From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Bourne on the Societies

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•16•18

I wrote a piece on Prof. W. Raymond Bourne, class of 1923, recently, and since we have a literary society exhibit up right now, and I’m trying to feature some stories about that right now, I’m going to include a piece Professor Bourne wrote about the literary societies in the 1954 Wofford centennial edition of the Herald-Journal.

“When I first knew the college, in the fall of 1920 the societies met every Friday evening right after supper. Normally there would be the role call, discussion of business, and an oration or two, debate, and sometimes the reading of original compositions of varying kinds. Judges were named for each debate and a decision was rendered. At the end of the program, the critics offered comment on the quality of each performance.

“Sometimes a member assigned to speak by the program committee would be absent. If he had no acceptable excuse, he was fined it for non-performance of duty. In his absence, volunteers were called for, and if there were no volunteers, the president appointed someone to take his place. So those who value the opportunity got to speak to their hearts content. But the mood of 30 years earlier, when the meetings had lasted sometimes into the morning, it was gone, and the meetings were generally over by 9 PM.

“At this time, the societies controlled the three campus publications. Also the societies gate a few public performances in the chapel, notably the sophomore oration, and the general oration on February 22.

“As late as the early 20s, white tie and tails were required for formal public appearance in one of the contests. And while an occasional boy with only one pair of shoes to his name might appear in brown footwear, lapses of this kind were infrequent. The audience appeared in whole suits, with collar and tie.

“Today the publications board has to go down to the sophomore class to find editors, even for salaries. The Glee Club gives almost the only student public performances in the chapel, and it is entirely controlled by a faculty member, Professor Sam Moyer.

“So, in the course of a century, the college literary societies gave their opportunities for intellectual growth and a surface polish. They have passed, with their demands on time and attention, and have been replaced by other activities such as athletics, social fraternities, dances, marriage, and plain and ordinary sitting. The 20th century of wealth for everybody is well underway and all educational procedures are under survey.”

W. Raymond Bourne

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•13•18

Professor W. Raymond Bourne

For the middle years of the 20th century, Professor William Raymond Bourne was a large chunk of the college’s Modern Languages department.

Born in Virginia, Professor Bourne graduated from Wofford in 1923. He was part of a generation of faculty that spanned World War II, serving from 1925, when he returned to his alma mater to teach French and German after two years of teaching at Davenport College in North Carolina, until 1966, when he retired. (Davenport College, originally Davenport Female College, was a Methodist college that opened not long after Wofford and was related to the South Carolina Methodist Conference.) Along the way, Professor Bourne earned his MA at the University of North Carolina.

As a long-time member of the campus community, Professor Bourne seemed to write a good bit about campus history and traditions. As a young professor in the 1920s, he was able to work with much older professors like J. A. Gamewell and Daniel A. DuPre (who had taught with the first generation of faculty) and professors at mid-career such as D. D. Wallace, James A. Chiles, A. M. Trawick, and Coleman Waller. And then, after World War II, he would have been one of the long-timers as a younger generation of World War II veterans, like Lewis Jones, William Cavin, Ray Leonard, and Donald Dobbs.

He wrote a number of articles in the alumni magazine, in the student paper, and in the Wofford centennial issue of the Herald-Journal about various points in Wofford history, about his senior colleagues, and even about the college’s literary societies. (I’ll share that later, since we have an exhibit on the societies underway this spring).

Professor Bourne also holds the distinction of being Wofford’s first Dean of Students – an office that was created after World War II. Before World War II, “The Dean,” Mason DuPre, generally served as the arbiter of student conduct as well as the second in command to the president. With a growing student body, the college split the office.

One student wrote of his experience with Professor Bourne that he, like many first-years, was advised not to take him, that he was “a real so’n’so, works you like a horse, just ask those guys in his class.” And the article further describes Bourne’s classroom mannerism of marking attendance and grading student translation work at the blackboard with a two-inch pencil.

Bourne was one of two faculty members to hold the nickname “Peg.” The other, Prof. E. H. Shuler, got the nickname because he taught applied math, and frequently left surveying pegs all over campus. Bourne’s was because he had a wooden leg.

He retired with a large class in 1966 – alongside C. C. Norton, Charles Nesbitt, and R. A. Patterson – that had a total of 150 years of service to the college. He remained in Spartanburg, dying in January 1975.

Literary Societies

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•11•18
Literary Societies of Wofford College

Exhibit poster, based on a literary society presentation from 1885

This spring, the library’s archives and special collections are presenting an exhibit on the history of Wofford’s literary societies.

Within two months after Wofford opened in August 1854, eight students gathered to form a literary society, a group that would help them practice their oratorical and debating skills. They chose the name Calhoun Literary Society as a way of honoring South Carolina’s recently deceased Senator John C. Calhoun. They developed a constitution and bylaws and began holding weekly meetings.

Four years later, a second society, the Preston Literary Society, formed to meet the needs of a growing student body. A number of Calhoun Society members joined to help form the second society.

Much of the college’s co-curricular life revolved around the societies. By the 1870s, the faculty thought they were so important that they required students to join one of them. The societies helped start three student publications between 1889 and 1915 and helped select the leadership for each staff. They began collecting libraries for their members, and by 1894, they handed their libraries over to the college. Many of their books are still part of the college library collection today. (While most are in special collections, we’re finding a few that are actually in our circulating collection!)   They also commissioned portraits of notable individuals related to the societies or the college. Many of those portraits are now part of the permanent art collection.

Eventually, student body growth saw a third society, the Carlisle, formed in 1905, and a fourth, the Snyder, in 1920. The heyday of the societies, however, was in the past, and gradually, students began to lose interest in their activities. By 1935, the college had made membership mandatory only for freshmen, and soon after, dropped even that rule. A series of mergers led, by 1951, to the existence of only one society, and even it ceased its activities by 1952.

The exhibit will be up in the Sandor Teszler Library gallery through the end of the spring semester, and I’ll be giving a gallery talk on March 22 at 4:00. And I’ll also be adding some more information about specific topics related to the societies in the next few weeks on the blog.

History and the 1866 Conference

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•02•18

 

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

One great resource for the history of the Annual Conference, and particularly for African American churches, is the book Passionate Journey: History of the 1866 South Carolina Annual Conference. This book, by the Rev. John W. Curry, a long-time member of the 1866 Conference, tells the story of the founding of that Conference in the aftermath of the Civil War and emancipation, but it also talks about how it grew and evolved into a strong force.

The book does not dwell in the far past, but does discuss the conference’s early leadership and its challenges. Some of its initial leaders were white northern clergy who came to South Carolina to help re-establish the Methodist Episcopal Church in the state. Within a few years, most of these clergy gave way to native-born African American leaders, though the conference had white presiding elders as late as 1884. The first African American bishop to preside over the 1866 Conference was R. E. Jones in 1926. After the 1939 reunification of Methodism and the creation of the segregated Central Jurisdiction, all of the Conference’s bishops were African-American until the last quadrennium before merger. Those early leaders worked under difficult circumstances, as white Carolinians were resistant to the changes taking place around them. The Rev. B. F. Randolph was assassinated in October 1869. Rev. Thomas Wright of York was attacked in his home. Rev. J. R. Rosemond was unable to serve many of his rural Spartanburg congregations during 1870 and 1871.

Importantly for local churches that are seeking information about their early history, the book provides brief sketches of many early clergy leaders in the conference. These clergy were often instrumental in founding or leading some of the older churches in the conference. The book also contains sketches of some of the earliest congregations, including Centenary, Wesley, and Old Bethel in Charleston, Trinity Orangeburg and Trinity Camden, Cumberland in Florence, John Wesley in Greenville, Wesley in Columbia, Silver Hill in Spartanburg, Thompson Centennial in Anderson, and Emmanuel in Sumter.

The work of women’s organizations in the Conference makes up one chapter, with a focus on the various missionary outreach activities. Plans in the 1890s for an orphanage did not materialize, though education remained an important focus. Missionaries to Africa were sent in 1906 and 1907, and the Home Missionary Society was organized in 1910. As early as 1920, lay women were elected to represent the Conference at General Conference. During the 1920s, one woman, Rev. Minnie Berry, was licensed as a local pastor and later ordained deacon.

Rev. Curry’s book has good information about the 1866 Conference’s role in the modern Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina. In particular, Rev. Curry focused on the role played in Orangeburg by Trinity Church and the ways in which members of the congregation supported the movement. The book also focuses on material that will be helpful to historians today as we work on remembering the 50th anniversary of the merger of the two conferences into the present South Carolina Annual Conference.

Remembering Wofford’s World War I fatalities

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•11•17

Today is Armistice Day – the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Seventeen Wofford graduates and students, including three graduates of Wofford’s Fitting School, died during the First World War.  The College’s Alumni Bulletin published their photographs and biographies in 1919, and the College remembered their service and sacrifice at a memorial service during Commencement 1919.

Below are the pictures of those 17 who gave their lives in the war to end all wars.

The Auburn-Wofford game, Sept. 22, 1950

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•27•17

Since taking part in the very first intercollegiate football game in South Carolina in December 1889, Wofford’s team has had many memorable moments.  The era of the late 1940s and early 1950s, under legendary head coach Phil Dickens, has a good number of those highlights.  Coming off an 11-0 regular season in 1949, ending with a New Year’s Day loss in the Cigar Bowl in Tampa to Florida State, the 1950 Terriers were hopeful of another good season.

Members of the Eleven Club – the precursor to the Terrier Club – were perhaps a little less than enthusiastic when the 1950 schedule appeared.  The first game on the schedule was against Auburn, a perennial power.  And so on September 22, the Terriers traveled to Montgomery, Alabama for the game against the Tigers, putting their 15-game regular season win streak on the line.

The game turned out a bit differently than anyone expected.  Auburn jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first touchdown.  But then Wofford scored twice, taking the lead at 13-7.  Auburn scored again, taking a 14-13 lead, but Wofford got the final score and escaped Montgomery with a 19-14 victory.  They were aided by three Auburn fumbles, and a good passing attack.  The Bohemian noted that three Bobs were essential to Wofford’s victory.  Fullback Bob McLellan was playing in his first varsity game, and he scored one of the touchdowns. Tailback Bob Starnes moved the ball well, and Bob Pollard covered three fumbles by Auburn that were crucial to Wofford scoring.

Auburn went on to a dismal season, losing all ten games.  Not surprisingly, their coach, Earl Brown, in his third season, was shown the door at the end of the season.  Wofford lost to Stetson the next week, which was its first regular season loss since 1947, but went on to a 7-2-1 season.

Mary Sydnor DuPre, Wofford’s Long-Serving Librarian

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•24•17

For forty-eight years, Mary Sydnor DuPre presided over Wofford College’s library.  She wasn’t the first person who had the title of college librarian.  The college had a small library from its earliest days, and the literary societies also had libraries.   A few other names appear in college catalogues as the librarian, but Miss DuPre held the position longer than any other individual in the college’s 160-plus years.  In fact, she held the position for nearly half of the college’s first century.

She had grown up on the campus.  Her grandfather was founding faculty member Warren DuPre, and her father was longtime science professor Daniel Allston DuPre.  Her sister Helen DuPre Moseley was Spartanburg’s postmaster.  She had grown up with many of the faculty members who she later worked with, and was related to several others through various DuPre family marriages.

In her own words, Miss DuPre explained her first days as librarian.  “In the fall of 1905, the dear old Wofford bell rang out its beautiful tones, calling the students and professors to class, and me to assume my duties as the librarian.  At 8:30 that September morning, I entered the library rooms in the main college building [about where today’s rooms 222 and 224 stand].  I had played as a child around an in this building, so I was naturally interested and excited to have a position in the wonderful place that I loved.  On this particular morning, Dr. D. D. Wallace, chairman of the library committee [and chairman of the history department from 1899-1947], greeted me, and after giving me some advice, turned over to me the Library keys.  On my desk was a small bell, which Dr. Wallace told me to tap if the students talked too loud. After a few days of tapping, I decided to remove the bell, and instituted the unwritten law of whispering and tiptoeing in the library. One of the boys told me that he once saw me still tiptoeing out on the campus after closing the library.

Miss DuPre oversaw moving the library collection from Main Building to the newly-constructed Whitefoord Smith Library in 1910, and in her last decade as librarian, the college expanded the building by adding wings on each side.  In a 1954 tribute, her successor as college librarian, Herbert Hucks, noted that the collections grew during her tenure from about 15,000 volumes in 1905, to 21,000 in 1910, to 52,000 in 1953, the year she retired.  Mr. Hucks noted the names of many professors she worked with, and students who had gone onto noteworthy careers.  “Like Mr. Chips,” Mr. Hucks noted, “you had thousands of boys – with a few girls thrown in – and you helped them all.”

Her successors as librarian gradually assumed more responsibilities than she had been allowed to exercise- they did not have to secure the permission of a faculty committee to spend money, buy books, or hire assistants.  The operation that Miss DuPre ran with only student help grew considerably in the years after her retirement, but the work we do at the library today is possible because of the foundation she built.

A Hundred Years Ago in the Advocate

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•23•17

This was my column for the October 2017 edition of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate

South Carolina’s Methodists were well aware of world affairs a hundred years ago this month.  With American entry into World War I, one Advocate columnist predicted that American entry would tip the balance in favour of the Allies.  Another South Carolina missionary in Brazil wrote about his work there.  And Methodists celebrated their community at the annual Indian Fields camp meeting.  Here are some of the stories from the Advocate of October 1917.

Dr. David Duncan Wallace writes:  The longer the war goes on the more evident it becomes that those German authorities were correct who had preached before the outbreak of the conflict that Germany’s hope for victory in the war would be in an overwhelming assault at the front. When this plan failed because of the unexpected resisting power of France and the invaluable aid rendered by the small British contingent that did not know how to be defeated, the German hope of victory was really scuttled. The British drive now on in Flanders is accompanied by a barrage fire beyond anything in intensity, constancy and effectiveness that either side has ever seen.

If Russia had stood firm, the end of the war would have been immensely hastened. With the advent of great American armies next summer, the end it is all together reasonable to anticipate will be brought about inside of that year.

Cyrus B. Dawsey, a South Carolina missionary in Brazil, wrote this letter to the Advocate’s editor: 

My dear Dr. Stackhouse: we were delighted to get your letter written just after the Wofford commencement.

A few days ago I returned from our annual conference in Rio de Janeiro. Bishop Mouzon is not with us.  However we had a splendid conference. The reports of both native and missionaries are the finest in all the history of our Brazilian work. Even though the times have been hard on account of the war, yet our financial reports were excellent. Our Sunday school gain was more than three times the gain of 1915-1916.  Our Epworth league also made a forward step.  In fact, all of our work was greatly advance during the year. I believe it all points toward a great of a day for Brazil. Those of us who are here are glad that we have a part in this change for the better.

My territory is all new. So many times do I preach to people who have never before heard the Gospel. Next Sunday I shall receive into the church a man who had never attended a Protestant service until he moved here some months ago.

Finally, this report summarized the annual camp meeting at Indian Fields, which is still going strong a century later.

Indian Fields camp meeting closed Sunday which was the biggest day of the camp and a number of people from Charleston drove up in machines [automobiles] to spend the day. From Summerville to the camp there was a continuous stream of vehicles from the high powered motor car to the old farm wagon pulled by a mule.

The camp meeting is held every year and is one of several held in the state, the next one being in about three weeks time at Cypress. The roads to the camp were in good condition, this being another attraction for a Sunday afternoon drive, and machines were in evidence from every part of the state. A number of machines were advertising the Orangeburg County fair, showing that Orangeburg was well represented. The campgrounds are situated on a beautiful site about 3 miles from St. George, well shaded by large pine trees. The tabernacle is in the center of a large tract of land, full of stately pines and surrounded by a number of small houses called tents by the campers.

Thomas Carlisle Montgomery’s Letters

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•20•17

A member of Wofford’s class of 1909, Thomas Carlisle Montgomery came to Wofford from Marion, South Carolina. He was a member of Kappa Alpha and the Calhoun Literary Society. His father, W. J. Montgomery, was a member of the Class of 1875.

Following his graduation, he served in the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Recently, one of his family members shared a link to a collection of letters that T. C. Montgomery wrote home to his mother during the war. He’s posting letters 100 years after they were originally written. He let me share the link here, and I hope others will enjoy seeing what a Wofford alum wrote home during the First World War.

https://montyatwar.com/

We have a World War One: At Home and Abroad exhibit underway in the library gallery this fall, also recognizing the centennial of American involvement in the war and its impact on the Wofford campus.

Founder’s Day

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•19•17

Today is October 19, which at Wofford means it’s Founder’s Day  237 years ago today, on a small farm in Spartanburg County, Benjamin Wofford was born.

That day in 1780 was a lot like any other day in the early 1780s in Spartanburg, and with a war raging along the frontier settlements, the birth of a baby boy to a local militia captain and his wife probably didn’t get much notice.  Coming only a few weeks after a major Patriot victory at Kings Mountain, and three months before another major Patriot victory at the nearby Cowpens, there were much more dramatic events taking place and gaining attention.

Yet for many of us, the events of that day had a major impact.  For Benjamin Wofford grew up, had a religious conversion, became a Methodist minister, and married the only child of one of the wealthiest landowners in lower Spartanburg County.  He counted both church and society among his interests, and though he gave up the active ministry before his fortieth birthday, he worked for the improvement of his home district all of his life.

We have little record of his education, though he did own some books – some of them are in the college archives – so it’s probably safe to say he was largely self-educated.  But he realized its importance.  In the last decade of his life, he and his second wife, Maria Scott Barron Wofford, evidently thought about education a great deal.  They considered buying land near the Limestone Springs, in the part of Spartanburg District that later became Gaffney, and establishing a college, but believed the Methodist Conference not interested.  By 1849, when his friend the Rev. Hugh Andrew Crawford Walker, an agent of the American Bible Society, came to visit, he was clearly thinking about what to do with his fortune.  “Why not found a college?” asked Brother Walker, a fateful question indeed.  Assured by Walker that the Methodist Conference did indeed want a college “for literary, classical, and scientific education,” Benjamin Wofford had his lawyer draft language in his will leaving a small fortune – $100,000 – to found and endow a college.

We don’t entirely know what to make of Benjamin Wofford today.  His portrait makes him look like a fairly severe figure.  His reputation in town, at least according to the written accounts of him, was that he was an exacting, thrifty businessman.  And of course, like most every wealthy individual of his day, he owned slaves.  There’s no heroic end in that part of his story – his will bequeathed his slaves to others, it did not manumit them.  History is sometimes cold and unsatisfying that way.

I don’t know what Ben would make of us today.  I hope that wherever he is, he somehow knows that the college that he established in his will, that he never saw chartered, built, or opened, has educated probably in the neighborhood of 20,000 individuals in its 163 years of existence.  I hope he’d be proud that some families have five or now six generations of family members who have attended.  He’d probably be shocked to see the diversity in the student body and faculty and staff.  I hope that after the shock wore off, he’d be happy to know that the college he inaugurated took a leading role in desegregating private higher education in the South.  I’m sure that like anyone from the 19th century, he’d be amazed by the technological changes that the college and community have witnessed, that students who study at his college can travel all around the world, that students and faculty come from all over the world to study in his home town.

But above all else, I hope he’d be proud that we’re still here, 167 years after his death, on our original campus, with 5 original buildings in daily use, “increasing in power and goodness through the ages as they come.”

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