William Alfred Millis,
The History of Hanover College
From 1827 to 1927

(Hanover, Indiana: Hanover College, 1927).

Hanover Historical Texts Project

Scanned and proofread by Sadiye Amcaoglu, Nida Khan,
Julie Merkel, Jonathan Perry, Faiza Shah, and Cory Sims in November 2000.

Chapter XVI
Student Life

[Page 245] NEXT after the quality of instruction provided and the moral atmosphere of an institution of learning, the factor of most consequence is the mode of living and the character of the pleasure life of the students. It may safely be said of Hanover that the student life here has on the whole been physically and spiritually healthy, simple, substantial. Hanover has been peculiarly free from those forms of extravagance which have threatened the well-being of many colleges. This is due in part to the social type which predominates in the student body, in part to the rugged, rather highminded simplicity of the rural community which founded the College, and in whose atmosphere she has grown up. There has not been much money to spend, and small opportunity for spending that little. In this Hanover has been fortunate, for simple living is always and everywhere a necessary condition of high thinking and clean morals.

Whether college students should be segregated from the common people has always been and is yet in some quarters a mooted question. But there can be no question of the value to young men of living in the homes of very many families who have made up the village of Hanover. Hundreds of Hanover alumni speak with affection and sincerity, as does Dr. Wiley, of the mothering of the Rankins, the Garritts, the Britans, the Bantas, the Nighberts, the Montgomerys [Page 246] and a score of other village families, as well as of the professor's families. Lodging in private homes such as these injects a human element into the education of the college student which contributes largely to the wholesomeness of his personality. For the greater part of the century Hanover students have lived and boarded in and as a part of such family life.

During the days of enthusiasm over the "manual labor" project, the number of students greatly exceeded the capacity of the "Settlement," for there was no village until after the school was well on its way. The trustees met the situation by the erection of a large boarding house whose dining hall accommodated most of the student body. Beside this a number of small, square, one and two-room cottages, called dormitories, each room lodging two boys, were erected near the boarding house. When the College Edifice was built the third floor was made into thirty-two dormitories, each holding two students. In this manner the College speedily provided housing and board for the majority of the student body of more than two hundred. But by 1843 all this equipment was lost, partly destroyed by a cyclone and the rest sold to clear off the accumulated indebtedness. No further effort was made to provide dormitories until after the admission of women. Dr. Fisher erected the Point House, but confessed doubt of his wisdom in doing so. It had a checkered career until within recent years. Since it was rebuilt it has been a com ortable home for the young women, and the social center of the student body. Provision has been made for the construction of a private dormitory for boys in the near future.

Some years ago one of the fraternities erected a chapter house which at that time was the most pretentious fraternity house in the state. Since then other [Page 247] fraternities have procured homes. At the present time three own very attractive houses and a fourth occupies rented quarters. These homes have served to elevate the standards of living without unduly increasing costs. They have been well managed. Each such household is a self-government association, and as such they have been gratifyingly efficient.

It has been the policy of Hanover to keep the costs of student living to the lowest point possible, consistent with proper feeding and comfortable lodging. Three reasons support this policy. The first is the purpose to keep Hanover democratic, to prevent the growth of snobbery, to preserve "naturalness" and "friendliness." Each increase in the cost of board, lodging and pleasure life, closes the door of opportunity to scores of the best minds of the army of youth. If democracy means opportunity it is the duty of the College to keep the cost of education within the reach of any boy or girl who has the heart to strive for higher things. Snobbery and artificiality have no place in a liberal education. For this reason Hanover has endeavored to remain one college in which the boy of limited means can procure the best training. A second reason is the feeling that College life should not create habits which can not ordinarily be indulged for many years after graduation. The third reason is the equally pronounced feeling that the center of gravity in the college world should be in the field of spiritual things.

The schedules of expenses form an interesting chapter in the early history of the College. The first catalogue announces the following charges, and since the institution provided both instruction and maintenance, the statement may be taken as covering the actual costs:

[Page 248]
College bills, $7.50 per session...........$15.00
Board at $1.00 per week.....................42.00
Room rent, $1 per year.......................1.00
Fuel and light, $5.00 per year...............5.00
Washing, $4.00 per year......................4.00


It was estimated that the average student would earn $25 per year in the shops, leaving him but $42.00 of cash to provide. In 1835 board had gone up to $1.25 per week, but the estimated value of manual labor products had advanced to $40.00 per year. The data available suggests that since in those days there were no dates, dances, confectioneries, football games, joy rides, annuals, fraternity dues, college papers, jewelry, green caps and other impedimenta of the modern days, and tobacco was consumed in the twist, the above expenditures represented about all that was demanded from the family purse, except in the case of the uncertain number who patronized the pre-Volsteadian merchants of Lexington and Madison.

With the rising economic tide, student costs at Hanover, as at all other colleges, have increased. This has been due in part to better living and to the higher cost of living in general, but more largely to the vast increase of student pleasure life. The following table shows the cost of instruction and board and lodging by decades:

1830-1840 / ($15.00/$30.00) / ($ 48.00/$70.00)
1840-1850 /(20.00/30.00) / (64.00/64.00)
1850-1860 / (30.00/30.00) / (60.00/98.00)
1860-1870 / (10.00/35.00) / (78.00/144.00) 1870-1880 / (10.00/11.00) / (105.00/148.00)
1880-1890 / (11.00/18.00) / (100.00/150.00)
[Page 249]
1890-1900 / (18.00/21.00) (100.00/126.00)
1900-1910 / (21.00/39.00) (126.00/144.00)
1910-1920 / (39.00/45.00) (126.00/185.00)
1920-1926 / (45.00/100.00) (185.00/216.00)

The comparative costs at Hanover and other typical institutions are shown in the following official statements issued in 1924:

Hanover / $ 75.00 / $216.00 / $291.00
Earlham / 150.00 / 300.00 / 450.00
Franklin / 100.00 / 266.00 / 366.00
Butler / 150.00 / 306.00 / 456.00
De Pauw / 160.00 / 245.00 / 405.00
Wabash / 130.00 / 284.00 / 414.00
Lombard / 175.00 / 388.00 / 563.00
Knox / 200.00 / 320.00 / 520.00
Northwestern / 120.00 / 222.00 / 342.00

A study of college charges reveals a general tendency to require the student to pay a larger share of the cost of his instruction, thus making the increasing tuition fee a relatively larger item in the student's total expense. Obviously the item of board and lodging varies with the general cost of living. But the largest increase is in the item of student pleasure life. In 1835 this item was inconspicuous. At the present time it possibly amounts to as much as the cost of tuition and living combined. The invasion of the campuses by the society bacillus with its outrageous charges is the most ominous threat to the future of college education. While Hanover is protected somewhat by her isolation, she is more and more reflecting the moods and activities of the society set.

The scholarship system, inaugurated in the second administration, had a double purpose. Primarily this was to provide an assured income, but also in a meas- [Page 250] ure to relieve the burden of the student of meager resources. Since this early and quite disastrous experiment the College has had but three or four small scholarship funds. The policy of the present administration is to require the student to pay a larger proportion of the cost to the College of his instruction, and to provide for those who can ill afford to produce larger fees by a system of long time loans at a nominal rate of interest. A modest Rotary Loan Fund has been created, and is administered on the plan employed by the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church. All scholarship grants must be earned by service rendered to the College.

A number of devices have been employed by the students of each generation to reduce their expenses. Cooperative, or club boarding, is one of the most successful, securing to the student certain economies in buying provisions in quantity, and eliminating overhead. "Batching" is another plan employed here, as in other colleges, by many students of limited means, who in later life became illustrious. The most noted "bachelor" in the history of Hanover is Harvey W. Wiley, whose story from his own pen of how he lived at College, is here reproduced:

"It was on the ninth of April, 1863. I had walked from my father's farm to Hanover. I did not know a soul in the town personally. When the spires of the church met my eye about a mile or half a mile distant, I had a heart attack. I was clad in homespun clothing, grown, carded, spun, woven, cut and made at home. It was not a particularly fashionable fit. The shoes were cowhide. I had no collar nor necktie. I was an awkward farm boy.

"I sat down and leaned up against a maple tree which was just bursting into leaf and looked very happy and inviting. I was feeling remarkably miser- [Page 251] able. I held a long discussion with myself, taking both sides of the question. I first pictured myself going into the presence of these cultured people, students well-dressed and groomed, professors learned and urbane. It was a sorry spectacle that I presented. Then I took the other side of the question. If my heart failed me and I walked the four miles back to my father's farm, that would be the last of my education I should remain a plow boy all my life. As a plow boy I had won distinction. I was acknowledged to be the best in the neighborhood. Why not go back to the duties which I was qualified to perform? In the final analysis the plow boy lost out and I marched boldly forward. As I came into the village, a warm, beautiful spring day, I saw a young boy by an open window on the ground floor studying his lesson. I made bold to open the gate and go up to the window. I said to him, 'Are you a student of Hanover?' to which he replied in the affirmative. I said, 'I want to enter college. How shall I do it I' He replied, I Call on Dr. Wood. I To which I replied, 'Where does he live?' He answered, 'I will go with you.' This boy was Samuel Wilson Elliott. He became my friend, the first I had at Hanover, a friendship which lasted to the day of his death. Dr. Wood was extremely gracious and helpful. His attitude to me removed all my timidity. He made me feel that after all a college president was also a human being.

"I inquired of my boy friend Elliott where I could rent a room. He took me to the Misses Brandt, Celia and Esther. They showed me a nice room, unfurnished, for which I paid one dollar a week. I lived with these blessed women four years and three months. The Maxwells, who formerly lived in and around Hanover, were early subscribers to the original funds of Hanover College. For the money they paid in they received tuition scrip. John Milton Maxwell, who had moved to Madison and had become a hardware merchant, gave me scrip which paid my tuition [Page 252] for four years and three months. He had been a student of Hanover but had never graduated. He gave me a large number of very valuable classics, so I did not have to buy very many Latin and Greek books during my course. At the end of this ninth day of April, 1863, I walked back home with all arrangements made. The following day we hitched up our farm wagon, put in a quarter cord of stove wood, an old stove, a bedstead with its accompaniments, a small table and two chairs, together with an assortment of food, including butter, eggs, baked bread, corn meal, a jug of sorghum syrup, and some salt and pepper. I did not use any coffee or tea while I was in college. The night of the tenth of April saw me established a bachelor, and the next day I began my studies. I rarely had meat at any time during my college course. I soon became an expert maker of corn meal mush, which with sorghum was my principal diet for the next four years.

"One spring I walked due west about two miles and a half to my Grandfather Wiley's old farm, at that time owned by William Crosby, a grandson, and my full cousin. There was a good maple camp on this farm, and it was during the maple sugar season. I had about $1.50 in money, with which I bought a gallon of maple syrup and carried it back to my room. This tasted better than the sorghum syrup, but it was no more wholesome. Insofar as I now recollect, this was the only food product I ever bought while living at Hanover. I was greatly interested in the Philal Literary Society which I had joined. Its meetings were held on Friday evening. Insofar as I remember, I never missed one of these meetings while I was a student. I felt greatly benefited by engaging in its exercises. I particularly learned to speak standing on my feet in debates, a faculty which has been of the greatest aid to me in all my career. I had regular habits. I never went out with the boys at night. I studied until ten o'clock and arose at four o'clock in the morning and reviewed all my lessons for the day [Page 253] before I took my breakfast. Every Saturday I worked on the farm, rain or shine, winter or summer. My father gave me a dollar for my day's work, with which I paid my room rent for the week. Sunday I went to church. Sunday afternoon my mother prepared my knapsack containing my food for the week. I walked back to Hanover and always attended the religious exercises Sunday evening. I had already prepared most of my lessons for Monday, but arising at four o'clock Monday morning I reviewed them all and went to the classroom fully prepared for all emergencies.

"So far as I can remember, I was never invited to take a meal with the boys who lived in a boarding house until the latter part of my senior year. Having been at the head of my class in every examination during the whole four years, I should have been a Phi Beta Kappa, if that organization had existed at Hanover at that time.

"My total cash expense at Hanover, aside from my domestic clothing, were exceedingly small. My tuition was free, my rental extremely moderate, and I wore no fine clothes. I remember the first time when I was put on public performance in the Philal Society, I borrowed a celluloid collar and a necktie, as these things were not a part of my home equipment. I should say that $50 a year covered all my cash expenses."

It must not be supposed that all students of the sixties lived the simple life of Dr. Wiley, nor that they wore home-spun clothes. Dr. Wiley himself and his brother appeared at their graduation exercises in 1867, models of tailored elegance, wearing Prince Albert suits of broadcloth and adorned with silk toppers. Nor were these borrowed for the occasion. On the whole, Hanover students of the early day, as at present, dressed in the modes of the educated classes generally. Madison was then the metropolis of the state, and set the styles, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the up-state county-seats as well. In this [Page 254] species of leadership the College shared. Besides, there is a rather close parallelism between dress and deportment, and the type of public address in vogue. The college students and professors of former days of "spring exhibitions" and abundant rhetoric were disposed to dress the part. Silk hats and long coats were more common then than now. Evening dress was little known, but that was true of all western colleges. Even the presidents were strangers to conventional clothes. An alumnus of the nineties describes dressing of that period as follows:

"The students of the last decade of the last century were good dressers. Many of the men had their "swallow-tails" which they assumed on stated and stilted occasions. Many patronized their tailors and were well clad, even fastidious in their dress.

"Dr. D. W. Fisher, the President, seldom ventured far from home without his shiny silk hat, into which he would drop his huge bunch of keys as he placed the 'lid' on the floor or table and proceeded to business. Professor A. P. Keil in a close-fitting Prince Albert and a high hat was a picture of sartorial perfection, while many of the other professors were careful, though not extravagant, dressers. All this had a wholesome and awesome influence on the verdant freshmen.

"The different fraternities at certain seasons of the year were accustomed to buy gayly colored or unusual styles of headgear, every member of the fraternity wearing a hat exactly like his brother member, so that a man was known as to his fraternity, not so much by the company he kept as by the hat he wore.

"Far be it from me to attempt to describe the apparel of the feminine portion of my class and college age. As I recall, the girls were quiet in their tastes, devoted to high collars, long sleeves and long skirts and hats perched high on the very top of their heads. [Page 255] The brain thus was neither 'cabined, cribbed nor confined' and the scholarship among the girls of my day was, perhaps in consequence, of a high order."

Among the several problems of the Hanover students, transportation has been prominent. Prior to the fifties, and particularly after the construction of the Madison-Indianapolis Railroad, the first in the state, the College was the most accessible institution in Indiana. Since the Civil War these conditions have materially changed, yet not so much as to be an essentially decisive factor, for college students do not make frequent trips. More difficulty has been experienced in negotiating the distance between Madison and Hanover. Madison has been not only the railway terminal, but, which is more to the point, has been "down town" to the students, the lure of its bright lights captivating their leisure hours. Moderately priced taxis, the swarm of cheap cars owned by the students, or to be borrowed, and the good nature of motorists, make the trip to Madison and return at the present a simple matter. But it was not so in the early days of walking (not yet camouflaged as "hiking"), horseback travel, and the jolt wagon, nor in the middle eighties, and later graphically pictured by William Chalmers Covert:

"Promises of a steam railroad running from Cincinnati to Louisville, making Hanover a station, were being confidently accepted; but the stage from Madison, with carrying capacity for nine people and two trunks on the boot, continued to be the only public carrier through the village. It made slow but sure connection between the terminal of the J. M. and I. Railway at Madison and the Louisville Division at Seottsburg. The trip from Madison occupied most of the afternoon after the arrival of the morning train.

[Page 256] The two old horses, in service during the four years of my stage experience, met the heavy student business of the fall term with pathetic patience, always halting in the hard pull at two springs on the hill road and at several other resting places. The post office, then in the Eastman home, was the center where new students and their baggage were dropped and the "spiking" committees picked up their pledges, unless some prosperous brother had rented 'Rankin's rig' and met the 'rushed' student at Madison. Only one rentable conveyance was available in the village. Only two students were allowed to ride behind the carefully kept old mare. At the edge of the village, however, the seating capacity of the buggy was suddenly expanded by a board laid across the seat and extending out over the wheels, making precarious but popular room for five or six boys. The embarrassment was very acute should the boys who had rented the rig for two be met, as sometimes happened, by one of Mr. Rankin's daughters returning from Madison. This ended further livery business with Mr. Rankin."

It has been said that a stranger could count the students and secure an accurate census of the population of the village by taking his position at the village post office at "mail time." There may be some question as to the census of the village, for Dr. Ballard said in a sermon one morning that when asked the population of Hanover he always replied, "Two thousand, five hundred humans and the rest hens." But, whatever the real figure, "waiting for the mail at the post office" is decidedly the social institution of the community, if not its "chief outdoor sport." The village raconteurs hand down many funny happenings of these occasions, but possibly none which the alumni will enjoy more than Dr. Covert's story of the inauguration of telephone service between Hanover and Madison:

[Page 257] The telephone was skeptically received by our class in physics in 1882. A large crowd of students gathered at the post office waiting for the special opening of the line by a conversation President Fisher was to hold with some official at Madison. When Dr. Fisher, with well-concealed embarrassment, appeared in his Prince Albert coat and silk hat, the occasion took on an air of official importance. None of us, knew enough to laugh when, in answer to the bell, Dr. Fisher took down the receiver which he pressed to his lips, and in a tone capable of quelling riotous freshmen, he shouted 'hello.' During my four years the telephone had no popular use. I do not recall having once used it while a student."

Student pleasure life, as observed earlier in the chapter, is everywhere essentially a reflection of the pleasure life of the times, with possibly some exaggeration of the bizarre. Hanover young men have found fun in much the same manner as all young men of their day. The admission of women, following close upon the establishment of the fraternity system, brought Hanover in closer contact with student practices of other institutions, making organized "social affairs" more prominent upon the campus. Student dancing has the same history here as elsewhere, except that the Faculty has dealt with the problem possibly more frankly than have some sister institutions. Dancing, of course, did not for many years assume the form of the present mania, but there was always some dancing. At first, barn dances in the country about, later surreptitious, unsupervised all-night dances over down-town store-rooms. Now, for many years, supervised dancing is restricted to fraternity halls and as to hours, invitation lists and deportment. Hanover went through a somewhat extended period of "student pranks" committed "for fun." This [Page 258] suggestion will bring to the memory of the older alumni many escapades in the bell tower and the village horse pastures. The growth of organized extra-curricular activities has left these classic modes of entertainment largely in the discard.

This chapter may properly close with Dr. Joseph T. Britan's picture of pleasure seeking in his day:

"The fun of the students of my day was of two kinds-regenerate and unregenerate. As to the first mentioned brand, the class parties given by each and every class from time to time, might be mentioned. These were of a dignified character or of a rollicking nature, as the mood of the class dictated, or perhaps, as the 'razzing spirit' of another class permitted. Frequently some farmer's hay wagon carried the class out into the country to the home of some 'hayseed' member-and many there were of this class, as the future honor of the College witnesses; or the home of some farmer who opened his doors to the class for an evening's entertainment.

"I remember well when the class of 1897 was enjoying what they thought was the seclusion of a distant farmer's hospitality that an upper class followed our wagon, stole our horses and left us to walk home. The fun of the class of 1897 was regenerate and chaste-that of the upper class was distinctly otherwise.

"Picnic suppers, properly chaperoned, to the various water-falls in the vicinity of Hanover, furnished a fine social opportunity, and an outlet for the hilarity which the staid and dignified professors were often unable to entirely repress in the classrooms.

"Excursions up and down the Ohio River on one of the better type of boats of that day furnished a day and evening of unequalled pleasure to the whole studentbody. Dancing was then 'taboo,' and only`when the students could give the College authorities the slip [Page 259] or clandestinely engage in that ancient form of amusement, were they able to educate their feet with anything like the thoroughness to which their heads were subjected in the regular college work.

"Then, as now, no doubt, there was unregenerate fun. Some drinking, but not much; once in a while a man gambled, now and then forgot that he was 'civilized' and 'reverted to type'; but this extreme form of so-called fun was rare.

"As we look back on the college experiences of the 1890's, perhaps it would be wrong to class as 'unregenerate' fun the escapades and pranks of the exuberant in the classrooms of Professors Garritt and Kiel, for instance.

"Many a boy, when the call of spring was insistent and clear, and the classroom windows were open, would escape the recitation and the classroom by way of the open window jumping the ten feet to the ground with scorn of danger. Or if the conduct of the classroom was too reprehensible, dear old Dr. Garritt would bring his giant hand down on his knee with a bang and say, 'Oh, come now, gentlemen! Be gentlemen!'

"Perhaps the stiff initiations into the fraternities and sororities should be mentioned as unclassified fun."

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