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much about it, so enrolled for it again the next year. "Miss Wig-
gins, didn't you get a passing grade in this subject last year?" he
enquired, to which I replied, "Yes, but I didn't feel at the end of
the semester that I knew much about it." No objections being
raised, I remained, and profited by the extra year. Professor Thomp-
son's course in chemistry was an exception in requiring a consider-
able number of experiments.

Professor Bell, distinguished for his firm, square jaw and his
absolute honesty in passing out grades, was my instructor in ad-
vanced arithmetic, general history, penmanship, and all the special
subjects required for a state teachers' certificate school manage-
ment, school law, methods of teaching, philosophy of education,
and history of education. I considered him the best of the faculty,
because of his thoroughness and his refusal to take anything for
granted. Arithmetic had always been difficult for me and it was
consequently in that class that I liked him especially well. He ex-
plained the problems slowly and carefully, ever and anon stopping
with his finger on the board, to mark the spot to which he had
advanced, and saying, "Does everyone understand up to this point?
because if you don't there is no use going further," and pausing
to see if all understood it fully if so, going on, if not, repeating his
explanation until the point was clear. 19 But the lack of maps,
charts, and outside reading prevented history from ever being more
to me than a huge crazy quilt.

Professor Wilson, for many years called "Bonus," was a member
of the Cooper Memorial faculty during its first year, beginning
November 1, 1887, the only other member at that time being the
president, A. N. Porter. Professor Wilson's major job was teaching
ancient languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He was my instruc-
tor in beginning Latin, Caesar, zoology, and geology. I had studied
Latin a bit during the previous summer, but I had to continue it
through the entire first year. It took me from three to five hours
daily to prepare that one subject. To me it was a very dead lan-
guage indeed. Professor Wilson was a little too easy, but he was
a good language teacher. The boys who had studied under him
and later attended the theological seminary were all found to have
had unusually fine basic training. I went through zoology without
ever seeing a drop of blood, but did, however, dissect a grass-

19. Professor Bell was still the same fair, clear, and thorough instructor when the editor
in 1922-1924 studied trigonometry, advanced algebra, and astronomy under him the last,
by the way, without benefit of telescope.


hopper and glue the various parts of his anatomy in their proper
positions on a piece of card board, with their names indicated.
After debating was introduced into the college, Professor Wilson
was often the coach, and always a consultant as long as he re-
mained in college. He retired after 50 years of service, greatly
beloved. The athletic building is named Wilson Hall in his honor,
rather inaptly, perhaps, since he was somewhat crippled and always
walked with a limp, having also partially lost the use of one of his
hands, probably as a result of infantile paralysis. 20

Dr. C. H. Strong, pastor of the Second United Presbyterian
Church which met in the college chapel, taught Bible, which he did
free of charge. When the first and second churches re-united he
continued as pastor, but dared to advance some new theological
ideas which brought down the wrath of his elders upon his head. 21
That, however, was after my college days.

Miss Kern, whose main job was the teaching of modem lan-
guages, or rather language, since I believe that French was the
only one, 22 was my instructor in some required normal school work
in child study. She was a very dignified and at the same time
pleasant person and was quite a favorite among all the students.
She was the only woman on the faculty, with the exception of two
or three music teachers and "physical culture" teachers who were
never in the college but briefly. Another possible exception was
Miss Alice Brown, art teacher for many years, who did not, how-
ever, hold any of her classes at the college but in her private studio,
to which I, with three or four others, repaired once a week, art
being a required subject in the teacher's course. Thus, in "twelve
easy lessons," I became a graduate in art, only the simplest draw-
ings being required, such as a block, a book, a vase, and a real
accomplishment the outlines of a house across the street from the
studio. Miss Brown had taught art from the first year of the col-

20. The president of the college at the time of the dedication of Wilson Gymnasium
seems to have felt the inappropriateness of its designation with particular keenness, since on
that occasion he remarked, with characteristic wit and grace, that it would be more fitting
to dedicate to Prof. Wilson a dormitory or some other building in which one might "sleep
and drowse."

21. Dr. Charles H. Strong was a tall, broad-shouldered, dark-mustached man, very
handsome. His principal theological aberration, I believe, was his denial that Satan tempted
Eve in the form of a serpent; the designation "the serpent," as applied to the Tempter, was,
in his opinion, merely an epithet. But too many of his congregation had illustrated Bibles,
with pictures of an obvious boa constrictor, coiled about a tree, orally offering an unques-
tionable apple to an as yet unfig-leafed Eve, for the pastoral theory to be convincing. Dr.
Strong's denunciation of "bucket-shops" is also said to have offended at least one of his
wealthier and more prominent parishioners. Dr. Strong did not live long after being forced
to give up his pulpit.

22. The writer of these reminiscences used to tell a story which suggests that German
may also have been taught. A group of students, emerging into the open air from a language
class, found the air full of flying white flakes, whereupon one of them, anxious to display
his newly-acquired knowledge, remarked: "It sure is schneitin'!" But this episode may have
occurred after a private German class somewhere in northwest Kansas, perhaps in Hoxie.


lege and continued until two or three years before her death, which
occurred about five years ago. She had a goodly number of private
pupils in china painting and everyone spoke highly of her, both
for her work and for her pleasing personality. She made a home
for several of her brother's children, although she could ill afford
to do so.

Prof. D. Calvin Matthews taught in the summer school, which
I always attended, his subjects being physiology and physical
geography. 23 Physiology, like zoology, required no shedding of
blood. Professor Matthews was a good teacher, but too cynical, too
ready to catch the slightest error and make more than the most of
it. He was an exceptionally bright person himself and I presume
that we common folk irked him greatly.

I wanted to continue to teach after graduation and took what was
called the normal course, which, when completed, entitled one to
a state certificate for three years, permitting one to teach in any
school in Kansas and in teachers' county institutes. After three
years of successful teaching and the reading of certain educational
books, one was entitled to a life certificate for any of the foregoing
positions. I took the four years' normal course in three and re-
ceived my certificate, in due course earning one for life. Aside
from the fact that my studies changed each semester, there was
little change in my routine from year to year. The choice of sub-
jects was very elastic, since the number was limited only by the
hours available for reciting.

At one time I was "carrying" thirteen subjects, not all of them in
a single day, of course, but reciting in each during the course of a
week; they were the five subjects required for a teacher's certificate
plus penmanship, physical culture, expression, Bible, trigonometry,
geology, botany, and chemistiy. To all intents and purposes I had
been in school only three years since the age of 12, when we had
left Iowa, 24 and I was now 22, so studying was not my "stock in
trade." Nevertheless, at the end of three years I had "passing"
grades in Ray's Higher Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry,

23. David Calvin Mathews (B. A., Cooper, 1899; D. D., Geneva, December 1940),
although a teacher in the Cooper summer school in this period, was not himself a college
graduate. He married one of Dr. Spencer's six daughters. Like so many instructors at
Cooper, he became a clergyman.

24. The writer may have somewhat underestimated her school attendance. She had
apparently gone to school for four years of eight or nine months each two at Lenora, one
at Hill City, and one at Hoxie as well as for a couple of three-months' terms while living
on the homestead and a short term, or part of one, at Fremont a total of some 40 months
between the ages of 12 and 22. This does not include the teachers' institute sessions of a
month each which she seems to have regularly attended, 1889-1895. However, the two
terms on the claim and the first year at Lenora she considered almost or entirely worthless,
and she probably did not take into consideration the short time she spent at school in
Fremont. This would leave one year each in Hill City, Lenora, and Hoxie.



astronomy, physics, chemistry, physiology, zoology, botany, political
economy, general history, physical geography, psychology, orthog-
raphy, composition and rhetoric, English literature, expression,
Bible, elementary Latin, Caesar, penmanship, art, and physical cul-
ture, as well as the educational subjects required for a state cer-
tificate, the examinations in which were given by someone not
connected with the college.

During my last two years in college we had rather intermittent
training in physical culture and in public speaking. In the physical
training no special clothing was required. We girls wore our high
necks, long, rather tight, sleeves, long, ample, interlined skirts, and
close-fitting corsets. In this garb we marched to music, swung
dumb-bells and Indian clubs, inhaled deeply a number of times,
exhaled the same number, and that was all.

I find myself smiling as I recall our public-speaking class. It
was taught, gratis, by a local physician, Dr. Todd, who was himself
rather proficient, but his class well, some of us had, at least, high
aspirations. I wish I could picture our appearance as we made
those prescribed gestures and duly inflected our voices. I can hear
Floyd T., with his high almost falsetto voice, imploring, "Speak,
speak, thou fearful guest/' 25 and the girl who, with a gesture in-
dicating an area of about the size of a dishpan, declared, "It was the
sooner Hesperus that sailed the wintry sea/' 26 And there was the
young man who in a stern and melancholy manner informed us that
"The night wind with a desolate mo-o-oan swept by." 27 My own
selection was "The Famine" from Longfellow's "Hiawatha" and I
have no doubt that I cut about the same figure as the others.

The sort of "going to college" I did with virtually no scientific
equipment, no books except text books, "taking" a dozen and more
courses simultaneously from teachers some of whom were teaching
half a dozen or so subjects not merely courses was, in a way, a
tragedy. Yet it was better than nothing. Perhaps, indeed, I was
not equipped to take advantage of any broader opportunities.
Although I was, I am sure, never asked to read anything except the
textbook material, I was also too busy learning what was inside the
covers of such books to take any interest in anything else. I cannot,
for example, remember anything about the presidential campaign
of 1896 which, perhaps, is not surprising for we took no daily
paper! "'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true." Sometimes,
however, I wonder suppose I had gone to Kansas Wesleyan at

25. From "The Skeleton in Armor," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

26. From "The Wreck of the Hesperus," also by Longfellow.

27. After diligent research, the authorship of this line is still unknown to me.


Salina or to Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia both of
which were possibilities what then?

Athletics consisted of baseball, football, and, in the spring, such
activities as the hammer throw, shot put, the various jumps, and so
on. The football team was outstanding, considering the smallness
of the college. There was no coach, and their suits consisted of old
clothes which their mothers had padded where it would do the
most good. They must have looked very countrified when they
went to colleges which were better equipped, but despite their
appearance they triumphed over the University of Kansas in a game
played during one of the autumns I spent in college. Conference
rules were unknown in those days and consequently if some good
husky fellow wanted to play football he could enroll, attend a few
classes, and then return to his plowing and cornhusking, not for-
getting, however, to turn up at the football field for practice. 28 In
one of the spring track meets the Cooper team also carried off the
honors. 29 Although lacking a coach and uniforms, the Cooper
athletes had a loyal band of "rooters" who made up for their small
numbers by the enthusiasm with which they delivered such old
familiar yells as:

Ikey, Ikey, Ikey!

Zip, Zap, Zay!

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

What do you say?

Cooper! ! !
Another yell was:

Hip! Hip! Hip!

Rip! Rip! Rip!

Whooperah! Cooperah!

Rah! Rah! Rah! so

28. According to Dr. Josiah C. McCracken (letter of March 19, 1958) it was the Uni-
versity of Kansas second team which Cooper Memorial defeated in a game at Topeka. Dr.
McCracken writes: "I did play on the [Cooper] team five or six years even though I attended
Cooper, some of those years, for only a few months each year and taught public school in
three of the years. We had no coach at Cooper and played from the information we could

get out of the rule book. However, in 1903 [sic, evidently an error for 1893] three of Us
om Kansas went to the World Fair in Chicago and there I saw New York play Chicago
. . . and then 1 returned to Cooper and almost became coach of the team because I
was the only one who had ever seen two coached team[s] play!"

29. According to Dr. McCracken (letter of March 19, 1958) this was the "first inter-
collegiate meet ever held in Kansas." Newspaper accounts of the event likewise stated that
it was the first event of the kind held in the state. The meet was at Lawrence, May 20 and
30, 1893, with the University of Kansas, Baker University, and Cooper Memorial College
participating. The Cooper representatives were Jay Foster Beaman (B. S., 1893; deceased
1951), McCracken, and Prof. George A. Gordon (I). Beaman was injured early in the
meet and unable to participate fully.

Contrary to college legend, Cooper's three competitors were unable to overcome the
greatly superior numbers of the opposing teams. Results of the meet as published in the
Cooper Courier, the student newspaper, were: University of Kansas 63, Baker 56, and
Cooper 34. Gordon was high-point man with 20 points.

30. Lines 1, 2, and 4 supplied from Spencer, op. cit., p. 23. Another yell, composed
by Fred L. Weede, was:

Cooper ! Cooper !
Whoop'er ! Whoop'er I
Hi! Hi! Cooper f
Rah! Rah! Rah!


My recollections of football and other yells are, I fear, not ex-
tensive as I never, or rarely, attended the games.

Joe McCracken, later well known as Dr. Josiah McCracken for
his work as a medical missionary in China, was easily the best
athlete in the college. His ability became known in the East and
he was brought to the University of Pennsylvania to play football,
also representing that institution in the hammer throw at the
Olympics when they were held in Paris. He distinguished himself
not only in that event, in which he won second place, but also by
adherence to his moral principles in refusing to contest on the
Sabbath and declining to drink toasts in wine at the concluding
banquet. 31

A good many pranks enlivened the college community. Inducing
some greenhorn to go "snipe-hunting," with, of course, the high
privilege and honor of "holding the bag," was a favorite extra-
curricular amusement. 32 Putting Jack, Dr. Spencer's horse, and,
on another occasion, his buggy, into the chapel were favorite
college sports; the girls' waiting room also served as a repository

81. Dr. Josiah C. McCracken (1874- ; M. D.. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1901; dean,
medical department, St. John's University, Shanghai, for many years) has kindly furnished
me (letter of March 19, 1958) with information in regard to his athletic record. After
playing on the Cooper football team for five or six years he went in 1896, at the age of 22,
to the University of Pennsylvania where he played four full years, and for one year was
chosen as half-back on Walter Camp's AU-American team. At Pennsylvania, also, he com-
peted in the hammer throw and the shot put and in the intercollegiate meets of 1898 and
1899 won in both events a record which he does not believe any other athlete has ever
achieved. He learned only recently that on May 30, 1898, he won the world's record in
the 16-lb. hammer throw from John Flanagan, with a distance of 153 ft. 9 ins. but Flana-
gan won the record back 12 days later with 158 ft. 4 ins.! D. A. Bachelor, R. H. Greenleaf,
and Clifford E. Larrabee, "Hammer Throwing Statistics," Track and Field News, Los Altos,
Calif., April, 1956, pp. 1, 16, 17, 18, 64, 68, 78, 127.

At the Paris Olympics McCracken competed in the hammer throw, the shot put, and he
believes, the discus ( an event in which he had not previously participated ! ) , but qualified
only in the hammer throw. His opposition to competition on the Sabbath at the Olympics
was, it should be noted, not a one-man affair. "Princeton, Penn and Syracuse banded
together against Sunday competition and any discrimination against athletes who refused to
break the Sabbath" and the French at first agreed that marks or times made other days
would count against those made on the Sabbath, but later abrogated this agreement and
announced that ten finals would be completed on Sunday, July 15. Princeton and Syracuse
stood firm for Sabbath observance but the Penn athletes were permitted to arrive at indi-
vidual decisions and five out of 13 decided to compete. McCracken, of course, was with
the majority of Sabbath observers but, fortunately, the finals in the hammer throw were on
Monday, July 16, which enabled him to place although only third. He was evidently very
far from being in his best form as his throw was one of the poorest in his record only 139
ft. 3.49 ins. John Flanagan, whom he had beaten and in turn been beaten by in 1898,
won first place. John Kieran and Arthur Daley, The Story of the Olympic Games . . .
(Philadelphia and N. Y., 1957), pp. 36-45; Bachelor et al, loc. cit., p. 127; W. J. Maxwell,
compiler, General Alumni Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1922),
p. 623.

McCracken's hostility to alcoholic beverages was such that when, serving as an advance
agent for the Cooper quartet in the summer of 1895, he saw a large sign SALOON
extending across the sidewalk, he crossed the street to avoid having to walk under it. Kansas
had been legally "dry" since 1880, but it took Carry A. Nation and her brickbats rather
than the more traditional hatchet to make it so in fact. Letter from Dr. McCracken,
November 25, 1957.

Dr. McCracken, after whom the Sterling athletic field is named, for obvious reasons is
still a legendary figure about the college.

32. See Johana H. Smith, "In the Bag: A Study of Snipe Hunting," Western Folklore,
Berkeley, Calif., v. 16 (April, 1957), pp. 107-110. And, of course, there were also "green-
horns" or at least stories about greenhorns who were not as verdant as they appeared.
Such a greenhorn depositing on the ground the lantern which was supposed to attract the
snipes and the gunny sack into which they were to fly would make his way quietly and
rapidly to the horse and buggy which had been left beside a lonely road, reach it before
the plotters could arrive, and drive back to town, leaving the biters bit and with a walk of
several miles ahead of them.


for the vehicle. The pranksters had to go to a great deal of
trouble to accomplish those designs in which the buggy figured,
as it was necessary to take it apart and then re-assemble it at the
place where it was intended to be found. On one occasion before
my time, however three jokers, two students by the name of
Weede and Folsom and a little Swede whose name I cannot recall,
were painfully re-assembling the buggy on the chapel platform
when Weede and Folsom heard a familiar step on the stairway
and, without warning their companion, who was tightening a nut
on one of the wheels, fled out of a window and down the fire-escape.
The Swede, absorbed in his labors, continued until the newcomer
was standing over him, when he looked up and recognized the
president. "Oh," he commented placidly, "I t'ought dat vas Veede
and Folsomr M

The story is told that on another occasion a couple of students
with nothing better to do had taken the buggy out of the presi-
dent's barn and had toilsomely hauled it over the familiar path to
the college building. Arrived at the foot of the steps they had low-
ered the shafts for a rest preliminary to the really serious effort of
getting it up that steep incline. "I've enjoyed the ride, boys," re-
marked the president's voice from the shadowy recesses of the seat,
"but you can take me home now." This episode, however, I think
occurred not at Cooper but at Muskingum, another U. P. college. 84

Another prank was hitching up Professor Thompson's cow to the
same long-suffering buggy and driving her so furiously that it
"strained her milk." Greasing the blackboards was also before my
time but was called to my attention every time I tried to write on
them. 85 Dr. Spencer was once hung in the hallway in effigy for
some offense now unknown to me.

My recreational and social life was limited, if only because I had

33. The above is the story which was long current in Sterling and which I had always
heard. According, however, to Fred L. Weede who, with Lucius Folsom, was a principal

but by Rudolph Miller, "an Austrian who spoke six languages and was a mathematical
genius," when someone addressed the two mentioned under the impression that they were
members of the faculty. Thus are the raw materials of fact shaped into folklore. I trust
that the above correction will not interfere with the narration of the story as given in these

34. At which Dr. Spencer had been president for seven years, 1879-1886, prior to com-
ing to Cooper, and at which earlier (1870) he had had the privilege of teaching "Hebrew
and Mechanical Philosophy" to William Rainey Harper, later the famous president of the Uni-
versity of Chicago, then a boy of 14. Thomas W. Goodspeed, William Rainey Harper (Chi-
cago, 1928), pp. 10, 11-14. Spencer, op. cit., pp. 5, 6; Who's Who in America, 1912-1913,

35. In this, as apparently in every other college prank during the period of his at-
tendance, Fred L. Weede was a ringleader. His father, he says, painted the blackboards free
of charge, since, without any definite information, he nevertheless knew that his son should
have a guilty conscience. Letter from Fred L. Weede, December 10, 1957. Evidently,
however, the paint job was by no means fully effective in restoring a good writing surface
to the blackboards.


little time for anything but my studies. Much of it was connected
with the academic or extra-curricular activities of the college. An
example was the visit of the geology class to the salt mine at Lyons,
now said to be the largest in the world. We descended into the
mine in what impressed me as pretty crude-looking crates, but with-
out accident. We saw the men blasting the rock, breaking it up
with their picks, loading it into cars pulled by donkeys to the lift,
where it was carried to the surface in the same fashion as that in
which we made our exits when the visit was over.

The college male quartet frequently appeared both in college and
in community programs, and was a great favorite. 36 It was going
strong when I first came to college and then consisted of Harry (later

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 45 of 59)