John Finley Crowe, who is generally credited with the founding of Hanover College, was born in Green County, Tennessee, which was then a part of North Carolina, on June 16, 1787. He attended Transylvania University from 1811 to 1813 and Princeton Theological Seminary in the academic year 1814-1815 and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1815. After serving as pastor of two rural churches in Kentucky for several years, Crowe left Kentucky, apparently as a result of his unpopular abolitionist and pro-temperance views and became pastor of Hanover Presbyterian Church in 1823. In 1827, the Madison Presbytery asked Crowe to become the instructor and principal of the academy that it sought to found in order to train youth for the ministry. When Hanover Academy received its new charter as Hanover College in 1833, Crowe became Vice-President of the College, "Professor of Logic, History, Belles Lettres, and Political Economy" Additionally, he served as President of the Board of Trustees throughout much of the time during which he was involved with the College and effectively guided Hanover College until the year before his death, when the Board of Trustees named him Professor Emeritus. Crowe died on January 17, 1860.
In 1857, at the request of the Board of Trustees, Crowe wrote a History of Hanover College, which remained unpublished, but was later transcribed by his son. In the first two chapters of this book, Crowe outlines the early years and difficulties of Hanover Academy. While he does not give a precise statement of his vision for Hanover College, he makes clear his belief that God wills the establishment of a church college in order to prepare young men to supply the clerical needs of the Presbyterian Church in the on the western frontier.
As Hanover College is the child of the Old School Presbyterian Church in Indiana, and acknowledged by it, as such, in all grades of its progressive development, from its inception to the present day, both light and interest may be thrown around its origin, by glancing at the rise and progress of our church in Indiana. The first Presbyterian church in Indiana was organized in the neighborhood of Vincennes, Knox county, A. D. l806; when the population of the Territory was about 12,000. Six years afterward, the Charlestown church, Clark county, was organized making two churches in the Territory, amid a population, at that time of some 30,000. And in l824, when the population had swelled to upwards of 200,000, and the churches had nearly increased to fifty; there were only seven ministers of our denomination in Salem Presbytery, which embraced at that time almost the entire state of Indiana and a large part of Illinois.
The fewness of the laborers and the immensity of the harvest; together with the loud and importunate Macedonian cry which came up from every part of the Land, urged upon the Presbytery the question, - What can be done to increase the number of laborers? Again and again had the general Assembly been applied to for aid: but that venerable body, had not been able to do anything more than to send out occasionally such young men as had intimated their willingness to labor a few months as missionaries in the West. Very few of these missionaries however, seemed disposed to encounter the toils and privations of a settlement in the Wilderness, and of those who consented to remain, four, within two or three years fell victims to the acclimating fever.
Though discouraged by these facts the Presbytery had still to meet the question, - What can be done for the multitudes, ready to perish, with eyes directed to us for aid? We had long been praying the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers, but now felt that we were called upon to act. And the only plan which seemed to promise, with God's blessing, a competent supply for the extended and constantly extending harvest was to raise them up on the ground.
Having reached this conclusion, the Presbytery at their fall Sessions, l825, appointed a committee to devise a plan for a Presbyterial Academy, and to fix on a place for its location. A variety of considerations led to the selection of Hanover as the place, and the Manua1 labor system as the plan. [Note: As the system proved a failure, involving the institution in a heavy debt, it is due to all concerned, to notice briefly, some of the reasons which induce the Presbytery to adopt it.  The circumstances of the churches in Indiana absolutely forbade the adoption of any plan, which wou1d require a large amount of means to carry it into successful operation. For altho' the number of churches had greatly increased, the number of communicants was only about 1,500. And a large majority of those were struggling with the difficulties of the new settlement, and were barely able to support their families. Again, the manual labor System, then but recently introduced from Europe, had been adopted by the Oneida Institute, N. York, and was represented as working admirably, and assurances were moreover given in the public papers, that young men with good health and industrious habits, could sustain themselves, while obtaining an education by laboring three hours per day, without any prejudice to their intellectual improvement, and finally it was urged that men of more than ordinary nerve and muscle were needed as pioneers of the church, and that consequently those who had been early throw [sic] upon their own resources, and had learned to bear hardness as good Soldiers, were just the men for the field. Influenced by such considerations as these, the report of the committee was approved and adopted by the Presbytery.] By a resolution of the Synod of Kentucky, October 1825, the Salem Presbytery was divided, and two new Presbyteries formed, viz:- Wabash on the West, and Madison on the East. And as the contemplated Academy was to be located within the bounds of Madison Presbytery, that body at their first meeting took action on the subject, adopted the report of the committee which had been appointed by the Salem Presbytery, and appointed a committee to secure a teacher. The committee opened a correspondence with several persons whom they supposed competent, and who they hoped, might be induced to undertake the establishment of the Academy. But difficulties of an insurmountable nature, were found standing in the way. The location had been made, and the system on which the school was to be organized, adopted, but the means to carry out the plan were wanting. No one could be found able and willing to meet the responsibilities of providing a farm and a dwelling house for the teacher, indispensibles [sic] even to an experiment.
As the efforts of the committee to employ a teacher proved utterly unavailing the Presbytery at their fall session, l826, urged the writer, then the pastor of Hanover church, to organize the school and take charge of it, until with the blessing of God, it might grow into sufficient importance to Justify the employment of a competent teacher. Convinced that the interests of the church demanded a school, and that the interests involved would justify any reasonable sacrifices in meeting that demand, he consented to make the experiment.
Accordingly on the first day of January 1827, he opened a 1ittle Grammar school, in a log cabin, which had been built for a different purpose, on his own premises, consisting of six boys, not one of whom was pious, though all sons of the Covenant . [Note. - And that little Grammar School, solemnly dedicated to Almighty God, as a nursery of the Gospel ministry, was the nucleus of both Hanover College and the Indiana Theological Seminary. We would add that four of the six became ministers of the gospel, the other two pious physicians.]
No further action of the Presbytery was had on the subject of the institution, until the spring meeting, held in the Sand Creek church, April, 1828; when after a verbal report made by the Teacher, the following resolutions were adopted;
Encouraged by the smiles of Divine Providence, vouchsafed to the plans and efforts of the Presbytery in providing for the education of young men for the ministry: the Teacher now Agent of the Presbytery, felt that the time had come to make an effort to erect a building on the Campus. He suggested the subject to several of the Trustees, but they seemed to regard the suggestion as visionary. Where could the necessary funds be secured? was an unanswerable argument against the undertaking. But the teacher could not get rid of the conviction that a building was necessary to the success of the enterprise, and if so, not impracticable. He therefore after mature deliberation resolved to try. And believing that all hearts are as really in the Lord's hands as is the heart of the King, he felt a confidence of success. Having decided in his own mind that a two story brick building, 25 by 40 feet was needed, he opened the following supscription [sic]. "For the purpose of erecting a suitable building for Hanover Academy, we whose names are hereunto subscribed do promise to have performed the jobs of work taken by us severally, against the times specified" viz: -
In order to show that the interest felt by the Presbytery in their school continued without abatement, extracts from their minutes will occasionally be made. At the fall meeting Oct.1828, we find the following report, viz: -
The committee would further state that the condition and prospects of the schoolare [sic] very encouraging; the present number of students is sixteen, with encouraging prospects of increase. Moreover the character of the students encourage the hope of future usefulness in the church.
Finally the committee have the pleasure of reporting a donation from Judge Dunn of a beautiful lot for a Campus, together with the proceeds of six other lots in the village of Hanover for the benefit of the School, and that it is in contemplation to erect, next year a two story brick building 40 feet by 25, for which the material and labor have been subscribed.
The Committee closed their report by recommending that an application be made to the next Legislature for an act of incorporation.
Signed J.M. Dickey. )
J.H. Johnston. ) Visiting Com.
Samuel Gregg. )
But this meeting of the Presbytery was too important in its results, both to Hanover church and Hanover Academy to be permitted to pass without further notice.
In those days when there were so few ministers to supply the numerous little churches, scattered over the new settlements, it was necessary for each minister to supply several churches, sometimes as many as four. And the administration of the Lord's Supper was confined to the Spring and Fall of each year. Nor was the Privilege enjoyed by each little church apart, but the several churches constituting the ministers charge, met together in the most central, or most important church, where they enjoyed for four succes sive [sic] days, the preaching of the Word, by two or three neighboring ministers, and the delightful ordinance was often found to be a communion of Christian hearts, where, under the banner of love, they felt that they were all one in Christ Jesus. And from this feast of fat things they returned to their homes strenghtened [sic] for the toils and trials of many days to come.
Now I need hardly remark that the ministers found it very convenient to unite these Sacramental Seasons, with the meetings of Presbytery, and that the churches esteemed it a great privilege to have the Presbytery meet in their bounds; for they would no more have thought of the Presbytery holding a regular meeting without administering the Lord's Supper, than of holding one without preaching the gospel.
Well such was the meeting of the Madison Presbytery at Hanover Oct., 1828. They met on Friday and, as usual, continued their sessions until Monday afternoon, preaching daily, fore-noon and evening. The interest of the congregation, gradually increasing, had become so intense at the time of the adjournment of Presbytery; that two of the brethern [sic] remained through the week with the Pastor, preaching the word, and directing anxious enquirers in the way of life. The result was the addition of 46 members on examination, to the communion of the church, including eight of the sixteen students then in the Academy.
This display of Divine Mercy hot [sic] only encouraged the heart and strenghtened [sic] the hands of the Teacher, but excited in the churches a deeper interest than had been felt in beha1f of the Academy.
The next session opened, Nov. l823, with upwards of twenty students, most of the addition being fruits of the recent revival which had spread extensive1y through the Presbytery. It was now found necessary to procure a larger school-room, and a transfer of the school was made from the Log-cabin to the Church, a stone building 40 feet square, which added as much to the respectability as it did to the comfort of the Academy. By these changes a new impulse seemed to be given to the enterprise. And the students, in accordance with the advice of the teacher, resolved to organize themselves into two literary Societies . For this purpose they held a public meeting and appointed two of their number to make the division. Having decided by the loss of a copper , who should have the first choice they divided the company by alternate choice.
One of the companies thus formed took for its name "The Union Literary Society", the other, "The Philosophronian."
The committee appointed by Presbytery to apply for a charter, attended promptly to the business and were successful, as will appear from the following action of the Board.
The Trustees of Hanover Academy met on the call of J. Finley Crowe. Members present, J. Finley Crowe, J.M. Dickey, S.G. Lowry, Geo. Logan, Samuel Smock, W. Reed and J. H. Johnston. The committee appointed to apply to the Legislature for a charter, reported the following.;
"An Act to Incorporate Hanover Academy."
Whereas it has been represented to this General Assembly that a number of the citizens of Jefferson county, residing in the vicinity of Hanover, in said County, have, by the aid of private contributions, established an Academy at Hanover, by means of which a liberal education may be acquired by youth of that vicinity: and whereas it is represented to this General Assembly, that an act to incorporate said Academy, would greatly promote the laudable object of the citizens afore said, Therefore, -
Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Indiana, that John Finley Crowe, James H. Johnston, Williamson Dunn, George Logan, John M. Dickey, Samuel G. Lowry, Samuel Smock, William Reed, Samuel Gregg, and Jeremiah Sullivan, be, and they are hereby constituted and appointed a body Corporate and politic, to be known by the name of, "The Trustees of Hanover Academy: and by that name shall have perpetual succession, with permission to adopt a common Seal; with power to alter or change the same at will: and as a body corporate shall be authorized to carry the object and design of said institution into complete effect: - to increase the number of Trustees whenever it may be deemed necessary:- to employ or appoint Professors or tutors in said Academy, and put the same under the direction of any body of learned men whom they may select: - to establish a Constitution, by-laws and regulations for the government and well being of said Academy, the Professors, and Tutors and Students thereof, not incompatible with Constitution and laws of the United States, or of this state:- and by the name and style of the Trustees of Hanover Academy, may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered unto, in any court of law or Equity.
Section 2. In case of death, removal, or other disqualification of any of the Trustees of said Academy, or of their successors, a majority of the remaining Trustees shall have power to fill such vacancy: - and the person or persons so appointed, shall be vested with the same power and authority, as if specially named in this Act; and at any meeting of the Board of Trustees seven shall be quorum to do business.
The Trustees elected and appointed according to this act, and their successors in office, shall have power in their corporate capacity to purchase or receive by donation, bequest, or devise, any lands, tenements, hereditaments, moneys, rents, goods or chattels, which may be conveyed, devised or bequeathed to them for the use and benefit of said Academy, and shall be required faithfully to apply the same: provided however, that the land held by said Corporation at any one time shall not exceed one hundred and sixty acres. The Trustee first named in this act, or in case of his absence, death or refusal to serve, the next person named, shall give notice of the time and place of the first meeting of the Board of Trustees, and on a majority of them attending, they shall elect a President, Treasurer and Clerk; the first two of whom shall be members of the Board: and they shall thereafter meet on their own adjournments; or they may be convened by the President, or any two members of the Board. They shall have power to erect all necessary buildings for the use and accomodation [sic] of said Academy and to select a site for the same.
This act to be in force from and after its passage.
Passed the Senate--December 22 d., 1828.
Passed the House --December 29th., 1828.
This act of incorporation having been adopted, the Board was organized under the charter by electing:
The Rev. J. M. Dickey------President.
Col. Samuel Smock -------Treasurer.
Rev. James H. Johnston----Secretary.
Rev. J. Finley Crowe -----Principal of the Academy.
Information having been communicated to this Board, that a donation of one hundred acres of land has been made by the Rev. J. Finley Crowe, and Williamson Dunn, Esq., to Hanover Academy, therefore:
lst. That measures be immediately taken to erect a building sufficiently large to accommodate a family, and at least twenty students.
2nd. That the house together with the farm be put into the hands of a man qualified to superintend the whole establishment.
3rd. That all the students be required to board with the Steward, except in extraordinary case, to be determined by the Board of Trustees.
4th. That the steward be bound to furnish all the students that may be placed in his care, with boarding, viz: -diet, lodging and candles.
5th. That each student be required to pay in advance, to the steward five dollars each session, and to labor not less than three hours, each day in the week, Sabbath excepted, under the direction of the steward at such business as he may appoint.
6th. That such regulations be made, that the students may labor in rotation at such specified times as not to interfere with their recitations.
At the commencement of the summer session 1832, upwards of seventy students were enrolled; it was consequently necessary to employ additional teachers. Experience suggested the plan of employing a Theological Student, who could devote a part of his time to giving instruction in the Academy, while prosecuting his theological studies with Dr. Matthews. A letter was consequently addressed to Dr. Alexander of Princeton, requesting him to inquire whether any of the young men in the Seminary, who in his judgement [sic] was competent enough to give instruction in the Classics, would be willing to aid in building up a Church College in the West, while pursuing his theological studies at Hanover. Dr. Alexander kindly accepted the agency and selected Mr. M.A. H. Niles, a graduate of Amherst College, being a fine classical scholar, for the place. Mr. Niles arrived at Hanover early in the summer and was immediately employed. At the regular meeting of the Board, May 8th, 1832, the writer tendered his resignation of the office of Principal of the Academy, which resignation was accepted. He then moved that the Rev. James Blythe D. D. of Lexington, Ky., be elected President of Hanover Academy. The motion was seconded and Dr. Blythe was unanimously elected. [Note: - Dr. Blythe had for a number of years been President of Transylvania University, and subsequently Professor of Chemistry in the Lexington Medical School.] The writer was then elected Vice President.
The accomodations [sic] were now found to be insufficient for the increasing number of students, and the Board at this meeting resolved to build a college edifice, which would furnish, not only a chapel and recitation rooms, but also dormitories for a large number of students. During the summer and fall the resolution was carried into effect by the erection of a brick building 100 feet by 40, three stories high.
There had been from the commencement of the Institution, two sessions of five months per annum. The first session commenced with Nov. and closed with March. The second commenced with May and closed with September.
About the last of October Dr. Blythe removed to Hanover with his family, and with the opening of the session of Nov. 1st, entered upon the arduous duties of his office. The other Professors were all at their posts prepared to commence business in College Style. A new classification of the students was made, throwing them all into five classes. The first called the Preparatory Department, embraced all those engaged in studies preparatory to the regular Classical course: together with such as wished to attend only to some particular branches. The others were divided into four, regular College classes, Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors; for there were found seven of the young men prepared to enter on the studies of the Senior year. With the opening of the New Year came the exciting exercises of the inauguration of the President and Professors. The occasion had drawn together a large audience. After prayer by the President of the Board, the Present elect delivered an appropriate and interesting Inaugural address, . . . .
1. Millis, William Alfred. History of Hanover College: 1827-1927. (Greenfield, IN: William Mitchell Printing Co., 1927.), 22.
2. Millis, Chapter II.
3. Early in its history, Hanover College operated using a manual system, whereby students received their education free of charge in return for working three hours each day, six days per week. This program was ultimately abandoned for financial reasons.