Canonsburg from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, under the name of “The Academy and Library Company.” But at what precise time the “Log Cabin” school was merged into the academy, thus fully established, it is not easy to determine. It is certain at least that, without being under direct ecclesiastical control, the institution had the zeal of the ministry and the church in its favor. It was happy, also, in its succession of principals and assistant instructors, such as Samuel Miller, James Mountain, James Carnahan, and John Watson. The last of these became the first president of Jefferson College under the charter of 1802, while Mr. Carnahan reached afterwards the same high place in the College of New Jersey. Nor can such names among its pupils as those of Cephas Dodd, Elisha McCurdy, Thomas E. Hughes, Thomas Marques, Robert Johnston, James Hoge, Joseph Stockton, Samuel Tait, James Satterfield, Obadiah Jennings, William Neill, James Ramsey, Gilbert McMaster, and others fail to tell their own story of benefit in requital of the offerings of the church. At least one baptism of revival came down upon the institution, in 1797, in answer to the prayers of God’s people, when of forty students there was not one who was not believed to be either an avowed Christian or “a subject of sharp awakening.” It was not, however, until the year 1800 that the first legislative aid came in the form of a grant of one thousand dollars. And this in turn stimulated the renewal of a movement which had failed in 1796, but now found success in the charter of Jan. 15, 1802, which transformed the Canonsburg Academy into Jefferson College, the first and in its day the most useful college west of the Alleghenies. The two surviving fathers of the Redstone Presbytery, John McMillan and James Power, were among its trustees, Messrs. Smith and Dodd having meanwhile gone to their rest. With them, also, were associated Joseph Patterson, Thomas Marques, Samuel Ralston, John McPherrin, James Dunlap, and John Black, honored ministers, together with a list of laymen of corresponding prominence and worth. The officers of the institution were constituted by simply elevating the teachers of the academy into members of the faculty.
Returning now to the Washington Academy, which, as we have seen, was suspended in 1791, we find that it was shortly afterwards reopened and carried on with greater or less success until the spring of 1805, under James Dobbins and Benjamin Mills. Then a new era dawned upon it in the election to its management and instruction of the Rev. Matthew Brown, who had just then also been chosen as the first pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Washington. He was ably assisted, the first year, by his young friend, David Elliott, afterwards his distinguished successor both in the college and the church, and the second year by his honored pupil, George Baird. Success crowned the ability and energy of the new principal, and in due time the academy, which had led her sister at Canonsburg by seven years in the first charter, now followed her after the lapse of four years in the second, having received also an act of incorporation as a college dated March 28, 1806. Formal application was made for this charter to the Legislature by the trustees, but its success was due chiefly to the personal influence of the energetic principal, aided by the great force of Parker Campbell, Esq., the leading member of the Washington bar. The trustees of the academy were made the incorporators of the college, and to their number, as in the Jefferson board, additions were made from time to time from the most prominent ministers and citizens of the surrounding country. The proportion of numbers in both cases was always, of course, in favor of that branch of the church which in fact gave the breath of life to both. It is worthy of remark that during the whole subsequent period from the charter, in 1806, until the union of the colleges, with the exception of two and a half years, the presidency of the board was filled by two venerable men, viz., the Rev. John Anderson, D.D., for twenty-four years, ending in 1831, and the Rev. David Elliott, D.D., LL.D., for thirty-three years, ending in 1865. Dr. Samuel Ralston likewise presided over the Jefferson board nearly forty-four years.
The history of Jefferson and Washington Colleges has heretofore been given to the public with considerable fullness. In these published memorials, and in the general catalogue issued in 1872, an inquirer may partially trace the succession in each down to their union and their consolidation. Each struggled from first to last with poverty, and passed through various changes of fortune. Yet each, by a divine blessing upon indomitable energy, accomplished a work for the country and the church beyond computation. Rival contestants they were for public favor upon the same field of operation. Their movements were not always without contest and bitterness. Their separate existence was maintained for about threescore years against an unceasing protest of the public mind, which, together with the pressure of their own necessities, compelled frequent though unavailing efforts for their consolidation. And yet the history of this or any other country may be challenged for results in educated men as great in proportion to the means expended as their records will show.
John Watson, the first president of Jefferson College, grew up an orphan in Western Pennsylvania, almost without education, until his habits of reading and study were discovered by the distinguished Judge Addison. This gentleman encouraged him with books and counsel, and doubtless commended him to Dr. McMillan, who in turn elevated him from menial service to a place in the academy at Canonsburg, first as a pupil, and then as assistant teacher, and then secured for him the benefit of a fund in Princeton College, pledging other help besides. But his own energy won triumph over the need of further help, having secured for him the position of teacher of the grammar school, and thus enabling him to graduate with distinction. Recalled to Canonsburg, he became principal of the academy, and also, along with his patron and father-in-law, Dr. McMillan, an influential agent in procuring the college charter, and then, under it, by unanimous choice, the first in a long line of eminent presidents. Meanwhile he had entered the ministry, but his lamentable death, Nov. 31, 1802, within the very year of the charter and only three months after his inauguration, was a baptism of affliction to the infant institution and the church.
With him was associated Samuel Miller, or “Master Miller,” as he was called from his former service in the academy as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. A loving pupil, Dr. Samuel C. Jennings, describes this gentlemen as a man of low stature, with a penetrating eye, and in old age a smooth white head; a self-made scholar, kindly in disposition, and rebuking oftener with the pointing of his finger than with sharp words. He is also reported as a decided Christian, and an active ruling elder in Dr. McMillan’s church, even after his voluntary retirement from the college in 1830, until his peaceful death a year later. Dr. McMillan himself, without actual change of the service he was wont to render, was made Professor of Divinity, to give instruction, as before, to candidates for the ministry. And the very year of the charter was signalized by the graduation of the first class, – trained in the academy, but crowned with college honors, – consisting of Reed Bracken, Johnston Eaton, William McMillan, John Rhea, and Israel Pickens, all afterwards ministers of the gospel but the last, who reached the distinction of Governor of Alabama and United States senator. This beginning of the college was small, but it was the beginning of an enterprise which has accomplished mighty things, the end of which is still among the great promises of the future.
The administration of the second president, the Rev. James Dunlap, D.D., extended over a period of eight years, ending in 1811. He was a son of New Jersey College, of the class of 1773, received ordination in 1781 at the hands of the New Castle Presbytery, and after a pastorate of seven years over the united churches of Laurel Hill and Dunlap’s Creek, near Brownsville, Pa., and of fourteen more of the latter church alone, accepted the presidency. His discharge of the trust was not marked with special interest, except in the way of financial struggle on the part of the institution to maintain its existence, and still harder struggle on the part of the president to defray the expenses of his family and pay his tutors on a salary of less than six hundred dollars, with a small addition from the church of Miller’s Run, to which he ministered. Even his salary was larger by one-fourth than that of his predecessor. Such then were the country and the times. These causes, along with a spirit perhaps too easily wounded by the frank dealings of the board of trustees, led to the resignation of a man said to have possessed great excellence of character. The average number of his graduates was slightly over five, which was the size of the only class under his predecessor.
During the interval of a year which followed, Dr. McMillan, who had been made vice-president for this purpose, gave to the college his general supervision. At its close the Rev. Andrew Wylie was inducted into the presidency, – the same Dr. Wylie afterwards so noted in the administration of both the colleges and in their controversies. He had been a pupil of Dr. Matthew Brown in the Washington Academy, but was graduated with the class of 1810 in Jefferson College, the last year of Dr. Dunlap’s presidency. His succession to this high place at the age of twenty-two years, and only eighteen months after his reception of a diploma, was a triumph of which any young man might be proud. Perhaps we may find here the swing of the pendulum. It was, at least, a very marked return to the first policy of having a young president after an intervening administration commenced at the age of sixty years. Nor was the new president, fine scholar and energetic executive as he was, remarkable for success during the five years of his incumbency, as the total of his eighteen graduates will show. But fairness demands that we look away from Canonsburg for at least a part of the explanation.
It must be remembered that during the ten years last under review Washington College had come into earnest operation under the Rev. Matthew Brown, its originator and first president, as we have seen. He was a graduate of Dickinson College in 1784. The eight classes which received the Bachelor’s degree at his hands in these opening years numbered in all forty-eight, or an average of six. Like those of Jefferson, they embraced a fine proportion of names since high in the registry of church and State. Much of the favor of the church, which, as has appeared, had been transferred to Canonsburg, was won back. The foundations of a college were firmly laid, alike in scholarship and government, and a presidential reputation was made of which the alumni of both colleges are justly proud. And yet, let it be remembered, until the last year of his term the only regular professor associated with Dr. Brown was James Reed, who held the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy. Precisely the same was true of Jefferson, which did not add a second professor until 1818, or three years later still, when in like manner the ancient languages were detached from the presidency and formed into a distinct chair. So limited then were these foundations of learning in resources, so self-denying and laborious the agents who executed their work. And yet so bright is the record of the men year by year sent from them into the high places of the land.
The “College War” cannot be passed over in this history, though even yet the time has scarcely come for its impartial treatment. We will do no more than state some of its prominent facts. It came to its crisis in the transfer, by election of 1816, of Dr. Wylie from the presidency of Jefferson to that of Washington. It raged actively for at least two years, and then left animosities behind it which far outlived the busy actors themselves. Happy is the disposition of posterity to forget a strife which alienated good men, divided communities and families, filled the press with crimination, embarrassed the cause of education, and put the church of God itself under a heavy stress of trouble. Well has it been said that the survival of the colleges themselves, and of religion at the centres of the contest, was a signal proof of the power and grace of God.
True to human nature as it is, the immediate occasion of this strife was an earnest and almost successful negotiation for the consolidation of the institutions at one place. Committees of the boards met at Graham’s tavern, midway between the two towns, on the 26th of October, 1815, and approximated but did not reach a satisfactory basis of union. The next day the following proposition was offered in the Jefferson board, viz.: “Resolved, That, provided the Board of Trustees of Washington College will not recede from their sine qua non, viz.: ‘that the permanent site of the reunited college should be in the borough of Washington,’ but will give five thousand dollars in addition to their present funds, half of the trustees, and the casting vote in the choice of the faculty, this board will agree to give up the site to them, and will unite with them in petitioning the Legislature to effect the object in view.” Action, however, was suspended on this resolution in order to hold a consultation with the faculty, when President Wylie gave his consent, and stated his belief of Professor Miller’s concurrence, founded on consultation with him. But a warm debate left the board a tie upon the resolution, whilst the president, Dr. Ralston, “hesitated” for a time, “but afterwards he did vote in the affirmative,” though not until the negative side had claimed that the crisis was passed, and the secretary had recorded that the president had declined voting, under which ruling the motion was of course lost. And thus was postponed for just half a century a consummation often sought and surely devoutly wished by many friends of both colleges before and since. Without expression of opinion, we may see in these facts that it was not as yet the will of Providence that these streams should be joined until their separate benefits should have been more fully secured, and the channel of their union better prepared.
Negotiations to the same effect were soon renewed, though excited feeling rendered their success impossible. But other changes soon turned the current of events. The resignation of Dr. Brown as president at Washington, and the election of Dr. Wylie, with his transfer to the vacant place, were simultaneous. His election was secured amidst excitement by the casting vote of the president, Dr. John Anderson, and a like tumult prevailed at Canonsburg. In the hot strife thus engendered motives were of course assailed. Parties resorted to the public press for vindication. Sharp lines of division were drawn between former friends, extending even to ministers and churches. Dr. Brown, retiring from the college, continued in his pastoral relation for six years longer, with the warmest love of his church generally, as well as the sympathy of a portion of the public drawn to him as an injured man. During these six years, and for just the same period afterwards, Dr. Wylie presided at Washington, but neither his fine talents, scholarship, address, and energy, nor the warm devotion of friends and students could wholly raise him above the adverse influences growing out of the circumstances of his election. Men of the highest honor were enlisted on both sides of that controversy, in view of which fact the judgment even of this remote generation should be held in abeyance. Yet the evils of the warfare were clear and abundant. In such a condition of things it is not a little to the credit of Dr. Wylie that there was an average of nine graduates from the college during the twelve years of his administration. But his retirement in 1828 to take charge of the Indiana State University at Bloomington was soon followed by the suspension of the college itself. He died in 1851, having passed threescore years. Dr. Wylie’s successor at Canonsburg was the Rev. William McMillan, A.M., a nephew of the venerable founder of the college and an alumnus of its first class. He was a man of rugged scholarship and force rather than of social and literary culture. He was measurably successful during his presidency of five years, adding fifty-nine names to the roll of alumni. He also supplied the church of Miller’s Run. The chief reason of his resignation was the alleged failure of the board to sustain him in a controversy with certain students charged with mutiny, sedition, and rebellion. These charges, involving the reputation of the principal, as he claimed, the board on investigation did not regard as sufficiently proven. He was subsequently president of Franklin College, at New Athens, Ohio, and died in 1832.
The last Wednesday of September, 1822, marks the crisis and dawn of the true glory of Jefferson College.
The Rev. Matthew Brown, D.D., LL.D., who then held a call in his hand to the presidency of Centre College, at Danville, Ky., and was favorably considering it, was elected that night to the place made vacant by President McMillan’s resignation. A prompt committee managed to have him brought from Washington to Canonsburg before breakfast the next morning, ready to preside at the commencement, confer the degrees, and deliver the baccalaureate address, all on the same day. Confessing himself bewildered, as in a whirl of events, he could not resist what seemed to him and his brethren a clear call of the Lord. He carried into his new position the benefits of his official experience of ten years at Washington, and the fine reputation he had so fairly won. If his character was not the most symmetrical, he still had the elements of success in an eminent degree. Opposites blended in him most remarkably. Special eccentricities, a hasty temper, and the reactions of mirth and depression were all joined with a vigorous intellect, clear judgment, quick discernment, good sense, ardent piety, and untiring energy. If his impetuosity sometimes involved him in mistakes, his students loved him, even the wildest of them, for the depth of heart which never failed to make him a friend of all disposed to do right. His strong hold upon the public also, especially upon the church, gave him a power in behalf of the college only surpassed by his unrivaled skill in canvassing for patronage. Finding the institution with about eighty students, he soon greatly increased the number, and kept it at a high figure to the end of his service. In every other respect, also, the college was advanced. During the twenty-three years of his presidency the graduates numbered seven hundred and seventy-two, or an average for the whole period of thirty-five. In word and deed he was a promoter of revivals, and rejoiced in at least two of great extent through his ministry, both in the college and the church, of which for fifteen years he acted as pastor. It must have been grateful to his heart that, upon the occurrence of the first simultaneous vacancy in the college and church at Washington, six years after leaving that place, he was cordially invited to resume his old position in each. He ever continued to love that community, and the church of which he had been the first pastor. And there, by his own request, his body was laid down to rest beside beloved dust, after his spirit had been called, July 29, 1853, at the venerable age of seventy-seven years, to its glorious rest.
The Rev. Robert J. Breckenridge, D.D., LL.D., of Kentucky, succeeded Dr. Brown upon his resignation in 1845, and for two years gave to the college the benefit of his great name and brilliant talents. But the government of a college not providing congenial to his taste any more than suitable to his gifts, he returned to his beloved State in 1847, having graduated two classes, numbering in all ninety-six members. A portion of his remaining life was spent as a professor in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Danville.
Next in order comes an alumnus of 1825 in the person of that noble Christian gentleman, refined scholar, and eloquent preacher, the Rev. Alexander Blaine Brown, D.D., son of Dr. Matthew Brown. After serving for six years as Professor of Belles-Lettres and adjunct Professor of Languages, – four of them before the retirement of his venerable father, – he was advanced to the presidency in 1847, and filled it with great credit and success for nine years, when failing health compelled the exchange of labor for rest. He was, however, able during the remainder of his life to minister to a loving people as pastor of the Centre Church. He died in 1863. He lives still in many hearts. Four hundred and fifty-three diplomas bear his signature, equal to fifty for each year.
In turn two eminent gentlemen succeeded in this important office, viz., the Rev. Joseph Alden, D.D., LL.D., author of standard works on mental philosophy and the science of government, and the Rev. David H. Riddle, D.D., LL.D., the former for five and the latter for three years, extending to the union of the colleges. Both of these presidents did honorable service in this office, sustaining well the prosperity of the college. Dr. Riddle is an alumnus of the class of 1823. He was a son-in-law of Dr. Matthew Brown.
In such a sketch of sixty-three years it would be impossible to do justice to the long line of professors so identified with its history. They were generally men of very creditable ability as well as fidelity, and their names shall not perish from the college records nor from the hearts of the alumni. Of such were Samuel Miller, Abraham Anderson, John H. Kennedy, Jacob Green, C. J. Hadermann, Washington McCartney, Richard S. McCulloh, Henry Snyder, Aaron Williams, Samuel R. Williams, Robert W. Orr, John Fraser among the dead, and Robert Patterson, Samuel Jones, and Alonzo Linn among the living, a majority of them being distinguished sons of the college. The Rev. Drs. James Ramsey, Abraham Anderson, and Thomas Beveridge, of the Associate Theological Seminary at Canonsburg, at different times also rendered important services as professors extraordinary, the two former in Hebrew and the latter in evidences of natural and revealed religion. But fidelity to truth as well as deference to the affectionate memories of forty-four classes must claim distinct mention of William Smith, D.D., a graduate of 1819, an honored Professor of Languages from 1821 until the union of 1865, who departed this life in the peace of the gospel July 17, 1878, at the venerable age of eighty-four years.
Returning once more to the other branch before brought down to the suspension of 1828, we may trace the new life of Washington College through a period of thirty-five years. The interval of suspension had brought to Washington as pastor of the Presbyterian Church just the man to reorganize the college, in the person of the Rev. David Elliott, D.D., LL.D., a graduate of Dickinson College in 1808, then in his forty-third year, having been a pastor at Mercersburg, Pa., for seventeen years. With the college as well as the church in view, he had been recommended by his admiring friend, Dr. Matthew Brown, upon the resignation of Dr. Obadiah Jennings to accept a call to the church of Nashville, Tenn. And the nobleness of both these eminent men, Drs. Brown and Elliott, is revealed in the fact that the most untiring devotion of each to these rival interests never cast a shadow over their confidential friendship. Dr. Elliott peremptorily declined the offered presidency, and only yielded at last as a temporary expedient, until a permanent successor could be obtained. He opened the college accordingly Nov. 2, 1830, with two professors and some twenty boys of the vicinity exalted into students. His own resolution, however, inspired confidence; his vigorous administration and extensive correspondence soon made the college known, and the third session ended with a collegiate roll of one hundred and nineteen young men, each class being respectably filled. Meanwhile, by a visit to Harrisburg, he had secured an annual State appropriation of five hundred dollars for five years, to support a department for the special education of teachers. At that stage of progress he handed over the institution to the successor of his own nomination, the Rev. David McConaughy, D.D., LL.D., an alumnus of Dickinson of 1795, called from the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church at Gettysburg, Pa., in the spring of 1832.
Dr. McConaughy’s administration partook of the moral dignity of his character, without sensational or spasmodic effort. His resignation, in September, 1849, was followed by his peaceful death at his home in Washington, Jan. 29, 1852, “in the seventy-seventh year of his life, and the fiftieth of his ministry.” The survivors of the three hundred and eighty-eight alumni who passed under his care can never forget the scholarly ability of his instructions nor the beauty of his life. Copying the portrait drawn of him after death by the hand of his discerning friend and immediate predecessor, we may well say that if indeed, “as it regarded direct personal activity abroad and tactical skill in meeting sudden emergencies connected with the government of a college, he may have lacked some of the qualities desirable in a president, it is equally certain that his commanding talents, his extensive and accurate scholarship, his unwavering integrity, his purity of motive, his paternal care and affectionate regard for his pupils, the dignity and uniformity of his deportment, and the captivating benevolence of his disposition, in a word, the concentrated force of the many and rare qualities which clustered around his character, gave him a power and control over the public mind and over the hearts of the young men against which these few incidental defects presented but slight resistance.”
Dr. McConaughy’s successor was the Rev. James Clark, D.D., (then) called from the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, N.J. He brought to the college a high character and the accomplishments of a superior education. But he resigned, in July, 1852, after a service of two years, that he might accept a call to a church in Lewisburg, Pa. At the present writing he is a resident of Philadelphia, having the respect of his brethren, and doing the work of a gospel minister as occasion demands. Upon his retirement the writer of these pages, at the age of thirty-five years, and in the fourth year of his present pastoral charge, was pressed into the office of president by the trustees until a permanent successor could be procured. Then, as also afterwards in 1870, he declined to allow the use of his name by influential trustees as a candidate for the permanent office, ever preferring the direct work of the ministry. A son of the college, a pupil in former years of nearly every one of the professors, the youngest member of the faculty, and withal carrying the weight of a laborious pastorate, he felt the restraint of great embarrassment in undertaking this responsible trust. But, sustained by the trustees and the professors, and encouraged by the confidence of the students, his connection with the college in this capacity, anxious and laborious as it was, was far more satisfactory than he expected. It was, however, a welcome relief, upon the graduation of his second class, the commencement of 1853, to surrender the reins to the successor of his preference and nomination.
The inauguration of the Rev. John W. Scott, D.D., of the Jefferson class of 1827, as president of Washington College, upon the occasion just named, marks a new era in its history. A special relation had just been formed with the Presbyterian Synod of Wheeling, the object of which was to bring collegiate education more directly under the influence of religion and the church. Under that system the management of the institution was still in the hands of the trustees, as before, but in consideration of the revenue derived from an endowment of sixty thousand dollars, as well as other funds raised by the Synod, that body had also the nomination of members of the board of trustees and the faculty, and from the persons thus nominated the board elected. The arrangement was indeed denominational, in the sense of a more positive religious influence, coupled with systematic study of the Bible, and, in the case of Presbyterian students, a like study of the standards of the church. But from this last course all who so preferred were excused, and beyond this also the largest liberty and exemption from sectarian influences known in other colleges was allowed. Justice to truth demands the statement that, under the lead of a very efficient president and the instruction of a faculty of more than usual ability, the twelve years of this arrangement were not surpassed by any like period in thorough scholarship, and that, too, without the disadvantages of denominationalism, which so many feared. Two hundred and sixteen were added to the alumni, of whom one hundred and eighteen became ministers, including six foreign missionaries. During this period several revivals of religion extended their influence into the college as others had done before. Profs. E. C. Wines, D.D., William J. Martin, William H. Brewer, James Black, D.D., William J. Brough, D.D., and others of this period were worthy successors of William P. Aldrich, D.D., William K. McDonald, LL.D., Richard Henry Lee, LL.D., Robert Milligan, Nicholas Murray, James W. McKennan, D.D., and others of the preceding period since the resuscitation. The last three named, as well as Prof. Black, were worthy sons of the college. The president, in his voluntary retirement preparatory to the union of the colleges, carried with him the high esteem of all connected with the institution.
The foregoing recital brings us down to a most interesting event, several times referred to, viz., the union of the colleges.
For this event there had been a long course of preparation. Away from the localities of these institutions there had always been a public sentiment averse to their separate existence. Attempts to unite them had been made at intervals through their whole history. We have before seen how near that of 1815 came to success. But many causes combined at length to force this result. Financial pressure was one of the chief. Each had been betrayed by bad example into the ruinous policy of endowment by cheap scholarships, Jefferson leading the way in 1851, and Washington following two years afterwards. In each case the revenue thus provided only rose to the lowest level of expenses in cheap times, with small salaries, without any provision for expansion or progress. The injury came in the almost total displacement of tuition fees, in the fastening of permanent responsibilities upon the colleges out of all proportion to their means, and in an evident lowering of the public estimate of the pecuniary value of collegiate education. The cost of living, which was doubled if not trebled by the civil war of 1861-65, demanded as a necessity a reduction of the working force, or else a great increase of funds. The large benefactions to colleges in the East, as the fruit of fortunes accumulated during the war, produced a competition in buildings, appliances, and new professorships such as had never been known before. Unwonted facilities for travel and transportation also made access to all institutions easy, and reduced their cost to substantially the same level. Both Jefferson and Washington, in these circumstances, and with the experience of reduced finances, must be speedily lifted out of their perils, or look the question of life or death in the face.
In fact, by a process of depletion, the result of the change of financial condition in the country produced by the war of the Rebellion and continued ever since, all other assets had been sunk except the buildings, and an endowment of Jefferson to the net amount of $56,099.39 and of Washington to the amount of $42,689.33. The former of these endowments was fastened for a long term of years in a loan with interest at six per cent. The latter, being free, had been for the most part invested in government bonds, and was thus made more productive through the high premium then, and for some time afterwards, realized upon gold as compared with the value of currency. No important help coming to either, and that for the very reason of their hopeless condition, a donation of $50,000 was offered by the Rev. Charles C. Beatty, D.D., LL.D., on the sole condition of their union. It was followed with a proposition of surrender, on the same condition, of the ecclesiastical relation of Washington College by the Synod, and the tender of the perpetual use of its endowment to the united college, so long as it should continue to be Protestant and evangelical. Even then the two boards were reluctant, and only consented under the resistless force of public sentiment, concentrated by the joint action of the alumni at the last moment of the crisis.
The union thus effected under a legislative act, dated March 4, 1865, was a step forward, but it proved to be incomplete and unsatisfactory. The corporations were merged into one, the departments and classes were apportioned and separately conducted at the two former localities, but with the effect of undue expense, a want of unity, and the old rivalry more or less continued. The presidents of the old colleges, Drs. Scott and Riddle, gracefully retired, in order that the unity of the future might be represented fairly in the person of a new president, whose antecedents were identified with neither institution.
In due time the choice fell upon the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, D.D., LL.D., an alumnus of South Hanover College of the class of 1835 and twenty years afterwards its president, but then pastor of the West Arch Street Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, a gentleman of the finest talents and culture. His inauguration, April 4, 1866, was followed by an honest effort on his part, seconded by the faculty and trustees, to make the experiment a success, but the complicated system was inseparable from difficulties which could not be overcome. After three years of able service the president resigned, April 20, 1869, to accept a pastoral charge in the city of Baltimore, having introduced one hundred and thirty-four graduates into the goodly company of the alumni. Again, however, the clamor had arisen for further change, and neither patrons nor alumni would be satisfied without it. Nothing would answer the demand short of absolute consolidation at one place. The trustees again hesitated, but finally yielded to a necessity, and by careful steps reached with singular unanimity a plan which found its expression in an amended charter of Feb. 26, 1869, which of itself settled every question except that of location. This question, after a competition opened to any place in the State of Pennsylvania, was to be settled by a two-thirds vote of the board within sixty days, or on their failure by the voice of four out of five disinterested arbitrators upon whom two-thirds of the board might agree. It was settled, however, by a two-thirds vote of the trustees on the 20th of April, 1869, in favor of Washington. Among the inducements offered by that community was a subscription of $50,000 to the funds of the institution. For a time litigation, attended with the restraint of an “injunction,” arrested the progress of the consolidation, but in due time, it was sanctioned by the highest courts of Pennsylvania and of the United States.
During the interval of legal contest Prof. Samuel J. Wilson, D.D., LL.D., of the Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pa., exercised the office of president for one session at Canonsburg, and the present writer in like manner for the following year at Washington. But at the commencement in 1870, the way for permanent reorganization having been sufficiently opened, the Rev. George P. Hays, D.D., pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church of Allegheny, an alumnus of the Jefferson class of 1857, was elected president, and other corresponding changes were made. The inauguration took place in the town hall at Washington on the evening of Sept. 21, 1870, in the presence of a large assembly, composed of the trustees, faculty, students, citizens, and strangers. The oath of office was administered by the Hon. William McKennan, judge of the Third Circuit of the United States.
The administration of Dr. Hays, extending over a period of eleven years, was both energetic and successful. His resignation, previously offered chiefly from considerations of health, was accepted by the board at the time of the annual commencement, June 20, 1881, and he shortly afterwards entered upon his duties as pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church of Denver, Col. A portion of his time, during the first years of his presidency, was given to financial efforts in behalf of the college, in which his success was as great as could be reasonably expected, considering the monetary stringency then prevalent throughout the country. Besides the labor of teaching, he carried his habitual activity into the several branches of the college administration, the effect of which was felt in different directions. The litigation, however, which grew out of the consolidation of the two old colleges at one place, as previously related, still overhung the institution with its cloud of discouragement. And so it remained with more or less of hindrance until the final decision of the whole case by the Supreme Court of the United States at the December term, 1871, the second year of Dr. Hays’ official service, and nearly three years after the act of consolidation itself thus called in question before the several courts of the State and nation. But even the clearing away of these legal strifes did not more than prepare the way for the restoration of the classes from the depression thus produced. The calm courage and perseverance, however, of a united faculty and board of trustees, under a divine blessing, proved equal to the emergency. It is enough to say that an administration commencing in 1870 in the heat of these conflicts, ended in 1881 with an institution established, a full faculty, and a catalogue of students numbering one hundred and eighty-five, together with every other token of stability and progress. Notwithstanding the disadvantages of the legal conflict, and especially the dissolution of the higher classes under the injunction of a court, the graduates of these eleven years reached the number of one hundred and seventy-seven, of whom twenty received the degree of B.S., whilst one hundred and fifty-seven, having completed the classical course, received that of A.B. It is proper to add that in 1871 the course of study in the scientific department was enlarged so as to cover the period of four years, the same as the classical, and, also, that since that time the Greek and Latin languages have been elective studies after the sophomore year.
Since the consolidation of 1869 important additions have been made to the endowment funds of the college. The Rev. Charles C. Beatty, D.D., LL.D., of Steubenville, Ohio, president of the board of trustees, besides the munificent donation of fifty thousand dollars in 1865 to secure the union of the two old colleges, added a further gift of twenty-five thousand dollars in 1874 for the endowment of the Greek chair. In like manner, Francis J. Le Moyne, M.D., of Washington, an alumnus of Washington College of the class of 1815, and for many years an efficient trustee of the same, gave the sum of twenty thousand dollars, March 22, 1871, to establish a professorship of agriculture and correlative branches, and in 1879 he gave a like amount for a chair of applied mathematics, adding also the further sum of one thousand dollars, to be divided equally between these two professorships for their equipment. To the five hundred dollars thus allotted to the chair of agriculture an amount was added sufficient to purchase a set of Prof. Henry A. Ward’s casts of plants and animals, consisting of three hundred and twenty-seven pieces, at a cost of fourteen hundred dollars. Of this amount, the sum of six hundred dollars was realized from a “loan exhibition” held in the college in 1879. Thus we have the noble examples of these benefactions – that of Dr. Beatty to the amount of seventy-five thousand dollars, and that of Dr. Le Moyne to the amount of forty-one thousand dollars – as abiding and powerful appeals to men of means and public spirit so to devote a portion of their substance that after their decease it may be a blessing to coming generations. Other gifts, both by subscription and legacy, have also reached the treasury in smaller amounts. Among these it is proper to mention a memorial gift in 1871 of four hundred and sixty-nine dollars and seventy cents by the Sabbath-school of the First Presbyterian Church of Washington, for the improvement of the scientific apparatus of the college. That the college is able to keep its expenses within its income is largely due to the eminent skill and vigilance of its treasurer, Mr. A. T. Baird.
An additional token of progress, not less marked, is the fine improvement of the college buildings by reconstruction and enlargement, begun in 1873, and finished in time for dedication at the close of the exercises of the commencement, June 30, 1875, at a cost of seventy-nine thousand and fifty-three dollars and forty-five cents. The funds appropriated to this improvement were derived in part from the subscriptions of the citizens of Washington and vicinity in 1869 to secure the location of the consolidated college at this place, and in part from other resources in the hands of the board , including some special donations for this purpose. The halls of the Philo and Union and the Franklin and Washington literary societies were dedicated on the day preceding the commencement with appropriate exercises, in the presence of a large number of their respective alumni. But on the afternoon of commencement-day, a vast assembly of citizens and strangers convened in the campus to witness the dedication of the capacious and elegant new college building. The Hon. Thomas Ewing, president judge of the Court of Common Pleas, No. 2, of Allegheny County, presided. On the platform were many distinguished gentlemen from several States. The dedicatory address was delivered by the Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D., vice-president of the board of trustees; after which the prayer of dedication was opened by the venerable Charles C. Beatty, D.D., LL.D., president of the board. Stirring addresses followed from Governor Hartranft, of Pennsylvania, Governor Jacobs, of West Virginia, the Hon. Simon Cameron, the United States senator from Pennsylvania, Gen. H. H. Bingham, of Philadelphia, the Rev. William S. Plumer, D.D., LL.D., of South Carolina, and others. Each of these gentlemen, tracing the evidences of progress, offered the warmest congratulations to the authorities of the college and to its numerous friends, near and far away, upon the fine structure before them, and upon both the history and prospects of the honored institution.
Besides the present members of the faculty, the following gentlemen have been associated with it during the term of Dr. Hays, viz., Terence Jacobson, Professor of English Literature, 1870-72; George B. Vose, Professor of Mathematics and Engineering, 1865-74; Hiram Collier, Professor of Agriculture and Correlative branches, 1870; George Fraser, D.D., Professor of Mental and Moral Science, 1872-75; and William H. G. Adney, Professor of Agriculture, etc., 1873-80. Temporary service was also rendered at different times in the department of mental and moral science, to meet emergencies, by the Rev. W. F. Hamilton, D.D., and the writer of this sketch.
The vacancy created by the retirement of Dr. Hays extended through the first session of the following collegiate year. During this interval the duties of the presidency were most ably and satisfactorily discharged by the vice-president, Alonzo Linn, LL.D., in addition to the labors of his professorship. With an increased number of students, the order and efficiency of the college were fully sustained.
On Nov. 16, 1881, the committee having in charge the nominator of a president called the board together and presented the name of the Rev. James D. Moffat, an alumnus of the college, of the class of 1869, and pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Wheeling, W. Va., who was thereupon unanimously elected to this office. Mr. Moffat, having after careful consideration signified his acceptance of the presidency thus tendered, entered upon the discharge of his duties as the head of the institution at the opening of the second term of the year on Jan. 4, 1882. His formal inauguration, which had been postponed by the action of the board, in order to afford the alumni and friends of the college opportunity more generally to witness it, took place in the town hall at Washington, June 20, 1882, the evening preceding the annual commencement. Meanwhile the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity had been conferred upon him by the handsome and unanimous action of the trustees of Hanover College, Indiana.
The ceremonies of the inauguration were simple but very impressive. A procession was formed in the college campus at seven o’clock P.M. consisting of the undergraduates, alumni, faculty, and trustees, which, headed by a fine brass band and under the direction of the chief marshal, the Hon. John H. Ewing, an alumnus of Washington College of the class of 1814, and a trustee continuously since 1834, reached the town hall at the appointed hour, where an immense concourse of strangers and citizens were in waiting. The solemn exercises were opened with prayer by the Rev. Daniel W. Fisher, D.D., president of Hanover College. In the absence of the venerable president of the board, the Rev. Charles C. Beatty, D.D., LL.D., on account of sickness, the Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D., vice-president, acted in his place. The exercises of the evening were enlivened with the excellent music of Toerge’s orchestra, of Pittsburgh. An introductory address was delivered by Dr. Brownson, which was followed by an address of the Rev. Samuel J. Wilson, D.D., LL.D., in behalf of the trustees, setting forth the history of the college, its great success and usefulness in the past, its fine prospects for the future, and its strong claims upon the support of its friends and the community at large. The oath of office was then impressively administered to the new president by the Hon. William McKennan, LL.D., judge of the Circuit Court for the Third Circuit of the United States, after which the keys of the college, and also a copy of its charter and by-laws, were handed to Dr. Moffat by Dr. Brownson in token of his official authority and duty. The able and eloquent inaugural address of President Moffat brought the services of the evening to a happy conclusion, and the large audience separated in the spirit of confidence that the outlook for Washington and Jefferson College was never brighter than at present. Hearty and unanimous congratulations were tendered to the young president, who takes his place of dignity and influence both to carry forward the work of his distinguished predecessors and to fulfill a service of filial devotion to his own cherished alma mater.
It only now remains, in order to complete this sketch of the college, that we give a brief summary of the results of the past as the best possible prophecy of the future, adding the fruits of the seven years intervening since a like statement was given in the “Centenary Memorial.” Any other county of the commonwealth, if not, also, of the nation, may be challenged for the production of an equal list of educated sons, whether to fill her own high places, or to lead society in other counties and States. And receiving from far and near, beyond her own borders, the youth of other communities, she has sent them back by hundreds, fitted by thorough collegiate training for every variety of professional and other responsible service. More than three thousand graduates, besides an almost equal number who have taken a partial course, embracing fourteen hundred ministers of the gospel, seven hundred and fifty lawyers, and four hundred physicians, six or eight United States senators, six cabinet officers, fifty or more representatives in Congress, and sixty president judges, together with forty-five presidents and seventy-five professors of colleges, twenty-five professors in theological seminaries, and as many principals of female seminaries, to say nothing of the headship of countless academies, – surely this is a production of cultured men which may be safely put into competition with that of any other community in kind or value, or with any scale of material interests, actual or possible, in like circumstances. Proud, therefore, as we may be to be reckoned in the front rank of the world’s competitors as producers of the world’s finest wool, and rejoicing as we do in the heritage of a soil and climate unsurpassed for the multiplied and varied comforts of life, our highest exultation is in the educated men who have carried the name and fame of Washington County as a chief home of culture into the foremost rivalry of our country, and made it known also across the seas.
Academies.1 – It is a matter for deep regret that the glory of these useful institutions, for the most part, belongs only to the past generations. A number of them were vigorously conducted in the county, as were others elsewhere, and were most important feeders for the colleges, besides their work of training teachers for the common schools. They were usually projected and fostered by the ministry with the aid of fresh graduates from college, who were led to employ a year or two in teaching, partly to supply themselves with funds that they might prosecute their professional studies. Both the disposition and the ability to obtain a liberal education were thus brought to very many young men who otherwise would never have thought of it. The change which has dried up most of these fountains may perhaps be accounted for by various causes. Cheap scholarships have doubtless enticed many lads to college at an earlier stage of study than formerly. The establishment of State normal schools may have diverted many students into their channel. The advance of utilitarianism in leading so large a portion of the people of our day to disparage the mental training which so peculiarly attends the study of the classics, and to estimate educational culture, if not even religion itself, by the rule of dollars and cents may have had its natural effect. But whatever the causes may have been, the evil results are manifest. And happy will be the day of restoration, for which the best educators long, when once more our students shall pass through the teaching and discipline of good academies as the best preparation of the more advanced instruction and government of the college.
Historic connection with Washington and Jefferson College claims that the first place in these sketches for Canonsburg Academy, which in its catalogue goes under the name of Jefferson Academy. It virtually dates from the college charter of consolidation of 1869, which, in its effect, the same year located Washington and Jefferson College at Washington. In fact, however, the organization of the academy dates from March 19, 1872, when, under that charter, the trustees elected the Rev. William Smith, D.D., David C. Houston, John Hayes, William G. Barnett, M.D., John W. Martin, M.D., J. W. Alexander, M.D., and J. Nevin Brown as directors of the academy, with instruction to hold their first meeting on the 3d day of April following. This delay of organization was a fruit of the litigation following the college charter of 1869, and only settled, as we have seen, in December, 1871.
It was an express provision of the college charter of 1869 that “an academy, normal school, or other institution of lower grade than a college” should be established at the place losing the college, or at each of them, should a new place be chosen for the consolidated college. And in either or each place, as the case might be, as much of the property there located as the board should think necessary for the use of such an institution was to be placed in the hands of seven trustees or directors chosen by the board for this purpose, and thus authorized to carry the organization of the academy into effect. Of the original seven directors chosen, as we have seen, in 1872, John Hays, Esq., departed this life July 21, 1875, at the venerable age of seventy-six years, and was followed July 17, 1878 by the Rev. Dr. William Smith, in his eighty-fifth year. The place of the former was in due time filled by the election of Dr. Boyd Emory, Sr., and that of the latter by the choice of the Rev. Thomas R. Alexander, pastor of the Mount Prospect Presbyterian Church. Mr. Alexander has also succeeded Dr. Smith as president of the board. In a liberal exercise of its discretion, the college board set apart for the use and control of the academy the college buildings at Canonsburg, the president’s house, and two additional professors’ houses, together with a valuable portion of the libraries, apparatus, and furniture formerly belonging to
1 By Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D.
Jefferson College, relinquishing all further right in the them.
The academy was most fortunate in the selection as its first principal of a scholarly Christian gentleman of the highest fitness, integrity, and industry, in the person of the Rev. William Ewing, Ph.D., an alumnus of Washington College, of the class of 1842, and the recipient of its first honor. He has been careful to associate with himself assistant teachers of excellent ability, who have well sustained his efforts to raise the standard of scholarship to the highest attainable point. And for the purpose of further enlargement he has lately purchased from the college the large boarding-house formerly known under the sobriquet of “Fort Job.”
As now constituted the academy has two departments. The classical prepares young men for college, and the normal is designed for the special training of teachers. It has a laboratory and gymnasium, and of late has made large additions to its library. The average attendance of students for the years that are past has been an hundred and upwards. Those who have completed the course have gone, according to their preference, to Washington and Jefferson College, to Lafayette, to Princeton, and to Wooster, and in general have taken high standing in these leading colleges. One of these students took a first-class prize in one of the Irish colleges, and did not in his success fail to return thanks to his academic principal for the fine start given him in that direction. In the course of these years the academy has won a high and deserved reputation, and has the confidence and good wishes of the friends of sound scholarship joined with wholesome moral and religious influence. The failure to obtain more minute details of this history will account for the comparative brevity of this sketch; but enough has been given to establish past success and to assure a future of great public benefit.
Passing now from the only surviving academy to those which live only in history, we present first:
West Alexander Academy. – This excellent and useful institution was organized in 1828 by the Rev. John McCluskey, D.D. (an alumnus of Jefferson College, of the class of 1822), the same year of his settlement as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of West Alexander. He managed the school alone, employing subordinate teachers, and taking an active part himself in the work of instruction, until 1836, when, at his request, on account of the great increase of students, a board of trust was chosen to assist him. A legislative charter was secured in 1840, and in 1849 the academy was formally taken under the care of the Presbytery of Washington, as at once a parochial and presbyterial institution. The resignation of his pastoral charge in 1853 passed the church and the academy together from the hands of Dr. McCluskey into those of his excellent successor, the Rev. William H. Lester, who in full strength still stands in his lot. The venerable doctor himself, after some years of intermingled ministerial and educational labor in Philadelphia and its vicinity, was at length compelled by the infirmities of age to accept repose, and on the 31st of March, 1880, was called to the heavenly reward. During the quarter of a century of his headship of the academy it sent forth a large number of young men, forty-four of whom became ministers of the gospel, thirty-two of these entering the service of the Presbyterian Church. Fifteen more were added to this list in the few years of his successor’s charge of the institution. A goodly proportion of these heralds of the gospel were brought to Christ during their academical training. Diligent teaching, energetic administration, earnest Biblical instruction, and the genial influence of religious culture and example were richly crowned with the fruits of the blessing which prayer brings down from heaven. The purposed reduction of expenses to the lowest possible point brought the poor and the rich side by side as equal sharers of these benefits. Most of the students of all those years entered Washington College, and are numbered among her sons. A great public loss was sustained when the doors of the West Alexander Academy were closed.
Cross Creek Academy was opened near the same time as that of West Alexander, by another prominent Presbyterian pastor, the Rev. John Stockton, D.D., at Cross Creek village, in his ministerial charge. Its site was under the shadow of Vance’s fort, so intimately associated with frontier history, both civil and religious. There Smith had broken the silence of the wilderness with the trumpet of the gospel, and there, too, the eloquence of the “silver-tongued” Marques had thrilled the hearts of a second generation with the heavenly message. Their successor, the venerable Stockton, received his seal from God upon a most honored and successful ministry of fifty years, begun in 1827, and relinquished in 1877, at that hallowed place. He departed this life in the peace of the gospel May 5, 1882, in the seventy-ninth year of his age. Among his first efforts to extend the kingdom of his Master was the establishment of this academy, with special reference to the training of ministers. Its teachers, with various intervals, were Samuel and George Marshall (the latter a son of Jefferson College, in the class of 1831, and afterwards a distinguished Presbyterian minister), John Marques, Robert McMillan, and Thomas M. C. Stockton, son of the pastor. Thirty ministers of the gospel came forth from that school, besides many other students who have filled honorable places in secular life. Washington College, the alma mater of Dr. Stockton himself, was the resort of most of the young men who caught their classical inspiration in this academy. But for more than a score of years it had been another instance of suspended animation, relieved only by an occasional and spasmodic effort to revive the spirit of by-gone times.1
Florence Academy next claims attention. It was located in the village of Florence, formerly known as Briceland’s Cross-Roads, in the northern part of Washington County. It was preceded, and perhaps suggested, by an excellent select school for young ladies, founded by the venerable Rev. Elisha McCurdy, pastor of the Presbyterian Church there, in 1832, and conducted for four or five years with fine success by Mrs. Rachel Lamdin, a lady of superior scholarship and tact as well as of devoted piety. The average number of pupils in that school was about thirty or forty, and its effect was very marked in the mental, moral, and religious culture of the young ladies of the neighborhood.
The spirit of liberal education, thus fostered, led to the establishment, in 1833, of the academy. Its first principal was Mr. Robert Fulton, a former student and teacher in Washington College, and a relative by marriage of Mr. McCurdy. After a brief experiment he erected an academy building in the village, on a site conveyed by the trustees of the Presbyterian Church. But the title proving defective he surrendered the property, upon remuneration, to the same trustees, and took possession of the building on Mr. McCurdy’s farm, which until then had been occupied by Mrs. Lamdin’s seminary. Mr. Fulton was the sole proprietor and head of the academy until 1839, three or four years subsequent to Mr. McCurdy’s resignation of his charge because of advanced age, and his consequent removal to Allegheny City. Having meanwhile received a licensure to preach, he disposed of his interests at the end of six years to take charge of an academy and church at Ashland, Ohio, where he subsequently died. During most of these years he was very efficiently assisted in the instruction by Mr. James Sloan, a graduate of Jefferson College, of the class of 1830, who was afterwards both a teacher and pastor at Frankfort, and later still for many years the worthy and successful pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Pigeon Creek, in the Presbytery of Washington. Dr. Sloan departed this life in 1871, in Monongahela City. For the last two years of his term Mr. Fulton had for his assistant his nephew and former pupil, Mr. Samuel Fulton, an alumnus of Washington College, of the class of 1836, who still survives, though lately compelled by broken health to resign his charge as pastor of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church, in Chester County, Pa.
Mr. Fulton’s successor as principal was the Rev. William Burton, also pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Florence. Messrs. John Rierson, John Russell, John Kerr, and James G. Ralston successively acted as assistant teachers. Mr. Kerr, after much service in the gospel ministry, is still a respected member of the Presbytery of Blairsville, and Mr. Ralston rose to distinction as the founder and head of a prosperous female seminary at Norristown, Pa., having before his death worn the titles of D.D. and LL.D.
1 An accurate list of the sons of this academy and that of West Alexander is not in the power of the writer, and therefore none is attempted. Very many of them are well known.
Messrs. Joseph Sheets, John A. Smith, and George W. Miller quickly followed in their order as principals, all of them being alumni of Washington College, of the respective classes of 1839, 1840, and 1845. The last named was subsequently the very successful principal of the academy at Carmichael’s, Pa., and is now a prominent member of the Washington County bar.
The palmy days of the academy were embraced in the period of Mr. Fulton, when there was an average attendance of seventy students. Within the fifteen years of its existence, many were trained in it who afterwards rose to more or less distinction. In the want of a catalogue, memory supplies the names of the Rev. Messrs. Alexander Swaney, D.D., James D. Mason, D.D., David R. Campbell, D.D., William M. Robinson, David P. Lowary, and others of the sacred calling; Prof. Cochron, of Oberlin College; Drs. Joseph Rodgers and Thomas M. C. Stockton, and John Fulton, John McCombs, Caleb J. McNulty, and William Johnson, attorneys. The last two acquired prominence in Ohio, the former as a member of the Legislature of that State, and also as clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and the latter as a member of Congress.
There have been, at different times, two academies in Hopewell township, which did good service in the cause of liberal education. One of these was organized in 1844, in a building owned and fitted up for the purpose by the late Hon. Abram Wotring, whose spirit of liberality was further shown by the payment of seventy dollars per annum in tuition fees for the instruction of his own children. Its principal, Mr. W. A. McKee, now the head of an academy at Knoxville, gave it the honorable name of Franklin High School, though it was better known in the neighborhood as the “Horse-Mill Academy,” in playful allusion to the building in which it was conducted. Subsequently it came under the care of trustees, viz.: Messrs. Wotring, Dawson, Allison, and others, with the Rev. John Eagleson, D.D., as their president. It had considerable success under Mr. McKee, but dwindled after his retirement, and ceased in 1847, but not without great benefit to the neighboring youth of both sexes, and especially to several worthy young men who were, through its culture, fitted for college, and have since had very honorable professional standing.
The other institution referred to was Upper Buffalo Academy, named in honor of the village of its location, and the Presbyterian congregation, of which its founder, Dr. Eagleson, was pastor. It had a continuance of fifteen years from its origin in 1853, was conducted in a building specially erected for that purpose, and was under the control of a board of trustees. The following succession of excellent teachers will be good evidence of the character of the work done, viz.: Messrs. A. E. Thompson, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Rushville, Ind.; Jefferson McC. Martin, the present Professor of Natural Science in Ohio University; W. H. Jeffers, afterwards a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Waynesburg, Pa. (deceased); John H. Sherrard, now pastor of the Upper Ten-Mile Presbyterian Church at Prosperity, Pa.; John M. Smith, now a pastor at Canonsburg, Pa.; Joseph H. Stevenson, a pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Scottdale, Pa.; Robert Welsh, afterwards a United Presbyterian minister, now deceased; and James S. Reed, the present pastor of the church of the same denomination at Laclede, Mo. For a year or two before its close, Dr. Eagleson himself had charge of its instruction. He was an excellent scholar, an alumnus of Jefferson College, of the class of 1829, the honored pastor of the church of Upper Buffalo from his ordination in 1834 until his death, Jan. 23, 1873, and, having been a trustee of Washington College for seven years prior to the union of 1865, was a member of the board of Washington and Jefferson College until his death. About twenty young men passed, under his religious and educational influence, into the ministry of the gospel. Of those who went through the academy now under review the following are recalled, viz.: the Rev. Messrs. John W. Dinsmore, D.D., of Bloomington, Ill.; F. R. Wotring, Wenona, Ill.; Robert B. Farrar, Portland, Oregon; John B. Reed, Listersville, W. Va.; James S. Reed, Mo.; William S. Eagleson, Mount Gilead, Ohio; Thomas H. Haund, Monmouth, Ill.; and John French, Cleveland, Ohio. The last two are ministers of the United Presbyterian Church. David S. Eagleson, M.D., of West Alexander, Pa., and others trained in the same academy passed into secular professions. And so we have another instance of academical education as among “the memories of joys that are past.”
Monongahela City, which until 1837 was known as Williamsport, is the centre of large interests, which deserve a place in the history of Washington County. The educational part of its history is less marked with distinguishing lines than that of most other places. Yet in addition to common or subscription schools, which from the first never failed to receive vigorous attention, classical or other culture of the higher sort has at different times commanded both effort and success. A full half-century ago, or more, the Rev. Samuel Ralston, D.D., who took charge of the Presbyterian Church of that place and region as early as 1796, is known to have instructed young men in preparation for college, inviting them to his study for this purpose. At least five of these subsequently became graduates and reached honorable distinction, viz.: Ross Black, Esq., Rev. Samuel Hair, Rev. Thomas P. Gordon, D.D., Rev. Aaron Williams, D.D., and Professor Samuel R. Williams. The last two were brothers, and at different times were valued members of the faculty of Jefferson College.
The first academy of the town was established in the spring of 1838 by the late Thomas R. Hazzard, Esq. Besides the common branches, the instruction embraced Latin, Greek, mathematics, and the sciences. He was followed in a year by two graduates of Washington College, viz., James D. Mason, now a minister of the Presbyterian Church at Shiloh, Iowa, and W. P. Thompson, who survived this service but a short time. These were followed by the Rev. E. S. Blake, an alumnus of Yale College, with whom, for a time, Mr. Hazzard, returning, was associated. And others still succeeded, the most prominent and successful of whom was Joseph S. Morrison, a son of Washington College, of the class of 1844, and for many years past a prominent member of the Pittsburgh bar. During all the years of its existence the academy was vigorous and thorough in its work, and embraced many pupils whose names are to be found among the graduates of our best colleges. Its success is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that it never had a distinct building for its use.
An imperfect list of the students of this academy gives the following names, which are themselves its brightest record, viz.: Rev. A. H. Kerr, the first Presbyterian minister settled in St. Paul, Minn., now of Rochester, in the same State; James Scott, M.D., a member of the Legislature of Ohio; Captain R. F. Cooper, an attorney; Rev. John McFarland, late of Greenfield, Miss.; Rev. William F. Hamilton, D.D., Washington, Pa.; J. M. H. Gordon, M.D., Fayette City; J. S. Morrison, Esq., Pittsburgh; J. S. Van Voorhis, M.D., Belle Vernon; James Manown, M.D., Kingwood, W. Va.; J. C. Cooper, M.D., Philadelphia; Rev. James P. Fulton, Harper, Kan.; Rev. O. M. Todd, Tuscola, Ill.; M. P. Morrison, M.D., Monongahela City; J. H. Storer, M.D., Triadelphia, W. Va.; A. J. Davis, M.D., Pittsburgh; J. M. Todd, M.D., Martin’s Ferry, Ohio; George T. Miller, Port Perry; James Fleming, M.D., Franklin, Ohio; Alonzo Linn, LL.D., vice-president and Professor of Greek in Washington and Jefferson College; A. P. Morrison, Esq., Pittsburgh; Prof. George P. Fulton, Pittsburgh; James Alexander, banker, Monongahela City; Rev. Thomas Hodgson, Ohio; Cyrus B. King, M.D., Allegheny City; Thomas T. Williams, M.D., White College; George Linn, M.D., Monongahela City; C. W. Hazzard, Esq., editor, and T. R. Hazzard, M.D., of the same place; and Rev. Robert P. Fulton, Baltimore, Md.
From academies we now pass to female seminaries. These noble institutions, now such important factors in the intellectual and moral culture of society, are of later origin and development than colleges and academies designed for the sons of the land. It required much general advancement and a complete revolution of social ideas to bring up the standard of education for females to the level of the other sex. Happily later generations have both followed the logic of principles and the spirit of the gospel to the fair and just conclusion. If the lapse of the earlier half of the century past was needed for the removal of unfounded and disparaging prejudices on this subject, the progress of the latter half has not failed, by its salutary results, to drive such prejudices into oblivion or shame. And for Washington County at least a proportionate share of the honor of this progress may be fairly claimed.
The first institution of its kind in Western Pennsylvania was Edgeworth Ladies’ Seminary, established by Mrs. Mary Oliver at Pittsburgh in 1825, and shortly afterwards transferred to Braddock’s Field, and still later to Sewickley. Steubenville Female Seminary, on the Ohio, followed in 1829, and still abides in honor and usefulness, a monument of praise to its founders, the Rev. Charles C. Beatty, D.D., and his noble wife, Mrs. Hettie E. Beatty. The fine school of Mrs. Rachel Lamdin, at Florence, already noticed, brought the agencies of this higher education as early as 1832 within the borders of Washington County. Since then the pen of history is called to trace three noble seminaries through years of successful work in this great cause. Two of these have indeed fulfilled the mission and passed away, but the oldest of the number survives in unabated strength.
Olome Institute was founded in 1844 at Canonsburg by Mrs. Olivia J. French. It was wholly an individual enterprise, begun and conducted by an excellent Christian lady, who in early life had been sorely bereaved by the death of a devoted husband, the Rev. John M. French, a promising minister of the Associate Presbyterian Church. He began his ministry as pastor of the church of Noblestown, Pa., having been ordained and installed Oct. 22, 1841. But, after becoming greatly endeared to his people in a service of two years, he ceased from his work to receive his crown, Oct. 10, 1843. Mrs. French, nobly taking up the responsibilities of life thus cast upon herself alone, name her seminary Olome, in memory of her departed husband, who was wont to write this word at the close of his manuscript sermons along with their date, designating the happy place of their production. It was a contract word of his own invention, sweetly combining Olivia, the name of his dear wife, with Home, the synonym of all that is tender to a loving heart. The transfer of that name from a broken family home to an institution for the training of young ladies was simply a symbol of its consecration as a home of Christian culture.
The seminary had an humble beginning in 1844, but, under the divine blessing, its success in the course of three years demanded its organization as a boarding-school, and the purchase of new buildings, to which, for the same reason, extensive additions were made, both by purchase and erection, in 1848 and 1853.
The seminary was vigorously conducted, with joint reference to the best possible intellectual and moral training. Its corps of teachers was carefully selected. Its board of superintendence was composed of prominent clergymen and laymen, over whom the Rev. William Smith, D.D., vice-president of Jefferson College, presided, giving a portion of his time also to instruction in languages. The catalogue of 1857 reports an attendance of eighty-one pupils, almost one-half of whom came from beyond the limits of Washington County, and some of them from distant States. For the period of eighteen years the honored principal conducted the seminary with excellent success and reputation, fixing upon it the stamp of her own fine intelligence and evangelical spirit, and sending forth seventy-five graduates, besides many others who took a partial course to exemplify her good service for liberal education, and for the cause of Christ. She still survives at her home in Marysville, Ohio, a recipient of human gratitude and awaiting a heavenly reward. But who shall calculate the loss of Canonsburg and the public when, upon her retirement, the doors of Olome Institute were closed?
Pleasant Hill Seminary, near West Middle town, is another Washington County institution of the past. It was a development of the more private labors of Mrs. Jane (Campbell) McKeever, wife of Matthew McKeever, and sister of the well-known Alexander Campbell, leader of the “Christian Church,” or “Church of the Disciples,” so generally called by his name, and also the founder and first president of Bethany College, at Bethany, W. Va. Mrs. McKeever, having been a teacher in her youth, continued, as an amateur, the same pursuit after her marriage, using a room of her own house for this purpose. Her pupils were mostly gathered from the village and neighborhood of West Middletown, with occasional additions from abroad. Such was the prosperity of the school, however, that Mrs. McKeever was encouraged to elevate it to the dignity of a ladies’ seminary. Her son-in-law, Mr. James Campbell, and her son, Mr. Thomas C. McKeever, both recent graduates of Bethany College, were associated with her as teachers, she herself of course becoming the principal. The financial management was for the most part in the hands of her husband.
The course of study adopted and afterwards matured, embraced both ancient and modern languages, and was otherwise up to the level of the best institutions of the same kind. The instruction is also said to have been accurate and thorough. The first class, consisting of four members, was graduated in 1847. The principal, feeling the weight of advancing years, and Prof. Campbell having removed to the Pacific coast, the seminary passed, in a few years, wholly into the hands of Professor T. C. McKeever. Under his management, which was marked with extraordinary energy, it was highly prosperous. Addition after addition was made to the original buildings, until ample provision was made for the accommodation of one hundred boarders, and about that number were at one time in actual attendance. But, at the full tide of prosperity, in 1867, Principal McKeever suddenly sickened and died, – a providential affliction from which the institution never recovered. Including that year, the roll of graduates contains one hundred and fifty-two names, making an annual average of about seven and a half for these twenty-one years. The largest class was that of 1865, which numbered nineteen graduates. And these figures are all the more remarkable taken in connection with the fact that by far the largest proportion were boarding pupils from a distance, scarcely more than one in ten having been drawn from the immediate rural vicinity.
Under the superintendence of Mr. Keever’s widow, Mrs. Martha McKeever, assisted by Elder T. A. Crenshaw, the seminary was continued for several years, and graduated two classes of three members each, and then, under the pressure of discouraging circumstances, went into declension. Subsequent efforts were made for its revival, first by Mr. William M. Eaton, who had been educated at Washington and Jefferson College (now a Presbyterian minister), and then by the Rev. J. A. Snodgrass, of the Baptist Church, but without encouraging success. After an interval of suspension the property passed under the control of a conference of the colored people, and by them a school was conducted in it, under the name of Zion Hill Collegiate Institute, for about three years. In 1881 another suspension took place, and the unused property is now owned by Mr. Holdship, of the city of Pittsburgh.
Washington Female Seminary. – This is the only institution of its kind in Washington County which has survived the waves of changing fortune. It abides in strength and usefulness, having now a history of nearly half a century. Its fine reputation also has gone with its graduates into many States, especially of the West and South. And never were its prospects better than at present.
The movement for its organization began with a consultation of a number of citizens Nov. 26, 1835, in the parlor of the Hon. T. M. T. McKennan. The Rev. D. Elliott, D.D., then pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Washington, was a leader in the enterprise, but he was nobly sustained by the substantial citizens of the place of all persuasions. Subsequent meetings were held and efforts were made which resulted in the purchase of a site on East Maiden Street from Alexander Reed, Esq., who was himself one of the most liberal supporters of the movement. Contributions were taken in the form of stock at $50 per share, to be binding when the minimum amount of $4000 should be raised. Mr. Reed and Dr. F. J. Le Moyne led the way with each a subscription of twelve shares, and were followed by others in smaller amounts until the plan was assured. Messrs. F. J. Le Moyne, M.D., James Reed, James Ruple, Robert Officer, and James Brice were chosen as a building committee; Alexander Reed, Esq., David McConaughy, D.D., and Dr. Le Moyne were selected to prepare articles of association, and various other committees were appointed. John Harter was made collector and treasurer, and upon his resignation, Alexander Sweeny was chosen in his stead. The plan of organization, reported and adopted Feb. 14, 1837, provided for a board of nine trustees, of whom six must be stockholders, and committed the building as well as the general management of the seminary into the hands of the principal, including also the selection of teachers, “with the advice and consent of the trustees.” It was arranged that the course of study should cover three years, with as many classes, viz., primary, junior and senior. Besides the tuition fees upon which the institution was to be conducted, a matriculation fee of two dollars per session for each pupil in the regular classes and of one dollar for each preparatory pupil was to be paid to a distinct treasurer representing the stockholders, from the proceeds of which dividends were to be declared from time to time by the trustees. The original trustees chosen under this arrangement were Alexander Reed, F. J. Le Moyne, John Marshel, Jacob Slagle, John Wishart, David McConaughy, Joseph Lawrence, Robert R. Reed, and John L. Gow. By an act of Assembly dated April 14, 1838, a State charter was obtained, embracing the same names as corporators, except that John Grayson was substituted for Alexander Reed, the latter having for private reasons declined to serve. This charter had the agreeable accompaniment of a legislative donation of $500 per annum for five years. With this help, together with additional stock and temporary loans, the trustees were enabled to meet the expenses of the new building. In the organization under the charter the Rev. David McConaughy, D.D., was chosen president of the board, and such he continued to be until his death, Jan. 29, 1852. John L. Gow, Esq., was made secretary and John Grayson, treasurer.
For two years prior to the charter the institution had been in actual operation under the charge of Mrs. Francis Biddle, formerly of Philadelphia, having been opened in the spring of 1836, in a building on Maiden Street familiarly known as the “Lodge.” For one session she was assisted by Miss Elizabeth Clarke, a graduate of South Hadley, who for special reasons then retired, giving place to temporary assistants for the remainder of the year. During the second year, commencing in the spring of 1837, the assistant teacher was Miss Mary A. N. Inskeep, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, a graduate of the Steubenville Female Seminary in the class of 1834, a teacher in that seminary through the following year, and afterwards in the school of the Rev. H. Hervey, D.D., at Martinsburg, Ohio, until her transfer by invitation to Washington. For the latter half of this year the new seminary building was occupied by the school. Miss Inskeep, afterwards Mrs. Crittenden, and now the wife of the Rev. Charles C. Beatty, D.D., LL.D., of Steubenville, remembers this year of service with great pleasure, as she too is gratefully remembered by former pupils and the older citizens.
The summer session of 1838 opened with the presence of two teachers who gave new life to the institution, viz.: Miss Sarah Chapman, of Springfield, Mass., now Mrs. C. M. Reed, of Washington, and Miss H. M. Post, of Lebanon, N. H., now wife of Uriah W. Wise, Esq., of Plattesmouth, Neb. The former rendered efficient service for one year, while the latter remained four years with unabated popularity. At the end of her fourth year, in the spring of 1840, Mrs. Biddle resigned her position and returned to the East.
We have now come to the point in this history from which the real prosperity of the enterprise may be dated. Upon the retirement of Mrs. Biddle, Miss Sarah R. Foster, then a teacher at Cadiz, Ohio, and formerly a pupil of the distinguished Mrs. Emma Willard, of Troy, N. Y., was chosen principal, and entered upon her duties. Miss Post was continued as assistant, and Miss L. Simmons was added to the teaching force.
Miss Foster, having taught in district schools in her native State, New York, for nine years prior to her entrance into Troy Female Seminary in 1833, and having afterwards had a very successful experience as the head of a high school at Cadiz, did not enter upon her work in Washington as a novice. Her well-balanced judgment, strong common sense, amiability, dignity, conscientiousness, and religious devotion soon manifested themselves in her wise and energetic administration of the institution, and made her the centre of confidence in the whole enterprise. She entered upon her duties with characteristic zeal, and more and more, by her discreet management, secured the co-operation of the trustees and the community. Excellent teachers were chosen, the course of study was gradually enlarged, and the number of both day and boarding pupils was soon increased up to the full capacity of the buildings, and even beyond it. This advancement compelled the erection of an important addition to the main structure at its west end in 1841. But even the enlargement thus secured only for a brief time met the demand, and soon by its beneficent results produced a necessity for still further extension of facilities. The popularity of the institution was extensive and permanent, and the trustees frequently volunteered the formal expression of their satisfaction with its management.
The year 1848 is remarkable in this history for two events, one pleasing and the other afflictive, which had an important bearing upon the prosperity of the institution. The former of these was the marriage in September of Miss Foster with the Rev. Thomas Hanna, D.D., pastor of the Associate Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, Ohio. This change transferred Dr. Hanna to Washington, and prepared the way for his becoming pastor of the church of his communion here, now the United Presbyterian Church, of which for almost a score of years the Rev. J. R. Johnston, D.D., has been the worthy pastor. Miss Foster thus simply became Mrs. Hanna without any change in her official relations to the seminary. Dr. Hanna’s kindly and wholesome influence in his new sphere was recognized by the trustees March 11, 1850, in his formal appointment as superintendent of the institution, a position which he held with satisfaction to all concerned until his lamented death, Feb. 9, 1864.
The other notable event of 1848 was the destruction by fire, on the last day of November, of the west wing of the seminary building, erected, as we have seen, only seven years before, together with serious damage to the other part of the structure. It so occurred that this destruction fell upon the only portion of the building which was not insured, and upon the very day set by the treasurer, under a previous order of the board, to effect a policy. The crisis, however, was promptly met by the best possible arrangements for going forward at once with the recitations, and also for the reconstruction of the burnt edifice, and the addition of a story to the main building. The cost of the erection, amounting to four thousand nine hundred dollars, was provided for in part by the disposal of forty-three shares of stock at fifty dollars per share, and the balance by money borrowed, to refund which the income from matriculation fees was pledged in lieu of dividends to the stockholders. In the lapse of ten years the debt was canceled and dividends were renewed, though since, as before, the holders of stock have ever, upon an emergency of need, been ready to forego them. Further enlargement of accommodations is still regarded by many as one of the most pressing demands.
Under the administration of Mrs. Hanna, the seminary was conducted with wisdom and success until 1874, when, yielding to the infirmities of age, she surrendered her charge to younger hands. Ten years before, as we have seen, she had been called by the stroke of death to part with her venerable and excellent husband, an affliction which both the seminary and the community deeply shared. There is not room her for mention of the long list of excellent teachers who took part in the work of instruction during these thirty-four years, though many of them have an indelible record in memory. The venerable principal, after eight years of retirement, still lives in sight of the institution she loved and served so well, waiting in holy patience for the coming of the Lord. Her graduation-list had reached five hundred and forty-seven names. Of these, ten or twelve became devoted missionaries, more than one hundred have been successful teachers, and a fair proportion have gladdened ministers’ homes as wives and mothers. Personal and official intimacy with Mrs. Hanna, as president of the board of trustees during the latter sixteen years of her service, – a position which he still has the honor to hold, – enables the writer of this sketch to bear cordial testimony to her high Christian character, her wise management, and her conscientious fidelity. The motive which prompted her resignation and the spirit in which it was received will best appear in the following official correspondence:
“Washington, Pa., March 28th, 1874.
“Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D. President of the Board of Trustees of the Washington Female Seminary:
“Dear Sir, – Through you I desire to make the following communication to the respected Board over which you preside:
“In 1840 the members then constituting the Board, most of whom have passed, as I trust, to a better world, conferred on me the office of principal of this seminary. This honor I have carried, together with its attendant obligations, for a period of thirty-four years. I now feel it to be my duty to tender my resignation, to take effect at the close of the present seminary year, on the 25th of next June. After such a service, in view of all the circumstances surrounding both myself and the institution, I desire freedom from the cares and responsibilities of such a position.
“Before closing this letter permit me to offer my sincere thanks to the trustees and their families, as well as other friends of the seminary, for the kindness manifested towards myself and those connected with me during the years of my service. That a kind Providence may guide you in the selection of my successor, and preside over all the interests of the seminary, is the wish and prayer of
“Your friend, Sarah R. Hanna.”
“Washington, Pa., March 28th, 1874.
“Mrs. Sarah R. Hanna:
“Dear Madame, – The trustees of the Washington Female Seminary hereby acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date announcing your resignation of the headship of the institution, to take effect at the close of the present session, next June. In yielding to a purpose which you seem to have deliberately and firmly settled, the Board regard it as due to the public and themselves, as well as to you, to express their feelings in the prospect of your retirement.
“Though, indeed, after a service of thirty-four years as principal of the seminary the possibility that your desire for repose might in the future lead you to the step now taken has very naturally suggested itself to our minds, the actual crisis has come upon us with surprise and also with pain, in view of separation after so happy a union, both personal and official. So long have the trustees and friends of the seminary been accustomed to rely upon the wisdom and energy of your management that we cannot but realize the responsibility which circumstances now force upon us of selecting another person who may prove competent to carry forward the work so faithfully and successfully done by you in the years now gone. From our intimate knowledge of your character we are confident that, with or without official connection, your counsel and prayers will be available in behalf of an enterprise which has so long enlisted the warmest feelings of your heart and the best energies of your life.
“Whatever the future may disclose, under the providential hand which controls all things, you have the sure record of God’s blessing upon your labors. Our seminary has been built up into prosperity and honor, chiefly through your agency. Its more than five hundred graduates and a like number who have taken a partial course have been, as thei survivors will be, your living witnesses. The institution, into whatever hands it may pass, will always be associated with your name. The Board can never fail to appreciate your fidelity; and our Father in Heaven, we doubt not, will follow with unfailing reward the toil and vigilance you have so heartily laid upon His altar. We beg leave to assure you that when the time shall come which you have designated for surrendering your trust you will carry with you the abiding confidence and friendship of the Board, the stockholders, and the community, and that we shall ever pray for a divine blessing upon the evening of your life.
“With great regard and esteem, we are
“Very truly yours,
“James I. Brownson,
“John H. Ewing,
“F. Julius Le Moyne,
“Colin M. Reed,
“Matthew H. Clark,
Upon the retirement of Mrs. Hanna, the board appointed its president, together with Messrs. C. M. Reed and M. H. Clark, to nominate a successor. This committee, after careful inquiry and extensive correspondence, in due time presented the name of Miss Nancy Sherrard, who was unanimously chosen. Miss Sherrard, having been born and reared near Steubenville, Ohio, and educated in its honored female seminary, had also the full benefit of experience as a teacher in similar institutions at Blairsville, Pa., Louisville, Ky., and Fort Wayne, Ind. At the time of her election she was vice-principal of the Steubenville Seminary, under Rev. A. M. Reid, Ph.D., principal. She entered upon her official duties at the opening of the next seminary year, in September, 1874, bringing her excellent reputation and great energy into her new and wide sphere of usefulness. The record of eight years of continued and advancing success is the best possible testimony alike of the wisdom of the trustees in her selection and of her own untiring devotion to their service.
For several years prior to the beginning of this new administration the seminary had, under the operation of various causes, seriously declined in the number of pupils, and consequently in revenues. Very soon, however, the hopefulness of a new departure was manifested in every direction. The building was renovated, a full corps of teachers was secured, and pupils both from the town and from abroad came in, until once more the measure of patronage is equal to that of capacity. Still further enlargement also has been given to the course of study, extending it to four years, and a preparatory department has now for several years been in operation with efficiency and advantage. The general prosperity of the institution may be inferred from the average attendance of pupils during the eight years of Miss Sherrard’s incumbency, viz.: the first year, 78; second, 118; third, 87; fourth, 123; fifth, 119; sixth, 115; seventh, 125; eighth, 132. Of these about forty-three per cent. have been boarding pupils, the rest having been drawn from the town and vicinity. During the same period the number of graduates has been as follows, viz.: in 1875, eight; 1876, nineteen; 1877, thirteen; 1878, fourteen; 1879, twenty-nine; 1880, twenty-four; 1881, nineteen; 1882, thirty; making a total of one hundred and fifty-six, or an annual average of nineteen and a half.
The following lists are taken from the annual catalogue of 1881-82, viz.: Officers of the institution, Miss N. Sherrard, principal. Teachers; Miss C. C. Thompson, English Branches; Miss Mary W. Brownson, English and Elocution; Miss Mary E. Brownlee, English Branches; Miss F. J. Osborne, English Branches; Miss L. S. Radcliffe, English Branches; Miss L. P. Kuhn, English and Penmanship; Miss Carrie H. Stephenson, Piano and Harmony; Miss M. M. Rodgers, Assistant in Instrumental Music; Miss Anna V. Peebles, Vocal Music; Miss Hettie Speer, Drawing and Painting; Miss Eliza O. Hart, Preparatory Department. Instruction in special studies: James A. Lyon, Ph.D., Prof. W. and J. College, Lectures and Experiments in Chemistry; Rev. Henry Woods, D.D., Prof. W. and J. College, Latin; Prof. F. Schmid, Prof. Trinity School, German and French.
Board of Trustees, Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D., Hon. John H. Ewing, C. M. Reed, Esq., Thomas McKennan, M.D., V. Harding, Esq., Thomas McKean, Esq., A. S. Ritchie, Esq., Julius Le Moyne, Esq., James R. Clark, Esq. Officers of the Board: Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D., President; A. S. Ritchie, Esq., Secretary; Thomas McKean, Esq., Treasurer.
In bringing to a close these outline sketches of the colleges, academies, and seminaries of Washington County, the writer is free to confess the imperfection of his work. It was undertaken under the sole motive of putting upon permanent record the progress of an interest second to no other but the Christian religion itself in the community with which his life-work has been identified. The reader need not be reminded that the several classes of educational institutions here traced are but parts of one comprehensive system. They are all due, in their measure, to the characteristic spirit of the homogeneous generation which shaped the character and destinies of Washington County, and their benefits are now an interchangeable and common inheritance to their descendants. History and hope make their joint appeal to the favored people of the present time for an enlarged support and a vigorous advancement of these high interests. God and the generations to come demand it at our hands. The past at least is secure; let the future more than surpass it.
Trinity Hall.1 – Of the four institutions of learning of which Washington is justly proud, the youngest, but by no means the least prosperous, and in its sphere as important as any, is the Trinity Hall Boarding-School for boys. The design of the school is to educate the pupils “in the various English branches, and in the ancient and modern languages on positive and thoroughly Christian principles.”
1 By Samuel Earp, Ph.D.
To this end no pains are spared. Every pupil has the constant attention of the rector in his studies as in everything else. It is his aim to secure teachers of the best talent and highest Christian character, and to supply all such advantages as are to be obtained in older institutions of its kind. For years the founding of such a school was a favorite project of the late Rt. Rev. John B. Kerfoot, D.D., LL.D., D.C.L., bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The railroad facilities of the place, its healthfulness and natural beauty of surroundings, led to the choice of Washington as the site for the school. A building (which was afterwards enlarged) and grounds, both of which were well adapted to the purpose, were leased from Mr. W. W. Smith, of Washington, who generously furnished the necessary funds for the equipment of the school. The Rev. Samuel Earp, at that time rector of one of the leading Protestant Episcopal Churches of New York City, a man of large experience as an instructor, was induced to lead the enterprise as head-master of the school. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1879, the hall was opened with appropriate services, part of which was an admirable address by Bishop Kerfoot on “The Pastorship of Boys.” The school has been successful from beginning, exceeding the hopes of its most sanguine friends.
Situated on an eminence overlooking the town, Trinity Hall, as improved, is one of the most attractive and conspicuous landmarks of Washington. Its grounds, thirty-two acres in extent, the property of W. W. Smith, cannot be surpassed for beauty and utility. The distinguished landscape gardener, the late R. M. Copeland, of Boston, Mass., gave to the improvement of the grounds considerable time and attention, so that they are now not only adorned with drives and avenues, a splendid lawn and elegant flower-beds, but full of superb fruit- and shade-trees, native and exotic of twenty years’ growth.
There is ample opportunity for all athletic sports, to which, by the way, special attention is given as valuable accessories to successful intellectual development. A small stream flows through the grounds, by the side of which is a beautiful meadow containing about eight acres. This is used as a play-ground, and, being dry and almost level, is in its way all that can be desired for such a purpose. The waters of the stream will be let upon lower grounds during the winter, and the pond thus formed used by the boys for skating.
The original building has a length of eighty-five feet front and faces the south; from the vestibule we enter a hall thirty-six by fourteen feet. At the left of this is the rector’s study and to the right the parlor, an elegant room thirty-two by eighteen feet, surrounded on three sides by a broad piazza. In the rear of these rooms are two others, each twenty-seven by sixteen feet; the one is used as a chapel, the other as a boys’ library; to these there is also access from the general hall. These four rooms intercommunicating by this hall will, when its door are thrown open, make a reception at “Trinity” a much more pleasant occasion than it otherwise could be. By a broad staircase we reach another hall, well lighted, and of equal size with the one below. Surrounding this are the rooms of the rector’s family, and in the third story are rooms for the servants. The building throughout is well lighted, well ventilated, finished with taste, and complete in all its appointments. Besides the rooms mentioned, the original building contains the music-room and a room for the sick, which, owing to the healthfulness of the location, is rarely needed. To this original structure a large addition was erected joining it on the north.
The addition is fifty by ninety-six feet, two stories in height, of brick with trimmings of stone. The treatment of the exterior is broad and simple, indicating by its appearance the purpose of the building, and at the same time harmonizing with the main building. We enter from the main building a spacious hall, from which a broad and easy staircase ascends to the floor. The staircase, plainly and substantially finished, is lighted by broad, quaint windows. At the foot a door opens on the play-ground, and from this point a wide corridor leads to the school-room. Wide folding-doors opposite the entrance from the main building give access to the dining-hall. At the left is the bath-room and lavatory. The dining-hall, a well-lighted apartment, forty-one by twenty-eight feet, is finished in oak, with the ceiling supported by turned pillars. A massive fireplace of brick and stone gives character to the room. Wide folding doors open into the school-room.
Passing the dining-hall and ascending a few steps at the end of the corridor we enter the school-room, forty-five by twenty-eight feet. By this device a greater height is obtained, a matter of importance in a room occupied by a large number of persons. Also allowing higher windows, the light is distributed to better advantage. The steps at the entrance, protected by a handsome railing, with a seat below, make a pleasing feature, and add to the appearance of the room. As in the dining-hall, the ceiling is supported by turned oak pillars. When the folding doors between the school-room and dining-hall are thrown open the latter, being on a higher level, is more readily converted into a stage for exhibition purposes. On each side of the school-room are two large alcoves used as recitation-rooms. The entire second floor, with the exception of a space reserved for the clothes and linen-closets, is occupied by the dormitories. In the centre, and extending nearly the entire length, is a light well fifty-eight by eight. This is lighted from above by a clerestory with ventilating louvres and skylights, thus securing ample light and ventilation. Around this extends a broad corridor, from which opens on either side the dormitories, fifty-four in number. These are formed by partitions of wood almost seven feet in height, but not reaching the ceiling, thus giving privacy to each pupil without interfering with the ventilation.
At one end a wide bay window opens on the corridor, adding to the cheerfulness of the dormitories and forming an attractive feature of the exterior design. The school rooms and recitation-rooms are provided with ventilating shafts, by which the air can be kept pure in winter without exposing the pupils to draughts from partially opened windows.
The entire building is warmed by means of hot-air furnaces in the cellar.
The architects were McKim, Mead, and White, of New York City.
The present officers (June, 1882) are as follows: Rev. S. Earp, A.M., Ph.D., rector and instructor in English branches; Francis Schmid, A.M., instructor in ancient and modern languages; Rev. Frederick W. White, A.B., assistant instructor in English branches; W. C. McClelland, A.B., instructor in mathematics; W. Wallace, assistant instructor in English branches; Miss Annie Moore, music teacher; and Miss Margaret Brownson, drawing teacher.
Public Schools. – In Washington County – ever first and foremost among the communities west of the Allegheny Mountains in educational matters – the establishment of the classical schools of the Rev. John McMillan and the Rev. Thaddeus Dodd, in 1782, infused into the minds of the people a thorough appreciation of the benefits of education. These schools expanded into the academies which afterwards developed into Washington and Jefferson Colleges. In response to the public educational demand Washington County, by its commissioners, provided as early as 1803 that the sum of one hundred dollars should be applied yearly for the purpose of giving the rudiments of education to poor children. This action on the part of the commissioners was continued till 1808, in which year no such provision was made (doubtless on account of the agitation of the subject in the State Legislature at that time). On the 4th of April, 1809, the Legislature passed “An act to provide for the education of the poor gratis;” which law provided that the county commissioners at the time of issuing their precepts to the assessors should direct them to obtain the names of all the children between the ages of five and twelve years, whose parents were unable to pay for their schooling, and also required of the assessor to inform the parents of the children “that they are at liberty to send them to the most convenient school free of expense.” The assessor was to send a list of the names of children so obtained to the teachers of schools in his district, whose duty it was made to teach all such children who came to the school the same as other children, and to keep a day-book in which the name of each child should be kept, with the number of days’ attendance and amount of stationery furnished to each such child; and to make out his account against the county agreeably to the usual rates, subject to examination by the trustees of the school where there were any, but where there were none to three reputable subscribers to the school, which account the teacher should present to the county commissioners, and, if approved, the amount should be paid out of any moneys in the treasury.
In the November following the passage of this act the commissioners of Washington County included in the budget of taxes for that year the sum of eight hundred dollars for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the act, and an amount was annually appropriated for that purpose until the year 1834. The following are the sums so appropriated, viz.:
1809……………… $800 1822……………… $1500
1810……………… 200 1823……………… 1500
1811……………… 200 1824……………… 1500
1812……………… 200 1825……………… 1200
1813……………… 200 1826……………… 1000
1814……………… 200 1827……………… 1200
1815……………… 300 1828……………… 1600
1816……………… 300 1829……………… 1500
1817……………… 500 1830……………… 1500
1818……………… 500 1831……………… 2500
1819……………… 1000 1832……………… 2500
1820……………… 500 1833……………… 2500
The subject of a public-school law had been agitated in the State Legislature from the year 1825, when Gen. H. W. Beeson, of Fayette County, introduced a bill for the establishment of common schools, which, however, failed. From that time until the passage of the school act in 1834 the question had been much agitated, and was finally passed after much opposition. The following letter shows that the citizens of Washington County were active on the subject, and by word and pen were using their influence in bringing about its accomplishment:
“Washington, Penna, 4 Feb’y, 1831.
“At a meeting of the Committee on the subject of common schools in the Borough of Washington, the following proceedings were had, viz.:
“On motion of Thomas Morgan, Esqr, seconded by William Baird, Esqr. The following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted. The Committee deeply impressed with the importance and magnitude of the subjects referred to them by their fellow citizens, considering that the axiom is no less true than trite that ‘Education is power’ in the Government of a people who are enlightened, but in relation also to the individuals who possess the virtue of which education is the handmaid, and the liberty of which it is the shield; and believing that he who suggests a new and useful idea tending to the improvement of the systems in his own vicinity, or develops those of a beneficial character elsewhere, or furnishes by means of his researches and industry valuable facts and important inferences and reflections on the engrossing subject, is entitled if not to a civic crown to the thanks of every friend of private happiness and public prosperity, and that he is a greater promoter of both than one who bestows on either his whole fortune however splendid.
“The committee feel themselves constrained to adopt the following resolutions, viz.:
“Resolved, That this Committee in their own name, and on behalf of the community, whose agents they are, respectfully tender their acknowledgments to the Hon. Wm. McCreery, our representative in Congress, the Hon. E. Everett, a representative in Congress from Massachusetts, William Patterson, Esqr, our representative in the State Legislature; Robert Vaux, Esqr, of the City of Philadelphia; Morgan Neville & Nathan Guilford, Esqrs, of the City of Cincinnati; and the Reverend George Brown, of the City of Pittsburgh, for their luminous communications on the momentous subject of their inquiries.
“Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions, attested by the Chairman of this Committee, Thomas M. T. McKennan, Esqr, and the Secretary, Jno. L. Gaw, Esqr, be communicated to each of the Gentlemen named in the preceding resolution, and that the Chairman and Secratary be requested to assure them of our best wishes for their health and happiness.
“Attest. “Th. M. T. McKennan, Chairman.
“John L. Gow, Sec’y”
In the county of Washington, under the school law of April 1, 1834, school directors were elected in each township, and a joint meeting was called for Nov. 4, 1834, to consist of the three commissioners of the county and one delegate from each of the twenty-three boards of directors. In accordance with this call, the convention was held at the court-house Nov. 4, 1834, at which time Robert Patterson, Esq. of Smith township, was chosen president, and John R. Kennedy, of Chartiers, secretary. The vote on the question of complying with the law, by making an appropriation, being taken, as required by the fifth section of said act, the yeas and nays were as follows, to wit:
Yeas, 21. – James Ruple, Washington; James Taggart, Canton; Thomas –––––––, Morris; John H. Kennedy, Chartiers; John Morrison, Nottingham; James P. Kerr, Donegal; John Lowery, Hopewell; Samuel Hill, Fallowfield; Andrew Kerr, Pike Run; William Campbell, North Strabane; James Linn, South Strabane; Jonathan Warrick, Amwell; James Holmes, West Finley; William Patterson, Cross Creek; Henry Enlow, East Finley; James McClaskey, Mount Pleasant; Robert Patterson, Smith; Richard Donaldson, Robinson; James Miller, William McElroy, James Lee, commissioners.
Nays, 5. – James Spears, Peters; William Pedon, Somerset; Jesse Kenworthy, East Bethlehem; David McCoy, Hanover; James Moore, Cecil.
At this meeting it was decided to raise the sum of $4800, there having been appropriated from the State fund, for the use of Washington County, $2397.73. At this time there were eight thousand seven hundred and thirty-six persons in the county liable to taxation for school purposes. This tax was collected, and an earnest effort was made on the part of the school directors of the several townships to establish the new system, that it might work harmoniously. Its provisions “proved cumbersome,” and much opposition was developed. At a county convention held on the 2d of May, 1836, composed of the county commissioners and delegates from the different townships (all of which were represented except Canton, Hopewell, Hanover, and North Strabane), it was voted to fix the county appropriation at $12,000, in addition to that made by the State. This year there was considerable opposition to the law, and the following is the list of townships which accepted the appropriation, with the sums raised by each; also a list of those which were “non-accepting”:
Buffalo………………………. $516.04 $95.28
Cross Creek………………... 710.00 140.46
Chartiers……………………. 732.00 144.15
Carroll………………………. 401.00 111.57
Fallowfield………………….. 312.89 66.39
East Finley…………………. 200.00 65.46
West Finley………………… 197.00 61.16
Morris……………………….. 493.00 100.20
Nottingham…………………. 502.00 101.42
Pike Run……………………. 383.00 122.02
Robinson……………………. 367.00 56.86
South Strabane…………….. 401.00 66.39
Washington…………………. 609.00 122.94
Amwell……………………. ………. $100.81
East Bethlehem..………... ………. 171.50
West Bethlehem…………. ………. 128.47
Canton……………………. ………. 68.84
Cecil………...…………….. ………. 69.07
Donegal..…………………. ………. 129.70
Hanover…………………… ………. 120.31
Hopewell.…………………. ………. 124.78
Mount Pleasant………….. ………. 85.44
Peters…………………….. ………. 79.29
Smith………………………. ………. 99.58
North Strabane…………… ………. 66.69
Somerset………………….. ………. 88.21
Amendments were made to the school law as experience suggested changes, and in 1837 all the townships of the county, with the exception of Cecil and Hanover, were working in harmony with the provisions of the school act. These townships accepted these provisions in the next year, since which time various changes and improvements have been made.
Normal Schools. – The first meeting of educators connected with the interests of common schools and the establishment of normal schools was held at the Pigeon Creek Church, in Somerset, Nov. 23, 1849. Several resolutions were passed declaring for “well qualified teachers and a system of Normal schools for their training,” and “a county committee to examine teachers, with authority to call a convention of teachers twice a year for instruction by lectures on the science of teaching.” This meeting resulted in the calling of a common school county convention, which met at Washington, Feb. 19, 1850. A second one was held March 20th, a third May 21st, and a fourth Sept. 23, 1850, at Washington. At this last meeting A. M. Gow offered a resolution to establish an institute by which the teachers may be brought together for their improvement; also at this meeting the name of Washington County Institute was adopted. At a meeting in October the delegates to the State convention were instructed to recommend county superintendency and the establishment of State normal schools for the special preparation of teachers. Conventions were held often in different parts of the county, and educators from abroad as well as those at home were employed to lecture before the institute. At a meeting of the association in 1855, A. M. Gow recommended establishing a normal school of four weeks’ continuance. It was not, however, until three years later that this suggestion was acted upon. The following from the “Report of Public Instruction of 1877” shows the progress of normal schools until 1861:
“The first normal school in the county was held in Hillsboro’, commencing May 11, 1858. J. H. Longdon, county superintendent, was the principal. He was assisted by J. N. Boyd and A. J. Buffington. Sixty-eight teachers were in attendance. The next session was held in West Middletown, commencing June 10, 1859, which continued six weeks, with an attendance of one hundred and thirty-one teachers. Mr. Longdon was assisted by some of the best teachers in attendance. Stated lectures were delivered by prominent men during the session. Mr. Longdon held the next session at Monongahela City in the following May and June, continuing seven weeks. The enrollment numbered one hundred and fifty-eight, exclusive of the model school, which was taught by John F. Weller and Julia A. Weller. Mr. Longdon was assisted in the normal department by J. E. Stephenson, A. J. Buffington, and J. L. Phillips. So great was the benefit derived by those who attended these schools, and yet so unsatisfactory, because of the limited time which the sessions were kept open, that a demand was felt for a normal school that could be in session nine months during the year.”
Thomas J. Horner, to whom must be given the honor of giving permanency to the normal school now in Washington County, was a native of Carmichael’s, Greene Co., where he was born Feb. 1, 1835. His education was obtained at the district school and at Greene Academy. In the fall of 1856 he went to Millsboro’, and taught school at that place during the winter and following spring, after which he went to Mount Union, Ohio, and entered the college at that place for a regular course. In 1859 he went to West Brownsville and resumed teaching. In 1860 he went to Bridgeport, where he was employed in the Union school until July, when he was chosen principal.
The idea of a normal school had been growing in the minds of educators in Washington County and vicinity for some time previous, but to Mr. Horner it assumed tangible shape. Millsboro’ was the site selected by him for the starting-place of such a school, as it was one of the most central points in the south-western part of the State. He visited that place and laid his plans before the public. They were not at first favorably received, from financial reasons, but when he proposed to give his own notes for the payment of all subscriptions he succeeded in raising sufficient money, with what he had, to warrant him in contracting for a building suitable for the purpose, intending it to be used only for a few years or until it could be changed into a State institution. In the spring of 1862 circulars were issued as follows:
“The Union Normal School, located at Millsboro’, Washington Co., Pa. For the convenience of teachers in Washington, Fayette, and Greene Counties. Under the supervision of the county superintendents, who will give instruction in teaching, and lecture during the term.
“Remarks. – The necessity and importance of such an institution are evidenced in the local and increasing demand for better teachers, correct in theory, and skilful in practice. In addition to this, the instructions of the State Department of Common Schools require a much higher standard of attainment than has yet been acquired by the great majority of our teachers. For the purpose of affording to all increased facilities for receiving the higher standard of attainment, the above has been established. Our educational system is progressive, and teachers must either improve or give place to those who will. The examinations the next year will demand increased proficiency; therefore we recommend that all teachers holding Provisional Certificates, and other desiring to prepare for the Profession of Teaching, and who propose continuing in the Profession, will avail themselves of the facilities offered.
“J. V. Gibbons,
“ A. J. Buffington,
“The first term of the first academic year will commence on Monday, the 28th of April, 1862.
“T. J. Horner, Principal,
“Assisted by an able corps of Professional Teachers.”
The pupils in attendance at this term, as given in the circular of the academic year of 1863-64, is as follows: “Teachers, higher department, 95; teachers, preparatory department, 30; boarding students, 60; day pupils, 70; number preparing to teach, 70.”
The school was called at the next term “Southwestern Normal School.” During the year 1863 Mr. Horner’s health failed, and on the 27th of January, 1864, he died, having given up the charge to A. J. Buffington and J. C. Gilchrist, assisted by T. J. Teal. It was carried on through another year, that of 1864-65, when the school building and home of Mr. Horner were sold, and bought in by a company, who let the interest subside, but Mr. Gilchrist, being still interested, returned to California, Washington County, and succeeded in raising money enough to secure the State appropriation, and the normal school was moved to California. An offer of the union school building was made to them, which the trustees or faculty accepted. The union school was merged into it, and opened with an attendance of 143 during the summer session.
Southwestern State Normal School.1 – This school, located on the Monongahela, at California, Pa., had its origin in the educational sentiment of the early settlers of the town, a sentiment nourished and developed by the establishment of a high school or academy in the year 1854. Chief among those who led the way in this enterprise was Job Johnson, Esq., one of the proprietors of the town. And here let it be said to the honor of all concerned that by a provision in the chartered rights, a provision vital to the success of the town and school, the sale of intoxicating liquors was forever prohibited within the borough limits.
Under the leadership of Prof. E. N. Johnson, now of Ohio, the academy secured a wide reputation.
The charter of incorporation of the normal school was approved by Governor A. G. Curtin March 16, 1865. Section 1 says that the corporate name and title of this institution shall be Southwestern Normal College of Pennsylvania until and before the time it may be recognized as a State normal school under the act of Legislature passed April 15, 1859, when it can take such name and title as may be consistent with the provisions of that act.
Section 2 says the object of this association is to found a normal college, in which shall be
1 By Prof. G. G. Hertzog, Secretary of the Board of Trustees.
taught a course of study consisting of the English branches, the natural sciences, mathematics, the languages, metaphysics, music, and the science of art of teaching.
The first recorded meeting of the trustees took place in Seminary Hall, June 18, 1864. Prof. T. J. Teal, then county superintendent of Greene County, but also at that time a teacher in the school, was called to the chair, and an election held, resulting in the choice of Joseph A. Lambert, president; L. W. Morgan, vice-president; and Samuel Sickman, secretary. At this meeting Profs. Buffington, Teal, and Yeagley, superintendents of Washington, Greene, and Fayette Counties respectively, were appointed to select a site for the normal school building.
Prominent among the early movers and workers were Prof. W. N. Hull, Rev. Abner Jackson, Rev. J. C. Momyer, Job Johnson, Esq., Edward Riggs, John N. Dixon, and Prof. Gilchrist, now of the State Normal School at Cedar Falls, Iowa. G. M. Eberman, William McFall, S. W. Craft, G. G. Hertzog, S. M. Binns, A. P. Smith, Thomas Johnson, E. N. Lilley, Capt. J. B. Williams, and W. W. Jackman came to the work a little later, but were earnest and efficient workers. So evenly were the chances of success and failure balanced in the long struggle to found the school that if any one of a dozen had failed to cooperate, the enterprise must have failed. But Prof. J. C. Gilchrist, who first led the way, and President John N. Dixon, for his manly devotion to the work through so many years, deserve especial mention.
The laying of the corner-stone took place Aug. 26, 1868, in the presence of a large concourse of people. Gen. John W. Geary, then Governor of the State, was present, and delivered an appropriate and eloquent address.
Because of a lack of means the work was much hindered, so that the school was not adopted as a State institution till June, 1874. It then took the title of Southwestern State Normal School. The buildings were completed in 1875, costing in the aggregate $90,000. In the mean time the work of the school was done in the old building till 1870, when it was begun in the new.
The school is designed specially as a training school for teachers, and all applicants for examination from among the students indorsed by the faculty are tested by a State Board of Examiners. The first class, consisting of two members, was graduated in 1875. The succeeding classes numbered respectively six, nine, twenty-two, thirty, twenty-five, twenty-eight, and forty, aggregating one hundred and sixty-two. Not one of all indorsed by the faculty, and presented to the board for examination, has been rejected.
But the value of the school is not to be estimated simply by the number and work of its graduates; for before the school was adopted by the State, as well as since, hundreds of others have gone from the school to do efficient work as teachers.
Prof. J. C. Gilchrist was the first principal of the “Normal College,” but when in 1866 he was elected superintendent of the public schools of Washington County, Prof. A. J. Buffington, the retiring superintendent, was chosen principal; but after a successful session of five months retired to his farm. Prof. Gilchrist still continued his interest in the school during his term of office, severing his connection finally in September, 1870. The school was without a principal then till June, 1871, Prof. Hertzog having charge, when Prof. C. L. Ehrenfeld, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., was chosen. Prof. Ehrenfeld continued at the head of the school till January, 1877, when he resigned his position to become the State librarian. Soon after, Prof. George P. Beard, formerly principal of Shippensburg Normal School, but later of the State of Missouri, was chosen principal, and remains in that office still. Prof. Beard having had large experience in normal school work, and possessing the elements of a successful leader, the school has advanced rapidly under his management. In the State superintendent’s report for 1866, it is stated that the number of students in the Southwestern Normal College was two hundred and sixty-one, nearly one hundred of whom taught in the county. This institution by its thorough work is giving an earnest of what it will accomplish when recognized as a “State Normal School.” In the catalogue just published, that for 1882-83, the number in normal school for the past year is three hundred and fifty-five, besides an enrollment in the model school of one hundred and eighty-two, making a total of five hundred and thirty-seven. The school is managed by a board of eighteen trustees, twelve of whom are chosen by the stockholders and six by the State. Following are the names of the present board:
Elected by the stockholders, – William McFall, A. P. Smith, W. W. Jackman, Louis S. Miller, John N. Dixon, Esq., Z. W. Morgan, S. W. Craft, G. M. Eberman, Prof. G. G. Hertzog, Luke P. Beazell, O. Hornbake, Rev. D. A. Pierce.
Appointed by the State, Hon. Gibson Binns, Col. Chill W. Hazzard, Hon. G. V. Lawrence, Hon. J. K. Billingsley, Hon. Daniel Kaine, Prof. T. J. Teal.
Officers of Board of Trustees, – Jno. N. Dixon, Esq., president; Prof. G. G. Hertzog, secretary; S. M. Binns, treasurer.
Faculty, – George P. Beard, A.M., principal; T. B. Noss, A.M., vice-president; G. G. Hertzog, mathematics; J. B. Smith, natural sciences and Latin; W. S. Jackman, geography and history; D. C. Murphy, penmanship and drawing; Miss A. M. Mehaffey, elocution and gymnastics; Miss Lizzie Patton, grammar and rhetoric; T. R. Wakefield, geography and history; Miss Ella M. McClure, model school; Miss Hattie E. Jackman, model school.
*Boyd Crumrine, "History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men" (Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882).
Transcibed by Cindy Burchell in July 2002, for inclusion on www.chartiers.com and associated sites