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A new hall of sciences


Goodrich Hall now home to the Mathematics and Physics departments  was built in the late 1930’s as a hall of sciences at Wabash.  The new building was the result of two very determined men and a stiff challenge.

Former Governor of Indiana, James Putnam Goodrich was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1904-1940. He was President of the Board of Trustees from 1924 until his death in 1940. Goodrich was a fiscal conservative and the fact that Wabash was running a deficit bothered him greatly. In the middle of the Great Depression many things had been cut to the bone and still there was an operating deficit. Governor Goodrich told President Hopkins that if the college would balance its budget for three years running, he would fund a badly needed new building for the sciences.

The 1920’s had been good to Wabash…enrollment was up and the “Hell-roarin 500” as our student body was sometimes called, were full of spirit and optimistic. As the 20’s ended and our national economy went sour, many students had to leave college. There are those who never returned and there are those who, with great personal hardship and some clever financial assistance from Wabash, managed to make it through. It was a hard time in the history.

 

The Goodrich challenge was made at the height of the Great Depression, yet with extreme cost cutting measures, the goal was achieved. All maintenance was delayed. The buildings on campus were left unpainted and all other non-essential expenditures were put on hold. Dick Ristine used to say that the mall was cut once a summer, just before the students returned to campus in the fall, “whether it needed it or not!”  Even staff and faculty salaries were cut with the understanding that they would be restored as soon as practicable.

 

The new building for the sciences was a brilliant addition to the campus. Designed by the same architect as the Chapel, Goodrich made a truly lovely anchor for the southwest corner of the mall. In fact, that corner is still just brilliant. Truly these two buildings, Goodrich and the Chapel, are a great pair. How nice that they both still serve our college today!

Best,

Beth Swift

Archivist

Wabash College

Crawfordsville, IN


Sassafras, oh sassafras…


One of the most delightful outcomes of blogging is the chance that I get to hear from people when a story strikes a chord. It is doubly delightful when the blog prompts a story from them. This posting is just such a story.

To students of a certain era – just the mention of Elmore Day brings a wistful smile. The Bard of Alamo lives on in the hearts of many a Wabash man. In December we had a visit from one of these fellows and here is a link to that Elmore Day blog entry… http://blogs.wabash.edu/dear_old_wabash/2009/12/elmore_day_in_december.html

From time to time I have had the pleasure of corresponding via e-mail with former President Thaddeus Seymour. Just this week I received these gracious words…

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I really enjoy reading your blog and write to thank you for all those wonderful stories.  I will look forward to a visit sometime, because there are some gaps I may be able to fill in… And there are some Elmore stories….I hope that someday you will meet our wonderful Rollins Archivist, Wenxian Zhang… I have done a number of recording sessions with him…He posted my discussion of Fox Day (Elmore Day translated to Rollins) on-line.  You can read and listen to it.  I explained how the idea came with me from Wabash and even included a verse from Elmore in the Rollins proclamation:

http://tars.rollins.edu/olin/archives/oral_history/Seymour_Transcription.htm

I thought you might enjoy this pair of proclamations.  As you can see, Elmore lives at Rollins! The Elmore proclamation is from 1972, its first year.  The Fox Day is from 1979. Thad Seymour

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If you click on the link of the oral history you can hear Seymour recite this timeless Elmore poem…

“In the spring of the year, when the blood is too thick, there’s nothing so rare as a sassafras stick. It strengthens the liver and cleans up the heart, and to the whole system new life doth impart. Sassafras, oh sassafras, thou art the stuff for me! And in the spring I love to sing, sweet sassafras, of thee.”

Best,
Beth Swift
Archivist
Wabash College


A piece of the past

Here in the Archives we receive many donations – some are what might be expected – an old letter sweater or an old journal. Some of our donations are just plain odd – like the collection of bricks from Kingery Hall or the old ventilation grate from Center Hall. One of the odder pieces in our collection is the Halls Mentholyptus from Bryon Trippet’s commencement regalia. I found it when we pulled some of his things out for the dedication of Trippet Hall.

But sometimes the things we get are more like voices from the past.  This envelope is just such a piece.

A great deal of the business of the college is transacted via these inter-office correspondence envelopes. Jim Amidon brought this envelope over to the Archives because, despite its lowly function, it has captured a large piece of history.

The first name on the list is President Salter. Lew Salter was the 12th President of Wabash College. He served from 1978-1988. In 1988 Salter became the only Chancellor in Wabash history. That is the third entry on the envelope so we know that this envelope was in service during the year 1988-1989. When Lew Salter became Chancellor, Vic Powell stepped up into the presidency. We also see that entry – President Powell.

This envelope and hundreds like it fly around campus every day. It is not at all uncommon to see names of people who have left the college. Or in the case of President Salter who are no longer among the living. So as I look down the list, I see Don Dake who died just this week and Paul McKinney who died a few years ago.

When I encounter an envelope with such names, I do what Jim Amidon did, I stop to reflect a minute on the lives of those now gone. It was thoughtful of Jim to pass along this envelope as it is truly a snapshot of the past.It captures in just a few names, a huge piece of our history.

It will be saved as an artifact and will, someday, serve to tell a story about that time in the history of Wabash.

Thanks Jim!

Best,

Beth Swift

Archivist

Wabash College

Crawfordsville, IN


We like Ike!

If you are in the area this semester, you might want to stop by the Lilly Library and have a look at our exhibit on the Elston men. A trio of savvy businessmen the Elstons were instrumental in Crawfordsville’s strong economy. The Elston best known to Wabash is Isaac Compton Elston III – Ike.

Here is a great piece written by David Phillips as part of a Chapel Book project. David’s research is meticulous and his ability to summarize a life in a single page is truly remarkable. His pieces are chock full of interesting facts and thoughtful insights.  Enjoy!

Beth Swift Archivist, Wabash College

“I doubt that Wabash will ever have a more colorful trustee than I. C. Elston. Part buccaneer, part bon vivant, part gracious gentleman, Ike Elston from the 1920s until the early 1960s was a splash of color on the Wabash board. His service as a trustee was broken for a period when he resigned in the late Hopkins years, but his connection with Wabash was never broken.”

Byron K. Trippet, Wabash On My Mind

Born in Crawfordsville on November 13, 1873, Isaac Compton Elston, Jr. was a member of one of the town’s pioneering families. His grandfather, Major Isaac C. Elston, opened the first store and the first bank in Crawfordsville, served as the town’s first postmaster, built the first railroad in Indiana, served briefly as a Wabash College trustee, and built the house that is now the President’s official residence.

In 1888, aged fourteen, Elston enrolled in the Wabash College preparatory school, which he attended for two years. After a brief sojourn at Marietta College in Ohio, Elston returned to Crawfordsville, where he worked for the family bank.

After serving as an officer in the Spanish-American War, Elston moved to Ottumwa, Iowa, progressing from meter reader to president of several public utilities corporations.While in Iowa, he established a long-standing friendship with General Charles Dawes, later winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and Coolidge’s vice president from 1925 to 1929. In 1912 Elston moved to Chicago, where he made a fortune in investment banking.

In 1935 Elston returned to Crawfordsville and acquired the Elston Homestead, which had passed on to another branch of the family. Within a few years he assumed a major role in the family bank. Elston’s management style has been described as “powerful, constructive, and sometimes abrasive.” Former colleagues report: “He wanted his way, and he was usually right.” “By and large he was good for the bank. Scared the hell out of a lot of people.”

Elston served on the Wabash Board of Trustees from 1921 to 1939 and again from 1942 to 1962. Throughout this period he was a generous donor to the College, contributing more than $1.25 million, often for mundane but necessary projects. He also worked with Will Hays, Sr. to raise the funds for the building of this Chapel. Elston was active in alumni affairs, giving generously of both his time and money. He consistently avoided official recognition of his service to Wabash, turning down the offer of an honorary LL.D. degree in 1957.

During the 1920s Elston adopted an opulent lifestyle common to the super-rich of the period. And, after returning to Crawfordsville he became known for his lavish entertainments at the Elston Homestead. He was also a colorful raconteur, although some of his stories had to be taken with a grain of salt.

Elston died in Delray Beach, Florida on April 11, 1964. In a final act of generosity he bequeathed his Homestead to the College. Wabash Presidents have resided in the Elston Homestead since 1966. A posthumous portrait of Elston, painted by Lee Detchon (Class of 1923), was presented to the College in 1970 and now hangs in the Chapel.


Don’t walk here!

 

When the Lilly Library was new, and indeed until the remodeling of the 1990’s, one thing all Wabash men knew not to do was walk on the seal. It was just one of those traditions – like today’s young men who will not walk under the arch. This seal was right in the middle of the main floor. It was not to be walked on by a student. When the Library was remodeled in the 90’s a brass seal was installed in the entryway and the old seal was removed.

I am prompted to remember this seal because of the t-shirts we are working on for the Wedgeworth – Lilly Library Prize for research, scholarship or creative works. On the front of the t-shirt is the image of the gentleman in the library. One the back is this image…

This is actually a colorized photo of the seal in the Lilly Library from the brochure above. While the old seal is not under the carpet, generations of alums still remember exactly where not to walk…

Best,

Beth Swift

Archivist

Wabash College

Crawfordsville, IN

 

 


Historic Image

January at Wabash means many things – if you are a senior, it means you are studying for your senior comprehensive exams “comps”. If you have worked really hard and produced a scholarly product, then it might also mean that you are presenting at the “Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Work” later in the month. The Celebration, as we now call it, is the one day of the academic year that Wabash cancels classes.

The students dress up, present their works and then discuss them with dozens of members of the Wabash family. It is not uncommon to see students chatting with other students, then a member of the faculty, next a member of the board of trustees and then with a staff member. It is a delightful event, now in its tenth year. In the last few years, participants have received a t-shirt with the phrase “Wabash Always Cites” a play on the school motto, “Wabash Always Fights”. Right in the center of the shirt is a great image of a gentleman in a library. It fits perfectly with the Celebration which is held in Detchon Hall.

Many of you may know that Yandes Hall was the old library. It has a great set of windows that look into the Arboretum. Part of the reason that this image seems to suit our college so well is that it was drawn for Wabash at the turn of the last century. This drawing was used several times on the cover of the old Wabash Magazine, a student publication. When the library started to offer a t-shirt to all participants, I volunteered to create a design. This image seemed to be the perfect fit.

The young gentleman, as drawn, is hard at work in the library studying. Actually, with the exception of the wardrobe, as I look at the seniors here in the Library studying for comps, it seems that some things never change here at Old Wabash. The gentlemen are still hard at work in the library!

Best,

Beth Swift

Archivist

Wabash College

Crawfordsville, IN


The Flying Dean



Ehrensberger [W1929] at his desk at the University of Maryland in 1952

My family likes to tease me that I can connect Wabash men to anything, anywhere…While not exactly accurate, I am constantly surprised at the breadth of influence our alums have had and continue to have. So when my daughter called from Germany to say that she has enrolled in classes from the University of Maryland – I told her that she could do this because of the work of a Wabash man. She answered, “Of course, Mom!” Did I mention that my family hears this phrase a lot?

For decades hundreds of thousands of armed forces personnel and their families have been able to take college classes through the University of Maryland thanks to the vision and hard work of the man who came to be known as “the Flying Dean.” Ray Ehrensberger [W1929] was an incredibly gifted student who, like thousands of others before him, came to Wabash from Indianapolis. He pledged the Sigma Chi fraternity and again, like so many other Wabash students, Ray worked his way through college. In a pattern that would continue through his long life, he did what thousands of others have done – but in a totally different way. While most students found work around town, perhaps in restaurants, shops or doing odd jobs, Ray’s job was as a fireman on the Monon Railroad!

Ray made a big impression on campus and, although he studied history, it was in the Speech Department that Ray really soared. The Speech Department at Wabash in the 1920’s was headed by W. Norwood Brigance, a teacher of national repute. Ray came to be one of Briggie’s Boys, as the members of the speech and debate teams were known. As a junior in 1928 Ehrensberger won the state and the national oratorical contest.

Following graduation in 1929, Ray completed his master’s and doctorate degree and by 1932 he was the chair of the speech department at Franklin College.  A young man on his way up and in a big hurry. Ehrensberger went to the University of Maryland and just three years later was the chair of that speech department.  In 1950 Ray Ehrensberger was appointed the Director of the Overseas program.

While attending classes remotely is now so commonplace that a person can learn almost anywhere in the world this is a relatively new phenomenon. In 1950 soldiers who were stationed overseas were severely limited in their educational opportunities. It was through Ray’s work with the U of M that this changed. In a quote from the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame, “

He taught the University of Maryland’s first course offered on a military installation in 1946. He advanced to the position of Dean of the College of Special and Continuation Studies (CSCS) at the University of Maryland, recognized as a flagship institution in offering educational programs on military installations around the world.” He flew thousands of miles each year establishing classes and sites, attending graduations and organizing a worldwide program.

From a U of Maryland posting about Ray’s posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame,

“With his guidance, University of Maryland University College . . . became the first university to offer academic courses and degree programs taught on site at U.S. military bases abroad; the first to send its faculty to teach in a war zone (in Vietnam); and the first to confer bachelor’s degrees at U.S. military installations overseas. More than any other individual, Ray Ehrensberger was responsible for these remarkable developments and their success.”

This entry from the Wabash Magazine of 1970 gives us a better sense of the great work that Ray did over the course of a lifetime.

So when I hear my daughter tell me enthusiastically about the course offerings she has available in Germany, I smile and think what a great chance for her. As the Archivist of Wabash, I think of the hundreds of thousands of others who have benefited from this Wabash man’s pursuit of excellence and passion for education.

Best,
Beth Swift
Archivist
Wabash College

For more information on Ray’s great work, here are two links

http://www.halloffame.outreach.ou.edu/2004/Ehrensberger.html

http://www.umuc.edu/fyionline/may_04/fyionline8.html

 


 


Elmore Day in December?

Many alumni still remember Elmore Day as a warm, sunny golden day in the fall when all classes were canceled and students were free to wander Shades or Turkey Run state parks or to go canoeing. Some hardy folks would stay on campus and listen to readings from the works of the Bard of Alamo – James Buchanan Elmore.  I believe “Sassafras, oh, sassafras” was a favorite selection.

Tom Wilson [W1977] professor of law at  Indiana University School of Law contacted me a few weeks ago about donating some of the Bard’s works to the Archives. It seems that while on break from college, Tom learned that one of his parent’s neighbors was a relative of James B. Elmore. Tom screwed up  his courage and knocked on the door.  The visit went well and Tom purchased five books and several copies of a genealogy for only $10.

Tom came to campus Friday of last week, a bone chilling day with a cold wind. Yet as I watched Tom and listened to Professor Don Herring read from a couple of the books – it didn’t seem quite as cold…Watching these two good friends sharing a laugh was just a delight. The verses were flowing – never mind the weather, it was Elmore Day!

Photos by Kim Johnson of Wabash College

 

Among the items that Tom donated was a book published in 1959 by Elmore’s son, Albert, entitled Newspaper Clippings from James. B. Elmore’s Old Scrapbook. It is a fascinating collection of poems, newspaper stories and includes several pictures. In this book we are treated to story after story about the Bard of Alamo selling his books on the streets, lack of respect by the literati of the time, Elmore’s scorn for the poetry of “Jim Riley” – now revered as the poet Jame Whitcomb Riley. Really quite a little book. Tom’s gift will be kept safe here in the Archives and many thanks to him for thinking of the Archives. Who knew Elmore Day could happen in December?

Best,

Beth

 


The Great War

The Great War

Last time I wrote about peeking into the past, using old photographs to take us to places and times that we would never see any other way. This week, I feel a bit like I have had an overload of peeking into the past. We have so many amazing images here in the Archives that it really is impossible to see them all. There are, though, some sets that are just unforgettable. The World War I photographic scrapbook of Milo Bushong [W1915] is one of those unforgettable collections. The images are just incredible, but a warning that they are also, some of them, incredibly graphic.

Milo Bushong was a captain and a dental surgeon in the Great War, as seen in the second photograph which is labeled “France, 1917.” The album is quite a mix of pictures – most were taken by Bushong, some are clearly pictures of other pictures as we can see the pins in the wall. There is also a group of pictures of German Troops and military locations which appear to have been purchased as a set. and they all have white numerals on the image. The picture below is one of this set.

This photograph gives us quite a picture of life underground during the War. Among these images are other pictures of soldiers digging deep trenches, underground bunkers really, and reinforcing them with strong wooden posts. It is an engaging picture of life in a bunker.

In this photo of General Pershing taken by Bushong we see Pershing engaged in an intense conversation. What catches me about this picture is not the two men, but the children in the background listening and watching so very intently.

This collection has several pictures of airplanes, many on the ground, some shots taken from the air and a few, like this one, which show the fragility of these flying machines.

Tanks came to be a large part of the military arsenal during this war. Here we see two tanks zipping along while thousands of people crowd at the edges of the street. Unfortunately, these images are not labeled so we don’t know the back story of this shot.

While the weapons of war were making broad advances technologically speaking, medicine was still decades away from any antibiotics to save the lives of the wounded. The results were heavy casualties – so heavy among the English that the phrase “the lost generation” was used to describe those who died. The photo below is of an ambulance corps loading casualties.

In this next photo, we see two soldiers carefully working among the remains of dozens of soldiers. The man on the left appears to be checking for indentification while the soldier on the right is making notes for future reference. Behind these two men we see row upon row of crosses as the beginning of a military cemetery is taking shape. This photo shows the side of war that we rarely see.  The crosses have a voice all their own. In this powerful picture, we are reminded of the costs of war. It really is impossible to see this image and not think of all of the friends and families who never saw their soldier again.

This scrapbook is truly a window into a different time and place. Photographs of World War I are always disturbing. I wonder if part of my unease stems from the fact that as terrible as this war was, in less than 20 years Europe was again engulfed in war.  The next war was even bigger and many of the strategies and weapons that were so fearsome in WWII were introduced and perfected in this war. Called the “Great War” at the time, the seeds of destruction that grew into WWII were sown here on these battlefields. It would take another great war, a world war, to put an end to this European conflict.

Best,
Beth Swift
Archivist
Wabash College

Peeking into the past…

Last week I gave a presentation on the Elston family. It was a story of a family and of a town – our town of Crawfordsville. The Elstons had a huge influence on Crawfordsville and on the state of Indiana. The homeplace of the Elstons now serves as the home of the Wabash College president and has become a part of our college’s history. As the first brick house built in Crawfordsville, it was the home of one of the richest men in Indiana. The furnishings, draperies and rugs were imported from back east and New Orleans. It was evidently a sight to see – the young Lew Wallace crept up to the windows to see what a piano was and how it worked.

The house is now a lovely old home on East Pike Street with all of the modern amenities. When one enters the front door they gaze down the hall under the stairway. Here’s the thing though, we now enter the house from what was originally the back door. The photo above, taken in 1880 shows the home as it was originally. Atop a slight rise with a long walk from Main Street to its double doors. When a visitor in the 1800’s entered the Major’s home, the view was of the lovely staircase rising to the second floor. In 1910 two lots north of the homestead were sold and two houses were built on Main Street. Lovely old homes – twins except for their exteriors – one of stone and one of yellow brick – they feel today like they have always been there.  When this sale of lots occurred, the entrance to the home was switched from the north side of the home to the south side, or the current orientation.

One thing I have always wondered about the Elston Homestead is the current wrought iron front porch. Was that added later or was it original to the house? With this photo scanned and enlarged, I can see that in 1880 the entry had a wrought iron porch.

Looking at an image of the porch of today, this looks like either the same structure moved to this façade or a very good recreation of the original. We do know that the south side of the house had a different porch at one time as we can see in this photograph of Ike Elston coming out of the door on the south side.

So we can see that this porch was replaced with the one of today – which just might be the one of a hundred and fifty years ago. By having these old photos and using the zoom feature, I can really look very closely at these images. I hope that you enjoyed this little bit of trivia about the Elston Homestead. While it is a small thing really, it is a pretty clear example of what I mean when I say, “Peeking into the past.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best,
Beth Swift
Archivist
Wabash College



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