A Brief History of Marion College
by Goodridge Wilson, Jr.
Published by the Class of 1948 and the Alumnae Association in Commemoration of the Seventy- Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the College
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IN DECEMBER of 1947, Miss May Scheter wrote me requesting me to prepare a short history of Marion College for publication in time for the Commencement of 1948, the seventh-fifth anniversary.
At first I felt that I would be obliged to decline the invitation because my duties as Executive Secretary of the Synod of Tennessee of the Presbyterian Church in the United States are such that I did not see how I could find the time for it. but because Miss May Scherer, an old friend whose requests I am accustomed to grant if possible, had asked me to do it, because of my affection and admiration for the college acquired during nearly’ sixteen years of intimate acquaintance with it while I was Pastor of the Royal Oak Presbyterian Church in Marion, and because of my gratitude to the college for the kind of education and training it gave to my two daughters, I determined to undertake the task.
It was the first of March before I could get started on it. My only regret about having undertaken to write this history is that with the limited time at my disposal and the pressure of other urgent work I was not able to do it as well as it should hare been done.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the co-operation of Dr. Henry E. Horn in giving me free access to college records, in preparing the biographical data on all the presidents after Dr. Seherer, and in having the lists of names in the Appendix prepared, the helpful assistance of Miss May Scherer in turning over to me records, manuscripts and other material in her possession, in giving me valuable information in personal conservation, and in other ways,’ and to the College Secretary, Miss Edith Richardson, for help in securing and preparing material. Without their help I could have done nothing.
I also wish to express appreciation to Miss Pauline Bridgewater, my office secretary, and to Mrs. Sue Wooten, secretary, for the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, fur their work in typing the manuscript.
March 30, 1948.
The Marion Ideal
To Care for What Is, rather than for what Seems; to be loyal to what is Best in the Traditions of the Past and yet open to the Discoveries of the Present and the Hopes of the Future; to find Freedom in Knowledge of the Truth, Beauty in the Common Sphere of Daily Living; Joy in Love and Friendship, and Strength in Constructive Service; to Play Happily and Work Honestly; to Believe in God and God’s Children; and to Serve where Service is most Needed….
This is the Ideal of Marion College
MARION COLLEGE was founded by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Southwestern Virginia and lean operated throughout its life as a Lutheran institution. Hence, intelligent understanding of its historical background requires some knowledge of the origin, development and connections of the Lutheran Church in Southwest Virginia.
In 1717 a shipload of immigrants from Germany disembarked at Norfolk, and, after working at iron making seven years for Governor Spottswood, they established in 1725 a German colony at the eastern base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in what is now Madison County. They had in their community the first Lutheran Church in Virginia. German people settled in large numbers in Pennsylvania and in smaller numbers in New York, New Jersey, Delaware. Maryland and the Carolinas. An extensive territory in the middle parts of North Carolina was occupied mainly by Germans, most of whom moved there from Pennsylvania. In l726 German folk from Pennsylvania began to move into the Valley of Virginia and they continued to migrate thither from Pennsylvania and other colonies until they comprised a large and influential element of the population of the Shenandoah Valley. Permanent settlements began in Southwest Virginia in the seventeen forties and settlers of Germán stock, speaking the German language, were among the first to come into that beautiful land of promise. They wert followed by others from time to time throughout the remainder of the 18th century and the earlier part of the 19th century. They came from all the regions mentioned above, and some direct from the old country. but most of them came from Pennsylvania and the Valley of Virginia.
Predominately German communities were formed in parts of the present Botetourt and Roanoke counties, in Floyd and Montgomery, and in western Wythe and eastern Smyth, areas where the stronger Lutheran churches of today are located. German families in smaller proportion to the total population settled in other communities of these and other Southwest Virginia counties.
The German pioneers who helped to people the Southwest Virginia wilderness brought with them the church doctrine and polity that had been theirs or their fathers’ in Germany. Probably a majority were Lutherans, but many were Reformed, and others were Dunkards, Mennonites, or Moravians. The Lutheran and Reformed elements maintained distinct identities in the early stages although generally worshipping together in jointly owned buildings and more often than not receiving the ministrations of the same preachers and teachers. In the coarse of time circumstances, combined with their natural good sense, induced them so submerge their differences and unite as Lutheran congregations. From the beginning until now they have stressed education, Biblical doctrine, practical piety and sound evangelical preaching. They mingled freely with neighbors of other blood strains and religious views, inter-married with them, and early developed a friendly spirit of cooperation with other denominations that happily continues, as is witnessed by the fact that members of various other denominations have always served on the boards and the faculties of their educational institutions, have contributed to their support and made up no small part of their student bodies.
When Synods were formed Lutheran congregations in Southwest Virginia affiliated with the Synod of North Carolina. They continued, however, to maintain binding ties with their blood kin and ecclesiastical brethren in other parts of Virginia and in other states. The continuity of historical ties between Lutherans in Southwest Virginia and those in other regions is a factor of large significance in the history and the present status of Marion College. Such ties have been particularly strong with Pennsylvania and the Shenandoah Valley, whence so many Southwest Virginia Lutherans came originally, and with North Carolina, because of early synodical connections; they have been real and vital with sections of Tennessee and many other states to the south, the west, and the north.
In September, 1840 the Synod of North Carolina granted a petition for setting apart its congregations in Southwest Virginia for the formation of a separate synod. Preliminary arrangements were made in October, 1848, and in May, 1842 the new Synod was formally organized at a meeting held in Zion Church in Floyd county. Its first President was Rev. Jacob Soberer, whose son was to become the founder of Marion College. It was first called the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Ministerium of Western Virginia and Adjacent Parts. In 1871 the name was changed to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Ministerium of Southwestern Virginia. In I 855 ”the James River as far as Covington” was officially designated a part of the line dividing its territory from that of the Synod of Virginia. It continued under this name until with the general merger of many Lutheran bodies, finally consunsenated in 1922, is passed into the Synod of Virginia of the United Lutheran Church in America.
From its beginning this Synod manifested strong interest in education. When it was formed, a Lutheran classical school located near Middlebrook, in Augusta county, Virginia, received its moral support and patronage from some of its constituency. In 1847 this school was moved to Salem in the bounds of the Synod where it developed into Roanoke College. Desire for a synodical school for girls resulted in a Lutheran institution at Wytheville. established in 1855 and called the Wytheville Female College. This excellent synodical school prospered and rendered notable service over a period of years with Rev. James A. Brown, President of the Board of Trustees, and Rev, W. D. Roedel, Principal. The catalogue for the session of 1856-57 shows an enrollment of ninety, and that for the session of 1858-59 an enrollment of one hundred and one But the school was destined for an early end. The War Between the States brought much suffering to every institution, but the accidental death of its President in a hunting accident in 1866 was the mortal blow.
The Synod tried to come to the aid of Wytheville Female College in 1867 adopting the following resolutions:
“Whereas, Rev. J- J. Scheter of Texas, now residing in our midst, has had some communication with the mesnlaers of the Board of Trustees of Wytheville Female College, looking to the relief of said Institution from its present pecuniary embarrassment, and securing it ultimately to the Lutheran Church, therefore.
RESOLVED, That we appreciate the liberality and spirit of enterprise evinced to Bro. Seherer in his proposition.
RESOLVED, That we pledge to Bro. Scherer, our sympathy, cooperation and aid in the re- establishment of said Seminary, and our encouragement in securing all the patronage we can in the event he could he released from his present engagement in Texas.”
But Brother Scherer did not take advantage of this pledge for in 1848 [sic – 1868] the College reopened under the supervision of Rev. F. H. McDonald.
One leader, the Rev. J. A. Brown, President of the Synod, was faithful to his pledge of sorrow. We find the following statement in the Minutes for 1870:
“I feel it to be a duty which I owe to myself. to the Church, at well as to the Board of Trustees of Wytheville Female College, to make a few statements in regard to this institution, which, I am sorry to say, is now lost to the Church.
It is well known that this scheol had at one time secured a reputation second to none in our Church in the South; yet it had ever been burdened with a debt which, through injudicious financiering was constantly accumulating. During the war the school was entirely suspended; and when reopened two years ago under the superintendence of Rev. F. H. McDonald, it again began to assume its former popularity to some extent. Its friends were hopeful, and the brethren pledged themselves in raise a reetam amount of money to aid is the liquidation of its debt. And if those pledges had been redeemed and other money said to have here collected for the institution had been paid in, Wytheville Female college. in all probability would still be in existence. But it is a sad truth that not one cent of the pledges made at the meeting of Synod in 1866 was paid except my own, and I have never learned that one of the brethren has ever presented the subject to his people, or that a single effort has been made in that direction. Under these circumstances, what was to be done? The bondholders of the institution were becoming clamorous, atad the only alternative left us to meet their demands was to expose the property for sale. This was done by order of the Board of Trustees in April last. The sale amounted to about $6,000.00. Of coarse this will by no means liquidate the debt. The balance, it seems must be met by myself; Dr. Bittle and L. D. Hancock, myself being the responsible party. I have already paid more than $11,000.00 of my own, and there will yet be about $2,000.00 unpaid after the amount due from the sale of the property has been appropriated. I have repeatedly proposed to relinquish all my claims against the institution, if the Church would aid in paying the remaining debt. Failing to do this we were compelled to pursue the course we did, and Wytheville Female College is now numbered among the things that were. God forbid that another institution of our beloved Church should ever share the same fare and bring upon us the humiliation we ought to feel in permitting this one to be lost.”
That the Synod was not satisfied that its efforts for education of girls should thus end is shown by else following minutes of the Session of 1870:
“After some statements by -Rev. W. E. Hubbert, relating to the prospect of a Female School in Marion to be under the supervision of this Synod, it was moved that a committee be appointed to confer with a committee from the Masonic fraternity of that place. Committee: Revs. W. E. Hubbert, F. H. McDonald and Jonas Huddle, Esq.”
A later minute of 1870 is as follows:
‘RESOLVED, That the committee on the propositions from Marion, Va., be discharged at their own request, and that a standing committee of two Ministers and one Layman be appointed who shall have power to appoint any Lutheran Minister, who may be willing, to organize and take charge of a Female School at Marion in accordance with the offers made by the Masonic lodge at that place.
“RESOLVED, That we will give our support to the Seminary thus established. After an earnest discussion this resolution was adopted. Committee: Revs. A. Phillipi, W. F. Hubbert and Mr. Jno. Copenhaver.”
President Wm. B. Yonce in his report to the Synod of 1871, after some reference to Roanoke College, said:
“The subject of Female Education is of no less importance to the Church. I had hoped to hear favorably from our committee on the subject of a Female School in Marion. Save in the case of a very few who are attending the Staunton Female College, none of our daughters are receiving an education at a seminary under the auspices of the Lutheran Church. I am glad to know that Staunton Female College, recommended to our people last year by resolution of Synod, has been conducted with great success, and that its future prospects are very encouraging. I hope the Brethren have plans and purposes on this subject which they will duly present for our consideration.
The minutes of 1871 also contain the following:
“Report on Marion Male and Female High School.
”The committee appointed to report on the paper and circular of the President of Synod in regard to “Marion Male and Female High school,” would offer the following:
“That, in the opinion of this Synod, the proposed school is of paramount importance to the vitality and prosperity of the Church, and that the Rev. J. J. Scherer is eminently qualified for the successful management of it, both by mental and moral qualifications. as well as by an experience of over twenty years in teaching. Therefore, he it
“RESOLVED, 1st. That we guarantee to Bro. Scherer our hearty cooperation, and that we will use all means in our power to sustain his school.
“RESOLVED, 2nd. That all our ministers and church members are earnestly solicited to use their influence in its behalf.
“RESOLVED, 3rd, That we pledge our selves to afford all possible encouragement and assistance to any authorized agent who may be appointed to secure funds for the permanent establishment of said school,
“RESOLVED, 4th. That we regard the town of Marion in Smyth county, Va., as a very suitable locality in poin of health, convenience, etc, for said enterprise.
“RESOLVED, 8th. That one commendable feature of this proposed school, as we learn from the circular placed in our hands, is its remarkable cheapness the charges being not more than about one-half of what are usually required in a school of this character,
J. A. Brown
Wm. B. Yonce
In 1872 the President of Synod, Rev. J. J, Scherer, said in his report:
“I deem it proper to state that a few days ago Maj. G. V. Smith, of Marion, very generously proposed to donate to our Church three or four acres of land in the town of Marion, with several thousand dollars, for the purpose of a Female College. The land proposed to he donated would make as convenient and delightful a situation for the purpose as any I have seen in Southwest Virginia. Mr. Solomon Bock has made a like generous proposal to give four acres of land for the same purpose in that healthy and thriving little village, Rural Retreat.
“I feel satisfied that with the proper management and energy on the part of the Church the proposed school could be established,”
The minutes of the Synod of 1873 contain the following:
“Saturday, 3 o’clock, P. M.
“The Synod met and was opened with prayer by Rev, S. Rhudy. The absentees of the last meeting were excused, The Committee appointed at a previous Convention of the Synod, to report upon the location of a Female Seminary in the bounds of this Synod, offered the following:
“The Committee appointed at last Synod to ascertain the prospects of establishing a Female College at Marion or Rural Retreat, report that although it was distinctly stated at our last meeting that the effort to establish the contemplated College was not to be confined to the places mentioned, and that if the Committee thought it advisable, that they should fix its location, yet as these facts do not appear in the Minutes, we have thought best not to decide as to the location.
“To secure it at Marion about $5,500 have been subscribed, and several beautiful sites for the building offered as a donation; and ahout $4,400 and equally beautiful sites, for its location at Rural Retreat. The subscription for either place will be increased. Valuable buildings and grounds at Marion are offered at surh a price as might make it expedient to purchase, provided it is located there.
“Your Committee recommends that Synod proceed at once to fix the location, and nominate trustees for the government of the College.
“That for three months the name of the College be left undetermined and that whoever contributes the largest amount shall be privileged to suggest the name, subject to the approval of the Trustees; and if the name suggested by the person offering the largest amount is not approved, the next highest may be considered, and so on till a name is selected; the subscriptions for the purpose not to be paid unless the name suggested by the subscriber is approved; and that this be published in as many papers as is deemed proper.
“That any Charge, Church, Firm, Family or Person, contributing $500 shall be entitled to suggest the name to be given and inscribed upon a room, in the College Building, in the order of their subscriptions for that purpose, the name to be approved by the Board of Trustees.
J. C. Repass
James H. Copenhaver
R. T. Copenhaver
J. J. Scherer”
“The report was received and considered by items.
“On motion, the citizens of Marion and Mt. Airy were permitted to participate in the discussion and present the advantages of their respective localities. The Synod then proceeded to select the location of the Seminary. Very great interest was manifested in the matter by the citizens and Synod and the discussion occupied the whole session. A ballot being taken, showed 26 votes for Marion, and 6 for Mt. Airy. On motion, Revs. J. J. Scherer, J. C. Repass, and Messrs. Stevens and Groseclose were appointed a Committee to suggest Trustees. On motion, the remaining part of the report was deferred to the next session.”
“Monday, August 25th, 1873, 2:30 o’clock, P. M.
“The Synod opened with prayer by Rev. V. Stickley. Rev, Dr. Davis occupied the attention of Synod for a few minutes in presenting a notice of his agency for procuring funds to put up a fireproof building for the Library and Cabinet of Roanoke College. The Synod then proceeded to consider the remaining part of the report of the Committee on the Female College. In reference to the itemon securing funds, it was resolved that the regular constituted agent or the President of the College, be invited to visit the different charges and that the ministers of this Synod pledge their aid and encouragement to such person in his effort to secure funds for the Female College. The Committee to suggest the Trustees, present the following report:
“The Committee to suggest the names of persons for Trustees of the Female College in Marion, report the following: James H. Gilmore, Esq., James Copenhaver, C H. Steven; M.D., N. L. Look, G. D. H. Killinger, Stephen Groseclose, John Coperasaver, C. K. Coley, Wm. McCauley, Esq., James W. Sheffey, Esq., Valentine Vanhuss. Peter Schaefer, Rev. J. J. Scherer, John S. Copenlaver, Benj. Phlegar, Jacob Cronise, Rev. J. A. Brown, Rev. J. B. Gresner, Joseph Groseclose, Maj. N. H. Repass, K Jackson, Jacob Cassell, John S. Groseclose, J. H. Francis, Nelson Fudge, Judge J. A. Kelley.
J. J. Scherer
J. C. Repass
“On motion, this report was received and adopted and the persons named therein nominated as Trustees. The item in reference to the name of the College was also adopted, and then the report as a whole.”
Thus Marion College was authorized as the Female College of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Southwest Virginia as successor to the Wytheville Female College.
In the 1850’s Misses Marissa and Mary Gordon conducted a select school for young ladies in a large brick residence in Marion that had been the home of Madisen Crockett. After the war, Major G. W. Smith, an ex-Federal soldier, a quiet unassuming gentleman. a public spirited and most useful citizen, and a member of the Presbyterian Church, purchased this residence with a considerable adjoining acreage and made it his home.
It was a part of this acreage that he proposed to donate to the Lutheran Synod for a Female College and it was this residence that became the first building of Marion College.
Dr. John Jacob Scherer, a native son of Southwest Virginia and a successful educator in Texas, at the urging of Dr. B. F. Bittle, President of Roanoke College, and other leading Lutherans, sold out his interests in Texas and returned to Virginia with the purpose of either reviving the Wytheville Female College or starting another Lutheran Female College in its place. Because his father-in-law, Mr. Peter Killinger, a Presbyterian Elder, lived at Marion, he made his home in that town and taught local schools there for several years. His residence and work in Marion no doubt explain the various proposals to the Synod of Southwestern Virginia which emanated from that place.
The First Thirty-Seven Years
Colleges, like people have individual character
The Whole personality of a college-its essential basic character, its tone spirit and atmosphere, its ideals, aims and purposes, its manners, mannerism and customs, its judgments of valise, its way of life–is imparted to it in some measure by its background and origin, in some measure by its physical and human environment and its physical equipment, but mostly by people who carry it on and make it what it is, Its personality is largely a composite of the personalities of people who make it, The personalities and work of many people have entered into the making of Marion College. To select from the many a few whose permanent imprint is such that they deserve special consideration in this brief history is a delicate task. Yet it will be undertaken because there are a few whose contributions made in the formative thirty-seven years of the administration of the first President, and in the case of some extending beyond that period, are so outstanding that they can be given this small tribute of recognition without reflecting in any way upon others who will not be so recognized.
Dr, John Jacob Scherer, founder and father of the college, who nurtured and to a large degree sustained it for thirty-seven years, certainly did more than any other man in making Marion College what it is, But it may well be that in creating and moulding the atmosphere, the spirit, and the real inner life that constitute the heart and soul of such an institution, Mrs. Scherer’s contribution was even greater than her husband’s, The President’s family lived in the building and every girl who entered the dormitory became a member of the larger college family and an inmate of a college home. The home-like family spirit and atmosphere is still a marked characteristic of Marion College, and it is so to a large extent because during its first twenty-five years Mrs. Scherer was to the college what a mother is to a home, One of the girls, whose name is not recorded, wrote of her in “The Marion Collegian” in 1898:
“I have been asked to write a brief sketch of Mrs. Scherer. I could not make it brief if I were able to write whet I feel.
“It is easy enough to state that Miss Elizabeth Katherine Killinger was born in Smyth County, January 28, 1840; that she was a pupil of high scholarship at Wytheville Female College, and that she was married to Rev. J. J. Scherer, September, 1867, from which time her life, like the lives of most good women, has had in it nothing remarkable.
“But what I cannot do is to tell what Mrs. Scherer has been to me and to many others.
“Coming into new surroundings, homesick before the walls of my own home were fairly out of sight, afraid of the strange girls, some of whom seemed to me to have the airs and graces of finished society women, afraid that I might have to undergo the terrible ordeal of an examination of subjects of which I knew nothing, afraid most of all of being called ‘countrified’ nothing but the genuine mother love which I saw in Mrs. Scherer’s eyes and felt in the touch of her hands and the tones of her voice could have soothed me and given me my degree of confidence in myself.
“Throughout the three happy years I spent in the College home, it was an ever increasing source of pleasure to find her more anxious about my health than she could ever make me be–always appreciative of my small class-room successes, entering into what I fancied were my various affairs of the heart, and sugarcoating her wise counsel with so much tender sympathy and comradeship, that, all unknowing, I swallowed the pill. Watching over the little things, I started to say, because I then thought them little, Now I am inclined to believe that they were after all the great things, and that the solving of that list awful problem in trigonometry was slight in comparison with the gradual working out of the problem. How a woman may be never weak in her adherence to the principles underlying right action, yet always tender with the faltering, always wise in her dealing with the wayward; always busy, yet always having time for a talk with one of ‘lace girls’; how a woman may have a mind stored with the deepest truths of human experience and yet humble as a child’s, This is a problem which few women solve so wisely and so well as Mrs. Scherer has done, Yet one of her charms is that she does not know she has solved it, or that her influence has been the strongest power for good in any besides-ONE OF HER GIRLS.”
Mrs. J. J. Scherer before her marriage was Elizabeth Katherine Killinger.
During the War Between the States the Killingers were living near the present Marion town spring above Attoway. In December, 1864, General George Stoneman led a Federal force on a destructive raid into Southwest Virginia, in the course of which the Battle of Marion and the Second Battle of Saltville were fought. Mr. William C, Sexton, clerk of the county court, loaded the county record and deed books into a wagon and tried to haul them to a hiding place in the mountains when he learned that the Yankees were coming. At the foot of a hill below the Killinger home the raiders overtook the wagon and set fire to it. Katherine, against the protest of her mother and sister, went to the burning wagon, took the county hooks out, extinguished the fire on those that were burning, and carried them all to a safe place. The County Court recognized this feat by the following. which is on record in Smyth County Court House, A Court record of January 17, 1865:
“The Court saving been informed that the Records of the County of great value to the people having lands in the County or other interests in the records, were saved by the heroic efforts of Miss Elizabeth C. Killinger from destruction by fire, set to them by the Public Enemy in their late raid into South Western Virginia, and desiring to testify their appreciation of her conduct and service doth order that the cordial thanks of the Court are due and are hereby tendered to the said Elisabeth C. Killinger for the saving of the Records of the County from destruction after they were fired by the enemy and that there be apportioned five hundred dollars as a reward for her valuable services and that a copy of this be delivered to her by the sheriff; and that he pay her the five hundred dollars above appropriated.”
Associated with Dr. Scherer from the beginning was the Rev. J. B. Greiner. Dr, Greiner was ordained hy the Lutheran Synod of Southwest Virginia in 1869 and served as Pastor of churches in Giles County. When Marion College opened in 1873 he was the Professor of Latin and Higher Mathematics, taught in the school for sixteen years, and later served on the Board of Trustees. Together with Dr. Scherer, Dr. Greiner worked out the curriculum and set the standard of scholarship. “The Marion Collegian” of 1898 carries this brief sketch of him:
“The subject of this sketch is a native of Salem, Virginia. where he spent his childhood and youth, and graduated at Roanoke College.
“After the Civil War he went to Florida and engaged in teaching with Professor I. G. Frey. a former professor in Roanoke College. He then attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
“After leaving that institution he was married to Miss Marietta C. Stevens of Botetourt County. Virginia, and took his first charge in Giles County, Virginia. When the Marion Female College was opened in Marion he became one of its teachers and remained in that capacity for sixteen years. During this period he was pastor or associate to the Lutheran congregation in and about the town. One year before he ceased teaching, he accepted a call to the Lutheran Church in Rural Retreat, and for the past ten years has been its pastor.
“He took an active part in shaping the course of instruction and general management of the College, and his influence will be felt for years to come.
“His unfailing courtesy, his patient explanations of knotty points. the thoroughness and accuracy of his instruction, made him a teacher of unusual efficiency.
“In answer to our request. he has furnished only the bare facts of a life which has been esteemed and honored by many, as well as by the graduates of Marion Female College, whom it has blessed.”
Still beloved by many living citizens of Marion is the memory of Mrs. Sally Van Meter Helms, “Miss Sally”, who had charge of the primary department. She had taught a private school in Marion, had been on the faculty of the Wytheville Female College. and had been Dr. Scherer’s assistant in the Marion Common School that he taught before the college started.
One cannot describe the administration of Dr. Scherer without mentioning a young man who soon became the President’s right hand man, and, naturally enough, son-in-law, Mr. Bascom E. Copenhaver. “Mr. B. B.” was born and reared on a farm near Marion, was an honor graduate at Roanoke College in 1893, and in 1895 became Principal of the literary Department and continued in that capacity until 1910. This Position gave him major responsibility for practically all college and preparatory teaching. and as Dr. Scherer’s strength declined with increasing age placed upon his shoulders more and more of the whole burden of managing the institution in all its phases. In 1896 Mrs. Copenhaver married Miss Laura Lu Scherer. After severing his formal l connection with the college, Mr. Copenhaver was for many years Superintendent of Schools for Smyth County.
The first faculty was as follows:
Rev. J. J. Scherer, A. M., President Mental, Moral and Natural Science Rev. J. B. Greiner, A.M. Latin and Higher Mathematics Mrs. C. A. Miller English Branches and Rhetoric Miss Sallie E. Van Meter History and Principal Primary Department H. C. Stevens, M.D. Anatomy, Physiology and Hygiene Miss S. B. Look French Music Miss Margaretta Lyons Painting and Drawing Mrs. M. C. Greiner Wax Work Mrs. E. Kate Scherer Principal of Social and Domestic Department Miss Mollie Lookup Governess
Miss Sarah B. Look became Mrs. S. W. Dickinson and lived out her long and useful life in Marion. Dr. Stevens was a Marion physician, and Mrs. Miller was the wife of Judge D. C. Miller, for many years a prominent Marion citizen.
To appraise the influence of its background and origin it must he borne in mind that it is not only a Lutheran school but a product of the type of Lutheranism that has prevailed in Southwest Virginia. Due weight must be given to the fact that it came into being in these hard times of impoverishment following the devastation of war and the pangs of reconstruction, and the further fact that it was the successor of another church college that had broken and died under the stress of war and its aftermath.
Its larger environment as a Southern College located in a border state and having strong connecting ties with the North and the West had an influence on making it what it is.
A clue to the sort of influence exerted by its immediate environment may be found in some paragraphs that appear in early catalogues.
“The following considerations show the wisdom of the Synod in selecting Marion as a suitable place for a seminary for young ladies: It is only fourteen miles distant from Mt. Airy, the highest point on the A. M. and O. Railroad, and according to measurement 2,500 feet above the sea level. Its altitude, together with its proximity to towering mountains on either side, gives it an atmosphere of unsurpassed celebrity.
“The citizens ate largely composed of Christian families, remarkable for their sociability, but free from the frivolities and extravagances of fashionable life.
“The town is protected from the evil influence resulting from the sale of spirituous liquors within its corporate limits.
“There are four churches in the town, with Sabbath Schools in three. and preaching in one or more of them every Sabbath.
“The Trustees have purchased the handsome property in which the Misses Gordon formerly conducted a Boarding School for young ladies, situated at the West end of the town on a beautiful emineisce, removed from any of the public streets; from which there is a splendid view of the town and surrounding country, while the Middle Fork of the Holston River passes just along its base.
“The building stands near the centre of five acres of ground thus leaving ample space for recreation in front, while in the rear is one of the best gardens in Southwest Virginia.”
Other paragraphs from those catalogues indicate the ideas and ideals which fixed the basic inner character of the college that has remained essentially unchanged while outward rules, habits, and customs have varied with the coloring of changing times.
“Government firm and, as far as possible. parental.”
“The President and family will reside in the building and with the pupils will constitute one family.”
“Gentlemen will not be permitted to visit the students, except upon the written permission of their parents. Novels and promiscuous newspapers are not allowed to be received.”
”It is especially desired that the dress of the student shall be simple and inexpensive. Simplicity saves time and thought and money, which to a scholar are precious for higher uses. Whatever may be the circumstances of a student, elegant attire is here out of place. and in bad taste, As exercises will mostly be taken in the College grounds city walking-dresses are not required, but rather such clothing as will not be injured by active sports and vigorous exertion.”
“Young ladies who board in the College, or with any of the teachers, will be watched over with constant and conscientious care and in the walks will be accompanied by one of the teachers.”
“Domestic worship will he conducted daily by one of the teachers, in which each pupil will he required to participate. Students are expected to attend public worship on Sabbath morning at etach places as their parents may designate, otherwise they will attend the religious services in connection with the Institution, they being conducted in accordance with the usages of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. A portion of each Lord’s day is set apart for the study of Sacred Scriptures wsth a copy of which each student must be provided.”
“A social religious meeting will he held Once a week for such as may choose to attend, In addition to these public services fifteen minutes of absolute privacy is secured to each student every day, which she is advised to devote no religious meditations and private devotion.
The President’s own conception of what he was trying to accomplish appears to be expressed in Psalms 144:12, a verse of Scripture which he published in his catalogues year after year:
“That our daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”
The action of the Synod of Southwest Virginia that located the school at Marion was taken in August, 1873, and in September of the same year it was opened for business, in the old Masonic Hall, This historic frame structure that housed the Masonic Lodge and the Select School which Dr, Scherer taught after he came back from Texas, and before the College started, in which the first college session, that of 1873-74, was conducted, stood on the Marion street known as Broadway.
For the session of 1873-74 thirty-seven pupils were enrolled, seventeen from the town of Marion, nine from country homes in Smyth County, one each from Atkins Tank, Saltville, Wythe County, Max Meadows, Rural Retreat, Glade Spring and Amelia County. Three pupils enrolled for the first session are living at the rime of this writing: Miss Ogwilt Sprinkle of Marion, Miss Emma Sprinkle of Marion, and Mrs. Lotie Gilmore Woods of Charlottesville, the oldest living graduate.
For the session of 1874-75 the enrollment was seventy-five, thirty-four boarding students and forty-one day pupils. For the remaining session of the first thirty-seven years the enrollment ranged from about eighty to over a hundred.
In the beginning the college course covered three years of study in the standard subjects of liberal arts colleges of that day. Special courses were offered in modern languages, music, drawing, painting and wax work, A Normal Department was developed with special instruction in the theory and practice of teaching, a feature that has been continued in one form or another to the present time and has made Marion College a fruitful source of capable and well qualified teachers.
A Business Department offering courses in bookkeeping, shorthand, typewriting. and telegraphy was started in 1889, an early date for that sort of thing in a school for young ladies, The Business Department is a very valuable part of the present day offering of the college to both boys and girls. Courses in elocution, calisthenics, and physical culture were introduced prior to 1900.
Dr. Scherer had a remarkable vision of education for girls. He placed at the heart of his school the essentials emphasizing religious ideals and training, and the fundamental courses of classical scholarship, but recognized also the value of the purely cultural courses and also of practical business training for young women. At least one of his courses, that in wax work, was in line with the fashionable practice of the time, but is no longer considered a desirable part of a cultured ladies finishing education. An accomplished lady of that day should have known how to make wax flowers and such things, as well as to be able to draw and paint and, according to her talents, to play the piano, the organ, and stringed instruments, and to sing.
During else greater part of Dr. Scherer’s administration one of the town doctors was engaged to give instruction in anatomy and hygiene. Also, during at least the first third of the college’s life time, examinations were given by examining committees composed of citizens not connected with the college faculty.
The Legislature of Virginia issued a charter to the College in January, 1874, under which, with five amendments, it has operated up to the present. The first amendment, in 1878, granted the Trustees power to issue bonds in amount not to exceed $6,000. The next two. made in 1912 and on May 6, 1924, raised this maximum to $15,000 and $30,000 respectively. The fourth amendment, adopted May 27, 1924, raised the maximum amount of real and personal property that could he held and disposed of by the trustees to $500,000 instead of $100,000 as provided in the original, changed a reference to the “Evangelical Lutheran Church” to the “Lutheran Synod of Virginia,” and made certain changes concerning the election of trustees and their terms of service. The fifth amendment, adopted in 1934, changed the legal name from Marion Female College to Marion College.
About the time of the opening of the first session in the fall of 1873 the trustees wanted to name it Scherer College, in honor of its founder, Dr. Scherer would nor allow this, so they called it Marion Female College which continued to be the legal title until 1934. Some time about 1912 the name was changed for all except legal purposes to Marion Woman’s College; later it became Marion Junior College; then Marion College, which in 1934 was declared the legal name by act of legislature.
The minutes of the Board of Trustees were destroyed by fire in a Marion printing shop March 7, 1893, so that no record of its proceedings prior to that time exists. From extant minutes and other sources it appears that during the greater part of Dr. Scherer’s administration the Board of Trustees had very little to do with either financing or managing college affairs. The trustees held legal title to all real and personal college property and had power to determine its use and disposition, but they appear to have delegated that power in very large measure to the President. The minutes of May 29, 1893, make note of the fact that all former minutes were burned and contain this memorandum which was presented for record by Dr. Scherer:
“I understand the following to be the agreement between us in regard to the management and control of M. F. College for five years from July 1st, 1892. I am to pay semi-annually the interest on the bonds and keep the insurance on the college paid up. The Trustees see to put the roof in good condition and give me the use and control of the institution including buildings, etc, to that time.
(Signed) J. J. Scherer.
This or a similar contract with Dr, Scherer was renewed on expiration from time to time, and, beginning with 1895, the Board regularly elected and reelected Mr. B. E. Copenhaver as Principal of the Literary Department, a position that apparently entailed responsibility for instruction and class room work in both preparatory and college departments.
At the start citizens of Marion and Smyth County contributed $4,000, more or less, which was used to purchase the grounds and the building which had been the borne of Major G. W. Smith. had housed the Misses Gordon’s Select School for Young Ladies, and had once been the residence of Mr, Madison Crockett, Some of this money was doubtless used for necessary improvements and equipment. How salaries were provided before tuition fees were sufficient for the purpose is nor recorded.
From time to time donations were made for capital investment and the board issued bonds presumably for the same purpose. With the aid of funds contributed by Mrs. Fayette McMullin, a building known as the West Wing was attached to the west side of the old anti-bellum [sic] residence. Sometime later a similar addition was made to the eastern side of the original building. Mrs. McMullin left in her will a bequest of something over $3,000, which was used to help defray the cost of the East Wing and to make certain improvements and repairs.
In 1903 the minutes show that the Board of Trustees took steps designed to secure closer connection with the Synod. In 1900 the Board had requested Synod to send visitors to its meetings, and at this meeting the request was made that the Synod would nominate to the Board persons to fill its vacancies, The first trustees had been elected by the Synod. They were empowered in use original charter to fill all vacancies as they occurred and up to this time had been doing so without reference to the Synod. The Charter as amended in 1924 provided that the Synod should elect trustees when vacancies occurred from nominations made by the Board.
In 1904 the Board appointed A committee to study the financial condition of the institution and report on means for paying the debt. In 1906 a committee consisting of Dr, J. J. Scherer. Judge F. H. Fudge, B. F. Buchanan, H. L. Bonhom, [sic] and E. H. Copenhaver was appointed to study plans for enlargement of the college. Extensive improvements in the building and equipment were found to be necessary. From that time on the Board was giving thought to the payment of the debt and to plans for enlargement and improvement of the building which resulted in the decision to replace the old building with an entirely new one, Mr. H. L. Bonham at this time, and throughout the rest of his tenure as one of the trustees, rendered large service in the matter of retiring indebtedness, and getting the institution on a sound financial basis.
It was evident that the first period in the College’s history was near completion. The school had outgrown ins first building, and further additions were inadequate. The informal agreement between president and trustees was no longer possible if the College was to expand. Dr. Scherer had carried a large share of the burden for many years. and now was eager to be relieved of the responsibility.
In 1908 a Building Committee was appointed by the Board of Trustees, and on January 13, 1911, was authorised to tear down the old building and rebuild on the old location, starting at once.
In April, 1910, the following communication was received by Dr. Greiner, President of the Board of Trustees.:
I hereby formally present my resignation as President of the College in the hope that it will facilitate the work of the committee appointed at its last meeting.
I ask you to convey to the Board my thanks for the kindness and cooperation shown me during the long period in which we have been co-workers in the great work of education.
J. J. Scherer
Pres. Marion College.”
The Board replied that this resignation would he a great hindrance to any further plans of the College, and promptly elected the Rev. John C. Peery, of Lynchburg, as Financial Agent. Upon Dr. Scherer’s insistence, his resignation was accepted, and Pastor Peery was elected President.
Thus closed the first period of thirty-seven proud years under a great man. Dr. Scherer continued his personal interest in the college as President Emeritus until his death in 1919.
With the close of the 1909-1910 session all college exercises were discontinued; the college building was torn down to prepare the way for a new and larger Marion College.
The Next Thirty-Eight Years
IN COMPARISON with the first thirty-seven years, the next thirty-eight seem confusing. Administrations change; the fortunes of the college are more sensitive to the currents within public education. This is the period of the rise of the high school; and later the junior college.
In 1910, it was clear that Marion College would be forced to gain new support if it was to remain a college. This realization coincided with a concerted movement within the Southwest Virginia Synod to concentrate upon one college for women at a central locality. Through the influence of leaders in the Synod and the cooperation of President retry, plans were made to build the new school at Salem, uniting Marion College with Elizabeth College, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tentative commitments had been made, without the knowledge of a strong local constituency. The deep interests which had originally brought the college to Marion were aroused, and the Board of Trustees of Marion College pushed plans to build their greater Marion. President Petty resigned immediately to give himself to the new institution at Salem, and the Board elected the Rev. J. P. Miller in his place in 1911.
The possibility of losing the college merely spurred on the efforts of the building committee. The 1912 session opened with the college building still unfinished. President Miller had reorganized the faculty, and had gathered a student group. Soon after the opening. the new president found it necessary to concentrate the new facilities on some particular field of endeavor. The rise of the high school, and the recognition of standards for colleges made such a decision imperative.
It was clear that the new field of the junior college would give purpose to the actual program at Marion. Thus in the spring of 1913, Marion College became a junior college, and, amid much rejoicing, received news of its accreditation by the State Department of Education. The choice was wise, but few expected the junior college to become the great new movement in public education thirty years later.
Now the task of reshaping the curriculum and building up the academic standards began. But another President Miller was to lay the groundwork of academic progress. President J. P. Miller remained but one session His short stay was marked by a wise choice of the junior college field. Others were to build the foundations.
The catalogue for 1913-14 went out with a slip of pink paper insert signed by Miss May Scherer, Secretary, stating that the Rev. Henderson N. Miller. Ph.D., had accepted the call as President, and would be in charge of the opening. To the 1948 observer, this statement is significant; it reveals the presence of the personality without whom the next thirty-eight years would have been impossible.
“Miss May” had been identified with the college all her life. She was reared in the college. graduated from it, and has devoted her life to it and, with the possible exception of her father and mother, has done more for it and exerted more influence than any other one person. In a paper she read to students on Founder’s Day of 1947 on her father and the history of the college he founded she said:
“‘They’ used to say a thing that I do not remember-that I was the only person who ever broke his proud spirit. The punishment of the children of our family was always left to my mother. On one occasion when I must have been worrying my mother, my father suggested that I come to him and threatened a switch when I refused, He spent some time trying to conquer me, but finally said to my mother, ‘Well’ dear, you had better conquer that child. I must go down town.'”
A paragraph in connection with officers of the Alumnae Association in “The Marion Collegian” of 1898 is a good brief description of her not only at that time but throughout her career:
“Miss May Scherer, ’89, the Treasurer, is guarding the funds of the Association with a fidelity worthy of a better cause. During the session of ’95 she had charge of the primary department of Marion Female College and her work won the hearts of the children as well as the gratitude of the parents. Since that time she has been the good fairy of the college, untangling hard knots in mathematics, smoothing the rough edges of school girl difficulties, and lending her practical wisdom and gracious presence to all college festivities.”
She graduated in the class of 1889. In the catalogue of 1890-92 she is listed as Governess. At various other times she was Secretary to the President, Head of the Domestic and Social Department, Teacher of the Primary Department, Teacher of Mathematics, Lady Principal, Secretary’ of the College, Dean and Registrar.
From 1916 until her retirement in 1946, “Miss May” was Dean of Marion College. Any recounting of administrations will merely deal with the external fortunes of the institution. At the heart, during all these years has been ”Miss May”.
Nor dare we enter the story of these years without mention of her brilliant sister, Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver. To recent students ar Marion College, Mrs. Copenhaver is remembered as a lovely hostess, and brilliant conversationalist, who presided over the Rosemont household with natural dignity.
Her home was originally one of the oldest buildings in Marion when the town was laid off, an old log house, the Thurman farm. Dr, Scherer bought it and brought there the aging parents of his wife that they might have the care of their daughter, and for some time his own family lived partly in the college and partly in the house next door. In time they moved out of the college and Rosemont became the Scherer home, This tradition was kept vibrant under Mr. and Mrs. B. E. Copenhaver, and visits to Rosemont for tea and conversation became a regular part of college life.
Laura Lu was mentally brilliant and personally energetic and charming; a woman of abounding energy, of many gifts, many interests, many activities -and she excelled in them all. She was a devoted wife and mother, a faithful and loyal church member, an active and efficient church worker, a delightful companion, a public speaker with oratorical power of first rank, a writer of poetry and hymns, of drama and pageants, of stories and articles, of pamphlets and books, an inspiring teacher and brilliant lecturer, a successful business woman who founded and conducted a lucrative business with nation wide and international patronage. Her work as a teacher, especially in English Language and Literature, and even more her social charm and personality made a lasting impression upon the minds and characters of the girls, and did much to lift the prevalent tone of Marion College life and to set the high standards of its scholastic work.
Sherwood Anderson wrote of her, “She put those close to her on their metal, She made them want, because of her, to be something they could not be without her.”
Present Marion College students still come under her influence as they recite she Marion College Ideal, and the Alma Mater-both from her pen. In 1948 alumnae and friends presented the college with a new organ as a loving memorial of her influence at Marion College.
Mention should also be made of two other members of the same family whose influence spread to the wider circles of church leadership. Katherine Killinger Scherer used her talents as a speaker, and writer in the work of the Missionary Society. She married the Rev. E. C. Crook who became the first Superintendent of the Lutheran Synod of Virginia. As a gifted speaker, Mrs. Cronk was in great demand so church meetings and conventions throughout the country.
The Rev. J. J. Scherer, Jr., has made claim to being the only male graduate of Marion Female College. As pastor of the First Lutheran Church, Richmond, Va., and for nasny years President of the Lutheran Synod of Virginia, Dr. Scherer has been a rock of strength in the continuing support of the college.
The presidents also made lasting contributions. President Henderson Miller came to Marion from a fine pastorate in Columbus, Ohio. He was a man of scholarly habits, and at one time had been principal of Mount Amoena Seminary at Mount Pleasant, N. C. He brought with him a desire to make a real academic contribution, and the results of his efforts were quickly seen.
An organ was moved from Elizabeth College, North Carolina, to grace his new alma mater; and a picture of the instrument was promptly placed in the catalogue. This organ remained in use until 1948. Its history would itself be interesting reading.
Other improvements were made in laboratories, dormitories, and classrooms, and brave pictures thereof went inserted in the catalogue. They show an earnest effort to build a representative junior college. Though President Miller resigned in 1916 to return to the pastorate, he had made a fine contribution, and his resignation was accepted with deep regret.
Rev. C. Brown Cox succeeded Dr. Henderson Miller, beginning his work in the summer of 1916, when he moved his interesting family into the President’s quarters in the east wing of the building, Mrs. Cox, the Cox girls, and C. Brown, Junior, were valuable members of the college family during their twelve years of residence in the building.
Dr. Cox was an enterprising and roergetit administrator with progressive ideas and keen business acumen, During his administration great improvements were made in landscaping the campus, and new building was achieved with the addition to the ecar of the west end of the present dining room, with stories above it, and with the erection of the gymnasium.
The gymnasium, like many other good things at Marion College, originated in the busy brain of Miss May Scherer. The idea was born when that efficient and most valuable instrument should have been occupied with the more appropriate exercise, considering the time and place, of worship. But even in her sleep and when attending services of worship, Miss May’s brain was apt to be concerned primarily with matters pertaining to Marion College and its well being. One Sunday morning while she was at truth and should have been listening to the sermon but was not, the thought struck her that the college should have a gymnasium and should have it without delay. Then and there she began to work out plans for getting it. She passed her ideas on to President Cox who aided and abetted the scheme and in due time the gymnasium materialized, Initial funds were raised in small amounts, Miss May contributing the first dollar, and the classes making and soliciting donations, A gift from Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Lincoln, Senior, completed it, Hence the legend on the tablet on one of the walls:
“This Building, Which Was Completed In 1924 Was Made Possible Through A Generous Gift Of Mn And Mrs. Charles Clark Lincoln, Sr., Who Will Ever Be Held In Loving Esteem By Faculty And Students Of Marion College In Whose Honor This Building Has Been Named Lincoln Hall.”
During Dr. Cox’s administration the custom of having each graduating class make a donation to the permanent assets was inaugurated, the first being a large electric sign placed on top of the building and donated by the class of 1917. Also the annual May Day Festival was started in 1917. Annie Gwyn, now Mrs. James Thompson, was the first May Queen. The system of student government was introduced in 1923. During his term too the United Lutheran Church of America came into being with the consequent merger of the college’s sponsor, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Southwest Virginia, with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Virginia and the Holston Evangelical Lutheran Synod into the Lutheran Synod of Virginia of the United Lutheran Church, and appropriate adjustments with with amendments to the chatter. were made.
The enthusiasm of the Twenties was evident in the administration of President Cox, but the college soon over-reached itself. Though the physical property was expanded, and the salaries of teachers were raised, no source of financial support was found. A campaign was initiated in the Lutheran Synod of Virginia so cover the expenditures, but the results were disappointing. In the midst of these discouragements Dr, Cast resigned and accepted a call as pastor at Pulaski, Virginia.
The college was left without a leader at a perilous moment, As local pastor, Dr. E. H. Capenhaver had long been a member of the Board of Trustees, and actively interested in the college. When asked by the Board to act as President, he undertook the task, It was not long before he was asked to assume these duties as the elected President.
The affection and esteem justly accorded to Dr. Copenhaver by those who know him well is witnessed by the fact that he was called as pastor by the congregation in which hr was born and reared. For fourteen years he served that pastorate faithfully and well, loved, trusted, and admired not only by his own people hut by the community as a whole, and acquired widespread influence throughout his denomination by his sterling worth. He married Margaret Greever of Burkes Garden. Their two children. Margaret Sue and Helen Geerver, grew to high school age, in the Marion Lutheran parsonage and moved with their parents into the college building when Dr, Copenhaver became President in 1929.
His administration covered the trying times of the great depression, and he deserves the lasting gratitude of the college and its friends for carrying it sately and in sound condition through that tragic period when banks were failing, businesses and colleges were going into bankruptcy, and people of affluence were not financially able to send their children to college. Dr. Copenhaver’s solid character, sound judgment and conservative management carried the institution through that crisis.
During Dr. Copenhaver’s administration and because of conditions created by the depression that made it difficult if not impossible for local boys to get a college education, boys were admitted as regular students for the first time, Prior to that time the only male graduate of Marion College on record was Rev. J. J. Scherer. Jr., of Richmond, who was reared in the old college building. During Dr. Copenhaver’s term the name was legally changed to Marion College. Also during his term women were first elected as trustees, the first woman trustee being Mrs, C. C. Brown of Rural Retreat.
Dr. Copenhaver retired after the close of the session of 1937-38 and the session of 1938-39 opened with Rev. Hugh J. Rhyne as President.
Hugh Rhyne was a rare soul, genial. cheerful, genuinely interested in people and share interests and affairs, natural, unaffected, dancer, and more nearly completely unselfish than most human beings. He had an innate natural genius for friendship that was developed through constant exercise, consecrated by a Spirit-controlled life, and guided by a level head full of practical sense.
He came to Marion to succeed Dr. Eldridge Copenhaver as Pastor of the Marion-Ebenezer Parish in 1929, when he was a young unmarried preacher, and won the hearts of people old and young. The boys and girls of Marion, irrespective of their church affiliation, adopted him as their friend and counselor and spiritual adviser. After about a year he married Miss Mildred Davis of Columbia, South Carolina, and brought her to the Lutheran parsonage, where their first child, Anne, was born. Mrs, Rhyne soon became as popular as her husband, In 1935 he accepted a call to the College Lutheran Church in Salem, Virginia. Their second daughter, Jean, was horn in Salem. He came back to Marion in 1938 to succeed Dr. Capenhaver as President of the college.
Dr. Rhyne was faced with a tremendous task, Dr. Copenhaver had carried an impossible situation by himself without any real support from Board, local friends, or the church. The development of public education had taken away the source of students. The college building was in need of extensive repair.
The citizens of Smyth County rallied to support the new President, putting on a campaign for $5,000.00 for improvements. Using this means to carry out needed changes, and inaugurating a program of national advertising, Dr, Rhyne was able to bring new vision to the college. His personality infected his fellow educators, and churchmen to bring the name of the college before an ever widening constituency. Within four short years, Dr. Rhyne was able to make a bid for the real support of the Virginia Synod by setting up a campaign for $50,000.00 in the Synod. By this plan, he hoped to eliminate a burdensome debt of $39,600.00 which represented the expense of the wing built under Dr. Cox.
The Rhyne family lived in the President’s quarters in the building and the little girls enlivened the college life. The personal influence of Dr. and Mrs. Rhyne upon the students was among the chief benefits they received from theircollege course. His genial interpretation of the Christian life brought about healthy charges in the college life. Dances were held foe the first time, and severe restrictions upon students and faculty were relaxed to permit a real self-government.
The great gap between the vision of Dr. Rhyne for the college, and the material with which he had to work put a terrific strain upon his physical endurance.
In the midst of his energetic pleas for real aid, he collapsed on November 13, 1942. His plans for wider Church support of a modern junior college were well laid. A loyal faculty, and a more active group of trustees had caught his spirit; a new era was commenced for the college.
Dr. Rhyne’s sudden death brought a temporary halt to any planning. Replacement of such a personality was impossible. Development of plans for the Marion College Appeal was necessary before the final decision of the Virginia Synod on the project.
In a dramatic announcement at the very meeting where the Marion College Campaign was to be decided, Dr. J. J. Scherer, Jr., President of the Luthern Synod of Virginia, announced the acceptance of the Rev. Henry Eyster Horn as the new President of Marion College. Selected because of the well-known names of two illustrious grandfathers, both leaders in the Lutheran Church, President Horn came to his position unknown and untired. He had been a pastor in Philadelphia for four years, and was well acquainted with young people.
The effect of this announcement was the decision of the Synod to carry on the Marion College Appeal under the direction of the Rev. J. L. Mauney. Under his able direction, the Appeal resulted in clearing the debt of the college and providing funds for a fitting memorial to Dr. Rhyne.
President Horn’s aims were merely the extension of the planning of Dr. Rhyne. He has aimed at recognitition and support as the only junior college of the United Lutheran Church, and the only women’s college in the same body. During the past five years, steady steps have been taken towards this goal. Students have come from an ever widing circle of influence. Faculty and curriculum have been changed and strengthened to appeal to the demands of this group.
President Horn is passing from problem to problem with ever-increasing success. The students said of him recently in an annual dedication:
“To the Reverend Henry Eyster Horn, President of Marion College, our minister, pastor, friend and adviser, we affectionately dedicate this annual. His leadership guides our actions; his scholarship challenges our minds; his fellowship warms out hearts; his faith enriches our lives with Christian standards for today and Christian ideals for tomorrow.”
In June, 1946, Miss May resigned as Dean of the College. Her resignation was regretfully accepted by the Board of Trustees, and she was asked to continue her connection with the college as adviser of seniors. She still is present at the college. The religious and social life follows in traditions she started, deeply affecting new students with the Marion spirit which is hers.
At a recent alumnae meeting, the following citation was read:
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL
To May Scherer: for her vision into human needs and for her tireless energy in bringing that vision to fullfillment in the reality of a splendid educational institution; for her staunch advocation of scholastic standards and her pioneering into educational fields; for her qualities as a teacher and the rich heritage with which she endowed her students; for the practical application of her Christianity and for her inspiring moral standards, exemplified in womanhood lived, embracing all the true qualities of beauty and sould and purity of heart; for the genuiness of character and the strength of personality whcih has made hers a life of love, a life of service, and a life of giving ‘far beyond the line of duty.'”
During seventy-five years, the influence of the Scherer family, father and daughters, has been the driving force in the college life. Yet much credit must be given also to key members of the faculty. Where income is limited, a college faculty cannot be maintained over any long period. In these thirty-seven years of struggle, there have been some who, despite financial sacrifice, have given of themselves for Marion College.
It would be difficult to mention all, but who can forget the work of teachers like Miss Dora Phlegar, Miss Sue Copenhaver, Miss Olivia Rinehart, Miss Ethel Lind, Miss Helga Franzen, Mrs. Agnes Herwig, Miss Edith Hoover, Mrs. Mary Chryst Anderson, Miss Catherine Bell, Miss Elizabeth Eyster, Miss Anna Marie Gustafson? The academic tradition of Marion College has been built by such scholars, and is now organized into an orderly system.
One can think of leaders on the Board of Trustees who have had their place during these years. Men like Dr. J. B. Greiner, Rev. W. R. Brown, R. A. Anderson, H. L. Bonham, and Dr. J. J. Scherer, Jr., have borne much of the heat and burden of the day. Their efforts have saved Marion College at many perplexing turns, and have given new hope for the future.
Thus in seventy-five years the collective influence of these many personalities, concentrated in the framework of traditions and new aims has made what we affectionately know as Marion College. Its character is distinctive in modern education, and its halls beloved wherever alumnae gather.
Student Life and Activities
ANYTHING approaching completeness in a history of the life and doings of Marion College students for seventy-five years is entirely too much of an undertaking to be attempted here, but some general characteristics can be pointed out and some specific activities can be recounted in more or less detail.
The outward manner of life, habits, sports, recreation; rules, manners and customs of colleges vary with the times, conforming in general to contemporary ideas and fashions in vogue at different periods. But human nature does not change with changing fashions and college boys and girls are boys and girls no matter when they happen to come along. With due allowance for outward forms set by prevailing patterns of their respective periods, they are much the same in one generation as in another.
Marion College was born and passed the first three decades of its life in what is known throughout the English speaking world as the Victorian period when there was a primness, a formality, and a straitlaced strictness about generally accepted standards of propriety that was in marked contrast to standards that have prevailed in the nineteen twenties, thirties and forties. The three intervening decades, the “gay nineties”, the nineteen hundreds and nineteen tens, were a transition period, when prevailing standards carried over much of the Victorian while taking on more and more of the easy, breezy freedom that has found extreme expression in such forms as “jive and jazz.”
In the good old Victorian days, more or less arbitrary and artificial lines were drawn in almost all phases of society, and of life and conduct, including morals and religious practice. The obliteration of those lines in recent years does not necessarily mean the lowering of standards; it may be accompanied, and in fact often is, by what in reality are higher standards.
Marion College has conformed to the changing times in non-essentials, while keeping true to its principles and holding fast to the essential realities of true ideals, right conduct and proper form; it has been slow to abandon old and accepted customs, and slow to adopt the new until they have become well established, following the principle set forth in Pope’s couplet:
“Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”
The particular character of each individual institution is no less potent than the prevailing pattern of the contemporary social structure at large in determining standards and customs of life and conduct in colleges. Marion College is a church institution and its standards and practices have always been in conformity with those generally prevailing in contemporary homes of cultured Lutheran Church members and its other Christian patrons.
New modes of living and self expression, new sports and- means of recreation, and new forms of social entertainment in due time find their place in Marion College, provided they conform to the teaching and contemporary practice of the Lutheran Church and do not vitiate the principle that the minds and interests and energy of the students are not to be diverted from their primary business of getting a sound, thorough, and well rounded education.
In the Victorian era artificial lines were drawn between the sexes in many phases of life and they separated schools into “male” and “female”, Therefore, when the Lutheran seminary “of highest grade” for young ladies was established it became a “Female College”, and measures were installed to protect the young ladies from masculine attention, to provide them with constant supervision and chaperonage, and to do other things for their good which were considered proper form at the time in any well regulated female school, That does not mean that the form of the eighteen seventies and eighties were any less natural, vivacious and attractive, nur that they got any less fun and enjoyment out of life than the girls of the nineteen forties. Nor dees it mean that the girls of the present day are any laxer in morals or lower in ideals of womanhood than those of former generations. It merely means that they are living in different eras under different conditions. Statements in early catalogues to the effect that “novels and promiscuous newspapers” were prohibited, that the young ladies might receive gentlemen callers only with written permission from their parents and then infrequently and under restrictions, and that girls hoarding in the college or homes of teachers must always he accompanied by a teacher when appearing in public must be read in the light of prevailing customs of the times.
In a paper read to the girls on a recent occasion Miss May Scherer said:
“To the first building that was purchased, additions were made from time to time until there was room for go boarding students, The old Southern idea of proper chaperonage was in its prime. The teachers had ample opportunity to know the girls, since the girls never left the campus unchaperoned. There were no movies and no drug stores, so there was abundant time for study. There were boys who used various wiles to contact the girls, since “calling nights” did not come often. Some large stones in the front yard concealed the notes as they passed back and forth. Since there was no electricity in the town there was no electric bell to call to classes. Instead there was a large bell on a high standard us else yard near the class room door. The boys of the town thought it was great sport to ring the bell at night. The girls who did not like to be disturbed filled the rope, one night, with pins and the poor boys had scratched hands the next day. On another night the girls turned the bell upside down and filled it with dish water. The boys got the water that night.”
“These are only incidents that tell something of the early college days. Would that we had pictures of the girls of those days with their long dresses trailing the ground and long plaits of hair hanging down the backs. There is a picture of the first basketball team with modest dresses reaching the ground. Why the girls never tripped, I don’t know.
“Imagine, if you can, a college full of girls with no water in the building, no electric lights, coal stoves for heat. Things come easy today. However, the college was not unprogressive. As soon as electricity came to town the college had it. As soon as water pipes were laid water was brought to the college.”
Under the family home system, inaugurated at the beginning of the college in the old antebellum residence in 1874 and fostered and developed by the motherly care and guidance of Mrs. J. J. Scherer until her death in 1898, parties and entertainment for the girls have been a notable feature of Marion College life. The traditions was carried on through the years with zest and originality by Mrs. Scherer’s daughters, Miss May and Mrs. B. F. Copenhaver, and by other socially minded members of the faculty.
During the decades of the 19th Century and the first one of the twentieth, the outstanding social event not only of the college but of the town was the annual Commencement. Miss May Scherer in the paper quoted above said:
“College commencements brought guests from miles around. The new hats Of the town were not worn at Easter, but were saved for Commencement.
“Commencements were the occasion for much love malting. My mother used to bake from thirty to forty cakes and invite everybody to come to the commencement lawn party where cake and lemonade were served, the groups of guests being scattered over both lawns without chaperonage. If we could count the friendships begun at these lawn parties resulting in marriage, I fancy there might be a goodly number.”
The following account of the Commencement of 1883 was published in The Marion- Conservative Democrat of June 7, 1883, and is reprinted here because it is typical of the commencements of many former years.:
“The first of the 1884 Commencement Exercises was the Baccalaureate Sermon preached last Sunday morning by Rev. F. W. A. Peschau, of Wilmington, N.C. N. C. The sermon was founded on a question in the IV Chapter of James 14th verse.. “What is Your Life?” The sermon, though brief, was especially appropriate, instructive, interesting, and illustrated and embellished throughout with choice quotations from the best authors. The sermon has been highly spoken of, and showed the speaker to be a man of vast resource and information.
The congregation Sunday morning was quite large. numbering possibly, five hundred souls or more. At the conclusion of the sermon, the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered. The teachers and pupils of the school, as is the custom, communing together first, and afterwards the congregation. This custom of communing together before separation, is one, that is at once appropriate and beautiful.
“The Board of Trustee: met at the college. Much interest seems to have been manifested by this Board in behalf of the college. A plan was set on foot to relieve the college of its indebtedness. The plan is to solicit subscriptions of $50 to be paid in ten years, in semi-annual payments of $2.50 each. Twenty-five or thirty uf these subscriptions have already laten given, which is shout one-fourth of the number desired, and hopes are entertained that the number desired will soon be reached.
“As had been announced, Rev. Mr. Peschau delivered a lecture at the College Chapel on ‘The Cemetery of the Sea.’ The lecture was one of the most instructive to which we have ever listened. The imaginative and descriptive powers of the speaker had full play, while statistics and facts, fancies and anecdotes were so interwoven, and Sn eloquently delivered, that the interest of the audience seemed to he unabated throughout. The audience was larger than any we ever before saw at a lecture in our town, and we think the lecturer may justly feel himself honored and appreciated by this fact. The proceeds of this lecture amounted to about $30, and was given for the benefit of the college.
“The Annual Address before the School, was delivered by Judge Jas. P. Kelly, of Tatewell C. H., whose reputation as a speaker, is too well known to need praise at our hands.
“The town turned out en masse to listen to the exercises of the Preparatory Department under the management of Mrs. Sallie Helm. Her department never fails, and the exactness, promptitude and perfection, with which the little girls performed their parts, evinced that thorough training, for which Mrs. Helm is noted. Following these exercises, the audience was entertained by the class in calisthenics, which, during the past year, has been under the tutelage of Miss Maggie Shuey, of Augusta County, Virginia. This class had evidently been thoroughly drilled. We would be glad to make special mention of many of these bright little girls, but space forbids- All did well-and dressed as they were, in a uniform of white, they presented a scene of such beauty and interest as is seldom given to mortal eye to behold. The audience was extremely and uncomfortably large, yet we think there are none who would have the hardihood not to pronounce the evening’s entertainment a success in the truest sense of that word.
“Was the Commencement proper. The weather was auspicious, and long be before the exercises began the large hall was filled to the utmost capacity, while there were many who could not obtain sitting room. The Graduating Class consisted of Miss Lula Harrison, of Glade Spring, Miss Mattie Groseclose of Marion; Miss Margia Effinger, of Blacksburg Miss Edith Yonce, of Wytheville, and Miss Pink McNutt, of Bland County. Each of these young ladies read a graduating essay. These essays were very good indeed, and showed that the years spent by these young ladies at Marion Female College, had not been in vain. They were marked by pure and elevated thoughts, that would do honor to those older and more experienced in life. We can pay these young ladies no higher compliment than to wish for them the same degree of success in future life as that achieved by them, on their commencement day. All did well-some did especially well, but do not think it best to personate. These young ladies as they go forth to enter upon other, and perhaps more responsible duties, carry with them always, the best wishes of the Conservative-Democrat that a bright future awaits them-a future in which shall be more than realized the fondest hopes of their school day dreams. After the essays, a very excellent address was delivered before the Alumnae by Miss Kate Mays, which we give in full in another column. At the close of the address, diplomas were conferred. and a gold medal given by the music teacher, Mrs. Richardson, tot the highest grade in music, was presented by Rev. Mr. Peachau to Nannie Sexton of Chatham Hill. Miss Maggie Sheffey, whose grade was a little lower than Miss Nannie’s, was also presented with a very pretty fan. The exercises of this day were the best of all testimonials of the careful training and instruction received at this college.
“The Palladian Literary Society entertained a large audience Wednesday night with recitations, an essay and music, in such a way as to reflect credit upon the Society and the institution of which it is a component Parr, Mr. Park Phipps was the orator of the occasion, and addressed the Society in a brief and humorous speech.
“During the exercises a beautiful bouquet was presented to Mr. H. P. Copenhaver by the little girls of the Preparatory Department. for his assistance during the previous evening. A handsome bouquet-presented to the right man.
“Thus closed the Tenth Annual Commencement of Marion Female College. As the years roll by the interest in these exercises seems to increase, thus showing the extended and increasing influences which the college exerts. With enlarged buildings and increased facilities, we hope for and expect better things of it in the future.”
Commencements today are streamlined, yet full of activity. Festivities start on Saturday wish the traditional Junior-Senior Breakfast at which announcement is made of “Miss Marion”, the coveted honor to the student most typifying the Marion Ideal. Though the tradition is of recent origin, it has won a permanent place in the hearts of Marion students.
The Breakfast is followed by the Last Chapel in which the President sums up his last charge to the graduating class, and the Alma Mater is sung. The annual Alumnae meeting follows. In the afternoon, all attention is centered on the May Queen and her festivities, climaxing the day with the Mother-Daughter Banquet, and the Commencement Dance.
Sunday is memorable with the 1st stately Baccalaureate Service in the Presbyterian Church in the liturgy of the Lutheran Church. An afternoon supper at which all art guests of the college provides informality to the last full day at Marion.
Final exercises on Monday are dignified, hut no longer does one hear the perorations of former years. Instead, simple, direct advice to the graduating class is presented by air outstanding speaker. – And the tearful end is here.
OTHER MEMORABLE EVENTS
Since the college reopened in 1912, Dr. Scherer’s birthday has been celebrated as Founder’s f)ay. This has been marked by an informal party for the students in the old Scherer home, with or Scherer’s daughters as hostesses. In late years, Miss May has carried on this tradition, and has also greeted new students in like fashion, giving them a taste of the social traditions of Marion.
One of the most enjoyed and appreciated events of each year is the annual camping trip and weekend outing. This started in 1927 when the May Day Festival was held in the apple orchard on the side of White Top Mountain and the students went out on Saturday and Spent the week-end in the old Konnarock school building. The nest year the canap was held on Hungry Mother Creek in the old Copenhaver log house where Dr. Dave Buchanan, Frank Copenhaver and B. F. Ellis had built a swimming pool and an amusement hall several years before Hungry Mother Park was even a dream.
The next year, at the invitation of the playwright, Sherwood Anderson, the students spent a week-end at “Ripshin”, Mr. Anderson’s home in the mountains of Grayson County. Many are the memories of ”Ripshin” in the hearts’ of recent students. Since Mr. Anderson’s death, his wife has invited the seniors for a week-end each spring. The rest of the students keep up the tradition by camping at Hungry Mother Park.
ATHLETICS AND SPORTS
The early Catalogues inform us that vigorous outdoor exercises was a recognized feature of college life. If the girls were not required to take exercise in the open every day when the weather permitted they certainly had the opportunity and were encouraged to do so for the sake of their health. But being happy, healthy, wholesome youngsters as a rule, full of life and vigor, many of them from farms and most of the others from rural villages, they would not need any encouragement. They would be eager to get out or, the campus for play, and would take their open air exercise for the sheer joy of it.
The standard games, sports and gymnastics, common in present day colleges, were not in vogue during she seventies, eighties and early nineties, and the college girls of those years had to find their exercise in other forms. Precisely what those forms were is not recorded, but a little exercise of imagination will indicate about what they were in general. The write of this history grew’ up in a rural community and went to school with girls just like the girls who went to Marion Female College, and well remembers what those girls used to do back in the nineties. They would stroll about the school grounds sometimes with an air of mature and sedate dignity, but just as often they would be running, jumping, hopping and skipping. They would run rates with each other and sometimes with the hoys and some of them could outrun most of the boys. They would play such games as drop the handkerchief, tag, hide and seek. One of the favorite games played in the mixed school I attended was called “prisoners’ base”. Sides were chosen and each side had its base, a line marked off on which they stood facing each other. The object of the game was to capture and imprison the players of the opposing side, catching them or running them down when they were off their base. Any player touched by one on the opposing aide while off his base line was put in a circle marked off near the other line as a prisoner,’ if touched by one of his own side while in prison he was released, but the rescuer would himself become -a prisoner if touched by an opponent who had left the base line after he had. The player who had left his base line last was the prisoner. If you had led off and an opponent standing on his base went after you, you had to get back to your base and touch it before he could catch you, then you would take one after him -and if you could catch him before he touched his own base you had him. If you could slip around and circle the opponents’ base and get safely bark to your own without being touched you would capture the whole of the opposing side and win the game then and there. It was a great game and exciting sport in which the fastest runners generally won. In picking aides some of the girls would be chosen ahead of some of the boys, not from motives of chivalry but because they were better runners. I have no doubt that girls of Marion Female College played prisoners’ base or something like it on the campus. But nor with boys, because those young animals were not allowed on that campus. I know that they played town hall because a lady who was one of them told me they did and she said that Lizzie Painter was a star town ball player. Town ball, forerunner of baseball, was popular with both boys and girls until well into the nineteen hundred decade. No inhibitions of the Victorian age would keep those young ladies from running races with each other, staging jumping contest, or even wrestling, as some, thought not all, of them had done all their lives on the farms or on the lawns of village homes with brothers, masculine cousins, and childhood boy playmates as well as with their sisters and girl companions, and from all accounts neither Dr. Scherer nor Mrs. Scherer was the sort of disciplinarian who would stop them. Quite likely sense girls confined there exercise to walking. and possibly some considered that the more strenuous and less dignified exertions of those more athletic fellow students were unladylike. Then as now what a college girl would do in athletic games and sports depended largely upon what she liked to do and what she could do well. Some of the “tom-boy” type could run, jump, wrestle, hop, throw a ball, or play leap frog with the best of the boys.
Classes in calisthenics and physical culture were introduced in the nineties, and also in the nineties the college girls took up tennis and basketball. Marion College was among the first of Southern schools for girls to adopt these sports. The Annual of 1901 shows pictures of two basketball teams, the “Bumble Bees” and the “Hornets”, forerunners of the “Purnies” and the “Golds” that have staged warm contests yearly for many years. The pictures show the teams in uniforms with high neck and long sleeve blouses or white shirt waists, and full skirts down to the floor, covering high-top shoes. Later basketball players wore shorter skirts and stockings, and low canvas shoes with rubber soles, then bloomers, then shorts of modest length, then shorts, period, as is the style of the present day.
During the administration of President Horn, athletics have become a vital part of college life. The annual contest between the “Purple” and the “Gold” for the year’s trophy has aroused more enthusiasm than the occasional contests with Virginia Intermont, Emory and Henry, or the Marion High School.
The first catalogue was issued in the spring or summer of 1874, and it has appeared annually ever since, enlarged, and in recent years combined with the Bulletin. The quarterly Bulletin began during Dr. Copenhaver’s administration. Various illustrated pamphlets have been issued from time to time.
During the l880’s an eight-page newspaper was published every month during the scholastic year in the interest of Marion College and the Marion High School. It was a serious minded sheet edited jointly by the President of the College and the Principal of the High School. It was called “College Souvenir.”
In the middle nineties severs’ issues of a college magazine called “The Marion Collegian” appeared, sponsored by Mrs. B. E. Cepenhaver.
In 1901 a college Annual was published, called “The Etesian.” Later three were sporadic issues of a new Annual called “The Hatchet.” Since 1945 “The Hatchet” has appeared regularly.
“The Squib”, the college paper, was started in 1929.
The class in Elocution started in the session of 1892-93 by Miss Laura Lu Scherer was the beginning of the Dramatic Art Department that has been an outstanding feature of college life, reaching a high peak during Dr. Rhyne’s administration under Mr. William I. Long of the School of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina.
The plays were given in the old dining room after the college reopened in 1912, tables being removed and stage settings improvised. The dining room was moved to the present offices, sod to the basement, then to the present room built during Dr. Cox’s administration. The old dining room became the chapel and auditorium, where the plays have been staged. Fur many years Mrs. Laura Lu Copenhaver wrote each year a play that was presented at commencement by the students. She also wrote several of the pageants used in May Day Festivals.
Music has had a prominent place in the curriculum ever since the days when Mrs George W. Richardson was teacher of voice. In later years Miss Helga Franzen, and finally Miss Anna Marie Gustafson brought the college a reputation throughout the State. The Community Chorus renditions-of The Messiah, operettas, and cantatas brought community and college together. The splendid college choir under the direction of Miss Gustafson travelled extensively, bringing the influence of Marion College throughout the Eastern Seaboard.
The atmosphere and life of Marion College is and always has been sanely, normally and genuinely religious. It has always been devoid of anything partaking of pious display and religious exhibitionism, and always marked by natural and tree expression of the Christian spirit and adherence to high Christian standards. Every president of the college has been a Lutheran minister and every teacher has been a Christian, though by no means have all of them been Lutherans. In every session some of the teachers have been members of churches in other denomination. Attendance at daily chapel services has always been required and personal private devotions have been encouraged. Regular church and Sunday School attendances have been required on Sundays from the beginning, the students attending the church of their choice. Special services of religious worship and exercises and study classes have been conducted or sponsored by students in the college from time to time,
In 1881 the Home and Foreign Missionary Society, the first of the kind in the Lutheran Synod of the South, was organized by Mrs. J. J. Scherer. Through the years it has accomplished much for the missionary cause.
The Y. W. C. A. Has been a live and vigorous organization in the college since its beginning in 1919. The College Annual of l946 say:
“One of the utmost active of the voluntary student associations on our campus is the Y. W. C. A. Through its various committees its influence is felt by every student at Marion. From the ‘Kid Party’ at the beginning of the year through Capsule Sister Week and the quarterly formal dances, to the final ‘college sing’ on the front steps, the Y. W. C. A. touches a part of each student’s life.
“Among the purposes stated in the cabinet policy are the following:
“1. To inspire in students a spirit of loyalty to the college as a Christian institution. and to tite Church of Christ as an organization divinely consecrated to the will of God.
“2. To foster a spirit of self-respect in our associations by refraining from gossip, from personal criticism, and from envyings and jealousies.
“3. To uphold the regulations of the Student Government Association.
“4. To work together to promote the proper life of the students.
“Weekly meetings are held at which outside speakers. faculty members, or students present topics of timely interest offering spiritual and cultural values. In addition. the Y. W. C. A. sponsors candlelight meditations each Tuesday night at nine-thirty.”
It is difficult to estimate the influence which the Y. W. C. A. has had upon the life of the Marion student. With a conscious eye upon the Marion Ideal, Y. W. leaders have created the spirit which distinguishes a Marion alumna. The cooperation fostered by the organization has made student government successful, and has maintained a fine honor system.
Until recent years the Alumnae Association has been loosely knit. Alumnae came to the front whenever they were asked. They provided three scholarship funds, and a loan fund; furnished Senior Ball, provided seats for the chapel; and in 1941, crowned their achievements with the new organ. In addition to these efforts, the college is conscious of an abounding good will for what students of former days received.
It takes many pieces placed in the right place to erect an institution. These organizations and activities are hut a few of the many which have been joined together to make what alumnae affectionately describe as Marion College.
As friends of Marion College face the future in this seventy-fifth anniversary, there is much to be done. The framework has been built with loving care, and a tradition has been established. The college must now learn to walk on its own feet. It can do so with the active support of all who love Marion College.
THE DIARY OF REV. J. J. SCHERER, D.D.
BORN near Rural Retreat, Wythe County, Virginia, February 7th, 1830.
PARENTS: REV. JACOB SCHERER–MRS. ELIZABETH nee SPOON.
One of my earliest recollections ia a trip on which my mother and father took me in the spring of 183) in a buggy over the Blue Ridge to the home of my maternal grandfather in what was then Guilford, now Alamance County, North Carolina. Late one evening, we came to a stream which had been lately swollen from rains but which had subsided apparently to about its normal size in the middle of it, Father saw a rail whirling around in the water which he said he had seen in a dream the night before. He hesitated to cross or to go in, and went to a man living on the bank, and asked him whether it was dangerous. He told him the water was not too high, but that the rail whirling around was something unusual, and insisted on our spending the night with him. The next morning, we found a sink large enough to take in a buggy or a horse had occurred in the stream, and, had we ventured, we would have been drowned.
While at my grandfather’s, our horse died, and he took us hack to Virginia with his horse.
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In the same year (1833) occurred a wonderful meteoric shower. I think it was in the early part of the night, – my sisters, in great excitement, came to my room and waked me up, telling me the Day of Judgment had come. I got up, went out, and the whole yard was thick with meteor-almost as thick as snow flakes which lighted everything up, hue went out just as they touched the ground. In my boyish idea, I did not think the Day of Judgment would come in the night, and went back to bed.
When about six years old, I, unobserved, saw two men (both church members) engaged in vile wickedness, and the impression made on my mind by the sight has never been effaced.
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When about twelve years old, I had a marvelous escape from death. With two large, young horses, dragging a very heavy harrow with newly sharpened iron reed, I was left to harrow a piece of ground on a high hill about three-fourths of a mile from our house, while my brother sowed the grain. When he got through. he was to take the team and relieve me, Instead of doing it, he went into an adjoining wooden gee a little hickory sapling out of which to make a split broom (which were the brooms mostly used then). Before he got back, one of the horses got his foot over the trace, and I had to get off to put it in. I was too small to get up without going between the horses, and I went between them and began to pull up; and, just as I caught hold of the mane with one hand, the horses started to run down the hill. It was impossible for me to atop them, or get up or on them. I realized I had to fall down with the harrow right after me; I held on as long as I could, and then dropped down, just then, the harrow struck a large ground pole (which had been placed there to repair the fence) and jumped entirely over me, The narrow escape from death impressed me very deeply.
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I attended an old time school three or four months almost every year from the time I was six to fifteen years of age. The houses were usually built of logs, with one little window; about two ft. square slabs with round sticks in them for seats, and no desks. We had to make our pens out of goose quills and use mostly chalk fur pencils; Webster’s blue back spelling book, Pike or Smiley’s Arithmetic. Murray’s Grammar and an old English Reader were almost the only books used in the schools, The teachers punished for almost everything. using the rod or a paddle with holes in it over your hand, and various other bodily punishments. If a boy “batted” his eye at a girl, he was likely to get whipped.
Life, especially in the country, was very simple- We raised, fired, broke, spun wove our own flax into linen; we raised our own sheep, sheared, carded and wove the wool into our own jeans, which our mothers and sisters made into clothing; and, as we had no market except now and then, a tub of butter was sent to Lynchburg or Richmond to buy a little coffee, which was used on Sundays, or maybe once a week, We had all the butter, cream, chickens, eggs, and sugar and syrup from the sugar trees that we could possibly eat.
During the long winter nights, with large baskets of fruit to enjoy, the boys either read aloud or had some sport, while the girls did the sewing. knitting, spinning. etc.
When about sixteen years old, largely through the influence of Dr. D. F. Bittle, I went to the Virginia Collegiate Institute, located near Middlebrook, Augusta County, which afterwards became Roanoke College. When I left home, Mother gave me several dollars in little pieces of silver money. I knew hnw much it cost her-the female part of the family hardly ever had that much money in a year’s time, and this was a sacred treasure to me. Father took me about sixty miles in a buggy, and then, with my books and clothes, I walked the rest of the way, walking over the Natural Bridge and not recognizing it. My brother Simeon, who was a student at the Institute, was preaching to a small congregation of Lutherans, who lived between Lexington and Middlebrook, in a school house, and had come on the Sunday I reached there. Some of the people brought their dogs and guns to the service with them, and stacked their guns while the service was going on, intending to take a hunt afterwards, Brother and I rode by turns on Monday to the Institute. Soon after I got there, I broke a glass ink stand, and was severely reprimanded for it. I went out behind the building, and wept, and longed and longed for Mother.
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I was confirmed by Rev. A. P. Ludden, Pastor at Mt. Tabor Church, after a protracted meeting of some weeks. During one night of the service, some big, rough fellow created a disturbance in the rear part of the congregation, and Mr. George Shuey went back to quiet him. He slapped him on one cheek, and Mr. Shuey turned the other, which he did not clap. At the same meeting, a very large man (a member of the church) rose, and said he had lied to the Holy Ghost, and fell cold and as stiff as death on the floor, and had to be taken in a wagon to his home.
At the close of the session, I walked to Big Lick (now Roanoke), near where my brother Gideon lived. My father met me there, and took me home in a buggy.
Largely through the influence of my brother Gideon and Mr. Michael Miller, the Institute was removed to Salem. I attended school there for about two years, finishing the course as taught there. In the midst of the session, the Trustees wanted brother Gideon, who was preaching and teaching near Pembroke, Giles County, to fill a vacancy in the teaching force at Salem. He said he could not do so unless his place in the school at Giles was supplied. I was sent to take his place. I walked the first day through Blacksburg. and spent the night at Mr. Martin’s, a few miles beyond; the next day, I walked to Pembroke and took charge of the school. The school house was a small building with only one window about 2 x 2 feet-no desks. Two or three weeks after I began I heard when I got to the school room one morning that two of the girls, nearly grown, had had a quarrel the night before, I concluded not to look into the matter until noon. About nine o’clock, I heard two women approach, using boisterous language. They came right into the school room; nor of them asked me if I was the School Master-I said “Yes,” and asked her to take a seat; she said “No,” I had to whip the other girl. The other mother stated, “No, you shan’t do any such thing.” I felt like creeping out at the little window. They mentioned something about law; I said to them, “Ladies, if you are going to settle this by law, right over there is Squire Snider, take your daughters and go there. If I am to settle it, you will please retire and leave me alone.” They looked at me; I said “I mean what I say-Please retire,” and motioned them out, The next morning, each one informed me that her daughter was at fault. That decided action on my part determined my future life largely as to discipline in teaching.
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After finishing the course at the Institute (which has not yet been chartered as Roanoke College), it was decided I would go to PENNSYLVANIA COLLEGE, Gettysburg. How to get there was the question-no railroad, and no public conveyances. Father gave me a young horse, and told me to ride him until I had an opportunity to sell him, which I did, and sold him somewhere below Staunton; took my saddle pockets on my shoulder; walked to Harper’s Ferry; there took the train to Frederick City. Was met there by a little boy and girl begging for money to buy bread for their dying mother, Afterwards learned their parents were quite wealthy. I walked that Saturday night towards Gettysburg, and spent the night and Sunday in the neighborhood of St. Joseph’s, attending the service there Sunday morning. I had never seen anything like the Ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. At one time, they wanted me to bow my head in honor of the Virgin Mary, which I refused to do, and left the house, I arrived at Gettysburg and entered the Senior Class. Dr. Baugher was President, the elder Jacobs Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Mudileoherg-Greek. Stoever-Latin. Ruben Hill was my room mate. I graduated in the Class of ’52, and started home by way of Baltimore, going there in a stage. At the depot in Baltimore, the Agent got ten dollars of the money I had borrowed to take me home unfairly. I went from Baltimore by boat to Acquia Creek, and then to Richmond on train. I had about $2.50, knew nobody; hunted over Richmond and found a German Lutheran minister; asked him if he could not help me home; he declined. I carried my trunk across the streets of Richessond to the Canal, found a Packet Boat going to Lynchburg. told the Captain I had no money, but would pay him when I got home; he stated he would be glad to have me. We starred on the boat, and, about the second day, hr got tied up in some lock; and I walked, as I was tired sitting in the boat, all that afternoon-had no dinner and no supper. I went to a large brick house and asked for something to eat; they were all sick. I went to a negro cabin close by the canal and they gave me hoe cake and bacon-I can taste it yet;- the best I have ever eaten. By and by, the boat came along, and I got to Lynchburg in about two days and a half. There, I took the Norfolk & Western, which was only completed to Bonsack; had money enough to pay my fare that far and ten cents for a loaf of bread to eat. At Bonsack, I put my trunk on a wagon and started to my brother’s near Big Lick, where my father met me.
* * *
I spent some time at home, but I had engaged, before I left college, to teach a private school for Judge Monger of San Fillippe, Texas, My brother Gideon and his family were moving to Texas; we went by private conveyance to Charleston, W. Va., then down the Kanawha and the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, There, a steamer, on which we were to cross the Gulf, was undergoing repairs. After delaying there, and a terrible trip over the Gulf, lasting about forty-eight hours, we reached Galveston. My brother’s wife was sick, and the family had to remain there. I went to Houston, and then took an ox cart to San Fillippe, which took me about two days. The oxen were hobbled out at night, and it took until about twelve o’clock the next day usually to find them. I got to San Fillippe Saturday night; stopped at the hotel, and did not report to Judge Munger until Monday A.M. On Sunday, a graduate of Dickenson College had come there, and the Judge, supposing, as I was several weeks late, I was not coming, entered into a contract with him. He proposed to carry out the contract with me, but I declined. I was there with about five dollars, more then a thousand miles from anyone I knew except my brother and his family in Galveston. There was a vacancy in La Grange-l walked there; it had been supplied the day before. I hired a mustang pony, and, with a young man who had recently come from Virginia, we rode to Columbus, About a mile from the town, a dozen or more boys provided themselves with great bushes of weeds, etc., and paraded us into town. I was cold, before an engagement was made, they would have to re-elect new Trustees; hut, if I could wait, they had no doubt but that I could get the school. but they had no idea I could retain it.’, no teacher had ever remained there over five months. I wanted to go thirty or forty miles to spend the two weeks to save money. I walked across the prairie, got lost, and had the wild wolves of Texas howling about me- Finally, I reached the place, spent some days, went back to Columbus, and was elected to take charge of the school-one half salary to be paid in advance by the patrons. I had no money and was very nearly barefoot. I went to a prominent merchant, who was a leading members of the Church, and told him I had no money but I wanted a pair of boots and would pay him in two weeks. He let me have them; and, when the two weeks had passed, I had not received a dollar from my patrons. I went to him, told him I was sorry I did not have the money, but that I would get it. He stated he knew I would not pay him when I told him I would. I felt so badly then that I made up my mind that I would never again promise a man money unless I was sure I would have it, and that has been a great help to me in my business life.
The first day I went into the school room, a dozen boys had pistols and bowie knives swinging about them I did very little that day but study the situation. The next day, I gave them a few very simple rules-one of which NO ONE MUST BRING A DANGEROUS WEAPON TO SCHOOL- -none there the next day. I had no trouble for a month or two, when two of the boys one a very bad boy, about eighteen years old, who had been guilty of murder, had a quarrel and fight. I adjusted that in such a way that I had no more trouble of the kind during the whole time I taught there.
I taught several sessions in Columbus; was licensed and ordained as a Minister of the Gospel by a Committee appointed by the Lutheran Synod of Southwest Virginia.
Took an active part in the establishment of a County paper, and suggested the name “COLORADO CITIZEN;” prepared an entire ritual for a Temperance Organization, known as “THE SAMARITAN TEMPLE,” which spread so that season that a Grand Lodge of Templars was organized.
I had charge of Oakland Academy, about eighteen miles west of Columbus, one or two sessions, about midway between Columbus and La Grange. While teaching there. a protracted meeting was conducted by Rev. Harris, who was called “The Spurgeon of Texas.” During that meeting, a class of eight girls, from sixteen to eighteen years o1d, none of them Christians, occupied a seat together on one night. I made each an object of agonizing prayer in the order in which they sat; and, in the order, each of them accepted Christ that night. Later, Mr. Harris conducted a meeting between that place and Columbus. He tame to me and stated a very intelligent stranger was attending the meeting, was deeply concerted about his situation, and that he could not help him, and asked me to attend the meeting and converse with him. I did so, explaining the plan of salvation, and gave him a number of passages of Scripture, wherein God promised to save all who came unto Him through Jesus Christ. Suddenly, with an expression of joy in his face I have seldom seen, he arose, and said, “Oh! I see it now. I know Jesus as my Saviour–Glory to God.”
Urged my many citizens of Columbia and vicinity, brother Gideon and I undertook the establishment of the Colorado College under the auspices of the Lutheran Church. He became the contractor for the building, and in various ways lost a large amount of money.
I was President of the College for a number of years-then resigned. Dr. Dan Biddle was elected my successor. He introduced greatly enlarged and costly plans, which did not succeed. The college became in debt, and was afterwards sold to the Odd Fellows, To raise money to help pay for it, I was appointed Agent, and visited in that capacity nearly all the states north of Virginia, going as far as Portland, Maine, and succeeded in obtaining a considerable amount of money.
During all my teaching in Texas, I never was absent from the school room a whole day on account of sickness. During one vacation, I had a stubborn attack of chills and fever. I could find nothing to relieve me; and for that, and other reasons, I decided to take a trip north. I travelled for a change by rail and boat. I wanted to go to the meeting of the General Synod North in Pittsburgh. At Cincinnati, I got on a boat for Pittsburgh. Very soon, three well dressed men sat down at a table and began to play some game with cards. I knew nothing of cards, but I saw they held up the faces, and then one would select a card, and the other would turn them down and move ‘them about a little under the eyes of the other one, and he was then to put his finger on the card he selected, If he did so, he won the money; and, if he did not, he lost. Thousands of dollars changed hands in a few minutes in that way. I thought the fellow who was handling the cards was losing all his money. I had several hundred dollars in gold with me, sent by various numbers of the Church to invest for them in the North in such things as they could not get then easily in Texas. I would not have thought about gambling for myself, but I thought, “This man is going to lose all his money, and why nor let these Christian People make it?” Suddenly, the passage of Scripture, “They who say ‘Let us do evil that good may come from it,’ whose damnation is just,” came to my mind, and I said, “No-no gambling for me;” hut a young man from Virginia, who had been in California, was on the train, and they had seen him have about $1,500, and got on the boat to take it. Against my protest, he staked his $1500, and lost it all.
From Pittsburgh, I went to Harrisonburg, in company with my brother Simeon-went to Baltimore, then took boat, and when near Norfolk, Virginia, we separated. I returned to Texas after spending some few days at my old birth place in Wythe County, Virginia.
The scenes of my childhood and boyhood all came back to me; the rocks, trees, hills, house- everything reminded me of something in my past life; father, mothers, brothers, ‘though nearly all dead, each spoke to me then as they have often done since, and yet do; and
“Then, my Mother’s voice–how often creeps its cadence over my lonely hours
Like healing sent on wings of sleep, or dew to the unconscious flowers;
I may forget her melting prayer while leaping pulses madly fly,
but in the still unbroken air, her gentle tones come stealing by,
And Years, and Sin, and Manhood flee,
And leave me at my Mother’s knee.”
I remained in Texas for sixteen or more years without any sickness except one spell of chills, during which time I taught from 1,500 to 2,000 children; some of them became prominent men and women, but I did not do what I should have done to lead them to Christ.
Before I left Texas, I felt it to he my duty to get married. I again visited Virginia; I met Miss E. K. Killinger at Kimberlin Church, who had been recommended to me as a noble young lady. She was boarding at Mr. John Buchanan’s near Rural Retreat, and I spent a good deal of time there. My nephew, E. C. Hankla, of Rural Retreat, and I took a horse that trip to Alamance County, and other places in that Stare; we retuned to Rural Retreat, and I spent some time at the school house where she was teaching. I drove in a buggy with Dr. James A. Brown, of near Wytheville, to a meeting of the Lutheran Synod of Southwest Virginia in Giles County. He often said on that trip, “Your sky is full of fiddles.” After Synod, I returned, and was married by Rev. Dr. Brown, Rev. L. A. Mann, who was to have married us, being late. We left the same day for Texas. The devotion of my wife manifested by her leaving all her kindred and friends, going with me 1500 miles, deepened my sense of responsibility. To her I am largely indebted for all I have accomplished and all I have been since our marriage.
Before we got to Texas, three had been an epidemic of yellow fever, and Texas quarantined. On account of the unwillingness of a lady friend, who had come with me from Texas to visit her relatives in Botetourt County, who insisted she must stay with her sister in Jackson, Tenn., we were kept there for six weeks or more; and, after much inconvenience, we reached Texas.
Before leaving Texas, I had been urged to come back to Virginia, and try to save Wytheville Female College, which was indebted. After a severe mental struggle, I decided to do so, a great many men members of the Southwest Virginia Synod uniting with Dr. J. A. Brown in the urgent request for me to come to Virginia in the interest of female education, among them Drs. D. F. Bittle, S. A. and J. C. Repass, J. J. Greever and Dr. S. A. Fillipi.
Two of nay children were born in Texas-Laura Lu and Luther Lookup. I never recalled a parent influence and tremendous responsibility as I did when God said to me when they were born, “Take this child with all its possibilities; and train it up for me.”
I disposed of my property in and near Columbus-much of it at a great sacrifice; and found much more unexpectedly tied up in a suit of the State against an officer who was a defaulter to the amount of thousands of dollars to the State, which claimed lien on all of his property for which he had given me a Deed of Trust. After more than a year, I finally got my claims adjusted, and left for Marion, Virginia, the home of my wife’s parents, and many of her relatives.
Before I reached Virginia, the Wytheville Female College had been sold. Judge John A. Kelly, Dr. Stevens, Judge Gilmore, Mr. Lincoln, A. Sprinkle and a few others wanted me to teach a select school of only twenty of their boys and girls. I agreed to do so, and taught two sessions in the lower story of the old Masonic Lodge; A. T. Lincoln, Estelle and Ella Kelly, Estelle and Luke Gilmore, John Stevens and sister, Okie Sprinkle, George F. Cassel and Katie Hammet (who afterwards married) were among the pupils. During the first session, the State adopted the common school system. After much persuasion, my employers agreed to allow me to take charge of it in connection with the select school. I conducted the common school in the old Methodist Church, where the Baptist Church was afterwards built, and in a small house just above the church lot, which was designated in Town Plot “For educational purposes.” 162 pupils were enrolled; I was allowed only one assistant, Miss Sallie Van Meter, at twenty-five dollars per month. I engaged at my expense Mrs. H. P. Copenhaver to assist.
During this time, the ministers mentioned above, and other prominent men of the church, urged me to undertake the establishment of a female college. I consented to do so, advertised foe bids, etc., for its location. Only three took any action at the meeting of Synod at Cedar Grove Church, near Atkins Tank. In August, 1873, the Synod, by a very large majority of votes, selected Marion as its location. Charter was prepared and granted by the legislature to provide for its President and majority of its Trustees to be members of the Lutheran Church without any regard to their Synodical connections. Should it ever cease to he conducted under the auspices of the Lutheran Church at or near Marion, its property was to be sold, etc. People in Marion and vicinity subscribed about $6,000.00 with the property in the west end of the city of about …. acres of land and large brick residence was purchased. The Trustees proposed to give the college my name; I positively objected. They elected use President, with authority to select teachers, fix course of study, etc, and promised to furnish the building, etc. When the time came, they did not have the money, and asked me to do so. During all the years I was President, I paid the teachers, interest on indebtedness, insurance, and made all – the necessary repairs. During my incumbency, about — years, students representing twelve States were enrolled ….. received diploma; all of them except one were members of the church at the time of graduation, and she united with a church soon after. Over 300 of the students professed faith in Christ during the their connection with use college, a very large proportion of them in the college building.
Many of the students and graduates of the college have filled and are filling prominent positions in the world; two of them in the Foreign Missions Field–Miss Martha Akard in Lutheran Mission in Japan, and Miss ______ in Methodist Mission in Korea.
During my incumbency as President of the College, I secured by subscription, bequests, etc, funds for additions to the building and the equipment on time between six and seven thousand dollars, with which the Chapel, Study Hall, Dining Room, etc., were erected. Mrs, Fayette McMullen gave $600, and willed about $2,500.
I resigned the presidency in ______ , and Rev. Ralm was elected President; but, in the middle of the summer vacation, before entering upon his active duties, he resigned, and I was importuned to take the position again, which I did.
During all the years I was President of the College, there was very little serious sickness, bills for the medical attendance amounting to not $20.00 per year.
In 1910, largely on account of the insufficiency of the building and inadequacy of the equipment, the Board making no arrangements for the relief of the conditions, I again resigned, and though importuned to retain the position, I persisted in my resignation, which was accepted, and I was elected President Emeritus with no other responsibility.
During most of the time I had charge of the college either alone, or in connection with Rev. J. B. Greiner, who was associated with me in the college a large part of my incumbency.
I served the Chilhowie Charge as Pastor. We organized the Marion congregation. I managed the building of St. Matthew’s Church at Atkins Tank to take the place of the old Cedar Grove Church, also building the church at Attoway. For a great number of years, I was one of the chaplains at the Southwestern State Hospital, located in Marion.
Soon after I returned to Virginia, I studied very carefully the financial work of the church, and was convinced of its inadequacy. I prepared a paper for conference on “Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store as God has prospered him.” I put the Every Member Canvass with envelopes for weekly contributions in the Chilhowie Charge.
At a meeting of Synod in Clover Hollow in Giles County, Rev. Hubert and I introduced a resolution by which the Women’s H, & F. Missionary Society was brought into existence; at least, in our church in the south; and the first Society – was organized by Mrs. Scherer in Marion College.
Responsibility of the college did not keep me from taking a deep interest and active part in the Synod’s work. I think I was absent only once from Synod after my return to Virginia, and only a few times from Conference, and my attendance on it was made optional with me, and nearly all the time I had some official position. I was Delegate to General and United Synod until difficulty in hearing made it inexpedient to attend; was elected President of United Synod at a meeting in Charlotte, N. C., and visited all the Synods except one. The Southwest Virginia Synod elected me as its only representative to the Diet held at Salisbury, N. C., to consider the possibility and expediency of uniting all the Southern Synods. At a meeting of the General Synod, I think at Charlotte, it was determined to elect a General Secretary of Home and Foreign Missions, the Board consisting of Rev. Drs. S. A. Repass. Gilbert and W. C. Schafer offered me the position. I declined on account of the responsible position as President of the College. They renewed their requests, and, finally, I agreed to accept the position, provided they allow me six months in which to secure a successor for the college. I began making arrangements, both for the successor, and for the missionary work; when, owing to the fact that the man selected for the Foreign Missions Field gave up the position, it was decided a Missionary General Secretary was not necessary.
Some things in my past life I regret, and some that give me pleasure. If you are entering upon a journey of a great many years, it will be helpful to you to have someone who had made most of that journey to tell you of dangers, how to meet them, and how to make the journey the most pleasant and profitable.
I regret that, when only about eight years old, on the advice of our family physician, I began to use tobacco (I dislike its use in every form). To relieve a nausea which sometimes troubled me when eating, he advised that I smoke. On one occasion, when we had a dessert of which I was especially for-my trouble came before we got to the dessert; I hated to miss it-took an old pipe, half full of strong tobacco, took a few puffs, and was entirely relieved. I need not tell how I became a confirmed smoker. Eliminating the filthiness of the habit and its unpleasantness often to others, it has cost me from one to two thousand dollars, for which I must answer to Him “Whose is the Gold and Silver.” Better never use tobacco in any shape.
I regret that I have ever done, or said, or been anything that has given anybody any pain whatever. I have learned that each one has full enough of suffering and sorrow, and it seems to me cruel to add it.
I regret, especially in early Christian life, I said and did so little to bring others to Christ. I gave myself unreservedly to my work as preacher, etc., but I met and labored with and for hundreds of unsaved people to whom I never personally said anything about their eternal salvation-most of them were nearly already dead and beyond my reach to help secure them Eternal Life.
I am glad I started to Sunday School when quite young, and have been connected with it ever since, most of the time as scholar or teacher. When I was a scholar there were no lesson books or helps. Had there have been, I doubt if I would have ever committed to memory so much of God’s word, which has been so helpful to me.
I am glad I have so lived that at least most of those whom I have met and with whom I have in any way been connected art glad to see me. Were this not the case, it seems to me old age would certainly be unbearable, if not miserable.
I am glad that by personal effort, conversation, etc., I have helped thousands to better life, and the assurance of a glorious life hereafter. I do not know how I would endure life if there was no one to say to me, “You helped me to come to Jesus, or to get nearer to Him.”
I am thankful for a long life with so little serious sickness, never losing a whole day from work in the school for forty years. I attribute this largely to regularity in eating. sleeping, and much outdoor exercise begun in early life, continued and not ended yet. It seems to me it would he murderous to lay an old servant in any line of service on the shelf to pine away-segregating their ability and anxiety to serve. During most of my life, I had not only the responsibility of the school with which I was connected, but usually preached from one to thea times on each Sabbeth Day, and often every night for a week.
I am thankful that all of my children, children-in-law and grandchildren, except those that are very young, are not only members of the Church of Christ, but members of the Lutheran Church I attribute this largely to the fact that, though I belong to several other organizations, having been chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Virginia I.O.O.F. for mote than a third of a century, and Prelate for a number of years for a Commandry of Knights Templar; in their lodges and in the home, I everywhere emphasized the fact that the Church of Christ was vastly superior to any of them, and laid great stress on the “Church in the Home.” I do not see how parents who, by example at least, teach their children that other things are more important than the church can hope for their children to become Christians.
PRESIDENTS OF MARION COLLEGE
PRESIDENT J. P. MILLER (1912-1913)
J. P. Miller was born near Hickory, North Carolina, May 12, 1866. In 1889 he was graduated from Concordia College, Conover, North Carolina, predecessor of Lenoir-Rhyse College, and later studied at the Chicago Lutheran Senutiary. He was ordained in 1889 and served two years as professor of Greek at Concordia College. and four years in the new Lenoir College. He served the following parishes: Mt. Moriah, near China Grove, N. C-; Union Church, Rowan County, N. C.; Holy Trinity, Mt. Pleasant, N. C.; Tyrone, Pa.; St. Paul’s, Richmond, Ind.; Holy’ Trinity, Wytheville, Va. During his pastorate at Mt. Pleasant, he was Co-principal of Collegiate Institute and professor at Mount Amoena Seminary.
He was president of Marion College from 1911-1912, and later was vice-president and field representative of Elizabeth College, Charlotte, N. C. He was president of the Indiana Synod, chairman of its Mission Board, and a member of thr Board of Trustees of Wittenberg College.
At the close of his pastorate at Wytheville, Dr. Miller retired to Radford, Va., and there made his home until his death on May 11, 1939. Mrs. Miller was the former Emma Eleanoca Carpenter. Their two children are: Dr. Robert L. Miller of Christiansburg, Va., and Mrs. Grace Miller Horton, of Radford, Va.
PRESIDENT HENDERSON NEIFFER MILLER (1913-1916)
Henderson Neiffer Miller was horn at Salisbury, N. C., June 8, 1872. After the death of his parents, he was seated by his sister, and entered North Carolina College in 1891. He attended Gettysburg Seminary, graduating in 1894. He was ordained by the Maryland Synod, serving as pastor at Brunswick, Md., meanwhile earning his Ph.D, at Gettysburg College. He gained his B. D. from the Chicago Lutheran Seminary in 1903.
Dr. Miller served the following parishes: Salem, Rowan County, N. C.; Middlepoint, Ohio; Fiast Church, Columbus, Ohio; Wytheville. Va.; Macon, Georgia; Greenville, Penna.
From 1897-1902 he was principal of Mount Amoena Seminary; from 1913-16 president of Marion College, and in his later life he served as head of the Artman Home for Lutherans, Ambler, Penna.
He married Cora Lillian Patterson in 1894. There were four children: Cora Louise, Rev. Frank H., Nellie J. and Ethel Roberts. Dr. Miller died in 1938.
PRESIDENT CLARENCE BROWN COX (1916-1928)
C. Brown Cox was born in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 18, 1875. He attended North Carolina College, Mount Pleasant, N. C., from which school he received his A.B., and A.M The honorary D.D. was conferred by Wittenberg College in 1924.
Dr. Cox served the following parishes: Student pastor, Baltimore, Md.; Asheville, N. C.; Greeneville, Tenn.; Burlington, N. C.; Norfolk, Va.; Pulaski, Va. He was president of Marion College from 1916-1928.
In 1899, Dr. Cox married Cordelia Spangler of Abingdon, Va., who died leaving two children: Mrs. Catherine Cox Umbarger, Abingdon, Va., and Miss Cordelia Cox, Richmond, Va. In 1913, he was married to Blanche Mearig Kuhlman. There were four children: Mrs. Elizabeth Cox Robinson, Highland Springs, Va., Mrs. Manha Cox Hester, Claxton, Ga., Mrs. Mary Cox Meade, Springfield, Ohio, and Lt. C. Brown Cox, Jr., Victoryville, Calif.
Dr. Cox died at Highland Springs, Va., April 4. 1942.
PRESIDENT ELDRIDGE HAWKINS COPENHAVER (1928-1938)
Eldridge Hawkins Copenhaver was born in Eheneser Parish, Smyth County, Va., March 14, 1872, He received his early education in the public schools of Smyth County, and the Marion High School. He received his A.B. degree from Roanoke College, Salem, Va., in 1893. After a few years’ experience as principal of high schools in Smyth and Wythe counties, Mr, Copenhaver took a course in the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, and later completed his preparation for the ministry at the Chicago Lutheran Seminary.
Having served as pastor of congregations in Virginia, Chicago, Ill, and Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Copenhaver returned to Virginia in 1915 to become pastor of his home congregation, Marion-Ebenezer parish, which he served for fourteen years.
In 1928, he was asked by the Board of Marion College to Serve as acting president. This he did for one year in addition to his parish duties. In 1929, he was elected president of Marion College and served in this office until 1938.
The honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Wittenberg College in 1932. Dr. Copenhaver married Margaret Greever of Burkes Garden, a graduate of Marion College. There were two children: Margaret Sue Copenhaver, of Richmond, Va., and Helen Greever Copenhaver Hanes, of Winston-Salen, N. C.
Since his retirement in 1938 Dr. Copenhaver has lived at 402 North Street, Marion, Va.
PRESIDENT HUGH JENKINS RHYNE (1938-1942)
Hugh Jenkins Rhyne was born at High Shoals, N. C., July 22, 1901. After graduating from high school in Dallas, N. C., he entered Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, N. C., where he received his A-B. in 1923. He gained his theological training at the Lutheran Southern Seminary, Columbia, S. C., and did graduate work at the University of South Carolina. Further graduate work was taken at Johns Hopkins, Colombia, and Chicago. In 1940, the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by Roanoke College.
In 1925, he began work in the ministry as assistant pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, Baltimore, Maryland, continuing until 1929. The next six years he served as pastor of the Marion-Ebenerer parish, Marion. From 1935-1938, he was pastor of College Lutheran Church, Salem, Va., from whirls parish he was called in 1938 to the presidency of Marion College.
Dr. Rhyne was united in marriage to Mildred Davis of Columbia, S.C., in 1931. There are two daughters, Anne and Jean. Dr. Rhyne was Secretary of the Lutheran Synod of Virginia at the time of his sudden death on November 13,1938.
PRESIDENT HENRY EYSTER HORN (1943- )
Henry Eyster Horn was born in New York City on May 30, 1913. He was reared in Ithaca, N. Y., where his father in 1917 became resident pastor for Lutheran students at Cornell University. After attending public schools in Ithaca, Mr. Horn was graduated with honors from Cornell, and entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1933, from which he was graduated in 1936. He received the degrees of E.D. and S.T.M. in work as a Fellow during the next two years.
From 1938 until 1943, Mr. Horn was pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Burholme, Philadelphia, Penna. He started his work at Marion College on April 1, 1943.
Mr. Horn was married in 1939 to Catherine Stairken of Brooklyn, New York. There are five children: Jean Louise, Henry Stainken, David Jacobs, Charles Michael, and William Melchior.
1916-17 Annie Gwyn 1917-1918 Jean Copenhaver 1918-1919 Catherine Cox 1919-1920 Elizabeth Eakin 1920-1921 Margaret Atkins 1921-1922 Ruth Scott 1922-1923 Evelyn Anderson 1923-1924 Audrey Fritts 1924-1925 Sallie Holmes 1925-1926 Goldyne Clanahan 1926-1927 Katherine Price 1927-1928 Caroline Sheffy 1928-1929 Margaret Fisher 1929-1930 Helen Cornett 1930-1931 Virginia Boyd 1931-1932 Ruth Jett 1932-1933 Anna Mary Kaufman 1933-1934 Virginia Sheffey 1934-1935 Katherine Holl 1935-1936 Anita Roesner 1936-1937 Ellen Meade Wilson 1937-1938 Elizabeth Warriner 1938-1939 Lorraine Feller 1939-1940 Isabel Whitney 1940-1941 Helen Caudill 1941-1942 Ethel Mae Hix 1942-1943 Peggy Wilson 1943-1944 Eloise Greever 1944-1945 Betty Gray Wheeler 1945-1946 Patricia Melvin 1946-1947 Carolyn Bonham 1947-1948 Eldriede Paul
1930-1931 Irma Anschuetz 1931-1932 Elizabeth Fisher 1932-1933 Mary Critchfield 1933-1934 Elizabeth Pratt 1934-1935 Patsy Staley 1935-1936 Jessie Tise 1936-1937 Helen Copenhaver 1937-1938 Margaret Beulah Shank 1938-1939 Jessie Sparks 1939-1940 Martha Brown 1940-1941 Mary Martha Frye 1941-1942 Virginia Pratt 1942-1943 Ruth Conard 1943-1944 Elrica Sowers 1944-1945 Mary Baugh 1945-1946 Betty Jane Fischer 1946-1947 Carolyn Bonham 1947-1948 Ellen Moyer
PRESIDENTS OF STUDENT BODY
1919-1920 Senah Rector 1920-1921 Anna Bonham 1921-1922 Ophelia Tilson 1922-1923 Velma Biedler 1923-1924 Lorena Hartman 1924-1925 Marguerite McDaniel 1925-1926 Mary Douglas Sibold 1926-1927 Marion Dick 1927-1928 Florence Sanders 1928-1929 Eleanor Kenealy 1929-1930 Sarah Recker 1930-1931 Rebekah Cassell 1931-1932 Elizabeth Fisher 1932-1933 Matilda Cooper 1933-1934 Elizabeth Pratt 1934-1935 Patsy Staley 1935-1936 Jessie Tise 1936-1937 Barbara Moser 1937-1938 Margaret Beulah Shank 1938-1939 Emma Clark 1939-1940 Martha Snidow 1940-1941 Jane Hewitt 1941-1942 Kathryn Robertson 1942-1943 Frances Rider 1943-1944 Eunice Curtiss 1944-1945 Leta Mae Anderson 1945-1946 Betty Jane Fischer 1946-1947 Elise Meek 1947-1948 Elisabeth Dietrich