John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania (Volume v.1) online

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Plan to Establish a College. — A Good Pres-
ident Found. — An Energetic Board of Trus-
tees. — Eminence of the Early Students. — ■
College Classes Organised 1834. — Eminent
Professors Chosen. — The First Decade of the
College. — The Present Location Selected. — -
The Early Cost of Tuition. — Busy Bees in
Their Early Hive. — High Standard of Schol-
arship. — An Endozument Sought. — The Bril-
liant Presidency of Dr. IV. C. Cattell. — School
of Technology Established. — Donations and
New Buildings Erected. — Pardee Hall
Erected.- — Dr. Warfield Chosen President. —
The Curriculum Modified and Extended. —
Athletics, Social Life, and Fraternities.—
What the College Has Accomplished. — Pres-
ent Status of the College.

By Seldon J. Coffin.

The beautiful scenery about Easton has been
described by many writers, for it has always at-
tracted the attention of tourists. So wrote Pro-
fessor Silliman of Yale, a century ago ; and Wil-
liauT Cullen Bryant, some years later, with his
poetic tastes saw here those elements of natural
beauty that he depicted in graphic detail for an
editorial in the Xeiv York Evening Post. Rivers,
canals and roads winding through hills and bluffs
have originated scenery so variegated as to be
not often rivaled elsewhere. Early in the history
of the city, ]\Iargaret Junkin, who was known
later as Margaret Junkin Preston, the poetess of
the south, gave the names of Mount Ida and



Mount Parnassus to the two hills just south of
the town, the latter, on the eastern side of the
Delaware; to Mount Jefferson in its center, and
named the forest on the eastern border of the
Bushkill, Paradise ; appellations that still prevail.
Marble Hill, to the north, and Morgan's Hill
stretching loftily to the south, beside all the
other points named, stand prominent to the eye
of the visitor who ascends the lofty limestone
ledge just north of the Bushkill, whereon is situ-
ated Lafayette College. Its ample grounds face
the city to the extent of several squares. Few
localities on this continent or any other have


shared more largely in the beauteous bounties of
nature and of art than "The Forks of the Dela-
ware." "And no one point could be selected in
the whole vast assemblage of enchanting scenery,
whence the eye of delicate sensibility could drink
so largely of the streams of delightful vision as
from out Mons Scientire. Strangers and even
frequent visitors, as they ascend the hill, are seen
to stop and look back, and again to start; and
again, when the brow is gained, to pause long
and look down and all around the amphitheatre,
as if reluctant to turn the eye away from these
bold lines of nature and delicate pencillings of
art," as Margaret Junkin well said.

EastoN' Educational Enterprise. — It is
by no means strange that such beauties

of nature should from the first have made
the "Forks of the Delaware" attractive to
thoughtful people, not a few of whom were to
select this spot for their own home. In 1811 the
Easton Librarv was started on the suggestion
of Hon. Samuel Sitgreaves. On the conclusion
of the war with England, other efforts at edu-
cational progress originated. More attention was
given to the public schools. The Minerva Sem-
inary opened its doors, and soon attained dis-
tinction under the care of its able principal, Rev.
John A^anderveer, D. D., whose unique customs
and strong administration are well remembered
throughout this valley. In 1824
the higher education in Pennsyl-
vania, was represented by but five
chartered colleges. These were Dick-
inson College, at Carlisle, and the
University of Pennsylvania, at Phil-
adelphia, and three smaller colleges
more than three hundred and fifty
miles away on the extreme western
border of the state. Of the latter,
Washington and Jefferson were
under Presbyterian control ; but,
though doing a very useful work,
they were smaller. Separated from
us by the Alleghanies, they be-
longed to the valley of the Ohio
rather than the Atlantic coast.
The Plan to Establish
a College. — The enterprising spirit of the people
of Easton readily accepted the suggestion made
by the Hon. James Madison Porter, a rising at-
torney, who called a meeting of the citizens,
which was held at AMiite's Hotel, Centre Square
(now the postoffice), on IMonday, December 27,
1824. It was resolved to start a college in which
the ancient and modern languages, together with
mathematics, the natural sciences, civil engineer-
ing and military tactics should be taught. Vari-
ous names were proposed for the institution. On
the suggestion of Josiah Davis, who became
known in later years as the veteran teacher of
the town, it was voted to give the institution the
name of Lafayette College, in grateful remem-
brance of the services of the distinguished French



patriot, whose last triumphal visit to our shores
had just closed. The meeting appointed a board
of trustees consisting of the governor, the speak-
ers of the senate and of the house of representa-
tives, and the adjutant-general of the state ;
and General Robert Patterson, Colonels John
Hare Powell, Peter A. Browne, Andrew A. Pre-
vost, of Philadelphia, and other prominent citi-
zens of the state, being thirty-five members in all.

A memorial to the legislature asking for incor-
poration was drafted by a committee of three,
viz : Hon. James Madison Porter, LL. D., who
was in later years secretary of war under Presi-
•dent Tyler ; Joel Jones, LL. D., who was later
■called to become the first president of
•Girard College, and Jacob Wagener, Esq., an en-
ergetic business man who became eminent for his
studies in mineralogy and botany, and whose
valuable collection in this department of study
ultimately enriched the scientific collections of
the college.

A Good President Found. — The charter
■was granted in 1826, but sev-
eral years passed in which a
search was made for a suitable
person to place at the head of
the infant institution. When the
thought of establishing a school
in many respects similar to
West Point was abandoned.
Rev. George Junkin was per-
suaded to accept the presidency.
On ]\Iay 9, 1832, he organized
the institution, bringing to it a
group of some thirty of the stu-
dents he had had under his in-
struction for several years in the
Manual Labor Academy of

Dr. Junkin was a native of
Cumberland county, Pennsyl-
vania, of sturdy Scotch-Irish
early entered the ministry, and
of churches in ]\Iilton and
ducted a private school

students for the gospel ministry. His presidency
of Lafayette was continued until 1841, when for
three years he was president of Miami Uni-
versity, Ohio, when he again returned to Lafay-
ette, but in 1848 again resigned. He was presi-
dent of the institution in Lexington, Virginia,
now known as Washington and Lee University,
from 1848 to 1 86 1. From that date, with force
unabated, he filled up his remaining days with
an activity almost past belief. Among the sol-
diers, in camp, field, or hospital ; as a colporteur,
a preacher and a writer, he worked on with a
marvelous zeal and vigor. He died in Philadel-
phia, May 20, 1868.

Dr. Junkin was a man of acknowledged abil-
ity, and profoundly learned, especially in the-
ology and metaphysics. These were his favorite
pursuits, in which he excelled both as a student
and as a teacher. Men of eminence in church
and state, who sat at his feet during their edu-
cational career, gave their cheerful testimony to
his magnetic power over his students, and to his


ancestry. He
while pastor
vicinity, con-
While so engaged he
resolved to devote himself to the cause of edu-
cation, with the special thought of educating

enthusiasm as well as his profound learning in
the subjects which he taught. Of his powers,
however. I cannot more fitly speak than in the
words of Dr. William P. Breed, an eminent min-
ister of Philadelphia : "The mind of Dr. Junkin
well harmonized with the material home in which



it lodged — massive, compact, and strong. To
say that he was a man of talents — of talents of a
verv high order — is to say the truth, but only a
part of the truth. He was a man of genius, with
all the force, fire and originality of true genius."
Of his qualities of heart one of his successors to
the presidency, Rev. James H. Mason Knox, D.
D. LL. D., with equal truth said : "A man of
greater magnanmity, of truer, deeper, tenderer
afifections, I do not believe ever lived."

An Energetic Board of Trustees. — In
the early days of the college. President
Junkin received much encouragement from
some earnest members of the board of trustees,
among whom were Judge William Long, of Bucks
county, two of whose sons were early enrolled in
the list of students. Of these, James W. Long
became an efficient and helpful trustee of the
college for a considerable period before his death
in 1903. Hon. George Hess, an associate judge
of Northampton county, was another; his son,
Owen W. Hess, a lawyer of Easton, and his
grandson, Henry M. Riegel, of the class of 1884,
are recorded in the college rolls. Another trus-
tee whose name stands high in the annals of the
state was Hon. George Wolf, a member of con-
gress from 1824 to 1829, and governor of the com-
monwealth from 1830 to 1836. He was the pro-
poser and one of the founders of the public school
system of our state. A beautiful monument in
the form of a stone arch way, was erected to his
memory in 1884. It forms a graceful entrance
to the campus of the Easton high school. Peter
A. Browne, LL. D., was not only a trustee, but
also for ten years a professor of mineralogy and
geology. Hon. James Madison Porter LL. D., con-
tinued for more than 3 quarter of a century as
the head of the boaard of trustees, a man of energy
and rare enthusiasm. To him more than to any
other person Lafayette College owes its origin.
He assiduously devoted himself to the interests
of the College. His reputation as a man of great
learning and eminent legal ability drew many
young men whose names appear in the cata-
logues of that period as students of law.

I'or twenty-five years the office of treasurer
was well filled bv Colonel Thomas McKeen. He

was successively the cashier and president of the
Easton Bank from 1815 until 1851, eminent in
business circles, a man of large heart and kindly
disposition. He was one of the most liberal of
the supporters of the College. He died in 1858,
in his ninety-sixth year.

Dr. Junkins' ideals were high. Himself "dili-
gent in business, fervent in spirit, and serving-
the Lord," he set before his students a high stand-
ard of excellence in study as their imperative
goal. He had no toleration for the youth who
was willing to lag- behind. He had that rare en-
thusiasm that led every student to seek to do his
best, and to be ashamed to fall below his highest
possible attainments.

Eminence of the E.-\.rly Students. — In
the first years of the College its faith-
ful students frequently completed their
courses and received their diplomas in other
longer established institutions. Among such were
Rev. Samuel j\L Hamill, D. D., who for fifty
years was principal of the Lawrenceville school
in New Jersey; Charles W. Harvey, ]M. D., of
Buffalo, New' York, a patron of art, and one of
the founders (last surviving) of the Psi Upsilon
fraternity in LTnion College ; Rev. Levi Janvier,
D. D., a distinguished missionary in India, where
he was slain by a fanatic Akali. His labors as
a missionary were remarkably successful. He
was the author of a grammar and dictionary of
the Punjabi language. Rev. Joshua Phelps, D.
D., president of the Alexander College, Wiscon-
sin ; Judge Samuel Sherred, of New Jersey, who
constructed the first coal breaker in Scranton ;
Professor William Chauvenet, LL. D., of Yale,
distinguished as a mathematical author, and a
few others. Because of this fact, President Jun-
kin soon saw the necessity of adopting a full col-
lege organization.

College Cl.\sses Organized — 1834. — Such
examples and others like these showed Dr.
Junkins' remarkable success in inspiring
his students, and indicated plainly the neces-
sity of conducting the plans of the study
with which the College has begun. Accordingly,
in 1834, four full college classes were established.
The first graduating class was that of 1836, con-



sisting of four members, each one of whom made
such a record in Hfe as to indicate that the class
of '36 was a constellation of the first magnitude ;
for of its members, George W. Kidd became not-
able in New Orleans and Texas as one of the most
f)rominent merchants of the southwest, and an
orator of remarkable gifts ; David Moore was
early appointed to the office of deputy superin-
tendent of the schools of Pennsylvania ; and the
Rev. James B. Ramsey, D. D., of whom it was
said when he finished his studies at the Theolo-
gical Seminary that he was "competent to instruct
any of the classes in Princeton." The Hon. Na-
thaniel Barrett Smithers, LL. D., of Delaware,

read, and after continuing through fifteen pages
of translation, was asked by his instructor Pro-
fessor James I. Kuhn, LL. D., (from whose lips
this story was received by the writer) "How far
can you go?"' The reply was, "I do not know;
I am reading this on sight for the first time."
And each of the four were distinguished for their
linguistic attainments.

Eminent Professors Chosen. — In the
original staff of instructors were also Charles
Francis McCay, LL. D., who became a
mathematician of renown during a long life in
Georgia, and later in ^laryland. Rev. David
N. Junkin, D. D., a younger brother of the presi-



was eminent as a lawyer and congressman, and
had the distinction in political life of being the
chairman of the national Republican committee
in the campaign that closed with the election of
Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in i860.
How truly did this class accomplish its ideals !
The story comes down to us that one day in the
Latin recitation, Mr. Smithers was called on to

dent, was for five years Professor of Belles
Lettres. Rev. Alfred Ryors, D. D., became in-
structor in Greek. A talented member of this
group was Washington McCartney, LL. D., who
continued with the institution for many years,,
and filled several chairs with eminent success.
A tower of intellectual strength, clear in defini-
tion, accurate in expression, he led the students



through labyrinths of thought and intricate
mental processes. He later established the Easton
Law School, and held the office of judge of the
courts of Northampton county from 1851 until
his death in 1856. A writer of ability his monu-
ment bears the fit inscription, "Scholar, Jurist,

Dr. Junkin and his colleagues so far named
were all of them graduates of Jefiferson College,
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, an institution that
€arly obtained great fame for the sturdy pioneer-
ing spirit of its graduates, who filled many pul-
pits in the valley of the Ohio, and furnished
legal lights of prominence in the west. Samuel
D. Gross, M. D., LL. D., who was decorated by
the University of Oxford with the degree of
Doctor of Civil Law, was the first Professor of
Chemistry. He was born near Easton in 1805,
and was later known through both continents for
the sixteen volumes that he produced on surgery
and other medical topics.

President Junkin was thorough in all that he
did. Full of zeal and enthusiasm, he could still
abide by the old motto "festina lente," accordingly
the graduating classes all consisted of picked
men. not many in number, but well equipped in
intellectual power, and able to accept their di-
plomas without doing discredit to their alnui
mater. The smallest class on the College rolls
is that of 1838, which consisted of but two mem-
bers. The valedictory on that occasion was pro-
nounced by David Coulter, D. D., who became
a leading light in the Presbyterian church in Mis-
souri. Among the audience who listened to his
able valedictory address (which is still preserved
in the College archives) was an Easton lad thir-
teen years old, who in his maturity was known as
Rev. George C. Heckman, D. D., LL. D., of
Reading, Pennsylvania. The address so affected
him that he resolved to seek a college education.
He did this with success, and in due season gradu-
ated, and through a long life interested many
audiences by liis eloquence and elegance of dic-
tion. He occupied many prominent pulpits. He
was a grandson of the first chief Inirgcss of

The First Dec.\de of the College. — On

the day of Dr. Heckman's graduation, in
September, 1845, President Junkin pro-
nounced his tenth baccalaureate, not a sermon,
but an address on education, which was pub-
lished under the title "A Plea for Northeastern
Pennsylvania." So far, 615 students had been
enrolled, of whom sixty-eight graduated, and as
many more received diplomas at other colleges.
In this excellent address Dr. Junkin answered
the capricious critic who might say, "Have you
not dropped a great deal of unripe fruit, and
aided into professional life many defective schol-
ars?" "Be this as it may, we wash our hands of
all evils of this immaturity. It is no part of our
plan to reduce the standard of education, and
none more than we can deplore all the short cuts
into the learned professions. If all to whom in
our academy, we have taught hie, liaec, hoe, had
seen their way clear to comply with our
wishes and abide a full course, we should never
have given occasion to the reproach which these
paragraphs are designed to wipe away. As to
our present position. The classes are larger than
at any former period. The tone of study is vig-
orous ; the grade of recitations very respectable ;
the pulse of moral discipline, full, regular and
healthful. There is no longer a question proble-
matic, whether sound scholars, energetic and use-
ful professional men can emEnate, through the
various appropriate channels, from our halls. As
to locality and its bearings upon health and intel-
lectual development, no institution of the land
can put in superior claims." This urgent address
was closed by an appeal to the audience to "Fill
up the $40,000 subscriptions so auspiciously be-
gun last winter. The citizens of Easton have
done nobly in this matter;. and I do not propose
to press them again." Then came the first eft'ort
made to secure assistance from the alumni, as
he closed his address by saying "Take then your
diplomas, and endorse on each the words — 'Sub-
scription to the Alumni Professorship of Lafay-
ette College.' "

Up to this time ah the expenses of the Col-
lege had been met by generous private sub-
scriptions, chiefly from citizens of Easton and of
Philadelphia. In 1838 the legislature of Penn-



sylvania appropriated $12,000 to liquidate the
debt caused by the construction of the first build-
ing. Its corner stone had been laid with public
ceremony on July 4, 1833, and it was completed
and first occupied on May 9, 1834, at which time
the full organization of the College into four
classes had been perfected.

The Present Location Selected. — The
initial years of the institution were spent
in a large frame building on the south side of the
river, 555 feet west of the present passenger sta-
tion of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. As from
Jefferson College had come most of the members
of the faculty, so also had come various features
of its organization. The two literary societieSj



Franklin, and Philo (more accurately Philoma-
thean), were early started, although the latter
were soon led to drop their classic Greek name
for the easier term "Washington." A strong
and generous rivalry has always existed between
these two societies. For many years none but
initiated members were permitted to enter their
doors ; their proceedings were secret : victory in
their annual contests was a high incentive to their
best endeavors ; and the successful essayist, ora-
tors and disputants, wore the live garlands of
success with pride greater than that which in these

days seems to attend the winning of a medal of

The Early Cost of Tuition. — Student life
was extremely simply in those days. The
young men rose at 5 o'clock in the morn-
ing, summoned by a large horn blown by Aaron
O. Hoff, until the present chapel bell took its
place. They engaged in required manual toil,
and thus earned no small part of their expenses.
Three hours a day were usually given to pro-
ductive labor. They studied well, and received
grades for both work and study. The compen-
sation given for labor was from three
cents an hour upward ; for some were
in trades, and as carpenters,
tailors, and smiths earned more
than their less skilled brothers
who could handle only the hoe
and the plow. The annual re-
ward for their labor as stated
in the first catalogue ranged all
the way from one dollar to
eighty-seven dollars, and their
grades for study and work
ranged from nine to ninety-five
on a scale of one hundred. A
week's work was twenty hours.
The student of to-day who
thinks sixteen weeks of vacation
none too many, would hardly ac-
cept the routine of 1832, when
the year was divided into two
terms of twenty-four and twen-
ty-two weeks. The brief va-
cations in March and October
allowed them only a few days to help their
fathers in home work on the farm. The en-
tire charge for the year of forty-six weeks, for
tuitition, board, room, and use of tools, was $109,
or in the student club, $86. From this it was
estimated that an industrious young man might
deduct by his labor forty-six dollars, thus leaving
for the year's cost of his education forty dollars
to sixty-three dollars.

That much excellent work was done is shown
in the list of articles manufactured, such as 640
finished trunks, 740 lights of sash, 31 tables and



a number of agricultural implements. Over fifty
acres were devoted to garden and farm products.
A printing office was maintained, from which
theological books were printed, and a fortnightly
newspaper devoted chiefly to the industrial side
of College life was issued under the title of The

When the craze for silk culture sprang up,
about the year 1837, rows of moms niulticauhs
were planted on the campus, and the silk cocoons
were gathered in quantities, in great hopes of
largely increasing the funds of the College. But
here, as elsewhere, the profit of the experiment
lay only in the experience gained by it.

Busy Bees in Their Early Hive. — There
is no ground to think that the system of
manual labor at Lafayette was a failure, although
it rarely succeeded elsewhere, but it was aban-
•doned in 1840, when Dr. Junkin went to Ohio
to become the president of the Miami University.
Despite the objections to the methods of this
first decade, it established a rare record of success
in the training of students who in many instances
attained high positions in after life. Among
many such may be named Colonel William Dor-
ris, of Huntingdon, and Hon. David Moore,
■of Hanover, Indiana, the two oldest surviving
graduates who have each held high places of
trust in the Keystone State ; and the two brothers,
Samuel W. and William E. Barber. It was the
latter who won the $500 prize offered by the Un-
ion League of Philadelphia in 1868 for the best
■essay on "Political Organization." No less con-
spicuous were the late Governor Alexander Ram-
sey, of Minnesota, for a long time senator, and a
member of President Hayes' cabinet ; Hon. James
Morrison Harris, Republican candidate for the
■governorship of Maryland ; Samuel M. Shoe-
maker, the originator of the American system of
express companies, and Hon. John W. Garrett,
of Baltimore, for so many years the successful
president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Com-

High St.-vndard of Scholarship. — Under
the presidency of Rev. John W. Yeomans,
D. D., from 1841 to 1844 a high standard
of scholarship was maintained. Dr. Yeomans

was the first New Englander who came into the
faculty. He was a man of philosophic mould, of
whom it was well said by Dr. Heckman at the

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania (Volume v.1) → online text (page 3 of 92)