Happy 110!

One of the coolest artifacts we have on display here in the Ramsay Archives at Wabash is this printing plate. Featuring a large photograph of Thomas Riley Marshall, this is the plate that printed the first ever issue of The Bachelor, the campus newspaper that is coming right up on its 110th anniversary. This issue was published on April 9, 1908 just as Marshall had captured the nomination of the Democratic party for Governor of Indiana. In the fall Marshall won the election and it was this victory that propelled him on to the national stage and into Woodrow Wilson’s administration.

Also mentioned on this inaugural front page was the competition to represent Wabash to the Rhodes Scholarship committee. Wabash had three men qualified, but the Rhodes people stated clearly that only one man could represent Wabash. A committee comprised of faculty members and delegates from the junior and senior classes at Wabash took a secret vote and chose Claude A. Pifer [W1907] as our applicant. By April 20th The Bachelor was reporting that Pifer had won the Cecil Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, beginning a rare new tradition at Wabash.

Here is the paper that was printed off of this plate.

In addition to the other items of news, the article in the right column is a report on the glee club spring tour of nearby Indiana towns. Reading these reports, one gets the idea that the tours were more exciting than it would appear from the destinations – Noblesville and Anderson are not far and certainly not exotic destinations. Still, there were hotels, friends of the college, alumni and, perhaps best of all to the glee guys, pretty girls in each town. The reports of these tours always include notes of a young man who “lost his  heart” while on tour.

The back pages of this paper are filled with advertisements for local stores, restaurants and services. The Bachelor started off on a strong footing which included significant support from local businesses and alumni. This first issue contained a call to all students to bring forth their news, write for the paper or simply to talk it up so that others would support it.

And 110 years later, the paper is still doing just what it did in the beginning. It highlights the accomplishments of Wabash men, current and past. It reports on immersion trips – large and small. It delivers sports coverage and editorial content in a timely manner.

So here’s to The Bachelor and another 110 years of documenting the life of this college and the lives of her faculty, staff and students.

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Our very first archivist

Our first Archivist – Edmund O. Hovey!

Well, that is what we might call him today. But in 1832 he was a jack of all trades – minister, science faculty, the Advancement department, building and grounds manager and, in his spare time he preserved the earliest bits of Wabash history. Today you can see his archives and read all about the struggles involved in starting a college in the wilderness. And it all comes to your device wherever you are thanks to Lilly library Cataloger Brian McCafferty.  Hovey’s letters and his even more amazing scrapbook are now online and searchable.

From this beautiful old letter from Williamson Dunn to James Thomson of November 12, 1832 we get the following, “If you should determine to procede [sic] in this project either on the Manual Labor plan or otherwise whenever you wish to erect buildings you may consider me bound to make a deed to two acres of land for a site at or about the place you and myself were examining when there last…”

This letter may be seen at the link above along with loads of other letters detailing the trials and tribulations in the pioneer days of Indiana. Fundraising in the east, reaching the “point of desperation” and triumphing over illness, the death of friends and colleagues and even watching your college catch fire and burn. All these and more are contained in the Hovey Letters collection.

The Hovey Scrapbook is an additional digital project, which may be found here:

This page contains Hovey’s notes on the first meeting where the idea of a college in the Wabash Country was widely agreed upon and the donation of land from Williamson Dunn sealed the deal.

These two projects contain within them the Archives of Wabash College from its founding until Hovey’s death in the 1870s. A real look at events that often feel more like myth. The founding of a college in what was still the wilderness was a brave, bold move and nearly 190 years later, it is still going strong. I think the founders would be pleased to see what became of their humble start.

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College


Christmas greetings from Don Cole

As the days shorten and the end of the year draws closer, I love to celebrate the holidays to chase away the gloom. So for this month’s post, here is a little gem of a cartoon as drawn by Wabash’s own Don Cole [W1952] for Christmas.

An amazing artist, Cole is credited with creating Wally Wabash, the original. For more on this talented alumnus, go to this link:


Happy Holidays from all of us here in the Archives!

Beth Swift

Archivist of the College

Crawfordsville, IN


When the calendar turns to November, our thoughts turn to the most important game of the year. No, not a big playoff game…even bigger! As coaches discover with Wabash football, there are two seasons and the second season is only one game long.  Yes, that’s right it’s time once again for the Monon Bell game!

This rivalry is strong and each year it seems to grow just a little bit more. Let’s look at some past imagery and get ready for THE BELL GAME!

The headline above is from the November 18, 1932 Bachelor. This was the first year that the Monon Bell was the trophy to the winner of the rivalry. Disappointingly, the game ended in a tie. But  here is the article about the bell and its new life as a coveted trophy.


This headline, all in red, is from 1951 and states the mission pretty clearly.

Get that Tiger

Keep that Bell

Beat DePauw


What a great cover for the game of 1954, played at home.

Looks like we won in 1984! I love the enthusiasm of these students, this was a very happy day for Wabash.

And on that upbeat note, let’s  will close with that famous old saying…

DePauw to H##L



Go Wabash!

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Homecoming – a time to reflect

The cover of the Caveman of November, 1927.

Homecoming has such a nice ring to it. It is a coming home, it is a return to a place of connection, it also offers a reason to reflect. Homecoming at Wabash College is this and more, it is a chance to celebrate with those who were here and have left. As alums and their families return, the stories they tell of their time at Wabash gives our current students a look into the past at a very different Wabash. A Wabash where Chapel attendance was mandatory, where Saturday classes loomed over Friday night fun. A simpler place where, as our friend Dick Ristine used to say, “They mowed the grass twice a summer, whether it needed it or not.” It was a different Wabash and a different time, let’s have a look at some homecoming celebrations of the past.

From The Bachelor of September 28, 1912.

This 1912 article was the first call for a proper homecoming celebration. The idea was to personally invite all the former “W” men back to campus for the football game and a banquet. The “W” men were simply what we would today call lettermen, or those athletes who had earned a letter in a sport.

1912 football team, as coached by Jesse Harper, innovator of the forward pass.

A homecoming parade from the fall of 1923 on Wabash Avenue as it approaches the Grant Street corner.

A big feature of homecoming in the early 20th century was the homecoming parade. College parades were a treat for both the students and the town, which was probably a good thing as by the time homecoming was over, there would have been some in town who were less than pleased with the students. Take a look at this next picture to see why this might have been the case.

This bonfire was built by the class of 1925 in their freshman year.

Each year the freshmen would wander out into the town and gather any old thing they could find that might burn. All of these bits and pieces were stacked high for a bonfire on Friday night before the game. Here are a few more spectacular bonfire pictures.

The bonfire of 1939.


This photograph gives us a closeup view of the contents of the pile. Odd bits of lumber, packing crates, fruit baskets, old tables and the traditional topper – an old outhouse. Always an old outhouse! While we of the future would like to think that all of this junk was donated – a sort of a wooden equivalent of our modern toxaway day – it was almost certainly not true! Freshman would prowl the alleys of town looking for any old thing that might burn and helping themselves.  However this little nugget from The Bachelor of  November 3, 1922 tells us a bit more about the restitution which was required, “In years past it has been customary for the freshmen, in their determination to provide a record-breaking bon-fire, to make away with those old-fashioned shanties which furnished the inspiration for one of Riley’s unprinted poems. In doing this, they frequently were not very particular whose they took. Each time, however, that they have got away with them, they were required to settle with a nice sum of money. It is well to warn freshmen that Chapel collections become monotonous, and that it is better to spend the money in helping to pay for band uniforms.”

Freshmen gathering wood in the early 1920’s.

This photo shows a later tradition where the freshmen were required to wear their pajamas, chant around a bonfire and attend a pep rally at the courthouse in downtown Crawfordsville.

Here are some great shots of that.



At the courthouse for the pep rally.




Chapel Sing is a long lasting tradition that has changed over the decades, here is a quick look at Chapel Sing in the early part of the 20th century.

The front page of The Bachelor for October 24, 1947.


Chapel Sing of 1938


And what would homecoming be without decorations? Here are a few really good ones…

The old Delt house, across Wabash from the Beta house.

Another clever entry, this one from the Kappa Sigs, the opponent was Butler.


The Phi Delta Theta entry of 1941 was a real show stopper!

And one of the earliest efforts…

The Phi Gamma Delta house of 1922 all dressed for homecoming.


In 1922 the homecoming opponents were the Michigan State Aggies, in just three years they became the Spartans.

Here are a couple of great old pictures from the early 1920’s. Spirits were high and in the first picture below we can see the band doing its part to add to the festivities.

Homecoming parade from the early 1920s.


The same parade seen here on East Main in downtown.

To close this Homecoming hoopla, here are a few great invitations, inviting everyone back to campus. Homecoming is a great tradition and one we embrace with whole hearted gusto!

1968 invitation featuring Forest Hall.


The 1969 invite which was a clever tri-fold design.


1988 invitation – do you recognize any faces?


And look at the poster above advertising Homecoming of 1937, the opponent was DePauw.


1991 edition featuring the Pioneer Chapel, just waiting for the guests to fill it.


1971 version featured good old Wally Wabash as drawn by Don Cole.

Here are two links about Don’s work, both while a student and then afterward as he served in the Army.


I hope you have enjoyed these views of Homecoming over the decades. It is a great tradition and a nice time to welcome back members of the Wabash family.

What else can we say? Oh, I know!


All best, 

Beth Swift


Wabash College


COMMENT from David Morgan – Director of Campus Service here at Wabash regarding the man sweeping the Chapel floor:

I was immediately caught because I knew I had seen this gentleman in other photos, but I did not know who he was.
We still have a few 30+ year people around.  This is Montgomery “Mont” Starnes.
He was born on 11/11/1918. He attended school in Waveland and continued to live there as an adult. He was a WWII veteran of the Army Air Corps where he was an airplane mechanic. His father (Vernon Starnes) had a blacksmith shop in Waveland. He began work at Wabash in June of 1969. His son, Chet Starnes, also worked at Wabash in Campus Services. His grandson Dustin attended Wabash for a short time.
Mont retired from Wabash in 1984. He passed away in 2014.

A Man and his Mandolin

Paul T. Hurt [W1909] served as the Director of the Glee Club in his senior year.

One of the many duties of an archivist is is the creation of historical exhibits. Each semester a new one is needed. I usually try to tie them to upcoming campus happenings or historical events on campus. This semester the exhibit is about the glee club, ahead of the club’s reunion this fall. Among the greatest pieces in our archive is an instrument from the era when the biggest musical organization at Wabash was the glee and mandolin club.

Mandolin donated by the daughter of Paul T. Hurt [W1909]

To learn more about the man, I turned to the Wabash Magazine of 1909. It was a tradition that each member of the graduating class had a profile created for them in the Senior issue of the magazine. From Hurt’s profile, which was not written by him, we learn several things. His nickname was “Doc” perhaps due to his wish to follow in his father’s shoes. The profile notes that he planned to attend medical school following graduation. Hurt was also athletic and won his baseball “W” when a sophomore. This is an indication of his prowess on the diamond in only his second year. As to his musical life, from the profile, “He is an exceedingly musical fellow and made a reputation over the state as the famous glee club man. He has been a member of the Glee and Mandolin Clubs and the Glee Club Quartette [sic] for the last three years, and was the director of the Glee Club during the past year. On the trips the girls were enraptured by his beautiful countenance and Apollo-like form. Still he has maintained a quiet dignity through it all…”


That is really quite a write-up!


After he left Wabash, Hurt studied medicine and became a surgeon in Indianapolis. Still, he always kept a special place in his life for Old Wabash. He led a life of quiet dignity, one of service to his community and loyalty to his alma mater. As a measure of his devotion, the family established an award in his name, the Paul T. Hurt Award for Freshman Achievement, first given in 1950. The list of award winners reads like a Who’s Who of Wabash men and is still offered today.

The mandolin in our display is the same at that pictured above in the Glee and Mandolin Club photo of 1908. Here is a closeup of Hurt and his instrument.


This beautiful instrument was given to the College nearly a hundred years later, in 1994, by Hurt’s daughter, Nancy Hurt Diener. This is the description of it, “Pear shaped body with light ribbing on bottom; raised wood decoration at bottom of mandolin; lower body is dark wood, upper body of light wood with inlay around edges and in center; neck and peg board are made of light wood on underside, dark wood on top; “3” on underside of neck.  Dimensions: 25 1/4″ x 7 3/4″ (widest part of body).” As it is so distinctive, there really is no question that we have the same instrument.

You may have noticed the handwritten score of “Old Wabash” for the mandolin in the picture of the exhibit above. Here is a closer look.


As to Hurt and his mandolin, we have no idea if he kept playing it, but we do know that he treasured it enough to keep it with him and pass it along to his daughter. We also know that she valued it highly and sent it to Wabash for safekeeping, which we have done and will continue to do. It is such a pleasure finding these little threads in the rich tapestry that is Wabash. President Trippet coined this metaphor and I agree that it is a complex and beautiful weaving. So many threads and so many great stories to share!

All best,


Beth Swift – Archivist

Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana




Funkhouser – a jokester AND an academic

The college bell in Center Hall. The clapper was highly prized, the bottom of this clapper has been painted by a prankster. 

For nearly 150 years the Center Hall bell called the men of Wabash. The bell called them to class and it called them to Chapel, as it does yet today. The bell rang in celebration at the end of the Civil War and rang in mourning at the death of a member of the Wabash family. With such a high profile, it is not surprising that the bell has also been at the center of a great many student pranks. One of the most common was to snatch the clapper.

Funkhouser is pictured on the right. In the background we see the spire of the Center Church at the corner of Wabash Avenue and South Washington Street.

In the photo you can see these two students proudly displaying their prize. There was one student so noted for this feat that it was said of him that at any given time he had at least two clappers in his trunk. William Delbert Funkhouser (W1905, pictured at right) was a lively student and Athletic Association Yell Leader in 1902.  Smart as a whip, this scamp went on to become the beloved Chair of the Zoology Department and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Kentucky.

The Funkhouser building located on Funkhouser Drive is home to the registrar’s office and student services. Named for our man, the building is a tribute to his immense impact on generations of students. He was as passionate about teaching as he was about pranks and often combined them. A graduate of UK once told me a story about Funkhouser teaching a zoology class. He was explaining the characteristics of a rather nasty snake and would then pull that very snake out of his shirt where it had been coiled around his middle since the start of class. Needless to say, he made quite an impression. Indeed, as I look out over the history of this place I see that the men of Wabash are a spirited bunch, and Funkhouser was no exception.

All best, 

Beth Swift


Wabash College

100 years of service for the Armory and Gymnasium 1917-2017

Architect’s drawing of the new gymnasium at Wabash. Note the two gentlemen in front. The man on the right bears a strong resemblance to our President Mackintosh.

This post is the story of the building we know as the Armory/Chadwick Court. The drawing above was the second and final proposal for the new gymnasium built as America entered the Great War in the late 19 teens.

This picture is of the Polytechnic building which was built to house the military training and civil engineering programs of the 1870’s. As those programs were phased out, it became instead the Hovey Museum. The museum was later emptied of its biological treasures and used variously as storage, track training space, and for student organized events. One look at those menacing poles on the side shows the dangers in using this space for fast paced basketball games. The bottom line was that this building had outlived its usefulness and a newer, more multipurpose space was needed.

From the student magazine The Wabash of 1913 comes a listing of the items felt necessary in a new gym. The list of necessities begins with basketball, as the writer states,

     Basketball is one of the leading sports at Wabash; but, at present, the college is not certain that it can be represented by a team this year, because it is not sure of a floor on which to practice. Of late years the team has been handicapped because if was not able to obtain a floor as often as was desired and several conference colleges have refused to send their teams here because Wabash does not have a court of regulation size.

     The main floor of this new edifice should be large enough for at least two courts of the proper size…Underneath the main floor there should be room for a good sized swimming pool, locker space for a least five hundred men, and showers to accommodate, without delay, students who have been exercising.

     There should be a baseball cage on dirt, track facilities for the runners, a place for pole vaulting, putting the shot, high and broad jumping, and the other events of the track….There is also need of wrestling, boxing and fencing rooms, bowling alleys, and a dressing room for visiting teams.

In addition to these items, it was noted that this building, “…would also provide a large and suitable hall in which the exercises of commencement and the alumni dinner could be held.”

The calls from the student body were not new, but they were gaining in number and supported by the alumni who, like the students, were not fond of “the old barn” as the Polytechnic gymnasium was known on campus. The movement grew and the decision was made to raise the funds to create this new building on campus. This small article from The Bachelor notes that this report is tentative, from a “semi-reliable source.”

This snippet from Wabash College the First 100 Years  fills out the report above.

“The decision to raise at least $75,000 to build a new gymnasium was made at the June meeting of the Board of Trustees in 1914. A committee of five was appointed to direct the campaign, the annual alumni banquet was wildly enthusiastic, and telegrams were received from the scattered alumni associations promising their support. All the signs were auspicious. But over in Europe late in that same month a Serb shot the Archduke Ferdinand; and a long delay in carrying through the gymnasium project at Wabash was one of the incidental results of his act.”

Next time we’ll learn more about the construction, the architect and why we have a building called the Armory. Until then,

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College



1898 Viewbook of Wabash College [Part II]

In the previous post we saw images from the 1898 Viewbook of Wabash College. In this posting, we will look at a second set of images from that same publication. Let’s start with the fraternities that were active in 1898.

The photo on the lower left is the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and among these 11 young men, one is of particular interest to any member of the Wabash family. The rather serious young man at the right end of the first row is Carroll Ragan, who wrote the music for “Dear Old Wabash” the song we still sing with such gusto over a hundred years later.

And here are the Phi Delts and the Kappa Sigs of 1898. In the photo at the bottom left there is one young man who will go on to command great power and world wide fame – in the back row, second from the left is Will H. Hays – who would become the Chairman of the National Republican Party, push hard for a woman’s right to vote, serve as Postmaster of the U.S. before leaving to head the Motion Picture Producers and Directors Association, otherwise known as the Hays Office.

Also important to remember is that these fraternities were not yet residential. They met in various second floor spaces in downtown buildings. Wabash College The First Hundred Years tells us that it would be a few years yet [1902] before the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity acquired the first home for its members. The Phi Delts got their “new” old house the next fall, 1903. It would be three years before the other fraternities, noting the success that the two residential fraternities were having in recruiting, joined the movement and secured houses as well.

At this time on campus, one of the bigger clubs was the Glee and Mandolin Club pictured below in 1898. Circled in red is another picture of Carroll Ragan. The Glee Club would go on tour, visiting several towns in the area where they were often quite a hit. Sometimes a few just barely making the train out of town as they were delayed due to flirting with the young ladies.

Atop all of this student hubbub, then as now, was the Faculty of Wabash.

Sixteen members in all – some whose names we still remember. At the far left in the second row is Professor Kingery, remembered by most for the building which carried his name for the next 100 years. John Lyle Campbell, front row, second from the left was an alum of Wabash who returned to teach and garnered great fame for the College. He worked professionally in the summer as a surveyor and engineer. The highest profile position he held was as secretary charged with the management of the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition. Third from the left on the front row is Mason B. Thomas, “The Maker of Men” whose students helped raise the money to build and furnish the Thomas Laboratories in his honor. And tallest of all is Daniel Dickey Hains on the back row who taught Greek. Also an alumnus, for years at Commencement his classes presented classic Greek theater in the east campus, where Martindale Hall was built.

This faculty was blessed with a tremendous talent for teaching and, for many there was also a long association with Wabash. These teachers brought Wabash into the 20th century, not without growing pains in a landscape transformed by the rise of the public high school and increasingly influence of the state universities.

The building above is the Hovey Museum – originally built as the Polytechnic Gymnasium to house the military readiness and engineering program. With an instructor funded by the government, this program began after the Civil War. Students were taught to march in formation, the finer points of artillery fire, civil engineering and forced into a physical fitness regime. The obvious need for such a program faded and along with it student interest in marching and pulling the cannons. For years this building sat, mostly empty. In the 1880’s a young professor with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, John Merle Coulter, transformed it into the Hovey Museum. The re-purposed building was named for our first professor in the sciences, Edmund O. Hovey.  The  collections, both purchased and donated, were overflowing their rooms in Center Hall. A portion of the Hovey Collection may be seen in the photo page below. The cabinets were full of specimens for studying zoology and botany. The second picture in the trio is of the labs in the second floor used for dissection and hands-on work, while the third picture is of the lecture room.



This next set of three pictures finishes the look at the facilities of the Hovey Museum. The first photograph is a special research area and library for the higher level students. The second picture is of the office and laboratory of Mason B. Thomas, equipped with all of the latest equipment. At the bottom is the greenhouse which was attached to the Museum on the western side. This building was demolished to build the Armory and Gymnasium. The collections were moved to South Hall and decades later dispersed all over the country while the greenhouse was moved to South Hall as well.


That is Wabash as it presented itself in 1898. From the oldest to the newest buildings, including student activities like the fraternities, sports teams and glee club. A very different time and place and yet, in a lot of ways, much is the same. The enthusiasm of our students, the care and teaching of our faculty, a commitment to modern science facilities, all of these are still here today. A part of our history that connects the past to the future.

All best, 

Beth Swift


Wabash College




1898 Viewbook of Wabash College

Welcome to Wabash College!

This picture is one of several that were taken in the late 1890’s and used for a promotional piece advertising Wabash College. As we look at this picture, let’s start at the far right with the brand new Yandes Library [which was expanded and renamed Detchon roughly 100 years later. The next thing we see is the smoke stack for the powerhouse. That structure was located about where our Mall flag pole is today. Moving left is Peck Hall of Science home to Chemistry and Physics. It was demolished to build Waugh Hall, which was demolished to build Hays Hall. Here is a photograph of Peck Hall.

This is a look inside Peck Hall at the Chemistry Department in the 1890’s. And below is the Physics Department.

The next series of pictures are of Center Hall. One item to note in the image below is the water fountain – mostly forgotten now and located on the west side of the Chapel as a planter.

Here are four different classrooms in Center Hall. You may note the Mathematical classroom has tri-pods at the front. There was a time when engineering was a major part of the curriculum.

This next set of images are also Center Hall – the Scriptorium and the Y.M.C.A. room are on the third floor and the College Chapel is the entire second floor of the north wing. Today that space is occupied by Religion and Philosophy faculty and the Tuttle Chapel.

In my next post we will have a look at the Biological Department, a few fraternities and the faculty of the time.

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College