Memorable people of Marietta College
Samuel Hall emerged from the freezing waters of the Muskingum River in the winter of 1836 a hometown hero of the anti-slavery moment.
Mr. Hall, who was among the College’s first graduating class in 1838, was leading a student abolitionist prayer group in Harmar one winter night when an angry mob charged into their meeting room. He brandished an empty pistol and held the gang at bay. "Meantime the members of the prayer meeting quietly escaped and Hall, perceiving that his friends had now departed, leaped from a window and made good his own escape. The mob were intent on tarring and feathering Hall, but he later appeared in the dormitory ’with icicles covering his clothes’ as a result of a midwinter swim across the Muskingum River," wrote Arthur Beach in his Marietta College history, "A Pioneer College."
Since Marietta received its chartered in 1835, there have been countless memorable people who have led classes, filled classroom seats, or somehow made their mark on this historic college. Aside from being a staunch abolitionist, Mr. Hall was known on campus and among his fellow anti-slavery proponents to be a kindly religious man. The late Samuel P. Hildreth Jr. recalled one of the stories in Beach’s book that endeared Mr. Hall to those at Marietta College.
The Rev. Hildreth told the story of a young tutor from Williams College who developed a deadly case of smallpox shortly after arriving at Marietta’s campus. No one would care for the dying man—except for the young student. "Mr. Boutell was placed in a rude building hastily constructed on a little hill back of the grave yard, and when no one could be found who was willing to care for him, Hall volunteered his services, cared for the sick man, and when he died, dug a grave beside the pest-house, buried the body of his friend, buried his own clothing, and putting on an old suit brought to him for the purpose, returned to the College and resumed his studies. This act of heroism warmed towards the hearts of the ladies of Marietta."
Generations of students comprise the bulk of Marietta’s enduring history. Students such as Charles Sumner Harrison, Class of 1876, the first African American man to attend and graduate from the College, and Mary Frances Dawes and Halla Skivington, who were the first graduates of the Women’s Department of Marietta College in 1895, certainly changed the dynamics of campus life and paved the way for many others who were in pursuit for a higher liberal arts education.
As the College transitioned into the 20th century—incorporating new majors and policies and expanding its physical size—students also helped in the maturing of Marietta. As young men fought wars in foreign lands and returned for their education, a global-minded village was slowly growing on campus. Beyond the original Greek and Latin studies, students flourished in petroleum engineering, geology, political science, and leadership and used their knowledge to expand the scope of their fields.
Rocked by tragedies, including the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, and Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Marietta College students marked these events by stepping up their service efforts locally and even beyond their community. From Amelia Schroeder ’08 collecting and donating truckloads of items salvaged from Dumpsters after students moved out of their residence halls to more than 30 students traveling to Louisiana to help start the rebuilding process several months after the state was rocked by a Category 5 hurricane, these students took the College’s Core Value of Service to the Region to heart.
Once joining The Long Blue Line, Marietta’s alumni, through their good work on campus, continue to impact the daily life at the College. Most buildings and improvements would not be possible without the constant support of alumni. Don Drumm ’15, Robert Dyson ’68, Edwy Brown, Class of 1894, Laura Baudo Sillerman 68, Dave Rickey ’78, Andrew U. Thomas ’21, brothers John G. ’35, and Charles W. ’42 McCoy, and many others have contributed to the physical growth of the College.
Like 1910 graduate Irwin Jennings, many alumni have enjoyed and benefited from the education they received at Marietta that they turned the experience into a family affair. Jennings sent three daughters and two sons to Marietta in the 1920s and ’30s.
Standing firmly behind all of the successes of the students of the past 175 years have been the faculty and staff. The first five faculty consisted of President Joel Harvey Linsley, Henry Smith, Diarca Howe Allen, Milo Parker Jewett and Samuel Maxwell.
"Professor Smith describes the first decade of the College as ten long, hard, yet not altogether unhappy years, after the first burst of enthusiasm had passed, years of struggle and darkness, sometimes tears, and almost of despair. The salary of the professors was fixed at $600, but the Trustees, distrusting their ability to pay so large a sum, requested them to accept two hundred of this six hundred in the form of a College note. How we lived in the meantime is one of the mysteries of Providence, which I do not pretend to understand, nor was the balance punctually paid. Money was a thing unknown. In those days in Marietta we dealt in barter. I have a distinct remembrance of one year in particular, when balancing my accounts with the College, I found I had received in payments applicable to the support of my family the sum of exactly $100."
President Israel Ward Andrews, who joined Marietta as a mathematics professor in 1838, described the College’s pioneering bunch as "men of mark. They had strong individual characteristics, but they labored together with great harmony to establish the College, which they loved. They were all earnest Christian men, and desired to build up an institution where intellectual culture might be blended with sincere piety. An examination of the record shows how much time these gentlemen devoted to the College. Were I to speak of their work as it seems to me to serve, I should be deemed extravagant…There was nothing narrow or petty in what they did. With the scantiest means they laid large plans, exhibiting faith that seems almost sublime."
The College has had its fair share of memorable professors, staff and administrators from that point on. In the early part of the 20th century, faculty such as the Krause brothers, Harla Ray Eggleston and Ralph Whipple were stern with their curriculum—and their students flourished as a result. For decades, many accounting and business students benefitted from the EMA Department’s Big Three—the talented Jack Prince, Wen-Yu Cheng and Bert Glaze. Ruth Wilcox, Lee and Esther Walp, Doc Hartel, Jackie DeLaat, Mabry and Jim O’Donnell, Don Schaly, Steve Schwartz and many more faculty have earned favorable spaces in the memories of countless students because of their unique approaches to education and the special relationships forged during the their time on campus.
George "Dad" Elliot, who was the caretaker of the campus from 1893 to 1943, didn’t only keep the grounds at the College, he also was the keeper of many of the student stories as well. He recalled the students who often added to his workload with endearing words.
"The sprit of eternal youth which has made him the friend of several generations of students, his rare mingling of sentiment and humor, as well as his unconscious absorption of the literary atmosphere of the campus have impelled him to compose the verse with which he closes his written reminiscences:
It was a lover and his lass
That o’er the green campus did pass
In the Springtime.
He saw a sign on the Campus
Keep off the grass
In the Springtime.
Two very special men played an important and lasting role in keeping the history of Marietta College accessible. Arthur G. Beach, Professor of English, and Vernon "Dan" McGrew ’49, who served as an instructor, secretary of the College and the Board of Trustees, both wrote books charting the progression of Marietta. Dr. Beach recorded the stories of special events and people of Marietta College starting before the city of Marietta was actually founded through 1935. Mr. McGrew, who was later named an honorary trustee of the College, took up the history and brought it to 1986. McGrew died one month before his book, "In the Various Branches of Useful Knowledge," was published.
Dr. Beach was a member of the Class of 1891 and joined the faculty in 1913. Dr. Beach died a year before the book was completed. His wife, the former Mary Frances Dawes, and alumnus E. Wayne Jordan ’24 completed the manuscript of "A Pioneer College" just in time for the College’s centennial celebration.
Dr. Beach’s brother-in-law, Henry M. Dawes, Class of 1896, wrote a kind tribute to the College’s late historian as a postscript in the book:
There is a man, the study of whose character and life will etch upon our consciousness a comprehension of the philosophy which has created our Marietta…It is a happy circumstance that he should be the author of the history of the College that he loved so much.