From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Professor Frank Woodward

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•12•19

Another in a fairly short list of professors who served but a short time at Wofford in the early days was Professor Frank C. Woodward.

A Virginia native, Woodward graduated from Randolph-Macon College, a Methodist institution in Virginia that is older than Wofford.  After graduation, he followed his father into the Methodist ministry in Virginia.  But, he had been trained in some of the more scholarly methods of teaching English and languages, and despite having no advanced degrees, in 1881 Wofford called upon him to teach French and Latin.  A year later, the college gave him the English chair that Dr. William M. Baskervill had vacated to go to Vanderbilt. He lived in the house on the eastern end of the row of faculty homes formerly occupied by David Duncan, and later occupied by J. A. Gamewell.  That house is now the wellness center.

Woodward continued Baskervill’s teaching style in the English courses enthusiastically.  He taught for a total of seven years at Wofford before, in 1888, the faculty at South Carolina College called him to join their ranks as professor of English language, literature, and rhetoric.

He was destined for higher office.  In 1897, the trustees made him president of South Carolina College.  An interesting point there is that the faculty in the 1880s and early 1890s had two members who went on to presidencies at much larger places, Woodward as well as John C. Kilgo, who went to Trinity as president in 1894.

After USC, Woodward went to the University of Richmond to teach English.  It’s hard to say what impact he had on Wofford these 130 years later, but he was one in a series of faculty who spent a few years helping to improve teaching and scholarship, who worked alongside a core of faculty who stayed for many more years.

William Baskervill, the first PhD at Wofford

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•08•19

William M. Baskervill’s name is unfortunately not one that comes to the forefront of Wofford’s history.

Joining the faculty in 1876, Baskervill was one of the first Wofford professors to have studied in Germany.  He was a Randolph-Macon graduate and a Tennessee native, and had met the young Charles Forster Smith, a Wofford graduate, in Germany.  Smith, who had come back to teach at Wofford in 1875, had encouraged Baskervill to join him and cover some subjects that were under-staffed, and so fresh from two years at Leipzig, Baskervill arrived at Wofford to teach Greek and English literature.

David Duncan Wallace, the college’s historian, noted that Baskervill stimulated the students and faculty alike.  His study of literature was much more scholarly than the older generation of teachers, and his methods were a bit new for the students.  Some no doubt thought he was too hard.  Some of the students found him sarcastic and impatient with them as well.  One student, Wallace noted, left a poem on the chalkboard that poked some fun back at Baskervill.  It read, in part:  Anglo Saxon and Dutch:  This is taught by Baskervill/ Who goes for it with vinn and will/ And tries so hard his class to inspire/ With his Anglo-Saxon Fire.  The class heeds not his high behest/ But utters up a strong protest/ Against each foolish innovation/ Brought hither from the German nation.”

The student who confessed to the prank was brought before the faculty for punishment.  Dr. Carlisle reportedly asked, “What are you before the faculty for?” and the student replied “Writing poetry.”  With that, the student nearly caused Carlisle to erupt in laughter, and the student managed to get away without any punishment.

In 1878, Baskervill left Wofford for further study in Germany, but the death of his wife caused him to return to the United States sooner than he planned.  He returned to complete his PhD at Leipzig in the summer of 1880, while remaining on the Wofford faculty, and thus became the first faculty member to earn a PhD while teaching at Wofford. His dissertation, a copy of which is in the archives, was entitled “The Anglo-Saxon Version of the Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem.”

He did not remain at Wofford long, like his contemporaries Charles F. Smith and James H. Kirkland who had helped move to a greater emphasis on scholarship, he moved on to Vanderbilt.  In Nashville, he taught both Henry Nelson Snyder and David Duncan Wallace, both of whom came to dominate Wofford during much of the 20th century.  He spent the rest of his life at Vanderbilt, but his untimely death in 1899 cut short a flourishing academic career.

Baskervill may not rank up there with Gamewell for longevity, or with Carlisle, Snyder, Wallace, Chiles, and  several others in terms of recognition.  However, his time at Wofford marks a shift toward greater scholarship among the faculty, and he set a tone of increased rigor in teaching.  Numerous faculty who came after him were much closer to his style than they were to those who came before him.

Charles A. Woods, Wofford’s first prominent judge

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•05•19

Wofford alumni have long held important positions in the judiciary, and the man who began that tradition was an 1872 graduate named Charles A. Woods.

A Marion native, Woods came to Wofford in 1868, joining a class that included William A. Rogers (the founder of Kappa Alpha) and A. Coke Smith (later a faculty member and Methodist bishop).  His 1872 commencement address was entitled “Balance of Forces.”  Leaving Wofford, he taught school in Darlington County, which was his home, for a year while reading borrowed law books.  In 1873, he passed the bar exam and was sworn into the bar in Chesterfield, SC.  In July 1873, he moved to Marion, SC where he established a law practice.  In 1875, he formed a partnership with Henry McIver, which lasted until McIver was elected to the state supreme court in 1877.

For the next 25 years, Woods continued his law practice in Marion and throughout the Pee Dee.  His reputation grew to the point that in 1901, the trustees of the University of South Carolina elected him to the university’s presidency without him having sought the job.  He decided that he’d rather continue to practice law than preside over the university, and the next year, he was elected president of the South Carolina Bar Association.  He also served his alma mater as a member of the board of trustees from 1898 to 1907.

In February 1903, a vacancy on the state supreme court occurred when his old law mentor and partner, Chief Justice McIver died, and the General Assembly elevated another justice to the chief justiceship.  To that vacancy, they elected Charles A. Woods.  This offer he accepted, and he served the next decade as an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Justice Woods was an active citizen of Marion, and his nephew, who had joined him before his election to the bench, continued to practice.  Justice Woods also was involved in building Marion’s library, both in raising the funds to buy property for it, and also in requesting a Carnegie grant to construct it.  An address in his archives file indicates he gave an address in Greenville to support building a library in that city.

In most cases, elevation to the South Carolina Supreme Court would have been about as high a judicial office as a South Carolina lawyer might attain.  However, in 1913, Justice Woods was nominated and appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, becoming (I think) the first Wofford graduate to have served as a federal judge.  He served the final twelve years of his life on the 4th circuit in Richmond, and at the time of his death in 1925, was the senior and presiding judge.

A number of his fellow alumni followed him into both positions – the state supreme court and the fourth circuit court of appeals, but it’s worth remembering an alum and attorney who was the first Wofford graduate to serve in each of those positions.

Bishop James S. Thomas

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•01•19

Bishop James S. Thomas was one of South Carolina’s most significant contributions to the United Methodist Church. His pioneering work helped lead to the end of racial segregation in the church’s hierarchy.

Bishop James S. Thomas with Wofford President Paul Hardin III

Bishop James S. Thomas became the first African-American to receive an honorary doctorate from Wofford College on May 14, 1972.

Bishop Thomas was born a hundred years ago this spring, on April 9, 1919, in Orangeburg. His father, the Rev. James S. Thomas, Sr., was a clergyman serving there. Bishop Thomas enrolled at Claflin University, graduating in 1939 with a degree in sociology. He first became an educator, spending a year as a school principal in Florence County. However, he could not ignore his call to the ministry, and was ordained deacon and elder in subsequent years. He attended Gammon Theological Seminary and served the Orangeburg Circuit, and later, earned a master’s degree at Drew University.

Back in South Carolina, he served two years on the York Circuit, and was also a chaplain at South Carolina State College. From the local church, Bishop Thomas found a calling in higher education, going on to become a professor at Gammon Seminary. While there, he earned his PhD in sociology and anthropology at Cornell University. During part of his time at Gammon, he served as acting president of the seminary.

In 1953, he took a position as associate general secretary of the Methodist General Board of Education, with responsibilities for assisting and supporting the denomination’s historically black colleges. He served at the General Board for a dozen years, retaining his clergy membership in the South Carolina 1866 Conference.

During the 1950s, many Methodists began to question the bargain that had been struck during the reunification of the northern and southern branches of Methodism, the bargain that relegated African-American Methodists into the segregated Central Jurisdiction. As early as 1952, Methodists were arguing that “there is no place for racial discrimination or segregation in the Methodist Church.” In a painfully slow manner, Bishop Thomas was at the forefront of helping to dismantle segregation in the church.

Though the Central Jurisdiction still existed in 1964, Thomas was elected to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdiction. He became the youngest Methodist bishop at the time of his election. He was assigned to the Iowa Area, one of the largest annual conferences in the denomination, where he served until 1976. During that twelve years, the merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church created the United Methodist Church, the Central Jurisdiction was abolished, and former African-American conferences throughout the country merged into integrated conferences. During that twelve years, Bishop Thomas became president of the Council of Bishops, served as chair of the social principles study commission, and delivered the principal episcopal address in 1976. In 1972, in fact, three native South Carolinians played leading roles in General Conference, one of them being Bishop Thomas.

Claflin remained dear to his heart, and he helped the university raise funds on numerous occasions. A long-time trustee, he chaired the board and was inducted into the Claflin hall of fame. He also received honors from colleges across the Midwest, including Ohio Wesleyan, Iowa Wesleyan, and DePauw, and in South Carolina, both Claflin and Wofford conferred honorary doctorates on him. He was the first African-American to receive an honorary degree from Wofford in 1972.

In 1976, he was appointed to the East Ohio Conference, where he served until retirement in 1988. He continued his ministry as a bishop in residence at Emory and at Clark Atlanta, and continued his work of mentoring and teaching until his death in 2010 at age 91.

130 years of student publications

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jan•29•19

In January 1889, a group of students from the two literary societies got together to launch the Wofford College Journal.

The Journal, which continues publishing as a section of the Bohemian, our yearbook, is the oldest of the three student publications, and has for most of those 130 years been the student literary magazine.

When the Journal first started publishing, it was more than just a literary publication.  With no newspaper on campus, and no alumni magazine, it served those functions as well.  In the twenty-six years between the founding of the Journal and the first issue of the Old Gold and Black, I rely on the accounts of student life in the Journal to know what was happening on campus.  Moreover, since we have only a few issues of the OG&B between 1915 and 1930, researchers rely on it for those years, too.

So what was in that January 1889 Journal?  The editors began with a statement:  “The Wofford College Journal, in making its entrance into life, does not come with aspirations to fame, nor to a place among the leading literary journals of the day.  It was conceived of an honest purpose among the young men of the College to further their own development, and to give to the public the matter of the best literary character they are capable of.

On that same page, the editor in chief, Ellison D. Smith (later a 6-term United States Senator from South Carolina) published a piece by his older brother, Rev. A. Coke Smith, later a Methodist bishop, entitled a “plea for liberal culture.”   The essay, in words that might ring familiar today, began “The mercenary spirit so characteristic of this age is affecting detrimentally our educational interests.  Nothing is allowed as worthy of pursuit which will not bring its speedy return in gold or glory.”  He continued “one by one the different branches of the old College curriculum are brought into question and too often either entirely surrendered or so crippled as to be of little use.  The spirit of hurry which possesses the American mind… cannot take time to lay the foundation of a broad culture in the study of ancient and modern classics, and the sciences.  Boys must hurry through school and college and be in business at twenty, or the opportunity to make a fortune may be lost.”

It is interesting, actually, that three pieces in this first Journal were by faculty members: The aforementioned A. Coke Smith, a piece entitled “An Aspect of the German Novel” by Professor J. H. Marshall, and a retrospective on the class of ’67 (that would be 1867) by Professor Daniel DuPre.

The remainder of the issue included a news article about alumni fundraising, a series of alumni notes that would remind any reader today of Wofford Today, some news notes, a reference to a bill pending in Congress, and reviews of some other literary magazines.  This general format, literary articles, opinion pieces, alumni notes, and campus news, would be the pattern for much of the next generation.  But it’s interesting to look back to student and faculty writing of 130 years ago this winter and see that some things remain constant even in a very different age.

Methodism in Charleston, Part II

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•09•18

Charlestonians may be able to claim visits from John Wesley, but they were not always as kind to Wesley’s successors. While Methodism took root in Charleston in the 1780s and grew in the 1790s, it was not without opposition and even persecution.

With the establishment of the Cumberland Street Church in 1786 and the completion of its structure in the middle of the next year, the first meeting of the South Carolina Annual Conference was held in Charleston in 1787. The next year, when Conference again met at the church, a mob attacked outside during the Sunday morning service. The women of the church were so frightened that many of them escaped out the church’s windows. Later that night, protesters threw bricks and rocks at the church while Bishop Francis Asbury was preaching. The next year, the newspaper denounced Bishop Thomas Coke when he visited the Holy City. Why all this opposition to early Methodists? Perhaps it was their anti-slavery position, or that they had more African-American members than white members in some early years. Perhaps it was their evangelical zeal that put off the Charlestonians, who were generally low key in their religious practice. In any event, as long as Methodists held on to their opposition to slavery, they found condemnation among white Charleston society.

Those early Methodists faced other internal challenges. When Bishop Coke arrived for the 1791 Conference, he brought with him the Rev. William Hammett, who had been working among Methodists in the British West Indies. His enthusiastic preaching wowed the Methodists of Charleston, who demanded that Bishop Asbury appoint Hammett to Charleston. Asbury, having already made the appointments, was unwilling to budge. Hammett, who was probably not the first clergyman to be disappointed with his appointment, and certainly not the last, protested. He went further than most clergy, taking his protests to the newspapers. And then, he led about half of the aggrieved members of the Cumberland Street church out to form a new congregation, calling themselves “Primitive Methodists.” They acquired property on Hasell Street, took the name Trinity, and there Hammett preached until his death in 1813. They eventually spun off a second Primitive Methodist congregation, which became St. James.

The Cumberland Church, though wounded by the loss of so many members, continued, and in 1793 they looked to start a second Charleston congregation. They acquired land for a cemetery on which they also planned to build a church, and as soon as they raised 300 pounds, they began construction on what became Bethel. They put the building into use around 1798.

The “regular” Methodists continued to face criticism and attacks from Charleston society, and the protests increased in force and volume during the early 19th century. Finally, the church abandoned its long-held anti-slavery positions, choosing the path of growth in the South over Wesley’s teachings. The attacks gradually stopped.

The African-American Methodists grew increasingly frustrated with the white leadership of the local congregations. While the enslaved Methodists had class leaders and some control over finances in the class groups, a movement was underway to take that away. When that financial control was taken away by the white leadership, many of the African-American members withdrew to form a new congregation and denomination. That loss of membership marked a momentous change in the antebellum Methodist church in Charleston.

Eventually, after Hammett’s death, the primitive Methodists returned to the Methodist Episcopal Church, becoming regular conference appointments. Charleston Methodism continued to grow into a more influential body within the state and the conference.

This was my column in the November 2018 issue of the SC United Methodist Advocate

Methodism in Charleston, Part 1

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•02•18

Many South Carolinians call it the “Holy City,” but it’s safe to say that Charleston has had a long and complicated relationship with Methodism. Sometimes supporting the church’s growth and sometimes finding its doctrines in opposition to the prevailing culture, Charleston has been a part of South Carolina Methodism’s story since before there was a Methodist church.

Charleston can claim a connection to early Methodism that very few places in North America can match. John Wesley visited the Holy City on a few occasions while he was serving in Georgia. According to Francis Asbury Mood’s Methodism in Charleston, John and Charles Wesley arrived in Charleston on July 31, 1736, barely six months after his arrival in Georgia. He was there to visit the Rev. Alexander Garden, who was the rector of St. Philip’s Church and also the representative of the Anglican Bishop of London. Garden invited Wesley to preach in St. Philip’s, which Wesley did on Sunday, August 1 to about 300 parishioners. At this service, Wesley encountered several enslaved persons among the worshippers, which seemed to have a profound effect on him. The next day, Mood notes that Wesley paid a call on the governor, who in 1736 would have been Thomas Broughton. He then returned to Savannah, starting out on foot because he could find no other passage available. Charles Wesley was soon to leave Savannah, having found serving as Governor Oglethorpe’s secretary not in keeping with his skills.

Wesley made two more trips to Charleston, once to visit with Garden (for whom the gardenia was named) to ask the rector of St. Philip’s to help put an end to someone in Georgia from marrying his parishioners without going through proper procedures. Mood does not mention the other reason that Wesley visited – to have his “Collection of Psalms and Hymns” printed at the Lewis Timothy print shop on King Street. Wesley’s final visit to Charleston was after he abruptly left Georgia in late 1737 on his way back to England.

Mood notes that George Whitfield, who was an early collaborator in ministry with Wesley, also visited several times in Charleston, but after an early visit, his street preaching offended Garden, who had him suspended from the ministry. Whitfield took to other pulpits to spread his message. One of Wesley’s ministers visited Charleston in the 1770s, but did not leave much of a record of his presence.

After the 1784 Christmas Conference, Bishop Francis Asbury journeyed to Charleston, with Rev. Jesse Lee and Rev. Henry Willis helping him set up preaching places. Willis found a deserted Baptist meeting house on the west side of Church Street between Water and Tradd streets and restored it for services. Asbury himself visited both St. Philip’s and the Circular Congregational Church as he familiarized himself with religion in Charleston. After Asbury left in March, Willis stayed behind, and at the next conference in the spring, Charleston Circuit was established. The Methodists continued to worship in the borrowed meeting house for a few months, but one Sunday, they found their benches in the street and the doors locked. The congregation was a bit itinerant until they secured a lot in early 1786, and a structure built by mid-1787. The lot, on Cumberland Street between Meeting and Church, was the first permanent Methodist church in Charleston.

The congregation and its leaders would face a number of challenges, but we’ll save those for later.

This was my column in the October 2018 issue of the SC United Methodist Advocate

A. H. Lester, the forgotten early professor

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•26•18

In the list of names that we associate with the early faculty of the college, we usually include the likes of William Wightman, Albert Shipp, James Carlisle, Warren DuPre, David Duncan, and Whitefoord Smith. The last four of these served together for much of the 1850s and 1860s, and the first two served portions of that era as the first two presidents. Beginning in 1866, a sixth faculty member joined them, but perhaps because he only stayed seven years, nobody ever remembers his name.

That sixth early faculty member was the Rev. Archibald H. Lester, who served from 1866 to 1873 as professor of history and Biblical Literature. Lester was a Greenville County native, born in 1828. He attended and graduated from Erskine College in 1849, and in 1851, he joined the South Carolina Annual Conference. A series of appointments followed, Pendleton, Union, Cokesbury, Yorkville, Columbia, Cheraw, and in 1860, Spartanburg’s Central Church. Between 1856 and 1865, he married three times, once in November 1856 and once in October 1858, and the final time in 1865.

The five trustees present voted in their July 1866 meeting to establish a sixth faculty position, that of professor of history and Biblical literature, and also to establish a divinity school that President Shipp and the occupant of the new position would run. At the same time, they elected Rev. Lester to that position. When he arrived at Wofford in 1866, he evidently had some personal wealth, and thus, due to the college’s precarious financial position, did not take a salary for teaching.

The divinity school never really materialized beyond the two professors teaching various religious subjects. It’s only speculation, but perhaps the failure of the divinity school to get off the ground led both Lester and Shipp to search for other opportunities. Lester, according to college historian D. D. Wallace, resigned on Dec. 1, 1873 to return to the active ministry. He accepted an appointment that year to serve in Union, which was probably a bigger town then than it is today. Shipp himself left in 1875 to go teach in the new Vanderbilt Divinity School, eventually becoming its dean.

Lester served for over fifteen more years, including four years in Georgetown, before finally leaving the active ministry in 1892. He died in 1897 in Columbia.

Charles Forster Smith, an early faculty star

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•22•18

Charles Forster Smith had a long and distinguished career as a professor of Greek, and he got his start at Wofford, where he and a new generation of colleagues began to add academic rigor to the college’s curriculum.

Charles Forster SmithSmith, who was not related to Professor Whitefoord Smith, was born in 1852 in Abbeville County, SC, and graduated from Wofford in 1872. His address at commencement was entitled “Unity of Culture.” He then went on to do graduate study at Harvard. While there, he met Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in another student’s room, and became convinced that he needed to study abroad. And so, in 1874 and 1875, he ventured to study at the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig in Germany. He was evidently the first Wofford graduate to undertake graduate work in Germany.

He returned to Wofford to teach Greek and German in October 1875, in part to relieve the aging Professor David Duncan of some of his Greek courses. He thus, at least as far as I can tell, became the first Wofford graduate to return to teach at the college. He was 23 years old, and had the title “Junior Professor of Greek and German.” The next June, the trustees promoted him to Professor of Ancient Languages and German, four days shy of his 24th birthday. (However, a few years later, someone would take his place as the youngest full professor in the college’s history by only a few months.)

Smith, wrote D. D. Wallace in his History of Wofford College, was a scholar of a new type at Wofford, and he represented a new generation who wanted to have a thorough university education. The next year, he persuaded the college to bring William M. Baskervill, a Randolph-Macon alumnus who had been with Smith in Germany, to teach Latin, and Baskervill accepted. Wallace also noted that Smith and Baskervill were among those who instituted written examinations in their courses which, Wallace noted “were sometimes quite severe.”

Smith remained at Wofford until 1879, though the catalogue shows him on leave until 1881. During part of that time, he was studying for his Doctor of Philosophy degree at Leipzig, and after that, he taught for a year at Williams College.

Smith, along with Baskervill and James H. Kirkland, went on to teach at Vanderbilt, where all three taught a young Henry Nelson Snyder. Snyder wrote of the influence each of them had on his education and on his career, having studied Latin, Greek, and English with the three German-educated PhD’s. No doubt they encouraged Snyder to come to Wofford, and he was certainly following in their footsteps when he ventured to Germany to work on his PhD after a few years at Wofford.

In 1894, The University of Wisconsin came calling, and Smith journeyed north to head the Greek department in Madison. He remained there until 1917, but maintained friendships and connections in South Carolina.

Herman Baer: The Man Behind the Benificent Plaque

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•19•18

It’s one of the great traditions of the college: rubbing the “I” in the mis-spelled word “benificent” (it should have been spelled “beneficent”) for good luck before taking a test. The plaque was a gift of Dr. Herman Baer, but who was this mysterious donor, and what relationship did he have to the college?

Dr. Herman Baer

Dr. Herman Baer, class of 1858 and trustee, 1892-1901

Herman Baer was, according to Dr. D. D. Wallace, a tutor in modern languages and Hebrew and an assistant in the college’s preparatory department from 1853 to 1855. Of course, the college hadn’t opened in 1853, but the trustees, at their November 1853 meeting, elected the college’s first five faculty members as well as some other officials, like Baer. Wallace further explains that the preparatory department didn’t start taking students until January 1855, and the treasurer’s books only show that the college started paying him then. The preparatory department was designed to prepare younger students for admission to the college. The college faculty avoided teaching the preparatory students, except during the lean times of the Civil War, and with a few exceptions later in specific subjects, but the preparatory department was an important source of revenue and future students. Some 34 students enrolled in that department in 1855. Baer only worked at the college for a year, offering elective courses for college students in Hebrew, French, and German, but he left after December 1855. In 1858, Wallace notes, Baer applied to receive the A. B. degree from the college on the grounds that he had privately studied the entire college curriculum. For the only time in the college’s history, that request was granted.

Baer’s activities before coming to Wofford and for the thirty years after are absent from college records, but an article in the Southern Christian Advocate published after his death bring some additional information. Baer told his minister that he had left his father’s home in Germany before his 17th birthday and traveled to New York. He celebrated his 17th birthday at sea. In January 1847, after arriving in New York, he made his way to Charleston, where he soon found himself in the city’s Methodist circles. He noted attending a camp meeting out of curiosity, and afterwards, a Methodist minister introduced him to Rev. David Derrick, who was in charge of the German mission in Charleston. Rev. Derrick had no children, so he and his wife took Baer into their home. They introduced him to some of the Methodists who were involved with the Southern Christian Advocate, including one named Benjamin Jenkins, who Baer tutored in German, French, and Hebrew, helping Jenkins prepare to be the first Southern Methodist missionary to China. Jenkins in turn helped Baer with his English. In 1848, in his second year in Charleston, Baer converted from Judaism to Christianity, joining Charleston’s Trinity Church. Baer served as a private teacher for a few years, but his early association with Rev. William Wightman at the Advocate bore fruit in 1853, when no doubt thanks to Wightman’s invitation, Baer was invited to come work at Wofford.

After his time at Wofford, he served again as a private tutor, mostly in Marlboro County, and then in 1859, he entered the Medical College in Charleston. Medical education in that era usually involved working with a practicing physician for several years. In 1861 he graduated and worked for four years as a Confederate Army doctor. He wound up working in business in Charleston after the war ended, and it appears that he largely served as a wholesale pharmacist. It does not appear that he practiced medicine after the Civil War. One advertisement in the Advocate in 1888 touted one of his medicinal cures – Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic spring water.

He remained active in Trinity Church, and three times – in 1878, 1886, and 1894, he was elected as a lay delegate to General Conference. In 1892, the Annual Conference elected him to serve as a Wofford trustee. He had already made some small financial gifts to the college in the 1880s, particularly when the college alumni were trying to bring more support to the college. In 1900, he decided that the college needed to do more to honor Benjamin Wofford, and he had a plaque commissioned to honor the founder. Baer wrote the text himself, but was quite vexed to discover on Commencement Day in 1900, when it was installed, that his last line “To Perpetuate this Beneficent Record” had an engraver’s error in it. Baer supposedly slammed his cane on the floor with great vigor and stalked away, but refused to have it re-cast as a warning to students about the dangers of sloppy work.

Commencement 1900 would be Baer’s last commencement, for the next January, he died in Charleston just before his 71st birthday. He left a small collection of books to the college as well as a legacy that lives on in his plaque.

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