Monthly Archives: May 2009


Lyman StewartWhen Lyman Stewart was a young man he wanted to become a missionary. However the discovery of oil in his native Pennsylvania would forever change the course of his life, but not the influence of his faith. When oil was found in the rolling Allegheny mountains near Titusville, Stewart attempted to risk his $125 in missionary funds in the hopes of maximizing his return. His first two attempts were a bust and Stewart had to return to work with his father in the tanning business. Stewart’s efforts were interrupted by the Civil War, where he enlisted in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Upon mustering out of the army Stewart put his hand back to the drill in search of oil. Still unsuccessful in Pennsylvania Stewart sold his oil interests to John D. Rockefeller and moved to California joining forces with Wallace Hardison. In California Stewart’s missionary dreams were capped when he struck oil. By 1886 15% of all oil production came from Hardison and Stewart. In 1890 they merged their work with Thomas Bard and Paul Calonico to form Union Oil Company, now known as Unocal.

Though Stewart never went into the fields as a Christian worker his influence was known and felt. One of the early oil fields in California was known as Christian Hill due to Stewart’s influence and moral strictness. Stewart worked hard to provide for several institutions who prepared laborers for the field. Stewart was a philanthropist and in 1908 was co-founder with T. C. Horton of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now known as Biola University). Stewart also helped found the Pacific Gospel Mission (now the Union Rescue Mission) in 1891.

The FundamentalsHe and his brother Milton also anonymously funded The Fundamentals, a twelve-volume publication that became a classic defense of the Christian faith and was the foundation of the fundamentalist Christian movement. The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth were edited by A. C. Dixon and later by R. A. (Reuben Archer) Torrey as a set of 90 essays in 12 volumes published to affirm orthodox Protestant beliefs and defend against encroaching liberalism. Authors included noted theologians and clergy from a wide-range of theological traditions: B. B. Warfield, C. I. Scofield, G. Campbell Morgan, Bishop Ryle, R. A. Torrey, H. C. G. Moule, James Orr, and others.

The name of the series were foundational to a religious counter-movement that spawned the movement’s name — Fundamentalism. A Fundamentalist was one who ascribed to the theological perspective espoused in its pages. Attacking higher criticism, socialism, evolution and many other “isms.” They set out what was believed to be the fundamentals of Christian faith, this series were to be sent free to hundreds of thousands of ministers, missionaries, Sunday School superintendents and others active in Christian ministry.

Stewart’s legacy for conservative Christianity was much greater as the benefactor of Biola and the Fundamentals, though one wonders what the results would have been if he’d not been a prodigal with his missionary savings.

The Chrysostom Society

Artists often create in solitude, so it is not uncommon for these lonely souls to seek the company of other creative minds for encouragement, comfort and inspiration. For instance, author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, portraitist Joshua Reynolds, historian Edward Gibbon, novelist Oliver Goldsmith and other 18th Century literary elite comprised “The Club,” assembling regularly for spirits and spirited conversation in London salons. Similarly in the 1930s, the “Inklings” of Oxford, England, gathered in a cozy pub where, amid swirling pipe smoke and raucous laughter, scholars such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams read their as-yet unpublished works, welcoming constructive scrutiny.

John ChrysostomThe tradition, now evangelically flavored, continues with “The Chrysostom Society,” named after the “golden-mouthed” third-century Church Father, reflecting his respect for words rightly used. Initially conceived as a Christian artists’ guild, the small collection of writers soon shifted emphasis, providing a wider arena for imaginative expression, expanding as it attracted interest. As Bible translator Eugene Peterson explains, “They felt it was really important to just get together, write together, and believe in each other as practitioners of a craft to the glory of God.”

Meeting informally at a rural retreat for four days annually, membership, though varying, caps at twenty. Organized in its early stages by Richard Foster, the Chrysostom Society’s roster includes Larry Woiwode, Calvin Miller, Eugene Peterson, Robert Siegel, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen Lawhead, Harold Fickett, Diane Glancy, Jeanne Murray Walker, Phil Keaggy, Karen Mains and Gregory Wolfe. In addition to enjoying the refreshing pleasures of personal camaraderie, the Society occasionally collaborates on a manuscript. Their first work, Carnage at Christhaven (1989), is a comedic mystery based on a unique concept devised by the Detection Club of London, a coterie of crime novelists such as G.K. Chesteron, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr and others. For the Club’s corporate novel, The Floating Admiral (1931), participants each contributed a chapter, round-robin style.

Reality and the VisionUsing this method for other publications, the Society then produced Once Upon a Christmas, a slim volume graced with colorful illustrations, assembling thoughtful seasonal memories interspersed with poems by Luci Shaw. In Reality and the Vision (1990), edited by Philip Yancey, the Society reflects on writers who influenced their own visions of the human condition: Walter Wangerin on Hans Christian Anderson; Larry Woiwode on Leo Tolstoy; John Leax on Thomas Merton, etc. The Swifty Tilting Worlds of Madeleine L’Engle (1998), edited by Luci Shaw, collects essays from members and other friends celebrating the 80th birthday of the beloved novelist. Among the Chrysostom Society, Wheaton College Special Collections possesses the papers of Luci Shaw, Madeleine L’Engle, Calvin Miller, Karen and David Mains and Robert Siegel.

Fifty Acres

Wheaton, 1874The transition of name from the Illinois Institute to Wheaton College came about through the skillful negotiations of Jonathan Blanchard with Warren L. Wheaton. Wheaton, along with his brother Jesse had come to the prairie beyond Chicago from Pomfret, Connecticut in the 1830s. After Blanchard moved to the Institute in 1859 in what had been earlier known as Longtown, Illinois, he persuaded Warren to donate fifty acres of prime real estate that was situated south of the campus beyond the railroad toward present-day Illinois and President streets. In a December 5, 1859 letter to Warren L. Wheaton, Jonathan Blanchard proposed that the Illinois Institute bear his name and become known as Wheaton College — saving, as Blanchard said, Wheaton’s heirs “the expense of a good monument.” Blanchard promised Wheaton that if within five years there were not $25,000 worth of buildings and improvements at the college Wheaton would receive $6,000 compensation. Wheaton later said that he wished that his life would be a suitable monument rather than a college or its buildings.

Life in Bear Lake

One of the richest components of the Special Collections are the 95 hours of oral history interviews with Kenneth and Margaret Landon, conducted over 13 years by their son, Kip (Kenneth). Abstracted, The Landon Chronicles, provide rich detail and insight into the lives of these two amazing individuals. It tells of the fun times and the hard.

One such story was Margaret Mortensen Landon’s time as a teacher in Bear Lake, Michigan.

Margaret Landon, 1925Adelle, Margaret’s mother, drove her up to Bear Lake, Michigan, which was good bit farther north than Stoney Lake. It was hard for Margaret to go. She stayed with a couple, Mr. and Mrs. William Richmond, whom she found very kind people–he was a rural deliveryman. Margaret’s salary as a teacher was $150 a month, which was good. She had a bedroom, and had her meals with the Richmonds. Though her accommodations were nice the house had no inside bathroom–the Richmonds were in the process of building one. Her first letter home from Bear Lake talked of her rearranging her room, but all fall she wrote about them working on that bathroom. The only toilet was outside attached to the old barn, requiring Margaret had to have a slop pail in her room to use as a toilet at nights.The outhouse was fifty feet from the house, and on a cold, snowy night in winter, it was no pleasure!

No toilet paper was provided at the Richmond’s, instead, there was just an old Sears catalog. Everybody was expected to get along with pages they ripped out of it. Margaret relates in the Chronicles, “I wasn’t used to that, you see.” So, Margaret bought paper napkins, she tells us, to use instead of toilet paper. How she longed for the completion of that new bathroom! The inside part was completed that fall, but they didn’t have a septic tank and so couldn’t connect it.

In addition to this indignity, the only way she had of taking a bath was a sponge bath. Oh how this refined young lady from Evanston must have longed for home.

Margaret’s teaching schedule included English 3; Latin 1; Assembly; Caesar; English 4 and American literature; English 1; English 2. A heavy load. In addition to this, she was expected to coach the debating team and coach the basketball team.

Just a small glimpse into the early career of this noted author with the Landon Chronicles containing so much more.

Model 1873 Springfield “Trapdoor” Rifle

Springfield rifleThe Springfield Trapdoor served as the United States Army’s “warhorse” for at least 20 years. It was held by both sides through the Indian campaigns in the American West and widely used by American troops during the Spanish-American War. The powerful single shot Trapdoor was also quite popular with many famous Indian warriors. Sitting Bull was carrying a Trapdoor Carbine model when he surrendered to American troops at Fort Buford, North Dakota and Geronimo was carrying the same when he was captured by General Miles in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona in 1886.

In the world of weapons and artillery, the Springfield holds the dubious honor of having been carried into the Battle of Little Bighorn by General George A. Custer’s 7th Cavalry on June 25, 1876. While repeating rifles such as the Spencer and Winchester were already available, the U.S. Army chose the Springfield carbine, a single-shot weapon (shorter and more suitable for the cavalry than the rifle) that had to be reloaded after each fired round. Springfield rifle firing mechanismMany officers believed it to be superior because of its considerable accuracy at long ranges. The Springfield Trapdoor came about in 1873, as a redesign of the Army’s Allin Trapdoor rifle. The Springfield was made to hold the new, more powerful .45-70 military cartridge. The .45-caliber cartridge came out of the muzzle at 1,200 feet per second and could make significant hits up to 600 yards. Full-stocked, 32″ barreled rifles as well as half-stocked, short-barreled carbines were produced for the military.

The Wheaton College Archives houses two of these vintage Springfield rifles. They were discovered among articles in Wheaton’s archival collections. With no provenance to speak of, historians can only speculate what dangers of the early Illinois frontier were kept at bay by this intimidating weapon.

Let Them Eat Cake!

Senior Cake containers

Commencement is over and rented gowns returned. Cakes have been cut and eaten and celebrations have ceased. Fading into memory are the stuff of college days: Class Films, tussles over the Senior Bench and other inter-class rivalries.

One of the class rivalries of old, like the Senior Bench and sophomores hazing freshman, was the Senior Cake. The first Senior Cake was buried by the class of 1925. There was a great deal of class rivalry in those days. For instance, the Class of 1927 kidnapped the Class of 1926’s president so that he could not attend the important Washington Banquet. Fortunately, he was rescued through a broken basement window just in time to attend.

The Senior Cake tradition called for the senior class to bury a fruit cake somewhere on the campus on the first day of class. The Junior Class would have the school year to locate the cake. If the Juniors did not “take the cake” the Seniors would unearth it on Class Day (last day of classes). The rivalry got so out of hand that rules were instituted in 1940 to govern the placement of the cake (e.g. not under concrete, within five feet of a building, more than four feet underground, and others). Due to fake cakes being buried after 1940 the “true” cake bore the signature of the president and dean. The Class of 1930’s cake, which was cared for by Catherine Hurlburt, weighed over thirty pounds. If the juniors failed to find the cake it was placed on a high pole on the day of the Alumni Banquet and eaten that evening.

From 1925 to 1943 the cake had been discovered only twice–the class of 1938 dug through six inches of concrete and three feet of clay to bring forth the prized cake. The Class of 1937 allowed the Tower editor, Carl F.H. Henry, to sell their senior cake once it was unearthed to raise funds for the following year’s yearbook. Pieces were sold for a dollar a piece. That must have been some desirable fruitcake!

Various locations that the cake had been buried were the backyard of the Missionary House (1925), near Williston Hall by the original dining hall parking lot (1943), along the sidewalk between Blanchard Hall, Pierce and Adams Hall (1926), “seventy-five feet from the big tree at the turn of the front campus path” (1937), and, near the southwest corner of Blanchard Hall (1938).

Three Flats

Malcolm MuggeridgeMalcolm Muggeridge’s first play was Expense of Spirit, which according to Muggeridge biographer, Ian Hunter, was “a rather tepid play.” The play was a veiled retelling of his father’s successful 1929 election as a Labour M.P. (member of Parliament). Hunter called it “a rather cruel caricature” of H. T. Muggeridge.

Muggeridge’s second play, Three Flats, was one that actually saw the stage and received some attention.

Three Flats, on the other hand, is a curious play that allows the audience to look into the lives of the occupants of three high-rise flats. On the bottom floor live two single schoolteachers quietly desperate to get married; one sublimates her yearning into her work and is miserable; the other yields to it in promiscuity and is content. Then a middle-aged couple, Mr. and Mrs. Mason, whose marriage of twenty years has become a worn husk in which the seed has shriveled; finally, on the top floor, Maeve Scott, a naive young woman of what, at one time, would have been called “liberated” views, unmarried and living with a “struggling, unsuccessful litterateur” named Dennis Rhys who, undoubtedly speaking for Muggeridge, wonders to himself: “Why does one write?–a silly trade. Why isn’t it enough to live; to feel things–why must one always be grinding them out in words? And yet it seems the only thing to do.”
What is the unity, the play asks, in these three lives? What is it that makes such people, and countless others like them living in flats everywhere, carry on from day to day? Muggeridge provides insufficient scope to answer such questions and seems content just to raise them. There is a point to it all, he seems to be saying, but not yet sure what it is.

The play was first performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre on February 15, 1931. Its frankness offended his family and some critics. His father came to opening night, but still voiced disapproval of what he considered a preoccupation with sex. Kitty’s aunt, Beatrice Webb, disliked it intensely; she said she was “shocked,” not so much for herself, but for those in the audience whose sensibilities she presumed to be less robust than her own.

Even this early and insignificant play has an odd prophetic quality about it; in one sense it is an examination of the effects of high-rise living, then comparatively rare, on individual morality. The play attracted extensive notices, most of them favorable. One critic said, “There was plenty of truth in the offing, but the bane of the contemporary theatre, Dr. Freud, would keep breaking in.”

Jane Addams

Born in Cedarville, Illinois, on September 6, 1860, Addams graduated from Rockford Female Seminary (now Rockford College) in 1881 where her father, John, served as a trustee. With Ellen Gates Starr Addams founded Hull-House on Chicago’s Near West Side in 1889 to address the social problems associated with urbanization, industrialization, and immigration. Settlement houses, like Hull House, attracted individuals to settle in poor urban neighborhoods and seek to ameliorate social ills. By 1911, Chicago had 35. In its early years Hull-House was located in the midst of a densely populated urban neighborhood of Italian, Irish, German, Greek, Bohemian, and Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. As is often the case with neighborhoods, over the years the demographics changed. By the 1920s Hull House served African Americans and Mexicans neighbors. In her autobiography Addams recounted the influence of her father to be interested in the “moral concerns of life.”

Jane AddamsJane Addams and the Hull-House residents provided kindergarten and day care facilities for the children of working mothers; an employment bureau; an art gallery; libraries; English and citizenship classes; and theater, music and art classes. As the complex expanded to include thirteen buildings, Hull-House supported more clubs and activities such as a Labor Museum, the Jane Club for single working girls, meeting places for trade union groups, and a wide array of cultural events. The Hull-House residents and their supporters forged a powerful reform movement. Among the projects that they helped launch were the Immigrants’ Protective League, the Juvenile Protective Association, the first juvenile court in the nation, and a Juvenile Psychopathic Clinic (later called the Institute for Juvenile Research). Through their efforts, the Illinois Legislature enacted protective legislation for women and children in 1893. With the creation of the Federal Children’s Bureau in 1912 and the passage of a federal child labor law in 1916, the Hull-House reformers saw their efforts expanded to the national level. In addition, she actively supported the campaign for woman suffrage and the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1909) and the American Civil Liberties Union (1920). In 1910 she received an honorary doctorate by Yale University–the first ever awarded to a woman by Yale.

Jane Addams spoke at Wheaton College on March 14, 1894. During her career she wrote prolifically on topics related to Hull-House activities, producing eleven books and numerous articles as well as maintaining an active speaking schedule nationwide and throughout the world. She played an important role in many local and national organizations. Despite being attacked by the press and being expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution, during World War I Addams worked for peace. As a result of her peace work she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

Jane Addams died in Chicago on May 21, 1935. She was buried in Cedarville, her childhood home town.