Birth: April 3.
1859 in Marion, Iowa
Death: September 27, 1951 in Cedar
Educational Background: Coe College, B.A. 1884, M.A.
1887, LL.D 1906;
High School Principal/Superintendent, Manchester, Iowa; Professor of
Biology, German, and Latin, Coe College, 1891-1908, 1914-1933
Administrative Experience: President of Bellevue College,
Bellevue, Nebraska, 1908-1914; Dean of Coe College 1902-1908, 1914-1933
Key events/accomplishments during administration: Helped raise Coe's first
endowment funds of $35,000; Helped build Voorhees Hall and Carnegie
Science Hall (now Stuart Hall)
Post-Coe Career: Retirement
See also Dr. Stephen Stookey
Excerpts from The Story of a Life in
Relation to Coe College
One of the records of the early days of
Coe College is the memoir of Stephen W. Stookey, a Coe alum and
professor who left in care of the college a manuscript entitled, The
Story of a Life in Relation to Coe College, written in 1929.
Stookey passed away on November 29, 1951 at the age of 92. The
following is a series of excerpts from his manuscript.
I was born on a farm near Marion, Iowa,
April 3. 1859. I was the fifth in a family of eight
children. My parents emigrated from Ohio in the early 50's,
stopped awhile in Northern Indiana, and arrived in Iowa in 1855.
As I had
three older brothers I was not greatly needed on the farm. I was
rather fond of school, reading and music. After the winter term of
school in the year 1875 my mother told me I was to go to the Marion
High School. There I was given a written examination on the common
school branches and was placed in the second year of the high school
course. The superintendent of the schools at that time was John W.
McClellan, a cousin of General George B. McClellan. His wife,
Hannah L. Johnson McClellan, was Principal of the High
School. They exerted a strong influence on my early life,
remaining my beloved friends as long as they lived. They were
church people, fine singers, and under their influence I became a
member of the Presbyterian Church, the church of my parents, and of the
local choir. Our pastor was the Rev. Alex S. Marshall who had the
unique record of holding but one pastorate during his life, and that of
over forty years.
After finishing the
high school and teaching for a while in the country, I entered Cornell
College where I spent two years. I remained out the Winter terms
and taught, keeping up my college work, and taking examinations on my
return to college. I then remained out of school a year and taught
in the Marion schools.
autumn of 1882 I was ready to return to college and made arrangements
to enter the State University of Iowa. I had an interview with
President John L. Pickard who advised me as to my studies. It
seems amusing to think of a University President performing such simple
duties, but it was the custom then.
Coe College had opened as a full college under the presidency of
Stephen Phelps and with a faculty of eight or ten teachers. The
first year had been very successful. The Sunday before I was to
leave for Iowa City I attended church and Dr. Phelps occupied the
pulpit. Anyone who has heard that brilliant pulpit orator will
readily believe that I was greatly impressed with his ability and
personality. After Church Prof. W. W. Gist, whom I had previously
met, introduced me to Dr. Phelps and they talked Coe to me. They
offered me the opportunity to teach in the Preparatory school as a help
in defraying my expenses, which appealed to me strongly, and I decided
to enter Coe.
two years here as a student and graduated in the first class, the class
of '84. Miss E. Belle Stewart, sister of Col. Robert W.
Stewart, was the only other member of the class to receive a
degree. Several others had been identified with us as a Senior
class, but for one reason or another they did not graduate in '84.
In the faculty during those years were some
fine men and women, probably the peers of any who have served the
College since. Robert A. Condit had been the head of the Coe
Collegiate Institute for several years and continued as Professor of
the Classic Languages, later serving many years as Dean of the
College. W. W. Gist was Professor of Mathematics, later of
English and was a man of considerable power. W. E. Wilson was
Professor of Natural Science and later became President of the State
Normal School of Rhode Island, and still later of Washington.
Virginia Lee Scott, Mary Robinson and Alice Hitte formed a trio of
highly cultured women. The President taught Bible and related
In the student body were a number of men who
have become nationally known. I may mention Senator Jim Reed of
Missouri, Secretary of War James W. Good, Col. Robert W. Stewart and
Dr. Edward Allworth Ross. One wonders whether any subsequent
generation of Coe students has produced such a galaxy of stars.
my graduation I became Principal of the Manchester, Iowa, high schools
and two years later became Superintendent of the school, holding that
position until 1891. Here I met Isabel Ione Graham, who was
teacher of English in the high school, and we were married in 1887.
in accordance with the usage of collages at that time, the class of '84
were entitled to receive the Masters Degree "in course" provided they
had in the meantime pursued professional or literary studies. My
professional studies consisted (1) of pedagogical reading in
preparation for my work as a Superintendent of Schools and (2)
preparation for examination under the State Board for a Life Diploma, a
form of State recognition of professional progress not now in
use. A thesis was required and I chose for my subject "The
Paleontological Evidence of Evolution." H.H. Seerley, later
President of the State Normal College, was Chairman of the State
Board. He sent my thesis to Dr. Calvin of the State
University. He wrote me when he sent my diploma that my thesis
had been highly commended by Dr. Calvin. This was my first contact
with that great teacher and geologist. This incident probably had
consequences in the years to follow.
was no graduating class in 1887, Miss Stewart and I were notified that
we were to give public addresses at Commencement time and receive our
degrees. My address had to do with the doctrine of laissez-faire
Called to Alma Mater
summer of 1891 President James Marshall, who had succeeded Dr. Phelps
four years previously in the presidency of Coe College, came to
Manchester to spend the Sabbath and to occupy the pulpit of the
Presbyterian church. We entertained him in our home. My
wife impressed him so much as a woman of culture that after a few days
we received a letter from him asking us to come to Coe as members of
the Faculty. Mrs. Stookey was asked to become Lady Principal and
I was to assist the President in Executive duties, my first job being
to raise $25,000 to pay off an accumulated deficit. Although it
involved a decrease in our meager income we decided that it offered a
greater field of service and accepted.
We entered upon our duties in September
1891. Mrs. Stookey served the college for three years, acting as
librarian in addition to her duties as Lady Principal in Williston
Hall. She was greatly beloved by the students and was prominent
in the literary life of the city, being a member of the Women's
Club. In the summer of 1894 she resigned. Our two boys,
Robert and Stanley, were demanding more and more of her energy and she
felt that it was time to establish a home. During the following
two years two other children were added to our flock, Donald and
Dorothy. Notwithstanding her duties as wife and mother she never
lost touch with the college life and remained a fine influence until
her death in 1906.
I entered at once upon my financial work but
was destined not to remain in that field long. Just as the year
was opening the President came to me with the announcement of the
resignation of my classmate, Miss Stewart, from the principalship of
the Preparatory Department which she had held with great success since
her graduation. He wished me to take up that work at once, which
About the middle of the college year Dr. Seth
E. Meek, Professor of the Biological Sciences, resigned to accept a
professorship at the University of Arkansas. President Marshall
and Dr. Meek came to me with the request that I fill out the year in
that department in addition to looking after the Preparatory
School. As the laboratory work had been completed and the balance
of the year was to be text-book work I decided to undertake it.
At once I began spending my Friday afternoons and Saturdays under the
instruction of Dr. Samuel Calvin at the State University of Iowa.
I foresaw that I might be asked to continue in that department and I
realized my inadequate preparation. I decided to bend every
effort to remedy that defect.
An event occurred in the Spring of 1893 that
seemed providential. Dr. Charles C. Nutting of the State
University was organizing an expedition to make a three-month cruise in
the region of the Bahama Islands, Cuba and Florida Keys for the
dredging, collecting, and studying of the marine life of that rich
field, where the Agassiz Expeditions had previously done such wonderful
work. It was to be the most important scientific expedition ever
organized in the West, and undoubtedly turned out to be that very thing
and has remained unsurpassed to this day. Dr. Calvin, under whom
I was studying, was to have been a member of the expedition but found
that he could not go and asked me if I would like to take his place.
At first sight it seemed impossible to avail
myself of this wonderful opportunity. Our income was inadequate
to meet the ordinary needs. My wife had the care of our two
little boys in addition to her college work. When we came to
counsel over the matter that noble woman at once said I must go and go
The study and preparation for the voyage
quickened my zeal and enthusiasm. We left Baltimore in June and
returned to the same place after a completely successful voyage of our
schooner, the Emily E. Johnson, with a great cargo of preserved
material that for years enriched the laboratory supplies of Coe
College. Many of the specimens of marine invertebrate life on the
shelves of the museum today are the result of that fortunate expedition.
But for me the greatest result was that the
foundation was laid for my future studies in Biology. I met my
family in Chicago in time to visit the Columbian Exposition before the
opening of the College year.
In connection with the Bahama Expedition Dr.
Nutting asked me to assist him in looking after the Coelenterates
including the Corals and Hydroids, his own specialty. I was to see
that all materials coming up with the dredges was searched for Hydroids
and that these, as soon as collected, should be placed in preservative
solutions. When this material was later examined by Dr. Nutting
he found that it was rich in new species. When it became known in
the scientific world that he was studying this collection several
institutions in the East placed their unclassified collections in his
hands, so that he had one of the most remarkable assemblages of old and
new Hydroidea ever brought together for a study. His magnificent
reports on this material may be seen in the great volumes on our
In this connection I may mention the fact
that Dr. Nutting suggested that I join him in working up the Hydroid
collection. I did not see how it was possible to do this.
It meant several years of research and involved leave of absence
from teaching duties. No foundations for the support of such
research were then in existence, as they are today. I could not
think of asking the Trustees of Coe College for help, for the
institution was in constant danger of being swamped with unpaid
deficits. It was one of the opportunities of my life that I was
obliged to put aside. But I have always regretted that I did not
lay the whole matter before the Trustees. Mr. Charles B. Soutter,
President of the Board, was always intensely interested in scientific
research, and I have since thought that he might have found a way to
solve the problem.
In 1896 President Marshall, in the midst of
his active duties, passed away. His wife, Jennie McNair Marshall,
who had been a great power for good in the college community and city,
had preceded him in death the year before. The college seemed
indeed bereft. For the balance of that year we were without a
president, Dr. Condit, without official appointment, performing many of
the president's functions.
In 1897 Dr. Samuel Black McCormick came to
the presidency and with him new life to the struggling college.
His task was a most discouraging one. The financial condition of
the institution was alarming. There was practically now
endowment. Outside of the Board of Trustees the College had few
financial supporters. The clergy of the State were indifferent or
openly hostile. He set about the task of changing all this with
an energy and directed wisdom that won the admiration and gradually the
support of the people of the State.
In the second year of his administration Dr.
McCormick secured from Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Voorhees of Clinton, New
Jersey, the promise of $25,000 on condition that $150,000 should be
raised for endowment. He released two members of the Faculty,
J.P. Huget, and myself, from part of our college work to assist him in
the campaign. Mr. Huget found the work distasteful and asked to
On a certain Monday morning Dr. McCormick and
I were to start the campaign for $25,000 in Cedar Rapids. I went
to his house early that morning and found him in bed with a severe case
of lumbago. He told me to go ahead and see what I could do.
I told him I had a plan and laid it before him. I had a list of
eight businessmen at the top of which was Mr. A. T. Averhill, President
of the Cedar Rapids National Bank. I proposed to start with
him. Dr. McCormick did not say what he thought but probably had
little confidence that I would succeed.
I called at the Bank and Mr. Averhill invited
me into his office. I unfolded my plan and showed him my
list. He took my paper and said, "Let me revise that list."
He crossed out three names and substituted three others. He
seemed to take a sort of gleeful interest in the thing and agreed to
the plan. I learned subsequently that his list consisted of a
group of men who, under his leadership, had just concluded a big land
deal which had been very profitable. He seemed to think it
something of a financial joke to challenge them to this contribution
for the good of a Cedar Rapids institute and the $25,000 was soon in
The campaign went over the top by about
$10,000. This and the building of Marshall Hall and the Gymnasium
started Coe on the upgrade which has since had few interruptions, even
if the ascent has been slow and laborious.
My summers were usually spent, at least in
part, assisting in the student canvass. I also frequently
supplied pulpits on Sundays at the request of the President, and as
part of the effort to get into touch with the church people.
I spent the Summers of 1895 and 1896 at the
University of Chicago. I made the mistake of not planning my
courses with reference to the Ph.D. My work at the University of
Iowa, two summers at the University of Chicago, and a three-year course
taken under the approval of Coe, for which the Ph.D. was granted to
several members of the group, would, if properly accredited, have
brought me well along the road to my doctorate. But degrees were
not so important in those days and I did not foresee their future
I had the good fortune to make a suggestion
to President McCormick in 1899 that he acted upon and that has meant
much to Coe College in all the years since. I refer to the
bringing of George W. Bryant back to his Alma Mater. Dr.
McCormick called me into his office one day and asked me if I had any
suggestion to make in regard to a professor of Latin. A picture
of the class of '94 hung in his office and I pointed to Bryant's photo
and said, "While you are surveying the field don't fail to consider
that man." How much Bryant has meant in the past to the
development and progress of Coe College no man can estimate. He
still has the best of his life before him in service to his
College. I feel that I was divinely led when I made that
suggestion in response to Dr. McCormick's question.
An event occurred the next year that was of
great importance to the College and that radically changed the whole
direction of my subsequent work. A tall, lanky lad by the name of
Bert Heald Bailey had been in my Latin class when I was Principal of
the Academy. Sometimes he would forget his Latin class and be
found in the woods learning the habits of birds and wildlife. He
later appeared in my Biology classes where his real talent became
evident. He was already a good taxidermist and knew ornithology
surprisingly well. Moreover, he was a most loveable
character. He spent one year with Dr. Nutting at the State
University, but returned to Coe and graduated in the class of
’97. He was headed for the foreign mission field and at once
entered Rush Medical College from which he graduated in 1900 only to
find that, because of a heart lesion, he was barred from going to the
I saw an opportunity for the College in young
Dr. Baily. He was ideal in character, preparation and family
connection. His father was Synodical Superintendent for Iowa and
a man of influence in the state. Dr. Bailey's training and
natural bent fitted him admirably for the head of Zoology department
and the development of the Museum. The field I had been trying to
cover was much too large and its division was long overdue.
Although I had specialized in animal biology and would have to shift my
emphasis to another line, I made up my mind to make the personal
sacrifice in order to associate Dr. Bailey with me in the College.
Dr. McCormick was favorable to the plan, but
did not think the trustees would assume any more financial
obligations. I knew a side to the situation that he did
not. I asked him if he would approve of my speaking to the
President of the Board about it and he gave his consent. I told
Mr. Soutter what I wanted and without a moment's hesitation he said,
"That's the very thing - a capital idea. I'm glad you proposed
it." Of course it went through. The history of Dr. Bailey,
his great work for the College, his untimely death, and the memorial
Bert Heald Bailey Museum are so well known that I need not recount them
While I am upon this subject, although out of
chronological order, I will refer to the coming of another member of
the Faculty. In 1905, while I was Acting President, a wiry,
alert-looking little man came into the office and asked for the
President. I told him all there was of him was before him.
It was Chas. [sic] T. Hickok. He said he was looking for a
teaching position as he had been Head Master of the Academy connected
with Western Reserve. His Alma Mater, and that the Trustees had closed
the Academy leaving him without a “job.” I told him that I did
not know that our trustees were ready to employ a man, but that we
really needed one to relieve Mr. Huget, Head Master of the Academy, as
he was more and more devoting his energies to the development of a
department of Education. I asked him to see the President of the
Board and the Chairman of the Curriculum Committee. The next day
Dr. Burkhalter came into the office and asked me about the need of the
Academy for a Head Master and my impression of Dr. Hickok. I told
him we needed a man and that Hickok impressed me favorably; that,
moreover, he was from Ohio. Dr. Burkhalter said no more but Dr.
Hickok was added to the Faculty. He is now at the head, not of
the Academy, long since defunct, but of the largest and one of the most
important groups of departments in the College, the Social
Sciences. Not only in the College but in the city Dr. and Mrs.
Hickok have a large place.
I would be glad to stake my reputation as a
judge of men upon the above mentioned selections for the Faculty of Coe
In 1899, the Union Pacific Railroad sponsored
a geological expedition through the fossil fields of Wyoming from which
the great museums of the East were being enriched by reptilian fossil
remains of amazing character and proportions. The Trustees of the
College made it possible for Coe to be represented. I took two of
my students, Howell S. Vincent and Alzo Fisher and joined the company
of eighty geologists from all over the country. Schubert, now of
Yale, Scott of Princeton, Knight of Wyoming, Grant of Northwestern and
many other notable men were in the party. It was a most valuable
and interesting experience but there was not much opportunity to
collect for our museum although we secured some good material.
Vincent distinguished himself by composing and reading, as we sat
around the camp fire one evening, a poem on the Dinosaur.
Schubert, in making a report on the expedition, quoted Vincent's
poem. These two young men both became missionaries. In that
connection all I wish to claim for geology is that it did not destroy
their faith in the creator or undermine their religion.
Dr. McCormick's administration came to a
close with his call to the Chancellorship of the University of Western
Pennsylvania, now Pittsburgh University. His seven years of
service had wrought a revolution in the College. The Faculty had
increased from ten to twenty-five in number. In addition to the
above mentioned strong additions to the Faculty, Weld, Evans, and
Fracker had been added, all to be important factors in the growth of
the institution. The student body had increased from 135 to
310. The number of buildings on the campus (but not the floor
space) had been doubled. The financial foundation of the College
had been greatly strengthened, and strong friends had been won both in
Iowa and in the East through the personal contacts of the President.
Before leaving this period I must mention the
coming into the activities of the College of a personality with whom I
was to be closely associated for many years - the Rev. H. H. Maynard,,
Ph. D. I find his name on the roster of College officials for the
first time in the catalog of 1903-4, near the close of Dr. McCormick's
administration. He is listed as Financial Secretary and Lecturer.
Acting President and Dean
For the year 1904-05 the Board of Trustees
made me Acting-President of the College. So far as I recall they
did not relieve me of any of my professorial duties, and I continued my
regular teaching in addition to the administrative work. Dr.
McCormick had left the College well-organized and I had the most loyal
support of the members of the Faculty, so that the affairs of the
College ran smoothly and efficiently.
In order to keep up the duties of the
president's office, long hours were required. It was my common
practice not to leave the office until ten o'clock and very often I did
not close it until midnight. I presided at Faculty meetings,
Executive Committee meetings and at the daily chapel service. The
correspondence of the office was considerable.
Dr. Maynard was actively engaged in his work
as Financial Agent during the year. He had numerous schemes and
projects and made incessant demands upon my time. He had ideas
but always found great difficulty in putting them into written
form. I found it necessary, therefore, to carry on not only the
correspondence of the president's office, but also most of that
pertaining to his work.
I drafted the original application to Andrew
Carnegie for money to build a Science Hall. Dr, Maynard and I
signed it jointly. I believe we asked for $80,000. Mr.
Carnegie's secretary, Mr. James Bertram, contended that we were asking
a sum out of proportion to what we already had and to our
needs. We replied that we should take the future into
consideration. He suggested $30,000 as a more reasonable
amount. We felt it would be a great mistake to accept such a sum
and held out for the larger amount. The negotiations were still
going on when the next administration took over the office, and a
compromise was arranged for some $60,000. The new president was
inclined to agree with Mr. Bertram that about $30,000 would build us an
adequate Science Hall, but Dr.. Maynard and the Science men of the
Faculty urged the need of a better building and their ideas in part
prevailed. Ten years after the building was completed we were
needing more floor space. Our original plans provided for a
general lecture room to be equipped with projection apparatus, a
feature we have always needed but this had to be eliminated. All
of the departments were obliged to cut down the floor space which they
originally considered a minimum.
Early in the year the inauguration of
Chancellor McCormick took place in Pittsburgh. The Trustees sent
me to represent the College. To me it was a most interesting
occasion. The inauguration ceremonies were impressive and the
Chancellor delivered a characteristically able inaugural address.
A banquet followed at which were hundreds of Pittsburgh’s most
prominent citizens and many distinguished educators. It had not
occurred to me that I might be called upon for a response to a toast,
so that when my name was called I was taken by surprise. But I
managed to rise and say that Western Pennsylvania had gone a long way
west to find and call back to a great task one of their own men; that
we were not disposed to question their prefect right to do so; but that
we did wish to warn them that they must treat him well and give him
great support in his work, because the West would always stand ready to
welcome him back to fields where he had accomplished splendid
results. After the banquet Ben Thaw, President of the Board, came
to me and told me that I could not have said anything that would have
pleased him more. I inferred that there was some special reason
for his remark.
I remember many pleasant things that occurred
during that year, one of the most interesting being the visit of Mr.
John Sinclair of New York City to the College and the Chapel
Exercises. I invited him to conduct the devotional service which
he did with simple dignity. He asked that Francis Ridley
Havergal’s hymn of consecration be sung and then he told something of
her devoted life, closing with an appropriate prayer. I always
thought that visit one of the high points of the year.
In recognition of what they thought was
worthy service, the Trustees at Commencement time conferred upon me the
honorary degree of LL. D. Dr. Burkhalter invested me with the
appropriate robes which the Faculty had provided and which I wear on
academic occasions to this day. I never want to wear any other.
Sometime during the Spring of 1905 the
Trustees elected William Wilberforce Smith to the presidency of the
College. I heaved a sigh of relief, thinking my administration
burdens done. Dr. Smith, however, announced that he was to be
married soon and that he would not take up his active duties until
September. Therefore the responsibility for the student canvass
and the nerve-racking financial work with Dr. Maynard were
continued during the Summer.
On the whole the year 1904-5 was one of the
happiest of my life. During the two years preceding, my wife’s
health had been failing, but it appeared that the malady from which she
was suffering had been stayed and we hoped for ultimate recovery.
We had previously been living out some distance from the College.
On my appointment as Acting-President the Trustees re-built the house
at the corner of 13th street and A Ave. for a Dean's
residence and we spent a happy year there. The clouds were
gathering but we did not know it.
I will record here another circumstance which
has some bearing upon my subsequent action. A representative of
the Trustees of Hastings College came to Cedar Rapids during the Spring
of 1905. with a mandate from that college to persuade me to accept its
presidency. He was urgent that I should go out and look the field
over, which I did, although I could give him but little encouragement
that I would be interested. I gave some study to the Nebraska
college situation and decided that it was not attractive.
several years I had been a member of the staff of the Iowa Geological
Survey under Dr. Samuel Calvin, Director of the Survey. I had
been assigned to Iowa and Powesheik counties as my field. Of
course the time I could give to field work was limited but I gradually
collected the data for the final reports. During the year 1905-06
I continued that work as I could find time. These reports finally were
published as a part of Vol. XX of the Iowa Geological Survey and as
separates. They constitute my only important published work.
The Valley of the Shadow
My wife's health failed rapidly during the
Summer of 1906 and in October she passed away. Even after these
23 years it is hard for me to write of that awful time. But I
love to recall the ministrations of our friends - her friends.
They came with words of sympathy and encouragement to her during her
long period of suffering and to me after her death. Our beloved
pastor, Dr. Wm. [sic] M. Evans and Dr. Burkhalter, a Trustee, took
charge of the services and we laid her away amid the flowers she loved
President of Bellevue
During the year 1907-8 Dr. Maynard, having
become very much dissatisfied with the conditions of his work at Coe,
became impressed with the possibilities of an important work to be done
in connection with Omaha University - Bellevue College. He talked
to me a great deal about it and finally a proposition was made by the
trustees of that institution that I should go there as President and
Dr. Maynard as Vice-President and Financial Agent. As recorded
previously in connection with the Hastings College episode I had given
some attention to the Nebraska college situation and I had been
impressed then with the possibilities at Omaha and Bellevue. The
upshot was that I severed my connection with Coe and went to Omaha -
Bellevue - in the Summer of 1908.
I believe I have been censured for leaving
Coe at a time when her affairs were in a critical condition, as they
were at that time. Undoubtedly it was one of the mistakes of my
life to do so, but I sincerely believed that it was the best step for
The period of my life, nearly six years,
spent at Bellevue, is chiefly pertinent to this account in the fact
that I was absent form my life work that length of time. However,
one or two things should be recorded.
In July of 1908 Dr. Robert A. Condit, who had
been on the retired list since 1904, passed away at his home in
California. In the Autumn following, a memorial service was held
in the Coe Chapel and I was asked to deliver the address, which I did.
I am now to record a circumstance which I
think is known to but few persons. It shows how apparently
insignificant things may prove very important in their results.
During the Spring of 1913 I was making my annual trip to the East for
the purpose of reporting to a few friends of Bellevue, who always could
be counted upon to contribute to the liquidation of the year's
deficit. Mr. McCahan and Mr. Scott of Philadelphia and Mr.
Severance, then living in New York, were friends of former President
Kerr and remained loyal supporters during my administration. Dr.
McKenzie, Secretary of the College Board, always insisted on my going
down to Clinton, New Jersey, to see Mrs. Ralph Voorhees. That
silent lady always patiently heard my story but had never given me any
money. I went, as usual, to see her. She heard me with her
usual serenity of countenance. I happened to speak of the
pennants of various colleges on the walls of the room. I asked
her if these were the colleges she had helped and she said they
were. I asked her where the Coe College pennant was, and she
replied that she did not have one. I told her that I would remedy
that, as I was an alumnus of Coe. I reminded her of the $25,000
she and Mr. Voorhees had given Dr. McCormick as the nucleus of the
first endowment and told her of my part with Dr. McCormick in raising
the balance. I told her that I had always regretted that there
was no visible reminder at Coe of their gift that had proved so
important to the College. I said I wished there were a building
or some memorial to their beneficence. I thought I detected a
slight quickening of interest, and when I rose to go she asked me the
name of the treasurer of Bellevue College. I had mentioned $1,000
as the sum that Mr. Severance had given me and she asked me if I
expected her to give that amount. I replied that any sum she
would give would be appreciated. When the check came it was for
$3,000. I knew then where her heart was - it was at Coe, and it
was my Coe talk that won her.
I soon had a chance to report this interview
with Mrs. Voorhees to Dr. Maynard (who had re-entered Coe's service)
and Ross Lee, as their work for Coe happened to bring them to
Omaha. They saw the significance of it, and relayed it to Dr.
Marquis, who lost no time in seeing Mrs. Voorhees. We have
Voorhees Quadrangle, the most beautiful building on the campus with the
exception of the Sinclair Memorial Chapel.
Back at Coe – Dr. Marquis
Late in the year 1913 or early in 1914, I
received a telegram from President John A. Marquis requesting me to
meet him in Des Moines for an interview. I went to Des Moines and
was surprised and, I must say, pleased to find that he wished me to
return to Coe for the purpose of taking part in the financial campaign
then in progress.. I had already fully made up my mind to
terminate my connection with Bellevue, and was seriously considering an
opening in connection with the establishment of Presbyterian work at
the University of Illinois. I did not hesitate long, however, in
making my decision. I told him I would accept and went back to
Omaha, called the Board together and presented my resignation.
Leaving my family in Bellevue until the end of the college year I went
to Cedar Rapids in February and reported for work. My health
seemed to be impaired and I fear my work in that campaign did not
amount to much. However, I traveled about with Dr. Maynard,
assisted him in his correspondence and did what I could. Thinking
I might have some organic trouble I went to the May Bros. Clinic at
Rochester, Minnesota, but their report was negative. In the
course of a year and a half I was myself again.
Upon my resignation in 1908, the Trustees had
appointed Dr. James Gow, a botanist, to the chair of Botany and Geology
in my place. After the division of my work in 1900, when Dr.
Bailey came into the Faculty, I had made geology my chief interest and
botany second. Dr. Gow, had, of course, reversed this and placed
the emphasis on botany, relegating geology to second position.
Dr. Gow had for some time been suffering from Bright’s disease but by
care had been able to maintain a fair degree of strength. But
during the summer of 1914 he became seriously ill and passed away.
President Marquis and Dr. Burkhalter,
Chairman of the Curriculum Committee of the Board, asked me if I would
accept my former position on the Faculty and I replied in the
affirmative. I had been appointed Dean upon the retirement of Dr.
Condit in 1904, and I was now also to resume that office. The
position had been vacant during my absence and the Faculty Committees
had been re-organized by Dr. Marquis with duties covering many of the
functions of a Dean. He, therefore, assured me that my
administrative duties would not be heavy. Unforeseen
circumstances determined otherwise.
The financial campaign which had been the
occasion of my return to Coe was still in progress. Dr. Charles T.
Hickok was needed in the campaign which was being carried on in the
East and arrangements had to be made to release him from his teaching
duties for the Second Semester of 1915-15. I was detailed to take
over his class in Economics. During my life at Coe, in addition
to courses in the biological sciences and geology, I have taught Latin,
German, History of Education, Philosophy of Education and Economics.
President Marquis was elected Moderator of
the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in May of 1916.
This was a great honor to Dr. Marquis and brought the College
prominently before the public in a very favorable way. As a great
deal of the President’s time was taken in his official duties as
Moderator, entailing frequent and occasionally prolonged absence from
the College, it was necessary to make provision for this. Upon
the Executive Committee of the Faculty, of which, as Dean, I was
Chairman, was placed this responsibility. It was expected that
this would continue only until the election of a new Moderator by the
General Assembly of 1917.
The General Assembly of 1917, instead of
releasing Dr. Marquis, with great demonstration of enthusiasm elected
him Secretary-Treasure of the Home Mission Board. Dr. Marquis did
not at first accept, but finally such pressure was brought to bear that
he yielded. Every effort was made by Trustees, Faculty, and
Students to induce him to remain as President of the College, and an
arrangement was made by which for a time he held both offices.
This situation continued for nearly two years, resulting finally in his
resignation from the College office.
In the meantime the Executive Committee
continued to carry on the administrative affairs of the College and did
so until the induction of a new administration in the Autumn of 1919.
This is not a history of the College. I
cannot enter into the details of the wonderful development of the
College that took place during Dr. Marquis’ Administration. I was
a member of the Faculty only during the last five years of his term of
office. I may note, however, that during his administration the
student body increased in numbers from 314 in 1909-10 to 1179 in
1919-20. The Faculty numbered 20 in 1909-10 and 46 in
1919-20. At the close of the period the Campus had taken on the
appearance of a real college. The Sinclair Memorial Chapel, the
Carnegie Science Hall and Voorhees Quadrangle had been erected.
The additions to the Endowment assured permanency and inspired
confidence in the College while they made possible its constantly
expanding work. The remarkable financial support given by the
citizens of Cedar Rapids and the increasing home patronage witnessed to
the growing popularity of the College. The merger of Coe and
Leander Clark brought strength to the institution.
Two Great Friends of Coe
The year 1918 witnessed the decease of two
of the best friends Coe College ever had, Mrs. T. M. Sinclair and Mr.
C. B. Soutter, brother and sister. Their lives were intimately
associated with the development of Coe College for many years.
Others better able to do so than I have paid tribute to their high
character and noble work. All I wish to do is mention one or two
incidents of a personal nature as they bear upon my relations with the
After my graduation Mr. Soutter seemed to
follow me with a kind of brotherly interest. While I was
Superintendent of School at Manchester he wrote me a letter asking me
to become a candidate for the Superintendency in Cedar Rapids. I
did so. Of course there were many candidates but the only other
one to be seriously considered was a man of much greater experience
than mine. The vote stood 3 to 3 for a whole day, but he finally
won, no doubt fortunately for Cedar Rapids. This and some other
incidents led me to think that Mr. Soutter had a good deal to do with
our call to the Coe Faculty in 1891.
During all the years that Mr. Soutter was
Trustee and President of the Board I could always count upon his
careful consideration and usually support of any matter that I thought
important for the College. The differences of opinion that arose
in the Faculty and among the Trustees and that led to his resignation
from the Board in 1907 were unfortunate indeed. To me that has
always been a sad chapter and I have no heart to write it.
Mrs. Sinclair was always more than generous
in her support of the College. For some years her home was in
Philadelphia. On several occasions, when assisting in financial
campaigns, I was made welcome at her home and always felt better able
to go on with the often discouraging work because of her
encouragement. When I resigned to accept the presidency of
Bellevue College, I found that she had written the Board of Trustees of
that institution a fine letter commendatory of my work at Coe College.
A Hero Succumbs
The passing of Dr. Maynard at his post of
duty as Financial Secretary in October of 1917 removed from the College
one of its most active workers, one who accomplished great things for
the College. We were closely associated during all the years from
1903 to the time of his death. I will not attempt here any
account of our work together. As I write I learn that Mrs.
Maynard, who was with him in Pittsburgh when he was stricken, now lies
at the point of death at her home in California. So they pass.
President Gage Takes up
This brings my narrative down to the present
administration under Dr. H. M. Gage. He began his work as
President in the Autumn of 1920. Under his leadership the College
has had nine years of continued prosperity. Dr. Gage's high
position in educational circles has given prestige to the College over
which he presides.
As I see it, four things stand out as the
most important contributions of his administration to date.
First, the maintenance of high standards of scholarship. Fostered by
all the means available. Second, the additions to the endowment,
by which it has been possible to raise gradually the salaries of the
members of the teaching force and thus command a better Faculty.
Third, the adoption of a rigid budget system, and a policy of providing
for the amount of the budget each year. Fourth, the building
program which is now in process of being carried out.
My work during Dr.
Gage's administration has been divided between teaching and
administration. In the earlier years of this period fully half my
time was given to administration. The rapidly increasing
attendance of students and consequent greater demands for teaching
force in Geology and Botany necessitated the employment of two
assistants, one for Botany and one for Geology.
In 1923 the Dean's
work was lightened, or at least modified, by the appointment of a Dean
of Men. This made it possible for the Dean of the College to
concentrate upon the purely educational phases of the college
interests. The Executive Committee, of which the Dean is
Chairman, attends to many details of college business that formerly
were acted upon by the whole Faculty in its weekly meetings. The
Faculty now holds business meetings monthly.
The Dean is also
chairman of the Curriculum Committee which deals with all matters
pertaining to the Curriculum, making recommendations to the Faculty for
As I look back through the vista of forty
seven years and consider what I have written in these pages, my humble
part seems to dwindle to a mere thread in the warp and woof of a great
tapestry. Thousands of such threads cross and recross to make the
pattern. In my memory there arise hundreds of student faces, some
of them mere shadows, others distinct personalities. Comes the
challenging question, What has been the effect of these personal
contacts of teacher and students? Literally thousands of persons
have entered one way or another into the life of Coe College, students,
teachers, trustees, contributors, friends. What countless prayers
have ascended for her from Chapel, pulpit, and private shrine!
What splendid ideals have been cherished for her in the hearts of those
who prayed and planned and sacrificed that these ideals might be
realized! "Veritas Virtusque;" "Nulla Dies Sine Linea;"
"Petimus Alta" – these expressions, carved in
the stones of the earlier buildings, are reminders of the ideals of the
Founders. Truth and righteousness, daily high endeavor, the
pursuit of the noblest ends in life - are these not still to be the
dominating ideals of the College?
As the opening day of this college year
approaches, one things of a loved figure, a great scholar, a great
preacher of righteousness, an indefatigable worker who for so many
years officially "touched the button" that set the College machinery
going. Dr. Burkhalter comes no more with physical presence but
his spirit still pervades the College that he helped to found and to
the end served as trustee.
Other personalities arise in memory out of
the recent past, men of great influence in the affairs of the College,
without whose sacrifice in time and thought and money the College would
not have survived. George Bruce Douglas was one of these.
“"What the College is today, what she may be is in large measure to do
such men as he. She owes him a debt of gratitude too great to be
expressed in words." Col. William G. Dows, son of a great Cedar
Rapids builder and early trustee of Coe College, stood for years as a
bulwark of strength. Samuel Gaines Armstrong belongs on the roll
of benefactors who gave without stint of his energies and resources
that the College might prosper. Many, many others have built
themselves into the College in various ways and constitute a part of
that precious heritage of spiritual power that will remain through the