Monthly Archives: April 2010

I’m in the money….

As was common in newly established and struggling institutions of higher education in the mid-nineteenth century, the Illinois Institute sold perpetual scholarships. Like the Methodist DePauw, the Illinois Institute sold these scholarships for $100. Not without some sort of restrictions, such as only lineal descendants of the purchaser and only one-at-a-time, these scholarships became a boondoggle and then a financial drain on the school.

According to a report drafted by The Committee on Wheaton College that was established to investigate Congregational involvement in the institute, the Illinois Institute had sold fifty perpetual scholarships for $100 and twenty-five eighteen year scholarships had been sold. DePauw had sold twelve year scholarships for $50 and six year scholarships for $30. As of 2010 Northwestern University still honored perpetual scholarships with their website noting that roughly 400 students had utilized this benefit.

Of the fifty perpetual scholarships sold prior to the Committee’s report, the Illinois Institute was able to cancel twenty-three and convert them into five years of tuition. Of the twenty-five eighteen year scholarships eleven had been converted.

Certificate for Tuition

One of the $100 perpetual scholarships had been sold to Joseph Powell, trustee of the Illinois Institute and father of noted explorer John Wesley Powell. Powell, knowing the financial struggles of the Institute, converted his perpetual scholarship (#225) to one that provided five years of tuition, which Powell utilized each term until the scholarship expired in 1864.

Mortimer to the rescue…

Mortimer B. LaneVisiting the second floor of Buswell Memorial Library, one will spy a sign near the drinking fountain designating a small alcove in a short hallway as “Mortimer B. Lane.” Cornered in this quiet byway are the offices of retired professors Gerald Hawthorne and Beatrice Batson. Before Lane was a place he was a person, hired in 1937 to teach political science and economics. An admirable instructor, he also enjoyed relationships beyond the classroom. Dr. Joseph MacKnight (’43) fondly remembers in an oral interiew when Lane and his wife, Mary, opened their spacious dining room every Sunday evening, serving cold meats and refreshments to Wheaton College students strolling home from church. MacKnight’s classmate, Billy Graham, also recalls:

As for my homesickness, the Lane family soon came to my rescue. Dr. Mortimer B. Lane taught courses in government and economics at the college. Before that, when he was in government service, he and his wife and their seven children lived in Switzerland. Quite well-off, they entertained students in their large, comfortable Victorian home near the campus. They welcomed me as one of their own. Early on Sunday mornings, as Plymouth Brethren, they hosted a small local assembly in their house. I began to attend that quiet communion service with students from other churches.

As a Brethren adherent accustomed to restrained worship, Lane in 1939 sent a friendly letter to then-president Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, requesting that certain matters be observed during chapel services. Specifically, he objected to 1) prize giving; 2) concerts, unless dedicated to sacred music; 3) frivolous announcements; and 4) clapping. As well, he disliked the presence of “aesthetic decorations” such as candles, widely used by literary societies, since these trappings are used by the Roman Catholic Church to “appeal to the senses instead of to the mind and heart.” Buswell offers a sensible response:

My own background leads me to enjoy the worship atmosphere of a Gospel tabernacle type of meeting in which enthusiastic music, occasional handclapping, and a good many other informal things have a part in worship. I also enjoy the dignified Protestant service of the old orthodox churches in which a considerable amount of art is employed. I think the aesthetic appeal of music and art cannot correctly be set in antithesis to an appeal to the soul, but may correctly be characterized as an appeal to the soul through the musical and artistic sense the Lord has given us.

Celebrating a fruitful 14-year season of mentoring and hospitality, Mortimer B. Lane resigned in 1951 and relocated with his family to Long Beach, Mississippi. Here they opened “Southern States Bible and Christian Supplies,” selling and distributing scripture, Sunday School material, hymnbooks and recordings. Responding to Lane’s departure, Dr. Edman, fourth president of Wheaton College, expressed “deep regret” but also “…sincere appreciation for all that you and your lovely family have meant to us…You have been a pillar of strength to me personally and to all the College, a source of joy and encouragement to many young hearts, especially to those who have come from distant parts of the world.” As a parting gift, Edman and the faculty presented him with a letter case to use for his business. “I don’t need it to remember my associates at Wheaton,” Lane gratefully replies, “but this will make me remember all the more.”

Lane’s Plymouth Brethren assembly, for which he served as an elder, evolved into Bethany Chapel, now situated on the corner of President St. and College Ave. in Wheaton, Illinois. His son, James, later served on the Wheaton College board of trustees.

Samuel Richey Kamm

Each year the campus hosts the Kamm Lecture, a lecture series that dates back nearly three decades and is named after Dr. S. Richey Kamm, a Wheaton College Professor of History, Political Science, and Social Science. For over thirty years, Kamm had a remarkable impact on the lives of many undergraduates. As a teacher of political theory and constitutional history, he stimulated interest in public affairs and encouraged the study and practice of the law. To honor the legacy of this outstanding professor, friends and former students created the Kamm Memorial Fund to support lectures and law-related symposia on campus. Each year the endowed lecture is given on a subject related to jurisprudence by a prominent scholar or practitioner in the legal field. The first annual Kamm Memorial Symposium was held on May 1-2, 1975.

S. Richey KammSamuel Richey Kamm was born in Whitewater, Wisconsin, on July 12, 1903, and grew up in Montfort. He graduated cum laude from Greenville College in 1925 with a major in History and minors in Biology and Greek. Upon graduating, he embarked on his teaching career which would last until he died in 1973. The institutions at which he taught before going to Wheaton were Wessington Springs Junior College (South Dakota), Seattle Pacific College (Washington), Monmouth Junior College (New Jersey), and Haddon Heights High School (New Jersey). While teaching, Dr. Kamm earned an M.A. in History from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Pennsylvania, receiving that honor in 1939. His dissertation entitled, “The Civil War Career of Thomas A. Scott, Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad,” is one illustration of his lifelong interest in railroads.

In 1940, Dr. Kamm began teaching at Wheaton College. By 1943, he had advanced from Assistant Professor to full Professor. His major interest was teaching, especially in Constitutional and Diplomatic American history, but he also found time for numerous other involvements both on and off campus. He was an active member of the Commission on Social Action of the National Association of Evangelicals, and he served as Public School Board President. On campus he served on many committees, among them Educational Policies and Curriculum, and Centennial Historical Projects.

S. Richey KammDuring the 1959-1960 year, Dr. Kamm had the opportunity to be a Fulbright lecturer in Dacca, East Pakistan (Bangladesh). He had the distinguished honor of inaugurating a course in American History at Whitworth College, Seattle Pacific College, and Greenville College. His recognition beyond Wheaton was evidenced by honorary degrees from Greenvile, Seattle Pacific and Whitworth Colleges. He retired from the Wheaton College faculty in May 1973. He was in route to Westmont College (California) to take up duties as a guest professor when he died of a heart attack on August 29, 1973.

Many things can be said of Dr. Kamm. He was an outstanding speaker, a brilliant scholar, and dedicated to all he undertook. Moreover, Dr. Kamm was a favorite classroom teacher and a well-loved man. He inspired many students to combine Christianity with their vocation, and many went into the government service with that in mind. Perhaps the highest tribute can be made by repeating what one of Dr. Kamm’s friends said when he died…

He was one of God’s gentlemen, a rare Christian who fused graciousness and scholarship in a beautiful way.

The Samuel Richey Kamm Papers detail the life and thirty-four year career of a Wheaton College Professor of History, Political Science, and Social Science. The collection also shows his work as a member of the local public school board, which he served as president. The papers are categorized according to biographical, professional and civic involvement. The professional material covers various workshops, committees, seminars and departmental/institutional matters, in addition to material relating to the City of Wheaton and the history of Illinois. Hundreds of file cards, featuring a vast array of research topics such as history, political science, culture, bibliographies, foreign affairs and education, are contained in five boxes and one small metal cabinet. They are available to researchers in the Wheaton College (IL) Archives & Special Collections.

Wheaton’s own NAACP

In 1965, coinciding with the increased work of the Civil Rights Movement nationally and the Selma marches, Wheaton College students established a campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was established with the purpose of seeking “an end to racial discrimination in areas of public life, to increase student understanding of racial relations through active participation in such projects as surveys and tutorial programs, and to foster student involvement in community projects…” according to Howard Hess, the initial chairman of the chapter. To quell fears, this student-controlled chapter clearly communicated the autonomy that it possessed, as well as noting the jurisdiction of the college Student Council (similar to that of the Young Republicans and the socially-minded Clapham Society). The first faculty advisor to the group, which at its beginning numbered around 30, was Dr. Lamberta Voget, professor of sociology. Voget pioneered the teaching of Sociology at Wheaton College, joining the faculty in 1935. She was know for her urban sociology immersion trips to Chicago, and was popular amongst the students. She retired in 1975.

Lamberta VogetBy 1968, after Wheaton’s NAACP chapter dissolved for lack of interest, according to Paul Bechtel’s Wheaton College: a heritage remembered, Voget had little patience for Evangelicalism’s minimal engagement in racial reconciliation. In an article in Young Life’s Focus on Youth, titled “The Nature of Prejudice,” by Dr. Lamberta Voget, expressed her thoughts on some methods used by white evangelicals. She said, “We will not break down prejudice by having group discussions, by conducting surveys, or appointing, committees.” Voget went on further to call evangelicals to repentance, Christians “must recognize prejudice for the sin that it is. We must let the true word of God reveal our own sickness and we must submit to the healing that comes to those who confront the Jesus Christ of whom the scriptures speak. We must be deeply and genuinely reconciled with or racial brothers and sisters, the consequence of our willingness to change and be changed.” Giving further direction, she said, “To accept a black person here and there is not enough. The whole black community must be accepted. Our prejudices will not disappear merely by having colored people become clean and educated. We will still reject them: we have for a long, long time. They are tired, tired, tired of talk.”

The history of race relations at Wheaton College, of which this NAACP chapter is just a part, awaits fuller treatment and could easily fill a lengthy volume.

The Serialized Adventures of Roy J. Snell

Certain writers are famous for one book, such as Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird or Margaret Mitchell and Gone with the Wind. Others generate saleable wordage as easily as sneezing. For instance, Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of unbeatable lawyer Perry Mason, positioned multiple typewriters around his office and simply switched from one manuscript to another. His colleague, English crime novelist John Creasey, wrote 562 novels; and Barbara Cartland published an astonishing 723 Regency romances, aside from several non-fiction titles.

In the world of juvenile fiction, Roy J. Snell wrote somewhat less but lived as large, trekking as hazardously as Ernest Hemingway or Jack London. “Did you ever eat walrus meat?” asked advertisements for Snell’s books. “Did you ever drive a dog team, travel in a boat made of skins, or sleep in a bag?” Gosh, no! replied generations of wide-eyed boys and girls starved for vicarious thrills. But Snell did all this and more, tackling perilous frontiers – deserts, seas and tropics – with gusto and humor. Born in 1880 at Laddonia, Missouri, he moved with his family to northern Illinois where he worked his way through Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College. Graduating in 1906, he enrolled for one year at Harvard Divinity School, then matriculated to Chicago Theological seminary, leaving with his degree in 1916. He received his MA from the University of Chicago in 1917. Moving south he served first as pastor of a small church in rural Illinois, then as principal of the Black Mountain Academy in Evarts, Kentucky, living among the feuding families of the hills. As a missionary he relocated to the Behring Straits, Alaska, where heSnell book cover rode herd, directing 350 Eskimos and 1500 Wales reindeer. At one point he sailed the Arctic Ocean in a boat made of skins. Desiring to write the Great American Novel, Snell settled for adventure and mystery tales, drawing from his vast storehouse of experience. His work began rolling from the presses at breakneck speed as he often composed 2000 words per hour without an outline. He sold his first manuscript, Little White Fox and His Arctic Friends, in 1916. Many of his novels were first serialized in Boy’s Life, American Boy and The Youth’s Companion. During WW I he spent six months in France with the YMCA, serving as a mechanic. Here he met missionary Lucille Ziegler, whom he married in 1920. During their honeymoon he wrote a book. After the war Snell returned to Wheaton, residing with his family at 705 N. Wheaton Ave. For 20 years during the holidays he worked incognito at Marshall Field’s and Carson’s in Chicago, hand-selling his own titles over-the-counter to unsuspecting customers. Further bolstering book and magazine sales, he lectured annually in Detroit schools about Eskimo ways, struggling into a deerskin parka while demonstrating how to throw harpoons, or how to catch a tame monkey gone wild. “A pan of glue is substituted for water,” he explained. “Mr. Monk washes his face with glue. His eyes are stuck fast together and he is easily caught.”

By the end of his life Snell had published 82 novels, with over two million sold. “I also wrote something like a thousand Sunday School stories for the David C. Cook Pub. Co. of Elgin,” he matter-of-factly informs the Wheaton College Alumni Association in a 1959 update. Later that year he suffered chest pains and was taken to DuPage Memorial Hospital in Elmhurst. Four days later his earthly odyssey ended. “I’ve had my day,” Snell once told a reporter, “and got out of it exactly what I wanted.” He was survived by his wife and three sons.

Frank Dyrness

On March 22, 2010, Dr. Nicholas Perrin, Associate Professor of New Testament, gave his inaugural lecture as holder of the Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies entitled “The Bible from Westminster to Muenster: The Interface between Theological Confession and Free Historical Inquiry.” Dr. Perrin holds degrees from The Johns Hopkins University (B.A. 1986), Covenant Theological Seminary (M.Div. 1994), and Marquette University (Ph.D. 2001). His dissertation was “Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron.”

Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement HomeThe history of the Franklin Dyrness Chair dates back nearly a quarter-century to 1987 when the Class of ’27 alumnus and founder of the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community contributed funds toward an endowed chair of biblical studies. C. Hassell Bullock was named the first distinguished chair until his retirement in 2009 after thirty-six years as Professor of Old Testament.

Franklin Seth Dyrness was born May 16, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois to Norwegian-born parents who immigrated to the United States. He attended Wheaton College was president of the Beltionian Literary Society, junior class president and played football; he graduated in 1927. He briefly taught science at the Wheaton Academy and was married to fellow classmate, Dorothy Rasmussen in 1931. They would eventually raise five children. Dyrness also graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1931 and pastored the Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, PA through 1936. He was then installed as the first pastor of an independent Presbyterian Church in later to become Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and then as Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church. He served as pastor for twenty-six years until 1963. Under this pastorate the church helped organize the Quarryville Bible Conference Association for the purpose of organizing summer camps and conferences for all ages. Dyrness served as its president for five years, and executive director for thirty-seven years. In 1948, he and a group of associates founded the Quarryville Presbyterian Home. Franklin held the position of president from 1948 until he retired in December 1985 at eighty-one years old. His honors include election to the Wheaton College Honor Society and the conferring of the degree Doctor of Divinity by Wheaton in its centennial year of 1960. On the 60th anniversary of his graduation from Wheaton, the Home and the College contributed funds to establish the Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College.

Surrounded by his family members, Franklin S. Dyrness ’27, D.D. ’60 died June 16, 1990, at the Presbyterian Home he founded in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In a letter to the Wheaton College Alumni Association, his son F. Seth, Jr. wrote…

We gathered around his bed and sang some of his favorite hymns for him. As we sang the final verse of ‘Rock of Ages,’ he closed his eyes and went to he with the Lord, It was beautiful and deeply comforting for us as a family. The funeral was a very uplifting time of celebrating God’s abundant faithfulness. Dr. Armerding preached an excellent message challenging us to faithfulness to Christ with eternity’s values in view. We are deeply grateful to God for giving us a father who taught us to put God first in our lives. Together with Mother and Dad, we thank God for the profound impact Wheaton has had on us in nurturing our souls and challenging us to follow Christ.

The Franklin S. Dyrness Papers reside in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Historical Center Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

All but one or two….

Minutes of the Quarter Centennial MeetingAccording to the minutes of the Quarter Centennial Meeting of the General Association of Illinois (1869), a Congregationalist publication, Wheaton College had survived their negative vote to salvage or aid Wheaton’s finances from ten years earlier. The school, under Jonathan Blanchard, had moved forward and began to grow. By 1869, it had, according to the author of the report, “enjoyed revival influences almost continually” and “their commencements are always largely attended, from three to five thousand people having been in attendance when held in a grove.” Additionally by the report, “they have graduated nineteen young men, eleven of whom are in or nearly in the Ministry, and twenty-two young ladies. All but one or two of their graduates were professing Christians.”

It is this last phrase that comes in the second to the last sentence of the report that can cause one to pause. Weren’t all students professed Christians? Who kept track of such things? How did one know?

Though as of this writing each student, as a part of the application process, expresses in writing a personal statement of faith and, thereby, each student could be described as a “professed Christian” this was not always the case. This explains why Wheaton held each spring Evangelistic Services that are now called Special Services. The change in the name of these spring chapel meetings came around the same time as the change in admissions practice of enrolling individuals who have provided expressions of personal Christian faith, the mid-1960s.

Raymond P. Fischer and the American Institution

Raymond P. Fischer possessed a mind both meticulous and imaginative. Born the youngest of twelve in the same house in which his grandfather, Jonathan Blanchard, died, he attended Wheaton College (1918-20) and Pomona College (1922) in California, before matriculating to Harvard law school, graduating in 1924. Undoubtedly he was quite proud of his degree, which equipped him for a fifteen-year practice with Campbell, Clithero and Fischer, located on La Salle St. in Chicago. Ending his legal career in 1941 he then served variously as executive vice-president of the Cuneo Press, president of Combined Paper Mills, director of the National Tea Company, and sat on the Chicago advisory board for the Salvation Army. Retiring from the paper and printing business, he established Associated Consultants of Wheaton, Illinois. Away from board rooms he was a licensed lay leader in the Episcopal Church, and belonged to the Chicago Golf and Union League clubs. But aside from responsible positions and high honors, Fischer was likely rather pleased with a quieter achievement, not in law or business, but now the world of letters.

While still in prep school Fischer mailed a submission to Harriet Monroe (1860-1936), the formidable founder and editor of Poetry magazine. Shortly thereafter, ever scouting for fresh talent, she generously invited him to visit her at the old offices on Erie Street, Chicago, there to discuss improvements. Monroe, pivotal in publicizing the revolutionary work of Carl Sandburg, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens and Ezra Pound, also first printed “The Love Song of J. Alfred Pufrock” by T.S. Eliot, who later called Poetry “an American Institution.” Fischer’s corrections were deemed acceptable and his first publication, “A Year,” appeared in May, 1922. Though he saw his name in print, he did miss a few perks. “A regret regarding Poetry,” he recalls, “is that I was unable to attend a white tie dinner which the magazine gave for William Butler Yeats to which I was invited but did not go, because the dress suit of an older brother was several sizes too large for me.” His disappointment probably lightened when Poetry again accepted his work in 1924, then 1929, and again, fifty-five years later, in 1984.

His verse collection, An Aged Man Remembers April (1985), is dedicated to Monroe, “who showed me that both inspiration and revision are essential.” Dr. Jill P. Baumgaertner, now Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College, lauds its “…melodic echoes of Frost, Wordsworth, Keats, scripture…It is a stunning combination of sound and form, metaphor and story that lingers long after you’ve closed the book. This is poetry rooted in a real tradition of living and writing. This is poetry that will last.” In 1987 Fischer assembled four decades of research and published Four Hazardous Journeys of Jonathan Blanchard, chronicling his grandfather’s antislavery travels and fundraising adventures during the Montana Territory gold rush. Theologian Carl F.H. Henry, writing the foreword, commends “…its graphic picture window on frontier life a century as a reminder of the dedication of abolitionists in a time of social crisis.” Fischer and his wife, Marita, had one daughter. The aged poet-lawyer-businessman was the last surviving grandson of Blanchard when he lay down his pen forever at age 89 in 1990.