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The Lindsey Wilson: A Safe Place to Put Your Children

Jim writes: This is kind of a 'tweener - it's "'tween" the August opening of Lindsey this year and the September opening of that worthy institution 100 years ago. My intention was to have it ready several days ago, but alas, alas! My Muse, that cold-hearted creature, instead of prettily whispering sweet somethings in my ear I could immediately put to paper and become the toast of Columbia, Adair County, Royville, and the Sacred Triangle, chose rather to snub your humble correspondent except to fiendishly cackle, "You're toast, you're toast!". Oh, for a hellbuck poultice! milquetoast jim

By "Jim"

In the late summer of 1910, the Lindsey Wilson Training School was set to open its seventh full academic year on Monday, September 5th. As early as July, Prof. P.D. Neilson, the co-principal of the L.W.T.S., informed the News that the "prospects are flattering for a good opening in September," despite the concurrent opening of the recently certified public high school to be taught in conjunction with Columbia's free public graded school. Along the same lines, the August 3rd News stated that:

There will be more county students than usual at the beginning, and [Prof. Neilson] confidently expects an increase from neighboring counties. The facilities for boarding pupils are better than heretofore, that is, more room, and the conveniences are first-class.
An ad for the Training School in the same edition assured parents that Lindsey Wilson was "a safe place to put your children," and noted that the courses of study offered were Literary, Normal (i.e., teacher education), Business, Expression, Music, and Art.

An article which ran the week before classes began had this interesting revelation:
The regular course of study for which any charge is made in the L.W.T.S. begins with the Third Grade, but any younger brothers or sisters of older pupils in school, will receive without charge careful attention in the First and Second Grades. No pupil, however, will be received in the first two grades who has not an older brother or sister in school.
In addition, the above-mentioned ad proclaimed that the buildings had steam heat and electric lights. The former amenity had been installed late the preceding calendar year, as an entry in from a January, 1910 edition noted that
...The enlargement of the girls' dormitory and a furnace to heat all the buildings including the boys' dormitories not only makes more room but gives more comfort to those who board...
While the News failed to note precisely when electricity came to Lindsey Wilson, this ad was the first to mention electric lights on the Hill.The February 2, 1910 News reported that the owners of the Electric Light Plant were purchasing a new dynamo and engine to be put into operation on a lot near the square. An entry later that spring (April 20) stated that "The engine is an automatic eighty horse power and will revolutionize the light system of Columbia." Since the campus being wired for electricity wasn't mentioned among the many improvements made in the latter part of 1909, perhaps Lindsey Wilson was wired for light after the Columbia Electric Light Plant was upgraded in the spring of 1910, or the school may have installed its own power plant sometime during the summer of 1910.

An article from the Wednesday, August 31 issue gives a glimpse of "who was who" on the Hill one hundred summers ago:
The teachers will all be in Saturday ready to begin work Monday:Miss Mattie Elliott will have charge of the Business department.Miss Ethel Lee Hatcher, of the Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, will teach both instrumental and vocal music.Miss Louise MacGavock, of Franklin, Tenn., will continue the Curry System of Expression.Miss Tillie Trabue will have charge of the Art Department.Miss Ruth Williams, of Rockfield, will assist in the lower grades.Mr. Paul Moss will of course be in his old place, and so will the principals, [P.D.] Neilson and [R.R.] Moss.
One of the first ads to appear for the school, way back in November, 1903, had unequivocally stated that
The discipline of the school will be strict, without being severe. Due respect for authority of the faculty, and ready compliance with the general rules will be required.
Several years later, in January, 1910, the News unflinchingly spoke thus of co-principals Moss and Nielson:
They are strictly leaders, teachers, disciplinarians who impress their pupils in that manner which brings the best results both in conduct and study.
Among the students mentioned as having entered at the start of the term were Miss Lena Oatts, of Rankin, Ky. (who came to Columbia to attend the Fair and stayed to attended the Training School); H.M. Barnett, of Big Spring, Ky.; and Miss Alva Knight, of Jamestown (who seven years later married Will Diddle, a brother of Uncle Ed.)

By mid-September, a week or after classes started, the News, ever the cheerleader for education, reported that
Students are entering the Lindsey-Wilson daily and the indications point to the largest attendance for several years. The advantages are good and board and tuition cheap. Parents who intend to send their sons and daughters go school should start them now. There is no good reason in paying out three hundred dollars for board and tuition when the same can be secured at the Lindsey-Wilson for $115. Besides, Columbia is one of the healthiest towns in Kentucky.
At the time, students were admitted at nearly any time during the school year. An ad directed toward potential adult (i.e., Normal School) students ran for a few weeks in September:
"If you have a crop of tobacco, enter by the first of October. One whole year in our school is worth two Spring terms, and more. Total expense, one year, $110.00."
In this era, it was common practice for those teaching in public schools to teach the school term, generally August through early January, then attend a Normal School session in the winter or early spring.

In continuance of this theme, a short "editorial" entry in a late November copy of the paper opined that
Now that farmers are about through gathering corn, we would like to see young men pouring in at the Lindsey Wilson.
Then, as now, Lindsey Wilson provided entertaining events for the town. A line ad in the October 12 edition informed readers, somewhat tersely, "Basket Ball game Friday night at Lindsey-Wilson, between Columbia Athletic Association and Lindsey Wilson. Admission 15 cents." This was actually a double-header, the other game being the girls' dorm team against the town girls team. The former team was composed of Misses Annie Hodges, Alva Knight, Ella Todd, Leontine Leechman, and Allie Garnett. Scores were reported for neither game, but both Lindsey teams won.

A basketball game played about a month later made the front page of the News, complete with a number of now-cryptic references:
The Columbia Athletic Club goes down to defeat at the hand of the Lindsey-Wilson midgets in one of the most thrilling battles fought this year. At first it looked as if there were nothing to it but the town boys, and at the end of the first half the score stood 21 to 13, for C.S.A. boys, but after encouragement by the lady "Bugs" during the rest they went back in the second half with new spirit and threw ten field goals and two fowls (sic). The final score stood 35 to 23 in favor of the Lindsey Midgets. (November 15, 1910.)
/However, the entertainment highlights of the year were more cultural in nature, and the News consistently gave good reviews, as was the case in the December 28, 1910 edition:
Last Tuesday evening the music pupils of Miss Ethel Lee Hatcher, assisted by the expression students of Miss MacGavock, gave a delightful recital in the Lindsay-Wilson chapel. The entire seating capacity was taken long before the beginning of the program, and those who attended felt fully repaid, for each number given was well rendered and heartily applauded. Misses Hatcher and Milliken sang "Till we meet again," the accompaniment being played by Miss Annie Hodges. The "Bird song" given by Miss Milliken was indeed a treat to all music lovers. Each one of the young ladies did splendidly and easily convinced the patrons and friends that they has been carefully trained and that quite a good deal of work was required in memorizing of the difficult numbers given by music pupils as well as expression. Thanks are due Misses Hatcher and MacGavock and those who took part for a very enjoyable evening and here's hoping we will have more like it during the spring term.
An earlier performance by Misses MacGavock and Hatcher had also drawn rave reviews:
...[T]he large auditorium of Lindsey-Wilson was completely filled long before the hour for the exercises to begin....Never in the history of this institution has an audience been more highly entertained...Columbia feels justly proud of these two young ladies and we look forward to many more like occasions during their stay with us.
And too, there were on-campus events just for the inhabitants of the Hill, as seen in this "peek through the window" at Hallowe'en, Monday evening, October 31st, 1910:
A delightful time at the Lindsey-Wilson Monday night. The dining room hall and other parts of the building were artistically decorated, the teachers, their wives and pupils all taking part in a few hours of merriment. One who peeped in on the happy throng says the building never looked handsomer nor faces more brighter.
And finally, a new ad for the LWTS started appearing the closing days of 1910, this one proclaiming that Lindsey was "Preparatory for Colleges. Rated as 'Class A' By Association of Kentucky Colleges."

(Parts of the above article are adapted from From Hope to Hilltop and are used with permission. -"Jim")

This story was posted on 2010-08-23 11:17:20
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