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|Old Southwestern In My
SAMUEL WALTER SCOTT, B.A., LL.D.
Vice-President, Board of Trustees
|To tell you of the Southwestern University of my day, we will
have to go back over a period of more than half a century.
I have in my possession a catalog issued in 1875 when the school was called The Texas University. Later the name was changed to Southwestern University when it was found that the name of Texas University was reserved for a state institution of learning.
The management of the school was under the control of a board of trustees, composed wholly of laymen, and a board of curators, composed of preachers. Both these boards were selected by the patronizing conferences of the Methodist Church. Later the two boards were merged into one, with equal representation of laymen and preachers, selected as before.
The University was originally a school for boys only, but after a few years, the pressure to make it co-educational became so strong that girls were admitted. Two separate schools were conducted, however, for several years, with the professors teaching the girls in separate classes from the boys. Later on this arrangement was changed. The tuition at this time was $50.00 for a full term, with $3.00 for incidental fees.
We had chapel and roll call twice daily -- at eight in the morning and five in the afternoon.
We would have scripture reading, a song, and prayer. John M. Barcus usually presided at the small parlor organ and led the singing. During four years of this you can readily see that we all got to be thoroughly familiar with most of the songs in our Methodist hymnal. After devotional services, there would be declamations by a number of the students. Then, if there were anything amiss in the school, we would hear stirring lectures and reprimands from Dr. Mood or Dr. McLean. You may be sure that the boys gave plenty of occasions for these lectures, too. Chapel exercises were not brief. There was always something to keep up the interest and we never knew what to expect next. One of the favorite stunts for our pranksters used to be to tie a yearling to the bell rope in the downstairs hall about one or two o'clock in the morning, thus rousing most of the population of the town.
At the inception of the school all the accommodation we had was what afterwards became known as the old "Prep Building," two stories high. In 1881 a third story was added, giving us four more class rooms. The Alamo and San Jacinto literary societies met in rooms on the third floor after this addition was made.
At their meetings, questions of national and international importance were debated by young men who later went out into the world and exemplified the splendid training they had received in these college debating societies. It would be impossible for me to speak of each teacher and the influence he exerted over the students. When you consider that the student body was not large, that many of them came from long distances under difficult transportation conditions, many of them at great sacrifices by their families, and that the school was the biggest thing in their lives, you can see that they were ready to receive what a devoted and consecrated staff of teachers had to offer them.
Even the less studiously inclined felt the influence of the brilliant mind of Dr. Mood. The gentle friendliness of Prof. Sanders, who knew every rule and every exception in Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar, inspired us to try to do the same thing. And right along with these two in our affection was Dr. Cody, who led us through the mazes of Analytical Geometry and Calculus. Here let me say that we had no free afternoon from classes-no classes arranged three one day and two the next lest the work would be too much for us. We would have classes every day in five or six subjects. And yet there was time for baseball, when the days were long, and at infrequent intervals a party where we would have a chance for brief meetings with the girls under close supervision.
The school at this time was a very vital and personal part of Georgetown. There were no dormitories, and the students lived in the homes. The out-of-town students boarded with private families, who usually kept anywhere from two to eight or ten boys. These boarding places were usually designated as Hodges Ranch, Brooks Ranch, or whatever might be the name of the family conducting the boarding place.
Some time during each session, a revival meeting was usually held. On these annual occasions many of the students would profess religion and join the church.
At one of these meetings, Sam Jones spoke very disparagingly of the basement of the Methodist church in the southwest corner of the old campus, in which he was conducting a revival meeting. He said he could stand flat footed and lick salt off its top. It was in this "pancake" building that the class of 1882 received their diplomas. I well remember how I thrilled the audience with a masterly graduation oration on "The Revolutionary Spirit of Modem Times." From all I can gather through the press and radio, modern times are still "revoluting" considerably.
In 1881 Dr. Mood wrote a twenty-one page history of Southwestern, which concluded with the statement that up to that time all the contributions to the school outside of Williamson county had not amounted to $4,000.00.
We are glad that the school has progressed from the almost local institution it then was to an even more than state-wide one.
But love for the school and interest in it have been carried through the years by students of the early days who have gone to live in other sections.
It is a source of personal satisfaction to me to pay tribute to Mrs. William Wiess, who, by her recent gift to Southwestern, has become one of the most generous benefactors.
In my early boyhood I knew her as Miss Lizzie Carothers, as she was reared here in Georgetown. Her substantial gift, coming as it did at a time when the school was in dire need, has given it new life and promise.
We feel that there are still long years of service for it to give to our church and our state.
The motto on the seal of Southwestern reminds us that it is not "Who we are" but "What we are" that counts.
Believing this, I, as one of the early students of Southwestern, can visualize a great future for it, when it will reach new heights because of the service it has rendered to the young people of other days, and because of what it can do for the boys and girls of Texas through the coming years.
For nearly a century now Southwestern has been the right arm of Methodism in Texas. May it continue to be so for another hundred years!
The Influence of the Gift
of Mrs. Wiess
The Woman, Mrs. Wiess
|Back to Wiess / Sturrock Family History|