February 26, 1916
To the Editors of the Hanover College Triangle.
In a late issue of your valued paper I was pleased to see a call to the older friends ef
[sic] the College and town to give you any information they might have concerning the early residents, who by their lives of noble usefulness helped create the atmosphere conducive to “high thinking and plain living.”
To illustrate your point, you mentioned two French ladies, the Misses Cecile and Ester Brandt, who, your informant said, were poets and one of whom wrote for the Ladies Repository.
As one having lived in their home from early childhood and drank in the early history of the family and their associations, til it seems a very part of my own experience, may I give you some glimpses of the beautiful lives of these ladies?
When three months old Miss Cecile came to America from Switzerland. They settled in Madison, being drawn thither by the Swiss settlement with Vevay as center. Until the father’s death in 1829 they lived in Madison, but soon after moved to their farm where they had spent many summers and made that their home until they finally moved into Hanover. The farm was that now known as the Dolan farm, two miles east of Hanover. Here their early education was continued in the Buckeye Schoolhouse, located down the line from their farm on the Samington place, now included in the Craig farm. This school house was the center of the social life of the community including the College boys and for years was the preaching place of the pioneer Methodist preacher.
Co-education was scarcely even dreamed of or to be mentioned only with bated breath, but these ambitious young ladies were not to be one whit behind their student friends, and the way was provided for them. Where Capt. Henry Banta now lives, there was an excellent Academy for young ladies, conducted by the Misses Crosby, the elder of whom later became the wife of Dr. McKee, who endowed the McKee professorship. Enrolled among the pupils were those whom later the people came to honor for their beautiful, useful service to the community and to the world, the Misses Butler, Crowe, Dunn, Brandt, Logan, Maxwell, Matthews and many more.
About the same
time there was a french [sic] artist, Prof. Persac, living in Hanover and
many of these young ladies took advantage of that opportunity also. March
Miss Esther [sic] had marked ability in art, and her work shows a fine taste and faithful work. She, more perhaps than Miss Cecile, who was very practical, enjoyed literary pursuits. But among her writings, I find no evidence of any poetic genius, or that either sister wrote much for publication. Miss Ester wrote on local topics for the Madison papers and occasionally to her favorite church paper on some topic near to her heart.
I recall them telling often of an amusing incident which might have given rise to the report that they were poets. One of the students came to Miss Cecile with a stanza or two in English, asking if she would translate it into French for him. The languages being equally familiar to her it was soon done. A softly amorous ode which he would scarcely offer his fair one in bold English. Such things will leak out and in time become much more than fact.
In a diary which Miss Ester kept for sixty-five years I find many references to social events connected with the College and some notes signed by the members of the literary societies. Sometimes it was a committee asking their attendance at an open meeting, or to help decorate for the great annual spring exhibitions.
These young ladies kept pace with their brothers in intellectual life and had their own literary society, called “The Independent Society.” One of its activities was the publication of an organ called “The Independent.” To this each member contributed and after the society critic had passed judgement it was incorporated in the paper. The Editor was also the Printer and publisher for her term of office and it was all done in script. Many of these papers were collected and kept until in recent years when one of the surviving members, over jealous for the privacy of the individual contribution, destroyed them. But I now have a number of the contributions, with criticisms, that are really very valuable. I have read and reread many of those Independents and am certain that the departmental work and the scope of subjects treated were equal to any of the same period to be found among the archives of their brother societies in the College.
So far as I know only one member of the society still lives, but their impress for good, true, intelligent and efficient womanhood remains on all who come in touch with their lives. Their memory should not be allowed to pass from the annals of the community.
It would certainly
be of interest to gather from their descendents sketches of the lives of
these ladies. Each year of delay lessens the opportunity of so doing.