Pan-Hel Week

It is finally warm and sunny here on campus and it feels like spring. Along with spring comes Pan-Hel week. Wabash Pan-Hel has taken a variety of forms. For most of its history Pan-Hel meant a weekend of dances. In earlier times these dances and parties were heavily chaperoned.

This is a picture of a fraternity dance and I love this photo because it captures the zest for life and the youthful exuberance of Wabash men and their dates. Clearly the fellow at the front of the line is having a big time. He is high-stepping and looks like he is leading the group. The couple in the middle of the line seem to be so clearly taken with one another. And then there is the last young lady in the line. She is like the exclamation point of the photograph and part of what makes this image so compelling,

This picture is of the Kappa Sigma fraternity in 1900. At that time the fraternities were not residential, merely social. Each fraternity had a “hall” which occupied the top floor of a downtown building. They held their meetings there and all of them were large enough for dances. In Wabash College the First Hundred Years we learn that the pride of the fraternities was the smoothness of their dance floors. From that same source we also know the location of this photo. The Kappa Sigma fraternity occupied the top floor of the Music Hall which was known to later generations of Wabash men as the Strand Theater.

As the weather warms, the students gear up for the bed races of Pan-Hel and a block party on the mall this weekend. A different time and yet it is fun to look back at other eras.

Beth Swift

Three Years is a mighty long time…

After the initial rush of optimism at the beginning of the Civil War, it became clear that soldiers would be needed for longer than 90 days. The term of service became three years and, when facing death every day, three years was a mighty long time.

This Confederate money is from the scrapbook of Henry Campbell [W1871], a prep student here in the early 1860’s. His father, John Paxton Campbell, was a trustee of Wabash College for 18 years. The Campbell’s were a local merchant family and John was well known in town for his musical abilities. He played the trumpet with a group of young men who provided the music for many local festivities.

When Eli Lilly of Greencastle began recruiting for an artillery unit he was building he sent a man to Crawfordsville. Full of war fever, Campbell and a number of his friends enlisted. From the beginning of the diary, “Enrolled my name in the U.S. Volunteer Service, on the 12 day of July 1862. – Aged 16 – Samuel Hartman recruiting Officer. Enlisted as a private in the 18th Indiana Battery, Eli Lilly Captain. – Headquarters at Greencastle Indiana.”

It was during the physical that Henry’s youth was flagged as a limiting factor. He would have to go home while his friends went to war. In Campbell’s own words, “Battery organized and drilling. – Appointed 2d Bugler – a fellow named Anderson 1st. – Crawfordsville boys all tent together – 18 in one tent, weather hot, – Medical examination Aug 6 – all passed but myself – refused on account of my age, – too young. Thought I was gone sure – but Captain Lilly told the Dr. that I was intended for his bugler and that it was ‘essential to the interests of the service’  &c – that I should be retained – which was finally done.” A bugler was a non-combat position and that eliminated the age barrier. Campbell was in.

As did so many men, Henry decided that he would keep a diary of his experiences and was faithful in his entries. He titled the results Three Years in the Saddle. The reader follows this boy as he learns about life in the army and death on the battlefield. As a part of an artillery unit serving in the hills and mountains of east Tennessee, Campbell and his fellow soldiers struggle to haul the cannons up hills and down. The deprivations of an army on the march leave him oftentimes hungry and frequently cold. The reader learns a lot about these men in the 18th Indiana Artillery. The men included Captain Eli Lilly. We now know that Lilly returned from the Civil War and started a pharmaceutical company which is one of the largest in the world. We learn that Lilly was a man of clear vision and high principles who took young Campbell under his wing.

This artillery company becomes a part of Wilder’s Lightning Brigade, among the first units to mount their infantry and arm them with repeating rifles. The accounts of the first battles where the repeaters were used is just incredible. The battle maps that Campbell drew are also amazing.

This diary has been digitized and posted to a website. The project includes images of all of the pages, plus a searchable typescript. Here is the link:

I hope you find this reading as interesting as I did…

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Washington State and Wabash College

As Wabash Magazine debuts its Great Northwest issue, this blog will look at three other Wabash men and their substantial contributions to the history and culture of that area.

Charles Stewart Vorhees, born in nearby Covington, Indiana in 1853 attended Wabash from 1870-72 before heading out to the Washington Territory. He attained some prominence there and was elected as the Territorial Representative to the 49th and 50th Congresses of the United States. Vorhees served from 1885-1889 when he was defeated by another Wabash man…

John Beard Allen [W1865] was the son of a Crawfordsville doctor who had also attended Wabash. He attended for two years as a prep student and two years in the collegiate course before mustering into the Indiana Volunteer Infantry. After the war, he moved with his parents to Rochester, MN where he worked for a time and then read law. He studied the law briefly at Michigan State and was admitted to the bar in 1869. He moved to Olympia, Washington in 1870 where he began his practice in a “public reading room”. He must have been a talented fellow because it was reported in the papers that despite his youth and no real connections, his practice grew quickly. He was soon considered one of the “ablest lawyers in the Territory.”

In 1875, at the age of 30, Allen was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Territory by President Grant and served for ten years. He was also the Reporter for the Supreme Court of the Territory from 1878-1885. He was a Republican and served a brief stint as Representative to the 51st congress before being selected to serve as the new state’s Senator from 1889 to 1893. When the state legislature failed to appoint a new senator, the governor appointed Allen. After a lengthy fight, the senate refused to seat Allen and Washington was without one of its senators until 1895. When the Washington state legislature appointed Allen’s successor, oddly enough, it was another Wabash man and Crawfordsville native, John Lockwood Wilson.

John L. Wilson (pictured), born in 1850 and graduated from Wabash in 1874, was the son of James Wilson [W1842]. The father was a Mexican War veteran and a Republican who served two terms as a congressman from Indiana. After serving in the Civil War, James was appointed Minister to Venezuela, but died in Caracas in 1867.

Following his graduation in 1874 John Wilson went to Washington D.C. to study law and was admitted to the bar in 1878. He practiced in Lafayette, Indiana for two years, then returned to Crawfordsville. In 1880 he was elected as a representative to the Indiana legislature where he made a lasting friend in Benjamin Harrison. Through Harrison, young Wilson was appointed the Receiver of Public Money for parts of the Washington Territory.

Wilson settled in Colfax but later moved to Spokane Falls. When his term as Receiver expired in 1887, he stayed to practice law in Spokane. In 1889 he was elected the new state’s first Representative to the U.S. Congress. He resigned his house seat in 1895 to serve as Washington’s Senator, which post he held until 1899. When Wilson returned to Washington state, he became the owner and publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1899-1912. Wilson died in 1913 and is buried in Crawfordsville near his father.

As so many Wabash men have done since that time, these three alums sought and made their fortunes in the Great Northwest. The stories of Wabash men never cease to amaze me and I delight in sharing them with the world, or as the song says, “to spread the fame of her honored name…”

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Spring Classes

Nothing says spring like a class held outside. This image is of Don Baker and his class out in front of Center Hall on a beautiful day. It looks like this is a day fairly early in the spring. The trees are just coming into leaf and the blossoms on the trees are ready to open. This picture appeared in the 1965-66 yearbook.

This is just a great picture of a scene that has happened here hundreds (thousands?) of times and still happens from time to time. When a warm, sunny day tempts the prof. outside, it seems a little magical. A bit of a throwback to the ancient teaching ways. The learned elder shares the wisdom he has accumulated over a lifetime with the youth of the village. In this case the elder is Don Baker and the village is Wabash College. Don Baker was a poet and a highly regarded member of the English faculty at Wabash from 1953-1987.

Enjoy your spring!

Beth Swift
Wabash College

A new building for the sciences.

Goodrich Hall of Sciences

Now that I have my architectural history hat on my head…I came across these photos of the construction of Goodrich Hall. There are several small photos taken, I believe, by a student.

Here are some of the best:

This is a great picture of the area before Goodrich. It is also a nice look at the Armory when it was not quite 20 years old. The construction shed has arrived. The tidy little stacks along the walkway are evidence of another project in progress. At this same time, the path from the west to the east side of the mall was being bricked for the first time. Although it is hard to see in this small image, the sidewalk has been excavated in preparation. The installation of brick sidewalks and the brick walls between Goodrich and the Armory were a pet project of Trustee Ike Elston. He was really passionate about decent sidewalks on campus. He gave the money for the project and must have greatly enjoyed putting his rather permanent mark on the campus.

The foundation goes in and the scaffolding goes up.

This appears to be a cornerstone ceremony. Near the cornerstone is President Hopkins and beside him is Dean George Kendall. Among the three men at the left in the picture is the President of the Board of Trustees, James P. Goodrich, who gave the money to build this science building.

The view from the south as the building rises.

As seen from the front.

I should add that this picture includes both buildings on campus by architect Jens Frederick Larson. They have the same New England flavor. Many consider this the prettiest corner of campus. First the Chapel then Goodrich were designed for Wabash. Larson was an architect of note in New England and did a number of buildings for the Dartmouth campus. That Wabash would use the same architect that had done such good work at Dartmouth is not a coincidence.

Earlier I mentioned President Hopkins who was our president from 1926 to 1940. In one of those oddities of history, Dartmouth’s president at this time was also a Hopkins. Ernest Martin Hopkins, brother of our man, was the president of Dartmouth at this time. One can imagine the brothers chatting about their mutual building projects.

Larson did a campus plan for all of Wabash which included new dormitories, a massive renovation of Yandes that would create both a student union building and an expanded Library. Unfortunately, the Depression got in the way. All that was ever realized from these plans are these two lovely buildings.

And, as you might imagine, Goodrich was a marvelous addition to the campus.

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Sparks Center

I have been thinking about the Sparks Center a lot lately. But before it was the Sparks Center, it was the Campus Center. When it opened in 1954 the Campus Center offered bowling in what is now the Little Giant Room and pool tables in what is now the Bookstore. This cover from the Indianapolis Star Magazine is from October of 1954. President Frank Hugh Sparks is in the foreground chatting with a couple of students.

One of the most interesting bits of history connected to this building is its architect. Designed by Eric Gugler, a nationally prominent architect, the Campus Center made quite a splash among the students. Some students enjoyed the new luxuries but not everyone on campus appreciated the new building. Many students and some members of the faculty felt it was far too fancy for “Old Wabash”.

Gugler created a duplicate of this building for the United States WWII Memorial Cemetery in Italy. The memorial building does not have the mezzanine level, nor is it of brick. However, it does have the same number of pillars and the “look-through” feature of our Campus Center. Here is a photo of that building…

Gugler created much of the look of our campus today as the architect of the following buildings: Waugh Hall, Campus (Sparks) Center, Wolcott and Morris Dormitories, Lilly Library, parts of the Allen Center,  and Baxter Hall.

Gugler had many high profile architectural commissions. He designed the Teddy Roosevelt memorial, a 91 acre park on an island in the Potomac River, in Washington, D.C. He did a building for the New York World’s Fair of 1939. He was active in the earliest preservation efforts and was a founding member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Perhaps his crowning achievement was the rebuilding of the West Wing. From the White House Historical Association’s webpage:

“With the expansion of the staff in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt requested additional space, and the [west] wing was completely rebuilt under the eye of Eric Gugler. He built a second story, excavated a larger basement for staff and support services, and moved the oval office from the south to its present location in the southeast corner, adjacent to the Rose Garden. The wing, doubled in size, has not seen further exterior alterations except for a small porte cochere on the north side, constructed in 1969.”

Gugler’s papers are a part of the White House Collection and include, “… details on the 1934 West Wing expansion, landscape plans, collecting art for the West Wing under the Public Works Art Project, White House advisory committee work in the Red Room, Green Room, and Blue Room, designs of the Steinway grand piano, and the State Dining Room mantel inscription. These are supplemented by his memoir of these projects along with a few signed letters from President and Mrs. Roosevelt, memorandums, photographs, drawings, textile samples, and related newspaper clippings.” The papers are further described here, “The Gugler Papers illuminate a significant White House architectural project and offer insight into President and Mrs. Roosevelt’s involvement with White House spaces and environments.”

Gugler makes a fascinating, and direct, connection between Wabash and the West Wing.

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Wabash vs Notre Dame

Article by Dick Banta (W1926)

In 1905 Wa­bash beat Notre Dame on the University’s home field – an achievement which no team would repeat for twenty-four years.  The win was no fluke, no miracle… (Coach) Cayou’s boys demonstrated The Chief’s oft-repeated statement that ‘a real will to win cannot be denied.’ Besides the glory of having beaten Notre Dame on its home field (an achieve­ment highly regarded by all opponents before and since) Cayou’s Little Giants had another distinction.  If that was not the first football game to be broadcast in Indiana with visual effects to an absent audience, then some authority should come for­ward with irrefutable evidence to prove otherwise.

Due to a normal lack of funds among students, and of time among employed citizens, not everyone who wished to do so could make the trip to South Bend .  So some great mind, or some concert of great minds, went into action.  A cable was strung across a Crawfordsville street, from the top of the Traction Terminal to a similar height on a building opposite.  The cable was marked off to represent the yard lines on a football field, scaled down to fit the space.  A football, or a symbolic representation of one, was at­tached to a light trolley running on the cable and lines were extended from it to handlers at the opposite ends.  The trac­tion electric railway system had a free telephone line running to South Bend, and a local line was run from there to the Notre Dame field, where a spectator was prepared to give a play-by-play report of the game.  His comments were re­broadcast by megaphone off the Traction Terminal roof in Crawfordsville, and those handling the lines moved the football back and forth to follow the action ­of which there was plenty, including not only the Wabash winning touchdown but a successful second-half stand by Cayou’s boys on their own one-foot line.”

Beth Swift
Wabash College

Old Phi Delta Theta house

These two scans are of the old Phi Delta Theta house. The top image is the older of the two and really show the house as it was when it was a family home. The Goltras lived in this house and sold it to the fraternity in 1903. We can see the iron fence and the Victorian embellishments on the porches. Looking at the left of the picture we can also see a rather handsome home where the Kappa Sigma addition was built several decades later.

In the second picture we see how the home began to morph into the old Phi Delt House of more recent memory. The building is beginning to lose its fussiness and is becoming a simpler structure. The brick patio was added and we can assume that the students are now living here.

It was this house that was used as the College Infirmary in the influenza pandemic of 1918. The Phi Delts rented the house to the college for $624.86. It served many young men very well. In fact, no students died on campus as a result of this killer flu.

The only casualty was a young nurse, Miss Edith Newell. She had been nursing in Terre Haute when she contracted pneumonia. Miss Newell came home to rest and convelesce and was well, or so she thought. She responded to the call for nurses for the influenza students of Wabash. I suppose that today we might say that she had a compromised  immune system. At any rate, Edith Newell caught the flu and died at her parents home here in Crawfordsville.

All of these old houses have a million stories to tell and this is but one small story.The new houses are building their stories and adding them to those of the past. Yet another example of the many ways in which Wabash continues to grow and evolve over time.

Beth Swift

Senior Bench

This is a photo that I love to share whenever I can. This is the “Senior Bench”  as it is known on campus. It is really the Thomson Bench, a memorial to several members of the Thomson family who played major roles in the early history of Wabash.The Thomson Bench was dedicated in 1905 and almost immediately became the exclusive property of the Senior Class. It was a custom that, in a rather serious presentation, the Bench was transferred to the rising seniors at Class Day each year.

The three young men above are enjoying a sunny day on the east campus. This picture, like so many others here in the Archives, had no date or names associated with it. However, the magazine that the two men on the right are reading is so distinctive that I can say with certainty that this picture is from sometime after November 1916. That issue of the Wabash Magazine is the only one to carry such a cover.

This is a close-up of the end of the bench. I like both of these images because they show us what the Bench looked like before it was customary to paint it. That custom is now firmly established and the Bench is painted several times each year. It is not uncommon for the Bench to serve as a memorial to a lost member of the Wabash community. It was most recently painted for the passing of Bill Placher.

There are other times when the bench is painted, simply as an expression of something happening on campus. We have a great photo of the Bench decked out as a loaf of Wonder Bread, painted to note Elmore Day (a phenomenon worthy of its own posting) and this version, which reads, “Physics Comps Essay: Explain briefly, but in depth, God’s contribution to the creation of the Universe.”

A rather witty nod to a much dreaded, but unavoidable, rite of passage for all Wabash men, Senior Comprehensive Examinations.

The Senior Bench has been a witness and a participant in 104 years of student life. It is a lightning rod for student interaction and it is a blank canvas awaiting the next message…delivered in paint.

Beth Swift


This image is from an old postcard in our collection from the early 1900’s. The image was taken from the middle of Main Street, looking west. Crawfordsville was a vibrant town and the downtown was where nearly everything happened. The streets were lined with little shops, bakeries, stores and restaurants.The Post Office is just behind the photographer in this image. As you might imagine, the Post Office was truly a place to “see and be seen.”

The rails that run down the middle of the street belong to the Interurban which took passengers to and from Indianapolis several times a day. The very large building on the right is the Crawford Hotel which was torn down in the 1970’s. The Crawford was a luxury hotel where most of the guests of the College stayed while in town. It was also the site of many alumni banquets. That space is now a small park with a fountain.

When this picture was taken, the fraternities still had rooms in the upper floors of the downtown buildings and had yet to become residential. The downtown halls were primarily a social venue and the scene of many regular dances.

The building on the left near the camera is still of very great interest to our students today as that is the home of Little Mexico. A regular venue for faculty, staff and students, stop in any evening and you are likely to see several members of the Wabash family.

Beth Swift