A. Y. Moore
History of Hanover College

(Indianapolis: The Hollenbeck Press, 1900)

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned, proofread and posted by Raluca Preotu, 1998-1999.
Page last updated: March 18, 2001.



Chapter II
41-56





[Page 41] Dr. Matthews was informed forthwith of his election. Early in December he arrived in Hanover to overlook the field. He met with the board of trustees. They gave full exposition of the origin and design of the institution, its resources and prospects, and placed before him the destitution and wants of the country, and the views and feelings manifested by the Synod at its recent meeting with reference to the whole subject. Dr. Matthews frankly stated to the board the conditions upon which he would accept the position to which he was elected, provided, upon consultation with his friends and consideration of the matter in all its bearings, he felt it was his duty to do so. One of his conditions was the assurance of a support by some responsible body. The board at once took action pledging a salary of six hundred dollars a year for his services, if he should accept the place.

After his return to Virginia, Dr. Matthews was in great doubt as to his duty. His friends counseled against his going to the West. It was hard to sever the ties that bound him to a large and loving church. But he would not close his ears to the Macedonian cry from the West. He determined in his stress of mind to commit the determination of the matter to the Providence of God. He knew that there would be need at once of an [Page 42] additional Professor for the Theological Department of the school. He determined to visit Philadelphia and New York, and if he could succeed in securing pledges for a salary of five hundred dollars a year for five years for the support of an additional Professor, he would accept the appointment as of a work to which he was called of God. He had no difficulty in obtaining in those cities what he sought from Christian men deeply interested, both from piety and patriotism, in the work of missions in the West. He was successful beyond his expectations. The question was settled, and upon his return home he informed the board of his acceptance, and of his purpose to remove to Hanover in the spring. When he was elected it was not expected that he would enter upon his work in less than twelve months, nor was it expected that there would be any students on the ground for instruction in theology before that time. But Dr. Matthews thought it best for the church he was serving and for all concerned that his removal should take place at once. At Hanover there was no house for him and his family. The hoard met and directed the building committee to erect at once a log house for the temporary dwelling of Dr. Matthews while a suitable brick building could be erected. The citizens and students turned out as if for fun and frolic, and in a few weeks had a hewed log house, with shingle roof, brick chimneys and four rooms, ready for occupancy, and with but little expense to the board. Dr. Matthews and his family arrived about the middle of May. On the twenty-fourth day of May the board convened and Dr. Matthews, having been elected a member, took his seat [Page 43] with them. Correspondence, by direction of the board, was at once opened with the Professors of the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, with reference to securing a suitable young man from the Seminary to be appointed by the Synod as Professor of Biblical Literature. J. W. Cunningham, of the Senior Class, was recommended, and at the meeting of the Synod at Madison in October, 1830, he was elected. At this meeting of the Synod at Madison a detailed plan of union and co÷peration of the Synod and of the Academy was adopted. But when the Synod adjourned it had failed to provide for the payment of the salary of the Professor of Theology whom they had called to their work, leaving the burden of this on the board of trustees. In this same month of October a severe calamity had befallen the young institution. The building committee had succeeded in securing funds and erecting a comfortable and commodious brick dwelling for the Professor of Theology. Not only friends at Hanover and vicinity had contributed liberally, but at Madison and at Louisville and from other places help had been given, and the house was about ready for plastering and painting, when, in the absence of the workmen at dinner, children playing with fire ignited the shavings on the floor, and the building was speedily consumed. To again gather means to rebuild from those who had given was hopeless. In this emergency the board determined to appeal for aid for the Theological Department of the Academy to Christian friends east of the mountains. As there were no students of the Academy advanced enough to enter upon theological studies, and as none from abroad [Page 44] had presented themselves, Dr. Matthews agreed to take charge of the Academy for a time; Mr. William Gregg, a graduate of Miami University, was secured as teacher of mathematics, and Mr. Crowe, principal of the Academy, was commissioned to go to the East as an agent of the institution to solicit funds for it. Early in December, 1830, Mr. Crowe set out on his eastward journey. It was near April, 1831, before he returned. This work was one crowded with difficulties. It called for the exercise of exhaustless patience, of unfailing perseverance and unremitting diligence. Nothing but devoted consecration to the Lord's work, with faith and hope and prayer, could have carried him through all its difficulties and pathetic details, and given him the measure of success which in the end he achieved. He returned with something over three thousand dollars. With this the trustees were enabled to rebuild the house of the Professor of Theology, and also erect a house for the superintendent of the farm, by means of which the plan of the Manual Labor School was to be carried on. This house was also to be a boarding-house for students. The school was prosperous. There were about fifty students in attendance, and these, prosecuting their studies, were clearing off the farm, making rails and cutting cord wood, for which they were credited on their board and tuition at the usual price for that kind of labor.

There were some misgivings as to the Manual Labor system. It was an experiment. It was popular. Many things seemed favorable to it. The institution was prosperous and the trustees went forward. Col. George Briggs had come from New England, highly commended, [Page 45] and a contract was made with him to take charge as superintendent of the buildings, of the work to be done on the farm and in the shop, and to have charge as steward of the boarding-house. Plans were made for the erection of shops and cottages for rooms for students, and also for a college building proper, of brick, forty by one hundred feet on the ground, three stories high, with chapel and recitation rooms and thirty-three rooms for students. This was by the end of 1832. Progress was also made in instruction and studies. At the beginning of the summer session of 1832 over seventy students were enrolled. In the middle of the summer the teaching force was increased by the employment of Mark A. H. Niles, from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a graduate of Amherst College. May 8, 1832, Mr. Crowe resigned the principalship of the Academy, and the Rev. Dr. James Blythe, of Lexington, Kentucky, was elected President. He was a man of reputation and widely known. He had been some years before Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. He had also been President of Transylvania University for a number of years, and afterwards Professor of Chemistry in the Lexington Medical School. Mr. Crowe was elected Vice-President. The scheme of studies was changed to that of a college course, with a Preparatory Department. Dr. Blythe was Professor of Moral Science, Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. Vice-President Crowe was Professor of Logic, Belles-Lettres and History. M A. H. Niles was Professor of the Latin, Greek and French Languages, and John H. Harney, who had previously been Professor [Page 46] in Indiana College at Bloomington, became Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy. Until other provisions could be made, the instruction in the Preparatory Department was to be divided among these teachers. Dr. Blythe, with his family, came to Hanover late in October, and entered upon his work at the opening of the session, November 1, 1832. At the first of the year 1833 the ceremonies of the inauguration of the President, the Vice-President and the Professors occurred. A few days after these ceremonies the trustees received from the State Legislature a college charter. This charter they had asked from the preceding Legislature, but opposition from the trustees of the State Institution at Bloomington had caused their petition to be denied. This opposition had been overcome in the succeeding Legislature, and the obtaining of the charter for the College was celebrated with enthusiasm, and with a grand illumination of the College building.

The College edifice was now completed; the large boarding-house was occupied by a business man, prepared to board two hundred students, and there were dormitories furnished for half that number. There were opportunities for labor, not only on the farm, but in a carpenter's shop and wagon-maker's shop, all furnished with tools and competent men to boss them. These facts were published, and an assurance given that young men of industrious habits might defray the whole espense of their board by their own labor, without impeding their progress in acquiring an education. The spreading of these facts throughout the country by the press caused a confluence of men and boys at the College.

[Page 47] The summer session opened with an enrollment of a hundred and sixty students from fifteen different States. And they kept coming. The number soon became about two hundred. A pen picture of Hanover at the time is of interest. It is from Judge W. W. Gilleland: "My first view of Hanover was in 1834, by moonlight, after walking up from the landing. The dwellings were plain, few and small. There were no sidewalks, but plenty of stumps, and students were everywhere. I shall never forget the strange appearance of the faculty and students as they assembled in the chapel for morning prayers. There were Dr. Blythe, Dr. Crowe and Professors Harney, Niles and Thomson, and students seemed to come from everywhere--the upper stories of the College, Bachelors' Row, four rooms on College Point, a log cabin on Judge Dunn's lot, and from private houses in the town and neighborhood. The town and the College were one in interest and one in sympathy, and each a blessing to the other." But all was not as prosperous as this pen picture and the number of students in attendance seemed to indicate. Troubles arose in connection with the boarding of the students at a dollar a week. These troubles were met and obviated in various ways. But greater troubles arose from the want of sufficient returns from the labors of the students on the farm and in the workshops. But what was to be done? It was the Manual Labor system that had given the College its prestigeand secured for it its unparalleled prosperity. Besides, by its Charter the College was bound to furnish students a limited amount of manual labor, for which they were to be remunerated by credit on their expenses [Page 48] in pursuing their studies. But the employment of more than two hundred young men and boys of every variety of disposition and habits for two hours a day in a way that would prove remunerative seemed to be out of the question. A committee was appointed to investigate. They reported a debt of two thousand dollars. The report was startling. But there seemed to open a way of deliverance in adopting the work of printing and binding. This had been publicly advocated in the newspapers as affording profitable employment for manual labor institutions. Some members of the board became its ardent advocates. A heavy expense must necessarily be incurred in adopting this kind of work. But the advocates of the new industry thought there would be no difficulty in raising all needful funds from the benevolent friends of the church school. A press was bought, and with it a religious newspaper, the Christian Standard, printed in Cincinnati under the editorial supervision of Dr. Joshua Wilson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati. The name of the paper was changed to that of the Western Presbyterian. But it soon became apparent that if the printing business and the publishing of a religious paper were to be of advantage to the pecuniary interests of the College, it would be necessary that the business should be largely increased. With this in view, the printing of books and book-binding were undertaken. This involved the purchase of more machinery and the employment of practical printers for constant labor. To some this enlargement of the business seemed extremely hazardous. But there were others that were earnest advocates of it.

[Page 49] The Rev. J. T. Russel was appointed general agent for the board. He supplied the pulpit of the First Madison Church from April, 1834, to September, 1835. He was an able and eloquent minister. He had become a member of the board of trustees, and was a very earnest and ardent advocate of the printing work of the College and its enlargement. It was hoped that with him in the field as general agent a way of deliverance from pecuniary difficulties would be found. Meanwhile the institution was apparently flourishing. Its number of students increased. In the catalogue for 1835 two hundred and thirty were enrolled; twelve of these were in the Theological Department, five of them graduating.

There was at this time a wide interest taken in the Theological Department of the College. A convention had been held at Ripley, Ohio, August 20, 1834, to which delegates had been invited from the Synods of Ohio, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Indiana. The Convention had for its object the reorganization of this department of the College. It was proposed that out of this department the Indiana Theological Seminary should be constituted, with less intimate relations to the board of trustees of the College, the Synods, or those of them co÷perating in the scheme, appointing directors, who, with directors appointed by the trustees of the College, should have joint control of the Seminary, while its property and funds should be under the management of the College. This action, greatly enlarging the sphere of influence of the institution, was for the time favorable to it. But there were untoward ecclesiastical conditions, as well as favorable. There were differences in [Page 50] the Presbyterian Church throughout the country on ecclesiastical methods and measures, as well as differences upon doctrines. These differences grew and increased in intensity, until the great church was divided in 1837 and 1838 into the New and Old School churches. These differences in their beginnings became manifest in the management of the College. There was a struggle in the Synod of Indiana, where the New and Old School parties were pretty evenly divided, for the management of the Theological Department of the College. And when it was seen that the Old School men were in the ascendency in the board of trustees and the instruction of the College, several who had been active in the board resigned their seats and withdrew their influence and support. J. W. Cunningham, Professor of Biblical and Oriental Literature, resigned. But the board found a successor to him in Rev. Robert H. Bishop. A year afterwards W. McKee Dunn, who had been principal of the Preparatory Department, was elected Professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, in order to divide with Professor Harney the classes in these branches. He accepted on condition that he might be absent a year in study at Yale. Charles K. Thompson became principal of the Preparatory Department. But while the institution, despite the ecclesiastical differences that were troubling it, seemed on the full tide of prosperity, there was real and great danger for it in the financial breakers ahead, which those in charge of the College were making the most strenuous efforts to avoid. While agents were in the field for the religious paper, and a general agent was also laboring, the President [Page 51] of the College visited the East to solicit aid for the institution so prosperous in its work of reaching students, exerting so beneficient an influence, and promising to accomplish so much more, situated, as it was, on the great highway of steam navigation in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys.

The President had not begun his work in the East when he received intelligence of the death of his wife who had dropped dead from apoplexy while returning on her way home from an errand of mercy to a poor neighbor. It was an overwhelming affliction to him, taking away from him fitness for his work. After a time, however, he resumed it, having made the long journey for it. He succeeded in obtaining in New York and Philadelphia subscriptions for aid to the amount of ten thousand dollars, payable at a future time, but obtaining very little money. He brought back with him, however, on his return a number of books for the library, and also an extensive and well-selected chemical and philosophical apparatus. But no relief was obtained for the growing debt. The general agency was also discontinued, because it had not been successful. Real estate had been offered for sale, and some sold, but nothing like a sufficient amount for the emergency. The printing establishment, with all pertaining to it, was offered for sale, but no purchaser was found. And still the debt grew. It was continually increasing through the printing work. In this emergency Dr. Crowe went to the East to secure help. He made no stop until he reached New York City, and arrived there to see the smoking ruins of one of the most disastrous conflagrations [Page 52] that to that date had occurred in the history of the country. Fire had swept over forty acres of the business part of the city, destroying two millions' worth of property and leaving thousands houseless and homeless. Under such circumstances the men most noted for their liberality and benevolence could not listen to a detail of the pecuniary difficulties of a college far away off in Indiana. Dr. Crowe went on to Boston, but ecclesiastical differences closed the door against him in that city, and after going still further East to Newburyport and not accomplishing anything, he returned to Philadelphia and endeavored to make collections of the subscriptions taken by Dr. Blythe the year before, but with little success, and he was obliged to return to Hanover with only a few hundred dollars as the result of his labors. But the discouraging letters he had written concerning his work had caused the Executive Committee to confer with a young gentleman distinguished for his enterprise and business tact, and who had for some time been connected with the printing establishment, and ascertain if he would not take it and the bindery and the religious paper, the Western Presbyterian, off their hands. The committee found him willing to negotiate, and at once closed a bargain with him. The purchaser was Joseph G. Montfort, now, in the last year of the nineteenth century, the venerable nonogenarian editor of the Herald and Presbyter, of Cincinnati, and for so many years distinguished as a minister and editor for his work in the church and by the press. The constant growth of the debt was stopped although the debt was not liquidated The Manual Labor system [Page 53] of defraying in a large measure the expenses of the students had proved a failure, and the number of students in attendance began to diminish.

But there were other untoward events that doubtless co÷perated to produce this diminution. Unhappily, divisions arose in the faculty, both in regard to government and instruction. These difficulties issued in the resignation of the venerable President, after four years of most successful conduct of the educational work of the College. The board accepted his resignation, and at the end of the collegiate year in 1836 the College was without a President. Immediate steps were taken to secure a successor, but they were without avail. Dr. Matthews, of the Theological Department, was acting President, the Vice-President, Dr. Crowe, being, at the request of the Board, actively engaged in agency work to relieve the College from its embarrassments, which were suddenly and unexpectedly largely increased.

On the fifth day of July, 1837, a tornado of great violence swept over the village of Hanover, prostrating everything in its path. The College building was sadly wrecked. That there were no lives lost was due to the fact that when the disaster occurred some seventy students that roomed in the building were at supper in the Refectory, which was not in the path of the tornado. The tornado was followed by a tremendous rain, which continued all night. The ruin wrought was revealed next morning. The main building of the College was unroofed; the eastern wall of the third story was thrown down, and the wing, a two-story building, twenty-five by forty feet on the ground, was demolished to the [Page 54] ground. The house of Professor Niles, a few rods to the east of the College, was not only demolished, but its materials, together with a large library, had been scattered like chaff before the wind. Happily, there were no occupants in the house. Professor Niles and his family were in New England, whither they had gone some months before for rest and recuperation. The effects of the tornado were more seriously felt in the finances of the College. Immediate repairs were necessary, and to make them required a large outlay. The destruction of most of the dormitories and all the recitation rooms led necessarily to a dispersion of most of the students until repairs could be made. Some forty or fifty, mostly of the higher classes, remained and had their regular recitations in a school-house. The old stone church had been torn down, and arrangements had been made for building a new house of worship, larger than the old, which was too strait for the growing congregation. The church had made arrangements with the College authorities to hold their Sabbath services in the College chapel while their new building was going up, and they had a large amount of material on hand and a goodly sum promised upon subscription for their building. All this inured greatly to the benefit of the College in its emergency and financial distress, which was increased by the loss of the fees of the departed students and their diminished numbers, as many that left never returned, having entered into other institutions. By the trustees and officers of the church, representing the mind of the congregation, an agreement was made with the trustees of the College by which the subscription and [Page 55] material of the church for its new edifice were turned over to the College for reconstructing its edifice, the church acquiring the right to hold its services in the College chapel until such time as the College could reimburse them for what had thus been turned over and it should be best for all parties that there should he a new church building, as had been originally planned.

At the College commencement of 1837 there were fifteen in the graduating class, but the prospects of the College were dark. Professor Niles sent his resignation from New England, giving as his principal reason the condition of his wife's health. A month afterwards Professor Dunn tendered his resignation, on account of the financial difficulties of the College. A month after this Professor Harney tendered his resignation. It was stroke after stroke. The hearts of some of the trustees failed them. They proposed to disband and give up the institution. But notwithstanding the embarrassments, difficulties and discouragements, the majority, convinced of the great importance of the work in which they were engaged to the interests of church and state in the rapidly growing West, resolved to go forward, trusting in the favor of God and man to crown their efforts with success, and to establish in permanency and with widening influence the institution which had been founded in faith and prayer. At the beginning of 1838 they thought they had found a President in Rev. Duncan McAuley, D. D., of Columbus, Ohio. He was principal of a high school at Columbus. He was commended to the board as a gentleman well qualified to preside over a college. He was represented as having recently emigrated [Page 56] from Scotland, and as having testimonials of the most satisfactory character as to his talents, attainments and high standing among the scholars of Scotland. During some agency work in Ohio Dr. Crowe had visited him, and was favorably impressed with his appearance and manners. He was elected President at the beginning of the year. At the same time the board of trustees elected Noble Butler Professor of Latin and Greek. They also elected Thomas Hynes Professor of Mathematics. Dr. McAuley was inaugurated March 27. His address at his inauguration made a fine impression. He was attractive and popular in his manners. The summer session opened with the most flattering prospects. But two months had not elapsed when the board were astounded by the most indubitable evidence that their President was an impostor, and that twelve months before he had been deposed from the ministry by a Presbytery in Upper Canada for gross immoralities. His relations to the College were consequently severed, and in July it was again without a President. But, marred as the history of the College was by this incident, and sad as it is to have so ignoble a name upon the pages of its catalogue and in the roll of its honored and distinguished Presidents, the mistake was so quickly corrected that no permanent injury came to the College from it.

to Chapter III




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