Saturday, May 11, 2013

Futures past: remembering May 11, 1853

From the 1893 Oread:


On the morning of the eleventh of May, 1853, amid doubts and sad forebodings of failure, yet with hopes and prayers for future success, began the first term of Mt. Carroll Seminary.

In strange contrast was the room in which the school first opened, to the spacious and commodious buildings it now occupies, surrounded, as it is, with every comfort and convenience that combine to make a first-class institution of learning.

Our school began in an old church, which had been used, just before this time, for a small select school. The building was a "Grout" structure in a sad state of dilapidation. The furniture — what there was of it — was in a like condition.

That Monday morning did not dawn bright and clear without a cloud ; on the contrary, the sky was overcast, and a cold, drizzling rain fell, strangely in harmony with the general outlook of the school.

There were only eleven pupils on that dark May morning, forty years ago to-day. Their names were, as nearly as we can remember, Miss Mary E. White (now deceased), Miss Fannie E. Pierce, Lydia A. Orcutt (Mrs. Wm. Petty), Adaline Yontz, Eveline Yontz, Ellen Yontz (Mrs. Geo. Miles), Amanda Venalstine (Mrs. Swiggert), Celia A. Harris (Mrs. S. A. Tate). Sophia Neely (Mrs. Frazier), Mary Bartholomew (now deceased), and the writer, Fannie E. Bartholomew (Mrs. R. G. Bailey).

Misses Wood and Gregory had left their homes in New York and had come to this then "Far West," to found a school that should be as lasting as time ; and this small number of students on the first day caused a shade of disappointment on the brows of these two young women. It passed away in an instant, and Miss Wood, smiling cheerfully, remarked: "The rain kept some away, no doubt." At fifteen minutes of nine the bell tapped and we were in our seats. A chapter was read from the Bible, and Miss Gregory suggested singing "The Watcher," as all were familiar with that. Meanwhile, an old tin waterspout, that had become detached from the roof, blew back and forth, shrieking and creaking, as if to accompany the doleful music and the patter of rain upon the windows. The selection of that piece was not a favorable one, perhaps, and may have added somewhat to the gloom of the dismal day.

The morning exercises over, our teachers began assigning our lessons, introducing new studies and better text-books. The methods of teaching were also an improvement. When twelve o'clock came, each girl felt that she was proud to be among the first enrolled. At one o'clock the eleven were all in their seats promptly. Not one more name was added to the roll. Then was first displayed that perseverance and energy, that courage to combat difficulties, that has ever characterized the work of the Principal, Mrs. F. A.Wood Shimer; and many are the women scattered over our broad land, who are trying to emulate her example, who feel her influence constantly with them. But I digress — I would tell you of the afternoon of that opening day.

Our teachers told us cheerfully and hopefully, that in the near future we were to have a pleasanter school-room.

The afternoon song was more cheerful. Miss Gregory had a sweet voice, and sang that song beginning "Study low, study low."

Then our work commenced in earnest. The rain had ceased at four o'clock and the sun shone brightly. The girls of that day, now in the afternoon of life, as they near the sunset, love to look back upon that time and feel that it was well to have been there.

Fannie B. Bailey.

Help keep Shimer warm and dry for generations to come!  If you donate this month, your donation will be matched.

No comments :