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One-Room School book

One Room Ungraded Schools, Knox County, IL

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            The Kindergarten Normal, beautifully situated on Tompkins Street, opposite the City Park, is one of the educational institutions of which Galesburg is justly proud.  It embodies the motive, spirit and life of its founder and present principal, Miss M. Evelyn Strong.  Before undertaking this work Miss Strong completed a thorough course in kindergarten methods.

            In 1879 she opened a private kindergarten in her own home, five pupils having been secured.  The growth of the school was slow, the enrollment not exceeding twelve at any time during the first six years.

            As the nature and character of the work became understood, it became appreciated and its patronage steadily increased.  Teachers soon began to apply for instruction in Froebel’s methods.  From this sprang the regular Normal Department, which was formally organized in September 1886, and from which a large class graduates annually.  The present enrollment in the various departments, including the weekly classes, exceeds two hundred.

            The distinguishing and successful feature of the Normal Department is that teachers are not only trained to be kindergartners, but are also thoroughly prepared to adapt Froebel’s principles to public school work.

            The Free Kindergarten of the city is a branch of this school, and in it each student is required to do a part of her practice work.

            In 1895 the school was partially destroyed by fire, and in rebuilding was much enlarged and well equipped with all modern improvements.

            This institution has a marked influence upon the educational thought of the community.  It stands for Christian education, Bible study and that obedience to law which makes the true citizen.


            Upon invitation of Miss M. Evelyn Strong a number of ladies met in September 1890 at the Kindergarten Normal to discuss a plan for benefiting the poor children of Galesburg by affording them, gratuitously, a similar course of instruction.  Mrs. Mary Claycomb Grubb was chosen temporary chairman, and a committee on permanent organization was appointed.  At a later meeting a constitution and by-laws were adopted, and the following officers elected; President, Mrs. M. C. Grubb; Secretary, Mrs. Helena Crummett Lee; Treasurer, Mrs. J.C. Fahnstock.  The organization was named the Galesburg Free Kindergarten Association, its object, as stated in the preamble to its constitution, being “to maintain one or more free kindergartens in Galesburg”.

            The kindergarten was opened October 6, 1890 in two rooms in the city office building, with twenty-four scholars and two teachers, Miss Mary Hazzard and Miss Mary Owen.  In September 1896, Miss Owen was succeeded by Miss Emma Chase of Binghamton, New York.

            Increased city business causing a demand for the rooms occupied by the school in July 1893, the Association bought the Central Hotel from G.N. Hamilton, and the council granted a lease of an adjacent lot owned by the municipality, the hotel being removed thither.  The site thus obtained has been the permanent home of the school.

            From this small beginning, the result of determination and well directed effort, the work has grown until the Free Kindergarten has become one of the established institutions of Galesburg.  Since December 1893, the sessions have been held during the entire day.  Since February 1893, the rooms have been opened one evening each week to the parents and friends of the children.  Homeless little ones find a shelter here until homes can be found for them.  Yet this branch of the work is as yet in its incipiency, owing to a lack of room and means.

            In April 1896, the Association was incorporated, the incorporators being Mrs. M.C. Grubb, Mrs. J.E. Chase, and Miss Bell Beatty.  Since then the scope of the work has been gradually enlarged, until the original nucleus has become a sort of center for all associated charities, and is the fountain head of rescue and relief work of all kinds in Galesburg.

            The daily attendance at the school averages about thirty-five.  In 1896 four hundred calls were made by visitors, and about two hundred and fifty families were given substantial aid.



By F. D. Thomson

            For many years, the only public schools in Galesburg were those maintained by the districts.  Elementary instruction was, for the most part, obtained at private institutions and at Knox Academy.  The school taught by Professor Losey and Miss Gay, at Log City, was the first of any kind.  In November or December, 1838, the Academy was opened.  It was a one-story building, and stood on the northeast corner of Main and Cherry streets.  A second story was soon added, and William Van Meter was employed by a few citizens, at their own expense, to teach here.  In 1839 C. S. Colton built a small school house on the northeast corner of the public square, with inclined aisles, after the fashion of modern audience rooms.  It was soon moved to the north side of Ferris Street, between Broad and Cherry streets.  Eli Farnham was the first teacher.  There were two terms, of six months each, in the school year.  This was the first public school building, properly so called, and later a building owned by Matthew Chambers, at No. 1 Main Street, on the northeast corner of Henderson, was devoted to the same purpose.  The third building of this class was constructed of brick, and stood on Pine Street, just south of Main.  The fourth was situated on Brooks Street, near the Monmouth Road.  The fifth was just north of the present Seventh Ward school site.  This was soon replaced by a second building, erected on the same lot.  The sixth was on the north side of Simmons Street, a half block east of Hope Cemetery.  The seventh stood on the corner of Kellogg and Losey streets.  These were all the school houses, but there were eight districts, each with its separate Board of Directors.  There was no co-operation, and the teaching was poor; so poor, in fact, that the best people sent their children to the Academy or to private schools, the best patronized among the latter being that of Miss Kitty Watson.  It stood in the middle of Block 12, and the building which it occupied may still be seen.

            In 1855 George Churchill returned from Europe, where he had studied the Prussian school system, which he greatly admired.  Through the columns of the “Galesburg Democrat” he urged the importance of “graded union schools” for the eight hundred school children then in Galesburg.  Two years later, W.S. Baker, who enjoyed a wide reputation as a successful school organizer, was induced in consideration of the payment of one hundred dollars, to aid in organizing the public schools.  Mr. Baker made his home with Dr. Churchill, who, in addition to this contribution to the cause, donated one-half of the hundred dollars paid him.  But the plan was new and excited much opposition, even among the trustees, some of whom feared that better public schools would ruin the Academy.  But the champions of reform won, by force of argument, aided by persistence.

            Late in 1858, the eight old districts were consolidated into one, and George Churchill, A.B. Campbell, and J.H. Knapp were elected directors, and given power to grade the schools.  For some time, they encountered no little opposition in their efforts to introduce a uniform system of instruction.  They rented from C. S. Colton a building on the west side of the public square, just north of Main Street, and also secured the old post office building on Broad Street and the square.  Here was the first Grammar School; where instruction was given in the two highest grades of the five which were at first established.  Pupils in the three lower grades attended the outlying schools.  Mrs. G. A. Tryon, who had taught in graded schools in Ohio, was made the first Principal.  She gave up one of the best private schools in the city in order to aid the Directors in their work.  In January 1860, Mrs. Tryon was forced by illness to resign, and was succeeded by J.H. Knapp during the remainder of the year.  He was followed by R.B Guild, who was Superintendent for two years.  J.B. Roberts, appointed in September 1862, remained till M. Andrews was appointed in September 1875.  He held the office for ten years, W.L. Steele, the present incumbent, being appointed in September 1885.

            In 1858, at a citizen’s meeting held in the First Congregational Church, a committee of fifteen, of which George Churchill was chairman, was appointed to take some action looking toward the establishment of a free graded school system.  They engaged Judge Lanphere and O.S. Pitcher to draft an act for the accomplishment of this end.  It was passed by the Legislature February 18, 1859, but not accepted by the city until 1861, when a Board of Education, composed of one member from each ward, was elected.  Previous to that time, the three Directors had had executive control.

            It was during the superintendency of Mr. Guild that the present general system of management was inaugurated, but the schools were slow in reaching their present state of development.  The first Superintendent’s report was made for the year ending June 1865.  There were then seven grades and a two-year High School course.  (At present there are eight grades and a three-year High School course).  In this report is a strong plea for a Teachers’ Training School, which followed just twenty-three years later, Miss Lillian Taylor being the instructor.  Much good has been done, and more is hoped for, from this systematic training.  At present, nearly all the teachers have received a collegiate training; and the exercise of the utmost care in their selection has, more than anything else, improved the schools.

            The greatest advance in educational methods has been made in the last ten years.  In 1887, manual training was introduced into the curriculum, the shops being located in the basement of the Churchill School, and the director of instruction being Earl Stilson.  At present, Mr. G.H. Bridge is the director and the instruction is given in the basement of the High School building.  Many of the pupils become skilled mechanics.  The study of music was introduced in 1888; of drawing, in 1891; and of vertical writing in 1896.  Text-books have grown better from year to year; kindergarten methods have been adopted in all lines of work; and the teacher has become not the terror, but the friend of the pupil.

            Prior to 1893, pupils in the five lower grades received instruction in the ward schools, while those in the three higher grades attended a central “Grammar School”.  At first this was necessary, in order to bind the separated district schools in one homogeneous system.  There has been some disposition, however, to build small school houses in the outlying wards; and this has been fostered by owners of real estate in those sections of the city, who see in their erection the enhancement of the value of their property.  In these small schools, there are not a sufficient number of pupils to permit each teacher to instruct in one grade only; two, or even three, being taught in a single room, to manifest disadvantage of the pupils.  On the other hand, the schools in the center of the city have become congested.  The present plan is to build large ward schools, and in them prepare the pupils for the High School.  Only the Hitchcock, the Weston, and the Bateman schools are large enough for this, the first having been enlarged in 1893, the second in 1895, and the third in 1899.  From other wards, the pupils come to the Churchill school—the ward school for the First and Second wards—for the three highest grammar grades.  The system of instruction in the High School, since the completion of the new building, has been departmental, each teacher devoting himself or herself to a single branch.  The result has been more competent teaching and better progress by the pupils. Above photo Galesburg High School 1900

            The earlier school houses have been described.  The High School was first opened in 1861, in the “New Academy”, where now is the Union Hotel.  In 1865 all the buildings on the public square had to be vacated.  Both the High and Grammar schools were then removed to the old Baptist Church, at the corner of Broad and Tompkins streets, for which (both site and building) the price paid was $2,000.

            In 1865, the Churchill School was begun, and finished in 1866, at a cost of $60,000.  It was called “Grammar School” until 1896 when the Board of Education changed the name in honor of the man who made graded schools in Galesburg an accomplished fact.  It was also used as a High School until 1888, when the new High School building was completed at an outlay of $28,000.  Here each teacher has a recitation room, and there is a large study hall for the pupils.  The Fourth Ward School, at the corner of Mulberry Street and Allen Avenue, was erected in 1869.  About 1882 it was partially burned, and in its rebuilding, was greatly improved, at a cost of $25,000.  In 1895 it was entirely remodeled with a view to permitting pupils to be prepared there for the High School.  The Third Ward School was built in 1875 at the corner of Cherry and Selden streets; and in 1893 at an expenditure of some $10,000 an addition was made with the same end in view.  The Sixth Ward School, at the corner of Clark and Losey streets was erected in 1877, and in 1899, $15,000 was spent in its enlargement, the object being the same.  The Seventh Ward School, at the corner of Third and Seminary streets, was built in 1876, and the Fifth Ward School, which stands at the corner of Second and Academy, at about the same time.  Owing to the growth of the Third and Fourth wards, Lincoln School was built, on the corner of North and Pearl streets in 1890.  All these buildings were two story and basement structures of red brick with light stone trimmings.  They had four rooms on each floor, with ample hallways, and cost from $13,000 to $16,000 each.  In 1891 the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Ward schools were named, respectively: Hitchcock, for the gentleman of that name who was Superintendent of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and who was always much interested in public affairs; Weston, for one of the early Lombard Presidents; Cooke for M.D. Cooke, who for thirteen years was a member of the Board of Education; Bateman for Dr. Newton Bateman; and Douglas in honor of the “Little Giant”.  There is a primary school for the children of the First and Second Ward—a small frame building between the Churchill and High schools.  All these school houses are heated by steam and have modern improvements in ventilating devices; while those recently erected have the best possible system of lighting.

            In the early sixties, there was a separate school for Negroes established, at their own request.  They preferred their children not to attend with those of the whites, who were much younger and smaller than theirs in the same grades.

            Funds for the support of the schools are derived from the State (from the proceeds of school lands) and from taxation.  A comparison of the year just past (1897-98) and the year for which the first report was made (1864-65) follows:





State Fund






Tax, Interest, Etc.














School Grounds



Janitor, Repairs, Etc.







$  4,195.80















Average Attendance








High School








            The school property is now worth about $200,000.



            There are in Galesburg three Catholic schools, St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Mary’s Primary, and Corpus Christi Lyceum and University.

            St. Joseph’s Academy and Convent at the corner of Knox and Academy streets, was erected in 1878-79 at a cost of about $30,000.  In September 1879 it was opened with a staff of ten teachers, and about four hundred pupils of both sexes.  It has been conducted from the beginning by the Sisters of Providence, from St. Mary’s of the Woods, Indiana.  The Sisters have hitherto been very successful in their work, as is evidenced by the large number of accomplished young ladies who have graduated from the academy.  The location of the building is healthy and the surroundings pleasant.  The course of study embraces four years.

            St. Mary’s Primary School stands on the corner of Fourth and Seminary streets in the Seventh Ward.  It is an elementary school for boys and girls from six to twelve years of age, and serves as a preparatory department for St. Joseph’s Academy.  The school, with its accompanying playground, was purchased with the view of obviating the danger of accidents occurring to such small children as might be obliged to cross the railroad tracks in going to and from the academy.  Besides, the walk would be rather long and the weather often too inclement for the little ones.  Two Sisters from the academy attend St. Mary’s daily and the school has proved a great benefit.

Corpus Christi Church erected 1884, value $40,000. Society organized in 1851,

            The Corpus Christi Lyceum and University was opened in September 1895 for the education of young men in the higher branches of learning, including a classical and commercial course, as well as a course in music.  The building is an ornate and solid structure, and well supplied with all that is necessary to constitute a modern outfit.  Since its first opening, in 1895, a notable feature has been added to its status.  This occurred in 1897 when the Lyceum was raised to the rank of a university.  At present, therefore, this institution comprises two departments, Lyceum and University.  The curriculum of the Lyceum department embraces the subjects usually covered by the average High School course.  The University course requires four years for its completion, and on graduation the degree of B.A. is conferred.

            The Corpus Christi Lyceum and University is conducted by the Fathers of the Order of Charity, who never weary in their endeavors to inculcate sound moral and religious principles.  It owes its institution, as also do the other two schools above mentioned, to the unwearied efforts of the Rev. Joseph Costa, the present Rector of Corpus Christi Church, and president of Corpus Christi Lyceum and University.  Father Costa has general supervision of all the Catholic schools of the city.


By C. Ellwood Nash, D. D.

            The motives which inspired the founding of Lombard University may be learned from the preamble and resolutions adopted, upon motion of the Rev. C .P. West, by the Spoon River Associations of Universalists in session at Greenbush, Illinois, May 19, 1850:

            “WHEREAS, The intellectual and moral improvement of our youth is a subject of vital importance not only to our denomination but to the community at large; and

            ‘WHEREAS, Most, if not all, of the literary institutions of the State, higher than common schools, established by law, have ever been and still are in the hands and under the control of our religious opponents; and

            “WHEREAS, The sectarian influence of these is detrimental to the cause of free inquiry after religious truth, injurious to the spread of Universalism, and sometimes ruinous to the peace and happiness of the students themselves; therefore

            “RESOLVED, That the Universalists of this State ought immediately to adopt measures for the establishment of a seminary of learning which shall be free from the above named objections.

            “RESOLVED, That said institution should be located in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois.”

            A genuine love of learning, combined with tenacious loyalty to religious conviction, breathes in these resolutions; for they resulted in the opening of the Illinois Liberal Institute in September 1852, Rev. P.R. Kendall being the first Principal.

            Main Building, Lombard College

         That there were room and demand for the new school was evidenced by the attendance which, starting with sixty pupils, rapidly increased, in 1856-67 to two hundred and forty-five.  With this growth in number, the ambitions of the management grew also, and in 1855, a new charter was obtained which created the Lombard University.  The energy, the planning, the sacrifices that made this enterprise successful were great.  In April 1885, the original institute building was burned.  The school, without a home and scattered about in various rooms, continued to thrive and increase.  The canvass for a permanent endowment, which was begun early in 1854 under the leadership of President Kendall, who was ably seconded by Rev. G.S. Weaver, was pushed on with greater zeal.  The largest single contribution was made by Benjamin Lombard, who promoted by a “mingling of civic and denominational pride, with an interest in educational matters directly inherited from his Mayflower ancestry”, gave to this cause property the estimated value of which was $20,000.   In his honor the university was named.

            With a portion of the funds thus secured the brick structure, which has since been the domicile of the university, was erected.  Mr. Kendall remained President nominally until June 1857, although Professor J. V. N. Standish was Acting President from October 1854 to June 1857.  He was succeeded in that office by Dr. Otis A. Skinner.  On his resignation in 1859, Dr. J.P. Weston was elected to the Presidency.  Dr. Weston’s administration, which continued for thirteen years, was signalized by the raising of a permanent fund of nearly $100,000, and by wise and scholarly plans which gave the institution a solid educational basis.  After him, Professor William Livingston served as Provisional President for three years; and in 1875, Dr. N. White was installed in the presidential office, which he filled with Christian dignity and a wealth of erudition for seventeen years.  Upon his resignation in 1892, he was put in charge of the Ryder Divinity School (which was established in 1881, as a department of the university, and named for Dr. William H. Ryder of Chicago, whose will bequeathed about $46,000 to the institution, of which he had long been a leading trustee), and Dr. J. V. N. Standish was made President.  He retired in 1895, and the present incumbent, Dr. C. Ellwood Nash, an alumnus of Lombard, was called to the chair.  It should be said of Dr. Standish that, beginning his connection with the school in 1854 he served it with distinguished credit for a period of forty-one years, in almost every capacity.  Not less earnest has been the attachment to Lombard University of Dr. Isaac A. Parker, who entered the professorial staff in 1858, and still continues to discharge his duties as head of the department of the classics, with unabated zeal and extraordinary ability.  The important services of Professor William Livingston, who from 1855 to 1879 was one of the guiding spirits of the institution, filling several different positions with efficiency, must not pass unmentioned.  It may well be believed that the fortunes of the institution have been nobly supported during the forty-seven years of its history, by a host of devoted friends, whom it would be most fitting to honor here by name.  But they have their monument and memorial in the things actually achieved, and “their works do follow them”.

            As President Kendall’s administration was chiefly distinguished by the strong impulse he gave the University; Dr. Watson’s by the raising of nearly $100,000 for an endowment; and Dr. White’s by the founding of the Ryder Divinity School; so Dr. Standish began the raising of funds for a Woman’s Building, and thus may be said to have opened the way for further improvements.  The amount secured by his canvass was nominally about $40,000, which has since been increased to about $51,000.  With a portion of this fund has been erected a substantial and commodious Ladies’ Hall, which was opened in September 1896.  The Association of Graduates undertook in 1896 to build a Gymnasium, which was completed in September 1897.  From its beginning, the University has maintained a steady growth, if not a rapid one.  Its property is now valued at about $250,000, of which $100,000 is the estimate for the campus and buildings, and the remainder is the Invested Fund.  It was one of the first colleges in the country to open its doors to women on equal terms with men, and continues with unfaltering confidence its co-educational plan.  It is a school of progressive ideas and methods, and aims to be thoroughly up-to-date in its dealing with the educational problem.  Though the religious conditions, which seemed to make its establishment a necessity, have since been considerably modified, the need of sound scholarship has suffered no abatement, and Lombard University, true to its own ideals, is abler than ever and equally resolute to do its part in the common work of laying a foundation for the future by the generous enlightenment of the rising generation.



            This institution was originally known as the Western Business College, and was founded in 1860 by H. E. Hayes, who disposed of it in 1865 to J. B. Harsh, of Creston, Iowa.  In 1867 W. B. Richards was made writing teacher, and about the same time the school began to grow in attendance and influence.  Mr. Richards resigned in 1869 and the following year Professor Poole became proprietor.  In 1871 he sold the institution to J. H. Snelling whose interest passed in July 1873 to J. M. Martin and Brother, of Monmouth through whose agency and good management the school at once began to prosper.  Ill health compelled the retirement of Mr. J. M. Martin in 1883, and M. H. Barringer became the owner of the college.  He established it in large, better quarters, in the Nelson Block, and it continued to flourish.  Mr. Barringer however, concluded to embark in other business, and in July 1890, the institution was purchased by Brown’s Business College Company, when it was rechristened under its present name.

            The following year an additional room was leased, to accommodate the increased attendance.  The present principal, W. F. Caldwell, has been in charge since July 1892.  The college now occupies nine large rooms in the Commercial Block, one of the largest and handsomest business buildings in the city.  Few, if any, commercial schools in the State have better facilities for the accommodation of students.  Six competent instructors are employed, and the attendance is steadily increasing.  Nearly two hundred students were enrolled last year.  The methods of instruction and the text books used are the very latest employed in the best commercial schools.  The graduates are unusually successful.  They are employed by the leading business firms of Galesburg and surrounding towns, while not a few find positions of responsibility and profit in Chicago and other large cities, and many are conducting successful business enterprises of their own.  G. W. Brown, the manager of this school and the President of Brown’s Business College Company, probably enjoys as wide and as favorable a reputation as a commercial teacher as any man in the country.


            Knox College and Galesburg were the outgrowth of one plan—the unique conception of a college growing up in the midst of, and supported by, a village, which was to exist solely for the purpose of giving to the young people of the West a college, where near at hand, with but little expense, they could acquire a higher education.

            In January 1837, Nehemiah H. Losey, afterward Professor of Mathematics at Knox College, assisted by Miss Lucy Gay, opened a school at Log City for the especial benefit of the families of the colony, who settled here in 1836.  This school continued until the academy was opened in 1838, when Professor Losey became its Principal.  With this small school, Knox College, as a working institution, may be said to have had a beginning.

            In Whitesboro, New York, on January 7, 1836, the subscribers to Rev. George W. Gale’s plan had voted to name their embryo institution “Prairie College”, but in the act of incorporation the name “Knox Manual Labor College” was substituted.  The title at first selected, it was thought, would seem less appropriate when placed in a thriving town, surrounded by a highly cultivated country.  Knox, as a name, might define the location, or it might call to mind the founder of the British and American Presbyterian churches.  It will be borne in mind that manual labor was to be a feature of the institution.  The fact that land, such as cost the Oneida Institute in New York State one hundred dollars per acre, could be had in Illinois practically without cost, was a leading consideration in the undertaking.  But it soon appeared that, while the town population around the Oneida Institute furnished a market for what could be produced by the manual labor of men working a small part of each day with inexpensive outfit, farming in Illinois, requiring continuous work with team and implements was impracticable under college management.  Students were encouraged to take advantage of opportunities for work in the shops, houses, and grounds of citizens and such as chose generally found situations.  Labor was always honored in Knox College; it was the prevailing sentiment with the founders that indolence was disgraceful and idleness a crime.

            Only about one hundred acres of the college farm reservation was put under cultivation before the coming of the railroad, with depots, shops and yards, located on the premises, made its sale a source of wealth to the institution.  The name “Manual Labor” becoming inappropriate and misleading, was on petition of the trustees, stricken out by act of the Legislature.

            As incorporators, were selected five of the original colonists already on the ground, George W. Gale, John Waters, Nehemiah West, Thomas Simmons, and Nehemiah H. Losey.  To them were added Matthew Chambers and Erastus Swift, of the Vermont accession to the colony.  Parnach Owen and John G. Sanburn, prominent citizens of Knoxville, George H. Wright, a Monmouth physician, and Ralph H. Hurlburt, a leading merchant, packer, produce dealer, and land holder living at Mount Sterling—Hurlburt and Wright being from Oneida County, New York.

            The charter made the Board self-perpetuating, with power to increase their number to twenty-four, in addition to the College President, who was to be a member ex-officio.  All vacancies were to be filled by vote of the Board itself.  The thirteen places not filled in the charter were intended for colonists not yet arrived, new-comers, or influential men in the surrounding country from which patronage was expected.

            On August 9, 1837, the Board of Trustees held its first meeting at Knoxville, in the house of Matthew Chambers, when it was voted to erect an academy building as soon as possible.  John Waters was chosen President; N.H. Losey, Clerk; and John G. Sanburn, Treasurer; the term of office to be one year.  William Holyoke, Peter Butler, and Silvanus Ferris were at the same time added to the Board.  The building was finished in the Fall of 1838 and opened for students, with Professor N.H. Losey as Principal and Hiram Marsh as assistant.

            In 1841 the college was fully organized, with Rev. H.H. Kellogg as President (he was chosen in 1838); Rev. George W. Gale, Professor of Belles-Lettres and acting Professor of Ancient Languages; and N.H. Losey, Professor of Mathematics.  The next year Innes Grant was made Professor of Languages.  In 1843 the first catalogue was issued, showing an enrollment of one hundred and seventy-five students.

            In 1845, President Kellogg, who had been pastor of the church and college agent as well as president, resigned, and was succeeded by Rev. Jonathan Blanchard, who filled these offices until 1857.  In 1846 the first class, nine in number, was graduated.  In 1851, three young ladies graduated from the seminary, Knox’s first alumnae.  In all, one hundred and fifty-nine students graduated in the thirteen classes which left the institution under the Rev. Jonathan Blanchard’s presidency.

            In this period, occurred that bitter controversy which threatened at one time to disrupt the college, sometimes called the “Blanchard War”.  It was a struggle to place the government of Knox College in the hands of the Congregational Church.  It was practically terminated (though the existing bitterness remained long after) April 30, 1858, when Rev. Dr. Harvey Curtis was chosen President.  Since then the college, while non-sectarian in government and instruction, has had a Presbyterian President, except during the four years of Dr. Gulliver’s incumbency, and a larger number of the trustees have belonged to that church than to any other.

            In May 1859, the General Association of the Congregational Church in Illinois adopted a report reflecting severely on Knox College and the opponents of Dr. Blanchard.  But for many years past Knox College has found its warmest supporters in that as well as in the Presbyterian Church.

            Dr. Harvey Curtis remained through June 1863.  It was a hard time for the infant college.  The war cut down the attendance so far that in the five years of his presidency only seventy-nine were graduated from both college and seminary.

            In 1863, Dr. William Stanton Curtis was chosen President and remained in that office five years, during which period the college had only sixty graduates.

            At the close of his administration, the condition of the institution’s finances had become alarming.  At the beginning of its history, the net proceeds from the sale of lands, after meeting expenses attending establishment of the colony, fell below expectations, and failed to provide an endowment sufficient for the support of the college, even in those times of low salaries, when the requirements were so much less than now.  An unfortunate liberality, allowing more than one student to receive free tuition on a single scholarship at the same time, caused the attendance to be almost entirely on scholarships, thus cutting off revenue from tuition.  But the gradual sale of town lots, on which little calculation seems to have been made, supplied sufficient income to meet expenses, until the location of the railroad on college land brought its reserve property into market and largely advanced the value of all its unsold holdings.

            The sudden and great increase in the wealth of the institution was followed by liberal expenditures, extensive building, an enlarged faculty, increased salaries, and the organization of the Female Seminary on a more expansive scale.  The panic of 1857 dissipated much of this apparent wealth, but the sales had been large, and the full effect of the revulsion was not felt for some years.

            While in 1868, the college still had a large property, the difference between current expenses and income made the necessity of aid from the public soon apparent.  Dr. John P. Gulliver, at that time a trustee, the pastor of a large Congregational church in Chicago, and well known as an effective speaker in pulpit and on platform, was proposed for President.  It was urged that his talents and reputation would attract and hold students, and with the public, secure recognition and pecuniary aid.  The Presbyterian trustees waived objection on denominational grounds, and he was unanimously elected.  His administration was brilliant; he brought strong additions to the faculty; the number of students increased; and through his four years, from 1868 to 1872, there were seventy-two graduates.  But expenses increased, little tuition was collected, the scholarships were still alive, and there was no considerable addition to the endowment by donation.  At the end of four years, so great was the reduction in the income-bearing property that the trustees deemed large reductions in expenses imperative.  The President insisted on an increase both in teaching force and equipment, and resigned, several members of the faculty going at the same time.  For three years the presidency remained unfilled, most of the duties of that position being filled by Dr. Albert Hurd.  In 1875 Dr. Newton Bateman, who had then just retired from the State superintendency of Public instruction, where his marvelous record had made him famous, was induced to accept the vacant place.  During Dr. Bateman’s administration the college grew largely.  His character admirably fitted him for just this work.  He gradually smoothed over the difficulties still surviving from the Blanchard controversy.  His first graduating class numbered sixteen; his last, forty-nine.  It was while he was President that Knox, in 1887, celebrated its semi-centennial.  The gymnasium, the Alumni Hall, and the additions to Whiting Hall were built, and the standard of the curriculum was very materially raised.  In 1884, the cadet corps was started, a law being enacted authorizing the Government to detail a special officer here for the work.  In 1883, under Miss Lepha A. Kelsey, the Conservatory of Music was started.  Under her successor, W.F. Bentley, the school has grown till over two hundred and fifty pupils are now enrolled.  An Art School has also been established.

            In 1892 Dr. John H. Finley, a Knox graduate of 1887, was elected President, Dr. Bateman continuing to act, however, for one year, and remaining with the institution which he had so greatly benefited and on which he had shed such honor, as President Emeritus, until his death in 1897.  In 1892-3, the college extension courses were organized, and are now conducted by the Professors, to the great good of the places visited by them and the consequent favorable advertising of the college.  Extension lecturers from other schools are also brought here.  In 1894, the Summer School was established.  Many more elective courses than formerly are now offered; the library has been greatly enlarged; the scientific equipment is much improved; and the education here obtainable is much more thorough than ever before.

            Including the class of 1899, the total number of Knox graduates is twelve hundred and fifty-nine.

            In June 1899, President Finley resigned, to engage in magazine work in New York, and the college is as yet without a President.  In the interim, the trustees elected Professor T.R. Millard Dean of the Faculty, and the present outlook for the institution is very bright.

            In what has been already said, no special reference has been made to the gradual multiplication, and improvement of the college buildings.  The original structure was long known as the “old academy”.  It stood on the northeast corner of Main and Cherry streets, and is now a dwelling house.  Next came a Female Seminary, built in 1841 at a cost of $5,000, and burned in 1843.  In 1844 the “East Bricks” which is still standing, and the “West Bricks”, torn down to make room for Alumni Hall, were built.  In 1846 the “new academy” was erected, and used as an academy for about twelve years, after which it was utilized for a High School, until it was finally demolished, to give place to the Union Hall.  In 1855, the trustees found Knox College so much enriched by the rise of its real property, induced by the opening of the railroad, that they erected the main building and the principal portion of the Whiting Hall at a cost of nearly $100,000.

            The first Gymnasium, a wooden building still standing on the east side of the campus, was erected by the students.

            In 1885, the east wing of Whiting Hall was built, and in 1892, the west wing, each costing about $10,000.  In 1888 the Observatory was erected.

            On October 8, 1890, President Harrison laid the corner stone of Alumni Hall, a handsome building erected by the gifts of old students.  It contains a chapel, seating nearly one thousand, with Adelphi and Gnothautii Halls in either wing.  Its cost approximated $50,000.

            Among the student organizations, the literary societies are the oldest and best known.  Their work has been a distinguishing feature of the college for many years.  The training there given in the facile use of language and in oratory has put the college at the head of all in the West in prize winning.  Her orators have won the inter-state oratorical contest six times, taking five first prizes and once being awarded second place.  The drill in debate, in impromptu speaking and in parliamentary law, obtained in these societies, has also proved of incalculable value to their members in after life, as many graduates can testify.

            In the order of their founding, these societies are:

            The Adelphi, which was organized in the Spring of 1846 and chartered in May 1847.  About one thousand members have been connected with it since its organization.  It owns the west wing of Alumni Hall.  Until that was built, its meeting place was in the second story of the old “West Bricks”.  The society awards a prize of $35 every year to the member who wins the Adelphi Debate, which takes place in the Spring term, between four contestants chosen by the society.

            The Gnothautii, which was organized November 1, 1849, by Adelphians, who felt aggrieved at the position taken by the parent society in the “Blanchard War”.  It also has a prize debating contest, known as the Colton Debate, because General D.D. Colton gave the fund, the income from which has been used since 1877 for this prize.  The society used to meet in the “East Bricks”, but now owns the east wing of Alumni Hall, leasing the first story to the college.

Both these societies are open to all male students of the academic department.  Recently Mr. George A. Lawrence established two prizes for extempore debate, to be competed for by two members from each society.  The first contest was held in 1896.  Mr. E.A. Bancroft has also offered two prizes for oratory, the contestants to be members of these societies, the first competitive exhibition being given in 1897. 

            The L.M.I., which was organized November 20, 1861.  It seeks to afford the female students the same advantages that the two societies mentioned above give the men.  The meetings are held every Wednesday afternoon in the large, nicely furnished hall on the third floor of Whiting Hall, owned by the society and fitted with a stage, where most enjoyable entertainments are frequently given.

            The Zetetici (Seek to know) and E.O.D. (To be, not seem) are the young men’s societies of the preparatory department.  Zetetici was organized in the Fall of 1865 and E.O.D. in December 1873.

            The Oneota, the young ladies’ society of the academy, was organized in October 1889.  The name is an Indian word, meaning “the pursuit of fine arts”.  Meetings are held every Friday afternoon.

            The Greek letter fraternities supply most of the social life for the college at the present time.  As in other schools, in late years, their growth has been marvelous, and in numbers and influence, they are now far stronger than ever before.  At present there are five chapters in the school.

            Those to which men only are admitted are:

            The Phi Delta Theta, Illinois Delta chapter, which was organized March 16, 1871; reorganized in 1880.  The fraternity hall is on the third floor of the new Tunnicliff Building.

            The Beta Theta Pi, Xi chapter, which was organized in 1855; reorganized as Alpha Xi chapter in 1888.  A chapter house is rented on the corner of Cedar and South streets.

            The Phi Gamma Delta, Gamma Deuteron chapter, which was organized in 1867; reorganized in December 1885.  Their hall is on the third floor of the building on the southeast corner of Main and Cherry streets.

            The societies for ladies are:

            The Phi Beta Phi, Illinois Delta chapter, which was organized March 7, 1884.

            The only secret society for women students is the Delta Delta Delta, Epsilon chapter, which was established during the Fall term of 1888.

            Besides the literary societies and the fraternities, there are several organizations of a more or less miscellaneous character.

            The Inter-State Oratorical Association dates from February 27, 1874 when, in response to an invitation from the students of the college, orators from six colleges in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin contested at Galesburg.  From this small beginning, grew the present association, consisting of ten Intercollegiate Societies in as many different States, and representing nearly one hundred colleges.  Out of twenty-six contests, Knox College has won five first and one second prize.

            The Contest Association is made up of the members of the Adelphi and the Gnothautii.  It elects an orator and delegates to the Illinois Inter-Collegiate Oratorical Society.

            The Athletic Association has for its aim the promotion and perfection of physical culture.

            The Memorabilia Society, which was formed in the Spring of 1890, seeks to preserve interesting data in connection with the college.

            The chief societies of a religious character are as follows:

            The Y.M.C.A., which was organized in 1884.  It meets every Friday evening in Whiting Hall chapel.  The Knox Volunteer Band, which is composed of those who have agreed to go as foreign missionaries.

            The first college publication was “The Knoxiana”.  Its first issue appeared in August, 1850.  It soon suspended, but was revived in May 1851, by the “Knoxiana Publication Company”, and was prosperous for five years.  In the Fall of 1856, the Gnothautii started a rival paper, “The Oak Leaf.”  But two papers could not be supported, and after one year’s rivalry, they were discontinued.  In 1860-61, Adelphi published a quarterly, the last effort at journalism in the college until 1878.  In the Spring of that year the students, in mass meeting, decided to have a paper, and that same Autumn “The Knox Student” was started.  It ran though 1880-81, when the “Knox Student Joint Stock Company” was organized.  It held a meeting, September 15, 1881, in which such a storm arose that the “Coup d’ Etat” was started, and immediately supplanted the old paper.  It remained till June 1898, the literary magazine of the college, and was published monthly by the “Coup d’Etat Joint Stock Company”.  The college newspaper during that time was “The Knox Student”, published weekly by the “Knox Student Joint Stock Company”, founded in June 1894, in order to supply fresher news than could appear in a monthly.  But two papers were more than the college could support, so in June 1888, the “Student” and “Coup d’Etat” were consolidated un the name of the former.  “The Knox Student” now appears weekly and combines the literary and news features.

            The college annuals have been “The Pantheon”, for 1869-70; the “Mischmasch”, for 1870-71; and “The Gale” published first for 1887-88.  For four years the fraternities published it.  In 1891-92, a Knox Souvenir was prepared by two students.  In 1893 no annual was published.  In 1894 the Juniors, class of 1895, revived “The Gale” and in 1895 two Juniors published it.  It now seems established as a Junior publication, after the fashion of most other colleges.

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Created Saturday, September 24, 2005

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