Sigma Chi

Recently I had a request for a scan of the old white frame Sigma Chi house at the corner of Wabash and Crawford. I pulled the file, scanned that picture and then several more and thought I would share them, just for fun today.

Here is the house that served the chapter from after World War II until the construction of the “new” house. An article in the Wabash Bulletin of December of 1947 gives us the details:

Above is pictured the new home of the Wabash chapter of Sigma Chi. The fraternity,            which for years had occupied the old home of President Kane at the corner of the                  campus, last year acquired property at the corner of Wabash Avenue and Crawford              Street. The chapter moved into the house last year while workmen still were engaged in      remodeling, but this fall activities were started with all work completed. Purchase and        remodeling of the home cost approximately $36,000. On the ground floor are the                dining room and kitchen. The first floor includes a living room, card room and library.          On the second floor are eight study rooms. A dormitory is on the top floor. The house            accommodates 28 to 30 men.

Prior to the purchase of this house, the chapter was housed in Kane House. Here is a picture of the house ready for Homecoming in 1922.

This is the east side of the house. Here is another shot from 1922.

It has always been interesting to me that while the other fraternities purchased their homes and moved to campus, the Sigma Chis went into this house. To understand how this came about requires a little background.  Kane House was built so that the president of Wabash, at that time William P. Kane, would have a suitably grand house. When President Kane died in 1906 a Wabash man, Reverend George Lewes Mackintosh [W1884], became president. Doc Mack, as he was affectionately known, was a widower. He found Kane House too big and rather lonely.

When President Mackintosh took office, the Sigma Chis were inactive. In the Little Giant Sig of 1958 it is noted that the revival of the chapter in 1909 was largely due to President Mackintosh. Seems he was a charter member of the Sigma Chis at Wabash. So as the other fraternities left their downtown halls and secured houses, the Sigma Chis were offered Kane House. Here is a picture of one of the Sigma Chi halls downtown, as captured in a photo of the class of 1896. If you look closely at the windows you will see the Greek letters marking this as the hall of the Sigma Chis. This is the Fisher block on the southwest corner of Main and Green streets. The tower at the back right is the old Methodist church by the Lane Place.

To finish our tour of Sigma Chi homes from the past, let us have a look at the architectural rendering of the next to last house which was printed in the December 1962 issue of the Wabash Bulletin.

A discussion of the proposed house from that issue of the Bulletin adds detail to the narrative:

Costing approximately $350,000, the new Sigma Chi house will occupy the fraternity’s        present lot at the corner of the Wabash Avenue and Crawford Street. Divided into three      units, the house will be a complete departure from the usual fraternity house design.            For instance, the social area is separated from the study area by a loggia – or dining              area. The kitchen area is also separated from the living-study area to provide maximum      soundproofing.

This house served the chapter for decades before the new house was built just down the street and the chapter moved into its lovely new home. After serving briefly as independent housing in 2007 the “modern” house of the 60s was demolished.

The new house stands tall on the far west side of campus. More change is coming as the new dormitory buildings will fill in that area to the south formerly occupied by small houses. In an area roughly the size of the Mall, Wabash will begin building new dormitories. The one thing that doesn’t change on campus is the drive for a “greater Wabash” and the Wabash men who step up to make that happen.

All best, 
Beth Swift
Wabash College
Crawfordsville, Indiana


An honors scholar spring tale

I am happy to say that Spring has finally arrived! After the longest winter in memory, the flowers on campus are peeking out and everyone’s steps are a bit lighter. Last weekend was Honor Scholar weekend and the students are counting the days until the end of classes. Major league baseball opened its regular season this week so in the spirit of spring, here is a Wabash baseball story with an honors scholar tie-in.

This tale comes from Max Servies’ Wabash athletics history, Some Little Giants. Max [W1958] is familiar to alumni and friends of the college as the hard charging wrestling coach for most of the second half of the 20th century. Max also served as an assistant coach for track and football and from 1965-1998 he was the Athletic Director at Wabash. Max has a passion for the great athletic history of Wabash and has compiled it into this incredible project. Enjoy!


From Some Little Giants an athletic history by Max Servies.

1909 Baseball State Champions 18-5

Back Row:  Gipe, Adams, Puckett, Rowe, Irwin, and Coach Jones.  Middle Row:  Winnie, Warbritton, Ash, Bowers, Capt.; Lambert and Herron.   Front Row:  Starbuck, Gisler and Bridges.

The following letter was written by John W. “Bill” Irwin `09 to Coach Dave Lantz. Bill was an A-student and Phi Beta Kappa out ofCaledonia,Ohio. He enteredWabashthe fall of 1906 and graduated in three years. He tells Coach Lantz of some of his baseball experiences while atWabash. His 1909 team went 18-5 and took the Indiana Championship.

February 21, 1971

Dear Coach Lantz:

I am enclosing a small check for your baseball trip. If I were still working and not retired, I’d like to make it larger.

Yes, I pitched in 5 games in one week—three full games as I recall. But it had compensations. I was sent to the hospital nights for two or three weeks where two pretty nurses massaged and baked my right arm and shoulder until midnight. Then came a fine midnight snack when the real patients were asleep. That was almost like going to Oberlin today with coeducation and modern living. For a country boy in 1907, it was a great life. But always remember there were at least two nurses.

I am enclosing a copy of the 1908 team that included “Abe” Diddel and “Piggy” Lambert. Diddel was truly a great athlete and is yet in golf. He always maintained that “Bill Irwin prayed harder than he pitched.” I guess they thought I had some spiritual influence because I was used regularly with better pitchers on the bench.

Actually, we never had a baseball coach. My first year (1907) was the last season of Francis Cayou, who had made the Little Giants famous in football. He coached baseball at the start of my first season so it was natural for good football players to “make” the baseball team. I recall my first game was againstIllinois and a very famous basketball and football player had “usurped” first base—“Bill” Sprow by name. In the first inning a slow roller was bounced to me and I lobbed it over to Sprow. He dropped it and yelled, “Shoot ‘em over here, Freshman.” In the third inning I fielded a similar bouncer and let Sprow have it full force. I hurt his nose and lip and probably should have been kicked out of the game. We lost the game by a big score but Sprow and I became the best of friends. He quit baseball.

Following Cayou, Ralph Jones, the celebrated basketball coach of Wabash and Crawfordsville High School took over baseball. He did not know too much about the game but he could control a team. He always liked to say about me, “Yes, Bill Irwin is fast – fast to the ground.” And he was not far wrong.

My first year at Wabash was rather terrifying. I had come from a smallOhiotown with a new suit, which was not at all in style. I never wore it. Supposedly my small town diploma would not permit me to enterWabashand I was supposed to start in the Academy. Fortunately, somebody suggested I try the honor scholarship examinations and I did so. Since I taught country school when I was sixteen and seventeen, I could read and write rather effectively. The net result was that I not only got to enterWabashbut also got all my tuition paid.

Luckily I did not know one thing about fraternities or sororities. I could play pool rather well and that made up my social life. I was unknown and I remained unknown despite the fact that I began getting good grades and made the debating team. I also worked as a laborer on a new golf course and made enough to get a suit of clothes made college style  — long coats and peg-top trousers. I’ll never forget that new suit which arrived about the time I had made the baseball team. Life was transformed.

It is strange, Coach Lantz, how seemingly trivial things can so transform our lives. Even if I had the new suit, however, I did not realize the significance of the fact that certain members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity were “looking me over”. I pledged despite the dire warnings of the many, many non-fraternity friends I now had. I should say that at the time the Kappa Sigma fraternity was probably the poorest on the campus and I am, of course, happy that this is no longer true.

I have taken the trouble to type out this unusually long letter because a coach may often discover a boy who faces some of the problems that beset me my first six months at Wabash. And a wise coach can help such boys.

I should add that all was changed when I got back on campus in the fall of 1907. I was elected class president and participated in just about everything. And I decided that I could complete the work of the next three years in two years. I had studied so hard as a freshman that the following subsequent courses looked easy. Hence I could afford to spend most of my time in classes except during the baseball season without lowering my grade average – except for a couple of B grades in Botany. I had to get in that extra year of science and some day I’ll tell how Dean Mason Thomas guided me through it with the assistance of a most able partner for my field work. He was a Jake Schramm, afterwards noted at Cornell for his work in that field. I could barely distinguish between a dandelion and a thistle and Dean Thomas knew it. He also knew I could do the book work of the course, and he was a baseball fan.

I got through Botany without too much damage to my scholastic record and I became acquainted with a wise man as well as a great teacher.

With both glaucoma and cataracts as handicaps, I have typed too long a letter. Just put it aside for a rainy day.

Fortunately I have no advice for college pitchers other than to recommend – for college batters – a high fast one and a slow low one. If a pitcher can acquire control, now as then, he has an advantage over the batter – most always.

But I would be the last to deny the efficacy of “a prayer with the pitch”.


J.W. “Bill” Irwin


Bill Irwin closeup from the team picture.

This letter gives us quite a glimpse into student life in the early 1900’s. His description of his entry into Wabash is interesting. To clarify just how sharp this kid was I would add that in 1907 the honors scholarship he mentions was one of very few offered. From the Annual Catalogue of Wabash College for 1907 we learn that seven scholarships were awarded to “the seven contestants who shall, in the judgment of the faculty’s committee on entrance conditions, be deemed most worthy. Three of these scholarships, carrying free tuition for the entire college course, are awarded to the three students who attain the highest rank in an examination upon all the specified subjects…required for entrance.” The remaining four scholarships were conditional. That is, they were awarded for the freshman and sophomore years, “with the understanding that, if before the beginning of the junior year the student has brought up all arrears to the satisfaction of the head of the department concerned, and at the same time has maintained a high standard of scholarship in all his studies, the scholarship will be extended so as to carry free tuition for the remainder of the course.”

It is clear that Bill Irwin was quite smart and could pitch a winning game too! Or, as Max Servies would say, “He was some little giant!”

All best,
Beth Swift
Wabash College
Crawfordsville, Indiana

 PS – For more on this 1909 team click on this post:





Winter Hardy

Endless winter or the start of the next ice age? Either way it is cold here in Indiana and there is a lot of snow! All of this foul weather prompted a member of the Sphinx Club to ask, “When was the last time that Wabash cancelled classes due to the weather?”

Good question! To start the research, I thought I would go back to the worst winter I remember in Indiana, 1978. To my astonishment classes were NOT cancelled in ’78. Here is what I found as I tracked back through the Bachelor.

The year is 1977 and this story starts with registration for classes in the midst of a cold snap. The Bachelor of 01/21/1977 reports that despite “sub-zero temperatures” the process clicked along smoothly. In the last part of the story Bachelor Staff Writer Rick Hemmerich reports that when asked if Wabash might cancel registration and classes due to the bad weather, Dean of Students Norman Moore replies, “This isn’t a boys’ school, this is a MEN’S school!!”

Within two weeks of that article, the school cancelled classes on a Friday. The headline of that piece read, “Brrrrr!” with a subhead of, “Elmore Day at Fifty Below.” Elmore Day was a lovely day in the fall when President Seymour cancelled classes unexpectedly.

For more information on Elmore Day follow this link to a blog posting on that subject:

The conditions in 1977 were just awful, blowing snow with winds of 45-60 mph causing a wind chill factor of 65 degrees BELOW ZERO. This article by Jim Garrison tells the full tale. There were worries about natural gas supplies, exhortations to turn down the thermostat, and calls for businesses to cut back on gas usage. It seems clear that this would have played into any decision to cancel classes.

The next year is the one I remember so clearly, the Blizzard of ’78 was a big one with loads of snow, plummeting temperatures and wind, lots of wind. In the days before the internet, we played cards and games and stayed inside for days. Yet classes were not cancelled at Wabash.

A story from the Bachelor of February 3, 1978 by Greg Opfel entitled, “Blizzard Snowblinds Administration,”  notes that the closure of the previous year flew in the face of the Wabash tradition of hardy, self-reliance. It was widely supposed, true or not, that the alumni put pressure on the administration not to cancel classes again. The article ended with a note of outrage for those students who did struggle into their classes only to find that the professor was absent.  An announcement in the faculty meeting of February 20, 1978 read, “Dean Moore announced that the Student Senate had expressed dissatisfaction that the college did not cancel classes during the late January blizzard. He added that students had been particularly provoked who made the effort of getting to class only to find that the instructor was absent. Dean Moore suggested that in the future faculty unable to reach the campus might telephone WNDY early in the morning so that this information could be broadcast.”

Four years later a January cartoon by John Van Nuys from 1982 reinforces the idea that, “Classes must go on!”

In January of 1994 there was another frigid weather event. Record cold temperatures with a wind chill factor of -50 degrees prompted Purdue and IU to cancel classes, but again, not Wabash.  Writer Chris Rowland did his historical research citing the 1977 and 1978 events and he ended with Dean Moore’s quote from above about Wabash as a “men’s school.”

In January of 1997 there was another bad storm and in the Bachelor dated 01/23/1997 there was a discussion as to why classes were not cancelled. The writer, Jon Matsey, interviewed long-time faculty member and Wabash man Paul McKinney [W1952] about the 1977 closure. “Classes were called off. Much joking existed because of the closure. Doubt was cast on the robustness of Wabash men according to the punsters. Never before had such a thing happened! The Dean of Students, Norman Moore, argued that it was better to hold class because, otherwise, students got into mischief…”  The article continued with a discussion of the mechanism for cancelling classes, noting that Wabash is a residential campus and less subject to road conditions. There was commentary on the snowy, ice covered walks, but the article ended with this sentence, “Nevertheless, Wabash students seem almost to revel in the fact that they do not easily succumb to fluctuations in the weather.”

Winter storms come and go and January is usually the worst month for such weather. Bachelor stories of freezing temps, heavy snow and strong winds are common in that month across the years. One line runs through them all, classes are not cancelled at Wabash. With this in mind, it was notable that earlier this January, during the Polar Vortex, Wabash did close its doors.  The county declared a snow emergency asking everyone to stay off of the roads, period. But as class was not yet in session, the 37 year streak continues.

I close by saying that this winter Campus Services has worked away, often late into the night, trying to keep the roads and walks cleared or at least passable. Sometimes that involved starting at 3 or 4 a.m.  It has been a long winter and the folks at Campus Services deserve a big thank you for their hard work!

Here’s hoping that we will soon move into spring!

In the meantime, take care and stay warm!

Beth Swift


Wabash College

















Yellowstone and Wabash, faculty connections.

Old copies of the National Geographic always pose such a quandary – sure they are just magazines that might have been recycled long ago, but they are also strangely compelling. So while clearing out a set of bookshelves prior to painting our living room, we were faced with the old question, pitch or keep. We recycled all but one issue – February 1989 with the cover story, “The Great Yellowstone Fires” which is of particular interest to my husband who worked in the park all during the fires.  Also included in that issue was a piece on William Henry Jackson, the photographer for the Hayden Expeditions of the 1870’s, and there it was, another Wabash connection!

Jackson was recruited by Hayden to provide scientific documentation of the expedition. Funded by Congress, Hayden was to explore the Mountain West and report back. While in Omaha, Hayden saw Jackson’s photography of the surrounding area and of the Native Americans in the area. It was clear that the new technology of photography would be of tremendous value to Hayden’s plans. Jackson packed his supplies – which included hundreds of glass plates – and walked into history. For more on Jackson – the Scott’s Bluff National Monument has a nice biography page –

Jackson’s photos are widely credited with securing the vote in Congress to designate Yellowstone our first national park. At the conclusion of the expedition, Jackson went to Washington, D.C. to create sets of the photographs for Congress prior to the historic vote.

From our collection we see this photograph of the Yellowstone River above the falls of the Canyon. Note the water which appears misty and almost cloudlike – due to the long exposure time required.

We have, here in the Archives, over 100 of Jackson’s photos from that expedition and others in the mountains of the West. They are amazing and in quite good shape. A wonderful collection first brought to my attention by another great photographer, Paul Mielke who had done quite a bit of research on the collection. The photos range from Yellowstone down through the Tetons to Estes Park to Salt Lake City and even include a photo of the Mormon Tabernacle. There are pictures of Native Americans taken just before the coming of the railroads, beautifully heartbreaking because we know that in less than a decade, these people would be forced out of the way of “progress” and onto reservations. These pictures document the land as it was, naturally rugged and full of amazing sights – lakes that smoke, holes that shoot boiling water hundreds of feet in the air. What a delight to see these photographs and to think about the difficulties of taking them in the field. All that glass and creating a darkroom in a tent on the side of a mountain? Amazing!

Another image from our collection is this photo of the Hayden camp on Yellowstone Lake.

The question then becomes how did Wabash get these amazing photographs? The answer, I think, is that they came here with John Merle Coulter, a member of the faculty from 1879-1891. Initially trained as a geologist at Hanover College, Coulter was offered a position on the Hayden Expedition as an assistant geologist. The men of the expedition had all gathered and were waiting for Hayden to arrive. As might be expected from a bunch of tough guys in a camp setting, they played cards and drank while waiting. Not for Coulter, raised in his grandfather’s strict Presbyterian home, he neither played cards nor drank. To pass his time he collected specimens of the plants he found in the area. His work caught Hayden’s attention. Suddenly botany was added to Coulter’s duties.  Also, on occasion, Coulter helped Jackson with his work. When Jackson was called to Washington to print the photographs, Coulter was also in D.C. cataloging his specimens. I believe that these photographs were given to Coulter by Jackson and left at Wabash by Coulter.

For a complete biography of this beloved member of our faculty, follow this link to the National Academy of Sciences online biography project:

So there it is, Wabash and Yellowstone and a faculty connection. Of course this is not the only connection – former Treves Professor at Wabash Dr. David Krohne has done a lot of research in the Yellowstone area. Here is a link to a Wabash Magazine story about Krohne’s visit to Yellowstone after the fires:

Here is a link to a student blog about a visit to the park and Dr. Krohne teaching in the field:

 All best, 
Beth Swift
Wabash College

Holiday greetings from 1925


The Caveman cover of December, 1925 is a great way to wish you all a very merry season!

This cover, drawn by Wayne Colvin  is just delightful. Colvin was not a student at Wabash, but there was a Thomas Colvin in that same era, brothers, maybe? In the quest for more information I found that Thomas Colvin [W1928] was a swimmer who coached the swim team from 1926-1928. This was the first team, making Colvin our first swim coach. Our team swam at the YMCA here in town. The building is still intact on the SE corner of Pike and Green streets, near the [now gone] Strand Theater building. Here is a picture of that swim team. Tom Colvin is second from the left.

Wanting to see if there was any more information to be found on Wayne Colvin, I looked in the Bachelor for that era and found this…

Clearly Colvin was a talented artist and this cover is just a delight! There are a few other stories in the Bachelor that mention that Colvin was doing the cover for other Caveman issues. The last entry notes that he is from Indianapolis. It was not uncommon for the staff of the Caveman to import artists, although they usually had some connection to Wabash. Whatever the connection, it is always a delight to page through those old Caveman issues. It was quite a publication!

I hope that you have enjoyed this little Christmas card from the Archives. Wishing you and yours all best in this holiday season.

Safe travels, see you in 2014!

Beth Swift

Wabash College

Student Army Training Corps

With Veteran’s Day this week, I thought I might write a little piece about Wabash and the Student Army Training Corps. From an article in the Wabash College Record-Bulletin of October 1918 we have part of the story.

“During the latter half of the last college year the steady decrease in the number of men students, bought about through war conditions, became so marked in the colleges and universities of the country as to create concern, not only among educators but among the military authorities as well. It became evident that there was great danger of depletion of our reserve of trained men for leadership in the long war then in prospect and in the peace which was hoped for…The most important points in this plan were:

“That military instruction under officers of the United States Army was to be provided in all institutions enrolling one hundred or more able-bodied students above the age of eighteen years.

“That enlistment in the training units thus formed should be voluntary, each student becoming, upon enlistment, a member of the Army of the United States and receiving from the government all necessary military equipment but no pay.

“That unless urgent necessity compelled it, no students were to be called into active service until they had reached the age of twenty-one. The aims of the proposed plan were stated to be to develop the large body of young men in the colleges as a great military asset and to prevent by the offer of an immediate military status to the student an unnecessary and wasteful depletion of the colleges through indiscriminate volunteering.”

As is often the case, events changed plans. The draft age was lowered and so the S.A.T.C. changed too. Students who were members of the SATC were to receive officer training and continue their academic studies. If needed by the Army, these men could be sent to officers’ training camps. There was one other change, these men were also to be paid at the rate of a private in the army AND their tuition and other college bills would be paid.

A statewide canvas was implemented to identify the young men in Indiana, “eligible for college entrance.” In addition the College was required to provide lodging and food, under contract with the War Department. A contract was signed in September of 1918 to provide room, board and an education to 400 men, referred to as “soldier-students.”

A space was cleared between South Hall [where Baxter Hall is now] and the new Gymnasium/Armory for the barracks. Here is one view of the barracks. In the back at left is South Hall.

Each building was to house 200 men and measured 215 x 42 feet with sidewalls of 11 feet and equipped with central heat. Bathing, laundry and other necessaries were housed in the building between the two long dorms. Here is a picture taken inside of one of the dorms.

To feed all of these fellows a mess hall was established in the second floor of the Armory. This marks the first time that Wabash, as a college, fed its students. Here is a picture of that mess hall and all of the SATC fellows. This space was designed as an auxiliary gymnasium, note the basketball goal in the rear of the room.

With all systems nearly ready the big day for the opening of the Student Army Training Corps approached. All SATC programs across the nation were synchronized such that all swearing in ceremonies occurred simultaneously. Here is a picture of that ceremony on the Wabash campus. This picture was taken in the Arboretum near Wabash Avenue.

In the Wabash College Record-Bulletin narrative of the SATC, it notes that about half of the student body of 525 were inducted into the U.S. Army. It adds, “Further inductions were prevented by lack of sufficient induction blanks, the arrival of which from Washington was delayed for several weeks. The inducted men were quartered in the completed barracks, and the other students occupied their lodgings in town while awaiting induction.”

Above is a photograph of the entire Corps at drill. The uniforms had yet to arrive. But the soldier-students were at work, as was the band. Here is an image of the SATC band marching on the field.

Classes had just started when they were cancelled on account of the deadly influenza epidemic. It hit Wabash on Monday, October 7, 1918 when six men appeared at sick call with high fevers, by that night 11 more were added. All sick call fellows were taken to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity on the corner of College and Jefferson. The fraternity house was set up as an infirmary, with a capacity of six patients. All students who were not a part of the SATC were sent home until Wabash reopened. Those in the SATC stayed on campus and the flu hit them hard. The day before the Infirmary was to open there were 17 men in need of care and within the week, there were 84 students in the hospital. Here is a picture of the Phi Delt house as it was at that time.

A total of 120 cases were received at the infirmary and no students died. This is credited to the superior nursing staff. From the college history, The First Hundred Years comes this excerpt, “College and town were very proud of this record. It was attained only by an outpouring of energy nothing short of heroic. Miss Mary Jolley, of Crawfordsville, Head Nurse, remained steadily at her post in spite of the fact that she herself was attacked by influenza. Volunteers stepped forward to help her. Three of these volunteers were trained nurses – Miss May Huston, Miss Edith Hunt and Miss Ethel Newell.” Many other ladies from the town helped out too. Miss Newell, one of the nurses, had recently had pneumonia, yet volunteered anyway. Her illness returned and she died – the only casualty of the Wabash outbreak.

By October 24, the outbreak had run its course and classes resumed.  Again, from the Record-Bulletin we learn that the remaining induction blanks had arrived and the remainder of the SATC men were inducted, bringing the total at Wabash to 400 men. In just a few days, the Great War ended with the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. The SATC men were mustered out, though many of them stayed at Wabash and completed their studies. A good thing too, as one of these fellows is credited with creating mass production techniques for Alexander Fleming’s penicillin work. More about Andrew J. Moyer may be found here:

Beth Swift


Wabash College




In their own words


















Today is an historic day. Today we inaugurate our 16th president, Gregory Hess. This day prompts me to think about our past presidents. With this in mind, I thought that I might share their words today.  Each president prepared a speech for his inauguration.  In each case, these speeches are a chance for the new man to highlight what he felt was important to the College at that time. These speeches provide an interesting chance to look across the decades, indeed across the nearly two centuries, of our history.

Here they are, in their own words, our presidents…

“I shall devote myself to the instruction of the youth…Our hope is that no sacrifices in this noble cause will be lost, and that we shall enjoy the privilege of seeing our institution realize the expectations of its patrons and the friendly public…Our purpose is, never to rest while Wabash College shall lack any advantages for the student, which are offered by the highest class of American colleges.”

President Elihu W. Baldwin Inaugural Address July 13, 1836


“Whoever exerts an influence here, exerts an influence upon many individuals and upon great interests elsewhere. Whoever communicates any portion of his opinions or his character to young men here, communicates them to all after ages.”

President Charles White Inaugural Address July 19, 1841


“I address myself to the alumni of this College. You are our joy and our crown. As you go out among men, we ask you to remember this College, as the mother who bore you. Speak of her sometimes in those terms of fondness which shall be so grateful to her ear and so potent in the esteem of society, as “our College” as “Old Wabash”…showing that you would rather lose the music of your own tongues than to forget Alma Mater.”

President Joseph Ferrand Tuttle Inaugural Address July 24, 1862


“So, this hour, grateful for the Wabash of the past…we together—students, teachers, trustees, alumni, friends of the College—together we pledge ourselves to the Wabash of today, to the Wabash of tomorrow.”

President George Stockton Burroughs Inaugural Address June 21, 1893


“The historic college is built on the idea that its work is to educate men. Not simply to educate the intellect nor to train the hand or the eye or any other fractional part, but to educate the man himself. The work of the old-fashioned college is to lay the foundation for a complete manhood. Its aim is not to make specialists, but to make men…”

President William Patterson Kane Inaugural Address February 22, 1900


“In assuming the duties of President of Wabash College I am not unmindful that humility most of all becomes me. When one has in mind the five presidents who were here and are not, it does not yet seem quite credible that one like myself is the sixth…One can only beg that he may not be altogether unworthy of his predecessors.”

President George Lewes Mackintosh Inaugural Address June 12, 1907


“It is essential…that the whole problem of individualizing education be kept in the foreground in the shaping of educational policies, in the administration of college affairs, and in the instruction of students…These, then are the opportunities that our predecessors…have handed down to us. May we in turn keep the faith and assist those whom we admit to our institution  in their intellectual development; may we inspire them to right living; may we encourage them to search for the truth and reveal to them the significance of the message…that the truth shall make them free.”

President Louis Bertram Hopkins Inaugural Address December 3, 1926


“Every day at Wabash should be regarded as an important day…full of the realization that here are citizens in the making…In its student body is the life blood of any school. For students it was founded—for students it should live…Friends of Wabash, let us join together this day…in a new pledge of cooperation and in a new dedication of effort for a stronger, more powerful, more effective Wabash.”

President Frank Hugh Sparks Inaugural Address October 25, 1941


“There is…a poetic quality about such a college. Its poetry is in its past. It is in the fact that for a century and a quarter students and teachers, trustees and friends, much like ourselves, have studied and played and worked and worshipped here, and now they are gone as we must shortly go…On this occasion, we who now constitute Wabash—students, teachers, trustees, alumni and friends—could do no better than to resolve to match the courage, the vision, and the energy, of our predecessors. If we do, we shall lift this college to still higher levels of usefulness, distinction and honor.”

President Byron Kightly Trippet Inaugural Address October 13, 1956


“The men of Wabash will not break faith with the humane tradition or with their history. We will be relentless in our pursuit of excellence. We will continue to develop men to lead and to serve. We will not compromise our sense of high purpose.”

President Paul W. Cook Inaugural Address December 3, 1966


“I want to see Wabash continue to excel as a small, independent, undergraduate, liberal arts college for men. That forthright definition will be the text for my remarks this morning…the convictions of one who believes with all his being that our type of college, that our own College, continues today the special mission of service which motivated its founding; that Wabash will best serve by producing men of balanced judgment, broad knowledge, and good character – ‘Scientiae et Virtuti,’ know-how and guts.” President Thaddeus Seymour Inaugural Address October 10, 1969


“If education at Wabash is anything, it is the cultivation of the intellect…the acquisition of skills which enable us to dissect and construct arguments, to disentangle the valid from the specious, and to order our beliefs in some proportion to the weight of evidence supporting those beliefs.”

President Lewis Spencer Salter Inaugural Address October 10, 1978


“Thus a tradition for exceptional teaching in the liberal arts was begun. Names from the past like Mills, Thomas, Gronert, Brigance, Rogge, Haenisch and Dean have carried this tradition forward, helping to create the richness for which a Wabash education is so well known…Whether one looks at leadership activity, professional impact, or the percentage of graduates attaining the PhD, Wabash ranks with the finest institutions in the country.”

President F. Sheldon Wettack Inaugural Address December 3, 1989


“Wabash is not simply a four year college for men; Wabash is a lifetime experience for men and their families. It is not simply a four-year liberal arts program; Wabash is the beginning of one’s independent life. It is not merely preparation for the real world; Wabash is participation in the real world. It is not rules, regulations and judicial procedures; Wabash is trust, responsibility and caring. It is not unique because it is a college for men; Wabash is unique in the candor, rigor, and caring of the classroom experience. Wabash is above all about making men better.”

President Andrew T. Ford Inaugural Address, January 29, 1994


“…men of Wabash, I turn to you, in hope, with courage, with all the powers and energy I can muster, and I promise you that together, my brothers, we will carry this College we love so well to new heights of service, new heights of honor. We will ask the difficult questions of our times and we will never tire. In our uncommon dream – the uncommon dream of Wabash College – lies the common good of our country and our world, and we will pursue that dream with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole spirit.”

President White Inaugural Address January 27, 2007


All best wishes to President Hess as he takes his place in this inaugural parade!

Beth Swift
Wabash College



Wabash at the time of the Civil War

This past weekend was the Civil War Symposium at Wabash. What a day full of new insights, old friends and a great way to honor the service of Wabash men in the War Between the States.

Asked to give a talk to the Women on Campus group this month, I decided that it might be neat to look at Wabash at the time of the Civil War. What I wanted to share with the Women on Campus was not just stories of Wabash men and their many and diverse roles in the war, but rather a look at the college itself at that time.

Let’s start with a map of the west part of town from that time period.


At position #1

This is the Normal School, which was housed, along with the Preparatory Department, in the building many know as Kingery. Sadly, this building was destroyed in a Good Friday storm a few years ago.  The Normal School was charged with educating teachers, it is fitting that this site is now home to the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology.

At position #2

This is the Henry Crawford house, now the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. The area behind this home was Crawford’s Woods, a place for picnics and the scene of the town’s 1916 Statehood Centennial Pageant.

Moving clockwise on the map, the next stop is at position #3.

This was the home of the prep school principal, Atlas Minor Hadley, and was at that time a frame house. This home was sold to George and Yvonne Kendall by Hadley’s widow. The Kendalls bricked the exterior and lived here for many happy years before they gifted the home, now known as the Kendall House, to the College.

At position #4

Moving further north on the map we see  #4 listed as Craw. Cem., a less than elegant name for the Mills Cemetery. This land, which was part of the original land gift to Wabash from Williamson Dunn, was by the time of the Civil War owned by Caleb Mills. This land was given to Mills by the College in lieu of salary. Mills platted this final resting place and, in very short order, family plots were designated. Burials continued in this graveyard until the creation of Oak Hill Cemetery. At that time all of the remaining graves were moved to Oak Hill where there is a very fine Wabash section. I might note that some years earlier a few graves had been moved to the Masonic Cemetery, to facilitate the westward extension of Pike Street.

Right in the center of the map is the area just west of today’s mall and tagged with #5.

There are three structures – starting at the top of the map there is the home of Edwin O. Hovey and his wife Mary.

It sat on the hill just above Wabash Avenue, labeled on this map as South Street. The Hovey home was a center of life at the college and, with an attic full of musical instruments for the band and students boarding with them, must have been nearly ready to burst at the seams.

The next home south of Hovey’s is the Caleb Mills’ house shown above and still in its original location.

The third in the line of buildings is Forest Hall, or the old college, where the Sparks Center stands today. Forest Hall was originally built about six blocks north. After Caleb Mills was given the Dunn land, he disassembled Forest and had it moved to his land at the edge of campus. Some years later Mills donated Forest Hall to Wabash.

On the eastern portion of campus, listed as #6 on the map, the two buildings shown are Center Hall and South Hall, later replaced by Baxter Hall.

This lithograph is from the late 1850’s and it tells us a lot about Wabash. Let’s start with the two buildings – South and Center Hall.








The building above is South Hall, the first built on the new campus. This building was originally four stories, but extensive renovations in the late 1800’s created just two floors and weakened the structure so badly that it was taken down in the early 1960’s.

The building above is Center Hall without its wings. It would be many years yet before the wings were built. This is the front door of the College, as Center and South Halls were built facing Grant Street. The Mall at this time was a service area. Lastly I might add that the lithograph was created as if one were standing on the roof of today’s Fine Arts Center.

It is interesting to me to think about Wabash in that era. It was a very different place and it students were also quite different too. During the period from 1860-1865 there were six members of faculty, one of which was the Principal of the Preparatory Department, Atlas M. Hadley. While six members of the faculty seems so small to us today it was in proportion to the enrollment at that time.

Here is a snapshot of a typical term student enrollment.

13       Senior preparatory

35       Junior preparatory

36       Normal [Teacher education]

84       Sub-total preps/normal department


Collegiate Department

6       Seniors

11       Juniors

12       Sophomores

20       Freshmen

49       Sub-total college course

133      Total enrollment

We see from these numbers that the bulk of the enrollment was in the Prep and Normal departments. It was these students that kept Wabash going during the years of the Civil War. The prep students were simply too young to enlist. For several decades, from our founding until the early 1890’s, most of the men who attended Wabash were in these two departments.

The curriculum of this era was rather narrowly focused. If a young man wanted to attend Wabash, they had to be proficient in Latin and Greek studies. If a student’s family was well off, then a tutor would be hired to prepare the student. Most of our students went to the Preparatory School here on campus, which was a two year course. At the end of this course of study, the student would then be ready for the collegiate course.

There was also a Normal School at Wabash whose mission was to educate teachers. It was a three year program. In addition to the 3Rs, among the topics taught were book keeping – single and double entry, and one listed as, “The Art of Teaching.” Future teachers were a large part of the enrollment at Wabash.

There were three tracks at Wabash at this time. First was the Collegiate Department in which the students studied what we would recognize as a full liberal arts curriculum. This path took four years, much as it does now. There was also a Civil Engineering track where the students were training to be land surveyors and civil engineers. We were very stong in this line and it was hoped that Wabash might become one of the campuses for the Land Grant program. Instead, John Purdue gave land in Lafayette for the university that bears his name.

The last college level department was the Scientific which taught chemistry, mineralogy, geology, natural philosophy (physics) and astronomy. While many scientists were trained in this department, it was also a field of study for those men who had ambitions in the medical field.

There were three terms per year: fall, winter and summer. Here is an example of how the terms fell: Fall Term ran from mid-September until Christmas. With three days of finals right at the end, there was usually just enough time for the students to get home – typically only three or four days before Christmas. A break until just after the new year meant that classes were back in session in the first week of January.  This term was the Winter Term and ended in the first week of April, followed by several days of spring break. The summer term started in the third week of April and continued through to mid-July. At the end of the summer term Commencement Week  – which only lasted four days – finished the year. There was a summer vacation from mid-July until fall term began again in Mid-September.

College Cadets come to campus

America in the 1850’s was growing ever more militaristic – partially a result of the Mexican-American war. In Crawfordsville, this was true as well. A nationwide trend that developed in this era was the organization of drill companies. Many veterans of the war with Mexico, including Lew Wallace, were eager to form companies. It was athletics – of a sort. Companies from one town would compete with another for honors. Training was rigorous and focused and appealed to young men – as it does today in other sports.

There was, at this time, no gym on campus. One student described the facility offerings as “two rings attached by long ropes to a maple tree, west of the dormitory.” There were no organized athletic contests. Sport was really down to foot races and wrestling in the dirt.

In 1856 Lew Wallace formed his Montgomery Guards and began practicing. Among the Guards were several Wabash students. They trained under Wallace and in 1858 they began their own company. To increase the draw for the College Cadets, there were fancy uniforms and competition.

This same former student added, “The cadets procured muskets from the Government, real sure-enough guns with bayonets attached.” The Cadets practiced by the hour and drilled against the Montgomery Guards. Chief among the skills they honed were practice in handling the guns, marching in formation and responding to bugle calls.

As a result of this drilling, Wabash became a sort of Officers’ Training camp. The skills they had honed in their hours with the Cadets placed them ahead of the untrained farmer or merchant when the Civil War started. Many of the Cadets became officers as they had knowledge of the drills and battlefield commands and maneuvers. Their ability to command men, march in formation and their knowledge of military tactics placed them at an advantage.  As an example in the Class of ’62 which had ten members, there was a brigadier, a colonel, four captains and a chaplain.

Wabash was staunchly abolitionist and while the faculty mourned for their former students who died, they were united in their belief that this was a glorious cause. Letters from Caleb Mills to various former students, now soldiers, indicate his strongly held beliefs. In the early 1850’s one member of our small faculty felt so strongly about slavery that he resigned his post here to devote himself to full time work with the Underground Railroad.

Wabash at the time of the Civil War was a very different place, but a great deal of that Old Wabash is still with us. The old buildings on campus are still here, if only they could talk! The students are still here too, although different now in many ways. Today’s guys are more tech savvy for sure, but still passionate about causes and interested in action. The faculty, now much larger and including women, is different too. But still caring about their students, watching them, wishing them the best, and inspiring them to greater heights. It is a different time now, but there is a very great deal of Old Wabash that is the same.

All best,
Beth Swift
Wabash College



500 x 148

500 Strong Wabash College Students in the Civil War is the newest book on Wabash history, edited by Emeritus Professor of History James J. Barnes and Patience Plummer Barnes.  The title of this blog refers to the more than 500 men who served in the war and the 148 students in Dr. Barnes’ senior history seminar who researched and wrote the short biographies of the veterans.

Dr. Barnes innovated this project as a result of his study and thinking about the Civil War Roll of Honor on the east side of Center Hall. Ever curious,  Barnes wondered about the lives represented by the names listed.

It has been said that the best way to learn a new skill is by doing it. Dr. Barnes taught his senior history students about history by giving them several names of former Wabash men to research. The students were taught how to use the federal census, how to research in the Ramsay Archives, how to read service records at the Indiana State Archives, and how to do research via mail to local historical societies and public libraries.

The Roll of Honor, pictured above, lists 307 Wabash men who served in the Civil War. The students found that many more Wabash men had served in the Civil War than were listed on the Roll of Honor. Over two hundred more veterans were brought to light making a final total of 529.

Many of the men were difficult to track, but the students and Dr. Barnes persisted. The most difficult files were set aside and, over the course of the next 25 years, Barnes continued the research. Patience Plummer Barnes edited the hundreds of biographies and traced additional loose ends to bring the collection to print, made possible by the passion of another Wabash man, Arthur Baxter. Art [Wabash class of 1956] and his wife Nancy are the owners of Hawthorne Press which specializes in Indiana history projects. Through their determination, this book has become a reality which will serve to enlighten generations of future researchers.

For anyone interested in the history of Wabash, Indiana OR the Civil War, this book is one you will want to have in your collection. I was really interested to read Dr. Barnes’ afterword where he offers several conclusions, chief among them is that, “…although it can not be proven definitively, it is likely that Wabash College sent more student to the war, proportional to its size, than did any other college in America.”

To note this amazing project and in honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Wabash is hosting a Civil War Symposium on Friday, September 27th. The Barneses will be there along with a number of other presenters. All daytime sessions are free and open to the public. So that we can have an idea of the size of the crowd, we have asked that attendees fill out a reservation. More program information and the online reservation form may be found at

All best, 
Beth Swift
Wabash College


Hovey Scrapbook


What a busy summer this has been! I hope that you had some time to get away and think quietly, even if just for a couple of days. Here in the Archives we have been busy with a few summer projects and today I would like to share one of my favorites with you.

The Hovey Scrapbook was created by Edmund O. Hovey to record the history of Wabash as it began. Hovey was one of our founders, an early faculty member and went to the East to raise the money to fund the new enterprise in the Wabash Country. The Scrapbook combines officially printed materials – which are important – with Hovey’s handwritten notes which tell a fuller story. Each page consists of materials glued to tissue paper thin sheets. To each sheet Hovey added personal notes and dates. The paper was breaking down and the Scrapbook had become unstable and no longer accessible to those interested in researching the history of Wabash. For this reason, I decided that the best thing to do was to take it apart and wrap each page in Mylar. This is very slow work, but so rewarding.

Let’s look at a portion of a sample page.

Pictured above is Hovey’s handwritten copy of the announcement that ran in the local papers in November of 1833, just prior to the opening of the school. Note that it is referred to as the Crawfordsville High School. It was the plan that as the students advanced it would grow into a college. But first the students had to get to a collegiate level in their studies. Here is the text. I might note that the teacher described is Caleb Mills, the first member of the faculty at Wabash.


Crawfordsville High School

The Board of Trustees of the Crawfordsville Classical & English High School take this method to inform the citizens of this place and the Public generally, that they have obtained a teacher from the East to take charge of the School –

He is now on his way and is expected here in a few days. He comes well recommended & has with him a considerable number of books and other donations for the use of the School. The first session will commence on the first Monday of December & continue four months. Price of tuition $4.00 for the English department and $6.00 for the Classical, per session.

Board for a considerable number can be had at one dollar per week. Young men wishing to attend would do well to apply early as we may not be able, this session, to accommodate with Board, in the institution all who may apply. By order of the Board – John Thomson Secy of the Board


Across these pages Hovey spread the history of Wabash. Here is a scan of another page so that you can see the shape and condition of the Scrapbook.

I have enjoyed spending the summer with Hovey. His lifelong devotion to this college was remarkable. His passion for collecting and sharing the history is a gift that continues to enrich our understanding of this place we call Old Wabash. He was the first to collect and share the history of Wabash. It really is a delight to share these stories with you. I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy sharing them!

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College




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