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 VI

[Page 80] The charter of Hanover College was surrendered to the State Legislature just at the commencement of the two weeks' recess at Christmas, and, the charter for the Madison University having been secured, arrangements were made for opening the following term at Madison. Professors Hynes and Sturgus and Eckstein, a new Professor of Modern Languages, knew nothing whatever of the proposed change of location until the astounding report of it was brought to Hanover. Though against their will and wishes, there seemed nothing else for them to do but to go into the new locality to which their chairs had been carried.

The College building at Hanover was, by the enactment of the Legislature, sold at public sale. Dr. Crowe bidding ten dollars, and no one bidding against him, it was sold to him at that price, subject to the lien of the church upon it. At the same time that the session of the Madison University was opened, he, with his eldest son, who was a graduate of the College, opened a classical and mathematical academy in the old College building. This was done at the very urgent solicitation of the session of the church and of the citizens of Hanover and vicinity, in hope that in some way this might lead to the restoration of the College. In a short time forty students were in attendance in the academy, a number of them students who had been in the College classes.

[Page 81] Difficulties arose in the way of the institution at Madison. The surroundings of the students in the city, with its restaurants, saloons and enticements to evil, were not so favorable to study and good order as the quiet annd moral and religious influences of a secluded village. Those who wished to improve their time and opportunities could not accomplish their work, and those who could be led astray were enticed into ways of evil that were prepared for them. The Professors became dissatisfied, tIne surroundings and the baleful influences blighting their work and the lives of the students committed to their care. Professor Anderson soon resigned and withdrew. Professors Hynes and Sturgus and S. Harrison Thompson, who was elected at the opening of the term, resigned before the end of the spring term of three months, and gave notice that they would withdraw at the end of the term. Two weeks before the close of the session of the University, at a regular session of one of the literary societies, the Philalathean, the subject of a return to Hanover was brought up, and so general was the feeling of dissatisfaction with their circumstances and prospects that a resolution was proposed and passed unanimously to return forthwith to Hanover. And next day they loaded their furniture and library of sixteen hundred volumes into wagons, and the society in a body went to Hanover. Their arrival in Hanover was a great surprise. Their coming was hailed with delight, and they were received with the greatest cordiality. They expressed their determination to have nothing more to do with Madison University, and requested permission to occupy their odd hall in the College building and to [Page 82] hold their spring exhibition in the College chapel. Their request was granted, and with their presence it seemed as if the College might come to life again.

Dr. Crowe had been strongly urged to undertake the work of re-establishing the College. Providential events seemed to indicate to him that that was the way of duty. Without any solicitation or knowledge of the friends of Hanover, at the time when the charter of the College was surrendered to the Legislature and a charter for the Madison University was granted, by the action and influence of two members of the Legislature, John S. Simonson, of Clarke county, and Henry Lee, of Jefferson county, an amendment was made to the bill that was about to pass, reviving the original charter of 1829 for Hanover Academy. The amendment was carried and the charter of 1829 restored. Thus, without thought or solicitation on the part of those specially interested, was a legal foundation laid for the re-establishment of the College if providential events favored it. A number of ministers from different parts of the State had written to Dr. Crowe, urging him to undertake the work. The course of events at Madison, the resignation of the Professors of the University, and the return of the Philalathean Literary Society to Hanover, indicated that the way was opening for the work of reorganizing the College, not as a close corporation, but what it was originally intended to be--a college of the church.

Dr. Crowe began his work by soliciting in Hanover and vicinity for the support of three Proffesors for two years. He accomplished this without any difficulty. Two of these subscriptions were for four hundred dollars each. [Page 83] Overtures were made to Professors Hynes, Sturgus and Thompson for their services. Professor Hynes declined to accept a professorship, as he wished to devote himself to the work of the ministry, but he favored the movement, and would give daily instruction a portion of his time. Professors Sturgus and Thompson agreed to accept. A meeting was then called for April 6 for organization as a corporate body under the charter for the Hanover Academy approved January 6, 1829, and revived and approved January 15, 1844. The Organization was effected, and the following persons became trustees: John Finley Crowe, Tilly H. Brown, Williamson Dunn, George Logan, William Reed, John M. Young, Robert Simonson, Jacob Haas and John D. Smock.. After organization Rev. James M. Henderson, Rev. James A. McKee, Rev. David Lattimore aind Rev. Thomas W. Hynes were elected additional members. Mr. Hynes, being present, took his seat. The following appointments were made as Professors: Rev. John Finley Crowe, D. D., Principal and Professor of History, Logic, Rhetoric and Political Economy; Minard Sturgus, A. M., Professor of the Greek and Latin Languages; Samuel Harrison Thompson, A. M., Professor of Mathematics and the Natural Sciences; Frederick Eckstein, Professor of the French and German Languages and of Drawing. The sessions were to open the first Mondays of May, September and March. Thus was prepared the opening again of Hanover Academy, with the expectation of its soon becoming once more Hanover College.

The next week Madison Presbytery met, and April 11 [Page 84] adopted, with but one dissenting voice, the following resolution:

"Resolved, That this Presbytery deeply regrets the surrender of the charter of Hanover College; that we heartily approve of the efforts of the worthy founder and former friends to continue and build up again a school of the prophets at Hanover, and that we cordially recommend said school to the prayers and sympathies of our churches."

About the same time a similar resolution was adopted unanimously by the Presbytery of Crawfordsville, indicating a widespread interest in behalf of Hanover. On the first day of May, 1844, the institution was opened with the most flattering prospects of success. At the meeting of the board preceding the commencement, a greater number of students was reported as in attendance than had been for several years before, with one exception.

At the meeting of the Synod of Indiana at New Albany early in October, 1844, Dr. McMaster presented a communication from the president of the board of trustees of Madison University, containing an authenticated copy of the act of the Legislature creating that corporation, which act provided that the Synod of Indiana should have power to appoint one-half of the trustees, together with a summary statement of the organization of the board, the establishment of a college for general academical instruction in the University, and the condition, design, and prospects of the school. Dr. McMasters availed himself of the occasion in presenting these papers to make a long and elaborate speech in [Page 85] justification of himself and coadjutors in the destruction of Hanover College for the purpose of building up a larger and more efficient institution. A motion was made at the close of his speech that the Synod adopt Madison University as their school and unite with the board of trustees, according to the provisions of the charter, in its superintendence and control. After a protracted discussion the motion was lost. There was then presented to the Synod a memorial paper, setting forth the organization of Hanover Academy and College and their relation to the Synod and of the Synod to them, and also setting forth the facts in the removal of the College to Madison, the surrender of its charter, and the organization of Madison University, the re-enactment by the Legislature of the charter of Hanover Academy, what had been accomplished for the rebuilding of Hanover College, the assurance they had of obtaining a new charter for the College, and a determination to rebuild the College, which had accomplished so much, for which so much of sacrifice had been made, which had the sympathy and favor of so many ardent friends, and for which the prospects were so promising. And the Synod was asked again to adopt the College as its own. The assurance was given that its board of trustees would no longer be a close corporation, electing their own members, but that the Synod should have a direct agency in its management by their own election of trustees of the board. Provision for this would be made in the new charter which was to be obtained from the Legislature of the State, soon to meet. The Synod, by an overwhelming majority, decided to [Page 86] resuscitate their College, adopting Hanover Academy in the meanwhile as their Synodical school. And inasmuch as in the surrender of the charter of the College Hanover had been declared to be an unsuitable place for the College, a committee was appointed to examine the whole field and report at the next meeting of the Synod in favor of such place as they might judge most favorable to the interests of the church and prosperity of the College. At the next meeting of the Synod the following year, at Vincennes, the committee reported in favor of Hanover. Before this meeting of the Synod at Vincennes the new charter had been obtained for the College without any opposition, and much more liberal and desirable than the one that had been surrendered. After the Synod at New Albany had refused to accept participation in the control of the Madison University and to pledge it the patronage of the Synod, Dr. McMasters accepted the presidency of Miami University, and the Madison enterprise was abandoned. Thus Hanover had the field again as the college of the Old School Presbyterian Church, with the sympathies of the Synod and its patronage and help pledged to it. The work of establishing the College had to be begun anew. There was a good name, which was of great value, but no permanent funds, an essential factor in building up a college. There was a college building, but not an adequate one. And the equipment of library and apparatus was entirely wanting. What had previously belonged to the College had, with everything else, been transferred to Madison University. But with willing hands and glad hearts the long and arduous work of re-establishing the [Page 87] College was undertaken. The catalogue of 1845 was one which, under the circumstances, was luminous with hope. There were eighty-one students The great majority of them were from a distance. Sixteen were from the village and neighborhood; the balance were from nine different States. Forty-six were from Indiana, sixteen from Kentucky, nine from Mississippi., and the remainder from six other States.

The Rev. Dr. Sylvester Scovel, of New Albany, was, in August, 1846, unanimously elected President. Dr. Scovel had been for some years District Secretary of the Board of Domestic Missions. He was a Christian gentleman of vigor and energy, whose praise was in all the churches. His executive and financial abilities fitted him especially for the wants of the College at this period. Under his administration the College paid its way. He secured in a short time a very excellent though comparatively small library, and began the work of gathering a permanent endowment fund. The following action of the Synod of Indiana, which met at Crawfordsville, October 14, 1847, throws light upon the history of the College during the first year of Dr. Scovel's administration:

"Resolved, First, that this Synod does rejoice in the prosperity of Hanover College, in the increasing number of its students, in the success that has attended the efforts that have been made to secure funds for its endowment, but especially in the divine favor shown to it in the conversion of more than forty of its pupils to God during the past year.

"Resolved, Second, that in the judgment of this Synod [Page 88] the success of the past year ought to be regarded as a call from God to take courage and go forward, assured of success in time to come.

"Resolved, Third, that Synod respectfully suggests to the board of trustees the importance of covering the whole field just now with a vigorous and efficient agency, and asks that the agents of the board be encouraged in all our churches.

"Resolved, Fourth, that inasmuch as the Synod has heard with pleasure of the willingness of the Northern Synod of Indiana to co÷perate with this Synod in building up a Presbyterian College for the West, this Synod cordially invites said cooperation, and further requests the trustees of the College to submit to said Synod such terms of union as in their wisdom may appear just and equal."

The Synod of Northern Indiana had been organized by the General Assembly of 1843. It held its first meeting in October, 1843, at Fort Wayne. It at first consisted of the Presbyteries of Logansport and Lake Michigan, extending but little south of the Wabash, although northward without bounds, embracing all of the few Old School churches in Michigan. Later it extended as far south as Indianapolis, and its growth and development was of the utmost importance to the College. At the annual meeting of the trustees of the College in August, 1848, a communication to the board from the Northern Synod of Indiana was submitted to them, asking the privilege of taking part in the work of building up the College. Thus communication was referred to a special committee that reported as follows:

[Page 89] "Your committee have had under consideration the proposition of Northern Indiana to aid in rearing the College, and to be allowed the privilege of appointing one trustee of the board; and finding from an examination of the charter of Hanover College that said charter restricts the appointment of trustees to the Synod of Indiana conjointly with this board exclusively; and whereas this board is desirous to reciprocate the kind regard of the Synod of Northern Indiana, and to give her a share in the government of this institution, the committee therefore recommends the adoption of the following resolution:

"Resolved, unanimously, That the Synod of Northern Indiana be invited to nominate, at its next annual session, one person as a trustee of Hanover College, and that this board, at their annual meeting in August next, will confirm such nomination."

With this action of the board was sent an explanatory statement that by the action taken the Northern Synod of Indiana had thereby accorded to it the privilege of nominating, every fourth year, a person to be appointed trustee, so that there should in all times be in office one trustee appointed by said Synod. But at the next annual meeting of the board, in August, 1849, further and more liberal measures were taken for securing to the Northern Synod a share in the work and management of the College. Measures were adopted to petition the Legislature at its coming session for such a change in the charter of the College as would give the Northern Synod an equal share with the Synod of Indiana on the board of trustees. The Legislature made the change, [Page 90] and thereafter the Northern Synod of Indiana, as long as it retained its separate existence as a Synod of the Old School church, elected annually two members of the board of trustees of Hanover College.

Until near the close of the college year of 1848 and 1849 there was marked and general prosperity. The College catalogue showed an attendance of one hundred and eighty-three. Seventy-four of them were from Indiana, thirty from Ohio and Kentucky each; the balance from ten other States. But before the college year closed a great calamity befell the College. It was the death of its President. The scourge of Asiatic cholera swept through the Ohio valley, and the last of June appeared at Madison. A student of the College was one of its first victims at Hanover. The disease spread rapidly. The College was disbanded and the students permitted to return home. Dr. Scovel, who had been in feeble health for some weeks, was attacked by the dreadful disease on the forenoon of the third day of July, and expired at four o'clock in the morning of the fourth of July. Three students died, and twenty-two of the citizens of the village. The death of Dr. Scovel was a very sore bereavement and a great loss to the College. But though a master workman was taken away, the work was not to stop.

At the annual meeting of the board in August, 1849, the Rev. Thomas E. Thomas, of Rossville, Ohio, was elected President. Under his administration the College continued to prosper, but not without financial difficulties. His administration was especially distinguished by the purchase of what has since been known as [Page 91] the college farm, and the erection of a new College building on the high bluff of the farm, overlooking the river. It was in October, 1849, that the board determined to purchase the farm for the erection of the new building in the near future. The farm was half a mile east of the old College building. It contained about two hundred acres, half of it upon the hillsides, and covered with forest trees. The other part of the farm was a level plateau, and giving upon the very brow of the hill, five hundred feet above the valley and the waters of the Ohio, a choice place for buildings and commanding views of natural scenery, yielding increasing pleasure and delight. Although, however, the place for the new College building was chosen, and the College was flourishing, with a large number of students, yet its financial condition was such, notwithstanding the diligent and faithful work of its agents, that not until the spring of 1852 was a plan for a new edifice adopted, and not until a year later was the building committee directed to enter into a contract for its erection. And, beginning with an insufficiency of funds for the completion of the work, the difficulties were greatly enhanced by the discrepancy between the estimated cost of the building by the architect and the actual cost as the workmen proceeded. It was estimated to cost eighteen thousand dollars. The actual cost when at length the building was completed was more than twice that amount. Before the work was completed the contractors were asked to stop their work because of the lack of funds. In 1854 Dr. Thomas resigned the Presidency of the College, in order to accept the Professorship of Bibliology in the New Albany Theological [Page 92] Seminary, to which he was at this time elected. His resignation was greatly to the regret of the students and of the board of trustees. In May, 1855, the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Edwards, of Fort Wayne, was elected President, and was inaugurated at the succeeding commencement in August. The College was in financial straits because of its new building, and because of arrears accruing upon Professors' salaries; it had, however, the sympathies of the churches of the two Synods, and its agents were busy throughout the State in gathering funds and disposing of scholarships for five and ten years of tuition in the College for subscriptions of fifty and one hundred dollars to the building fund for the new College building. But while these subscriptions for scholarships helped the building fund, it took away from the support of the Professors; for the payment of the salaries of the Professors had been mainly dependent upon the tuition fees, which had been for some years thirty dollars a year. Thus it was that while the College was prospering, with a large attendance of students, the income for the support of the Professors was diminishing, and their salaries were left in arrears. In this emergency the board of trustees and the friends of the College determined to secure an endowment fund of $100,000, the interest of which only should be used for paying Professors' salaries and current expenses. In April, 1855, this action of the board was determined upon. It was indorsed by the Synods of the State in their meetings in October. Agents had access to all the churches. Subscriptions were to be taken, payable in five or ten years. And these subscriptions were to become [Page 93] binding only upon the condition that the whole amount of one hundred thousand dollars was subscribed in good and reliable obligations. These subscriptions, when they became binding, gave the makers of them scholarships in the College, upon which they could place students, who should have their tuition in the College free. Interest upon these subscriptions at six per cent per annum was due in advance from the time of the announcement that the whole sum of one hundred thousand dollars had been subscribed. At a meeting of the board held at Indianapolis in November, 1856, it was announced that one hundred and one thousand two hundred and ninety eight dollars and fifty-six cents had been raised in good and reliable notes and subscriptions. It was a matter of great rejoicing that this success had been achieved. It inspired new hope and new zeal. Relief was anticipated for the suffering faculty, in the payment of whose meager salaries there had been such accumulating arrearages. The board also took new heart in their building enterprise, and it was determined to push the building, if not to completion, to such a stage of completion that it would do for occupancy at the commencement of the next college year. The subscriptions, however, that had been made for the College were not like funds placed in productive investments; nor were they like cash in hand, which could be readily invested in productive funds. They were to be collected from a wide region of country, and were liable to shrinkage from the vicissitudes occurring in the lives of men; from migrations; from losses from disasters from diseases and death. Likewise, another wave of financial [Page 94] disaster had swept over the whole land, strewing it with financial wrecks, and producing a general stringency in money matters. And there was not in the management of the affairs of the College that relief from financial burdens that had been anticipated. But if there was not immediate and full relief, the clouds of discouragement had in large measure lifted, and there was light all around the horizon. At the annual meeting of the board in August, 1857, the following paper, presented by James M. Ray, of Indianapolis, and seconded by Jesse L. Williams, of Fort Wayne, two of the most able and honorable elders of the church in the State, was unanimously adopted:

"WHEREAS, The trustees of Hanover College have at length the pleasure of announcing that the next session of the institution will be opened during the approaching fall in the new and extensive building erected on the beautiful grounds of the corporation, overlooking the Ohio river, it appears to be an appropriate occasion for the board to invite the renewed cooperation of all the friends of the College to effect in the best manner possible the benevolent and valuable objects of this institution.

"The board reiterates their united conviction that, vital as has been the existence and progress of the College to the training and education of the young men of the country, and especially in and from the families of Presbyterian churches in Indiana in the past, still more needful and valuable is the continuance and enlargement of Hanover College for the present and future prospects of our youth, both for providing candidates for the ministry and for other useful walks of life.

[Page 95] "The erection of the new and excellent building for the College, which is unequalled, at least in the West, in its fitness for the object designed, has cost much more than was expected, but it is fully worth all it will cost.

"To meet this excess and the accumulating claims to the Professors during the raising of the endowment fund, it is needful that all additional means necessary be contributed for the aid of the College, as well as that the subscriptions to the institution in every form be as soon as practicable paid, or advanced if not due, that the amount thus received may be so invested as to be made productive and fully meet the needful current expenditures for the successful conduct of the College. It is the purpose of the board to limit the expenditures of the institution to its income.

"The board therefore request of the two Synods of Indiana, of all the members of the churches composing these Synods, and of all the friends of sustaining a college for the Presbyterian churches in Indiana and in this part of the West, the earnest and prompt aid to this institution needful for its wants; and for this purpose we solicit the favorable action of the sessions, the Presbyteries and Synods of our church in this State. And in connection with this request the board express their unanimous and decided determination, on their own behalf and that of all the friends of the College, that the progress of Hanover College shall henceforth be onward, and only onward, perpetually."

The entrance into the new College building marked a new era in the history of the College. Its course since has been onward and continuously onward, though not [Page 96] without difficulties and struggles because of poverty. But through all its straits and distresses it had pressed on steadily in the achievement of its noble work in higher Christian education, attaining gradually better equipment, larger endowment and established permanency. Its history subsequent to its occupancy of its new building can only be briefly indicated here. Dr. Edwards, after two years in the Presidency, was called to the pastorate of the West Arch Street Church, Philadelphia, and accepted. The Rev. Dr. James Wood, Associate Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church, was elected President in April, 1859, and continued in office through the troublous times of our great civil war and until November, 1866. Under him the College was strengthened financially, and received its first large individual gifts for equipment and endowment. Dr. G. W. Archibald succeeded Dr. Woods. He had been pastor for a number of years of the First Church of Madison, but had been called from it to the pastorate of the Westminster Church of New York City. He continued President for two years, when, having been elected by the Presbyterian General Assembly Professor of Theology in the Danville Theological Seminary, he resigned the Presidency of the College to enter upon the new duties to which the General Assembly of the church had called him. The Rev. Dr. George C. Heckman, pastor of the State Street Church, Albany, New York, was elected in July, 1879. He had been pastor of the Third Church of Indianapolis before he went to [Page 97] Albany, and was familiar with the affairs and history of Hanover College. Under his administration the larger part of the gifts of Mrs. Lapsley, aggregating fifty thousand dollars, came to the College, though a goodly portion of this amount was given under the administration of Dr. Woods. A bad investment of college funds by the Treasurer, E. J. Whitney, a banker of Madison, became the cause of the resignation of Dr. Heckman in 1879. The income of the College was so reduced that it was necessary to reduce the salaries of President and Professors, and Dr. Heckman resigned for want of adequate support for his family. The income of the College was reduced for some years, but the principal of the funds invested unwisely for the College, though advantageously for the Treasurer, was restored to the College after long protracted litigation. Under Dr. Heckman's administration the President's house was built, a beautiful and commodious mansion and ornament to the grounds. The present President, the Rev. Dr. Daniel W. Fisher, succeeded Dr. Heckman. He was elected in July, 1879, and inaugurated September 2, 1880. With his incumbency came co-education. The progress of the College since can not be better indicated than by a statement from the Hanover Journal of October, 1900, prefacing the proposal of another forward movement for securing a twentieth century fund of one hundred thousand dollars for further endowment and equipment of the College. The extract is:

"For these many years Hanover College has not failed, in any of her attempt to add to her outfit for her work. Sometimes the goal had been reached quickly, and again [Page 98] there has been long delay, but always it has been attained. One after another the Y. M. C. A. Building, College Point House, Music Hall, the Observatory, the Gymnasium, Science Hall, the repairs and improvements of Classic Hall--the old main building--have come. During the period covered by these additions to the buildings, not less than one hundred thousand dollars have also been added to the endowment funds, and many minor improvements have been made."

These brief statements respecting the history of the College subsequent to 1857, give verification to the words of the determined purpose and confident prediction of the grand men and noble friends of the College of that day, "the progress of Hanover College shall henceforth be onward, and only onward, perpetually."

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Return to Hanover College Department of History
Please send comments to: