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Historical Facts

In honor of the many feats that have each contributed to the development and evolution of Hiram College (formerly the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute), a list of historical facts has been created to let each of us know where Hiram College has been and how it has changed.

July 30, 1808
Elder Thomas G. Jones forms a Baptist congregation in Bethesda, Ohio. This congregation would later develop into the Disciples of Christ, the founding organization of Hiram College.

March 3, 1811
Edwin Babcock, the first white child born in Hiram Township, is born.

December 13, 1813
Twenty students attend the first school classes ever in the Hiram area. Teacher Benjamin Hinckley holds the classes in a log cabin.

November 19, 1831
James Abram Garfield is born in Orange Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. He is the youngest of five children born to Abram and Eliza Ballou Garfield and weighs 10 pounds at birth. Prior to becoming the last United States president to be born in a log cabin, Garfield had worked his way up from being a janitor to the Principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College).

March 31, 1837
Burke Aaron Hinsdale is born on a farm near Wadsworth, Ohio. At 16, he entered Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College), eventually becoming an instructor. He was one of the few who remained at the Institute during the Civil War. In 1869, he became a professor of philosophy, English theory, and political science. The next year he became President of Hiram College, a post he held until 1882.

June 12, 1849
Representatives of the Disciples of Christ meet at the South Russell, Ohio home of Ambrose Latin Soule. While there, they vote to establish an academic institution - the beginning plans for Hiram College.

November 7, 1849
The Disciples of Christ choose the village of Hiram for the location for the establishment of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later known as Hiram College). Hiram was chosen over North Bloomfield, Newton Falls, Shalersville, Aurora, Russell, and Bedford.

December 20, 1849
The founders of the new academic institution at Hiram chose the name "Western Reserve Eclectic Institute" as suggested by Isaac Errett. They chose 12 men for the first board of trustees.

March 1, 1850
The Ohio Legislature approves the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute's charter. (The Institute would later be called Hiram College.)

November 27, 1850
Classes begin for the first time at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College). Eighty-four students enroll the first day, and over the course of the academic year, 313 students would enroll. Amos Sutton Hayden was Principal.

August 25, 1851
James Abram Garfield enrolls in the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College). He later becomes Principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, serves in the United States' congress, and becomes the 20th U.S. President.

January 8, 1853
The Olive Branch Society, a literary society for women, was organized.


The first ever Sugar Day is held. A day of fun and games, it was held when maple trees began to produce sap which could then be turned into sugar.

November 11, 1858
James A. Garfield, the Principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College), marries Lucretia "Crete" Randolph. The couple has several children, five of which survive to adulthood.

July 22, 1861
John Haven (class of 1859) is Hiram's first casualty in the American Civil War.

April 18, 1862
The Delphic Literary Society, founded in 1854, is reorganized.

May 2, 1862
The Hesperian Literary Society, established in 1855, is reorganized.

May 10, 1865
Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, is captured in southern Georgia. Lt. Colonel Benjamin Pritchard (class of 1858) accepts Davis' surrender.

August 31, 1866
The first Alumni Reunion is held.

February 20, 1867
The Western Reserve Eclectic Institute incorporates as a college and its name changes to 'Hiram College' because the location has become so well known.

June 14, 1867
The Alumni Association is founded.

August 31, 1867
Hiram College opens as a chartered college for the first time under Dr. Silas E. Shepard as president.

June 11, 1868
The first College Commencement ceremony takes place. The Garrettsville Journal reported that it was quite warm and the tent where the exercises took place blocked what little breeze was stirring. Local business people make a killing selling fans to the crowd.

December 15, 1875
Almeda A. Booth dies in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. One of the first professors at Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College), she would later serve as Dean of Women. She taught and mentored James A. Garfield, Burke A. Hinsdale, and Virgil P. Kline. She developed a close friendship with Garfield, which lasted until Booth's death in 1872. They exchanged letters which included her thoughts of a mid-nineteenth century intellectual woman who felt herself at odds with society's conventions. In 1913, the Hiram College Trustees voted that an endowed chair be established in honor of Booth and was inaugurated in 1915. The chair was occupied until 1984. Furthermore, Booth residence hall was built in 1952 in her honor.

Construction begins on "Ladies' Hall" (later Bowler Hall).

November 10, 1879
Poet, Vachel Lindsay was born in Springfield, Illinois. Vachel was a student at Hiram College from 1897 to 1899, however he did not obtain a degree. On May 29, 1919, Vachel left Springfield to carry copies of his work to trade. He planned to walk to Los Angeles, then to Seattle, and back to Springfield. His plan was aborted in New Mexico, where he took a train to Los Angeles and spent a month writing the poem "General Williams Booth Enters into Heaven." The poem earned Vachel an award for best poem of the year from Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. Two other well-known poems by Vachel are "The Congo" (1914) and "Factory Windows are Always Broken" (1916). In February, 1915 Vachel recited before Woodrow Wilson's cabinet. Before his death on December 5, 1931, he was made Doctor Honoris Causa by Hiram College in 1930.

September 10, 1880
A.S. Hayden, the first Principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College), died. A preacher, Hayden was among the founders of the school and of the Ohio Christian Missionary Society. An author and well-known musician, he contributed to the history of Ohio's Western Reserve by writing History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve.

November 2, 1880
James A. Garfield, former Principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College), is elected 20th president of the United States by fewer than 10,000 popular votes. In the electoral college, however, there was no contest. Garfield garnered 369 votes over his opponent, Democrat General Winfield Scott Hancock, who only received 155 votes.

March 4, 1881
James Abram Garfield, 49-year-old Republican, is inaugurated as the 20th President of the United States. His mother becomes the first to attend her son's inauguration. Garfield had previously served in Congress and as Principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College).

July 2, 1881
United States President James A. Garfield is shot twice in the back at a Washington, D.C. railroad station. Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin, was a disappointed Republican who wanted Garfield's vice-president, Chester A. Arthur to be president. Garfield lingered until September 19th, when he died of blood poisoning.

September 19, 1881
United States President James A. Garfield dies in Elberon, New Jersey over two months after being shot by an assassin. Garfield died from blood poisoning that he contracted from doctors' probing his wound for the bullet. He became the 4th president to die in office and he was buried in Cleveland.

June 17, 1886
The cornerstone of the College Building's expansion is laid.

January 11, 1887
The first College Building is dedicated; it housed all functions of the college.

Hiram's first football team is organized.

April 5, 1890
Delegates from Case Western University, Hiram College, Adelbert College, and Mt. Union College meet in Cleveland to organize the Northern Ohio Inter-Collegiate Association. Sports included under the association's contract were lawn tennis, football, baseball, and a general field day. Hiram's first football team was organized the following September. Over a century later, in December 1998, Hiram College becomes a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference.

January 5, 1894
Electric lights are used for the first time at Hiram.

The Hiram Church burns to the ground.

November 6, 1897
Basketball makes its debut at Hiram.

January 23, 1898
The Old College windmill blows down in a storm.

November 1, 1898
Football is abolished as "too dangerous" by the college. Hiram's first football team had been organized in September 1890, and the first collegiate team was formed in 1892.

February 10, 1899
The coldest weather to date is recorded in Hiram; Professor George Colton takes a reading of 22.5 degrees below zero.

October 13, 1901
The first regular electric trolley of the Eastern Ohio Traction Company from Cleveland enters Hiram at 8:30 am.

October 25, 1901
Dedication of library and observatory presented by Abram Teachout.

July 13, 1904
Hiram College wins the inter-collegiate basketball world championship at the World's Fair Universal Exposition Olympic Games in St. Louis, Missouri. Final score: Hiram, 25; Latter Day Saints University, 18.

May 20, 1908
Minor Lee Bates is inaugurated as president of Hiram College.

March 23-25, 1913
The first day of "The Great Flood." Professor George Colton measures 6.44 inches of water in Hiram, Ohio. The flood sticks around until the 25th.

March 2, 1915
Fire damages the attic and roof of Bowler Hall. While there is no record of anyone dying in the fire; however, the legend of "Ethel" is born.

May 20, 1921
Hiram College's first Campus Day is held. The day is spent cleaning campus and planting scenery.

June 15, 1925
Hiram observes its 75th commencement.

December 28, 1928
The Hiram athletic mascot changes to the "Fighting Terriers." Hiram's teams were called the "Farmers" for a few months earlier that year and then were known as the "Mudhens" for a few more. (Prior to 1928, Hiram did not have a mascot.) The lasting mascot, the Terrier, can be attributed to Herb Matthews, then a coach for Hiram. At a banquet, he is quoted as describing Hiram athletics as "a little bull terrier that holds on until the end."


September, 1932
The Warren Ohio Branch of Hiram College opened. In response to the Great Depression the Warren Branch offered a more affordable means for students to take first and second year college classes. Classes were held first in the Warren YMCA and them in the Kinsman Homestead. The experiment did not work and with enrollment down and deficits up, the Branch was closed in 1937.


November 3, 1933
The tradition of loud fanfare to usher in Campus Day begins as low-flying planes drop flyers detailing the day's agenda over campus.

January 8, 1934
The faculty was summoned to vote on a new draft for proposed schedule changes that incorporated intensive study courses. It was called the Hiram Study Plan and was approved by the faculty for a trial period of three years.

November 13, 1934
A fire destroys the 1895 Administration Building. Once the flames are extinguished, all that remained was the 1927 addition. The building had housed not only the administration houses, but also the gymnasium, locker rooms, club rooms, and auditorium. Construction on a new administration building begins on the same site at Commencement in 1935. When the structure is completed that winter, it is named Bates Hall in honor of former Hiram president Minor Lee Bates.

October 1, 1935
The Treasurer's office of Hiram College was robbed at noon while the treasurer was out to lunch. John Darsie '31 and August Pryatel '36 were unlucky enough on that day to be in the office at lunch time. Both men were forced to lie on the floor, after which their hands were taped behind their backs. The thieves got away with $50 in cash, $250 in checks, and both men's watches. While the college was able to recoup its losses through insurance, the two men's watches were gone for good.

November 1, 1935
An earthquake rocks the Great Lakes region in the early hours of the morning. More than one Hiram student is woken up by tremors.

November 15, 1935
Mary Boyer, class of 1933, takes up her new position as Hiram College's first full-time alumni representative.

December 6, 1935
Hiram's municipal electrical plant begins generating electricity for the first time. The plant featured three diesel-powered engines capable of producing up to 252 kilowatts of energy for the village and college. (Despite the fact that both required less than 100 kilowatts to function.) On Dec. 13th, the plant was ceremonially opened. Note that there had been a light plant in Hiram since the mid 1890s.

December 6, 1935
Hiram College resigned from the Ohio Athletic Conference. Several decades later, in the 1990s, Hiram returned to the conference for a few years before joining the North Coast Athletic Association.

February 22, 1936
The new Administration Building is dedicated (the previous one was destroyed in a 1934 fire). The structure would later be renamed 'Bates Hall' in honor of former Hiram College president Minor Lee Bates.

December 2, 1936
The student body voted on whether they wished to have the Hiram Study Plan continued. Out of 311 votes, 276 voted in the affirmative. The results allowed the faculty to consider the issue seven days later.

December 9, 1936
The faculty voted on whether to continue the Hiram Study Plan of intensive courses. The results: 88.89% vote to continue the plan.

February 12, 1939
The north wing of the library burns. An immediate result of the fire was the removal of the Observatory on the top of the building (then known has Teachout Cooley) and its relocation to Rt. 82.

Lucille (Gault) Draper, a Spanish professor, leads seven students to Mexico, beginning Hiram's extramural program.

October 4, 1940
Paul H. Fall was inaugurated as the 10th president of Hiram College. At a ceremony, Old Main is dedicated.

February 28, 1941
A Civilian Pilot Training Program begins for students.

January 18, 1943
Francis Milton Bacon (class of 1928) dies on an oil tanker off the coast of South Carolina, becoming Hiram's first casualty of World War II.

February 28, 1943
The first contingent of the Army Air Corps students, numbering 125, arrives at Hiram for pilot training. The Corps would dominate campus until April 20, 1944.

April 30, 1944
Hiram ceases to function as a training site for the Army Air Corps. The first group of trainees had arrived over a year before on February 28, 1943.

Old Main is forced to close because of fuel shortages.

May 8, 1945
V-E Day; A service of thanksgiving is held in the Hiram Church.

Old Main is renamed "Hinsdale Hall" in memory of Burke Aaron Hinsdale. He had served as president of Hiram College from 1870 to 1883 when he retired to become Superintendent of Cleveland Public Schools.

October 22, 1949
Hiram's Terriers face off against the Ashland Eagles in Hiram's Centennial Homecoming football game. Final Score: Hiram, 12; Ashland, 6.

October 23, 1949
The Centennial Founders' Day program is held.

June 9, 1950
Commencement Weekend takes place as Hiram's 100th class graduates. "Arsenic and Old Lace" is presented by the drama department as part of the celebrations.

June 10, 1950
One-hundredth commencement celebrations continue with an outdoor banquet; 900 alumni and friends attend.

May 2, 1956
Mock Democratic National Convention is held in Hayden Auditorium. The convention featured political speeches and voting. Students registered as 'delegates' from all 48 states nominated Lyndon Johnson of Texas to run for President and Governor Muskie as his running mate. The convention was a tradition as a presidential voting-year approached.

May 27, 1961
Hiram's new football field is christened Henry Field in honor of Charles A. Henry, Hiram class of 1920. Situated on the location of the original Hiram Athletic Field, it has a press box that is the envy of other colleges in the North Coast Athletic Association, Division III.

November 22, 1963
United States President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In Hiram, a heading in The Terrier (the student newspaper, now called The Advance) read: "As If The World Had Stopped For A While" - an excellent summary of the campus' response. A memorial service was held in Hayden Auditorium at 7 p.m. as the surprise and disbelief gave way to numbness and even anger. In the following days, political discussions were heightened on campus while students and faculty tried to discern what impact Kennedy's death would have on the next presidential election.

April 25, 1964
A Mock Democratic National Convention is held in Hayden Auditorium. The convention featured political speeches and voting. Students registered as 'delegates' from all the states nominated Henry Cabot Lodge for President and William Scranton for Vice President. The convention was a tradition as a presidential voting-year approached.

The first Madrigal dinner is held.

July 15, 1969
Demolition begins on Hinsdale Hall. The building had been originally built in 1850.

October 25, 1969
The new Humanities and Social Sciences Building dedicated as 'Hinsdale Hall'. Demolition on the previous Hinsdale Hall had begun in July 1969.

May 4, 1970
Four Kent State University students die and 13 are injured in a confrontation with the National Guard. The incident occurred following a weekend of demonstrations, rioting, arrests, detentions, and a burned ROTC building on the Kent State campus. Martial law is declared and a 5 p.m. curfew is set in place in and around Kent, Ohio.

May 14, 1970
Sugar Day, a traditional campus-wide day of amusement, was redirected to a more somber issue. Renamed the "Festival of Life," the day was spent emphasizing campus' positive actions towards peace. Visiting speaker, Dr. William D'Antonio of Notre Dame University, spoke on student and faculty activism. The day also featured a picnic lunch and a multi-media presentation by the Hiram Department of Speech and Theater Arts called "What Kind of People are We?"

May 20, 1970
The student film, "Welcome to Hiram," premiers on campus. Hiram students Al Kraft, Don Kline, Greg Uhrin, Bob Wilson, and Lennie Mordarski had filmed the 30-minute video on campus over a two-month period, during which nearly half the campus became involved in the movie. According to The Hiram Advance, the film's object is to contrast revolution with the "Hiram view of middle America." The film originally aired at a film festival in Hudson, Ohio.

September 10, 1970
Hiram College is voted into the prestigious United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa at their meeting held today. Over 90% of members present voted Hiram's admittance. Drs. George Morgan and Dallas High had begun the application process over three years earlier. Out of an original 100 preliminary applications, Hiram and 18 other schools were selected for further study.

January 26, 1978
One of the worst blizzards in Ohio history closes Hiram College.

April 5, 1984
Adah Peirce dies in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Born April 29, 1896, she had served as Hiram College's Dean of Women and the head of the sociology department from 1931 until her retirement in 1965. She also served as the President of the Ohio Association of Dean of Women from 1936 to 1938. A memorial service was held April 7th in the Kennedy Center.

November 9, 1989
A Hiram study abroad trip is in progress when the Berlin Wall falls. The group of 20 students was lead by professors David and Sigrid Anderson and Denny Taylor.

September 7, 1995
The new library is dedicated.

September 23, 1999
Hiram College celebrates its 150th anniversary during Campus Day. The day's 'alien' theme included the 'abductions' of students, faculty, and administration. Ransoms, paid by sympathetic friends, went to local charities. Following the traditional faculty-served brunch, students were treated to free massages and alien-hair makeovers. The day was filled with other fun happenings including service projects around campus.

April 7, 2000
The Esther and Carl Gerstacker Science Hall is dedicated. Featuring state-of-the-art laboratories, the building is named in honor of Esther Schuette Gerstacker '36 and her husband. It also provides office space for several branches of the sciences, encouraging collaboration.

September 11, 2001
National tragedy struck as the world watched the Pentagon burn and the World Trade Center towers collapse. As news of a third crash in Pennsylvania field was reported, Hiram, like most places, took a jagged, collective breath and fell seemingly still. Only the solemn, quiet undertones conveying the news across campus revealed the strong undercurrent of tension teetering on alarm. As the college community gathered around the flag pole for contemplation and prayers, classes continued, although most evolved into somber ad-hoc discussion forums. Later in the day, floor meetings took place around the campus and a vigil was held at Hiram Church. In the following days, official discussion groups held by professors took place on the campus green. Elsewhere in the world, two study abroad groups, one in France and one in England, received news of their families through Hiram College's Center for International Studies.

February 14, 2002
Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Kyle Olsen, a leading expert in biological weapons, participate in a Hiram College panel discussion concerning issues of liberty and national security.

April 7, 2002
Hiram alumnus and novelist Scott Lax speaks at a college assembly about the film adapted from his novel, The Year That Trembled. Filmed during the summer of 2001 in Hiram, Chagrin Falls, and Garrettsville, the film premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Award-winning writer Jay Craven wrote the film's screenplay.

June 12, 2003
Hiram unveils its new Terrier logo at the annual alumni golf outing. Designed by Kimberly Torda, the college's graphic designer, and former All-American golfer Gary Lipski '71, the image features a contemporary profile of a terrier along with a new typeface.

September 13, 2003
The dedication and ground-breaking ceremony is held for the new Les and Kathy Coleman Sports, Recreation and Fitness Center. Faculty, staff, trustees, investors and students attended the luncheon and ceremony. A football game followed. The Coleman Center project will consist of renovations to the existing facilities and a building addition. The addition, which will be the new field house, will wrap around the south side of the football field. This project will add 86,000-square-feet to the existing structure and will house fitness rooms, meeting and office spaces, classrooms, and a gymnasium with an elevated indoor running track.

October 4, 2003
The Dr. Myrtis E. Herndon Softball Field begins its life with a dedication ceremony and an exhibition softball game between the Hiram Terriers and the Oberlin Yeowomen. The field's namesake, Dr. Myrtis Herndon, was a faculty member of Hiram's athletic department for 30 years. During that time, she taught physical education classes and worked as a coach, official, and administrator.

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