Documents Exhibits Photographs

Creation of ROTC, December 1919

As the Army emerged from World War I, it recognized the need for a larger number of reserve officers who it could call to active duty in an emergency or in a future war.  The concept had its roots in the practices of many land-grant colleges, many of which were organized as a corps of cadets, and from Norwich University in Vermont, which was founded with the idea of producing citizen-soldiers.  The National Defense Act of 1916 authorized granting commissions to college graduates who had taken an appropriate course of study and had qualified to serve as officers.  Wofford’s quick acceptance of the wartime SATC made requesting an ROTC presence on campus seem to be an obvious choice.  The faculty adopted the required courses in military science and tactics, creating a department that would be staffed by Army officers.  The college received the orders creating a senior college ROTC unit on December 28, 1919.



Documents Exhibits Photographs

The End of SATC

The end of World War I brought a quick end to the militarization of Wofford’s student body. Here are a few letters from President Snyder relative to the college’s desire to start a training corps, and an article from The Wofford College Journal that attests to the lack of sadness among the students when SATC ended.

Snyder writes the Secretary of War
The War Department offers advice on uniforms
War department correspondence
The Journal notes the end of SATC
Documents Exhibits Photographs

World War I and the Student Army Training Corps

American entry into World War I in April 1917 saw the Army begin to scramble to find enough trained officers.  Many Wofford students and alumni entered military service directly, and President Henry Nelson Snyder put the college on a more military footing as soon as the United States entered the war.  In 1918, the college organized the student body into a Student Army Training Corps to provide military training to almost every student.  The SATC dominated life on campus through the remainder of World War I.  When the war ended, the student body quickly reverted to civilian control.  The success of the SATC set the stage for the creation of ROTC in 1919.   

Exhibits Photographs

The Southern Guards

This is the first in a multi-part series featuring photos and documents from the library’s Spring 2020 exhibit on 100 years of ROTC at Wofford. Today’s post is more back-story, as it is included to show that the college had a military tradition before ROTC, and also to show where the ROTC unit got its name.

While ROTC got its start at Wofford in 1919, a large number of Wofford students and young alumni served in earlier wars.  In 1860, Wofford students formed themselves into a militia unit to prepare for war, but South Carolina’s governor Francis Pickens requested they remain in school until needed.  After the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, many students began to leave to join militia companies in their home towns.   The college gave members of the senior class their diplomas, but the students had to promise to return to college to complete their senior year if the war was short. It was not, and they did not.

The first Wofford alumnus to die in military service was William Maxwell Martin, a member of the class of 1857.  His 1857 Commencement address, The Calico Flag, caused a sensation in the audience, according to observers.  After South Carolina’s secession, he volunteered and was sent to guard Charleston Harbor, at Fort Moultrie.  On the night of January 31, he stood guard by his cannon on a cold, damp night and as a result, he caught a chill.  His illness led to hospitalization, and he died three weeks later, on Feb. 21, before hostilities began.  His volume of poetry, Lyrics and Sketches, was published after his death.   

Class of 1860
Many members of the Class of 1860 ended up serving in the Confederate army.
Fraternities Photographs Students Uncategorized

Kappa Alpha at 150

This February 23, The Delta chapter of Kappa Alpha, at Wofford College, celebrates its 150th birthday.

Kappa Alpha traces its origins to Washington and Lee, though like all secret societies, the founders were more concerned with getting their organization going than they were documenting the history they were making.  But, the fraternity was founded there between late 1865 and early 1866.  For anyone interested, a recent history of the fraternity by historian Martin Clagett, Excelsior, will give you all the details.  Within a few years, the early founders had decided their group needed to expand.  In the spring of 1868, the Alpha chapter authorized members to establish a “lodge of our order” at Virginia Military Institute and the University of Georgia.  Very soon thereafter, an opportunity arose to establish a lodge at Wofford.

A South Carolinian named William A. Rogers had attended Washington College in 1867-68, desiring to study under Washington College’s president, who happened to be Robert E. Lee.  Rogers was initiated into Kappa Alpha while at Washington College, but returned to his native state in the fall of 1868.  According to campus legend, he came with a letter of recommendation from Lee.  He joined the freshman class at Wofford in October 1868.  He soon communicated his desire to establish a chapter in Spartanburg, and in November, the Alpha granted him permission to organize a chapter.  Rogers, according to the Alpha chapter minutes, had recruited several interested members.  Clagett’s history notes that “On February 23, 1869, in a rented room of the old Evans residence on Church Street, four members were initiated into the lodge.”  These four members, William A. Rogers, Edwin W. Peeples, Hope H. Newton, and Lawrence D. Hamer then organized Delta Chapter.  Peeples and Newton were seniors and Hamer was a junior.  These four then elected John Woods as a member.  The Alpha chapter soon sent the bylaws and charter to the Delta chapter.

Delta chapter grew, though Clagett notes that the Alpha chapter waned somewhat after the founding generation left.  Rogers, as the grand master of the Delta chapter, went about organizing a strong chapter and recruiting good brothers.  Two of them were politically (in Wofford terms) well connected.  One was John Wesley Shipp, the son of the president of the college, and another was Joseph Augustus Gamewell, the son of a founding trustee.  Gamewell, a member of the class of 1871, came back to join the faculty in 1875, a position he retained for 65 years.  In the fall of 1869, Shipp succeeded Rogers as Grand Master of the chapter.

This 1902 photo includes student members of the fraternity along with the founder, Rev William A. Rogers, and Professors J. A. Gamewell, David Duncan Wallace, and A. Mason DuPre, all of whom were members of KA as Wofford students.

Kappa Alpha has been a consistent presence at Wofford for 150 years.  Several other fraternities quickly joined them on campus – Chi Psi came later in 1869, and Chi Phi came in 1871.  Those two did not come back after the early 1900s, when the college banned fraternities for about ten years.  Banning the fraternities did not do away with them, it just forced them underground.  One interesting moment in the early 20th century was when about 9 students were initiated sub rosa by the chapter at the College of Charleston.  When the college learned of their misdeeds, they expelled all of them.  Those students all enrolled at Trinity in North Carolina, where they all graduated.  Eventually, Wofford relented, granting them their degrees some twenty years later.  The faculty and trustees realized that banning secret societies was ultimately a fruitless, pointless endeavor and allowed them to return in 1915.  That’s why the Kappa Alpha chapter actually has two charters – one from 1869, and another from 1915.

Their original 1869 charter makes Kappa Alpha the oldest currently existing student organization on campus.

Alumni Photographs

Memorial Day

This is a bit late for Memorial Day, but it is still relevant.

Last summer, I received an inquiry from a researcher in Belgium about a Wofford alum who had died in World War II and is buried in the American cemetery of Henri-Chapelle in Belgium.  Specifically, the researcher asked for information about James Bell Heins, Jr, a 1938 Wofford graduate as well as his photograph.

It turns out that my researcher’s son had adopted Captain Heins’ grave in the cemetery there.  I shared what information we have, as well as a picture from the Bohemian.

On the morning of Memorial Day, I received this picture by email and thought the story was worth sharing.  It makes me personally grateful to know that someone has taken a special interest in a Wofford alum and South Carolinian who died in World War II and never came back to his alma mater.


Founders Photographs

Dr. Benjamin Wofford

The founder of Wofford College was Benjamin Wofford.  We all know that.  But what many people don’t know is that there were a lot of men named Benjamin Wofford.  Founder Ben had an uncle named Benjamin Wofford – known in the family as the rich Tory, and he also had nephews named Benjamin Wofford.

Dr. Benjamin Wofford
Dr. Benjamin Wofford

One of those nephews, Dr. Benjamin Wofford, was an early trustee of his uncle’s college.  Some years ago, my predecessor, Herbert Hucks, attempted to collect as many trustee photos as he could.  Looking in the files today, I found this photo of trustee Dr. Benjamin Wofford.

This Benjamin Wofford, the son of Joseph Llewellyn Wofford, was born on January 19, 1819.  He graduated from the Medical College in Augusta, GA and was named by his uncle Benjamin Wofford as a temporary trustee of the college in his will.  In 1877, he was elected to the Board of Trustees, where he served until 1891.  When he died on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1894, the college bell tolled 75 times for him.  The student body escorted his coffin to the funeral at Central Methodist Church.

The Wofford practice of naming children after brothers means that a lot of people claim descent from “Benjamin Wofford” – though founder Ben had no children.

Photographs Sports

The Terrier Tankmen

While it’s true that Wofford has never had a swimming pool on campus, that doesn’t mean that we’ve never had a swim team.

TankmenFor several years in the 1950s, a group of students swam competitively against other colleges in the area, including Clemson, USC, Davidson, and The Citadel.  The team members practiced at the Spartanburg YMCA.  Here’s a picture of the group, which was called the “Terrier Tankmen.”










Faculty Photographs

The faculty, 1908

We are underway here at the college for the 162nd (I think) time, and yesterday, at opening convocation, we celebrated the annual ritual of the faculty photo on the steps of Main Building.

So, for Flashback Friday, here’s a faculty photo from 1908.


We were a little smaller in those days.

Documents Photographs Students

Fitting School Students

The Wofford Fitting School is one of those mysterious entities that causes an occasional question.

WOCO Fitting School students002The Fitting School was a preparatory school that operated on the Wofford Campus and on a nearby campus for a number of years.  It closed in 1924, but before then, it was designed to prepare, or fit, students for entry into Wofford’s freshman class.

The idea of a prep school or fitting school makes sense in an era where not every city or town has a good public high school and the college wants to be certain it has a good supply of potential first-year students.

This photo could count as a throwback Thursday photo if today weren’t Friday.  But in the archives, maybe every day is Throwback Thursday.