From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Laying the Cornerstone

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•29•15

When the men named by the Rev. Benjamin Wofford as his trustees gathered on April 16, 1851 for their first meeting at Spartanburg’s Central Methodist Church, they found a growing community excited by the prospect of having a college. Word of Wofford’s tremendous bequest “for the purpose of establishing and endowing a college” had spread quickly following his death the previous December 2. By April, residents in Spartanburg, Glenn Springs, and Woodruff were all making bids to become the home of the new college.

After the trustees met and voted to name the new institution “Wofford College,” they visited a few sites around the town and county. Quickly, they agreed to purchase forty acres of land on the northern border of the town of Spartanburg to found the college. The Carolina Spartan described the land as a “most lovely elevation, embracing lawn and woodland, about one half to three-fourths of a mile north of the Court-House…” The trustees planned to have a great celebration on the Fourth of July to lay the cornerstone.

Some 4,000 people gathered at the corner of Church and Main streets on the morning of July 4, 1851, according to the Carolina Spartan. Major G. W. H. Legg acted as marshal, organizing the procession and leading it on horseback. One of his assistants in the festivities was William Walker, the author of Southern Harmony, who was famous for his shaped note hymns. Participants came from all over South Carolina and the nearby North Carolina counties. The Sons of Temperance led the procession, followed by the Odd Fellows, and then the Masons, all wearing their regalia. The members of the Board of Trustees and Methodist clergymen followed the fraternal groups, with members of the community at large behind the clergy. Several bands participated in the festivities. The procession from the courthouse square to the College stretched to a half-mile in length. Even more participants rode in carriages alongside the marchers.

When they arrived on the campus, the Rev. William M. Wightman delivered an address of about fifty minutes. Wightman, who was the chairman of the Board of Trustees at the time, would later become the first president of the college. The address, which was reprinted in newspapers around the state, was in many ways the announcement of a set of principles that would guide the new college. Wightman saw the college’s primary role was to produce educated citizens of character and virtue who would serve their fellow men. “Education makes men polished and powerful, but Christian education alone, makes them good,” he announced. The college was proudly Methodist in origin and would seek to be known as a Methodist institution of learning throughout the nation. But, he reminded his audience, the Methodist Church’s principles were “abhorrent of sectarian bigotry.” As he spoke, Wightman was very much aware of the significance of the day when he said, “For posterity emphatically, we lay this cornerstone. Generations unborn are interested in the transactions of this hour.”

The cornerstone itself, “a fine specimen of granite” from a nearby quarry, was presented by Major H. J. Dean. The cornerstone contained a lead box, into which the participants placed a Bible, a copy of Benjamin Wofford’s will, a lock of his hair and of Maria Wofford’s hair, a copy of the Southern Christian Advocate and the Spartan, and a police report with some statistical information about Spartanburg. In addition, the Sons of Temperance, the Odd Fellows and the Masons placed materials about their organizations into the cornerstone, and the building committee placed a silver medal engraved with the name of the founder, the date, and the amount of the bequest. Members of the audience placed a few other items in the box, and it was sealed.

Almost a year passed before the building committee signed a contract to build the Main Building, and three years passed before the college opened its doors on August 1, 1854. Meanwhile, the cornerstone’s location was forgotten. The Spartan wrote that it was in the southeast corner of the building, though Masonic custom would have placed it in the northeast corner. College historian David Duncan Wallace speculated that the building might have been built such that the cornerstone was beneath an internal wall.

By the early 1950s, with the college’s centennial looming, officials began to search for the cornerstone in earnest. While he was reading an old issue of the Advocate in November 1953, freshman George Duffie discovered that the cornerstone was in the northeast corner of the building. On March 2, 1954, the lead box was removed from the cornerstone, but a leak in the box had caused most of the contents to be ruined. After a few months of display in the library, the contents were replaced in the cornerstone in a ceremony on Founder’s Day 1954. A plaque above the cornerstone will keep members of the community from forgetting where the cornerstone rests in 2054.

The Terrier Tankmen

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•08•15

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The faculty, 1908

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•04•15

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.

Faculty

We were a little smaller in those days.

The end of World War II, 70 years later

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•02•15

Seventy years ago this month, World War II came to an end. After six years of fighting (more than that if you include wars in China and Spain that many historians consider precursors of the full-blown war) and the loss of at least sixty million lives, the world entered into an uncertain and exhausted peace.

How did South Carolina Methodists react? The Advocate’s editor put it this way: “So this is victory? It is a victory with the edge knocked off. There is no celebration. No one feels like celebrating. Those of us with sons or daughters or close relatives in uniform are wonderfully relieved that these are safe from the uncertainties of battle or prison life and rejoice at the prospect of having them home. But as for celebrating a victory, significant as it is, the disposition is not in us. A dirty, nasty job came our way, and we did it. Now we feel like nothing so much as a good bath.”

The Advocate often carried letters from clergy serving as chaplains in various parts of the world. Chaplain Charles Brockwell of the Upper South Carolina Conference wrote of preaching in Australia, and in the September 6 issue, of building a chapel and presiding over an Easter service on an unidentified South Pacific island.

The Advocate carried a letter from a German Methodist bishop to the Methodist Board of Missions that was the first such communication in over four years. The letter described the condition of the Methodist Church in Germany, news of the destruction of many Methodist churches in and around Berlin, and of the deaths of many Methodists in air raids. The German bishop painted a bleak picture, with the potential for mass starvation in the upcoming winter, of refugees fleeing in the face of the Soviet Army, and of the loss of most of their savings with the collapse of the German government. However, he noted that in parts of the country, churches had survived and presented an opportunity to rebuild German Methodism. In a more optimistic note, he wrote “we as Methodists seem to have in Germany an opportunity so great, so promising, and so helpful to the life of our people as to surpass anything our fathers dreamed.”

The Advocate came out against compulsory national service, which some civic leaders were supporting in the wake of the war. The editor felt that Americans would support a continued large standing army and navy, and recognized that Americans would have to occupy other countries for the foreseeable future, but that drafting every 18 year old was not the answer to that problem. The editor’s reasoning, however, reflected the strong pro-temperance position of many Methodist clergy of the day. “With an administration that seems to favor so clearly the liquor interests… which lets so many temptations surround those in service, we fear that to send every boy into service for a year would not be the best thing in the world.” In other words, the presence of alcohol in the military made the Advocate suspicious of universal military service.

The war’s effect on life in the state and in the conference did not go unreported. Wofford College was preparing to open its Fall 1945 term, and did not expect to be anywhere near its pre-war enrollment. They anticipated a student body of only 100 or slightly more, President Walter Greene reported. Greene also said that “plans for a football team were not definite.” In fact, not enough students were on campus to resume football until 1946.

These were some of the stories that South Carolina Methodists were reading in September 1945.

More digital collections

Written By: Phillip Stone - Aug•04•15

This summer, I’ve spent a good bit of my time adding materials to our Digital Commons@Wofford College site, digitalcommons.wofford.edu, which contains a mixture of faculty and student scholarship, manuscript and archival materials, local history articles, and even several college publications.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve added all of the college’s catalogues, which are available here.  We’ve also added a batch of older alumni bulletins, sort of the predecessor to Wofford Today, and they are available here.  We’ve also got World War II alumni newsletters and the newspaper that the aviation students published while stationed at Wofford during World War II.

The local history collection has a few new items, such as this souvenir program from Charles Lindbergh’s visit to Spartanburg in 1927, or this memoir of the burning of Columbia from 1865.

In the Methodist materials, all of the clergy pictorial directories are now in the repository, including volumes from 1901 to 1975.

There’s more to come, including Interim catalogues, the James C. Dozier papers, and photos of South Carolina Methodist historic sites.  I’m looking forward to sharing more information from the archives so that researchers can use it whether they’re in Spartanburg or Singapore.

South Carolina Methodists and the A. M. E. Church

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jul•30•15

This was my column in the SC United Methodist Advocate for August 2015.

The murder of nine worshipers at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church has dominated the news in South Carolina this summer, and we Methodists have shared in sorrow and outrage with our fellow Carolinians.

A. M. E. stands for African Methodist Episcopal, which should suggest to Methodists that the two denominations are related. In fact, when it was founded, the American Methodist denomination was called the Methodist Episcopal Church. So it isn’t hard to see that our brothers and sisters in the A. M. E. Church share the Wesleyan-Methodist tradition with United Methodists.

But how did the A. M. E. Church come to be, and what connection do we share? Answering that question requires looking into the early history of Methodism, and especially into Charleston Methodism. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, black and white Methodists worshiped together. By 1815, Charleston’s quarterly conference reported fewer than 300 white members and over 3,800 African-American members, including slaves and free persons. In its earliest years, Methodism took a strong anti-slavery position, though this brought Bishop Francis Asbury and the clergy into increasing conflict with the state’s political leadership and planter class. Mobs threatened and even assaulted clergy, particularly when they believed them to be preaching or distributing anti-slavery literature. In 1800, the General Assembly moved to limit assemblies of African-Americans, slave or free. The law, noted one white clergyman, was really directed at the Methodists. Ultimately, when forced to decide between the Wesleyan position against slavery or spreading the gospel, the church abandoned its anti-slavery position.

In Charleston, most black Methodists worshiped at Bethel and two other churches, with separate classes, leaders, and stewards. They even reported to a separate quarterly conference (what we now call a charge conference). Around 1815, white leaders moved to take control of financial and disciplinary matters. Many of the earlier histories, such as Francis Asbury Mood’s Methodism in Charleston, claimed that the finances showed evidence of corruption, though it’s more than a little possible that the coffers of the black quarterly conference simply were deeper as their numbers were larger. Along with their relegation to the balconies of the churches, this loss of influence and leadership in the church angered Charleston’s black Methodists. Such was their disappointment that they began making plans both to leave the denomination and to attempt to gain legal control over Bethel’s property. Two free black Methodist local pastors traveled secretly to Philadelphia and were ordained deacons in the A. M. E. church.

In Philadelphia, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church had been founded by Rev. Richard Allen under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church by 1794. At this point, they were still Methodist, and relied on white elders to serve communion. Allen, who had been born into slavery in Delaware, had purchased his freedom in 1780 and was present at the 1784 Christmas Conference, though the conference denied him a vote. He served in the free black community of Philadelphia, but again finding Methodism’s treatment of its African-American members unequal, began planning to leave. Some congregants followed Allen in 1816 into the A. M. E. Church, the first fully independent black denomination in the United States, with Allen as their bishop. The A. M. E.’s church structure is remarkably similar to that of the United Methodist Church, with General and Annual conferences, bishops, and a judicial council.

After the trustees of Bethel in 1818 decided to build a structure on the part of the church cemetery reserved for black members, and ignored their protests, the black members withdrew. Some 4,300 members in the three churches left to form the African Methodist Episcopal congregation in Charleston, led by Rev. Morris Brown, who had been ordained by Allen. Their absence from Charleston’s Methodist churches was obvious to everyone. Within a matter of years, the “African Church” in Charleston became implicated in Denmark Vesey’s abortive insurrection, as he had been a class leader at Bethel and then at the new church. The church was destroyed by angry whites, largely forcing the congregation underground until the end of the Civil War. But they could not extinguish its flame.

Creating Women’s Organizations in the South Carolina Conference

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun•30•15

This was my July 2015 column for the SC United Methodist Advocate.

Most South Carolina Methodists realize the strong influence and important work of the United Methodist Women in our churches and conference. When did this work begin?

Just after the Civil War, women’s efforts moved more into the public sphere, as America entered a period of social reform as well as international missionary work. In the Methodist Church, the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society was authorized by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, meeting in Atlanta in 1878. This followed years of lobbying the bishops to authorize some type of women’s missionary organization. The College of Bishops drafted a constitution, and the wives of the bishops all became vice presidents of the organization. Mrs. Maria Davies Wightman of South Carolina, the wife of Bishop William M. Wightman, was one of those vice presidents.

In South Carolina, which was one of the fifteen conferences of the M. E. Church, South, the Woman’s Missionary Society was organized in December 1878, during the meeting of the Annual Conference in Newberry. A nominating committee, consisting of male members of the Annual Conference as well as women who would be part of the society recommended a slate of officers.

Mrs. Maria Wightman was elected president by the forty women in attendance, representing ten charges or stations throughout the Conference. The first annual meeting of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the South Carolina Conference was held in Trinity Church, Charleston, being Mrs. Wightman’s own church, in April 1880. This was the first time a woman ever presided over a public meeting in South Carolina. Mrs. Wightman remained the society’s president, providing spiritual leadership to their work until her death in 1912.

A second missionary organization, the Parsonage Aid and Home Mission Society (having been organized in the Methodist Church in 1886) was changed to the Woman’s Parsonage and Home Mission Society in 1890. In 1898 the organization had the name of the Woman’s Home Missionary Society.
In 1910 the General Conference made provisions to unite these two Societies: The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, 32 years old, and The Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 25 years old. They came together and formed the Woman’s Missionary Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was optional as to whether the two Societies should unite into one conference society, so in South Carolina, the two organizations did not unite until the Conference split into two Annual Conferences in 1914.

The women of the South Carolina Conference met January 22, 1915, at Florence and organized. The women of the Upper South Carolina Conference also met the same year and organized as the Woman’s Missionary Society of the Upper South Carolina Conference, thus bringing home and foreign mission work into a single organization for each conference.

In 1940, after Methodist reunification, the society had another name change. Both upper and South Carolina conference societies became the Woman’s Society of Christian Service of their respective conference. In October 1948, when the two conferences merged back together, the Woman’s Societies of Christian Service also merged. And, after the creation of the United Methodist Church in 1968, the present United Methodist Women’s organization was born.

For more information about the history of our conference’s women’s organizations, you can read Daring Hearts and Spirits Free: South Carolina Women in the United Methodist Tradition, edited by Harriet Anderson Mays and Harry Roy Mays.

The Women Before There Were Women

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun•26•15

After a vote by the Board of Trustees in October 1975, the college admitted its first women resident students in the fall of 1976. Sometimes that gets shortened, somewhat inaccurately, to a statement that Wofford only began to admit women students in 1976.

Association of Wofford Women

Members of the Association of Wofford Women in 1975.

While it’s true that those first resident women students experienced Wofford in a different way, it is not true that they were the first women to attend Wofford. On several occasions before 1976, Wofford had women students. Here are the phases that led to full residential coeducation at Wofford.

First, from the spring of 1971 to the spring of 1976, several dozen women attended as day students. Beginning in February 1971 with four women, three of whom were daughters of professors, the numbers increased to about 25 in the fall of 1971. One of those first four women day students graduated in the spring of 1972, and the number of graduates grew each year.

But the story of Wofford women doesn’t start in the spring of 1971. Throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, women occasionally attended and completed degrees. In particular, a number of women attended summer school and often participated in summer graduation. From records in college catalogues, almost every class from 1947 to 1959 had at least one woman graduate. Beyond that, women were regular enrollees in the college’s graduate programs, which existed from the early 1900s to around 1951. These afternoon and summer courses frequently drew area teachers, and perhaps half of the Master of Arts degrees awarded by the college in this era went to women. The nursing program at Spartanburg General Hospital had women taking certain courses in the 1950s and early 1960s on campus as well.

Caroline DuPre

Caroline DuPre ’34

Before that, Dean A. Mason DuPre’s daughter, Caroline DuPre Wells, attended and graduated with the class of 1934. Her attendance was fairly unusual in that era in that she did attend during the regular semester and graduated at a regular, as opposed to a summer commencement.

But even earlier than that, Wofford had a short experiment with coeducation between 1897 and 1904. Two women enrolled in each class beginning in September 1897, so by the fall of 1900, eight women were taking courses alongside the 200 or so men. Each of these eight women graduated between 1901 and 1904, though the college ended the experiment after the last of these women graduated. At one point, one of those eight women was actually the college’s oldest living alum. In other words, a college that was supposedly a “men’s college” had an alumna as its oldest living alumnus!

So, since 1897, we’ve moved from an initial experiment with coeducation, through a period of irregular and occasional women students, through graduate and summer school coeducation, to day student coeducation, and finally to full residential coeducation.

Tuition Receipt, 1915

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun•25•15

We’ve been cleaning up a little around the archives this week – filing materials that have recently arrived, putting files back where they belong after a researcher used them, and generally trying to bring some order out of chaos.  As always, I see something interesting that I feel like sharing on the blog.

Here’s a receipt for tuition for the spring semester of 1915, 100 years ago.

Receipt-tuition

 

Note that the tuition was a bit less than it is in 2015.

 

 

From the Archives: Creating Women’s Organizations in the South Carolina Conference

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun•24•15

This was my column for the July/Annual Conference edition of the SC United Methodist Advocate

Most South Carolina Methodists realize the strong influence and important work of the United Methodist Women in our churches and conference. When did this work begin?

Just after the Civil War, women’s efforts moved more into the public sphere, as America entered a period of social reform as well as international missionary work. In the Methodist Church, the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society was authorized by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, meeting in Atlanta in 1878. This followed years of lobbying the bishops to authorize some type of women’s missionary organization. The College of Bishops drafted a constitution, and the wives of the bishops all became vice presidents of the organization. Mrs. Maria Davies Wightman of South Carolina, the wife of Bishop William M. Wightman, was one of those vice presidents.

In South Carolina, which was one of the fifteen conferences of the M. E. Church, South, the Woman’s Missionary Society was organized in December 1878, during the meeting of the Annual Conference in Newberry. A nominating committee, consisting of male members of the Annual Conference as well as women who would be part of the society recommended a slate of officers.

Mrs. Maria Wightman was elected president by the forty women in attendance, representing ten charges or stations throughout the Conference. The first annual meeting of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the South Carolina Conference was held in Trinity Church, Charleston, being Mrs. Wightman’s own church, in April 1880. This was the first time a woman ever presided over a public meeting in South Carolina. Mrs. Wightman remained the society’s president, providing spiritual leadership to their work until her death in 1912.

A second missionary organization, the Parsonage Aid and Home Mission Society (having been organized in the Methodist Church in 1886) was changed to the Woman’s Parsonage and Home Mission Society in 1890. In 1898 the organization had the name of the Woman’s Home Missionary Society.
In 1910 the General Conference made provisions to unite these two Societies: The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, 32 years old, and The Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 25 years old. They came together and formed the Woman’s Missionary Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was optional as to whether the two Societies should unite into one conference society, so in South Carolina, the two organizations did not unite until the Conference split into two Annual Conferences in 1914.

The women of the South Carolina Conference met January 22, 1915, at Florence and organized. The women of the Upper South Carolina Conference also met the same year and organized as the Woman’s Missionary Society of the Upper South Carolina Conference, thus bringing home and foreign mission work into a single organization for each conference.

In 1940, after Methodist reunification, the society had another name change. Both upper and South Carolina conference societies became the Woman’s Society of Christian Service of their respective conference. In October 1948, when the two conferences merged back together, the Woman’s Societies of Christian Service also merged. And, after the creation of the United Methodist Church in 1968, the present United Methodist Women’s organization was born.

For more information about the history of our conference’s women’s organizations, you can read Daring Hearts and Spirits Free: South Carolina Women in the United Methodist Tradition, edited by Harriet Anderson Mays and Harry Roy Mays.

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