From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Fraternity Houses, the 1897 version

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•31•17

I found this gem in the October 1897 issue of the Wofford College Journal:

Four of Wofford’s Greek-letter fraternities are now installed in convenient chapter houses.  The Kappa Sigmas and Kappa Alphas occupy their old quarters in the Cleveland cottages.  The S. A. E.’s have obtained the Archer house for their use and the Chi Phis have the first one of the new cottages.  We do not think four neater or more pretentious chapter houses can be found in the State.  The Chi Phis and P. K. A’s have well-furnished halls in the business portion of the City.  There is absolutely no friction between fraternities and non-fraternities at Wofford, and we think this is a tribute to the broadmindedness and fellow feeling of the whole body of students, “frats” and “non-frats.”


Spartanburg’s Centennial Pageant

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•09•16

I recently acquired this program, from the 1931 pageant commemorating the centennial of Spartanburg’s incorporation as a village.  My student assistant digitized it recently and I’ve added it to Wofford’s digital repository.

The program contains lists of all of the area high schools as of 1931 and the names of each individual from each high school that participated in the pageant.

What’s especially interesting is the topics, or historical scenes the author of the pageant chose to feature.  The Dawn of Things Created, In Indian Days, The Hampton Massacre, and In Colonial Days were the first four vignettes.  The Battle of Cowpens, featuring Cowpens High School, appropriately enough, came fifth.  The Good Old Times of 1810 came next, followed by a vision for Wofford College, featuring students, alumni, and friends of Wofford.  After that came Cedar Springs, The Minute Men of 1860, Reconstruction Days, Converse College, and “Over There,” no doubt a tribute to World War I.

We don’t have the script – which might be both instructive and painful to read – but you can download the full program to look at names and some of the songs written for the festivities.  And you can read the menu for the dinner as well.

Spartanburg's Centennial Pageant Program

Spartanburg’s Centennial Pageant Program


A Hundred Years ago, in November 1916

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•08•16

This was my November 2016 column in the SC United Methodist Advocate


I occasionally like to look back and see what South Carolina Methodists were talking about in the pages of the Advocate at points in the past.  A hundred years ago this November, they were preparing for Annual Conference, discussing national politics, and celebrating our colleges.

November 1916 saw President Woodrow Wilson’s re-election.  The Advocate wrote:  “Mr. Woodrow Wilson has been reelected President of the United States for another four years.  Nearly every reader of this paper rejoices over this happy event.  The administration justified itself in the eyes of the voters by a four years’ record of patriotic and honorable service.  The present government has been democratic in the best sense and progressive.  The strongest opposition to Mr. Wilson was centered in those states where the money powers rule…  His reelection is due to the South and to the West, where the people are the freest to express their own will and judgment.  We are happy in feeling that our country will not, under Mr. Wilson, go to war against any people in the world except under the extremest provocation.”

South Carolina Methodists were strong supporters of prohibition, and the Advocate carried this piece:  “Last year the United States brewers and rum makers shipped 20,000,000 gallons of rum, whiskey, wine, gin, and beer to the countries where we send foreign missionaries. If we could have complete prohibition of the sale of liquors in this country, there would be very much reduction of the need or home missions here. Let every home mission worker stand by any effort to get Federal prohibition laws.  In line with the above it is meet that we call attention to the fact that consideration of the National Constitutional Prohibition amendment is expected soon after Congress convenes in December. Letters written by voters are said to have special weight, therefore, get your husbands, sons and brothers, each to write the representative from his congressional district and both the senators, asking for favorable consideration.

Members of the conferences mourned the accidental death of the son of one clergy member.  “News has been received of a sad accident at Ruffin, near Walterboro, where an Atlantic Coast Line engine ran over and killed the two and one-half year old son of the Rev. J. B. Bell of Bethel Circuit. The child ran upon the tracks, falling under the moving engine. A flagman made a heroic, but vain effort to rescue the child, narrowly escaping injury to himself.

Members of the Columbia College Club enjoyed a meeting last Wednesday with Mrs. Arch Bethea.  Her home was decorated with dahlias and ferns.  Mrs. Bethea was assisted in receiving by her sister, Mrs. J. Stephen Bethea of Prescott, Arizona, who was a former member of the club.  The committees in charge of the Book Day Club celebration reported 110 books sent on to the college library.  Miss Major was asked to read Miss Omega Ellerbe’s “History of the Columbia College Club” and Mrs. Hayes read a paper on “Our Present Work.”  Mrs. W. W. Daniel gave the history of the alumnae association.  After a discussion, it was decided to concentrate the efforts of the club upon furnishing the College Library, and a group agreed to raise $50 before Christmas to buy another library table.”

Finally, Rev. Thomas G. Herbert shared some information about the arrangements for the upcoming Annual Conference in Florence, including asking how many of the brethren intended on bringing their “machines” – i. e. their automobiles – to Conference as a few families who wanted to host members were too far to walk to from Central Church, where Conference would be held.

And that is just a snippet of South Carolina Methodism a century ago.

Food Riots

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•25•16

Now, I’m not sharing this bit of Wofford’s history to encourage anyone, especially today’s students, to do anything in particular.  In fact, let me say this at the outset: please don’t start a food fight in Burwell or anywhere else if you read this.  Or as they say on TV, don’t try this at home.

So, with that disclaimer, we begin.  I came across an article in the files today about a food fight in Burwell from 1970.  There’s a lot of legends about food fights in the cafeteria in the 1960s – but this article helps untangle some of them.  It’s from the Old Gold and Black of Feb. 27, 1970.

It began at 5:25 pm Wednesday [February 25] with the harsh clank of knife against tray in the dining hall as an unusually large group of students sat down to enjoy steak night.

Suddenly a piece of bread flew through the air, then it was joined by grapefruit, potatoes, and then by glasses, plates, and trays

It was over as quickly as it had begun, but not before nearly $1,000 worth of damage had been done and a tremendous mess had been made.  One student had a minor injury but was treated and released at General Hospital [now Spartanburg Medical Center].

And as of Wednesday night, the administration was out looking for the instigators of the fracas, the first real dining hall difficulty at Wofford since the Great Food Riot of 1965.

At that time, Wofford students made national news by a spectacular food throwing exhibition and later proceeded to Converse only to be turned back by police dogs.

Unlike that riot, which appeared to be a spontaneous reaction to a bad meal, this one was obviously preplanned and seemed to merely reflect the desire for students to let off steam.  It also ended very quickly when the crackle of broken glass was heard.

“There didn’t seem to be as much an attitude of anger as there was of just plain horseplay,” one student said.  “It started out as just a way to end boredom but it got out of hand.  Nobody will condone the vandalism that came right at the end of the food-throwing.”

The story made the local paper as well, with much the same description, and comparisons to the 1965 food riot, which the paper noted had “made Walter Cronkite” before it was turned back by the police dogs of the SPD.  And it concluded with the line “They just don’t make food riots like they used to.”

A Methodist Missionary in Brazil

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•12•16

This letter from the September 10, 1936 issue of the Advocate tells of the work of a South Carolina Methodist missionary in Brazil.  Some of you may know that Brazil and South Carolina have some long connections, and South Carolina’s own Cyrus B. Dawsey served as a Bishop of the Methodist Church in Brazil for a time.  The writer was Miss Clyde Varn, who was supported by the Charleston District.  Her parents lived at Islandton, S. C., and her home church was Wesley Chapel.

Bello Horigonta, Brazil,

July 11, 1936

My dear friends in the U. S. A.:

On the fourth of July, two years ago, I courageously attended an all day picnic at Wesley Chapel Church, and as the day ended, folded my tents and slipped away as gaily as the circumstances permitted. However, my “tents” consisted of two large trunks, a box of books, a Pullman bag, five suitcases, a hatbox, and a badly used but faithful Corona portable. Two years ago on the 7th I bade farewell to New Orleans, setting sail in a tub I scarcely considered seaworthy, but which landed me in Rio on schedule, July 25. I am beginning the third year of my second term.

Some of you have read my letter in the Press and Standard last year. The building I then called home has been razed to the ground, and home for me now is one of the two rooms of the former laundry, stuck off on a corner of the yard. Only a thin partition separates me from the church janitor and his garrulous wife. (I could give some of you wives points in successful henpecking.)  Cement tanks attached to the walls of this room when used for laundry purposes have caused it to have a very damp climate. In order to keep my books, shoes and other articles of leather from being ruined, a hole had to be opened in the roof of the porch to let in the blessed sunshine. The drying process has gone on rapidly, so that by the time the rainy season arrives, I shall be able to put the lid on the roof again.

And, oh, that something could be done to bring it on! (The rain, I mean, not the roof.) We have had no rain at all since March and expect none before October. How hard one works here to keep his shoes polished! And when it begins to rain, it’s just as bad; for then it is the season of white shoes.

Some of you probably saw Allie Cobb the first of the year.  She went to the States on her summer vacation. My month was well worthwhile. I went out into the interior of the State of Sao Paulo to visit the Dawseys (formerly of S. C.) in the little city of Morilia. It is a great coffee region. The country is new and is progressing rapidly. It was a great experience for me, for I had never been in that section. It took considerable sitting to get there but never more than sixteen hours on a stretch.

There have been many changes since the beginning of the year. We have a new principal, the other having returned to the States for rest. The present principal is Miss Mary Sue Brown of Texas, recently returned from the States and full of enthusiasm and plans for our school. She and I were co-laborers in Porto Alegre for four years.

We are badly in need of new buildings. These antediluvian structures just double our work. Miss Brown has plans for the new property, but we can’t build there until we sell here and we can’t sell here until we build there. We are trying to sell the least needed portions of this place (we have practically a city block in the city center) for a sufficient sum to put up enough of the new building to house us until we can complete our plans. But even the possibility of this seems distant, for the new property is not unencumbered. Soon a big bank building will be going up in our very yard. Across the street we have two lotteries, two bars and a billiard room. Often we are awakened by the sounds of fights and even shooting.

But before I close, I might suggest that if any of you are thinking of what present you might give to a missionary friend, ask her if she can use a Hectograph. A Sunday school class of Beaufort gave me this one and it has been a joy-the most useful present I ever received.  Useful not only to me but to the school and Sunday school.  It is grand for taking off worship programs, music, and outlining maps. (It never gets enough rest between times. I don’t know how long one lasts, but this has been in constant use and is going strong.

Note:  This was my September 2016 column in the S. C. United Methodist Advocate

When did we start having class on Labor Day?

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•05•16

Every year, as fall semester classes begin, students and faculty ask this question: Why do we start on Labor Day?  Sometimes the answer that comes back is, we’ve always started on Labor Day!

But that’s not completely true.  In 2015, for example, Labor Day was September 7, and waiting to start classes on Sept. 7 would have meant we’d have been in session until December 18, which somebody must have thought was awfully late, so we started on Monday, August 31 instead.  The following Monday was Labor Day, and we had classes that day.  This year, we “stepped back” the calendar a week, starting on Monday, September 5.

Over the past fifty years, the first day of class in the fall semester has gradually shifted back from Thursday to Monday, and it has ranged between as late as Sept. 12 and as early as August 31.  And that’s not counting orientation, move-in days, pre-session meetings, and the like, all of which precede the first day of classes.

Before World War II, the date of first class meetings in the college catalogue was often vague.  The catalogue notes which days freshmen were supposed to report, and the day that upperclassmen were supposed to report, but doesn’t say when instruction begins.  After World War II, the dates are more precise.

Through the 1966-67 academic year, the first semester began in September, and continued into January, with first semester exams happening after Christmas.  The second semester ran from February to early June.  All that changed in 1967-68 with the implementation of Interim, which brought first semester exams back into December, but also meant that classes needed to start slightly earlier to get a 15-week semester complete before Christmas Break.  And to be honest, that’s probably the main reason we’ve wound up starting on Labor Day for most of the past 20 years – because that’s about when you have to begin to get 15 weeks of class in before Christmas.

Start of Class – selected dates from 1946-66 and each year thereafter.
1946 Thursday, Sept. 19
1950 Saturday, Sept. 16
1951 Saturday, Sept. 15
1955 Friday, Sept. 16
1956 Tuesday, Sept. 18
1961 Saturday, Sept. 16
1966 Saturday, Sept. 17

(Interim begins in 1967-68 academic year)
1967 Thursday, Sept. 7
1968 Thursday, Sept. 5
1969 Thursday, Sept. 4
1970 Thursday, Sept. 3*Before Labor Day
1971 Thursday, Sept. 9
1972 Thursday, Sept. 7
1973 Thursday, Sept. 6
1974 Thursday, Sept. 12 (Exams ended Dec. 20)
1975 Thursday, Sept. 11
1976 Thursday, Sept. 9
1977 Thursday, Sept. 8
1978 Thursday, Sept. 7
1979 Wednesday, Sept. 5
1980 Wednesday, Sept. 10
1981 Wednesday, Sept. 9
1982 Wednesday, Sept. 8
1983 Wednesday, Sept. 7
1984 Wednesday, Sept. 5
1985 Wednesday, Sept. 4
1986 Wednesday, Sept. 3
1987 Wednesday, Sept. 2 *Before Labor Day
1988 Wednesday, Sept. 7
1989 Tuesday, Sept. 5
1990 Tuesday, Sept. 4
1991 Tuesday, Sept. 3
1992 Tuesday, Sept. 1 *Before Labor Day
1993 Tuesday, Aug. 31 *Before Labor Day, first time in August
1994 Tuesday, Sept. 6
1995 Tuesday, Sept. 5
1996 Tuesday, Sept. 3
1997 Tuesday, Sept. 2
1998 Tuesday, Sept. 1 *Before Labor Day
1999 Monday, Sept. 6 Labor Day
2000 Monday, Sept. 4 Labor Day
2001 Monday, Sept. 3 Labor Day
2002 Monday, Sept. 2 Labor Day
2003 Monday, Sept. 1 Labor Day
2004 Monday, Sept. 6 Labor Day
2005 Monday, Sept. 5 Labor Day
2006 Monday, Sept. 4 Labor Day
2007 Monday, Sept. 3 Labor Day
2008 Monday, Sept. 1 Labor Day
2009 Monday, Sept. 7 Labor Day
2010 Monday, Sept. 6 Labor Day
2011 Monday, Sept. 5 Labor Day
2012 Monday, Sept. 3 Labor Day
2013 Monday, Sept. 2 Labor Day
2014 Monday, Sept. 1 Labor Day
2015 Monday, Aug. 31 *Before Labor Day
2016 Monday, Sept. 5 Labor Day

The Campus Club Cookbook

Written By: Phillip Stone - Aug•01•16

Recently a friend asked me if I had a copy of the Campus Club cookbook.  The archives has a couple of copies, so I asked my student assistant to scan a copy and have added it to our digital repository.

What is the Campus Club?  I don’t think it has existed for a number of years, but it was, for a generation or more, the organization of faculty wives.  This makes more sense when you recall that through the 1970s, the faculty was almost all male.  The campus club planned a number of social events throughout the school year.  In 1979, they published a cookbook.  Printed and bound by nearby Altman Printing, the club had some 1,000 copies to give out.

If you want to read our copy online, you can follow this link:

Campus Club Cookbook


Memorial Day

Written By: Phillip Stone - May•31•16

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.


Layers of history and postcards

Written By: Phillip Stone - May•18•16

It’s not unusual for someone to ask me to give a tour of campus to a visitor.  When that happens, I like to start on the front steps of Main Building.  There, I can point out the layers of history on the campus.  From that spot, an observer can see elements from the original campus and each successive wave of construction projects.  A visitor can see Main Building and two or three of the original faculty homes: DuPre Administration, Snyder House, and Carlisle-Wallace House.  The original Whitefoord Smith Library, built in 1910 and now the Charles E. Daniel Building, represents the Snyder era.  The Cleveland Science Hall, built in 1904 and demolished by 1960, and the original Carlisle Memorial Hall, built in 1912 and demolished in the early 1980s, are other buildings from this first era of campus growth.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the college expanded Andrews Field House and built Greene Hall, and then in the 1960s, in a major construction boom, built Milliken Science Hall, Shipp and DuPre Halls, and at the end of the decade, Burwell, Marsh Hall, and the Sandor Teszler Library.  From the front steps of Main, I point out Milliken and the library as representatives of a campus growing to accommodate the needs of the Baby Boom generation.  I can point to recent changes – the new Roger Milliken Science Center, completed in 2001, represents this era.  And finally, with the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts under construction, I can talk about the campus of today.

Below are some postcards, some of which come from the early 20th century, that show some of these buildings.


Main Building, Cleveland Science, and the Fitting School.

Main Building, Cleveland Science, and the Fitting School.

Main Building

Main Building


Main Building before 1908

Cleveland Science Hall

Cleveland Science Hall


Snyder Hall

Dr. Benjamin Wofford

Written By: Phillip Stone - Apr•07•16

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.

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