|Waynesburg College Memories
By Candice Lynn Buchanan
As the Waynesburg College class of 2005 prepares to don their caps and gowns, I thought it would be interesting to consider their modern student experience in terms of one of the very earliest graduating classes in Waynesburg College history.
Rewinding 150 years, allow me to introduce you to the life and times of the class of 1855.
Tuition in 1855, at $8.00 for freshman, $10.00 for sophomores, $12.00 for juniors and $15.00 for seniors, is likely be the most obvious contrast between past and present Waynesburg College life.
Classes began for the first semester on the first Monday in November. April was a vacation month, with the first Monday in May beginning the second semester. Graduation was held in September; and for undergrads there was the month of October again for vacation before the new year began.
In those days the ladies attended the Female Seminary and were separated from the men of Waynesburg College. Co-education was only years away, but for the divided class of 1855, two graduations were held. The ladies received diplomas rather than degrees on September 25. The men followed receiving their degrees on September 26.
The class of 1855 was the third to graduate from the college having presented its first class in 1853; the seminary, however, was one-up on their male counterpart, having begun to produce female alumni one year earlier in 1852.
The males receiving this early honor had all come from out of town to attend the college: Jonathan Raynor Day (Washington County, PA), Ethelbert Henry Grabill (Pittsburgh, PA), E. P. Henderson (Independence, MO), Thomas J. Henderson (Allegheny City, PA), Isaac H. Miller (Merrittstown, PA) and John I. Rodgers (Brownsville, PA). The men of 1855 would be divided in the impending Civil War. Jonathan Day and John Rodgers, at least, are known to have been soldiers for the Union; and E. P. Henderson lost his job as President of an Oregon College due to an anti-slavery position. Thomas Henderson, however, according to a classmate’s account, served as a Confederate soldier for a year.
Perhaps it was a location description similar to the one found in the Waynesburg College Annual Catalogue of their senior year that lured the men to this young college in the very corner of southwestern Pennsylvania:
Waynesburg College is situated at Waynesburg, the capital of Greene County, Pa. The location of the institution possesses unusual advantages in regard to health, and compares favorably with other villages in morality and intelligence. It has a population of about 1,500. There are in it six churches.Room and board could be had for no more than seventy-five cents a week among the private families of Waynesburg.
The ladies of 1855, five in number, were three local and two from away: Hannah Lindsey, Maria Lindsey, Margaret Wise, all of Waynesburg, PA; Juliet Barclay of Uniontown, PA; and Anna Oglevee of Connellsville, PA. During their senior year Misses Barclay and Oglevee were doubling as assistant teachers in the seminary.
Though the graduate lists are short, the student bodies of both institutions were much larger. About 75 of each sex were also attending classes in their respective schools.
Campus life for the student body in 1855 was governed by ten rules laid out in the Annual Catalogue and a general religious, moral philosophy. Parents were assured that the students’ morals would be guided just as closely by the faculty as their education.
Many of the rules still apply: attendance, study and preparation for class, that homework be presented when due, and that passing scores be achieved on exams. Additionally, though, students were required to attend church on Sunday and present themselves at all times with “a courteous and respectful deportment.”
The 8th rule listed, is the most interesting:
Students are not allowed to frequent taverns, balls, saloons, or gaming tables, or to use as a beverage intoxicating drinks, under penalty of the severest discipline of the Institution.The theme of this rule seemed to grow in importance as the college matured. By 1865 it had worked itself more prominently into the location description:
Waynesburg is a village of 1200 inhabitants, unsurpassed in healthfulness of location. Free from the excitements and temptations common to towns on the great thoroughfares of travel, it affords a peculiarly favorable retreat for an institution of learning.The post-graduation lives of each of the students of the class of 1855 are under investigation now, with the goal of accounting for the life story of each of the college’s early alumni. It seems from what is known so far that they did put their education to use in career and home life. Several of the students married fellow graduates and were followed at Waynesburg College by younger siblings and later their own children.
All material within this
web site has been compiled by Candice Buchanan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(63 W. Franklin St.; Waynesburg, PA 15370).
Data sources documented whenever possible. Contributors credited for shared information. Questions, feedback and contributions welcome.
Copyright © 2003-2008 Candice Buchanan. All rights reserved.