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JIM: 100 years ago - Commencement in Columbia, 1913

Activities at Lindsey Wilson were over a week long
This installment of Commencement in Columbia covers activities at Lindsey Wilson. Next installment will be Commencement in Columbia, 1913, Part II: The Graded School

By JIM

Simply put, anyone in Columbia who complained of "nothing to do" in the middle weeks of May 1913 lived under a rock -- a very large, heavy rock -- especially considering the cornucopia of events featured free admission.

The festivities began with the annual Lindsey Wilson Field Day on Friday, May 9th and continued through the commencement service for the "County Graded School" class of 1913 on Thursday, May 22nd, with a whirlwind of activities between.


Part I: The Lindsey Wilson Training School

Friday, May 9th: Annual Field Day:

For the first time, field day activities were preceded by a parade of Lindsey Wilson students. The News reported that
"Every body in Columbia was called from their places of business last Friday forenoon to witness the parade of the Lindsey-Wilson students. The young ladies were dressed in all white, many of them carrying flags and the school pennant. The young men were attractively attired, making the procession a fine drawing card for the Field Day exercises...No finer body of young gentlemen and ladies has ever been on parade in this town."
(Although not so stated, the most likely parade route was from Arbor Vitae Hill to and around the Square via Campbellsville Street and back to campus.)

In the athletic contests that day, Pulaski Countian Fred Rainwater, then nearly 26, dominated the men's events, taking no fewer than seven first place finishes and racking up enough points to (again) claim the gold medal offered by Rev. A.R. Kasey. In the rather limited women's events, Lula Williams took honors in the egg race and the apple-eating contest and won two boxes of candy for her efforts, and the Philomathes Society won the girls' relay race.

Tuesday evening, May 13th: Recital, Piano Graduates

Although billed as a recital of graduates (plural), Miss Cary Rosenfield apparently was the only student to have completed the prescribed course. Of her, the News said "Too much praise cannot be give Miss Rosenfield...[T]he large audience was treated to four beautiful numbers faultlessly rendered."

(Although no events were formally scheduled for Wednesday, May 14th, Mother Nature provided a bit of unexpected entertainment -- and excitement -- near campus that afternoon when "lightning struck a large oak tree between the Lindsey-Wilson and Dr. S.P. Miller's residence, setting it afire, and it was burning an hour or two after the electrical storm was over.")

Thursday evening, May 15th: Recital, Expression Graduates The Misses Ollie Crockett and Myrtle Sageser comprised this class. They gave their recitals to a packed house and "were encored repeatedly," closing with a two character play, "A Fair Encounter." (This was a one-act comedy; the characters portrayed were those of Lady Clara St. John and Mrs. Celia Greville.)

Friday evening, May 16th: Recital, Music Class
"Quite disagreeable weather" hindered attendance for this recital, but those who came were treated both to vocal and instrumental numbers, "rendered without a hitch and showed that the members not only possessed rare talent but that they had received excellent training."
Saturday evening, May 17th: "An Evening of Plays"

Unfortunately, the News gave no details concerning this entertainment, simply stating that the evening's presentations were under the direction of Miss Bess Shannon (the Expression instructor) and that "This was one of the best and most entertaining recitals ever given from that platform and teacher and pupils alike deserve much praise." Sunday morning, May 18th: Baccalaureate Sermon

Rev. A.R. Kasey delivered the commencement sermon at his former charge, the Columbia Methodist Church, and, in the wont and gave forth a with a splendid discourse, "abounding in helpful thoughts for the young--advice, that if taken, profit will follow."

Monday morning, May 19th: Graduation Exercises

At 10 o'clock sharp that Monday morning a century ago, friends and family gathered for the graduation services, "thus closing the most entertaining commencement week in the history of the school." Rev. Kasey spoke again, this time drawing on Longfellow's "Excelsior" for inspiration the News reporting that this "was among the best things ever given in our town, and the hearty applause gave evidence that it fell on appreciative ears."

In addition to the aforementioned Miss Rosenfield and the Misses Crockett and Sageser, all of whom were awarded certificates in their chosen fields, five other students received diplomas. These students and the topics of the papers they presented were:
  • Thetis Williams, "Visions." (Miss Williams was the niece of Eld. Z.T. Williams.)

  • William Ernest Harris, "Ambition." (Mr. Harris was the son of long-time News editor Charles Snow Harris.)

  • William Frederick Rainwater, "The Teacher." (After a brief homesteading stint near Jordan, Montana, Fred and his wife Lottie returned to Pulaski County in the early 1920s where they taught for several years.)

  • Charles Blackmore Diddle, "The Call of Uncle Sam for Educated Men." (Mr. Diddle was an older brother of Edgar Allen Diddle.)

  • Julian Adair Hodges, "Advantage of Country Life to the Development of Character." (Mr. Hodges, of Green County, later earned the BS and MS degrees in Agriculture from the University of Kentucky and went on to author, co-author, and contribute to a number of works in his chosen field. In 1927, he was an assistant professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State Agricultural College.)
(An article in the May 21 edition stated the News had asked for a copy of each of the presentations noted above, adding that "week by week they will appear in this paper." For reasons quite unknown but perhaps in an act of mercy, that promise never came to fruition.)

Prof. Paul Neilson presented the diplomas and certificates, Rev. J.S. Chandler made a brief talk about the progress of school during its first decade, "Miss Ruth Miliken in her usual charming manner sang 'Good-Bye,'" and the curtain closed 'round the Lindsey Wilson Class of 1913.

This was undoubtedly a bittersweet moment for Prof. Neilson--after eight years at Lindsey, he had resigned his position there to accept another in Tennessee.

(To be continued: Commencement in Columbia, 1913, Part II: The Graded School) - JIM


This story was posted on 2013-05-19 18:40:47
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