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JIM: The Lindsay-Wilson. Impact on Columbia has been huge

What size town would Columbia be at this time had not this school been established here? from the Adair County News, 90 years ago, in September 1921 - JIM

By "Jim"

From the very hour [Lindsey Wilson's] bell called the first ingathering of students to its halls, a steady and almost phenomenal growth, both in students and interest, have been experienced, and just what its future will reveal can not be foretold. - the Adair County News, 1905.

When this graying alum attended Lindsey Wilson College a few (or perhaps more) decades ago, there were some 175 full time students, about 20 full time faculty members, and six administrators, including the President.

Recent articles in ColumbiaMagazine lead me to believe these numbers have edged up a bit in the ensuing years. That aside, however, "The Lindsey-Wilson," as it was known in the early years, has been integral to Columbia for the past one hundred seven and years, since the day its doors opened in January 1904.

From the beginning -- from before the beginning -- Lindsey Wilson had no greater champion than the Adair County News. In the fall of 1902, when the decision to locate the school in Columbia was tantalizingly close but not yet made, the News pointedly told its readers,

We are not for the Methodist school because of religious views but for the simple fact that a school of such magnitude would be a power for good and a blessing to our town in a business sense as well as otherwise.

And a few weeks later,

The importance of moving forward with this proposition, until it is crowned with success ought to arouse the people of this town and county... To lose now would be equal to a calamity and to cease work may mean a loss.

Ninety years ago this week, the News reported (and opined) that

The Lindsey-Wilson will open September 6th and prospects are good for a splendid beginning. The dormitories have been put in a good sanitary condition, and the best of water is on the grounds. The faculty is made up of experienced teachers, and the discipline is correct. The school is run economically, and the closest attention is paid students...

The above article concluded with this chilling question:

What size town would Columbia be at this time had not this school been established here?

Perhaps the News itself had given the best, albeit indirect, answer in December, 1904, less than a year after Lindsey Wilson opened:

This enterprise has done more to awaken our people, to brighten the future of Columbia, to invite worthy families to cast lots with us than any other, if not all, other recent enterprises combined.

In February, 1906, came a more concrete answer, as the News announced that "Columbia has doubled her population since the Lindsay-Wilson opened." This came on the heels of a well-aimed jab at the nattering nabobs of negativism:

Those who laughed at the solicitors for funds to build the Lindsay-Wilson School ought to now realize the magnetic touch given Columbia. Every thing is moving and the future is rosy. It takes schools to bring our inland towns the most desirable citizens. We have the attractions and the people, the kind we want, are coming, coming.

Compiled by "Jim"

This story was posted on 2011-08-14 08:10:16
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