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to be at Davidson College
Saturday, October 10
now for the meeting!
Photo by Samthegirl, Flickr.com
October we will be visiting the lovely old campus of Davidson
College, one of the best-loved Presbyterian institutions of
our state and region. Over the years, the college and its graduates
have had a profound influence on the Presbyterian church in
North Carolina. Dr. Jan Blodgett, head of the college archives,
will be our speaker and tour guide.
1835 Concord Presbytery resolved to open a school for the education
of young men. It was named for General William Lee Davidson,
who died at the Battle of Cowan’s Ford in 1781, and whose
son sold the presbytery 469 acres of land for the college. Elm
Row and Oak Row were built to house the residential students.
The Rev. Robert Hall Morrison was the first president and taught
math and science. He and two other professors greeted sixty-four
students when the doors opened in 1837.
students promptly organized themselves into two societies, the
Eumenean and Philanthropic Literary Societies, similar to those
being formed at other campuses around the country. They met
bi-weekly, presented compositions, and held debates on topics
as diverse as "Ought students to associate with ladies
while pursuing their studies?”, and "Ought the Indians
to be driven from the land they occupy?” From the beginning,
each society owned a sizeable library for the use of their members.
In 1849-50 they each built a hall in which to meet, discuss,
and house their books. Meanwhile, the Rev. William H. Foote
donated funds to create a library just for the faculty. It was
not until 1887 that these three libraries were combined for
the use of all.
1860 the Phi Society debated whether a state had the right to
secede, and in early 1861, whether North Carolina should join
the Confederacy. Both were answered in the negative, but when
the war had truly begun, only 11 students remained out of 87.
Nonetheless, Davidson did remain open throughout the war. There
were a number of preparatory students. The daughters of faculty,
staff, and residents of the town of Davidson could enroll, but
were not allowed to receive a degree. In fact, only one student
graduated during the war.
the end of the war, buildings were in disrepair, food was scarce,
and faculty members took students into their homes. Some students
joined the local Klan and “frightened the colored community
into good behavior.” By the 1870s, the college began to
recover financially under the administration of President J.
R. Blake. During this period, baseball arrived at Davidson,
possibly brought by ex-Confederate prisoners who learned the
game from their Northern prison guards. When the railroad came
closer to the town, the college became less isolated. Alcohol
became an increasing temptation to students, and in 1877 the
NC General Assembly banned the sale of liquor within three miles
of the campus.
began to offer pre-medical courses in 1886, and in 1893 Professor
John Peter Monroe founded the North Carolina Medical College,
the first such to be chartered in the state. Eventually it moved
to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, and then to Richmond,
where it became part of the Medical College of Virginia.
college has had many benefactors over the years. In 1855 a bequest
of $250,000 from Maxwell Chambers made it “the richest
college south of Princeton.” The Chambers Building was
completed in 1860, containing classrooms, laboratories, dormitories,
a chapel, the faculty library, and a commencement hall. It served
as the main college building until it was destroyed by fire
in 1921. New Chambers was completed in 1929. James B. Duke created
the Duke Endowment at Davidson in 1924. During the Great Depression,
the college never ran a deficit, did not cut salaries, and did
not release a single faculty member for financial reasons.
became racially integrated in 1962 with the enrollment of a
student from the Congo. Another came the following year, and
two African-American students were admitted in 1964. Although
women had increasingly been allowed to attend classes, they
were not admitted as degree candidates until 1972.
speaker at the meeting, Dr. Jan Blodgett, has been the college
archivist for 15 years. In addition to the history of the college,
she will be able to tell us about the very modern college of
today, offering an excellent education within the Reformed tradition.
Elm Row Davidson College Archives
tour will include the college church where we will be meeting;
the Old Quad with the 1836 dormitories and the restored society
halls; and the cemetery where educator and Civil War General
D. H. Hill is buried. He taught mathematics at Davidson in the
1850s and married the daughter of the college president, Robert
House, Concord Road
College Presbyterian Church was organized at the same
time as the college, and met for about fifty years in the college
chapel. Until the 1880s, the president of the college also served
as the congregation’s minister. After the Civil War the
African-American members formed their own congregation, which
became the Davidson United Presbyterian Church. The campus congregation
out of the Chambers Building in 1885 and into its own sanctuary,
although it was still on campus. By 1950 the building had become
too small, and it was replaced by the current structure. We
will be meeting in the Congregation House behind the church
on Concord Road (see map on p 6).
The Freshman Riot of 1903, Davidson College
all started innocently enough.
the afternoon of Tuesday, February 10, 1903, the freshman baseball
team beat the sophomores by a score of 12 -9. Rubbing salt in
the wound, a few members of the class of 1906 painted the score
on the columns of the main campus building. After hearing some
threats, the freshmen compounded their impudence the next day
by blocking the exits to the Sophomore Banquet and also the
entrance to campus.
freed, the sophomores tracked the class of 1906 to a boarding
house and proceeded to lay siege for the remainder of the night.
According to student accounts, the sophomores had sticks and
clubs (probably baseball bats), and the freshmen defended with
buckets of rocks and water.
truce was called at 6 a.m. Seniors, juniors, and sophomores
planned a meeting for 7 p.m. to decide appropriate justice.
The freshmen, deciding discretion was the better part of valor,
left en masse for the train station in nearby Cornelius. They
were almost successful in their getaway, being stopped only
at the last minute by faculty who had pursued them. Friday’s
classes were suspended, and the weekend was spent in conferences
and class meetings. On Monday the freshman class finally agreed
to a modified apology. By Tuesday the faculty declared the matter
settled, and President Henry Louis Smith declared that Wednesday
the 18th would be a holiday.
Responding to local and national newspaper reports, the editors
of the Davidson College Magazine attempted to place the riot
in a better light by declaring, "College troubles are always
to be deplored, but the manner of the settlement … will
be of lasting benefit to the young men involved, and to all
the interests of life on our Campus."
From the College Archives blog, “Around the D”
Our Spring Tour to be at the Presbyterian Heritage Center at
Montreat, April 9-10
sure to join us next spring for an inside tour of the new
Presbyterian Heritage Center at Montreat. Director Ron
Vinson will discuss their holdings, current access to records,
preservation, exhibits, their plans for digitization, and their
relationship with Columbia Theological Seminary and with PHS
in Philadelphia. We will also tour some nearby churches and
sites. Mark it on your calendar now!
Register now for the meeting!
is early August as I write, and your Society’s president
has had an active summer. As the only Protestant instructor
for the second year at the History of Christianity seminar in
Jerome, Idaho, I helped our faculty team lead our adult learners
through some of the events marking the history of the faith
since 1789. It was great to review my old lecture notes from
32 years of teaching and read many recent publications getting
ready for the experience. I may have chance to participate in
a different program there next summer—plans are not complete.
was also pleased to meet Tony Brewer, our Program Chair, in
Davidson in late July to do a pre-program run-through for our
October business meeting (see details and registration information
elsewhere in this newsletter). We have a good day in store,
and I thank Tony for his efforts in planning the meeting. I
hope to see a large number of you, as we hear about the college’s
relationship to the Presbyterian Church through the years, and
visit its campus, the beautiful college church, and walk through
its historic cemetery. I know you will enjoy the day.
the board meeting of the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat
this week we learned how active the Center has become in its
first year: nearly 5000 people have walked through its exhibits
and seen its new configuration, used its resources, and visited
its hardworking staff. And this summer’s attendance is
up 40% over last summer, due in part to the creative and informative
programs the Center has been hosting, from celebrating Calvin’s
birthday to a white-glove opportunity to touch one of the earliest
manuscripts of Handel’s Messiah. We plan to visit the
Center on the Society’s spring tour, April 9-10, 2010.
You will be impressed with the Center’s educational outreach,
not least through its website, www.phcmontreat.org If you have
not been visiting the on-line site regularly you are missing
out on a lot of good things. Our Society has already formed
a close bond with the Center.
you have not made a financial contribution, however modest,
to its work I hope you will do so. Some of you may have materials
that ought to be in its care. I donated a leather-bound copy
of a collection of Calvin’s sermons, printed in 1835 in
Philadelphia, which a neighbor gave me when I was still in high
school—more can appreciate it there, and the book can
be kept in optimum condition by a professional staff. Perhaps
you have some similar items in your own library.
has been my pleasure to serve as your president to the limit
of my time in office under our by-laws (in fact, I served an
extra year, as we amended the election cycle when we moved our
tour from spring to fall). I will eagerly support the president
you will elect in October and will continue my interest and
devotion to the manifold interests our Society and its membership
cultivate. See you in October.
--Don Saunders, President
Dr. Donald B. Saunders, President
P.O. Box 1846, Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Phone: (828) 295-8917
Brenda Spence, Secretary
294 Fairway Lane, Sanford, NC 27332
Ann Myhre, Awards Chair
1005 Park Ave., Garner, NC 27529
Phone: (919) 772-5514
Sally MacLeod Owens, Membership Chair
710 North Person Street #204
Raleigh, NC 27604-1276
Tony Brewer, Program Chair
915 Evans Dr., Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: (919) 776-8091
Arthur H. Burgess, Jr., Treasurer
P.O. Box 2587, Hickory, NC 28603
Phone: (828) 322-2720
Barbara T. Cain, Newsletter Editor
1041 Shelley Road, Raleigh, NC 27609
Thomas K Spence, Past President
294 Fairway Lane, Sanford, NC 27332
Election of Officers
our Annual Meeting this fall, an election will be held for three
offices: President, Secretary, and Second Vice-President, who
serves as Membership Chair. The nominating committee are Joy
Heitmann, John Gordon, and Sheila Brewer. They will present
their report, but any member may make a nomination from the
If you know of a recently published church history or a completed
history project that you feel is worthy of consideration for
an award, please send the book or a description of the project
to Awards Chairman Mrs. Ann Myhre, 1005 Park Avenue, Garner,
NC 27529, by Monday, March 16. Her contact information is in
the previous column.
and Registration for the Fall Meeting
Registration, Davidson College Presbyterian Church Congregation
House, Concord Road
Speaker: Dr. Jan Blodgett, Davidson College Archivist.
Break and refreshments.
Tour of Davidson College Presbyterian Church, Davidson College
Old Quad buildings, including Oak and Elm Row, and Eumenean
and Philanthropic Literary Society halls, and Old Davidson Cemetery.
Lunch, DCPC Congregation House
Annual business meeting, DCPC Congregation House.
lunch, depart for home, or explore other points of interest.
of registrations ____ @ $19.00 ea= $ ___________
Dues (Individual $10; Family $15; Individual Life Membership,
send this form with your check (made out to NCPHS) by April
10 to Arthur H. Burgess,
PO Box 2587, Hickory, NC 28603.
Suggested accommodations and Map to area:
for Friday night have been set aside for us until September
18 at the Econo Lodge & Suites Lake Norman
at the special price of $53.99 + tax. Telephone 704-892-3500
and tell them this is for the NC Presbyterian Historical Society
meeting. The motel is just off I-77 at Exit 28, and the address
is 20740 Torrence Chapel Rd., Cornelius, NC 28031. It is about
3 miles from Davidson College Presbyterian Church.
North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society
P.O. Box 20804
Raleigh, NC 27619-0804
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