DR. SAMUEL WEIR
THE STATE'S RIPEST SCHOLAR
The Roosevelt of Dakota Wesleyan Universitythat roundheaded, enduring, philosophical,
substantial educator, Dr. Samuel Weir. How the institution with which he is identified has learned to love
him, the state at large to revere him, and the educational and theological fraternities of the whole nation to
hearken to his learned advice.
Dr. Weir was born at London, Middlesex county, Province of Ontario, Canada, three days after
the firing on Fort Sumpter at the inception of the Civil War.
His early education was acquired in the public schools of his native province and in the
provincial normal school. It is frequently said of a man, "He has been given all that the schools of this
country afford." More than that may be said for Weir: he has been given all that the schools of two continents
afford He finished his course at Garret Biblical Institute in 1887, receiving his B. D. degree. Two years
later he received his A. B., from Northwestern; and in 1891, Illinois Wesleyan honored him with his Master's
degree. Later he studied for one year in Boston University. Still dissatisfied with his preparation, he went
abroad for study and travel. Plunging at once into the weighty philosophical course in the famous university
of Jena, into its classic library of 200,000 volumes, into its 100,000 dissertations, into its 900 volumes of
ancient manuscripts, he came forth in 1895 as a finished product of the school, and was honored with his Ph. D.
degree, "summa cum laude," a distinction never before accorded to any foreigner under the sun. He also did
some work at the University of Leipsic.
Applying a man's education becomes his experience. If he is alert, absorbs from his
surroundings and applies well the theory gained, his experience soon becomes the most valuable part of his
education. No man can long tread water in the current of life. He may presume he is merely standing still,
resting, but shortly he will observe that the shore line opposite him is much nearer the falls than it was
when he first ceased to struggle. Dr. Weir has never ceased the battle. His constant struggle onward and
upward in the experience of life has broadened his education more than did his academic preparation. After
graduating from the normal school in his native province, he removed to Michigan in 1884 and joined the Detroit
conference of the M. E. church. This experience gave rise to his ambition to finish his education. After his
graduation from Northwestern in 1889, he accepted the position of professor of Latin and Greek in the Southwest
Kansas College. A year later he was called to the pastorate of St. Paul's chuch, Wichita, Kansas, and before
another year had passed he was elected to the First church, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Dr. Weir had been married in 1889 to Miss Caroline Voss. The altitude at Cheyenne so greatly
affected her health that at the close of his first year of pastoral work at that place, he was compelled to
resign and seek a new field. Accordingly he accepted a temporary appointment as instructor in mathematics,
Northwestern University. From there he went to Boston to study, and from the latter place to Germany.
Upon his return to America in the summer of 1895, after his graduation at Jena, he was elected
professor of ethics in the school of pedagogy, University of New York, and professor of philosophy, graduate
school of the same institution. He held these two positions for six years, and then resigned voluntarily,
because he could not conscientiously endorse the administration of the school. The next year he spent as
lecturer on education, Cincinnati. The next two years were spent as principal of the state normal school,
Clarion, Pennsylvania, and the school year 1904-5 was utilized by him as honorary fellow, Clark University.
In 1905 he was called by Dr. Thomas Nicholson, at that time president of Dakota Wesleyan
University, at Mitchell, S. D., to organize the school of education of that institution. In January, following,
he was elected vice president of the university and dean of the school of education, and entrusted largely with
its educational administration. When Dr. Nicholson resigned, two years since, Dr. Weir was approached by a
member of the board of trustees of the school, with a view to elevatiing him to the presidency. He declined it.
A few weeks later, he was offered the deanship of the school of theology, University of Chattanooga. This he
When the fleecy-winged angel of life gently laid Baby Weir into his mother's lap, it gave to
the world a thinkera thinker, if you please, of the Emersonian style. A half century has passed by since
Wilson wrote those immortal words:
"Think for thyself! One good idea,
But known to be thine own.
Is better than a thousand gleaned
From fields by others sown."
This is Dr. Weir's creed. Original thought is his hobby. He does his own thinking; he inspires
his students to think.
His extensive preparation, coupled with his broad successful experience, has made him easily
the ripest scholar in the state. As a student at Northwestern, he won the Gage debating prize; at Jena he was
honored as no other American has ever been. Professor Woodburn, principal of the training school, N. N. I. S.,
Aberdeen, S. D., who took some work in philosophy under Dr. Weir during summer school at the D. W. U., a few
years since, said to the writer, "I didn't suppose we had a man like him in the state."
DR. SAMUEL WEIR
RELATION OF TEACHER AND STUDENT
The success of any undertaking must be determined by the results.
Success is measured in achievement and not in dreams. Grant's tunneling under Richmond,
although admirably conceived, was not a success, on account of its disastrous result; while the carrying of
Missionary Ridge by his troops during the campaign about Chatanooga, was a pre-eminent success, although not conceived at all.
This principle holds true in all walks of life, especially in the teaching profession. The
scholarship possessed by the students turned out by a teacher is the best evidence of his success or failure as
an instructor. As President Cook of the Spearfish Normal, with pardonable pride, points to the world-renowned
Mayo Bros, surgeons at Rochester, Minnesota, as old students of his, so Samuel Weir, in taking a retrospect of
his own life, finds consolation in the living evidences of his success manifested by those who as students under
his Socratic instruction, are today filling positions of honor and trust. Among these are Bishop Anderson of the
M. E. churh; also Rev. Kirk Robbins, Greencastle, Indiana, successor to Dr. Hoagland, of Mitchell; Professor Karp
of Syracuse University, and from fifteen to twenty others who have become noted. Among his students in philosophy,
while professor in the University of New York, were representatives of the Episcopal, the Presbyterian, the
Methodist, the Congregational, the Baptist and the Evangelical Lutheran ministry. He also trained two Catholic
priests, and a Jewish lady who has since won distinction as an author.
The kindly esteem in which Dr. Weir is held by the alumni of Dakota Wesleyan was ably voiced in
the large number of letters which he received from them this year on the anniversary of his birthday, April 15.
These came from students of his scattered all over the world, including one from Ethel Shepherd-Carhart,
Concepcion, Chili. The latter, in addition to its expressed reverence for the doctor and its unreserved,
outspoken appreciation of the influence of his life over hers, by reason of their classroom contact, is, within
itself, a literary classic. It merits publication in full, but space forbids. The letters are all gems and
they evidently impressed the Doctor with the fact that "It is not all of life to live, nor all of death to die."
These young people write touchingly of the help received from their loyal, philosophical
instructor. Well they may. Here is a case that illustrates his work: When Dr. Weir was instructor in mathematis,
Northwestern University, Samuel Merwin, the present editor of the "Success Magazine," and of "The National Post,"
was a student in the institution. Although brilliant along literary lines, he was dreadfully poor in mathematics.
It became evident that he was not going to be able to graduate. Whereupon Dr. Weir took him under his tutorage,
in personal interest and as a special favor, with the result that Merwin graduated with honor; and today he is
ably filling his mission on earth in the editorial world.
Dr. Weir is the author of "Christianity as a Factor in Civilization" (1893). He is also the
contributor of numerous weighty magazine articles, and for the past four years, in addition to his heavy work,
he has ably edited the department of education in the Sioux Falls Daily Argus-Leader. His diction, although not
flowery and imaginative, is vigorous, compact, polished and inviting. He furnishes practically as much original
matter each week as do the editors of either of the state educational journals each month. They supply subject
matter for ten issues; he supplies it for fifty-two.
Mrs. Weir died many years ago, leaving to her husband as a comforting heritage, a talented baby
girl who will this year graduate from Northwestern University.
On June 2, 1897, Dr. Weir re-marriedthe second Mrs. Weir being Miss Sarah Richards of
Aurora, Illinois. She is a talented and accomplished musician, and at present one of the vocal instructors at
D. W. U. In her birthday letter to Dr. Weir Mrs. Carhart refers to his wife as follows:
"Scarcely less of a help and inspiration to me than yourself, has been, and is, the woman who
is queen of your home. Among all the women in Mitchell, to me she is the most splendid embodiment of culture
and grace and beauty."
When Dr. Weir has finished the struggle, when his busy hands lie folded in silence across his
manly bosom, when the deep blue eyes that now sparkle with intelligence and win him so many friendships are
closed in endless sleep, the pastor who pronounces his eulogy will no doubt feel honored to proclaim, "The
world has been made better because he lived."
He is a member of the Phi Kappa Psi, and of the Phi Betta Kappa fraternities; also of the
A. A. A. S. and of the N. E. A.
Viewed from one angle, he is gentle, loving and companionable; from another, cultured,
inspiring and philosophic; and from still another, pious, reverent, manly and good. If his soul were stripped
of its earthly encasement, we doubt if a single spot could be found on it. Congratulations, Dakota Wesleyan,
on having such a seer in education for your anchor.