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Dr. H. R.) Ross, 37 Will Philips, 38 Fred Weede, 39 and my classmate
John Brush. 40 Philips graduated in June, '96, and was replaced by

36. The Cooper quartet seems to occupy much the same position in the traditions of
early Cooper as the Pony Express in the lore of the trans-Mississippi West. Both lasted only
a comparatively brief period *he quartet at the most from some time in 1894 until early
in 1897 and yet it stands out in the memories of those who knew it or merely heard of it
as if it had been an institution of long standing.

The quartet during its brief history included at various times six performers all of varied
talents and an advance agent. Its repertoire consisted of vocal quartets ("Sailors' Chorus,"
"Annie Laurie," "Robin Adair," "The Bridge," "The Water Mill," "God Pity the Seamen
To-night," "An Old Woman," "The Twenty Third Psalm" and other Psalm arrangements.
"Soldiers' Farewell," "Lead, Kindly Light," "The Lost Chord," and, for encores, various
glees, college songs, and Negro melodies, such as "Stars of the Summer Night," "Old Oaken
Bucket," "Sneezing Catch," "Jackie Horner," "Calico Pie," "Wouldn't You Like to Know?,"
"Steal Away to Jesus," "Ring dem Bells," "Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party," "I'se been Workin'
on de Rail Road," "The Animal Fair,'* "Forty Eight Blue Bottles Hanging on the Wall,"
"Bullfrog on the Bank," and the songs mentioned in the text); bass solos ("Come Unto Me,"
"The Wonders of the Deep," "Man the Life Boat," "Calvary," "Not Ashamed of Christ,"
"Out on the Deep," "The Darkness Came," "The Mighty Deep," "Lord God of Abraham,"
"Last Night"); guitar sometimes guitar and mandolin quartets ("Overture Medley,"
"Blondinette Fantasia," "Valse Brillante," "Brightest Scenes/' "Spanish Retreat," "Gettys-
burg March," "Bright Light Mazurka," "Midnight Stars," "Windsor Castle Waltz," "The
Sinking Ship," "Daughter of Love," "Love's Dream after the Ball," and various waltzes
and mazurkas); guitar solos ("Siege of Sebastopol," "Sunny Banks," "Sweet Home" with
variations, "Harmonic Waltz ); readings ("The Prisoner's Soliloquy," "The Light From
Over the Range," "The Volunteer Organist," "Little Joe's Flowers," "The Catholic Psalm,"
"A Legend of the True," "Demetrius," "The Black Cat," and selections from James Whit-
comb Riley); and "impersonations" ("Mark Twain's Interviewer," "The Old Man at
Church," "Filler Fights/' "Her'n Me," "Pa 'ud Whup," "Jen's Feller," "Hanner, How's
Yer Ma?," "Man With a Tune in His Head," "The Modern Malthusian," "Playin' in the Sod
Corn Patch," "Saxby's Philosophy," "If I Didn't Forget How Old I Was," "Uncle Jim,"
"Essay on Man," selections from James Whitcomb Riley, and other pieces mentioned in the
narrative or under the name of the impersonator).

The above list confirms the claim that the quartet could and sometimes did give as
many as four performances in a single community, with programs suited to the day of the
week, the sponsorship, etc., without repeating themselves. The quartet and soloists had all
their material memorized and never performed with scores before them. They received highly
enthusiastic press notices, with Ross as impersonator, Brush as basso, Weede as reader, and
Philips as guitar soloist most frequently selected for individual mention in descending order.
Their repertoire as displayed in programs kindly furnished by Weede and Dunlap, suj

mented by letters from them gives an interesting idea of certain aspects of Engli
Protestant, popular culture on the Central Great Plains during the mid-1890's.

37. H. R. Ross. See Footnote 51.

38. William Anderson Philips (B.A., Cooper, 1896; D. D., Univ. of Atlanta; dec.
1932) was baritone or first bass, played the guitar, and delivered the "college commercials"
for his group.

39. Fred Lewis Weede (Cooper, ex. 1898; B. S., Univ. of Pennsylvania; Doctor of
Letters, Sterling; journalist and publicity man) was second tenor, played the guitar, and
recited such "sad or heavy selections . . . tear jerker stuff" as "Little Joe's Flowers"
and James Whitcomb Riley's "Goodbye, Jim, Take Keer of Yourself."

40. John Ulysses Brush (B.A., Cooper, 1898; D. D., Sterling, 1927; dec., 1934) is
credited by Fred L. Weede with having organized the "original" Cooper quartet. The only
member of the group who had enjoyed formal vocal training, he served as director, sang
second bass and bass solos, and played the mandolin.


Will Hood, 41 while the place of Fred Weede, who intended to teach
school the next year, was taken by Owen Dunlap. 42 The quartet
was disbanded in 1897, the year in which Owen Dunlap withdrew
from college in January and Will Hood in June. 43 Among the popu-
lar songs they sang I recall:

I found a horseshoe (twice)
I picked it up and nailed it on the door.
The name of the horse that wore it, (twice)
The name of the horse that wore it was Lenore.
Ring, chiming bells! (8 times). 44

Another was:

I'm going to sell rat-traps in Egypt, ( 3 times )

And I'm not coming back any more.

It's all on account of somebody, ( 3 times )

And I'm not coming back any more. 45

I'm going to sell peanuts in China. . . .

41. William T. Hood (B. S., Cooper, 1897; auditor; dec., 1942) was baritone and
soloist, played the mandolin, and delivered the "commercials" for his group.

42. Owen R. Dunlap (Cooper, ex. 1897) was second tenor and accompanist and also
played the guitar.

43. The author's original statements about the quartet, although accurate in general
outline, were so incorrect in such matters of detail as who succeeded whom and when that
I have revised her account, according to the best available information, without indicating
specific changes and their sources. Letters, reminiscences, and printed programs from Fred
L. Weede and Owen Dunlap, surviving members of the quartet, and a letter from Dr. J. C.
McCracken, advance agent, are the basis of my revision.

44. Words and music of a similar song can be found in Carl Sandburg, The American
Songbag (N. Y., 1927), pp. 382, 383: Sandburg sang it on the Milton Berle program,
October 22, 1958, remarking in his introduction that he had heard it in Galesburg 60 years
before and had never heard it since. The Sandburg version, however, differs from that of
the Cooper glee club by being without a refrain and having as the last line of the stanza,
"The horse that wore the shoe his name was Mike." According to Sandburg: "Railroad
switchmen at Illinois and Iowa division points sang this ... in the 1890's when their
gloves froze to the coupling pins between coal cars, and it was fun to reach a shanty stove."
In all probability the Sandburg version, with its reference to the unromantically named
equine quadruped, is a parody on an earlier glee-club version. The Cooper quartet version,
however, is a synthetic one, and Fred L. Weede, who had a principal hand in working it
up, remembers it somewhat differently from the author of these reminiscences. The history
of the quartet version is an interesting revelation of how popular songs have sometimes

The "original" version, according to Weede, was a single stanza, which he had heard
as a boy in Ness county, Kansas:

"I found a horseshoe, I found a horseshoe.

I picked it up and nailed it o'er the door.

It was rusty and full of nail holes,

Good luck it brought to me forevermore."
The quartet used it as an encore, but decided it was too brief, so added a second stanza:

"I love Susannah, Susannah she loves me.

She am the finest gal that ever you did see.

She am a daisy, she sets me crazy,

I'll love Susannah forevermore."

This "barbershop ditty," up to this point, was without a chorus, so Fred Weede was
commissioned to work one up. He borrowed the two opening lines from some source now
unknown, using as tune "a semblance of 'Sweet Adeline' " and for the other lines a repeat
of the tune used for the same lines in the first stanza.

"Ring chiming bells,

Ring chiming bells.

Good luck it brought to me forevermore.

Ring chiming bells,

Your music tells

Good luck it brought to me forevermore."

When used as a chorus to the second stanza "she" was substituted for "it." Mr. Weede
can not, however, remember the Cooper quartet using the name of a horse or mule in their
version. The author of these reminiscences may have remembered "the horse . . .
Lenore" from an earlier version of "I found a horseshoe" or, perhaps, the Cooper quartet
added such a stanza after Fred Weede dropped out in 1896.

45. Owen Dunlap remembers the rat-trap territory as Iceland and the prospective peanut
salesman as intending to operate in Egypt. This song was used as an encore. I have been
unable to locate either the words or music in any published work.


And still another began:

I saw Esau kissing Kate . . , 46

Of course they emphasized the Cooper songs, which were also
sung by the student body in general. The two college songs were:

There is a town called Sterling, Oh YesI (twice)

There is a town called Sterb'ng

And the college keeps it whirling

In that good old town of Sterling, Oh Yes, Oh Yes!


Then here's to good old Cooper,

Drink her down!

Then here's to good old Cooper,

Drink her down!

Then here's to good old Cooper

And let everybody whoop 'er,

For it's Hi Yi Cooper,

Drink her down, down, down!

Oh the Cooper girls are extra super-fine,
In fashions they are strictly up to time.
They have beauty, brains, and worth,
They're the dearest girls on earth,
Then here's to the girls of C. M. C.!

( Oh the Cooper boys are mighty hard to beat,

With their manners, mind, and muscles all complete.

In the world's mad race for fame

And for glory's honored name

They will get there just the same,

Don't you know?)


Oh the faculty is in it at the college,

Chuckfull of science, Greek and other knowledge.

In the 'ologies of college,

And that without apolog',

The faculty is in it at the college. 47


The other, sung to the tune of "Solomon LevT:
If ever you want to join a crowd
That's jolly and full of fun,
Composed of the merriest boys and girls
That ever lived under the sun,

46. Used as an encore. Words and music in Sigmund Spaeth, Weep Some More, My
Lady (Garden City, N. Y., 1927), pp. 201, 202.

47. Written by Fred L. Weede and sung to the tune of an old Yale drinking-song,
"Drink Her Down, Drink Her Down I" See Francis B. Kellogg, comp. and ed., "Yale Songs
(New Haven, 1889), p. 11. The versions of the author, Fred L. Weede, and Owen R.
Dunlap differ somewhat but, with one exception, so slightly that I have not altered the
version as it stood originally in the text. Owen R. Dunlap, however, furnishes a stanza
which does not appear in either of the other versions and which is inserted in parentheses.


Just add your name to Cooper's roll

And shout with all your might

For the college that's best in all the West,

Our pride and our delight.


Yes, we're from Cooper,

Colors red and blue.

We stand for Cooper,

And to her colors we'll ever be true.

We'll carry them up to the envious round
At the top of the ladder of fame,
And there we'll unfurl at the top of the world
Our colors and Cooper's fair name.

The blue is for character, honor, and worth,

The red is for vigor and vim.

A new student here doesn't wait very long

Before he begins to pitch in.

But if you determine a neighboring school

Is the best one for you to try,

If you want to keep step with the pace that we set,

You'll have to step up pretty high! * 8


During the early years of the quartet it used to tour the state
(at least) in the interests of the college with the aim of attracting
new students. 49 Joe McCracken was the advance agent 50 and
Philips the original spokesman. After his graduation, Will Hood
became the "spieler." I recall him saying, "When I meet St. Peter
at the Gate, and he says, Well, Will, what about those lies you
used to tell about Cooper Memorial College?/ what am I going to

48. The music and original words of "Solomon Levi" can be found in many collections
of college and other popular songs. One which comes to hand is Albert E. Wier, ed., The
Book of a Thousand Songs (New York, 1918), p. 421.

49. The members of the quartet received their tuition for their work in publicizing the
college, but they had to pay their own expenses, which they did by getting various organi-
zations, particularly United Presbyterian congregations, to sponsor their concerts and splitting
the proceeds with them, the quartet receiving the major share. Frequently sponsorship in-
cluded board and lodging for the quartet in private homes. Beginning in central Kansas,
particularly Rice county, with concerts over the Christmas holidays, and perhaps over week-
ends, the quartet finally went on two extended summer tours in 1895 along the Santa Fe
railroad as far east as Kansas City, Mo., and as far west as the Colorado line and in 1896
covering, according to Owen R. Dunlap, "all of Kansas (except about five counties), part
of Colorado and Nebraska," getting as far west as Denver.

50. Joe McCracken, the famous athletes-see Footnotes 28, 29, and 31 was evidently
highly successful as an advance agent, judging from the number of engagements he made.
He had to keep about three weeks ahead of the quartet, finding in each place some organi-
zation willing to sponsor the quartet on the day following the last previous engagement.
The original plan had been to sing only in communities where there was a United Presby-
terian congregation, but, in order to fill out the schedule, McCracken frequently signed up
the quartet for concerts in other communities and frequently the turn-out in such places
was even greater. McCracken's work involved both difficulties and excitement. On one
occasion he arrived in Denver with only 87 cents in his pocket, registered in a hotel, wired
the quartet for money, and, while waiting for it, scheduled the quartet for two performances.
The trains ran so infrequently that he took his bicycle along and frequently rode it between
towns, on one occasion bicycling back through northeastern Colorado to the county seat of
the most northwesterly Kansas county.


No male quartet in those days was considered complete unless it
possessed, in addition to the standard number and variety of voices,
a "reader/* principally of humorous selections. In my day, Harry,
later Dr. H. R. Ross, was the reader, and one of his most popular
numbers, entitled "Uncle Zeke's Visit to the City," was of his own
composition, though, from its character, it could hardly have been
copyrighted since it involved imitations of a rooster, calf, goat,
prairie chicken, prairie dog, wooden pump, a cork being pulled
from a bottle and the liquid running out, a doctor sawing off a
man's leg, a threshing machine, turkey chick, turkey gobbler, and
a cat and dog fight in four parts. 51

The "chalk talk" was then a favorite form of entertainment, but
the only person in college who was skilled in giving chalk talks was
my classmate Paul Stormont. He would begin to tell a story and as
he talked would put on a sheet of paper, three feet by four in size,
or larger, various lines or marks here and there, apparently at ran-
dom. Then, as he concluded a part of the story, he would rapidly
join these lines or marks and an illustration of the story would sud-
denly appear. A story might call for several such pictures. Some-
times he used only charcoal and sometimes colored chalks.

There were no plays in the college of those days, and no dramatic
coach. "Dialogues" were occasionally put on in the literary so-
cieties, but nothing approaching a play. 52 I do not, indeed, remem-
ber seeing a play anywhere in the community during the years

51. Harry Reath Ross (1869-1944) was not a Cooper graduate, but alternated a couple
of years in college with two or three years of school teaching at Raymond, a few miles west,
in order to earn money for his expenses at a medical school in Kansas City, Mo., from which
he was graduated in 1900. He was particularly noted for his "impersonations." In addi-
tion to his "headliner," they were usually of a "bashful, sometimes not too intelligent, boy,"
mostly by "a Kansas rhymester," D. A. Ellsworth. They included "Paw'd Whup," "What
yuh goin' to do when the world busts through?," and "Filler Fights." Other favorite selec-
tions were "Hanner, How's Yer Maw" and "BuTs in Trouble," vyith the clinch lines, "Bill's
in the legislature, but he doesn't say what fer." He also recited from James Whitcomb
Riley and Eugene Field. Persons qualified from experience to judge declare that if he had
chosen to go on the stage as a professional impersonator he could have achieved national

D. A. Ellsworth, Dr. Ross's favorite author, is a remarkably obscure literary figure. The
Kansas State Historical Society (letter of February 13, 1958) is able to state only that he
was admitted to the practice of law in 1886, in 1887 became an editor of the Chase County
Republican (first issue, October 15) and county superintendent of schools, from 1893 to

Ross Van Patten, April 3, 1958) writes: "Father had a scrapbook in which he kept poems
and readings he clipped from newspapers or magazines. Many of his readings were from this
scrapbook. However that scrapbook has been lost for many years." Doubtless these clip-
pings included some of Ellsworth's poems. Granger's Index to Poetry, however, lists "Gwine
to Marry Jim," "How We Waked Ike," 'Ta's Soft Spot," and "Filler Fights" as included
in various anthologies.

52. The ubiquitous Fred L. Weede, however, states that he wrote the script for and also
stage-managed, "the very first attempt in the college" at a "drama or stage presentation"
a Greek symposium, put on under the auspices of the Crestomatheon literary society, June
8, 1896, in which the writer of these reminiscences, under the name of Orthea, was a mem-
ber of the princess' retinue. A group photograph in my possession is evidently of the cast
of this affair.


There was a college paper, The Cooper Courier [founded 1892],
but it meant so little to me that I was unable to recall its name
and had to call on a former college-mate, Pearl Ireton (Mrs. Tal-
mon Bell), to refresh my memory.

There were a few college picnics at which we ate and talked
and then went home, and occasional parties in the homes of local
people at which we played charades, "Going to Jerusalem," "Fruit
Basket Upset," "Clap In and Clap Out/' and guessing-games of
which the object was to identify persons, objects, etc., by asking
questions which could only be answered by "Yes" or "No." There
was none of the dancing or even of the "play-party" games which
had been so popular in western Kansas, but I didn't miss them
as I was in Sterling to "go through college" and was kept busy
getting high enough grades to "pass."

Tuesday, Thursday, and, when I did not attend prayer-meet-
ing, Wednesday, were my nights at home, and I had to study
up to the last minute, even on my evenings out, except on Sabbath
when no studying was ever done. Monday evening was reserved
alternately for the speech class and for physical culture, Friday
was literary society evening, and Saturday night was choir practise,
for I began singing in the United Presbyterian choir not long after
entering college. Sabbath was spent in attending Sabbath School
and church in the morning and Young People's Christian Union
and church in the evening. Even the Wednesday evening prayer-
meetings were well attended by the students and it was popular for
them to attend church both morning and evening. It was at the eve-
ning services that the "dates" showed up, either by coming to the
church together or through the boys standing in line outside after
the benediction, each stepping forth as the girls filed by to say to
his "pick of the flock," "May I see you home?" I do not recall that
it was ever even whispered that any of the boys smoked or played
cards or drank though probably I should not have heard of it
if they did. I was nearly through college before I did any "dating"
myself, and then not much.

Many laughable incidents took place, both in classroom and
in chapel. Sometimes a mouse would be seen running across the
floor 53 and one afternoon, while a class of boys was reciting and
a group of girls studying in the corner, a little mouse sought
refuge in the petticoats of one of the girls. She, being calm and
quick-witted, instantly placed her hand upon the area of encroach-

53. According to Fred L. Weede, the mice did not always get into the college building
under their own power, but along with crickets, grasshoppers, tumble bugs, bumble bees,
garter snakes were introduced in old handkerchiefs or small boxes.


ment and the mouse shortly expired. But the boys had observed
the whole affair, and in the next "Chresto World/' a "newspaper"
read at the weekly meetings of one of the literary societies, ap-
peared a news item stating that "Pearl Ireton is writing a book,
entitled TLost in the Outskirts.' "

On one occasion, those of us who happened to be seated near
the windows of an upstairs recitation room in a class taught by Pro-
fessor Bell were privileged to witness a remarkable sight Dr. Spen-
cer, president of the institution, was pursuing two or three male
students around and around a clump of cedars in front of Cooper
Hall. The boys were dodging in, out, and around the trees and
the president was following them determinedly and with such speed
that, as a student seated near me commented in a very discreet
undertone, you could have "played checkers" on the skirts of the
long-tailed clerical coat which he habitually wore. But the cause,
purpose, and outcome of the chase were a mystery to me at the
time and still remain so.

Marion Trueheart, now of some note as a cancer specialist, 54
contributed more than his share of amusement, somewhat assisted
by his natural tendency toward lisping. One day in Bonus Wil-
son's class in Caesar he was engaged in translating the address
of the Haeduan chief Dumnorix to the author of the Commen-
taries. "Dumnorikth . . . thed," he translated hesitatingly
long pause then in a tone of sudden and excited revelation, "Oh
Great Thethar!" The teacher in School Law one day called on a
young man to recite on one of the practical problems connected

with the management of a school. "Mr. , will you

describe the essentials of a school water-system?" "There should
be two," the young man replied brightly, "one for the boys and
one for the girls." I uttered an only partially suppressed whoop
of mirth, in which I was joined by most of the other members of the
class. The instructor, Professor Bell, turned white as a sheet.
"This class is dismissed," his usually stern voice now almost grim.
We departed in considerable confusion.

In chapel each student some time during each semester was re-
quired to give either a recitation, that is, a selection learned "by
heart," an essay, or an oration. Here again, Marion Trueheart was
distinguished for the originality of his performance. On one occa-
sion his oration or possibly essay consisted of nothing but
columns of words, with no connection whatever; on another his
oration was a single sentence, "We should always take advantage

54. Marion Trueheart (B. S., Cooper, 1900; B. A., Univ. of Kansas, 1901; M. D., Kan-
sas City Medical College, 1904; dec., 1946), founder of the Trueheart Clinic in Sterling.


of all things especially the door," which he followed immediately
by a high kick at the chandelier, a repetition of the original sentence,
and a practical illustration of its meaning by promptly departing.
An "original essay" by another student closed with a passage be-
ginning, "And now, my dear readers . . ."

An old retired minister who was afflicted with an ailment of the
feet which required that they be swathed in great quantities of
bandages, and whose face and manner were almost as odd appear-
ing as his pedal extremities, was frequently present at chapel. One
day he was sitting with his feet elevated on a chair, waiting to lead
the devotional period. One of my weaknesses has always been to
laugh at the wrong time, and this was one of those occasions. Con-
templation of his general appearance and posture became too much
for me, and I began to laugh, gently, of course, until the tears came.
Just when that point had been reached, Dr. Spencer, the president,

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 46 of 59)