|The date of the first meeting of the citizens of
Hopkinton, for the purpose of founding an institution of learning
at their town, is lost, owing to the neglect of the Secretary to
record it, but the meeting adjourned to September 6th, 1855. At
the first meeting, a committee of organization was chosen,
composed of Messers. W. P. Cunningham, Henry A. Carter, James
Kilpatrick, Leroy Jackson, William Holt, J. G. Diffenderfer,
James R. Wittaker, William L. Roberts, Joseph Porter, Phineas
Allyn, Harrison Hill, L. O. Stevens, H. Jackson and R. Jackson.
In March, 1856, Messrs. W. P. Cunningham, L. Jackson, James
Kilpatrick, Isaac Littlefield and L. O. Stevens were chosen a
committee "to draft (a plan for) and build the house," and were
also "instructed to contract (for) one hundred thousand brick."
Soon after this meeting, Chauncey T. Bowen, of Chicago, who was
in Hopkinton on business, said to his brother (Asa C.), in a half
jocular manner, that he would contribute $500 toward the
institution, if its projectors would allow him to name it. Asa C.
Bowen mentioned the proposition to some of the leading spirits of
the enterprise, who determined to take the Bowens at their word,
and requested Asa C. to concluded the matter' for them.
Accordingly, June 22d, the money was paid over, the future school
named "Bowen Collegiate Institute," and a constitution adopted
September 21st, the first Board of Trustees was
elected, it being composed of H. A. Carter, W. P. Cunningham,
Leroy Jackson, Edmund Davis, James Kilpatrick, Asa C. Bowen, W.
A. Roberts, Christian Myers, I. Littlefield, H. R. Jackson,
William Holt, William Morrison, Jerome Davis, J. B. Whittaker,
Jacob Diffenderfer and William Robinson. The three first named
were the President, Secretary and Treasurer.
fund was not to exceed $1,500, including Bowen's, and a portion
of it was never collected. Mr. Kilpatrick burned the brick in the
Fall of 1856, and the walls were laid and the building roofed in
1857. The structure was 40x60 feet in size, two stories high, and
when finished, contained four rooms on the first floor, and the
upper story contained a spacious chapel, two recitation rooms and
a music room. The building committee found their resources
exhausted when the walls were laid, and Messrs. Carter Jackson,
and Kilpatrick signed a note for $900 to make up the deficency,
which they afterward paid out of their own pockets. The building
stood untouched from the Fall of 1857 until some time in 1858,
and was pronounced a failure by many who had been eager to see
the enterprise begun. Although a little sore over the $900 note,
Messrs. Carter and Jackson consulted and found that both had some
seasoned lumber and Carter had plenty of village lots. Mr. Carter
traded some lots to various mechanics for work, and by donating
the lumber he succeeded in removing the stigma of failure from
the enterprise. Carter even boarded part of the workmen. To
obtain the nails and glass, a festival was given which netted
about $70, and to help on the good work, a ball was given in the
building July 4th, 1859, which drew the young people from all
directions, who left about $150 for the building fund. By these
various means the building was so far completed that it was
possible to use it for school purposes. Accordingly, Rev. Jerome
Allen and Miss Lucy A. Cooley, the latter then living in New York
State, were invited to open a school in the rooms then ready.
Miss Cooley (now Mrs. Finley) says she arrived in Hopkinton
August 31st, 1859, and school commenced next day.
had just left the assembly room in the second story when the
school opened, and the mop-boards were put in the rooms occupied
by the school after it began. The boxes containing the unused
lime were still standing where the plasters had left them. But
the teachers and pupils were glad to go on.
Literary Society was organized during the first term. Mr. Finley
recalls the names of Messrs. Perley Albrook and Austin Cook as
members of the society, Henry C. Jackson adds Wm. Hill, M. W.
Harmon, Robert Fowler and himself. When the weather began to grow
cold, the teachers and the forty pupils contributed from their
own resources to procure stoves.
The Winter term commenced Dec.
1st, and Mr. E. O. Taylor was engaged to teach mathematics, and
Justus Houser, one of the students, gave instruction in German. A
festival for the purpose of obtaining funds to purchase a bell
was held in the chapel the next evening. There is now no means
left to ascertain the exact attendance of students at the Winter
and Spring terms, but it is certain that the school increased
rapidly in numbers and in grade. Among the ninety-eight students
enrolled in the Fall term of 1860 were John W. Corbin whose birth
was the third in Delaware County, and who was Sheriff in 1876 and
1877; Merrit W. Harmon, now State Senator from Buchanan County;
E. P. Weatherbee, now a Judge of Probate in Nebraska; Mary E.
Walker, who had come West to secure a divorce from her husband.
The whole community of Hopkinton was agitated during 1861 and
1862, by various matters growing out of the college and its
management. The first trouble was crated by Mary E. Walker, who
wanted to share in the rhetorical exercises provided for the
gentlemen, and also desired to study German. Miss Cooley was
opposed to the idea of young ladies declaiming, and refused
Mary's request uncondiontionally.