Wofford’s Bell

For over 150 years, the Main Building’s voice has rested in the top of its west tower in the form of a 700-pound bell.

Wofford’s bell was cast by the Meneely Bell Foundry in West Troy, New York.  Andrew Meneely started the foundry in 1826, after an apprenticeship with Julius Hanks, who was one of the earliest bell founders in America.  (Hanks was a relative of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s mother.)  A split between Meneely’s three sons led to the formation of a second Meneely Foundry in 1870, across the river in Troy, NY.

Together, the two Meneely companies produced an estimated 65,000 bells, many of which hang in churches and colleges throughout the United States.  Bell experts regard Meneely products as being among the finest cast in America.  Both companies went out of business in the early 1950s, due partly to increasing metal prices and partly to the increasing popularity of electronic bells and chimes.  Because of the Meneely family’s position as being among the earliest and foremost bell founders, a Meneely bell today can be a valuable artifact.

The Wofford bell, inscribed “From Meneely’s, West Troy, NY, 1854,” weighs approximately 700 pounds.  The bell is 33 inches in diameter and is supposedly pitched at “B.”  It is held in place by heavy oak timbers about 20 feet below the apex of the west tower roof.

James H. Carlisle, Jr., a member of the class of 1885 and son of the College’s third president, wrote in his Memories of Wofford College manuscript, held in the college archives and available online, that the original faculty members and their wives all went to see the bell before it was placed in the tower.  “This bell,” Carlisle wrote, “has always been noted for the purity and clearness of its tone.  Farmers living four miles from the city tell the time of day by the ringing of the bell.”

When he was the editor of the Old Gold and Black in 1937, Dr. Lewis P. Jones ’38 climbed into the bell tower to survey the campus and examine the bell.  “One rarely notices the bell,” he wrote, “yet it is the main regulator of life at Wofford.”  Counting the number of rings each time the bell signaled a class change, Dr. Jones found that the clapper struck the bell some 1,300 times each week.  Generations of Wofford students made bell-ringing into a part time job, earning scholarships by signaling class changes each day.

Throughout the years, the bell has been the object of student pranks.  The rope has occasionally been cut and the bell’s clapper has been removed on occasion, perhaps by students hoping to postpone a test.  The clapper, the device that actually makes the bell ring when the rope is pulled, was also occasionally stolen by students from other colleges as an intercollegiate prank.

In 2001, the college undertook to restore the bell.  The Verdin Company, a nationally known clock and bell firm headquartered in Cincinnati, installed a new clapper and related hardware along with a new striking mechanism that will allow the bell to be rung by a digital bell controller.  The days of a student receiving a scholarship to ring the bell each hour have long since passed into history.  Today, the bell rings each hour and tolls as students march to baccalaureate and to commencement.

Documents Faculty

If I Were In College Now

President Henry Nelson Snyder’s advice to college students, presented in the 1938 College Handbook.

If college students read half of what is written about them, the kind of education they are getting, and the sort of world that is waiting for them, they would deserve our deepest sympathy.  They themselves do not know what they are doing and don’t seem to care; the education they are offered is all wrong and doesn’t fit them for anything; and the world they are facing is confused, disturbed, troubled, and heavy with colossal problems beyond the possibility of a solution—or so it is said.

If I were one of them now, I should try to get from my college course the things that could count in any sort of world, and the first thing would be the habit of hard, patient, persistent, intelligent work at the common tasks that college offers.  The habit of work has ever been the way of success.

In the second place, I should accept the mere routine of college as a blessed thing, holding me steady to the duties at hand, creating a controlling sense of obligation in meeting classes, the chapel hour, and any other daily responsibilities.  Any kind of life tomorrow is sure to have much of routine to it.
Then I should do my level best to make myself a well-informed man or woman.  I should be very busy getting acquainted with the fundamental sciences that are so intimately related to satisfactory living, and with what certain great peoples have contributed to that complex called modern civilization and culture – Jewish, Greek, Roman, Italian, German, French, Spanish, English.  To these I would add Sociology, Economics, and Political Science.  All this but hints that I should not like to go into whatever kind of world that may happen to be, ignorant of the forces that control it.  Surely there will be no place in it for the misinformed and the unenlightened!

Again, I should become interested in the arts that add beauty and grace, and dignity in human personality, – music, sculpture, painting, architecture, literature.  The world that will receive me when we are through with this college business will be a world of human beings, and therefore will always find joy and satisfaction in what are called the fine arts.

But the greatest of all the arts is the art of noble living.  I should for this reason do what I could in the process of my education to keep an unshaken faith in the enduring values of the ancient moralities – truth, honesty, honor, justice, kindness, and… gentleness of spirit.

What I have been trying to say is that I should not be bothered about what the critics seem to worry over, their lack of approval of the kind of education I am exposed to, their excitement over what the world is going to do to me and I to it,- if I were now a student in college.  Rather, I should lay hold with all my soul on these simple, essential, fundamental things, and gallantly face whatever the future may have in store for me.

Pictures: Snyder, the front gates, as drawn by student William Gladden.

Alumni Buildings Photographs

Carlisle Hall memories

Opened in 1912, the James H. Carlisle Memorial Hall was the college’s first large residence hall.  Before Carlisle Hall, most students had to find places to live off campus.  Fir the college’s first sixty years, students either lived in the village or they boarded with the professors who lived on campus (Imagine that – living with your professor!).  Some students lived in unused rooms in Main Building, and some lived in Alumni Hall – the building that now houses the Admission and Financial Aid offices.  Carlisle Hall was paid for by donations from Spartanburg citizens and cost about $55,000.

The following story from The Journal tells of the opening of the residence hall:

Every student in College is pleased with the new dormitory.  Only Freshmen and Sophomores are accommodated, but the boys from the two upper classes were anxious to get rooms in it.  Every convenience is furnished – electric lights, steam heat, bath rooms – everything is handy and comfortable.  One hundred and fifty-five boys room in the building and one hundred and eighty take meals in the dining hall.  There is no faculty restriction whatever over the boys.  Each student is placed on his honor as a man to act as such.  The dormitory students elected a president, Mr. G. H. Hodges, the only HodgesghSenior in the building.  He is assisted by an executive committee and nine monitors.
The duty of each monitor is to report to the president any misconduct that happens on the floor assigned to him.  The matter is then looked into by the president and the executive committee and turned over to the Faculty.  So far this system of student government has been carried out with much better success than the Faculty management could ever attain.  The boys are brought into closer touch with each other.  They know and are known, which is one of the finest things of a dormitory life.

Mr. D. L. Betts, a graduate of 1910 who has been teaching in the Carlisle Fitting School since he finished college, superintends everything in connection with the dormitory.  Mr. Betts is characterized by a business ability that will mean success in the affairs of the Carlisle Hall.

Carlisle Hall remained in use as a residence until the late 1960s.  After the last students moved out, it served as a home for various campus offices.  In its early years, the Wofford Theatre Workshop was housed there.

The college demolished Carlisle Hall in May 1981.  A newspaper account of the building’s demolition included reminiscences from several alumni, including ninety-two year old George H. Hodges ‘13, a retired Methodist minister living in Spartanburg, the senior in 1912 who had been the first president of the dormitory.Cornerstone

Photos (click on each for a larger image in a pop-up window) George H. Hodges ’13 as a senior; Carlisle Hall in the early 1950s; students with a banner on the roof of the residence hall’s portico, the cornerstone being removed in 1981.

Brushes with History Photographs

Gerald Ford visits Wofford

Every four years, South Carolina’s “first in the South” presidential primaries draw national attention to the Palmetto State.  Since 1988, the state has been particularly popular with Republican candidates, though the Democrats have competed in some years as well.  Many candidates have stopped in Spartanburg over the years, with almost obligatory stops at the Beacon.  Some have come to the Wofford campus and others have spoken nearby, and students have had the opportunity to see many of them up close.

College records indicate that three future or former presidents have spoken from the platform in Leonard Auditorium.  Woodrow Wilson came before he was president, George H. W. Bush came while he was running for vice president in 1980, and former president Gerald Ford spoke at Wofford in 1980 as well.

President Ford came to Wofford on April 14 and 15, 1980 as part of the college’s Mayfair Lecture series, a program established by Mayfair Mills President and US Secretary of Commerce Fred Dent.  Ford’s trip to Wofford was arranged through the American Enterprise Institute.  On Monday night, he addressed a private dinner in the Burwell Building, where he argued that President Jimmy Carter’s “catastrophic economic problems have caused the American people to lose confidence in him.”  Ford predicted that Republican candidate Ronald Reagan, or any Republican, “would have a good chance against Carter.”

On Tuesday, he spoke to two classes in Shipp Hall Lounge and addressed the student body at a campus convocation.  He also held a press conference in Leonard Auditorium.  At the campus convocation, Ford was greeted by a standing ovation.  In his address, he called for improvements in the economy, increasing the size of the military, and called for implementing an effective energy policy.  With the country experiencing economic
hard times, and with the Cold War still very much a part of American life, Ford called for increases to the M-1 missile program and the Trident nuclear submarine fleet.  His energy independence proposals called for increased oil drilling and coal mining, expanding conservation measures, greater use of nuclear energy and exploring alternative sources of energy.

The audience applauded Ford’s defense of his decision to pardon Richard Nixon, and when a student asked his views on legalizing marijuana, they applauded his opposition.

Ford’s visit resulted in five articles in the next Old Gold and Black, including one about the Secret Service presence on campus and another about the college’s efforts to make the campus attractive before Ford’s visit.

Photos – President Gerald Ford is escorted by Wofford President Joe Lesesne; Ford addressing the campus in Leonard Auditorium.  Documents include the two-day detailed schedule prepared for President Ford. 


Wofford’s first women students

Neither Benjamin Wofford’s will nor the college charter made any declaration about the college being open only to men. In the late 1890s, the college began an experiment, a short-lived one, as it turned out, in admitting women. In the fall of 1897, two women enrolled, and two more in each of the next two years.

In a student body that numbered 188 in 1900, 1898sb_2
eight women could certainly expect to feel isolated. The college provided no housing for men or women, though it had occasionally allowed students to live in Main Building. These women were expected to board with families in the town. None of the faculty members were women, there was no dean of women, and it’s likely that they did not feel especially welcome.

James H. Carlisle Jr.’s memories of Wofford college tells the story.

ChapmanolA striking illustration of how trustees can misjudge the wishes of their patrons is given in the following account of their admitting young ladies into the institution.  I asked one of the trustees, “Why did you admit young ladies into Wofford College?”  He replied, “There was such a great demand from all over the state for us to admit them that we could not refuse.” The next fall, when only a few took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded them, I asked the same trustee, “If there was such a universal demand, as you trustees thought, why did not more young ladies take advantage of your offer?” He laughed and said “We were mistaken. The demand was not as great as we thought.”

Several young ladies graduated, taking A.B. degrees… but it was not a success, and after a few years, it was thought best, as father [President James H. Carlisle] would say, to quietly let the matter of admitting the young ladies drop.Tarbouxmv

The college’s first experiment in coeducation ended with graduation in 1904, though a few of the early women also took master’s degrees at the college. The college would have the occasional woman student until the early 1970s, when first day student, then full residential coeducation was implemented.

Photos – of the first four women, Ione Littlejohn Paslay ‘1902, Carrie Nabors Skelton ‘1902, May D. Wannamaker ‘1901, and Puella Littlejohn True ‘1901. The large photo is of the
student body in 1898, with faculty members on the front row. The individual photos are from the college’s 1904 yearbook, the first one published, and are of Olive Chapman ‘1904 and Marie Tarboux ‘1904.


The disappearing cornerstone

Anyone who has been around Wofford for any length of time knows that Main Building is the heart of the college.  For nearly half a century, it was, quite simply, the college.  No other public buildings existed on the campus.  Though it has been modified a number of times and completely renovated on two occasions, Main Building has always existed in one form or another.

It has existed in its most elemental form ever since the fourth day of July in 1851, when Benjamin Wofford’s hand-picked trustees, joined by friends from South Carolina’s Methodist Conference, and hundreds of citizens of Spartanburg, gathered to lay its cornerstone.  Some four thousand strong, they met on the courthouse square and marched in a procession to a plot of land on the city’s northern border, a plot selected by the trustees and described by the Carolina Spartan 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 had a plan, prepared by Charleston architect Edward C. Jones, for an Italianate, three story building with twin towers.  Following Trustee chairman and future president William M. Wightman’s fifty-minute address, and with rites led by Spartanburg’s Masonic lodge, the trustees laid the cornerstone.  The cornerstone itself, “a fine specimen of granite” from a nearby quarry, was presented by Major H. J. Dean. It 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, various civic groups, including 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, in what perhaps is the first example of what we now call “the Wofford way,” 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. Some 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.

Pictured: a daguerreotype of Main Building, the oldest photograph of the campus, and a portrait of William Wightman, the college’s first president.

African-American History Brushes with History Documents

George Washington Carver’s 1923 visit

When I asked the communications office if I could have a
blog, it was largely because I come across items from time to time that are too
good not to share with the community. When I found these two letters a few weeks ago, buried in a stack of
crumbling files from the early 1920s, I knew instantly that these were


At first glance, the letters don’t appear that
important. A speaker writes a college
president to thank him for inviting him to speak on the campus, and the
president writes back to thank the speaker for sharing an hour with the
students. It seems like a routine
exchange of cordial letters. It’s
certainly how I read them as I quickly shuffled through them. But then I looked at the top of the
stationery and noticed “Tuskegee Institute.” And then I noticed the address on Snyder’s reply. Professor George W. Carver. George Washington Carver? Indeed.

The 1920s are sometimes referred to by southern historians
as the “nadir of American race relations.” Throughout that decade, African-Americans left the South in droves,
seeking better working opportunities and an escape from racial violence. Rigid segregation of most every aspect of
public life was the order of the day.

But here, we have a cordial exchange of letters between two
academic colleagues. Snyder addresses
Carver as “Professor Carver.” Carver
thanks Snyder for “the very warm reception” that he “shall not soon forget.” Carver has clearly addressed the Wofford
student body, most likely in a Chapel service in Leonard Auditorium. Snyder says that the students “felt greatly
instructed by the experience of the hour which you gave them.” Carver invites Snyder, if he ever were to be
in the area, to visit Tuskegee.

You’d never know, without recognizing names of persons or
institutions, that the correspondence represents an exchange of letters across
the color line.

We don’t really know what happened on that day in December
1923 – we don’t have the Old Gold and Black for that year, and the Journal is
silent. We don’t know what Carver said
to the students. No doubt being
addressed by an African-American scholar was an unusual experience for Wofford
professors and students alike.

But I’d like to think the experience was a positive one for
all parties.

Click on the letters for larger images. 


Voices from Holidays Past

The following articles and images are excerpts from the December 1914
and January 1915 issues of the Wofford College Journal, the college’s literary
magazine. Before the days of the Old Gold and Black, the Journal played the role of the campus
newspaper, and included editorials, stories about life on campus, and coverage
of athletic events.  Though many things have changed at Wofford
since 1914, students then as now enjoyed celebrating the holidays with friends,
family members, and fellow students. And
they were proud of their football team, too.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Holidays are over, and we are looking forward eagerly to the 23rd,
when we shall board the Carolina Special for the Christmas Holidays.  Cartoon_4

Day was spent in various ways by the students. Many of them that live in neighboring towns went home and spent the day
with loved ones, but quite a number stayed on the campus. The latter group probably enjoyed the day most,
for there were various attractions in the city to amuse and entertain
them. But the one thing that interested
them most was the large and bounteous boxes from home. After the excitement of the day was over,
many groups gathered in secluded rooms and midnight feasts were in order
everywhere. Many happy hours were spent
in this way, after which all were ready for work again.

The holiday
was brightened up very much by the faces of several old Wofford men on the
campus. Some of them came to see the football
game and old college mates…

In 1914, the college most likely held classes on the Friday
and Saturday after Thanksgiving, so no student was able to travel too far from
campus for the holiday.

January 1915

On December
19 many bright and happy faces were seen to leave the campus and board the
trains for home. Some had to go far, but
all went “home,” and that meant for each joy and happiness. The Freshmen, especially, were
delighted. Many and old boy said that
their love for home and the dear home folks increased every year they were

But, as
every good thing is destined to end, so were the Christmas holidays, and on
January 5th Wofford opened her doors again and we had to go to
work. We are glad to see that most of
the boys were able to return to college after spending the holidays with their
parents and friends, but we are sorry to hear that a few of our best fellows
were not able to come back on account of financial and other reasons.

We are
quite sure, however, that those who have returned have resolved to begin the
new year aright and do the best work in the history of their college life. Examinations are upon us now, but we must
pass them creditably, since the faculty has given us such a long period of rest
and recreation.


The First Football Game – 118 years ago today

On this day 118 years ago, Wofford and Furman played the first intercollegiate football game in the state of South Carolina.  The account of the game, written by a Wofford student journalist in The Wofford College Journal and published in January 1890, is reprinted below.

On Saturday morning, December 14, 1889, the foot ball teams of Furman University and Wofford College played a very interesting and exciting game at the Encampment Grounds, Spartanburg, S.C.

The players were: Furman– Jones, Hammett, Young, Sneider, Padgett, Lott, Edwards, Little, Rodgers, and Tate.  Substitutes: Wilkins, Scott, and Sirrine.

Wofford– Bruce, Bearden, Clyde S., Bearden, Clyde H., Covington, Ellerbe, Flemming, Hayes, McRoy, Rankin, and Rouquie.  Substitutes: Dent and Calhoun.

The Wofford team wished association rules to govern the game, but Furman protesting, after some discussion, it was decided to play by the old rough-and-tumble rules.

Prof. J. H. Marshall umpired with great satisfaction to both sides.  The game lasted one hour and a half, with two fifteen minute rests, and was won with ease by Wofford, the score being five to one.

Furman’s team did some good playing, but it was evident from the first that the superior strength and skill of the Wofford boys would win the game.

Much of Wofford’s success was due to the instruction of Edwin Kerrison, Esq., a graduate of Yale, who kindly trained the team and acted as coacher during the contest.

The game was replete with good plays.  Bruce and Haynes did good work, while the goal kick of Bearden has scarcely been excelled on a foot ball field.

The visiting team left on the afternoon train wiser and sadder men, having learned though “they receive instruction in their heads, not feet” at Furman, a little education of the pedal extremities is requisite to make good foot ball players.

Another game will be played in Greenville Saturday, January 14.  The boys will go under the management of Prof. Marshall, whose efforts to establish athletic sports at Wofford deserve the greatest commendation.
— G. Rouquie.

In this photo, of the class of 1891, are at least three members of the team. Gabriel Rouquie, the author of this piece, is the first person on the left in the middle row.  W. W. Bruce is the fourth person on the middle row.  J. L. Flemming is directly behind Bruce. 

Alumni Sports

Basketball sweater

SweaterLast month, an alum’s basketball letter sweater came home.

Mrs. Ann Turner Bevalaque donated her father’s 1917 black and gold sweater to the archives.  Henry Grady Turner graduated from Wofford in 1917, and while at the college, he was a member of the Preston Literary Society and a three-year member of the basketball team.  The Bohemian, the college’s yearbook, said of his basketball skills, “there’s none to equal him.  His hands attract the ball as if they were magnets, then by some secret power, he thrusts the ball in the basket from any angle or distance.”  AllstateA forward, Turner was chosen by the college basketball coaches in the state for the All-State team in 1916-17.

After graduation, Turner joined Southern Bell, where he retired forty-three years later as a vice president specializing in marketing and merchandising activities.

Click on the images for larger versions.  The photo at left is Henry Grady Turner’s 1917 Bohemian photo.