Mrs. William Wiess,
benefactor of Southwestern University

Col. William B. Travis wrote a letter in 1835 requesting a Methodist university be established in the Mexican colony of Texas.  Subsequently, Rutersville College was founded in 1840.  It succumbed to difficulties as did each of its three successors:  Wesleyan College, McKenzie College and finally Soule University in 1856.  Finally, in 1872, Georgetown was chosen for the site of what is now known as Southwestern University and, had it not been for Mrs. Wiess and her family, it might have suffered the fate of its predecessors.
      Mrs. Louisa Elizabeth Carothers Wiess (1856-1936) moved to Georgetown, Texas when she was 15 and she grew up there along with Southwestern University.  The then-president of Southwestern performed her marriage to Captain William Wiess, in 1880, and she moved to be with him in Beaumont, but her love for Southwestern did not wane and, in its time of need, her generosity gave it back its life.  Serving the needs of education in Texas was not foreign to the Wiess family.  Captain Wiess served as a trustee for Southwestern and her only child, Harry Carruthers Wiess, played a major role in another Texas university -- Rice University in Houston (the Wiess College there is named for him).  Her granddaughter, Mrs. Caroline Wiess Law, is a noted philanthropist in Houston, Texas and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts is housed in the Caroline Wiess Law Building.

The booklet honoring Mrs. William Wiess, recording the addresses delivered at Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, Tuesday, June 18, 1937.  It is bound in black leather (not brown as indicated by the photograph), the pages being tied into it with a thin leather cord.  Impressed on the cover are the images of the Southwestern main building and of the university seal, along with the title "IN HONOR OF MRS. WILLIAM WIESS" in gold leaf. <
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The sections of the book:
A picture of the booklet with a photocopy of the front page of the Williamson County Sun, Georgetown, Texas, Friday, March 19, 1937, vol. LIX, Number 46.

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The frontispiece of the booklet -- a photograph of Mrs. William Wiess.

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Another view of the book.

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 Click here to read the text of the March 19, 1937 article in the Williamson County Sun.  To look at a photo of the xerox copy, click on the image to the right. wmctysun-th.jpg
A copy of the letter to Tom Cloud from Ken Huntsman of Southwestern University. KHletter-th.jpg
A copy of the WIESS FAMILY HISTORY included with the material received from Southwestern University.  Its author is unknown to the editor of this web page.  (p.1) - (p.2)


The Southwestern Century, Part Two -- 1935-1961; pp 12-14 (vol. 11, No. 2) (p.12) (p.13) (p.14)

" The turning point for Southwestern's fortunes ... can be traced to the exact date of March 1, 1937.  That was the day established in a bequest challenge by Elizabeth Carothers Wiess as the deadline for the University to clear itself of outstanding debts ..."

Return to the WIESS / STURROCK Family History page.