Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Clark County Illinois
Genealogy and History


Chapter 13
Westfield College


The History of Crawford and Clark County
W. H. Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co., 1883

Transcribed by Kevin Ortman

[Chapter 13 starts on pg. 377]

pg. 390: [....] The pride of the village and the source of much of its fame and prosperity, is the college located in its midst The town of Westfield, the name of which the college bears, had little except its topography to mark it as desirable for a seat of learning. Small, its inhabitants manifesting no special enthusiasm in the cause of higher education, without railroad connection, one can but wonder that it drew or cared to thaw a college to its midst. But in and about the village there were some spirits whose enterprise and energy made them superior to the adverse elements in a country hardly freed from the social hindrances of pioneer days, and the institution was founded. Wise or unwise as the location may have seemed at first, it now appears probable that all objectors will be constrained to yield approval as its merits become more and more manifest. As the heads and hands and means of a cultivated people bring out the possibilities of the surroundings and turn the whole suburbs for miles around into a very garden of fruits and flowers, men will cease to criticise. And these things are coming to pass by rapid increments. As is usual, the college, by its attractions and repulsions, and its instruction, has made a great improvement in the intellectual and aesthetic tone of the community, and this reacting in favor of the college has given it the strong moral support of its home constituency.

The forerunner of The college was the “Westfield Seminary,” out of which the college grew so directly that the two appear as one, all the property and assets of every kind belonging to the former having been made to more to the latter. Three years of successful service had been done by the seminary, when the college was founded. The charter was granted by a special act of the Legislature, passed February 15, 1865,in which were named as incorporators and first board of trustees, Walton C. Smith, Alexander Helton, David Ross, Samuel Mills, Hiram Elweli. Edmund R. Connolly, Daniel Evinger, and J. H. Coons. Section 9, authorizes the trustees “to establish departments for the study of any and all of the liberal professions; to confer such degrees as are usually conferred in similar colleges in the United States in the learned arts and sciences;” and further pro vides for the establishment of departments for the education of disabled Union soldiers, for ladies for preparatory instruct and for pupils of the district school, of which privileges the last named and that relative to the soldiers have never been used.

Originally this work was undertaken by the Lower Wabash Conference of the United Brethren in Christ. Afterward, in the year 1865, the Central Illinois Conference, of the same denomination, united in the undertaking in 1866, the Upper Wabash Conference allied it to the enterprise, but after three years withdrew for the purpose of building up an institution within its own territory. In 1866, the Illinois Conference, and in 1867, the Southern Illinois Mission Conference assumed a share of the responsibility of sustaining this cause. In the aggregate these conferences occupy perhaps four fifths of the territory of the State of Illinois, together with a considerable area of middle-western Indiana. Throughout this extended area of country members of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ are found in pretty large numbers, and this is the people who own the college and stand first under obligation to sustain it. Yet, it must be said that in its brief career it has been favored with an encouraging amount of patronage from undenominational quarters, as well as from sister denominations. Nor this only; but generous donations and bequests have been granted it by persons not denominationally interested, but approving of its principles, plans and effects.

Its benefactions have mostly been of moderate amounts from hearts that followed them with their prayers, and have been gathered by the solicitations of laborious itinerant agents, a little here and a little there. One class of its funds has gone to provide buildings, furnish apparatus, libraries and cabinets. Another is set aside as an endowment, the principal to be kept forever sacred, the interest to be currently employed to support teachers. The former has not been adequate to its wants, though its managers have prudently concluded to endure the lack of things desired rather than carry a heavy debt far outreaching their assets, Of its endowment fund, which amounts to $85,000, only a part is yet available. A system of money-raising by the sale of scholarships was early introduced, and has not been discontinued. For $300, perpetual tuition for one pupil is guaranteed. For $200, tuition for a family of children, with no limitation as to number in attendance at any time, is guaranteed. For $100, tuition for one pupil at a time for two years is provided, and for $50, paid in advance, one pupil is provided tuition for two years and a half. Of these proceeds all, except those from the sale of perpetual scholarships, are used for current purposes, while those from the sale of perpetual scholarships are held as a part of the endowment fund. These scholarships are all negotiable except those for family tuition.

The work of instruction began in the old United Brethren Church edifice, situated in the village of Westfield. In 1863, the first seminary building was erected; a substantial brick, two stories high, sixty feet east and west by forty feet north and south, with a belfry. Its upper story was devoted to chapel purposes, the lower to recitation rooms and the janitor. In 1867, this building was enlarged by an addition on the west, which is seventy-five feet north and south by forty east and west. It also, is a two story brick and contains a lecture room, society ball, and library room on the lower floor, and two society halls, an art gallery, and a recitation room above. The structure as thus improved may be described as being 100 feet long east and west, forty feet wide, with extensions forty feet by seventeen and a half, placed on both the north and south sides of the west end. This building is now the principal center of operations, and, although devoid of architectural elegance it has well served its purpose, and is only now beginning to be felt to be too limited in capacity. In 1872, adjacent property was purchased as a site for a ladies’ boarding hall. The two story dwelling al ready upon it was enlarged, and comfortable rooms were provided for the accommodation of a number of ladies. This is a wooden structure, designed to answer the present need, but will be superseded by a much larger and more finished edifice upon the same ground. Here the lady attendants of the school board, under the protection of a steward’s family, selected with care, and also under the direct supervision of a lady connected with the faculty. Gentlemen find homes among the families of the community. The college campus consists of a wooded plat containing five acres, handsomely elevated on the east, where the main building stands. The grounds attached to the ladies’ hall, somewhat adorned with shrubbery, contain two acres. The cost of the college buildings is estimated in round numbers at $40,000.

As stated elsewhere, the original of Westfield College was Westfield Seminary. At first no design of founding a college was entertained; stimulated by demand, it grew into the latter. Prior to the formal organization of a faculty, prior even to the charter, instruction had been carried forward over college ground, and the first graduate received his degree before a faculty was regularly formed or a president elected. The professors in the faculty do not now confine themselves exclusively to college classes, but take charge of any requiring to be taught. Though this is not the cost desirable mode, necessity pointed it out, and experience shows it more tolerable than a theoretical view would anticipate.

The following is a tabular view of past and present instructors beginning with the seminary:

Table of College Instructors:



Dates Incumbent

Rev. G. W. Keller

Principal of Seminary 1861-1863
Rev. F. J. Fisher, A. B. Principal of Seminary 1863-1864
Rev. Wm. T. Jackson, A. B. Principal of Seminary 1864-1869
Mrs. M. A. Fisher, M. A Principal L ds Dept. 1864-1866
Miss R. H. Winter, M. A. Principal L ds Dept. 1866-1869
Rev. W. O. Tobey, A. B. Prof. of Lng es 1866-1868
Rev. S. B. Allen, A. M. President of College 1869-1883+
Mrs. R. H. Tobey, M. A. Principal L ds D pt 1869-1873
Mrs.M. H. Fisher, M. A. Principal L ds D pt 1873-1875
Miss Eugenia Gintner, A. M. Principal L ds D pt 1875-1880
Miss Emma M. Linton, B. S. Principal L ds D pt 1880-1883+
R W. Tobey, A. M. Prof. of Latin and Greek 1869-1873
Rev. Chas. Kiracofe3 A. M. Prof. of Latin and Greek 1873-1878
Rev. Lewis A. Bookwalter A. M. Prof. of Latin and Greek l878-1880
F. E. Phillips, A. M. Prof. of Latin and Greek l880-1883+
Rev. Win. T. .Jackson A. M. Prof. Math s 1869-1870
Rev. D. Shuck, A.M. Prof. Math s 1870-1871
Rev. H. A. Thompson, A. M. Prof. Math s 1871-1872
Elliot Whipple, A. M. Prof. Math s 1872-1873
Rev. Wm. H. Shuey, A. B. Prof. Math s 1873-1883+
Elliot Whipple, A. M. Prof. of Natural Science 1875-1877

The following persons have been at various times associated with the College as Instructors in different Departments

Emma L. Knepper, M.A.

Sallie J. Winter, M.A.

Mrs. A. H. Kiracofe, , M.A.4

O. W. Pentzer, A.B.

Miss M. A. Bright

Minnie Bartmen

Miss F. H. Holmes

S. C. Hanson, B.S.

O. C. Tobey, M.D.

Mrs. M. J. Whipple

D. W. Doran, A.M. 2

E. M. Goldberg, A.M.

J. R. Swan

Transcriber's Notes:
2 David W. Doran was listed as a teacher at Westfield College in the 1880 census.  He was the son of Samuel Cleaver Doran, farmer,  Doran Station, Humboldt Township,

3 Dr. Charles Hiram Kiracofe. He taught Latin and Greek at Westfield college from 1873 to 1879. [75 Years - Where Character and Culture Blend, Pfister, 1972]

4 Anvilla, wife of Charles.

No change in the presidency of the college has occurred for fourteen years, the first incumbent, Samuel B. Allen still occupying that position.

Two courses of study have been honored with degrees, which are designated as classical and scientific. The latter formerly occupied about two years less than the former, but within the last three years it has been extended so as to embrace two years more work than previously. That there are two courses instead of one is not from the unbiased choice of those who provided it, so much as from the stern dictates of the situation. A large number of students, by having the shorter course and inferior degree placed before them, are induced to struggle for this, while in its absence, deeming it hopeless to strive for the superior degrees, they would abandon their studies much earlier. How ever, though this gain from the shorter course may be secured by few, it is probable that there are many who, lazily selecting this course, are thus seduced from the more extended one, There is no special course for ladies, both sexes having equal privileges and being decorated with the same degree. For the encouragement of persons who are hindered from completing either graduating course, a brief list of studies deemed most essential to prepare for the work of teaching in the district schools has been marked out, the mastering of which entitles to a certificate from the faculty. Beside this, since 1870, a normal class has been conducted, where all who are willing are trained by such exercises as are adapted to aid them in con ducting and teaching public schools.

Up to this time the preparatory work has not been conducted under a separate management from the college. All students have been under the same laws, executed by a single authority, and to a great extent under the same instructors. No literary societies belong to this department, the preparatory students uniting with the same societies as those of the college. The age of twelve is required for admission to this department.

Co-education of the sexes has been practiced here from the first. In point of numbers the attendance of ladies has always fallen short of that of gentleman.

On the completion of the classical course of study the degree of Bachelor of Arts is conferred regardless of sex. Master of Arts follows in course after three years of uprightness and labor in a scholarly way. Bachelor of Science and Master of Science are granted in the same way -with reference to the scientific course. The privilege of conferring honorary degrees has been but sparingly exercised— to two gentlemen, has been accorded the title Doctor of Divinity, and to three the honorary one of Master of Arts.

From certain societies that had previously existed, in 1869 two literary societies were organized, under the names of Zetagathean and Colomentian. With an eligible hall as signed to each, they both sprang into active life, each of them proving an aid to the other by “provoking to good works.” The Fhilalethean society is composed of lady members, the others of gentlemen. The Choral society of Westfield college has existed for a number of years. None of these societies are in any sense secret societies, nor are any allowed in connection with the college. Each of the societies have small libraries, and the college one of about a thousand volumes.*
[*History of Westfield College, compiled from the published account in 1875].

The common schools.... [to be continued]


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