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Stephen W. Stookey

Interim President of Coe College (1904-1905)

Birth: April 3. 1859 in Marion, Iowa
Death: September 27, 1951 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Educational Background:
Coe College, B.A. 1884, M.A. 1887, LL.D 1906;
Teaching Experience: High School Principal/Superintendent, Manchester, Iowa; Professor of Biology, German, and Latin, Coe College, 1891-1908, 1914-1933
Ministerial Experience: None
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:

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.

Early Life

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. 

College 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.

In the 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.

In 1881 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. 

I spent 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 subjects.

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.

Public School Work

Following 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 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. 

As there 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 in government.

Called to Alma Mater

In the 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 I did.

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 I did.

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 library shelves.

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.

Dr. McCormick's Administration

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 be released.

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 hand.

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 value. 

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 foreign field.

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 here.

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 College.

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.

Geological Research

For 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 so well.

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 all concerned.

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 College.

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 the Work

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 final action.


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 coming years.

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