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Delaware County, Iowa


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History of Delaware County, 1878

History of Delaware County, Iowa,, Page iii -iv

Published by Western Historical Co., Chicago, Illinois. 1878




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 August 22d.

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.

The subscription 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.

The plasters 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.

The Athenian 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. 


~ The History of Delaware County, Iowa, Pages XXX-XXX. Published by Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1878. 462-648

~ Contributed by Debbie Clough Gerischer

~ transcribed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb