Wagner College: Four Histories
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Wagner College: Four Histories Document Transcript

  • 1. Wagner College: Four Histories THIR D REV I S ED ED IT I O N — M A Y 2 0 1 1 Richard Darrow Harald K. Kuehne William Ludwig Lee Manchester Walter T. Schoen Jr. Frederic Sutter with Brian Morris E D IT ED BY L E E M AN C H E ST ER
  • 2. Wagner College: Four Histories
  • 3. Introduction The publication of this small volume, coinciding with the 125thanniversary of the founding of Wagner College, is the first attempt atpublishing a history of the school — actually, four histories. The main contributions to this collection were written by fourauthors: Harald Kuehne, Walter Schoen, Brian Morris (ghost writingfor the Rev. Frederic Sutter) and Lee Manchester. Manchester alsoserved as the volume’s editor. These main essays were the basis of aspecial forum on Wagner College history held September 12, 2008. The collection also includes five appendices. The first, profilingthe early “direktors” (German for headmaster or president) ofWagner College, was compiled by Lee Manchester, based upon a setof profiles written by early Wagner professor William Ludwig. Thesecond appendix, describing student life at Wagner’s Rochestercampus, was written by Richard Darrow, the college’s assistantdirector of communications, for the January 1968 issue of WagnerMagazine. The remaining three appendices are tables reprinted frommaterials found in the college archives. HARALD K. KUEHNE wrote his contribution, “A Report on theReligious History of Wagner College,” for a Yale Divinity Schoolclass in May 1950, a year after he graduated from Wagner. His essaywas the earliest scholarly attempt at writing a history of the collegethat we had on file in the school’s archives. It starts off with ageneral history of the college, then focuses on an aspect of theinstitution that has changed dramatically since the 1950s: its religiouslife, orientation and affiliation. After graduating from Yale Divinity and the LutheranTheological Seminary in Philadelphia, the Rev. Harald Kuehne wascalled to become pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church inRockville Centre, Long Island, a position in which he served until hisretirement in 1989. He continues to serve as pastor emeritus at HolyTrinity. He is married to Britta (Woodbury) Kuehne, Wagner CollegeClass of 1950. “Wagner College literally saved me,” Rev. Kuehne wrote in arecent note for his annual class letter at Yale Divinity. “The war[World War II] took 4 years out of my life. My discharge wastraumatic — from the discipline of Army life to, ‘You’re on yourown, pal.’ I was a lost vet until my pastor told me to apply to a smallLutheran college on Grymes Hill, Staten Island. Half the studentbody was made up of ex-GIs. I was at home again.” viii
  • 4. WALTER T. SCHOEN JR. wrote “The Founding of WagnerCollege and the Early Years of Its Development” in May 1957 as hisEnglish thesis “under the supervision of one of Wagner’s outstandingprofessors, Dr. Ida Everson,” he recently recalled. While he was composing his meticulously documented essay,Schoen had access to early records and minutes of the college thatcan no longer be found or no longer exist; as such, it is the onlyreliable reference we still have to many key facts concerning thecreation of Wagner College. Schoen graduated from Wagner College in 1958. He earned hismaster’s degree at Columbia University and completed doctoral andpost-doctoral work at Southern Illinois, Syracuse and New Yorkuniversities. Schoen served as president at Monticello College, anddean at Ramapo State College and Somerset County College. Now retired, he lives in Pinehurst, North Carolina. His wife,Barbara R. (Brown) Schoen (Class of 1956), died in 2006. BRIAN MORRIS, a 1965 graduate of Wagner College, workedin the Wagner College Communications Office from 1967 to 1972.In 1968, he taped a series of extensive interviews with the Rev.Frederic Sutter, founder of the modern Wagner College on StatenIsland. Morris compiled those reminiscences into a memoir that wasfirst published around 1970 as “The Evolution of an Idea: Fifty Yearson Staten Island.” Morris, retired from his position as spokesman for Staten IslandUniversity Hospital, teaches part-time at St. John’s University,whose Staten Island campus is just a stone’s throw away fromWagner College. He is currently a member of Wagner’s NationalAlumni Association Communications Committee. He lives on StatenIsland. LEE MANCHESTER is Wagner’s media relations director. Hecame to the college in 2007, bringing with him 20 years ofexperience in public relations, journalism and publishing.Manchester is the author or editor of a dozen books, eight of them onregional history. His story on how he found the last survivingdescendants of the original Wagner family, “Finding GeorgeWagner: A Historical Detective Story,” appeared in the Summer2008 issue of Wagner Magazine. Manchester is also the author of anongoing feature in Wagner Magazine on the architectural history ofthe college’s Staten Island campus. He and his wife, Jody Leavens,live on Staten Island and in Jay, New York, outside Lake Placid. ix
  • 5. Notes on the revised edition of November 2008 After the initial publication of this book in August 2008, Ilearned that a key point in my essay, “Founding Faces and Places,”was inaccurate: The name of the elder Wagner who brought his family toRochester from Prussia in 1838 was not John George Wagner Sr., butGeorge Heinrich Wagner. My initial assumption had been based onthe inscription on George Heinrich Wagner’s tombstone, “GeorgeSr.” The fact is that George Heinrich was called “George Sr.”because his son, John George Wagner, was also referred to within thefamily as George. Wagner College’s early benefactor, John George Wagner, wasnot “John George Wagner Jr.” That name properly belongs to ourbenefactor’s son, J. George Wagner Jr., who died at the age of 19 andin whose honor the college was eventually renamed. I also learned that the wife of John George Wagner, ourbenefactor, was also his first cousin. John George’s marriage hadbeen arranged, long distance, by his father. Both this fact and thecorrect name of the eldest Wagner immigrant were disclosed in abatch of papers containing the genealogical research of John GordonMaier, a distant cousin of Margaret-Anne Milne, the great-granddaughter of John George Wagner. Upon visiting the grave of Christian Seel, in whose privatehome Wagner College was hosted for its inaugural academic year, Isaw that his tombstone claimed that he had died in 1893, though allother records agree that he died in 1895. I have found no explanationfor this contradiction. While visiting the Seel family grave site, I also learned thatChristian’s youngest son, Eduard, was of an age in 1883 that hewould undoubtedly have still been living at home when the secondfloor of his house was turned into the Lutheran Proseminary ofRochester. Finally, though I have discovered a Rochester newspaperobituary, for young George Wagner, I have still not determinedwhether or not he was enrolled at Newark Academy, a predecessor ofWagner College, at the time of his death. I had hoped that hisobituary might tell us what was his occupation at the time of hisdeath, but the accounts I found mentioned nothing about either hiswork or studies. x
  • 6. Earlier, I had tried to find an obituary for George Wagner inone of the two Newark, N.Y. daily newspapers that were inpublication at the time of George’s death. The Newark Unionnewspaper contained no mention during the month of October 1873of the death of anyone with a name like John George Wagner Jr.Microfilms for the 1873 issues of the Newark Courier — whichappears to have been the newspaper of record for Newark, N.Y.during that period — were missing from the microfilm series held bythe Newark Public Library when I visited over the summer of 2008.Librarians told me that the original hard copies of the Courier, fromwhich the microfilms had been made, no longer existed. Lee Manchester November 11, 2008 xi
  • 7. A report on the religious history of Wagner College by Harald K. Kuehne, May 1950 Foreword The title to this paper bears witness to its limitations: It is areport and not an exhaustive historical treatment. The study andresearch, which ought to have entailed at least a months time, werecompleted in feverish haste during a period of three days. Theapproach, therefore, is not a fully penetrating one; the analysis isneither clear-cut nor complete. As a result, the unique position whichWagner College has attained and holds today in the realm of highereducation cannot be made adequately evident to the mind of thereader solely through the means of this work. The writer has attempted to avoid misleading and mistakenconclusions and generalizations by keeping as close as possible tobasic concrete facts. The historical material was obtained largelyfrom facts and data as found in newspaper clippings, historicalcontributions and outlines, and catalogues. The contemporary pictureis presented, as the result of numerous interviews with members ofthe faculty and administration, examination of the Student ChristianAssociations minutes and files, and the writers own livingexperiences as an undergraduate student at Wagner College. A history of the college “The school had the name Wagner Memorial College, but itwas not a college in the American sense. It did not have the standard[curriculum] and was not recognized by the Regents of the State assuch. It was still a preparatory school for students of theology whosefinal examination entitled the students to the entrance in a theologicalseminary. The students who entered the college were supposed to begraduates of a Public School. They were probably 14 years old, butexceptions were made. Some were younger, some older. The Schoolhad a six years course, stretched out over six classes. In these classeswere about 23 students, who all came from German Lutherancongregations or Orphan Homes. Their mother tongue was German.So there were no difficulties as far as language was concerned.”1Such was the inauspicious position and unique make-up which this1 From “A Contribution to the History of Wagner Memorial College,” AugustusC. Redderoth, professor of Greek and General History at Wagner from 1892 to1896 (written in January 1947). 1
  • 8. tiny institution held in the year 1892 in the city of Rochester, NewYork. Why it was established, and how it has achieved its presentposition in the realm of higher learning, is an account rightfullywithin the scope of this report on the religious history of WagnerCollege. During the year of 1883 one of the major concerns of Lutheranministers and laymen in the state of New York was the discouragingshortage of Lutheran pastors able to preach as well as conversecompetently in German. Because of recent large waves of Germanimmigrants, almost every church in the New York Ministeriumconducted services regularly in the German language, and thus arosea need for German-speaking ministers. In August of this year, theRev. Alexander Richter, pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church inRochester, wrote a paper which he entitled, “From What SourcesShall We Draw our German Preachers?” Believing in action ratherthan mere words, Richter with the help of a colleague, the Rev.George H. Gomph, then pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church inPittsford, set about in gaining further support from other ministers aswell as laymen who were also interested in the establishment of asatisfactory preparatory school; such an institution, patterned afterthe German “gymnasium,” would serve as a proseminary for theeducation of young men entering the Lutheran ministry. Imbued with the realization of necessity and speedy action,Pastor Richter initiated the calling of a meeting of the RochesterPastoral Conference on October 15, 1883 for the purpose ofestablishing the required school. Present at this meeting wereRichter; Charles S. Kohler, Church of the Reformation; C.N. Conradof the Concordia Church; George H. Gomph, and Candidate GeorgeSeel. The first decision reached at this organizational gathering wasthat “the members of the Conference shall constitute the Board ofTrustees.” Mr. J.S. Margraender, a member of Zion Church, was alsoelected to the board and asked to serve as Treasurer, his initial taskbeing to carefully husband the total capital of the new institution —$10!2 The first president, Alexander Richter, was also elected by themembers of the board. Dr. Gomph was chosen as secretary, and Mr.Christian Seel, an elder of the Zion congregation, assented to givelodging to the student body of six and also provide the classrooms forthe new school in his large home. After deciding to name theinstitution “The Rochester Lutheran Proseminary,” the first meetingwas called to adjournment with a fervent plea to God for continued2 A typographical error copied from earlier accounts. The actual initial capital ofthe school was $100, a gift from supporter Justus Koch of Philadelphia. 2
  • 9. guidance and strength. And so — with a sincere and deep convictionin the aid and purpose of the Almighty — a new venture in Christianeducation was firmly initiated. The third school year of the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochesterbegan on September 1, 1885. The new board of trustees, elected onJanuary 12 of the following year, was a most important one for it wasthis same board which was to guide the institution through its firstperiod of transition, from proseminary to college. Pastor AlexanderRichter was once again re-elected president. Mr. John G. Wagnerwas elected vice president, Frederick Schlegel was made secretary,and David Bantleon became treasurer. In March 1884, the school had moved from Mr. Seel’s home toa large building on Oregon Street, formerly occupied by the SatterleeCollegiate Institute.3 This building was for sale at $12,000, and it washoped that the proseminary might be able to secure the funds withwhich to purchase the property. To this end, a drive was institutedwhich, once it had attained $6,000, would be used as the initialpayment. By January 1886, $5,700 had been subscribed by dint ofslow and painstaking labor. On June 8, 1886, the vice president, Mr.John G. Wagner, declared to the other members of the board that heand his wife had decided to pay the entire purchase price for the newlocation. This gift was to be considered a memorial to his sonGeorge, whose determination to enter the Lutheran ministry had beenthwarted by death. The generous donation on the part of the fatherwas accepted with unrestrained joy and heartfelt thanks by themembers of the board. It was further agreed to change the name ofthe institution to Wagner Memorial Lutheran College. In spite of this great blessing, the school did not escape frommisfortune and tribulation. “It is indeed the sad experience of allinstitutions, especially the new ones, that teachers and staff are moreor less troublesome. … But God was gracious; He saved us fromdespair and helped us through.”4 In spite of the distress of its“growing pains,” the young institution successfully continued theimportant task of thorough preparatory training of acceptableGerman students for the Lutheran Theological Seminary inPhiladelphia. In 1885, the first student, Francis Hoffman, was sentfrom the Rochester proseminary to Philadelphia. In 1886, four othergraduates from Rochester joined him. The hopes and prayers ofRichter, Gomph, and all the others were now bearing fruit; the task3 An intermediate facility has been missed here. The school moved from the Seelhouse in March 1884 to a three-story brick townhouse on South Avenue. It wasnot until 1885 that the school moved into the Oregon Street building.4 From “Geschichte des New York Ministeriums,” ed. John Nicum, 1888, p. 334. 3
  • 10. they had set upon themselves was indeed proving successful “andprospered with the aid of God.” The financial position of the college soon entered precariousstraits again. Merely a small percentage of the pecuniary supportcame from outside sources, and it soon became apparent thataccepting the demands of the growing institution was too great anundertaking for the primary benefactor, Zion Church in Rochester. Itwas felt necessary to either limit the field of labor to one phase oflearning and cut down the teaching staff, or to take a more lucrativestep in offering the school to the Evangelical Lutheran Ministeriumof New York. The question was settled in June 1888 when, at theSynod meeting at Rondout, N.Y., the proposal that Wagner Collegebe made the property of the New York Ministerium was accepted.The following June, formal and legal transfer of the school to theSynod was made at a meeting in Brooklyn. By order of the court, thenumber of trustees was increased from seven to twelve. In the fall of 1888, the Rev. Jacob Steinhaeuser of Rondout,N.Y. was called as director and charged with the internalmanagement and immediate supervision of the students. While thesix-year preparatory course [of the gymnasium curriculum] had beenretained, the institution was assuming more and more thecharacteristics of a regular American college. The greatest stress waslaid upon the study of languages. The students not only were well-grounded in Latin and Greek, in which languages dissertations werewritten weekly, they also spoke German and English with equal easeand fluency. Hebrew was taught as well as French. Much attentionwas given to the study of history, both secular and church history; tomental and moral philosophy, Christian ethics, and the usualbranches of mathematics; and to literature, science, etc. “It is just thekind of education that men must have in order to deal successfullywith our German-American citizens, be it in church, at the bar, at thesick bed, or in business.”5 In November 1893, the state of New York, on the basis of a lawpassed the previous year, attempted to force the school to omit theword “college” from its name because it did not have a $500,000endowment. Mr. Adolph J. Rodenbeck of Rochester, treasurer ofWagner’s board, was instructed to answer and appear before theregents. In his plea, Rodenbeck pointed out that by a change of namecertain valuable property which the institution had acquired — undercondition that its name should not be changed — would be placed in5 From an article on the college in the Rochester Union and Advertiser, May 19,1894. 4
  • 11. jeopardy; that the college would be deprived of a certain residuarylegacy; that the school was legally incorporated by act of legislature,and that by a decree of the Supreme Court its name had beenchanged from proseminary to college; that the law as passed by thestate of New York in 1892 was in its nature retroactive, thusunconstitutional; and that, even granted that under the amended actthe state legislature reserved for itself the right to change the name, ithad no power to delegate that right to a second party, namely, theregents.6 Rodenbeck apparently fought a good fight; further actionwas deferred by the regents until December, when it was determinedthat the name of Wagner Memorial Lutheran College was to remainas such. By 1894 the enrollment of students had increased to its highestfigure, 45. Tuition remained low — although raised during this yearfrom $32 to $40 — while sons of Lutheran pastors and parochialschool teachers received instruction free. Board was furnished at therate of $2.50 per week. “The expenses were small. The directorreceived $2,000 and residence. Prof. Betz $800 and residence in theSchool building.7 Prof. Genzmer who lived privately, $800. Prof.Redderoth $480 with room and board in the building. Prof. Schaefferalso $480 and room and board. So the total of salaries of the teachingstaff amounted to $4,560. Let us add an equal amount for fuel, light,food, repairs, and help, etc. we have a total of expenses of about$9,000. As little as that seems to be, it was not easy to get it. TheDirector sighed once: ‘If … yes … if we could get a quarter fromevery member of the Ministerium (which numbered about 40,000),we would have $10,000. But we never got that quarter!’ ”8 A new turn in the development of the college set in when theRev. Dr. John Nicum became the acting director. At a meeting of theboard in November 1894, Director Steinhaeuser was forced to resign.Prof. Redderoth describes the incident as follows: “The day after, hetold the writer, ‘They have thrown me out like a dog!’ The Facultywas never notified of the change that was made. It was only fromstudents that we learned that Dr. Nicum had taken charge of theclasses of Pastor Steinhaeuser. He never came into the room reservedfor the faculty. His orders appeared in writing outside of the door ofthe faculty room, signed ‘John Nicum, Director of Wagner College,6 A summary of the issue was included in the Rochester Union and Advertiserarticle of May 1894.7 Dr. Palleske says that Betz lived in school only at the beginning.8 Redderoth, “A Contribution … ” 5
  • 12. President of the Executive Committee and President of the Board ofTrustees.’ ”9 Why Steinhaeuser was dismissed and why Nicum took over theposition as head of the college is unknown. The fact remains that theschool was from then on steered in a different direction. The collegenow operated under the regents and was forced to prepare thestudents for numerous examinations — in which they excelled,compared with students of other institutions. Nicum remaineddirector for seven years. And although the number of studentsenrolled declined from one semester to the next, the board supportedhim, until enrollment fell to its lowest level of 17 students.10 It wasthen that the board decided it was time for new leadership, andelected a new director. Nicum’s venture had ended in failure. Thecollege, however, has honored his devotion and services with theerection of the Nicum Memorial Tower at the entrance of the presentAdministration Building — a memorial that was built, in part, withmoney left in John Nicum’s will for that purpose, and whichamounted nearly to the total salary he had received as director of thecollege. Following Nicum’s departure, the Rev. Joseph Rechtsteineraccepted the vacated post of leadership. He was not only director, butalso professor of Latin, Hebrew, Greek, New Testament, Ethics,Theology, Logic, and History. Under his direction as well as that ofthe Rev. Herman D. Kraeling and the Rev. John A.W. Kirsch, whofollowed him, the college continued to educate its young men alongthe original lines. At the turn of the [20th] century, in 1904, “owing tofinancial difficulties, the institution found itself in a very precariouscondition.” But its cry for assistance did not go unheeded. A numberof extremely generous donations were made, and on May 14, 1908— just 25 years since its humble beginning — an anniversary servicewas held in the mother church [Zion] in Rochester, and a campaignwas launched that resulted successfully in the raising of $19,000 as aSilver Jubilee Fund. Another significant development was in the offing. As early as1901, pastors and laymen connected with Wagner College had feltthat a change of location for the school was highly desirable. Alongwith a move to a more commendable site, it was urged that there be a9 From Augustus C. Redderoth, op. cit.10 An enrollment table compiled in 1954 from college catalogues and registrar’srecords show the enrollment statistics as being somewhat less disastrous thanthis. During Nicum’s tenure as director, enrollment fluctuated between 45 and 31students; the lowest enrollment since 1886, 25 students, was not posted until 2years after Nicum’s departure. 6
  • 13. broadening in the field of the institution and a change in some of itspolicies. Coincidental with this was the strong recommendation madeby a group of Staten Island residents — including the Rev. FredericSutter,11 pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Edmond Schaefer, andE.C. Meurer — that the borough of Richmond of New York City bethe college’s new home. The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce,through Cornelius G. Kolff, also voiced approval, promised itssupport, and acknowledged the fact that the college would be a stepof progress for the island community. At length, on October 25,1916, at a special meeting in Utica, N.Y., the Synod decided that thecollege be moved, and accordingly passed a resolution authorizing acampaign for $100,000 which sum was to be used to purchase afeasible site in the southern part of the state of New York.Meanwhile, negotiations had been afoot for the acquisition of theCunard estate atop Grymes Hill on Staten Island. And in September1917, this property — totaling 38 acres and four buildings12 — waspurchased at the cost of $63,000. Most of the remaining funds wereinvested in the additional acquisition of the adjoining JacobVanderbilt estate of 15 acres.13 In 1918, therefore, Wagner College with an enrollment of 16students14 bade farewell to its Rochester home and took up its newquarters on Staten Island. On the second highest point along the coastbetween Maine and Florida, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, thegreat New York harbor and the Brooklyn and lower Manhattanskyline, the new site was an ideal one. At the crossroads of the world,yet situated in a setting of natural beauty and suburban tranquility,11 Sutter first served on the board from 1906 to 1909. From 1897 to 1907, he waspastor of Emanual Lutheran Church in Hudson, N.Y. He became pastor at TrinityStaten Island in 1907. It was not until 1916 that Sutter was elected once again tothe college board of directors.12 The estate contained six usable buildings, actually, including the gatehousecottage and the car barn.13 Not completely accurate. In addition to the $63,000 purchase price for theacreage and the existing buildings, another $43,000 was spent remodeling twosummer cottages on the property and building a new home for the collegepresident. The Synod raised $70,000, and the remaining $40,000 was secured bya mortgage. Wagner College did not buy the adjacent 19-acre Vanderbilt propertyfor another 4 or 5 years, on March 7, 1922; the alumni agreed to pay for theproperty, and ownership was later transferred to the college itself.14 This oft-quoted figure conflicts with that shown in a compilation of enrollmenttotals from catalogues and registrar’s records: In October 1918, the first semesterafter the move to Staten Island, there were 42 students enrolled in the 6-yeargymnasium program. Perhaps 16 students came along with the school fromRochester, and 26 more registered for the first year on Staten Island. 7
  • 14. Wagner’s present campus of 72 hilltop acres15 has been called themost unique of any in the United States. Wagner has become thecenter of learning for its community of over 250,000 people. Wagneris Staten Island’s first college. The move from Rochester was a wise step. Not only did itresult in material expansion and the acquisition of a remarkable site,but it awakened a new enthusiasm for the college. Spurred on by therealization of new responsibilities in the face of almost limitlesspotentialities, students, members of the administration and faculty,trustees and alumni responded in toto to the task now set beforethem. Nor was the church incognizant of the new significance ofWagner, and its first response was one of sharply awakened interest.But with a growing student body largely from Staten Island and themetropolitan area of New York, sweeping changes were of necessityin order. One of the initial steps taken, after academic activitiesopened in the Cunard estate buildings on the hill, was to abandon the6-year gymnasium type of curriculum and institute the regular 4-yearAmerican college plan; a 4-year high school course initiated theWagner High School, which was discontinued in 1932. The need tofunction in a broader way educationally led to a further overhaulingand reconstruction of the curriculum. Without lessening Christianemphases, subjects and courses of instruction were enriched andextended into the major fields of interest of not only prospectivestudents of theology, but also for those planning other professions.Courses leading to degrees of both bachelor of arts and bachelor ofscience were introduced; major fields of study were broadened sothat today they prepare students interested in business, dentistry,engineering, journalism, law, medicine, ministry, music, parish work,physical education, social work, teaching, and veterinary medicine.In 1931, scholastic standards were raised, and the college became afully accredited member of the Middle Atlantic States Association ofColleges and Secondary Schools.16 In 1933, women were enrolled forthe first time, and they now constitute nearly a third of the studentbody. At the present, Wagner College also confers the degrees ofassociate in arts and associate in applied science and, for the first15 In December 1941, 10 acres of land adjoining the campus were given to thecollege by Philip Berolzheimer. In 1949, Wagner added again to its campus inpurchasing Oneata, the 18-acre estate of General William Green Ward, an areathat was to become known as “West Campus” and today houses the footballstadium. Those two additions brought the total acreage of the college to morethan 75 acres.16 A year later, however, Wagner’s accreditation was suspended. It was not until1936 that accreditation was restored. 8
  • 15. time in its history, will offer courses leading to the degree of masterof arts when the summer session opens July 2, 1951. Although Wagner’s past history has been one of unceasingstruggle in the face of adverse circumstances, its future necessitatescontinued surveillance, for it seems destined to be a bright andfruitful one. At the present time, the institution is seeking to procurefunds for a new gymnasium and women’s dormitory,17 which will beready for use by September 1951. Through the United LutheranChurch’s Christian Higher Education Year appeal, the college willreceive $350,000, all to be raised among New York Synodcongregations. Although the commendable results of the CHEYdrive place no special obligations on the school, Wagner must needsgain thereby a renewed sense of moral obligation and responsibilityto the church under whose auspices the money is being raised. Thecollege’s indebtedness to the church is not a financial one, rather onewhich realizes that — even today — the church is willing to servethe college. The college, in turn, bears the responsibility of servingthe church in every way possible and academically feasible! The alumni of the college Wagner College’s alumni — about 1,200 living — havecontributed in many immeasurable ways to the religious welfare oftheir respective communities. Throughout the years, 338 graduates ofWagner have entered the Lutheran ministry. Of this number, 158 arenow serving the United Lutheran Synod of New York, and 107 are inthe service of the church elsewhere. There are 18 graduates on suchfaculties as Muhlenberg and Roanoke colleges, the universities ofColumbia, Missouri, Maryland, West Virginia, Mary Baldwin,Westminster and Denver. The Rev. George Aus, Class of 1925, isprofessor of practical theology at Luther Seminary, and the Rev.Theodore Tappert, Class of 1926, is professor of church history at theLutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. As a further criterion of itsleadership, five of the seven conference presidencies of the Synodare now occupied by Wagner alumni. In and outside the UnitedLutheran Church, Wagnerians are participating in a wide variety ofreligious activities: Mr. Henry Endress, Class of 1938, is secretary ofstewardship for the ULC. The Rev. Carl Koppenhaver, Class of1943, one of the leading men in the field of religious journalism, iseditor of the United Lutheran Publishing House bulletin service anddirector of the ULC’s News Service. The Rev. William Villaume,Class of 1935, has been elected executive secretary of the17 Sutter Gymnasium and Guild Hall. 9
  • 16. Department of the Urban Church of the National Council ofChurches of Christ in the U.S.A. Dr. Frederick Reissig, executivesecretary of the Washington (D.C.) Council of Churches, wasgraduated from Wagner in 1914. The Rev. John Futchs, Class of1927, has served as president of the Rocky Mountain Synod. TheRev. Carl Futch, Class of 1924, is director of the Lutheran WelfareAssociation of New Jersey. The Rev. Herman F. Reissig, Class of1920, is on the Council for Social Action of the CongregationalChristian Churches. Everett Jensen, Class of 1940, is a missionary inHawaii. Oscar Werner, Class of 1906, and Mildred Ernst, Class of1944, are serving in India. Wagner graduates are serving as chaplainsin hospitals and other institutions, as well as in the armed forces. Atthe present time, there are 56 students enrolled at the college who arepreparing for the ministry: 48 are Lutheran, 6 are Episcopalian, and 2are Moravian. It might be noted that during the 1920s, virtually theentire student body was preparing for the Christian ministry; today,only about 5 percent of the students are preparing for the pastorate,18yet this percentage includes a greater number of students than the100 percent of 30 years ago.19 The emergence and activities of the college’s Student Christian Association It was not until the late 1920s that Wagner’s student enrollmentcame to include a fair number of individuals not planning to enter theChristian ministry. Thus it is not until 1930 that a “religiousassociation” serving and fulfilling the spiritual needs of all studentswas brought into being. This association, called “The LampadiaCouncil,” was founded through the initiative of Prof. Willis StuartHinman. It functioned in a comparatively loose manner. Althoughevery student automatically became a member by the very fact of hisenrollment in the college, the group often took on the appearance of aLutheran student organization headed and run by Lutherans.Although Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist students were alsomembers, there was great difficulty in electing non-Lutheran studentsto office. (On one occasion, three Lutherans were purposely placedon the same ballot along with one non-Lutheran nominee, but with illsuccess, for one of the Lutherans still won the office.) Religiousactivities during the 16 years of the Lampadia Council’s existencewere many and varied: chapel services were held five times a week,special services on such occasions as Christmas, or Thanksgiving18 Actually, the percentage was more like 2.9.19 Almost, but not quite. Registration from 1918 through 1929 ran from 42students to 134. 10
  • 17. Day; during the Lenten season, discussion groups were invited tomeet at Dr. Hinman’s home; Bible study groups were active in thedormitories; a social service committee made occasional visits to theStaten Island Old Peoples’ Home; arrangements were made for theorchestra and singing group to visit the Staten Island, Marine,Richmond Memorial, and St. Vincent’s hospitals. (The reception atSt. Vincent’s was always the most cordial and welcome of all, for theCatholic sisters cheerfully worked with the singers from the very topto the bottom floor, and invariably treated them to coffee and cake.)The proportionately large number of pre-seminarians were under thedirect guidance of Prof. Hinman; he often took them to his church,where they assisted in the liturgy and worked with the young people;a number were also placed in Luther League and Sunday Schoolpositions; the pre-seminarians met as a group at least once a month,usually to hear prominent and worthy speakers address them on avariety of subjects. A high spot in one series of talks was when Mr.Henry Beisler, and Mr. S.F. Tilleen, then vice president of the ChaseNational Bank, spoke on the spiritual needs of the layman. Non-preministerial students were readily admitted and welcomed to thisgroup of young men — and often came to enter a Lutheran seminaryalong with their fellows. With an enrollment of 100 to 250 students during these 16years,20 it was certainly a comparatively less arduous task to exert areligious influence over the student body than today. By 1945, as thestudent population had increased and grown less intact, as therepresentatives of the various faiths became more numerous, theinadequacy of the Lampadia Council in its organization and itscarrying out of its responsibility to the religious life of the campusbecame clearer and more marked. The following excerpts from theminutes of the Lampadia Council give sufficient evidence of thedetermined steps taken to alleviate the causes of an unwholesomeand unhealthy situation: Oct. 10, 1945 — It has been brought to the attention of the Council that not enough is being done for the religious life of the campus. The following suggestions were made in relation to this: a good discussion to be held once a month led by a prominent, well-versed man; put books on library shelves related to the topic of the month; create an interest in these discussions. Feb. 4, 1946 — A report was given by Mr. Ahrend and Miss Dickert concerning a meeting they had had with Dr. Langsam20 Low enrollment during this period was 117 students (1932); high, 510 students(1942). 11
  • 18. [president of the college] and Pastor Heiges [then Lutheran Student Association pastor at Columbia University]. Dr. Langsam felt some reorganizing should be done in Lampadia, so that its work would be more far-reaching and successful. The matter was discussed, and it was decided that the whole council should meet with Dr. Langsam to see what could be done. Feb. 11, 1946 — A special meeting of the whole Council with Dr. Langsam was held, and after much discussion it was decided that the Lampadia Council act as an Executive committee for a campus Student Christian Association. Contact is to be made with the Rev. Heiges concerning affiliation with this Movement. March 4, 1946 — Mr. Ahrend gave a full report of the Student Christian Movement as a result of a meeting with Pastor Heiges. The Constitution Committee will meet in connection with this, drawing up a constitution after the form of the SCA. April 8, 1946 — The SCA constitution of Gettysburg [College] was read, and it was voted that we accept it as our own, with certain minor changes to suit our situation at Wagner. May 6, 1945 — The new SCA constitution has been adopted by the present council. The next step is to get the approval of the Student Body and then call together all who are interested in the new religious organization. The Lampadia Council will function as the executive committee of the group, but on a different basis from previously. The establishment of a Student Christian Association at WagnerCollege marked a turning point in the voluntary religious activityprogram of the student body. It was a step toward a more democraticrepresentation, not only of the various faiths of the campuscommunity, but also of the student population as a whole. Nationalaffiliation impressed upon members of the new organization a fuller,deeper sense of responsibility in terms of achievement, effectivenessand universality. They were now part of a worldwide movement. Afeeling of security and unity, coupled with a sense of workingtogether with other campus SCAs throughout the nation and theworld, made for an invigorated and re-strengthened organizationwhich soon was to carry out its aims forcefully and energetically. Itspurpose was clear and unhesitating: To lead students to faith in God through Christ; to promote them into active relationship with the church; to promote their growth in Christian faith and character, especially through prayer and the study of the Bible; to influence them to devote themselves in united effort with all Christians to make the will 12
  • 19. of Christ effective in human society and to extend the Kingdom of God throughout the world.21 There is little doubt that the Student Christian Association atWagner College wields a remarkably great influence on the campus.It is, in and by itself, the strongest single student organization interms of publicity, activity and range of effectiveness. A glance at the varied and many functions of Wagner’s SCAduring the 1949-50 school year will quickly dispel any misgivingsconcerning the important and strategic place which this religiousorganization holds in the student life of the college. Twice during themonth the SCA has regularly scheduled meetings at which memberslisten to, and participate in, meaningful and worthy discussions andtalks, led or given by faculty members and outside speakers;attendance at these evening gatherings on the hill average 80. TheSCA has taken direct action in providing entertainment for studentsremaining on campus on weekends when no other school event istaking place; dancing on Friday and Saturday evenings, at no charge,was sponsored by the Association; a series of Friday night moviesfeaturing such highly rated films as “Stanley and Livingston,” “Songof Bernadette” and “Bell for Adano” was presented. Another activityof the SCA is the establishment and maintenance of a campusSunday School designed for children of faculty members andstudents; two Wagner students are in charge of two classes. In 1949,the Association voted to bring a Displaced Person22 pre-seminarian toWagner College; members of the SCA asked church congregationsand organizations for the necessary funds; the success of this venturehas enabled Karl Lantee of Estonia to come to the United States; hebegan studies at Wagner in September 1949. On March 1, 1950, a Christian Career Conference was held atthe college. The day’s program began with a special chapel service atwhich the speaker was the Rev. David H. Bremer, secretary of theBoard of Education of the United Lutheran Church in America. Laterin the day, Pastor Bremer and his associate, Miss Mildred Winston,spoke in several classes on the topics of “Church Vocations for Men”and “Church Vocations for Women,” respectively. Also participatingin the program were Dr. Michael Rapp, chief gynecologist andobstetrician at the Staten Island Hospital, Mr. Frank L. Egner,president of Funk & Wagnalls, and Prof. Margaret Gram, head of theDepartment of Home Economics at Queens College.21 From Article II of the constitution of the Student Christian Association ofWagner College.22 As European refugees displaced by World War II were called. 13
  • 20. The 1950 Lenten season was Wagner College’s period of“religious emphasis.” A special and strenuous effort was made toinduce all members of the Wagner community to attend every chapelservice, particularly the Friday services, which featured clergymenknown for their concern for the problems facing the young people oftoday. Included were the Rev. Dr. Frederick R. Knubel, president ofthe United Lutheran Synod of New York, the Rev. Conrad Reisch ofBridgeport, Conn., and the Rev. Dr. Russell F. Auman of Manhattan.Also on the religious emphasis program was the distribution ofdevotional guides, and the setting aside of Wednesday evenings toBible study. As part of its regular plan of activity, the SCA conducts vesperservices every Tuesday and Thursday evening. These services are ledby students. The Association has been well represented at a number ofconferences, such as the spring SCM Conference at Troy, N.Y., theLeadership Training Conference at Camp Dudley and the Silver BayConference Center, and the Leadership Training Conference atHoliday Hills. Active SCA members who have attended any numberof these conferences and who have had courses in religion act asleaders in the six Bible study groups that function on campus. Since 1947, the SCA has been the driving force behindWagner’s Campus Community Chest drive, which is held each year.The offer by the Association of its services was approved by theStudent Council in 1947, and since then the SCA has done most ofthe organization work and carried the major burden of responsibilityfor the success of the drive. Highlighting the campaigns of the pasttwo years has been a full-sized carnival in which all student groups,clubs, and fraternities and sororities, as well as faculty members,fully participate. The SCA also sponsors boat rides up the Hudson River to BearMountain, and it initiated the making of therapeutic aids for theLutheran Inner Mission of Brooklyn, N.Y. A final activity is clearly revealed in the following notereceived from the Augustinian Academy, secludedly locatedimmediately adjacent to the Wagner campus: Dear Students of Wagner College, We want to thank those young men and women who sang carols for the students of the Augustinian Academy. They certainly showed the true and blessed spirit of Christmas. We wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. We, the Students 14
  • 21. The Student Christian Association exists as the only studentreligious organization at Wagner College. As such, it has the sincereand hearty support of the administration, and is cognizant —although not always fully appreciative — of that support. TheAssociation has virtually full priority on the matter of dates offunctions; its calendar of events is made up before that of anyfraternity, sorority or club. Under the guidance of the collegechaplain, it is in many respects a growing force whose youth isdisguised by the central and strategic role that it truly plays. SCAleaflets, bulletins and posters are found everywhere, carryingannouncements of chapel programs, names of visiting speakers andpreviews of social and religious gatherings. Officers of theAssociation are a hustling, determined and earnest group ofundergraduates, who occasionally have little patience with theproblems the administration must needs face in its efforts to meetSCA demands. One urgent need, for example, is that of a permanent chapelserving only religious purposes; the present chapel must of necessityserve also as examination room, theater, basketball court and dancefloor. This situation cannot be altered until the building program iscompleted. A perplexing and challenging problem which Wagner’s SCAfaces today — and will continue to face — is one involving the non-Protestant representation within the student body. Of about 960students: • 27 percent are Catholic; • 5 percent are of the Jewish faith; • 37 percent are Lutheran — and this latter percentage will undoubtedly increase when the college acquires more dormitory space for out-of-town students; • 31 percent come from all other Protestant denominations. Requests for a Newman Club have been denied, as have thosefor a Lutheran Student Association and similar denominationalorganizations. A Staten Island Newman Club for Collegiate Studentshas been formed, but must exist as an off-campus group withresulting mediocre success. A Lutheran Student Association exists in name only — that is,it is not officially recognized, and its membership participates only inoff-campus activities sponsored by the Lutheran Student Federationof Metropolitan New York. The foregoing circumstances are largelythe result of the fact that “it has been the traditional policy of WagnerCollege that all students work together religiously, and to discourage 15
  • 22. the splitting up of the student body into different religious loyalties,”said the Rev. Paul John Kirsch, Wagner College chaplain. It cannot be denied that such a policy has been determined bythe sincere and thoughtful efforts of the administration to provide themost effective and integrated program of voluntary religious activity.There are, however, two distinct circumstances that bear out thedifficulties which this policy entails: First, the Student ChristianAssociation often finds itself existing as a Lutheran club in disguise,primarily because such a large percentage of Lutheran students liveon the campus and thus are more readily available for participation inany and all activities. Second, and more of a cause rather than aresult of the preceding problem, is the fact that so few Catholicstudents participate in and support SCA activities. Positive steps have been taken to alleviate both of these ratherdisturbing and unwholesome situations. Indeed, there have beenmany non-Lutheran students who have been more active in the SCAthan Lutheran students, but the former have constituted exceptions tothe general picture. Efforts to bring Catholics into active participationin SCA activities have been thwarted by the consistent refusal of thegreat majority of these students to cooperate; needless to say, a verysmall percentage of them attend chapel services. The chaplain, the guidance director, and the Department of Religion and Philosophy Wagner College has a full-time chaplain for students. He is theRev. Paul John Kirsch, who directs an extensive program ofcounseling, the Student Christian Association, and chapel services.Until February 1949, Pastor Kirsch was both chaplain and associateprofessor of religious studies, and was then relieved of his teachingduties, giving him the opportunity of devoting all his time and effortsto the position of chaplaincy. He also serves on a number ofcommittees: Admissions, Chapel, Dormitory and Student Relations,Library, and Synod Relations; he is an elected faculty member on theWagner College Council, serves on the Board of Traditions as wellas the Board of Religious Activities, and is an advisor to the pre-ministerial students. Any student, upon making application for admission to WagnerCollege, becomes immediately acquainted with the emphasis placedon the development of Christian character. A personal interview withthe director of admissions is immediately followed by a talk withPastor Kirsch, who makes clear and concrete the college’s hope anddesire that the applicant will add to the religious life of the campus.The prospective student is informed of a prescribed course in 16
  • 23. religion; he is made aware of the fact that Wagner stands forChristian ideals, that Christianity is lived in and outside of thecollege classrooms. Chapel attendance is not compulsory, but “allstudents are expected (and urged) to attend chapel regularly.” Theapplicant is given every opportunity by the chaplain to raisequestions, to consider and to evaluate the step he is taking inchoosing Wagner as his college. Pastor Kirsch, a graduate of Wagner College, Class of 1933,and of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia, preaches at least oncea week at the morning chapel exercises, and also at most of the“Church on the Hill” services held on one Sunday during the month.He has his own private office, conveniently located in a quiet part ofthe main building. His home, which is located immediately on thecampus, is open to all students at all times, and is known for the“only good cup of coffee on Grymes Hill.” Another aspect of the college’s concern for the individualstudent is the guidance program under the direction of Dr. John E.Crawford. As director of guidance and vocational counseling, Dr.Crawford reorganized and now coordinates all student guidancefacilities. He is consultant to the faculty on classroom problems, tothe student body as a whole, and to individuals. He has nothingdirectly to do with discipline, but is regularly consulted by theDean’s Office. All students are encouraged to become as self-directing and self-reliant as possible. Dr. Crawford never sends for astudent; rather, he waits for students to come to his office on theirown initiative; then he simply discusses the facts of the problem theyoung person may have, and attempts to leave the final decision tothe individual concerned. The whole guidance program is correlatedclosely with the chaplain’s office, the health department, and otheradministrative offices. The Religion and Philosophy Department of Wagner College isheaded by Prof. Viljo K. Nikander, who, with associate professors,has integrated a new course, “Religion and Life,” into thecurriculum. In February 1949, the Department of Religion wascombined with the Department of Philosophy for the purpose of “notso much bringing philosophy under the wing of religion, butprecisely to integrate two departments which more specifically couldfoster the Christian purpose of the college,” Prof. Nikander said. Thisreorganization also included a strengthening factor in that thecombined staff of the new department came to include fourprofessors holding Ph.D. degrees teaching full-time, and one Ph.D.and one Th.D. teaching part-time. The religion and philosophysection is considered the basic department of the college, for it serves 17
  • 24. to integrate in various ways the contributions to the field of learningmade by the other departments. In the near future, regular informalget-togethers with members of all other departments will be initiatedin order to stimulate and facilitate a profitable and wholesomeexchange of ideas. Prof. Nikander said, “In the teaching of philosophy andreligion, we seek to give the student some principle with which tounify his entire college studying and career. We seek to enable astudent to see a true unity in the education he receives.” In a step toimplement this desire, a new 6-hour course in religion has beeninstituted, supplanting the previous course of instruction consistingof a semester of Old Testament and a semester of “The Life ofChrist.” Insight into the new course is presented in the followingoutline loosely connected with liberal use of quotations: RELIGION AND LIFE Foreword: This course, entitled Religion 1-2, is the outcome of what the authors believe to be a unique endeavor. We know of no other book which does the kind of thing we hope to do, and that is to find a way by which Christianity can become, not just another course in religion, but significant for the student’s own life. Factual, historical, and systematic study of religion and of Christianity is not neglected. Every effort will be made, however, to indicate the vital connection religion has or should have with man’s everyday experiences in both personal and collective living. George W. Hackman Charles W. Kegley Viljo K. Nikander The nature of religion: The aim of this course: The purpose of Religion 1 is to give the student some understanding of the meaning of religion. In view of the fact that objections are sometimes raised to a required course in religion, this introduction tries to clarify the importance and place of religion in life and in the college curriculum. The main body of the course is concerned with presenting the essentials of the Christian heritage which has been the common foundation of the history, civilization and culture of the western world. I. Why religion, why study religion, why study the Christian faith II. The nature of religion III. Ways of knowing religion IV. How the Bible came to be: origin of literature contained in the Bible 18
  • 25. V. The meaning of the Old Testament: its important teachings; Moses; prophetic Judaism; transition to the New Testament. (Required Bible readings)VI. The life of Jesus: background of the world out of which Christianity arose; the Greco-Roman cultural setting; major events in the life of Jesus. (Required Bible readings)VII. God: from animism to theism; the Christian view of GodVIII. Man: what is he; his plight and possibilities as God’s creatureIX. God’s work of salvation: the incarnation of divine love; the cross as the supreme expression of divine loveReligion in life: The aim: Religion 2 is devoted to theapplication of religion and of religious ideals to everyday living.The relevance of religion to all the important areas of personaland collective life is considered. Following an analysis of themajor aspects and trends of contemporary life and civilizationand a presentation of the more significant rival faiths, weendeavor to show that the Christian faith and ideals willprovide the more adequate answer to the individual and socialproblems of our generation.The question facing us now is: How can religion be applied tocontemporary life? It is generally agreed that our individualand collective life today is far from healthy. Ours is, in short, asick civilization. We propose, therefore, first of all, to diagnosethe patient — our civilization — to discover the state of itshealth or illness. Secondly, we shall examine some of therepresentative remedies that are being offered. Finally, weshall endeavor to indicate that Christianity is the only adequateway to the restoration of the health of man.I. Important trends and characteristics of contemporary civilization — in following spheres of life: economic, political, social, cultural. (Required readings: from works of Harry Emerson Fosdick, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Amos N. Wilder, D. Elton Trueblood, John C. Bennett, et al.)II. Some proposed answers to modern man’s needs given “in an ascending scale, ranging from the less important and less commendable to the more effective and satisfying.” — Escapism, irrationalism, authoritarianism, scientism, non-Christian religion (viz. Hinduism), characteristics and defects discussed as with Buddhism, Muhammedanism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism. (Required readings: Robert M. Hutchins, Adolf Hitler, Frederick West, Nels F.S. Ferre, et al.)III. The Christian solution: Religion applied to individual life; relationship of religion to the individual; the role of religion in the creation of wholesome personality in the four major interests of every man, viz. thinking, working, 19
  • 26. play, love. (Required readings from : Martin Luther, Elton Trueblood, William Temple, John E. Crawford, et al.) Conclusion: The effort has been made to show the positive contributions of religion to four major aspects of human life. Recognizing that so much of life fails to become what it can and should be, we may summarize something of what we have learned by saying that (1) thinking should not be merely observing and adjusting to environment but creative intelligence seeking adequate means for proper ends; (2) working should not be mere labor but the sense of joy in a vocation; (3) play should not be mere relaxation but re- creation; (4) love should not be mere physical activity but physical, mental, and spiritual mutuality. Thinking, working, playing, and loving, thus properly understood, and inspired by religion, can give to any individual’s life something of the symphonic beauty and power which God intended that it possess. IV. Religion applied to collective life: in the economic life, in the political life, social life Beside the above year course, “Religion and Life,” which everycandidate for the A.B. or B.S. degree must take, four other courses inreligion are offered: “The History of Religions” (a comparative studyof the religions of the world), “Major Christian Beliefs,”“Archaeology and the Bible,” and “Sacred Literature” (a study ofOld Testament lyrics and psalms, the Sermon on the Mount, passagesfrom the Gospel of John, etc.).Specifically, and point by point — how does Wagner fulfill itsdistinctive function and responsibility as a Christian college? First, under “Aims and Policies,” Wagner’s catalogue gives abrief, clear-cut statement and understanding of ideals and goals: Wagner College is a Christian college, affiliated with the United Lutheran Church in America through the United Lutheran Synod of New York. As such, it encourages the growth of Christian convictions and their application to everyday living. The college believes that the purpose of education is to help each student develop his intellectual, spiritual, aesthetic, physical, and social abilities. It seeks to familiarize the student with the major branches of knowledge, to help him attain proficiency in one or more fields, and to stimulate critical and creative thought. It stresses the opportunities and obligations of the student as a member of society within a worldwide community. In order to facilitate the pursuit of these aims, Wagner College has always emphasized the selection of faculty 20
  • 27. members who are qualified not only by training and experience but by virtue of their character and their ability as teachers. Good teaching is a primary concern of the entire administration and faculty.Not only are these aims made clear by means of the college bulletin,but also by verbal and public declaration to each entering student,and alumni members. The aims and policies as stated above areimplemented in numerous ways, particularly by a Department ofReligion and Philosophy that makes clear to its students that religionand education belong together, and seeks to make religion integral inthe curriculum. Second, Wagner provides curricularly for courses in religionthat reach every student, without exception. Through the efforts of amost capable and competent group of staff members, religion is“dispassionately appraised and passionately expressed.” A specificknowledge of religion is basically and fundamentally taught;challenging and controversial issues of the various faiths areoccasionally hit upon, but the student is given ample freedom toaccept or reject as his own conscience and belief see fit. Highacademic standards and discipline are maintained, and the professorsof religion and philosophy hold the expressed desire that theirdepartment occupy an integral place in the undergraduate curriculum. Third, the college does provide concern for the kind of faculty itemploys. It insists upon teachers and administrators who areprofessionally competent and possess Christian convictions. Theconstitution of the college contains the requirement that everymember of the faculty declare membership “in some one church.”The college’s attempt to provide high-quality education is reflectedin the fact that almost half of the faculty holds title to the Ph.D.degree. Finally, there is a positive desire and attempt on the part offaculty and administrative personnel not only to do a first-rateintellectual job, but to live a life and set an example that upholds andpreaches Christ. Fourth, the institution does provide opportunity for corporateworship in a number of ways. During the chapel services — andthese are always earnest services of worship — on Monday,Wednesday and Friday mornings, all provisions are made to impressupon the student the fact that he is expected to attend. No officialfunction or formal gathering is permitted at this time; with the tollingof the chapel bell, the sandwich shop is closed along with alladministrative offices. Although attendance at chapel is notcompulsory, clear evidence is given that the religious training and theopportunity for meditation that the chapel service offers are 21
  • 28. considered to be of primary importance. On Wednesday evenings,for the benefit of night school students, all classes are excused at7:30 p.m. — 25 minutes ahead of schedule — to permit attendance atnight chapel services. Vesper services are held both Tuesday andThursday evenings. “Church on the Hill” services take place on oneSunday morning of each month; and, on other Sundays, a specialschool bus transports students to and from Trinity Lutheran Church. Fifth, Wagner actively sponsors a voluntary program ofreligious activities under the direction of an officially appointed andcompetently trained officer. The Student Christian Association,under the guidance of Chaplain Kirsch, is the sole and centralchannel of religious activity on the Wagner campus, and receivesstrong and evident support from the administration. Despite thedesire and the attempt of the SCA for an ecumenical representation,the Association has been unable to cope with the problem created bythe refusal of the great majority of Catholic students to support itsefforts and activities. Sixth, the college provides for a fostering of religious and moralvalues in all administrative functions. The student body, through theStudent Association, is provided with a democratic means ofregulating student activities and of advancing student interests. Everyattempt is made to impress upon each student the responsibility hebears as an individual as regards his conduct on and off the campus.Although the use of alcoholic beverages is forbidden at any and allon-campus activities, its use and the responsibility for its use at anyoff-campus affair is borne by the fraternity, sorority or clubsponsoring the activity. Unsatisfactory conduct is dealt with strictly,yet with a Christian understanding of the needs and problems of theindividual. A counseling plan is provided by the offices of thepresident, the dean, the chaplain and the director of guidance, allattempting to individualize to an extremely remarkable extent theindividual student, to give unlimited guidance to the student in thelight of his own disturbing problems, be they economic, moral orspiritual. Seventh, the administration and faculty put their influence andsupport on religious ideas in an intelligent way. Religion is felt tohave its proper basic place in the academic, social and spiritual life ofthe campus community, but it is not lugged into places where it doesnot belong. Academic freedom is limited only by the concern thecollege has for the kind of faculty it employs; in other words, inalmost every case, a faculty member by the very fact of hisacceptance to the college faculty will express views that are notmerely neutral but indeed pro-Christian. The religious view of 22
  • 29. Wagner is definitely not a narrow one, but rather “a liberating andliberalizing one,” one that is, at its heart, intellectually defensible.The college is church-related, but not church-controlled. All propertyis owned by the Board of Trustees. The United Lutheran Synod ofNew York does nominate 12 of the 21 trustees of the college, butthese nominees must then be elected by the board. The other 9trustees are chosen by the board itself and by the alumni; these 9 aresubmitted to the Synod for its approval, but they are again elected bythe board itself. The Lutheran Synod does give the college an annualfinancial grant, but the institution does remain “entirely free ofoutside control except insofar as public opinion is a healthy check onany institution,” wrote Wagner College President Walter C. Langsamin a recent letter. “We are responsible only to the State EducationDepartment, as is every other college — public, independent orchurch-controlled — in the state of New York.” Conclusion The writer cannot deny that the picture he has drawn of Wagneris indeed a bright one. Negative aspects and criticisms may wellseem lacking — not, however, because such has been the writer’spurpose. On the contrary, he has sought to be fully critical, yet hasfound it unreasonable and grossly misleading to make a negativegeneralization simply because, for example, one member of thefaculty happens, on occasion, to act “un-Christian” due to a headacheor the effects of an ulcer. As a graduate of the college [Class of 1949], the writer mayneeds admit to an overall biased view. He has known its intimacyand warmth. He will always be indebted to the many members of thefaculty whose guidance and words of inspiration have brought him toseek the fullness and wonders that human life offers. By virtue ofattendance at other institutions of higher learning, the writer has beenin a position to compare and appreciate Wagner’s Christianatmosphere. He met his wife at this college. Furthermore — andfinally — were anyone ever to inquire what gave him the initial andmost forceful impetus to enter the Christian ministry, his immediateand only reply would be: My three years as a student at WagnerCollege. 23
  • 30. The founding of Wagner College and the early years of its development by Walter Thomas Schoen Jr., May 1957 In the latter half of the 19th century, a sweeping wave ofimmigrants descended on the shores of the United States. This delugeincluded peoples from all over the world. Not unimportant amongthem were people of Germanic origin who flocked to all sections ofthe country. In the upper half of New York state, many thousands ofGerman immigrants settled down to the problem of making their wayin a strange new world. Their way of living was different from that ofthe people already established. If there was, however, any one thingthe immigrants had in common with the Americans, it was religion.Perhaps they worshiped in a different way, but the God to Whomthey prayed was nevertheless the same God. And it was to this Godthat the Germans looked in their efforts to succeed, to prosper, and tofind contentment. For if there is one universal to Whom all men turnin their need, it is the God they worship. In addition to the difference in their customs, language, andideas, the Germans were also faced with the need of finding anunderstanding minister to whom they might go for advice and solace.There were, of course, Lutheran ministers in New York state whowere not unaware of the immigrants’ needs, as evidenced by thefollowing statement: From every direction comes an urgent demand for German- speaking ministers. Not only on the broad expanse of the German home mission, not only in the far West among those who have recently immigrated, and who are like sheep without a shepherd (I Kings 22:17; Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34), but also in the East, which has been settled for so long a time. … In truth, everywhere in America there is a lack of capable Lutheran preachers who are not only able to make themselves understood in German in time of necessity, but who, also, because of having an indispensable acquaintance with the language, customs, and habits of the country, are the complete masters of the German language, and are able to comply with the obviously reasonable demand of German congregations that the Word of God and Luther’s interpretation of it be preached to them in Luther’s tongue, with acceptable comprehension and edification. – “Article II: Aim” from the Constitutional By-laws of the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester, 1885 24
  • 31. As indicated by this excerpt, New York was not the onlysection of the United States that required able ministers.Pennsylvania was also aware of the existing conditions in the church.In 1882, the Rev. J.H. Baden, a Lutheran minister from Brooklyn,New York, appeared before the New York Ministerium of theEvangelical Lutheran Church and discussed a paper that he hadprepared for the board of trustees of the Lutheran TheologicalSeminary of Philadelphia. Rev. Baden said that more emphasisshould be placed on the teaching of German, and blamed thepreparatory schools for not adequately training their students. Out of13 students at the seminary, 12 were able to converse in both Englishand German, but Baden pointed out that the German was not as goodas it should be, and suggested that one of the qualifications foradmittance to the school should be the ability to speak fluent Germanas well as English.23 The following year, in another report concerning thePhiladelphia seminary, Dr. A. Späth asked, “Weher genugendvorbereitete deutsche Studenten fur unsere Anstalt zu gewinnensind?” [Roughly translated, “Where are we to find enough studentsprepared to study in German?” –Ed.]24 Prior to this time, this problem had been a matter of concern forat least two members of the Ministerium, the Rev. Alexander Richterand the Rev. George H. Gomph. Richter, a native-born German whohad been a minister for five years,25 often traveled from Rochester,New York, to Pittsford, one of its suburbs, to talk over his problemswith the elder, more experienced man, Gomph, pastor of St. Paul’sEvangelical Lutheran Church. Gomph had been in the ministry 14years. In Gomph’s front yard in Pittsford stood an apple tree, underwhich the pastors would sit for hours, discussing mutual interests andenjoying each other’s company. Perhaps the need for ministers wasthe problem most frequently discussed. With three exceptions, every23 J.H. Baden, from “Bericht der Directoren des Theol. Seminars in Philadelphia,”a report read at the Third Meeting of the New York Ministerium, Friday, June 16,1882, and published in “Verhandlungen der Achtundachtzigsten Synode des Ev.Luth. Ministeriums des Staates New-York un Augrenzender Staaten und Lander”(New York: Druck on Herborn und Ahlbrecht, 1882).24 Späth, read at meeting of Ministerium, June 5, 1883. “Verhandlungen,” 1883.25 Editor: Richter was pastor of the First German Evangelical Zion’s LutheranChurch in Rochester from 1881-1891. Richter was ordained in 1878. Zion’s wasthe oldest German Lutheran church in the Rochester area. 25
  • 32. church in the New York Ministerium conducted services inGerman.26 In the fall of 1883,27 Richter appeared before the RochesterLutheran Pastoral Conference with a paper he had written, “WoherNehmen Wir Unsere Deutschen Prediger?”28 [“From whence shallwe obtain our German ministers?”] Richter was only reiterating whathad been for most of the members of the conference a salientquestion. Among his listeners were: Pastor Gomph; the Rev. CharlesS. Kohler, Church of the Reformation; the Rev. C.N. Conrad,Concordia Lutheran Church; and ministerial candidate George Seel,of Rochester.29 Apparently as a result of this conference, the General Councilof the New York Ministerium of the Evangelical Lutheran Churchrequested Pastor Richter to establish a proseminary for the purpose ofeducating young men for the ministry. Under the leadership ofRichter and Gomph, a Supreme Court charter dated October 1, 1883authorized the establishment of the Lutheran Proseminary ofRochester.30 On October 15, 1883, a meeting of the Rochester LutheranPastoral Conference was “called for the purpose of organizing aBoard of Directors for the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester, N.Y.Members of the Conference present [were] Rev.s A. Richter, C.S.Kohler, C.N. Conrad, G. Seel of Rochester and G.H. Gomph ofPittsford, N.Y.” It was “resolved that the members of the conferenceshall constitute the Board of Directors. On motion the Boardproceeded to election of officers, who were elected to serve until thelast meeting of the board preceding the next meeting of the N.Y.Ministerium in June 1884. The following officers were elected: Pres.26 Alfred Beck, “An Historical Account of the Lutheran Proseminary ofRochester, New York.” The three churches were: Church of the Reformation,Rochester; Holy Trinity, Buffalo; Church of the Redeemer, Utica.27 Editor: In his earlier essay in this volume, Harald Kuehne dates the publicationof this paper in August 1883.28 “Geschichte des Evangelical Lutheran Ministeriums Von Staate New York,1883,” as quoted in Beck, page 1.29 Alfred Beck.30 Although the original charter is evidently not extant, all formal papers and legaldocuments of Wagner College, and all papers of the Board of Regents of theUniversity of the State of New York pertaining to Wagner College, mention theoriginal charter as being granted on this date. Numerous evidences of this may befound in the official documents in the office of the president of Wagner College.For specific mention of this date, see petition submitted from the Wagner CollegeBoard of Trustees to the Regents, April 24, 1952, which states, “On October 1,1883, the Supreme Court of the State of New York granted to your petitioner itsfirst charter.” 26
  • 33. Rev. A. Richter of Rochester, N.Y.; Secretary G.H. Gomph ofPittsford, N.Y.; Treasurer Mr. J.S. Margrander of Rochester, N.Y.”31 A few years earlier, St. Matthaus Akademy, a school fortraining ministers, had been founded in New York City, but shortlyafter its establishment the relationship between it and theMinisterium had been severed.32 There is evidence, however, thatneither the Akademie in New York nor the Proseminary in Rochesterhad been the earliest attempt at establishing a school of this kind. Thehistory of the Ministerium mentions that “the need of an institution inwhich future ministers might receive the necessary preparatorytraining for Seminary was felt most urgently during the two decadespreceding the founding of the Lutheran Proseminary in 1883. TheNewark Akademy at Lyons, N.Y. had failed, and the MatthausAkademy in New York had been estranged from the New YorkMinisterium.”33 The failure of the Lyons academy was further emphasized in aletter from Augustus C. Redderoth to Lois Dickert, dated June 15,1950. 34 “Dr. Giese had been called to the institution in Newark andhe resigned from his Congregation and moved in the fall to Newarkwith his wife and three children. But the treasury of the school was inbad shape and when Christmas came, he had not received any salary.So he resigned and had to take a small church in Cumberland,Pennsylvania. I presume that was the end of the school in Newark.Then comes a new beginning in Rochester.” Now that the school in Rochester had received its charter, abuilding was needed in which to hold classes. Mr. Christian Seel, anelder of Zion Church, was the owner of a brick building [his home]located at the intersection of Jay and Magne streets. An agreementwas reached between Mr. Seel and the board of directors for the useof Seel’s home. Thus, with unswerving courage, a touch of audacity,the grace of God, and ten dollars,35 arrangements were made to startclasses in the new institution. The secretary was authorized to order31 Minutes of the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Proseminary, October 15,1883.32 Editor: For more about St. Matthew’s Academy and Newark College, elementsof Wagner College’s “prehistory,” see the fourth essay in this volume, “FoundingFaces & Places: The Genesis of Wagner College.”33 “Geschichte des New York Ministeriums” (John Nicum, 1888), p. 324.34 ALS [Autographed Letter Signed] from Augustus C. Redderoth to LoisDickert, June 15, 1950. (MS in Wagneriana, Markham Room, Wagner College)[Redderoth was a professor at Wagner College from 1892 to 1896.]35 Editor: As noted in the previous paper, this is an error repeated over and overfrom an early mistranscription. The school started with a treasury containing not$10 but $100, the gift of Justus Koch, a supporter from Philadelphia. 27
  • 34. six double-seat desks on the most reasonable terms available.36Christian Seel’s son, the Rev. George Seel, was appointed temporaryhousefather,37 and the first class of six students entered the initialphase of their training. The original agreement entered into with Mr. Seel is obscure,but there is evidence that the situation was not without difficulties. On November 5, 1883, at a meeting of the board, “the subjectfor consideration was the difficulty between the housefather and Mr.Seel his father, and the question whether it would be necessary anddesirable to move the institution to another locality. On motion Rev.sRichter and Kohler were appointed a committee to confer with Mr.Seel, with power to act in the matter of renting a part of the Seelhomestead for school purposes.”38 At the next meeting of the board, “the committee appointed toconfer with Mr. Seel Sr. relative to renting the seven rooms in theupper part of his house, reported that they had met Mr. Seel and uponmaking their statement found him very much surprised that anychange was wanted by the authorities. He declared that he would notrent the said rooms to the institution. The committee furtherascertained that Mr. Seel was willing to keep the boys upon thecondition originally agreed upon, and also that he could makeprovision for as many more as would be likely to seek admission intothe institution. On motion of Mr. Conrad it was resolved that thesecretary be requested to convey the thanks of the Board to Mr. Seelfor his willingness to do so much for the institution; and also toassure him that it was not from any dissatisfaction with, or want ofappreciation of existing arrangements that the committee made theinquiries in reference to a change.”39 Despite a stormy beginning, a mere portent of futuredifficulties, the school struggled through its first year. The program of study was patterned after the Germangymnasium, with six forms or classes. The gymnasium hadoriginated in ancient Greece where it was used by the Greek youth asa place for exercise and discussion. The gymnasium after whichRichter organized the Proseminary had been founded in 1536 by aGerman educator, Johann Sturm. Sturm’s aim was “to train pious,36 Minutes, October 29, 1883.37 Editor: This is the only extant account that refers to George Seel’s appointmentas “temporary,” although it was indeed quite short — he resigned the nextFebruary when, according to an 1887 account by Richter, Seel was called to acongregation in Newark, New York.38 Minutes, November 5, 1883.39 Minutes, November 12, 1883. 28
  • 35. learned, and eloquent men for service in church and state usingreligion and the new learning as means.”40 When we considerRichter’s intentions when founding the school, he was not far fromSturm’s original aim. The curriculum of the Sexta, or lowest form, consisted ofreligion, German, Latin, English, world history, geography, naturalhistory, arithmetic, penmanship, drawing and singing. The Quinta,Quarta and Tertia forms taught the same subjects as the Sexta in anadvanced degree, augmenting them with Greek and Americanhistory, while the Secunda and Prima forms included the teaching ofHebrew, natural philosophy and chemistry. As time passed, thenumber of students increased as the “Proseminary admitted specialstudents which were tutored as Praktische Abteilung [a practicaldivision]. This course was dropped in due time to give the right ofway to the regular 6-year instruction.”41 At the end of the first year of study, the board of trusteesdecided to celebrate the Christmas festivities with the students. OnDecember 26, at seven o’clock in the evening, the members of theboard met in Seel’s home and presented each student with candies,oranges, nuts, a copy of Luther’s “Geistliche Lieder” [“SpiritualSongs”], and the welcome news that a two-week vacation fromclasses would commence the next morning.42 During the next few months, enthusiasm for the new projectwas widespread in Rochester. Pastor Conrad of Concordia promisedthe board that his church would make an important contribution tothe school’s treasury,43 following an example set by the members ofSt. Paul’s Church in Pittsford, who had already sent in contributions.The board voted to extend its thanks to a Mr. John G. Wagner for hisgift of 150 savings banks, to be used in gathering contributions to theschool.44 Apparently, however, the treasury was not in dire need,since at least five students received free tuition for their first year,45and several applicants were refused admission because the board felt40 Merritt Thompson, “The History of Education” (New York: Barnes and Noble,1933).41 ALS from William Arndt [a student in 1885] to Clarence C. Stoughton, March15, 1937. (MS in Wagneriana, Markham Room, Wagner College) [Editor: The“special students” were those who were admitted in mid-course to thegymnasium curriculum.]42 Minutes, December 10, 1883. [Editor: Other accounts indicate that this“vacation” was intended to give the board time to pull the school’s financestogether so that it could continue through the remainder of the academic year.]43 Minutes, January 7, 1884.44 Ibid.45 Ibid. 29
  • 36. that the school could not “provide such instruction for the young menas they would need.”46 With the acceptance of additional students and the growth ofthe school, it was deemed necessary to increase the number of boardmembers from seven to thirteen. The stipulation was made that notwo members of the same family could become board members.Perhaps in appreciation of the services and contributions of thechurches in the area, the board voted to seat one layman from St.John’s, one from Concordia, and four from Zion Lutheran Church.47On February 7, 1884, Mr. John G. Wagner was elected as a memberof the board of directors. It has not been determined under what conditions the schoolhad been using Mr. Seel’s home, but at this time, a committee thathad formed to seek a fitting location reported that it was consideringMr. Seel’s home, which was available for rent for two years at $400a year, or for sale at $10,500. Perhaps in search of lower rates, thecommittee investigated a three-story house on South Avenue thatwas owned by a Mr. Reilly. Reilly’s 11-room house could be rentedfor $360 a year.48 Perhaps because of the contemplated move, the agreement withhousefather Seel was ended, and a search for a new housefather wasundertaken. Should the reader confuse the term “housefather” with the“housemother” we associate with the college dormitory, I should liketo enumerate the duties a person filling this position in 1884 had toperform. The housefather had to be a Lutheran minister who not onlywould have responsibility for the financial matters of the school, butin addition would have to teach classes regularly. He had to be afather to the students, watching over their mental, physical andspiritual health and well being; he was also responsible to the boardfor the school’s property.49 A Pastor Ehrhardt of New York City, perhaps awed by theboard’s requirements, refused a call to fill the position, as did PastorJ. Muehlhauser of Rochester. The Reverend Mr. Snyder of Canadaaccepted the call, but a few months later asked to be released fromhis obligation, as he did not want to leave Canada. Possibly indesperation, the board called Mr. Koennemann of New York City,who accepted the temporary position at a salary of $3 weekly, inaddition to fuel, laundry, room and board, which were to be46 Ibid.47 Minutes, January 21, 1884.48 Minutes, February 28, 1884.49 Minutes, November 27, 1884. 30
  • 37. provided.50 Mr. Koennemann, who had recently emigrated fromGermany himself, proved to be a poor choice. Several weeks had passed since the housing committee hadinquired as to the possibility of renting other rooms. When a suitablebuilding was located, the possessions of the school were moved tothe new house at 33 South Avenue, on wagons furnished by Messr.sBantleon and Karweick.51 The committee was instructed to purchasefurniture and household necessities for the new building and also toinvestigate what provisions were located within the congregationsand to “purchase the necessary supplies from those whose rates weremost advantageous to the institution.”52 At the meeting of March 27, it was moved that “the variouspastors be asked to make known among their congregations that allthose who wish to donate vegetables and other foods to theinstitution deliver the same to 33 South Avenue, where they will begratefully received.”53 The congregations responded with fruits,vegetables, clothing and firewood. Most of the classrooms were located on the first floor ofReilly’s building, with one on the second floor. The students lived onthe second and third floors, two students to a room.54 On the whole,the Proseminary was getting along very well. Richter wasenthusiastic about the progress being made, but he knew thatfinancial aid was needed. On June 19, 1884, $784 was collected at ameeting of the New York Ministerium, which alleviated the financialproblem for the time being.55 One other problem, however, was notso easily taken care of. Koennemann, the housefather recently arrived from Germany,was too much the disciplinarian, and several times Richter hadspoken to Koennemann about his treatment of the students. Richter’swishes were, however, not respected, and a letter drafted by theboard requesting “a humane discipline, befitting this school,”56 wasgiven to Koennemann. In August, the permission given to him to livein the school was revoked, and in November, Koennemann was50 Minutes, March 20, 1884.51 Ibid. The school was relocated on Monday, March 20, 1884. [Editor: March20, 1884 was a Thursday, the regular meeting day of the board at the time.Another source says that the move took place on March 24, 1884, which was thefollowing Monday.]52 Minutes, March 27, 1884.53 Ibid.54 Personal interview by the author with Professor Theodore Palleske, Class of1898, April 1957.55 “Verhandlungen,” 1884.56 Minutes, April 17, 1884. 31
  • 38. dismissed. At his dismissal, Pastor F.A. Kammerer of New York Citywas called as housefather for one year. According to the director’sminutes of February 28, 1884, it was voted that the salary of thehousefather for the year April 1, 1884 to April 1, 1885 be $600.Since Kammerer was called during that period, I assume that he waspaid at that rate. In December 1884, a constitution — largely the work of Richter— was drawn up, and plans were made to incorporate the school. Inthe same month, David Bantleon reported that the treasury balancewas $1,076.03, the bulk of this money having been contributed bythe Ministerium members. One short year after its beginning, theProseminary boasted a 10,000 percent increase in its funds!57 In March 1885, the lease on the [Reilly] building had almostexpired, and two board members — Messr.s Christ and Schlegel —were instructed to meet with the owner of the building to discussrenting it for another year. The committee was also authorized “tolook around for another suitable location.”58 In April, thehousefather’s report stated that the institution was in good order andthat the relationship between teachers and pupils was a happy one.Kammerer also announced his intention of accepting a call to theBethlehem Lutheran Church in New York, and the board directedthat his resignation be accepted. There were to be strangeconsequences to Mr. Kammerer’s resignation.59 After due consideration, the housing committee once againdecided that a change of location would be beneficial, and on May 1,1885, the Proseminary moved to its third building in two years, alarge, three-storied building located at 4 Oregon Street. PastorKammerer had left before the school moved, and Mr. C.G.Schneider, a Sunday school teacher, was temporarily hired ashousefather. That it was difficult to obtain an able man for thatposition is evidenced by the statement the trustees made in extendingtheir thanks to him “for his unusual willingness in taking uponhimself the responsibilities of the office.”60 The tuition at this time was broken down into three segments,different rates being charged for the fall, winter and spring terms.The students paid $13 for the fall term, $10.50 for the winter term,and $8.50 for the spring, a total of $32. In addition, each student paid57 Editor: Based on the mistaken assumption that the school was founded with atreasury containing $10.58 Minutes, March 4, 1885.59 Minutes, April 9, 1885.60 Minutes, May 14, 1885. 32
  • 39. $2 per week for room and board for 40 weeks, and $10 per year forheat.61 Richter’s constitution, which had been drawn up some timebefore, had been amended, and on May 28, four weeks after theschool had moved, the constitution was unanimously accepted and anew board elected. Mr. John Wagner, the Rochester businessmanwho had been very helpful in the past, was elected to the vicepresidency.62 With the election of new officers, which involved a transfer ofbooks and records, it was discovered that former housefatherKammerer had not been entirely honest in his dealings with theschool. When Kammerer left, he signed an IOU for $18.06,maintaining that he had no funds. This sum, however, was not evenan honest figure, as shown by the following statement: “It remains tobe told, that after careful scrutiny, it was found that Pastor K.charged us twice for the following items … ” A list that follows inthe minutes tells of the overcharged items. During a board meetingseveral weeks later, the minutes stated, “The results of an inquirydirected to the former housefather, P.K., was a very compromisingone and revealed him to be a deceiver, all of which is plainly broughtout in the president’s report herewith attached.”63 The history of theNew York Ministerium adequately summarizes Kammerer’saccomplishments: “He [Koennemann] was succeeded by Rev. F.A.Kammerer who held that position for one year. It is God’smiraculous grace that in spite of this [God] did not permit thedestruction of the enterprise.”64 Lest the modern college student think that school was easier in“the good old days,” an examination of the schedule for the yearsimmediately following the adoption of the constitution will show thatthe Proseminary graduates had far more to complain about. Thestudents were awakened by a bell that sounded at 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m. inwinter. Breakfast was served 30 minutes later, after which thestudents attended chapel services for 15 minutes. Although there were no classes on Saturday, students wererequired to attend chapel, while the Sabbath was observed inaccordance with strict regulations. All students had to attend church61 Excerpts from the 91 Synod Meeting, June 12, 1885, Minutes of Board, May28, 1885 [sic].62 Minutes, May 28, 1885.63 Minutes, June 8, 1885.64 From an 1887 report on the history of Wagner College by Alexander Richter,included in “Geschichte des New York Ministeriums” (ed. John Nicum, 1888),pp. 332-337. (MS in Wagneriana, Markham Room) 33
  • 40. services and Sunday school; there was no deviation from this rule.Two students were almost expelled for going to a baseball gameinstead of attending church. Because there was no equipment orplace in which to play, athletics were very limited. Students were required to be in by 10 in the evening. Theyboarded in the school under the supervision of an unmarriedprofessor who lived in the dormitory with the boys. In addition totheir studies, the students were required to take care of the furnace,and to work in the basement dining room. School regulations statedthat the students were required to bathe once weekly! The Proseminary provided books, but the students had to payfor all other supplies. There was a library on the first floor, but theonly books available were those that had been donated. Students,however, had the use of the Baptist Seminary [i.e., RochesterTheological Seminary] library. All instruction was given in German,with the exception of English and mathematics.65 Despiteinadequacies, rapid progress was being made. The curriculum wassimilar to that followed in the South Avenue school. Coursesincluded biblical history, English grammar, geography, Latin, churchhistory, German, religion, and Greek. The school year of 1885 ended on Thursday, May 28, withGerman and English declamations and essays and a farewell addressgiven by the first graduate of the school, Mr. Hoffmann, who wasgraduated with honors.66 The next day, Friday, a picnic was attendedby students, teachers and trustees, which was followed by a musicalprogram in Zion Church.67 As Mr. Schneider, the temporary housefather, was not a pastorand since he had other duties, Pastor Richter corresponded with Mr.Paul Emil Kellner. After an exchange of letters, in which Kellneragreed to accept the housefather position that had been offered tohim, the board voted on June 3 to send Mr. Kellner $200 fortraveling expenses from Europe [spec., Russia] to Rochester. Mr.Kellner proved to be as controversial a figure as Pastor Kammerer.65 John C. Krahmer (Class of 1893 and professor, 1897-1901), recollections ofWagner College, 1952. (MS in Wagneriana, Markham Room)66 Editor: Francis Rudolph Hoffmann graduated from the Lutheran Proseminaryat the age of 19. “Of course, he had been with us for a short time only, for he hadreceived the greater part of his preliminary training in Germany,” Richteracknowledged. In 1888, Hoffmann was the first Wagner College alumnus tograduate from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.67 Minutes, April 30, 1885. [Editor: Zion Lutheran, the school’s “motherchurch,” was less than half a mile from the Oregon Street campus.] 34
  • 41. When Mr. Kellner and his family arrived, they weretemporarily taken in by the Wagners. Mrs. Kellner was engaged asmatron to assist her husband in his duties. Some time later, amanager was engaged “who, together with his family, resided at thecollege. His duty was to keep the house and grounds in order, toserve meals, to attend the furnace, and to do the laundry.”68 There are conflicting statements as to the competence of theKellners. William Arndt states, “It could hardly be expected that aman translated to entirely new surroundings could prove a success.”69According to Alfred Beck, Kellner was loved and respected by bothstudents and teachers, and was a wise administrator and capableleader.70 The history of the Ministerium, however, states, “A Saxon, PaulEmil Kellner by name, a recommended philologist, who hadsatisfactory educational references and who even had passed anexamination by the state while yet in Germany, was called. His wifewas to take care of the household. We were utterly disappointed inboth of them.”71 Page 45 of the minutes of the 82nd Synod meeting,held in 1886, states, on the other hand, that “kitchen, bedroom, andclassroom, which are under the supervision of Mrs. Kellner, acompetent matron, are kept clean and in good order.” Perhaps aquotation from the “Geschichte des New York Ministerium” wouldbe appropriate here: “It is indeed the sad experience of allinstitutions, especially the new ones, that teachers and staff are moreor less troublesome.”72 The young institution was now making rapid strides. The leaseon the [Oregon Street] building had almost expired, and Mr. Wagner,who was now a member of the finance committee, conferred with theowner with reference to the renewal of the lease. On September 29,1885, a special meeting of the board took place in the home ofPresident Richter, with all members present. Mr. Wagner reportedthat the property was for sale at $12,000. He said that a mortgage of$3,000 had been taken on the property, but did not into further detail.Perhaps the owner had mortgaged his property for $3,000, and nowthat it was for sale, that money was to be included in the purchaseprice. During a three-month grace period, which was to be obtained68 From A. Richter’s 1887 report in Nicum’s “Geschichte des New YorkMinisteriums.”69 William Arndt ALS.70 Alfred Beck, p. 20.71 From A. Richter’s 1887 report.72 Ibid. 35
  • 42. by Wagner, the board was to compile a subscription list in order tosolicit contributions. The next month, on October 1, 1885, under Chapter 319 of thelaws of 1848, the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester was legallyincorporated in the State of New York.73 By January 1886, $5,700 had been raised through subscriptions.Mr. Wagner, on behalf of the board, took a $7,000 mortgage for 10years, with a semi-annual interest rate of 5 percent.74 The readermight question Mr. Wagner’s willingness to sign his name to and beresponsible for a $7,000 mortgage for an institution that, althoughsteadily improving, was not at all secure. He had, almost from theschool’s beginning, contributed both time and money toward itsimprovement. Wagner had been born on August 10, 1824, at Bischmisheim,Prussia. When he was 14 years old, he and his family had immigratedto America. John settled down and studied to be a carpenter. He wassoon recognized as one of the leading contractors of Rochester. Hisservices as a builder were constantly in demand, as he was calledupon to construct many of the most admired edifices in the city,among them the First Baptist Church and the Union Trust Building.Although he devoted more attention to his business than to politics,he was active in local circles, sitting as a member of the [MonroeCounty] Board of Supervisors from the Sixth Ward. Mr. Wagner was also a director of the Rochester GermanInsurance Company and director of the Genesee Brewing Company,besides being vice president of the board of trustees of theProseminary. With his wife, a daughter, and one son, the Wagnerslived a comfortable life.75 They were one of the leading families ofRochester. John’s devotion to religion was a marked feature of hiswhole career.76 He had frequently demonstrated this, and the takingof a mortgage was probably not at all surprising to the boardmembers. The mortgage, however, was not to be the culmination ofWagner’s interest or devotion. A few years earlier, Wagner’s son73 Certified copy of petition in president’s office, Wagner College.74 Beck, p. 21.75 Editor: John George Jr. and Catherine Susanna Wagner had a total of fivechildren: three boys and two girls. By the time of the Wagner family’sinvolvement with the Proseminary, four of the children had died; only CarolinePhilipina survived into adulthood.76 The details here of John George Wagner’s biography come from a profilepublished in “Rochester and the Post Express: A History of the City of Rochesterfrom the Earliest Times” (Rochester, N.Y.: Post Express Printing Co., 1895), pp.154-55. 36
  • 43. George, who had been studying to enter the ministry, had died.77Now, Mr. and Mrs. Wagner, with a generosity unprecedented in theschool’s history, announced to the board of directors that themortgage would not be necessary. For they, the Wagners, haddecided to donate $12,000 to the Proseminary for the purpose ofpurchasing from Jackson and Company the property on the east sideof Oregon Street, on which the school now stood. It has beenassumed and erroneously stated that Wagner stipulated that the nameof the school be changed as a memorial to his late son George. TheWagner College Protokolle [Minutes] states, however, that “the onlystipulation that he [JGW] made was that this [the $12,000 gift]should be considered a memorial to his late son George, who was tohave entered the Lutheran ministry. The generous gift of Mr. Wagnerand his wife was accepted with the hearty thanks of every member ofthe board. It was further agreed, after some discussion, to change thename of the institution to Wagner Memorial Lutheran College.” 78, 79 Several months later, Richter was succeeded by the Rev. JosephRechtsteiner.80 Perhaps it is a disappointment to know that the manwho “built” Wagner College was to leave it just when the futureseemed bright. Richter, however, was apparently not “eased out,” butprobably left voluntarily to take a congregation in Hoboken, NewJersey. Gomph was a member of the board at this time, and since he77 Editor: J. George Wagner III died at the age of 19 on Oct. 15, 1873 — 10 yearsto the day before the founding of the school that would eventually be named forhim.78 Protokolle [Minutes], Wagner College, 1885-1905, entry on June 8, 1886. Thisis also mentioned in Beck, p. 21.79 Editor: The writer asserts, “It has been assumed and erroneously stated thatWagner stipulated that the name of the school be changed as a memorial to hislate son George.” While the minutes of the college’s board of directors supportthe writer’s assertion, the institution’s court petition to change its name from theLutheran Proseminary of Rochester to Wagner Memorial Lutheran College, datedJuly 27, 1886, claims that one of the reasons the court should allow the change isbecause “John G. Wagner of Rochester, N.Y. has offered and is willing to givethe said institution the sum of twelve thousand dollars if it would change itsname.” The petition was signed by Alexander Richter, who swore to the accuracyof its claims.80 Editor: Schoen writes as if Richter had become director of the college after thedeparture of Paul Emil Kellner, but no date or description for Kellner’s departureis given, and neither of the brief accounts of the school’s early history written byRichter in 1887 mention anything about Richter himself serving as director orhousefather between Kellner and Rechtsteiner, who was appointed director inSeptember 1887. 37
  • 44. and Richter were good friends, it seems improbable that Richter wasforced to leave.81 The school was now growing larger, with expenses steadilyincreasing. It soon became apparent that steps would have to be takento ensure that the services being rendered to church and communitywould continue. The decision to transfer the school’s jurisdiction toother authorities was made when the board “offered the Collegeunder appropriate conditions to the New York Ministerium. Whetherthe Synod [would] accept this noteworthy offer of a valuableproperty, suitable for the purpose and furnished with necessaryequipment, etc., [was to] be decided upon at the next annualconference.”82 Rechtsteiner lasted until 1889,83 when Pastor JacobSteinhaeuser was called as director. Rechtsteiner remained with theschool as a professor.84 Pastors Holstein and Kramer and ProfessorButtermann taught with Steinhaeuser until 1892, when the three left.A new faculty was formed, consisting of Professor Carl Betz (whohad remained with Steinhaeuser), Pastor Augustus Redderoth, andProfessor John Schaeffer. It was this faculty “who actuallytransformed the Proseminary into a classical school whose diplomaswere accepted by American and German Colleges and Universities,”according to Redderoth. Philip Kirchner and Theodore Palleske werethe first students with credentials from Wagner College and thePhiladelphia Seminary to be admitted to German universities.85 The formal transfer of Wagner College — which now had 42students and a faculty of four — to the jurisdiction of the New York81 Editor: Richter was not, in any sense, “eased out” of his involvement withWagner College in the 1880s. He continued as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church inRochester until 1891, when he accepted a call to become pastor at St. MatthewsGerman Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hoboken, N.J. Richter continuedserving on the board through the mid-1890s. Two documentary sources —Wagner College’s listing in the Rochester City Directory, and an article in aRochester newspaper — name Richter as vice president of the board during thisperiod, although the college’s own catalogue does not.82 From A. Richter’s 1887 report in Nicum’s “Geschichte des New YorkMinisteriums.”83 Editor: Other records show Rechtsteiner’s first term as director lasting untileither June or the fall of 1888, when Steinhaeuser succeeded him. Schoen may beconfused because Steinhaeuser was not formally invested as director, for reasonsunknown, until October 1889.84 Editor: Rechtsteiner also served later as acting director of the college, filling infrom 1903 to 1904.85 ALS from Augustus Redderoth to Walter Langsam, Nov. 18, 1946, andpersonal interview with Theodore Palleske, Class of 1898, in April 1957. 38
  • 45. Ministerium took place in June 1889.86 The following year, the firstsociety in Wagner’s history, the Kalokagathia, later known as theLiterary Society, was organized. This, of course, was the oldest ofWagner’s student organizations. The society, whose formation hadbeen “encouraged by the authorities,” was formed to develop“forensic speaking, debate and knowledge of parliamentary rules.”87 With the Wagners’ donation, the school had continued toexpand, but now encountered difficulties both within its ownorganization and from without, the latter in the form of legal troubleswith New York state. The difficulty with the state arose as a result of a law that hadbeen passed in 1892. In November 1893, the following letter wasreceived by college officials: To the Trustees of Wagner Memorial Lutheran College, I am directed to notify each trustee of Wagner Memorial Lutheran College that in accordance with the laws of 1892, chapter 378, section 331, the Regents will at their meeting on December 13, 1893, consider such changes in its charter as shall no longer entitle it to use the name college. … Signed, Melvil L. Dewey, 88 Secretary The 1892 law stated that no institution which did not have a$500,000 endowment fund could use the name “college,” as this titlemisled the public. Although the school later fought against the ruling,we cannot assume that Dewey’s letter was received with utterdismay. John Nicum, a member of the board who later was to createdifficulties as director, had apparently been in favor of changing thename of the school before the directive had been received. Althoughthe Regents wanted the name “college” dropped from the title,Nicum wanted to eliminate the name “Wagner Memorial,” as hestated in a circular letter distributed to members of the board, wherehe wrote, “As much, therefore, as it is desirable for various reasonsto drop the title ‘Wagner Memorial,’ it would not do to change itnow, before the College is deeded (fee simple) to the Synod and thehouses are disposed of.”89 The houses to which Nicum referred had86 “Chronology of Events at Wagner College.” (MS in Markham Room)87 Ibid.88 ALS from Melvil Dewey to Board of Trustees, November 1893. (MS inMarkham Room)89 ALS from John Nicum to members of the board, Nov. 21, 1893. (MS inMarkham Room) 39
  • 46. been bequeathed, along with additional property adjoining thecollege, by Mr. Wagner at his death in 1891. The property, however,was to revert to the Zion Lutheran Church unless the name “WagnerMemorial Lutheran” remained in the name of the college forever.90Since the chronology of events of Wagner College states that thecollege was transferred to the Synod in 1889, Nicum’s statement,made in 1893, clouds the issue. Perhaps he is referring only to thatadditional property bequeathed at John Wagner’s death in 1891. Mr. Adolph J. Rodenbeck, the treasurer of the board, whopracticed law,91 fought the case before the New York courts.Rodenbeck pleaded “that the law as passed by the state of New Yorkin 1892 was in its nature retroactive, thus unconstitutional; and that,even granted that under the amended act the state legislature reservedfor itself the right to change the name, it had no power to delegatethat right to a second party, namely the regents.”92 As a result of Rodenbeck’s plea, the Regents, in theirsubsequent meeting, “Voted, that the permission to continue the useof the name college be granted to Wagner Memorial College ofRochester.”93 The victory was recognized as an important one by theRochester newspapers, who were well aware of Wagner’scontribution to the community. An excerpt from one, speaking ofWagner College, states, “It is just the kind of education that menmust have in order to deal successfully with our German-Americancitizens, be it in church, at the bar, at the sick bed, or in business.”94 Dr. John Nicum, who had been active as a board member, wascalled to the directorship on November 11, 1894.95 According toHarold K. Kuehne, author of the May 1950 “Report on the ReligiousHistory of Wagner College,” Pastor Steinhaeuser, at a meeting of the90 Extract from copy of John Wagner’s Will and Testament. (MS in office ofWagner College president)91 Editor: Rodenbeck was 46th mayor of Rochester, from 1902 until 1903. Heserved in the New York State Assembly, and was later elected justice of theSupreme Court from 1916 until 1931. He died in 1960. In 1977, the MonroeCounty Bar Association created the Adolph J. Rodenbeck Award, its highestrecognition for public service among its members.92 From a news story on Wagner College in the Rochester Times and Union, May19, 1894.93 Extracts from minutes of Regents, Dec. 31, 1894. [Editor: The extract goes onto state this permission was extended for only one year from the date of themeeting, which was Dec. 12, 1894. No further records are on hand showing finaldisposition of the matter — but, since the college continued to use the name, itseems safe to assume that either the court denied the Regents’ claim or theRegents withdrew their suit.]94 Rochester Times and Union, May 19, 1894.95 Editor: Other sources give the date of this meeting as Nov. 1. 40
  • 47. board in that month, was forced to resign. Dr. Redderoth, referring tothe incident, said, “The day after he [Steinhaeuser] told the writer,‘They have thrown me out like a dog.’ The faculty was not notifiedof the board’s decision until students told them that Nicum hadreplaced Steinhaeuser.”96 As director, Nicum made several efforts to secure state financialassistance. The following letter to him explains Nicum’s requests andthe results he obtained: 24 March, 1899 Dear Sir, I am sorry to say that we have no discretionary power regarding the specific requirement to be met by the schools in order that they may be entitled to receive an allowance from the Academic fund for credentials. These things are fixed by ordinance of the regents. You will be pleased to learn that the inspectors speak highly of the work done in your classes. Very truly yours, James R. Parson97 To learn of Nicum as a detrimental factor,98 it would be well toquote a letter from a colleague of Nicum, Dr. Redderoth, who said,“The change came when Dr. Nicum replaced Pastor Steinhaeuser asPresident of the college Nov. 1895. [The chronology of the collegestates 1894.] It is he who introduced the Regent’s examinations. Isaw in that step a lowering of our standards and resigned in June1896, when two of my colleagues were dismissed, the ProfessorsGenzmer and Schaeffer.99 Dr. Nicum remained in control the next sixyears. The number of students decreased from year to year, until itreached the bottom, with 17 students. Then the Board asked Dr.Nicum to resign.100 Under the following presidents, not muchprogress was made … ”96 ALS Augustus C. Redderoth, “A Contribution to the History of WagnerMemorial College,” January 1947.97 Editor: James Parson Jr. was secretary to the Board of Regents.98 Despite the fact that Nicum was not on the friendliest of terms with several ofhis colleagues, it would be unfair for the reader to infer that he was disliked byeveryone or that his term in office was harmful to the school. A contemporary ofDr. Nicum indicates that he did his best for the school, and was not as detrimentalas other sources suggest. Considering the contributions of Dr. Nicum and hisefforts to improve the institution, we may infer only that he had differences ofopinion, and not that he was a detrimental influence.99 Dr. Palleske says Schaeffer left in 1894.100 According to Palleske, the number of students did not fall below 30. [Editor:According to the enrollment table compiled in 1954, the “bottom” of registrationduring Nicum’s tenure was 31 students in 1902.] When Nicum resigned,Professor Rechtsteiner once again was asked to take charge temporarily. 41
  • 48. The first Regents examinations were taken by Wagner studentsin 1896, and perhaps Nicum’s record will be brightened by the factthat his students excelled in the tests.101 Immediately prior to Nicum’s resignation, school officialsdecided that another move was desirable. In June 1901, the Synodadopted a resolution stating that a change “is desirable andnecessary,” and that “for many reasons the vicinity of New York Cityis recommended as the best location.”102 The resolution wasforgotten for several years, as the Rev. Herman D. Kraeling began avery successful 10-year period as director of the college [1904-14].In 1908, at the 25th Anniversary Service in Zion Church, a campaignwas launched in which the school hoped to raise a Jubilee Fund of$25,000. The campaign was highly successful, as contributionstotaling $19,000 were made.103 Under Kraeling, the students attended 25 periods weekly,classes being held from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The students and facultyattended morning chapel at 7:20 a.m. and again in the evening at 6:20p.m. A supervised study period was held every evening between thehours of 7 and 10 p.m., and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.Directly behind the college building, a small playground was usedfor physical education, and the Rev. Andrew Blum, the pastor of St.John’s Church [and successor in that position to John Nicum],allowed the Wagner students the use of the church’s gymnasium. OnFriday afternoons, students and faculty gathered for singing andrecitation, refreshments being served by members of a “pound” club,whose members each donated a pound of food to the gathering.104 In 1914, Kraeling resigned the directorship, and was succeededby John A.W. Kirsch, the grandfather of the present Wagner Collegechaplain, the Rev. Paul Kirsch. Two years after Kirsch becamepresident [director], a man who was to do much to shape the destinyof Wagner College was elected to the board of trustees.105 He wasPastor Frederic Sutter, of Stapleton, Staten Island, a graduate of theClass of 1894.106 Four months later, a special synod meeting wascalled in Utica, New York, at which several important topics were101 “Catalogue of Wagner College, 1897-98,” pp. 21, 22.102 “Chronology of Events, Wagner College,” author unknown. (MS in MarkhamRoom)103 Editor: Other accounts put this figure at $18,000.104 Dr. William Ludwig, “Reminiscences of Wagner College,” 1926 Kallista.105 Editor: Sutter had previously served on the board from 1906 to 1909, beingfirst elected when he was pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hudson, N.Y.He returned to the board in 1916, when he was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Churchin Staten Island.106 Pastor Sutter’s family home was in Long Island, N.Y. 42
  • 49. discussed. The city of Rochester had grown from a small city to asprawling metropolis by 1917. Wagner College, as a result of thecity’s growth, suddenly found itself surrounded by buildings andrailroad yards. The noise and bustle of a growing city were notconducive to the proper education of future ministers, and the Synodwas once again faced with the problem of moving to a new location.The Ministerium had, since 1901, been aware that a move wasdesirable, and now intensive discussion followed concerning therelocation of the institution. There were two opposing factions at themeeting. The Rochesterians favored the relocation of the school inanother part of the city or its suburbs. The other group advocated acomplete move to New York City, which had become a greatLutheran center. “The New York faction won out, to the keendisappointment of the Rochester men.”107 The members then voted toraise $100,000 to purchase new property for the school. It was PastorSutter who pointed out the desirable Cunard Estate on Grymes Hill,Staten Island. The estate, which comprised 38 acres and included fourhouses,108 overlooked New York harbor. Although the setting wasrustic, rapid transportation was available to the world’s largest city.Samuel Cunard, founder of the Cunard Lines, no longer occupied thesite, which was now an attractive resort.109 The entire estate wasoffered for sale at $63,000. Although the Ministerium was makingsome progress in its $100,000 drive, several obstacles wereencountered that might have discouraged lesser men. A letter fromDr. Justus F. Holstein, treasurer of the Ministerium, to Pastor Sutter,dated July 10, 1917, partially explains the difficulties. Dear Brother Sutter, I hope that you have already called a meeting of the executive committee for Friday at 11 a.m. It is absolutely necessary. It is very urgent that we arrive at a decision in regard to the $18,000, else we are simply stuck. In accordance with your suggestion, I have obtained the particular Synod resolution from Brother Posselt. (Resolved to authorize the Executive Committee of Synod to use the money107 Rochester Times-Union, Friday, May 31, 1918. (Copy of newspaper inMarkham Room)108 Editor: The estate actually contained five habitable buildings: two summercottages, a gatehouse, a dormitory, and a large main house.109 In 1885, the Cunard Estate was sold to Alonzo Barber, president of the BarberAsphalt Company, for $30,000. After Barber’s death, a Mr. Haines, a formeroffice employee of Barber’s, operated the hotel “Bellevue,” a summer resort. Theproperty was purchased at some point by Oberlin College of Ohio, from whomWagner College bought it in 1917. 43
  • 50. in the Jubilee Fund of Wagner College for the purpose of securing the property on S.I. in view.) Was then at P. Bosch’s (he himself not at home) and pressed the seal of the Ministerium on Posselt’s document. I then went to Title Guaranty & Trust Company, Brooklyn, and presented this document. The answer was exactly as I had anticipated. “This means nothing and is absolutely of no use.” Here are a number of questions I was asked: “To whom does the money of the Jubilee Fund belong?” (To us, the Ministerium, whose treasurer I am, absolutely.) “Very well, if you then have the money, why don’t you use it?” (We have the money, but it is solidly invested in mortgages, of which some still have 2 or 3 years to go before being due.) “Why don’t you simply sell the mortgages and that’s the finish of it?” We prefer to keep the mortgages as may be necessary. “With what do you intend to pay back the borrowed, or as the case may be the $18,000 to be borrowed?” That should really be our own affair. We give a guarantee for this with our security, are busily raising funds just now for this purpose and even expect to raise $80,000 in the course of the year from our congregations. “Why then do you want to borrow the sum for precisely (6) six months? Would (4) four months suffice? That would make the whole matter simpler for us.” I do not know if I shall have the money after 4 months; I would prefer a period of six (6) months. And thus it went on. Finally it was suggested to me, that at the meeting of the executive committee, someone should pass approximately the following resolution: Resolved (by ___, and quorum being present) to authorize the treasurer (___) to borrow for (4 or 6) months from ___ the sum of $18,000, pledging as collateral security $35,000 First Guaranteed Mortgage, held by ___. This is a correct copy of the minutes of the Executive Committee, (SEAL) ___ Secretary. I assume that the decision was favorable, for in September 1917the Cunard estate was purchased for $63,000. With the final papers signed, the president, Dr. Kirsch,resigned, as did the entire board of trustees. Rev. Adolph Holthusenof Jersey City was called to replace Kirsch, and Pastor Sutter waselected president of the board of trustees. Dr. William Ludwig wasthe only faculty member who traveled to Staten Island with thecollege. Although the Cunard property was bought for $63,000, the totalcost, including the remodeling of the [two summer] cottages and thebuilding of the president’s house, came to $110,000. The Synod 44
  • 51. raised $40,000 of this figure, and a mortgage was obtained for theremaining amount.110 The chronology states that 16 students made the change fromRochester with the school.111 Receiving news of the change, thesecretary of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, Cornelius G.Kolff, sent a telegram to the Rev. Henry A. Meyer welcomingWagner to Staten Island and promising to donate $100 toward theerection of a statue of Martin Luther on the school grounds. The statue was apparently never erected. Whether the Chamberof Commerce failed to live up to its pledge (which is unlikely), or themoney was used for more practical purposes has not beenascertained. Today, Wagner College is no longer the struggling school thatit was years ago. While it has not yet attained the status of a “largeschool,” it is recognized as one of the “good” small colleges on theEastern seaboard, with a total enrollment of almost 2,000 students. Inthe last 10 years, a new girl’s dormitory has been constructed, alongwith one of the best gymnasiums on the Atlantic coast, and a $1million men’s dormitory and dining hall building is scheduled forcompletion in the fall of 1957. Already, plans have been made for alibrary building that would also house the college chapel. As Dr. Redderoth so aptly said, “The most essential andbeneficial change came when the College was transferred fromRochester to Staten Island, and under the leadership of Sutter,Wasmund and Posselt developed into the wonderful school which itis now.”112 So, from the dream of one man, an institution that was foundedon $10113 is now a rapidly growing college, situated on 72 acres ofground, and with further expansion visible everywhere. It has beentruly said that “Wagner College is the only college in New York thathas a future; the rest all have a past.”114110 Chronology, Wagner College. (MS in Markham Room) [Editor: A differentchronology has it the other way around: The Synod raised $70,000, and took outa mortgage for $40,000.]111 Editor: According to an enrollment table compiled in 1954, total enrollment inOctober 1918 was 42; at least 26 new students enrolled that year.112 Redderoth to Langsam, 1946.113 Editor: Actually, $100.114 Dr. John Tildsley, former associate superintendent of New York PublicSchools. (MS in Markham Room) 45
  • 52. The evolution of an idea The Rev. Frederic Sutter remembers the history of Wagner College on Staten Island 115 Compiled by Brian Morris, 1968 Brian Morris ’65: Humbly, beneath an old apple tree on thegrounds of a parsonage at Pittsford, N.Y., two pastors nurtured anidea that they hoped could satisfy the raw yearnings of an immigrantpeople. Wagner College sprang from that idea. The pastors, the Rev. Alexander Richter, then pastor of ZionLutheran Church in Rochester, and the Rev. Dr. George H. Gomph,pastor of the Pittsford Lutheran Church, met to discuss some meanswhereby the needs of the German and bilingual churches of NewYork and adjacent states might be met. The planning resulted in the founding of the LutheranProseminary of Rochester, when six students met for classes in thehome of a parishioner of Zion Lutheran Church. After several moves during its first couple of years, and severalbouts with harsh housefathers, the institution settled on the groundsof the Satterlee Collegiate Institute through the generosity of John G.Wagner. Mr. Wagner and his wife donated the $12,000 purchaseprice as a memorial to their son, George Wagner, who died withdreams of becoming a minister. The title of the institution waschanged naturally to Wagner Memorial Lutheran College. As the college grew beyond the capacities of the building inRochester, the New York Ministerium, which was given control of thecollege in 1888, decided that it should be moved. It named a youngpastor in 1916 to chair the committee that would find a new home forthe college. The young pastor, who himself was in the midst of building hisown congregation in Stapleton, Staten Island, found a home forWagner College. In 1918, the college moved to Grymes Hill. The Rev. Dr. Frederic Sutter was the predominant figure in thelife of Wagner College without ever being a domineering one. Hismethod was friendship. “I have not worked with a fairer colleagueand friend, and I have seldom met a man with greater faith than he,”wrote Dr. Clarence C. Stoughton, a former president of the college. Why did he do so much for Wagner College? It was gratitudefor what Wagner did for him in those six years from 1888 to 1894,115 Brian Morris, Class of 1965, who interviewed Pastor Sutter in 1968, served atthe time as director of the Wagner College News Bureau. 46
  • 53. when he was one of her chosen few in Rochester. Wagner gave himher best, and out of thanksgiving he determined he would give hisbest to Wagner. In 1907, Pastor Sutter found a home for himself on StatenIsland. Fifty years ago a baby — Wagner College — was left on hisdoorstep, and he decided that it, too, could plant its roots in thecommunity. Staten Islanders agreed. Born in Stambach, Germany,Pastor Sutter immigrated to this country when he was six years old.He entered Wagner College in 1888, continued his studies at theLutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1894, and wasordained in 1897. He served as pastor of Trinity EvangelicalLutheran Church from 1907 until his retirement in 1964, and waschairman of the Wagner College Board of Trustees for 40 years. Ofhis own life he said, “I have a great faith. And I believe in a God-guided life.” Of his life others say, “He had a kindness, personalwarmth, broad human sympathy, an ability to live with men on theirown terms … one who is God’s ambassador.” Note: Frederic Sutter, founder of Wagner College on Staten Island, died in 1971. In 1968, Pastor Sutter recalled: I want to tell you what reallychanged the course of my life. I refused the first call of this parish[Trinity Lutheran Church, Stapleton, Staten Island], you know. I wasvery happy where I was located (in a parish in Hudson, N.Y., as ateacher in a high school). The new parish was entirely German, and Iwas asked to introduce English to the ceremony. Anyway, I came topreach a few sermons. There were less than 60 people in theaudience. I said to myself, “If that’s how much interest there is here,God help me.” So I refused. But they gave me a second call. I began to thinkabout it again about the time I was on a summer vacation. I met anold patriarch of the church, an old pastor I knew very well. I told himof the second call and asked him what he would do in my place. “Young man,” he said, “if the Lord wants you to go to StatenIsland, you’re going. … No matter what you say now, you’re going.” Well, that hung on my conscience. He said it was the Lord’sway of handling the proposition, and I thought I might just be the oneto build up that church. So I wrote my acceptance in 1907 and movedto the German Evangelical Lutheran Church [later renamed Trinity]in an old frame building in Stapleton with 350 parishioners. It wasn’t long after I had finally persuaded the parishioners toconsent to English services that I ran into the greatest challenge of 47
  • 54. my life. A baby was left on my doorstep, crying, “I want to gohome.” It was about 1916 when I was named to the board of trusteesof the college.116 Almost immediately, the board named me chairmanof a committee to find a new home for Wagner College. I had no idea where to put a college, and neither did most of theclergy and laymen who drove all over Staten Island to find a suitablelocation. We had pretty much decided on the plot of land next towhat is now the football field (West Campus) until the day when Iattended the golden wedding anniversary of a friend. Someone theresuggested that I look at the Cunard property. And I said, “Where isthe Cunard property?” Early the next morning I inspected it. It wasabout 38 acres, with the most prominent building the former home ofSir Edward Cunard, the founder of the shipping line that still carrieshis name. They called it Bellevue, I think. It was rumored that it wasbuilt in 1850 on true English soil that was used as ballast on theCunard ships. The Cunard parcel belonged to Oberlin College at the time.They wanted some $70,000 for the land. I opposed the figure butoffered $60,000 instead. The board of Wagner College tried to obtain a mortgage from abank, but we didn’t have the necessary collateral. Besides, the boardwasn’t really authorized to go into debt. It was suggested that thechurch board of my parish take the mortgage, but I couldn’t take thechance of getting the church board in trouble. Rather, I favored theSynod, then the New York Ministerium, taking the mortgage, andultimately transferring the deed to the college’s board of trustees. Now, we all realized that the Ministerium couldn’t get that kindof money in such a short spell. But, there was a Rev. Dr. JustusHolzstein (once a professor at the Lutheran Proseminary), who wastreasurer of the Ministerium; he had money. He and his wife werefairly wealthy. We took our plan to him — he would personallyapply for a mortgage, transfer the title to the Ministerium, which, inturn, would put the deed in the hands of the board of trustees. You can imagine that Holzstein didn’t like the plan at all. Hewas wondering who was going to pay him back. But he was a blessedman and finally gave in. He was going to buy it. The property was finally in our hands, or rather, in the hands ofthe Ministerium, which in a short while with a devoted effort raised$40,000 of the $63,000 purchase price. It was a first. No Synod untilthis time had ever owned a college.116 This was his second term. He had previously served from 1906 to 1909. 48
  • 55. Almost as hard as the actual purchase of the parcel was tryingto get the deed back in the hands of the board. That the Synod guidethe kind of institution we wanted it to be would have been adangerous proposition to my way of thinking. Our first president, theRev. Dr. A.H. Holthusen, however, favored Synod control. We finally came up with a resolution that the board would holdthe deed, but board members could not be elected who were notmembers of the Synod. From time to time, in fact, more often thannot, we were able to get around this resolution. Wagner College was organized as a German gymnasium — asix-year secondary school based on language study including sixyears of Latin, five years of Greek and a year of Hebrew. There wereclasses in Biblical history, English grammar, German and churchhistory, too. The primary purpose was to prepare young men for theministry who could speak both German and English. When Wagner settled on Staten Island, we knew we had toremodel the gymnasium study program to make Wagner a trulyAmerican college. Before the move, I asked some of the professors ifthey wanted to continue on Staten Island. Most asked if the collegewould have the same purpose — that is, to prepare boys to beGerman-English speaking ministers. When I told them it would nothave this purpose, all but Dean Ludwig declined to make the move.Everything was changed: The need for a bilingual clergy wasbecoming less, because increasing numbers of young people in thecongregations were turning to English services. The rigidity of thegymnasium curriculum was outmoded, and to truly become a part ofStaten Island, as the borough’s first college, Wagner would have toassume an important role in the Island’s needs. We didn’t really have to modify our purpose, and the Islandaccepted it: To educate young people to have a Christian outlook, tomold persons who will constantly demonstrate what it means to beChristian. Not many had hopes that Wagner on Staten Island wouldsurvive more than a few years. Our only real collateral was our faithin God. Our problems were at first simple ones: We needed money;we had nothing. There are probably not many who really know how hard it wasto keep the institution going. We were not only a college at the time,but sponsored a high school on the property as well. For a time, students and faculty members were forced to formwork gangs to keep the furnaces going. My own parish, TrinityLutheran Church, staged various fund-raising events. The blessedwomen of the [Wagner College] Guild (formed in 1918 to aid 49
  • 56. Wagner College) made countless contributions of both money andother necessities like food and draperies. And, Island residentsflocked to our aid. (The Rev. Dr. A.H. Holthusen, president from 1918 to 1926,made this plea: “We must find more room. … We are taking care of72 persons without a pantry and with an ice box built for a family offive.”) Campus map, 1920 We managed to take the initiative in 1922. We had nothing tolose. We started construction on South Hall (now Parker Hall) for useas a dormitory, and soon after added the estate of Capt. JacobVanderbilt, now the frontage of the college. Then we started a massive fund campaign that yielded about$540,000. Meanwhile, we undertook to remodel North Hall [nowcalled Reynolds House] by replastering all the walls and adding anew heating system. I had my eye on the Vanderbilt parcel for quite a while, but wealmost lost our opportunity to buy it when we were forced to buy aplot in the back of the grounds because of a surveyor’s mistake. Thecollege grounds were served only by cesspools, and we needed asewer. I got a figure of $10,000 to run a sewer from our propertydown the hill into Concord. We hired a surveyor. “Be sure to give me the direct line,” I told him. “We don’t wantour sewer to run through property that doesn’t belong to us.” 50
  • 57. He made his survey and the sewer was built — right throughsomeone else’s land. Well, we had to buy that property or lose thesewer. It came to about four acres, where Harborview Hall nowstands. But I still wanted that Vanderbilt stretch for the college — itwas choice frontage — and we bought it anyway on my ownintuition. I had a tremendous faith in the Lord. I always said if theLord wants this thing to be here and to grow here, by his benediction,it will happen. The bankers always told me I was crazy: “You can’tdo business that way, by just having faith.” But I always answered,“It’s my biggest asset,” and it always seemed to payoff. Things were getting a little tight then, even though the college’salumni agreed to pay the interest on the mortgage for the Vanderbiltland. I had to get some surety for the college in some way, so wedecided to sell part of that land — some plots running into where ourbaseball field is now. [At this writing, the college has just brokenground on the former baseball field for a new senior residence hall,to be completed before the end of 2008.] The property was purchased by Cornelius G. Kolff, who waspresident then of the [Staten Island] Chamber of Commerce. Hebought the land to get access to a development on Longview Avenuefrom Howard Avenue. Wagner had the right-of-way along CampusRoad at that time. I admit I hiked the price a bit when I learned howmuch he needed the right-of-way. But I told him, “If the shoe wereon the other foot … ” He knew all the while that the value of his landwould be increased tremendously with the right-of-way. When we set out in 1925 and 1926 to win accreditation by theNew York State Board of Regents, we were told to devote our fulltime and energy to the making of a college. The Regents estimatedthat we would need about $500,000 as an endowment to build up thecurriculum and physical plant. And that’s what spurred the firstmajor fund drive. The board showed only anxiety when I told them of the figure.They all said I couldn’t possibly succeed. The college was weak, theMinisterium was small, and alumni were too few. But we tried nevertheless. Prof. (Clarence C.) Stoughton (whowas later to become president of Wagner) and I went on the road. I got wind of a well-to-do man who owned a smelting plant inTottenville, so I went to see what I could get out of him. When helooked up from his sandwich and asked what I wanted of him, Ireplied, “I want your money.” “How much do you have in mind?” he asked again. “A good slice of it,” I said. 51
  • 58. He offered me $25. I told him I didn’t want it. We argued up and down the lane until he finally gave in with$500. I was pleased and walked back to Stapleton. It was incidentslike this one that brought us much of the money we raised. When we had pledges totaling more than $540,000, I went backto the Board of Regents to ask if we had fulfilled the firstrequirements for accreditation. There was a man there whom we haddealt with. He said, “Nothing doing. I want to see the money in thebank, not just on pledge cards.” We had it, there was no doubt about that. I think about$125,000 of that money was raised on Staten Island alone. I thoughtof it as a vote of confidence. The pace seemed to quicken. We won accreditation in 1928 andbegan construction of Main Hall a year later. In 1932 we had ourlargest freshmen class (52 boys) and created summer and nightextensions; in 1933 we started to admit women students. We shutdown the prep school for good in 1932 — I thanked the Lord for that— and became a true liberal arts college. All through these years when we needed everything, the Synodwas very kind to us. I made the debt, and they paid for it. But Ialways made the stipulation to the Synod: Don’t touch the college ifyou want it to grow; you don’t know enough about it. We only had one real hassle: when I tried to expand scientificstudies. While I argued, [Prof.] Lee Davidheiser worked on theorganization of extending the science program. The board argued,“No, no, these boys won’t believe in anything after a while.” Theywere afraid the students would become contaminated by irreligion. Davidheiser was the only science department for both chemistryand physics for quite a while. You might call him the “Father ofScience” at Wagner. He interested some prominent persons in theprospects of scientific studies and used their donations to build hislabs. Mrs. Louis A. Dreyfus, the widow of a Staten Island chemist,was particularly generous for Davidheiser. Davidheiser started the summer sessions at Wagner and had ahand in the beginnings of the night extension. Whatever the studentspaid to go to summer school was given to the teacher as his salary. Then Dr. [Ralph] Deal came in 1933 and used his hands and histalents to build a biology department. We gave him some room, andhe and two students built laboratory cabinets for the department. I think it should be noted that even though our sciencedepartments were young, Wagner was turning out graduates whocould compete with some of the best schools in the city. 52
  • 59. While we seemed to be drawing some very fine professors, ourgreatest problem throughout the early years was to find a presidentwho was a professional. We had no money to hire a businessadministrator, so the board merely took a successful pastor andreclothed him to look like a college president. Actually, none ofWagner’s early presidents was truly prepared to handle theadministrative tasks of running a college. I served as acting presidentfor three terms, but I couldn’t handle the job. I may have hadcommon sense, but my background was Wagner College and that’sall. The best man to come along in those early years was Prof.Stoughton in 1935. He was our first layman president. We workedtogether for 10 years. He was first connected with our high school asa mathematics teacher in 1919. He was hired originally to teachEnglish — his subject in college — but was told to teach math whenhe arrived here. He later became principal of our high school. Before he became president, and as a member of our board oftrustees, Prof. Stoughton had become quite popular and successful asa businessman on Staten Island. He was a wonderful, hard-workingman — no one offered himself so entirely to Wagner College as hedid. Stoughton helped bring prestige to Wagner and started a row ofcollege presidents who were really substantial. Stoughton, I believe,laid the foundation for what is now called Wagner College … I’m sosure of that. By the time we celebrated our Golden Jubilee in 1936, Wagnercould boast of a physical plant worth $1.5 million. By 1943 we had begun to throw new dimensions on our idea ofa college. We were building our faculty and adding to thecurriculum. Davidheiser brought [Dr. Adolph J.] Stern here — Ithink he promised him a science building to get him to come — whowas a recognized authority in his field. We added a School of Nursing to our offerings and later starteda choir, which under [Dr. Sigvart J.] Steen was to become the bestambassador Wagner ever had. But the turmoil that shook the world during World War IIdampened the plans we had for our little college as studentenrollment dipped. Like many colleges we sought to help in any waypossible by offering special quick-study courses for boys who weredestined to be inducted into the armed services. The course of the war cut deeply into Wagner, but the end ofthe war more than made up for what was lost. When Prof. Stoughtonleft Wagner [in 1945 to become president of Wittenberg University], 53
  • 60. we had a total of about 400 students. By 1951, there were more than1,300 students in our classrooms. And, of course, we again needed more room. Meanwhile, in1949 we added the 18-acre Ward Estate.117 Shortly after that, we added a graduate school and startedoffering master’s degrees. Wagner was still growing and needed more dormitory facilities,a library, the science hall we promised Stern when he came a fewdecades ago. Guild Hall, named for those wonderful women who gave somuch to Wagner, and the gymnasium that bears my name, were builtin 1951. (I don’t know why Wagner ever named the gymnasium afterme. Of all things, they try to make a gymnast out of me.) Even with the recent emphasis put on out-of-town students, Istill feel that Wagner College is Staten Island’s college. In increasingnumbers through the years, the college was turning out young peoplewho were to become vital parts of the community. They becamedoctors, lawyers, scientists and educators. I feel that Wagner is my fourth son, but Staten Island is itsmother. For forty years I was president of the board of trustees. I didn’twant to be, but I felt so close to the college. We had an idea for a college in 1918, and that idea is stillevolving. Wagner College is still growing in all areas, and that’sgood. Nothing can ever reach a state of perfection, but that doesn’tmean you can’t strive for it. Wagner College was born in faith andsustained only by great faith. It is the greatest of faith that still movesit onward. The purpose of Wagner originally was to prepare a young manto preach in both English and German. We still try to educate youngpeople in a religious atmosphere. We don’t encourage students tochange from other religions, but we do hope they maintain an interestin religion and the Bible. It seems that the great tendency in colleges today is to get awayfrom the church-God relationship and depend more on government.If colleges depend too much on government, I feel, government willdictate ultimately what courses are to be taught. The greatness of Wagner College today is my own greatestsatisfaction. It really is. So often I would say to my good wife:117 Once the estate of Civil War Brigadier General William Green Ward, built in1865. This is the property on the west side of Howard Avenue, including thefootball stadium, Stage One studio theater, and the big parking lot. 54
  • 61. “Mother, if I should die tonight, they’ll be so confused they won’t beable to find a way out.” There is only one thing I hope Wagner College will do always— to teach thoroughly whatever it chooses to teach and to educate inan atmosphere of faith. The Lord, I know, will watch over WagnerCollege. 55
  • 62. Founding faces & places The genesis of Wagner College By Lee Manchester, July 2008 In this essay, we will examine three areas of historical groundnot closely studied in previous histories of Wagner College’s earliestyears. First, we will look in some detail at the “prehistory” of thecollege, examining the stories of two previous attempts to establishinstitutions in New York state to serve the purpose Wagner Collegeultimately fulfilled. Second, we will identify the exact locations in Rochester whereWagner College’s first three campuses stood, comparing earlyreferences and 19th century tax maps with 21st century satellite photosand on-the-ground surveys. Third, we will look in some detail at the biographies of the fiveRochester men without whom Wagner College would probably nothave been founded or survived beyond its infancy. Wagner College prehistory One of the earliest historical accounts of Wagner College wascompiled in 1888 as part of the Rev. John Nicum’s “Geschichte desNew York Ministeriums [History of the New York Ministerium].” Inhis introduction to the early Ministerium reports on WagnerCollege’s inception, Nicum wrote: The need of an institution in which future ministers might receive the necessary preparatory training for the Seminary was felt most urgently during the two decades preceding the founding of the Lutheran Proseminary [later called Wagner College] in 1883. The Newark Akademy at Lyons, N.Y.118 had failed, and the St. Matthaus Akademy in New York had been estranged from the New York Ministerium. The need of a preparatory school for the future ministers serving under the New York Ministerium, therefore, was pressing. In 1883, through the efforts of Rev. A. Richter, a new school was founded in Rochester. The following is the story of St. Matthew’s Academy (“St.Matthaus Akademy”) and Newark College (“the NewarkAkademy”), and how the transformation of St. Matthew’s and thefailure of Newark led to the founding of Wagner College.118 The Newark Academy was located in Newark, N.Y., not Lyons. The twovillages are about six miles apart. 56
  • 63. St. Matthew’s Academy The German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Matthew isreputedly the oldest surviving Lutheran congregation in America.After occupying several different locations in New York City, St.Matthew’s moved to Broome and Elizabeth streets on May 3, 1868. A year later, in May 1869, an already existing school at St.Matthew’s was expanded into an academy, with the Rev. E.F. Gieseas director. A future director of Wagner College, Jacob Steinhaeuser,attended St. Matthew’s Academy during Giese’s final year as theschool’s director (1872-73) before enrolling at the LutheranTheological Seminary in Philadelphia. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, at Elizabeth & Broome streets, New York City (engraving from New York Times, Feb. 25, 1894) From 1874-1894, the Rev. Edmund Bohm served as director ofSt. Matthew’s Academy. There were 300 students. Under Bohm’sleadership, a new St. Matthew’s Academy building was erected in1879. In 1881, Bohm extended the mission of St. Matthew’sAcademy, founding the Concordia Collegiate Institute, which washoused at the Broome Street school building. St. Matthew’s Churchcovered most of the expenses of Concordia’s operation. From 1881to 1895, Bohm was director of both St. Matthew’s Academy and theConcordia Collegiate Institute. From its founding, Concordia was considered an institution ofthe Lutheran Church’s Missouri Synod, the more conservative of thetwo major Lutheran conferences in America. The other conference, amore moderate group called the General Council, was the body that, 57
  • 64. through its New York Ministerium, ultimately created WagnerCollege. Each of these conferences viewed the other as just short ofheretical. Given that the motivation for opening a new Ministerium-affiliated school arose from St. Matthew’s shift away from theMinisterium — the shift to which John Nicum referred when hewrote that “the St. Matthaus Akademy in New York had beenestranged from the New York Ministerium” — it seems likely thatthis change in doctrinal orientation started somewhat before EdmundBohm took over as the new director of St. Matthew’s in the fall of1873. As we’ll see shortly, the Ministerium was actively exploringthe possibility of establishing a new school in western New York asearly as February 1872, months before E.F. Giese submitted hisresignation as director of St. Matthew’s Academy. It may be that theschool’s drift away from the Ministerium and toward the MissouriSynod was what actually precipitated Giese’s resignation — but thatis strictly speculation; we have no documentation for such anassumption. In 1885, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church itself left the NewYork Ministerium and affiliated with the Missouri Synod — not agreat surprise, perhaps, since it had always been considered one ofthe most conservative congregations in the east. In 1894, St. Matthew’s/Concordia was forced by redevelopmentto leave its home in downtown Manhattan. The school moved toHawthorne, in northern Westchester County, N.Y. In 1908, Concordia moved again — for the last time — to thecampus it currently occupies, in Bronxville, on the southern edge ofWestchester County. Started as a proseminary with a German gymnasium-stylecurriculum, St. Matthew’s/Concordia followed a pattern ofdevelopment remarkably similar to Wagner College’s. Today, it is a4-year liberal arts college, like Wagner — but, where Wagnerdisaffiliated with its founding denomination in the 1950s,Concordia–New York has continued to be explicitly affiliated withthe Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Newark College Newark College, in Newark, N.Y. — also known as theLutheran Academy, the Newark Lutheran Academy, and the GermanLutheran Academy — was an institution of the Evangelical LutheranMinisterium of New York, which was affiliated with the moderateGeneral Council. The college operated for two full academic years, 58
  • 65. opening in September 1873. Its first — and only — director was theformer director of St. Matthew’s Academy, the Rev. Dr. E.F. Giese. The best account of the Newark College story comes from astudy compiled by Elaine Marie Housecamp in 1974. Housecamp, asenior at Newark High School, produced her study for the AugustusL. and Jennie D. Hoffman Foundation Scholarship Essay Program,established in 1954 to encourage the study of local history andprovide scholarships for students in Wayne County, N.Y. schools.Housecamp’s study, “The Evolution of an Ideal: The History of theOrigin and Purpose of the Newark State School,” was found in theoffice of the Wayne County historian. Housecamp wrote that the growing German Lutherancommunity in Syracuse, Lyons and Rochester, N.Y. “nurtured anidea, the hope to satisfy the yearnings of an immigrant people andestablish a seminary of higher learning for its young men whoaspired to the ministry.” th An early 20 century postcard shows the Newark State School Administration Building (center), which had been the home of Newark College from 1873 to 1875. In February 1872, a committee representing the New YorkMinisterium came to Newark to examine a 4.46-acre hilltop tractcontaining a partially finished brick-and-sandstone building with aneye toward the possibility of developing the site into a college of itsown. An article published without byline in the July 1, 1976 issue ofthe Newark Courier-Gazette described the history of the site prior tothat visit: 59
  • 66. The history of this structure dates back to the 1840s, when the Lockville Baptist Society119 was active in the area. The Baptist Society and the Wayne [County] Baptist Association promoted the idea of the development of a seminary of higher learning for young men. A gentleman farmer and landowner named Roderick Price donated the land on the hill when, in 1840, the plan emerged to establish the Baptist Collegiate Institute. Mr. Price also loaned the Baptists a large sum of money to enable them to commence the construction of a building on the site. From 1840 to 1855, subscriptions for the Institute were collected, but progress was slow. Finally, support for the college deteriorated to the point where work on the building was discontinued after only two stories had been constructed. The prime investor in the project, Roderick Price, died in 1870. His wife and heirs foreclosed on the mortgage, and the half- completed Collegiate Institute was offered for sale in the Newark Weekly Courier. Two members of the inspection committee were John F.Voshall, of Syracuse, and John G. Wagner, of Rochester.120Housecamp described them as “two prominent German Lutheranland speculators.” Voshall’s thumbnail biography appeared in “History of theGermans in Syracuse and Onondaga County,” published in 1897: Johann Friedrich Voshall was born on the 25th of December 1821 in Eschen, Hannover. After attending the public school there he learned the wood business and it was only a short time later when he left his home and came to Syracuse in 1842. Because of his indefatigable hard work and strict business sense which he brought with him, he has achieved a significant prosperity and is counted among our most esteemed citizens. He is married to the former Miss Maria Agnes Lübker, and from this marriage 11 children have sprung, of which only two are now living. A similar biography was published about Wagner in “Rochesterand the Post Express: A History of the City of Rochester,” compiledby John Devoy in 1895: John George Wagner left monuments in Rochester that will bear testimony for ages to his ability as a builder, liberality as119 Lockville was an early name for Newark, N.Y.120 The John G. Wagner who inspected the site of the defunct Baptist CollegiateInstitute in 1872 was the same person who became so instrumental in theestablishment of Wagner College a decade later. In 1874, Wagner’s partner JohnF. Voshall sent his 20-year-old son Charles to live with Wagner and prepare tocarry on Wagner’s business after his retirement. The following year, CharlesWatson Voshall married Wagner’s 24-year-old daughter Caroline. 60
  • 67. a citizen and sincerity as a churchman. He was born on August 10, 1824, at Bischmisheim, Prussia, and came to America when fourteen years old. In this city he learned the carpenters trade and soon became recognized as one of the leading contractors of the city. His services as a builder were in constant demand, and he was called on to construct many of the most admired edifices in the city, among them the First Baptist church, one of the finest structures in Rochester. Mr. Wagner gave more attention to his regular business than to politics, but he was a member of the Board of Supervisors from the Sixth ward. He was one of the incorporators of the Rochester German Insurance company, and a director; for twelve years a director of the Genesee Brewing company; senior deacon of Zion German Lutheran church and president of the board of trustees. Mr. Wagners devotion to religion was a marked feature of his whole career and his consistency was demonstrated by his gift of $30,000121 to found the Wagner Memorial Lutheran college in this city. Mr. Wagner expired at his home in this city August 13, 1891. His wife and one child, Mrs. Charles W. Voshall, survive him. “Finding the location and partially completed structure suitablefor their intent,” Housecamp wrote, “plans were expedited for itspurchase by Wagner and Voshall.” The purchase was filed in theWayne County Deeds Office on July 1, 1872. The price: just $5,000. In June 1872, the Lyons Lutherans elected a board of trusteesfor the new institution, with First Lutheran Church pastor Charles C.Manz as its president. After just a little more than a year, the new school was ready toopen, with 36 students enrolled and the Rev. E.F. Giese as itsprincipal. The building was formally dedicated on Sept. 3, 1873, inceremonies attended by about 600 people. “The curriculum offered a complete knowledge of the Englishlanguage, literature of the classical languages (German and Latin),mathematics, natural sciences, history and geography, and the artswhich were considered necessary,” wrote Housecamp, referencingone of the college’s advertisements in the Newark Weekly Courier.Tuition ran from $10 to $50 per 10-week quarter, and board was $3 aweek. Things went well during the new school’s first year. Accordingto the Newark Weekly Courier, enrollment increased during thewinter semester. Rev. Giese evidently felt sure of the school’ssuccess; on April 17, 1874, he purchased the home of the lateRoderick Price, who had bankrolled the failed Baptist Collegiate121 Probably a composite figure representing an approximation of his cumulativelifetime gifts to the college. 61
  • 68. Institute. That summer, while Giese vacationed in Europe, the NewYork Ministerium officially sanctioned Newark College as “theLutheran academy of the entire state,” according to Housecamp. It must have come as a disappointment when, in November1874, Giese resigned as principal of the college. Despite the setback,the school finished out the 1874-75 academic year with theconfidence of the Ministerium intact — so much so that theMinisterium decided to discontinue its lease arrangement withWagner & Voshall, instead deciding to purchase the land andbuilding from them for $10,929.55. The deed was recorded on June10, 1875, with Wagner & Voshall holding the mortgage. That fall, enrollment fell precipitously. By the end of the firstmonth of the new semester, the board of trustees asked theMinisterium to close the school and sell the building. A year later, onJune 27, 1876, having found no buyer, the Ministerium turned theproperty — along with an $813.06 premium — back over to Messrs.Wagner & Voshall. Two years later, the state purchased the building and acreagefor use as an extension campus of the New York State Idiot Asylumin Syracuse. The central administration building, which had served asthe home of Newark College for two years (1873-75), continuedstanding on the hill above the village of Newark until 1974, when itwas demolished. Wagner College’s three Rochester campuses Campus #1 — In 1883, eight years after the failure of NewarkCollege, Lutherans associated with the New York Ministerium madeone more attempt to establish a preparatory school for prospectiveGerman-speaking Lutheran clergy. The effort was based inRochester, N.Y., about 35 miles west of Newark. First called theLutheran Proseminary of Rochester, it was renamed WagnerMemorial Lutheran College three years later. Classes probably began early in September 1883, though theschool’s official charter was not issued by the state court until Oct. 1,and the board of directors was not officially organized until Oct. 15. For its first academic year (1883-84), the Lutheran Proseminarywas hosted in the private home of Christian Seel, an elder ofRochester’s oldest German Lutheran congregation, Zion EvangelicalLutheran Church. One of Christian’s sons, George Seel, then aministerial candidate, served as headmaster (or “housefather”) for thesix boys who comprised the inaugural student body. According tochurch records, the school occupied “the seven rooms in the upperpart of the [Seel] house.” 62
  • 69. The Seel house was located at 23 Magne Street, on the southerncorner of the intersection of Magne Street (now West Broad Street)and Jay Street. (Magne/Broad Street runs from the southeast to thenorthwest, while Jay Street runs from the northeast to the intersectionof Jay & Broad, then runs due west from the intersection.) Based on comparisons between the lone photo we have of theSeel house, the shape of the house’s outline on the 1888 Rochestertax map (which is incredibly detailed), and a current satellitephotomap of the neighborhood, it appears that the site of the Seelhouse is now occupied by the Stiner Auto garage at 649-53 W. BroadSt., Rochester. A late December 2007 visit to Roger Stiner confirmedthat he had not incorporated the Seel house into the structure of thenew garage when he built it; the house had been demolished. Campus #1: Campus #2: The Seel house “Reilly’s building” Campus #2 — At the end of the first academic year, in thespring of 1884, the proseminary moved to a site about 1.5 miles awayfrom the Seel house, across the Genesee River. The new “campus”was a three-story, 10-room brick townhouse known as “Reilly’sbuilding.” The move took place on either March 20 or March 24,1884, depending upon which source you consult. The reasons for themove were twofold: The school had grown somewhat and could nolonger be squeezed into the Seel house, and Mrs. Seel had become illand was unable to continue accommodating the students. The schooloperated for the 1884-85 academic year out of the South Avenuehouse. The 1918 Wagnerian yearbook (p. 14) identifies the location ofour second campus as “South Avenue near Byron Street.” Earlycollege records gave the street address as 33 South Ave. Thenumbering of South Avenue was altered, however, just one monthafter the proseminary’s move; the new address was 48 South Ave., abuilding owned by George S. Riley, who operated a real estate 63
  • 70. company. The building stood on the east side of South Avenue in themiddle of the block between Comfort and Pinnacle (later renamedByron); the address was the rightmost townhouse in a series ofconnected brick townhouses. The street has been renumbered againsince the 1880s; the site of “Reilly’s building,” approximately 448South Avenue, is now occupied by a parking lot. Campus #3 — For the 1885-86 school year, the proseminary made its final move in Rochester, leasing the southern wing of the building it would occupy through the end of the 1917-18 school year. The address was 4 Oregon Street, just 1.4 miles from Reilly’s building, on the east side of Oregon Streetjust north of Central Avenue. Alexander Richter, one of the school’sco-founders, described the facility as a “valuable and well-situatedproperty … 120 feet square, upon which a three-story building stands… which has a four-story dormer tower. … The building is 90 feetlong and 36 feet wide.” The building was ready-made for a school such as theproseminary. For 20 years, from 1855 to 1875, it had served as thehome of the Rochester Collegiate Institute, “a boarding and dayschool for gentlemen” operated by LeRoy Satterlee. The purpose ofRCI, according to its advertisements, was to provide its students with“a thorough preparation for either College or Business.” Satterlee and his family continued living in the building until1879, four years after the school had closed its doors — and six yearsbefore the building was reoccupied by the Lutheran Proseminary. Within a year or so of the move to Oregon Street, well-to-docontractor John George Wagner (of the earlier Newark Collegeventure) bought the RCI property for the new school as its firstpermanent home. In return for Wagner’s gift, the board of directorsrenamed the school in honor of his late son, who was said to havehad ministerial aspirations of his own. Thus was Wagner MemorialLutheran College born. Before giving the RCI building to the proseminary, however,Wagner subdivided the lot. The southern portion, facing CentralAvenue, was split into three separate lots, upon which new houseswere built. Wagner held on to the deeds for two of those lots, leavingthem to the proseminary in his will; the third lot, on the northeast 64
  • 71. corner of Central Avenue and Oregon Street, he sold to an outsideparty. Wagner College took possession of the houses at 326 and 330Central Ave. after John George Wagner died in 1891. Sometimesthey were leased to outside parties; at other times the houses wereused to house faculty members. The house at 330 Central Ave. served as the home of WagnerCollege Director Jacob Steinhaeuser until his ouster in 1894, but itwas the extended occupation of the Betz family — some of themteachers at the college, some of them students, one a minister, but allmale — that gave No. 330 its nickname of “Bachelor’s Hall.” No. 326 was home to Wagner College’s last Rochester director,John A.W. Kirsch, and came to be known simply as the “Director’sResidence.” After Wagner College left Rochester in 1918, moving to StatenIsland, the site at 4 Oregon St. appears to have remained vacant forsome years. In 1934, 16 years after Wagner College left the Oregon Streetbuilding to move to Staten Island, an African-American Episcopalcongregation, St. Simons Episcopal Church (also named St. Simonof Cyrene) built a new sanctuary on the site. A community leader insocial outreach and civil rights, St. Simon of Cyrene Church was avibrant part of the city and its minority community. In 1987, St.Simon merged with another church, St. Luke’s Episcopal, and leftthe site. Peace Missionary Baptist Church currently meets on the formersite of Wagner Memorial Lutheran College. Based on the style andconstruction materials used, it does not appear likely that the PeaceBaptist building is the same one built in 1934 for St. Simon, butfurther research is needed to be sure of this. Co-founder Alexander Richter Alexander Richter, co-founder and first board president ofWagner College, was born on Sept. 25, 1851, to Alexander andAugusta (Simmer) Richter in Ohlau, Silesia, Prussia, 16 milessoutheast of Breslau.122 As a young man, Richter served as avolunteer in the Prussian army during the Franco-Prussian War of122 The former German territory of Silesia is now southwestern Poland. After theRussians swept through the region at the end of World War II, Poland’s newCommunist regime embarked on an ethnic cleansing campaign. All ethnicGermans were deported from Silesia; Ohlau became known as Olawa, andBreslau as Wroclaw. 65
  • 72. 1870-71. Before emigrating from Prussia, Richter attended theUniversity of Breslau. Alexander Richter immigrated to the United States in 1876, atthe age of 24 or 25. He enrolled in the Lutheran TheologicalSeminary, in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, from which hegraduated in 1878. While studying at Mt. Airy, Richter perceived a problem: Notenough of his fellow ministerial candidates spoke sufficiently fluentGerman to adequately serve the immigrant German congregationsproliferating throughout the United States in the later 19th century.There were 14 students in Richter’s graduating class, including him;five were German-born, one was Swedish-born, and one of thenative-born Americans had been educated in Germany. “Of the rest, two do not understand any German,” Richter recalled in an 1886 article. “The others remain with a knowledge of the German language which would enable them … to preach a German sermon quarterly or so, where an occasional error in grammar or style is not particularly taken notice of. “The question for us is not, who is able to preach in both languages? But, who is able to preach in German, fluently and correctly, notonly acceptable to an English congregation that has some knowledgeof the German and thinks that, ‘The young man does real well,considering he is not a German and had very little practice’ — butacceptable to an intelligent European-German congregation.” This subject was to remain a theme of Richter’s ministry formany years. In 1878, Alexander Richter married Bertha Vogelbach (born1852). Following his 1878 graduation from Mt. Airy, Richter wasordained by the Pennsylvania Ministerium and called to St. JacobusGerman Evangelical Lutheran Church, Philadelphia,123 first asassistant pastor (1878-79), then as pastor (1879-81).124123 In 1900, St. Jacobus was the largest German Evangelical Lutherancongregation in Philadelphia.124 St. Jacobus was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of ThirdStreet and Columbia Avenue. (Columbia Avenue was later renamed Cecil B.Moore Avenue.) At this writing, the church building appears to be in good shape,although the neighborhood around it has become somewhat run down. Thebuilding is currently home to the Bethel Evangelistic Church, mailing address1647 N 3rd St. Philadelphia, PA 19130. 66
  • 73. Richter left Philadelphia in 1881, at the age of 30, to becomepastor of the First German Evangelical Zion’s Lutheran Church inRochester, New York, the oldest of Rochester’s German Lutherancongregations.125 “Since we cannot continue to go into details here,” Richterwrote in an 1887 history of Zion’s, “we wish to introduce but onemore thing, the final paragraph of the Congregation’s Constitution,dated January 2, 1846, which shows that our Fathers knew what theywere, and what they wish to remain … which many nominalGermans have lost today: ‘That our church shall remain a Germanchurch, so long as there is yet one man in our congregation who is infavor of it.’ ” “With the calling of the Rev. Alexander Richter … began whatmay be called ‘The Golden Era’ of Zion Church,” said the Zioncentennial booklet, published in 1936. “Under his wise and far-sighted leadership the congregation made marvelous progress.” Two years after arriving in Rochester, and eight years afterimmigrating to the U.S., Richter was still concerned about theshortage of German-speaking ministers for the plethora of German-speaking Lutheran congregations. He was part of the ministerialgroup that issued a proclamation that year (some say that he was theauthor) entitled, “From whence shall we obtain our Germanministers?” Meeting over the course of the summer of 1883 with the Rev.George H. Gomph of neighboring Pittsford, New York, the two menhammered out a plan for a new “preseminary,” a combination highschool and junior college that would prepare young men for theseminary. All of its instruction would be given in German. Richter and Gomph called a conference of German Lutheranministers on Oct. 15, 1883, to organize a board of directors for thenew school, which they called the Lutheran Proseminary ofRochester. Richter served as president of the board for its first fouryears. Like the other pastors, Richter taught several courses eachyear, without compensation, in addition to his service on the board of125 Zion Lutheran, 17 Grove St., originally stood at the corner of Stillson andGrove streets, before downtown redevelopment rerouted Stillson. Zion mergedwith Concordia Lutheran in 1960, leaving the Grove Street building in 1962. Thebuilding was re-used for several purposes, serving for a time as the home ofEmanuel Baptist Church, before being purchased by a private developer andrefitted in 2006 as loft apartments (the Halo Lofts) for students at the nearbyEastman School of Music. The exterior of the building, minus the steeple, hasbeen preserved in pretty much the same form it was in when Zion Churchoccupied it. 67
  • 74. directors. Richter continued to serve on the board through the 1895-96 school year, even though he left Rochester in 1891; an 1894newspaper article and a college advertisement of the same year showhim as vice president of the board, although the college cataloguedoes not. Richter was highly regarded by his peers within the New YorkMinisterium. He was twice elected president of the Ministerium(1890-93, and 1896-99). In 1891, Richter became pastor of St. Matthew’s GermanEvangelical Lutheran Church in Hoboken, New Jersey.126 (Hobokenchurch records show that St. Matthew’s trustees voted in November1890 to call Richter to the parish; Rochester records show Richterwas pastor at Zion’s until 1891.) While in Hoboken, Richter also worked with several helpingorganizations that served the German immigrant community,including: Emigrant House, Hoboken; Kinderfreund Orphanage,Jersey City; and the Seamen’s Mission (aka Deutches Seemanhaus),Hoboken (1907-15). In 1894, a daughter was born in Hoboken to Alexander andBertha Richter; her name, Magdeline, is nearly all we know abouther. The 1930 census shows an unmarried department-store salesladynamed Magdalene Richter boarding at 56 Morningside Ave. inHarlem; though she was the right age to have been the daughter ofAlexander and Bertha, more research is needed to be sure. “When World War I broke out [late July/early August 1914],Pastor Richter was on vacation in Germany,” said the writer of a St.Matthew’s history.127 “He returned a broken man, ‘unable to takeover his duties,’ and Pastor Brueckner, who was sent here in 1908 toconduct the Seaman’s Mission, was called” to take over as pastor ofSt. Matthew’s. On March 6, 1918, Pastor Alexander Richter died in Southold,a remote hamlet on the North Fork of eastern Long Island. Accordingto the yearbook of the final Rochester graduating class of WagnerMemorial Lutheran College (1918), “the venerable patriarchs”Alexander Richter and George Gomph “passed out of this life withina few hours of each other.” Richter was 66 years old; Gomph was 75.Richter was buried in the Hoboken Cemetery, North Bergen, NewJersey.126 The church building to which Richter was called to serve had been built in1877 on the corner of Hudson and 8th streets in Hoboken. It still stands theretoday, and was completely refurbished in 2007.127 The Jersey Observer, Saturday, May 15, 1948, in a history of St. Matthew’s onits 90th anniversary. 68
  • 75. Co-founder George H. Gomph George H. Gomph, co-founder with Alexander Richter ofWagner College, was born Nov. 4, 1842, in Albany, New York toGeorge and Mina (Strempel) Gomph. Father George was German-born and a skilled artisan; he manufactured Gomph Pianos in Albanystarting in 1858. Gomph graduated from Hartwick Seminary (now calledHartwick College) in 1865. He graduated from the LutheranTheological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1869. On Aug. 31, 1869, shortly after graduating from seminary,George H. Gomph married Maria Clark, called “preceptress ofHartwick Seminary” in one Gomph biography.128 The Gomphs hadthree children: Mina (1871), Katharine L. (1875), and George Francis(1878). Gomph was called by St. Paul’s German Evangelical LutheranChurch in Pittsford, New York, to become pastor in May 1869, justprior to his graduation and ordination in June 1869. He took over a church that had been built in 1867 by his predecessor, the Rev. Valentine Mueller. Gomph was the Lutheran pastor in Pittsford, just 30 miles from Newark, N.Y., during the Newark College episode of 1872-75. Alexander Richter, however, was still attending the University of Breslau in Silesia, halfway around the world, when the Newark episode occurred. When the two men met in 1883 to plan for the new Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester,Gomph would probably have been able to apply first-handknowledge of the New York Ministerium’s previous attempt toestablish a seminary prep school. In early 1882, a new railroad line was built directly behind thechurch on Stoutenberg Road (now Golf Avenue). In November 1882,Gomph sold the old church and parsonage and purchased four lots inPittsford’s new Morningside Park development, a former appleorchard where a new parsonage and church were built.129 Local legend had it that “the Reverend drew the architecturalplans for his new home; and these plans were loaned or sold toparishioners for $2.”130 But a May 20, 1976 article from the128 “Landmarks of Monroe County,” by William F. Peck, 1895.129 From the Gomph profile in “Pittsford Scrapbook: Stories of Early Pittsford,”by Paul Spiegel, ca. 2004. Spiegel compiled his account from archival newspaperstories.130 Spiegel. 69
  • 76. Brighton-Pittsford Post (“There’s a Mystery in Pittsford: Are GomphHouses Really Gomph?”) suggests that Gomph used a commonarchitectural pattern book, which he then loaned to parishioners andothers in Pittsford. The Gomph family moved into their new house (27 LincolnAve.) in August 1883. The new St. Paul’s church went up the following year. Churchrecords show that the decision to build the new church was made onJan. 12, 1884. Ground was broken on Feb. 27, 1884. The foundationswere laid in March 1884. The cornerstone was dedicated on May 22,1884 (Ascension Day) by Alexander Richter. The completed churchwas consecrated on Sept. 22, 1884 (or Sept. 25, according to atranscript of a history of Zion Church in Rochester written byRichter). Though Gomph probably did not design the church himself, hewas known to have been a “hands-on” pastor. In June 1890, St.Paul’s bought a used organ from Richter’s Zion Church. With thehelp of Gomph’s father, the piano maker, Rev. Gomph installed theorgan himself. The “new” organ was dedicated on Aug. 18, 1890. Although St. Paul’s was established as a German-languagecongregation, the church began transitioning to the use of English inthe early 1890s. Occasional English services began at St. Paul’s asearly as 1891, “for the benefit of those who were not able to enjoythe German services as fully as their parents.” Beginning in 1898,Sunday School was conducted in English. By 1917, German worshipservices were held only on the first and third Sunday mornings ofeach month. Gomph is credited as being one of the co-founders (withAlexander Richter of Zion’s Church, Rochester) of Wagner Collegein 1883. According to the college’s “creation myth,” the idea for thenew school was generated during conversations held between Gomphand Richter beneath the apple tree in the Pittsford pastor’s front yard: Rev. Alexander Richter of Zion’s Church, Rochester, frequently went to visit the Lutheran pastor of Pittsford, Dr. George H. Gomph, and sometimes in the warm summer weather they would sit under the apple tree. … If it [the apple tree] could speak, it would tell of the conversations held in its shade by these men. … Their conversation frequently issued in a discussion of the advisability of founding a school. The school of which they thought and dreamed was one that should meet the needs of the Lutheran churches in the eastern part of our country, and perhaps also in other parts, for men able to preach the Gospel in English as well as in German. Most of the pastors, until that time, had come from Germany to take care of our churches. But many of them had 70
  • 77. not been able to gain enough knowledge of English to make fluent use of it in the pulpit. Meanwhile, a change was going on in the churches, creating an increasing need of services in both languages. In 1883 the undertaking was launched in the month of October. It was called the Rochester Proseminary.131 Initially called the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester, NewYork, on its official charter, it was renamed Wagner MemorialLutheran College in 1886 after the late son of founding benefactorJohn George Wagner, who bought for the school its first permanentfacility. Both Richter and Gomph served on the new school’s board ofdirectors. Richter was president of the board through the 1889-90academic year, and a member of the board through the 1895-96 year.Gomph served as chairman of the board’s executive committee for18 years, from 1896 to 1914. Gomph also gave of his time and energy to the education ofPittsford youngsters. He served for a number of years as thechairman of the board of education for Pittsford’s public schooldistrict. Gomph retired at the age of 66 from St. Paul’s Church, on June27, 1909 — 40 years after being called as the Pittsford church’spastor. The pastor’s wife, Maria Clark Gomph, died in August 1913. Five years later, George Gomph followed her into eternity,dying in Pittsford on March 6, 1918 — within hours of AlexanderRichter, who died that same day in a remote hamlet on the east endof Long Island. At this writing, the Gomph house at 27 Lincoln Ave., Pittsford,is still standing and in much the same shape it was in 125 years ago,thanks in large part to the village’s robust historic preservation code.The two-story Folk Victorian-style house stands on about half anacre of land across the street from St. Paul’s Church, which is also insubstantially the same condition in which Rev. Gomph left it in 1918.Though the apple tree beneath whose boughs the idea of WagnerCollege was born is long gone, plans are afoot to plant a new treethere in memory of the 1883 conversations that resulted in thecollege’s founding that fall. Christian and George Seel Co-founders Alexander Richter and George Gomph conceivedthe idea of the Lutheran Proseminary and organized its board of131 Wagner College Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 1923, p. 1. 71
  • 78. directors — but without the generous hospitality of Christian Seel, itis possible that Wagner College would never have held its first class.Seel allowed the six-student startup school to be conducted on thesecond floor of his large home during its first academic year (1883-84), boarding the students and providing them with classroom spaceat no cost. He also provided the school with its first hausvater(“housefather” or headmaster), son George Seel, a recent seminarygraduate awaiting ordination. According to an obituary profile, Christian was born on August2, 1825 in Ephenfenbach, Baden, Germany. United States censusrecords indicate that his wife, Margaretha Elizabeth Hornberger, alsofrom Baden, was born in 1830. “His father died when Christian was but a few years of age,” said the obituary published in the Rochester Union and Advertiser on April 10, 1895, “and being the eldest in the family he was compelled to support the others.” “He came to this country forty-five years ago [1850] and settled in Rochester,” said the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle obituary of April 11, 1895. He was about 25 years old when he immigrated. Christian Seel first appeared in the Rochester City Directory in 1851, which listedhis occupation as “baker.” By 1857 he had started his own grocerybusiness, an enterprise that would occupy him through his late 50s. Both newspaper obituaries related the same account of howChristian took advantage of the opportunities afforded him in his newhomeland: Many times he used to refer to his condition then [when he first immigrated]. ‘I had neither a hat nor a pair of shoes,’ he once said. By dint of hard work and conscientious adherence to certain rules which he marked out as guides through life he was soon enabled to alter his situation in life. He was essentially a self-made man. He successfully engaged in the bakery and grocery business at the corner of Jay and Magne streets and remained there until about fourteen years ago [around 1881], when he went into retirement. From the Rochester City Directory, it appears that ChristianSeel and his family lived in the same building as the family grocery,on the northwest corner of Jay and Magne streets, until 1872. In thatyear, they moved into a big, 2½-story, Second Empire-style house,complete with servants quarters, on the southwest corner of Magneand Jay, across the street from the grocery. 72
  • 79. About 10 years later, around 1882, Christian Seel retired fromactive involvement in the grocery store. He was 58 years old. SonsChristian Jr. and Charles P. Seel had been working in the grocery forsome time by then, and Christian Jr. took over its management. In 1883 Alexander Richter, Seel’s pastor, began developingplans with George Gomph for a new seminary prep school inRochester. Though Seel, 59, had been retired for a year by then, his nestwas by no means empty. Only one of his children — John AdamSeel, 32, named for Christian’s brother — was living on his own atthe time, running an independent grocery. Five of the Seels’ childrenwere still living at home: Christian Jr., 30, who operated his father’sgrocery; Elizabeth M., 29, who served as housekeeper; Charles P.,26, who clerked for brother John Adam; George, 25, a recentseminary graduate; and Eduard, 10, the “baby” of the family. Full as the Seel house was, when Richter began looking for aplace his new school could call home, Christian and Margarethainvited the students to come live and study under their roof,occupying the second story of the house at Magne and Jay streets. The connection between Christian Seel and Richter’s churchwent back almost to Seel’s first appearance upon the scene inRochester. “Mr. Seel always took an active interest in the affairs of ZionLutheran Church,” said both Seel obituaries. “He had been a memberof the church for over forty years, and was an elder in the church fortwenty-five successive years.” In an 1888 account of Wagner College’s formative years, PastorRichter referred to Christian Seel as “an old ‘citizen of Zion’ and formany years an Elder of our congregation.” When Christian Seel offered his house as the first home ofWagner College, his son George Seel volunteered to serve as the firsthousefather of the new school. According to George’s obituary,published by the New York and New England Synod in 1924: George Seel … was born in Rochester, N.Y. on September 8, 1858. He received his preparatory training in the Parochial School of Zion’s Church of Rochester, N.Y. and at Newark Academy, Newark, N.Y. [1873-75]. He graduated from Concordia College at Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1880, and from Concordia Theological Seminary at St. Louis, Mo. in 1883. George Seel’s ordination by the New York Ministerium did notfollow immediately upon his graduation from Concordia Seminary,possibly because the Ministerium was affiliated with the moderate 73
  • 80. General Council of Lutheran congregations, while Concordia wasoperated by the conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. In the 1884 minutes of the Ministerium annual meeting, GeorgeSeel’s name is listed on the roster of pastors; penciled into the marginnext to his name is the notation, “Ordained 21st Sund. after Trinity onOct. 14, 1883.” The board of directors for the Lutheran Proseminary ofRochester held its organizing meeting on Oct. 15, 1883, which todaywe consider Founders Day. However, in two accounts, Richter saysthat Seel began serving as housefather prior to his ordination,indicating that the school was operating before the Oct. 15 boardmeeting, which occurred the day after Seel’s ordination. If the newschool followed the pattern established earlier by Newark College,and carried on later at the Oregon Street campus of Wagner College,classes for the infant Lutheran Proseminary were probably first heldearly in September 1883, five or six weeks before George Seel’sordination by the New York Ministerium. By Nov. 5, according to the minutes of the board of directors,“the subject for consideration was the difficulty between thehousefather and Mr. Seel his father, and the question whether itwould be necessary and desirable to move the institution to anotherlocality.” The short-term conflict, however, was apparently resolved. George Seel did, in fact, resign as housefather after just sixmonths on the job, but not because of any familial conflicts.According to Richter, George Seel “performed the first duties asHousefather, until he accepted a call to a congregation in Newark,New York.” A detailed chronology that appears as Appendix 5 ofthis collection shows the date of Seel’s resignation as Feb. 28, 1884. The synod obituary for Seel indicates that “he was pastor ofZion’s Church at Newark, N.Y.132 and at the same time of St. John’sChurch at Macedon, N.Y.” Zion’s-Newark was organized with 27 members on March 27,1872,133 in the midst of the excitement attending the creation ofNewark College. Zion’s was founded by the Rev. Charles Manz, amissionary pastor from the First Lutheran Church of nearby Lyons,N.Y., who also served as the first board president of Newark College.Church meetings were held every two weeks in the building ownedby the Arcadia Baptist Church, located on the south side of ChurchStreet between Vienna and Stansell streets. When Arcadia Baptistmerged with the Newark Baptist Church in 1874, the Lutheran132 The 1884 Ministerium roster of pastors refers to this congregation as “the 1stGerman Ev. Lutheran Church, Newark.”133 Per George W. Cowles in “Landmarks of Wayne County, N.Y.” (1895). 74
  • 81. congregation rented the Church Street building from the Baptists andbegan meeting there full-time. The Rev. E.F. Giese began serving as the Newark Lutherans’pastor in the summer of 1873, when he came to Newark as principalof Newark College. By the time John L. Hedden, the state censusenumerator, took count on June 1, 1875, Zion’s had 150 regularmembers and 200 people usually attending worship services. Gieseleft Newark, however, after he resigned from the college inNovember 1874, leaving Zion once again pastorless until early in1884.134 George Seel was called as pastor of Zion’s-Newark in February1884.135 One year later, in February 1885, Zion’s finally purchasedthe building in which it had been meeting for more than a decade. As pastor of both Zion’s-Newark and St. John’s-Macedon, Seelwould have been the pastor responsible for organizing the nearbyMacedon congregation, which was founded in 1886. Like Seel, thetwo pastors who succeeded him at Zion’s-Newark — Justus F.Holstein (1887-88) and Friedrich L.G. Doering (1889-92) — alsohad pastoral responsibility for St. John’s-Macedon. The last full-time pastor of Zion’s-Newark was ChristianStrassburger, who served from 1900 until 1904. After Strassburger’sdeparture, the congregation continued meeting for several moreyears, served by visiting pastors. It finally disbanded in 1912, and thebuilding was sold to Oliver Schuman, who converted it into aduplex.136 The building continues to stand, and it still serves as aduplex residence, located at 809-811 Church St., Newark. TheLutheran congregation currently meeting in Newark, RedeemerLutheran Church, is a Missouri Synod congregation that wasorganized in 1925. Seel left Newark in 1887 to become pastor of St. Peter’sGerman Lutheran Church, 316 Eagle St., Dunkirk, N.Y., about 50miles south of Buffalo. The Observer-Journal newspaper of Dunkirkreported on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 1888, that “the Rev. G.H. Gomphof Pittsford … visited the Rev. George Seel on Monday.”134 Arcadia town historian Cecilia Jackson, writing in a 1958 article, said thatGiese served at Zion’s until 1875.135 Jackson wrote that “in 1883 the Rev. G. Seel became resident pastor” ofZion’s-Newark. The reliability of her account is thrown into doubt, however, byher later statement that Seel “remained [in Newark] until 1887, when he left to bea pastor of a congregation in Canada.” Seel’s next congregation was in Dunkirk,N.Y., about 50 miles south of Buffalo — not in Canada.136 Per Cecilia B. Jackson’s book, “100 Years in Newark, 1853–1953.” 75
  • 82. St. Peter’s-Dunkirk was founded in 1887, meaning that Seelwas probably the first pastor called to that congregation. Accordingto Pastor Katie Yahns of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church,Dunkirk, the St. Peter’s congregation moved its worship home to theadjoining community of Fredonia some time ago, where it is nowpart of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, a Missouri Synod congregation.Yahns’ parish, which is affiliated with the Evangelical LutheranChurch in America, was formed in 1903. The former St. Peter’s-Dunkirk sanctuary is now home to a Hispanic mission church. Seel’s tenure in Dunkirk ended in December 1889. TheMonday, Dec. 30 issue of the Dunkirk Evening Observer reportedthat “the Rev. George Seel, the late [that is, former] pastor of theEagle street Lutheran church, preached his farewell sermon onSunday. He has gone to Rochester, there to rest for a few weeksbefore going on to New Haven [Conn.], where he has become pastorof the Trinity Lutheran church.” Seel’s stay in New Haven was brief, but constructive.According to Trinity’s centennial book, “The pastorate of GeorgeSeel, which lasted from January of 1890 to August of 1893, was oneof peaceful growth. It is chiefly noted, according to church records,for a campaign which raised $3,000 for the complete redecoration ofthe church.” “In 1893,” says Seel’s synod obituary, “failing health causedPastor Seel to resign from the active ministry.” In August of thatyear, Seel returned to Rochester with his wife, the former Emma J.Nagle of Rochester, and their two sons, Elmer Andrew George andPaul Clarence. Though he was never again to serve as a full-timepastor, says his obituary, He continued for a time to act as a supply [i.e., temporary fill-in pastor] at various points. Eventually he felt constrained to devote his entire time to his business affairs, which demanded all the energy his none too robust health could afford. He never, however, lost his interest in his beloved Church.For a while, Seel was an active member of the church council atTrinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rochester. Later, he becameinvolved with St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, then the newChurch of the Redeemer, where he joined the building committee. For the first couple of years after his return home in August1893, George ran a grocery next to the one run by his brother,Christian Jr., and his family lived in a house owned by the samebrother. The special closeness of George and Christian Jr. could beexplained, at least in part, by the fact that their wives were sisters. 76
  • 83. On April 10, 1895, patriarch Christian Seel died at the family’sMagne Street house at the age of 71.137 “He had been in good health up to a week and a half ago,” saidthe Union and Advertiser obituary, “when he began to fail and passedaway quietly and peacefully.” In 1896, the year after Christian Seel’s death, George Seel andhis family moved in to the house where George had served asWagner College’s first pater familia. In 1897, George opened thereal estate business that he operated until the end of his life. George Seel’s first wife, Emma (born 1864), died on May 5,1900. The following year, George married Regina E. (born 1868). George Seel died on July 19, 1923, following a lengthy illness. “The funeral services,” said his obituary, “held in the Church ofthe Redeemer, filled the edifice and bore testimony to the high regardin which he was held as a man and a Christian.” He was buried in Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery.138 Elmer and Paul, the two sons of George and Emma Seel, didvery well for themselves. Elmer G. Seel, born in 1888 while his father pastored the EagleStreet congregation in Dunkirk, was a general physician in privatepractice in Rochester by the time he was 26. His wife, Anna V. Seel,was born in 1887 in Orient, S.D. They had one son, Elmer G. Jr.,whose wife, Marjorie J. Seel, was known to be living in the mid-2000s in Canandaigua, N.Y., on the Finger Lakes south of Rochester. Paul C. Seel, born in New Haven in 1892, a chemist by training,started working for the Eastman Kodak Co. in 1914; he rose steadilyin the company, from assistant superintendent in 1916 to generalsuperintendent in 1928. His wife was Elsie A. Seel. A Cornell University publication reported that a George Seel ofRochester pledged a Cornell fraternity in 1937. Though a collegeman in 1937 would have been the right age to conceivably have beenthe son of either Elmer Jr. and Marjorie, or Paul and Elsie, nothing isknown of the parentage of Cornell’s George Seel.137 Christian Seel is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Section H, Lot 69. Hisheadstone says that he died April 10, 1893. Three unambiguous sources state thathe died on April 10, 1895: the Rochester City Directory and two obituariespublished in the Rochester Union and Advertiser and the Rochester Democratand Chronicle. The 1895 date appears to be correct; no explanation of the 1893date is available.138 Pastor Seel is buried in Range 4 (115-234), Block 138 at Mount Hope in a plotwith the family of his first wife. 77
  • 84. John George Wagner In 1872, John George Wagner and his Syracuse partner, John F.Voshall, purchased the land and building that became the New YorkMinisterium’s second seminary prep school, Newark College. In 1886, Wagner also purchased the first permanent facility forthe Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester, New York, a new pre-ministerial training school. In recognition of his generosity, theschool’s board of directors renamed the institution, calling it WagnerMemorial Lutheran College in memory of Wagner’s late son, J.George Wagner Jr. John George Wagner was born on Aug. 10, 1824 inBischmisheim, a small city outside Saarbrücken in Prussian Trier,now in the southwest of modern Germany. His parents were GeorgeHeinrich Wagner (b. 1800) and Carolena (Schutz) Wagner (b. 1797). When the Wagners immigrated to the United States in 1838, thefamily included three sons: young John George, who was 14 years old; his older brother David, born in 1822; and little brother Michael Jacob, born in 1830. They settled in Rochester, New York, where there was a small German immigrant community. The elder Wagner worked as a mason; when his sons came of age, they too joined the trades. David worked briefly as a mason before opening a contracting business, while John George and Michael became carpenters. John George’s father arranged by mail for the young man tomarry a first cousin, Catharina Susanna Wagner. Catherine, six yearsthe senior of John George, was brought to Rochester from the OldCountry, and the couple married sometime before 1847. John George was 23 years old and living in his parents’ homewhen the first of the young couple’s five children was born on Aug.26, 1847. When father George died in 1849, John George andCatherine moved into a house of their own on the corner of AtwaterStreet (later renamed Central Avenue) and Lundy’s Lane, where theylived for the rest of their lives. By 1873, John George Wagner was well-off and well-respectedthroughout the community. He had established one of Rochester’smost successful contracting businesses of the day. A member of theMonroe County Board of Supervisors and a director of the RochesterGerman Insurance Company as well as the Genesee BrewingCompany, Wagner was also president of the board of trustees at theFirst German Evangelical Zion’s Lutheran Church. 78
  • 85. Despite all he had gained, John George Wagner had alsosuffered much. Of the five children born to John George andCatherine, four had died — two in their first year of life, two asteenagers. The last child to be lost was John George’s namesake, J.George Wagner Jr. Stricken by typhoid fever, young George had diedat the age of 19½ on Oct. 15, 1873. The year after young George’s death, in the spring of 1874,John George Wagner took another young man into his home andbusiness: 20-year-old bookkeeper Charles W. Voshall, a native ofSyracuse, N.Y. Voshall was the son of Wagner’s partner in theNewark Academy enterprise, John F. Voshall. In the face of failinghealth, John Voshall had sold his business two years earlier, leavingson Charles at loose ends. Romance blossomed between the young Voshall and theWagners’ only surviving child, Caroline Philipina, who was 23 at thetime Voshall first appeared on the scene. The young couple marriedon May 25, 1875, and continued living in the Wagner home onAtwater. On July 13, 1876, the couple’s first child was born,daughter Harriet “Hattie” Margaret. A second child, George F., wasborn to the Voshalls on April 5, 1878, but he died six months later onOct. 14. By 1878, Voshall and John George had become partners in J.G.Wagner & Co., and Voshall had become the secretary/treasurer of theGenesee Brewing Co., where Wagner was a director. In the summer of 1883, the pastor of John George’s church, theRev. Alexander Richter, began making plans to open a new schoolthat would prepare young German-speaking Lutherans for theseminary, as Newark College had hoped to do a decade before. Whenthe school’s new governing board held its organizing meeting onOct. 15, 1883 — the 10th anniversary of young George Wagner’sdeath — John George took notice. That fall, the 59-year-old contractor bought a number ofpersonal-sized savings banks, which he distributed to members ofRochester’s German Lutheran churches to raise money for the newinstitution. Wagner joined the Lutheran Proseminary’s board of trustees inFebruary 1884, just five months after the school opened. A year later,he became its vice president. In 1885, when the lease was up on the brick townhouse theschool had rented during its second year, the board decided to movethe school to a third facility: the former quarters of the RochesterCollegiate Institute, on the corner of Oregon Street and the recentlyrenamed Central Avenue, just three blocks from the Wagner house. 79
  • 86. Initially, the new building was leased for just a few months — but,by the end of the summer, the proseminary had to decide whether ornot it would buy the facility. Wagner, with his contractor’s expertise in business and realestate transactions, worked out a deal at the end of September 1885:The school would get three months to raise a down payment andarrange a mortgage to cover the remainder of the $12,000 askingprice. Come January 1886, Wagner told the board that he had raised$5,700 toward a down payment (almost $5,400 of which came fromhis own pocket) and that he would take out a $7,000 mortgage in hisown name to make up the difference. Later, when it became clearthat the school would need thousands of dollars more to equip andrefurbish the new building after its purchase, John George spoke withhis wife. Rather than burden the young institution with anunmanageable debt load — which may have been the cause ofNewark College’s precipitous collapse — the Wagners decided to goa different course in dealing with the new proseminary. On June 8,Wagner announced to the board that he and Catherine had agreed topay the entire cost of the new building themselves, letting the schooluse the down-payment money to get onto its operational feet. Questions about the founding gift Three points in the story of John George Wagner’s foundinggift to the college that now bears his family’s name deserve closerinquiry:1. Did Wagner demand that the school be renamed, from the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester to Wagner Memorial Lutheran College, as a condition of his gift?2. Was the school renamed for John George Wagner himself, or for his late son George?3. Had J. George Wagner Jr., memorialized in the pre-seminary school’s name, wanted to become a minister himself? First, was there a quid pro quo in the school’s renaming? Answer: We don’t know for sure, because the documentarysources contradict one another. The minutes of the school’s board of directors, as quoted byWalter Thomas Schoen Jr. in 1957, said that “the only stipulationthat [JGW] made was that [the $12,000 gift] should be considered amemorial to his late son George.” A report made by the Rev. Richter in the fall of 1887 to theNew York Ministerium, published in John Nicum’s 1888Ministerium history, said with even greater clarity that “in a meeting 80
  • 87. of the Board of Directors Mr. Wagner announced that Mrs. Wagnerand he would give to the institution the purchase-money of $12,000as a memorial to their deceased son. … Without Mr. Wagner’srequest, the old name of the institution was now changed to WagnerMemorial Lutheran College.” A third source, however, contradicts both the Protokolle andRichter’s Ministerium report. On July 27, 1886, as president of theboard of directors, Richter filed a petition in state court to change theschool’s legal name. As one of his two rationales for the change,Richter said “that John G. Wagner of Rochester, N.Y. has offeredand is willing to give the said institution the sum of twelve thousanddollars if it would change its name from ‘The Lutheran Proseminaryof Rochester, N.Y.’ to ‘The Wagner Memorial Lutheran College ofRochester, N.Y.’ “Your petitioner further shows that it is in great need of moneyin order to continue its existence and the said sum of twelve thousanddollars offered to the said institution as aforesaid would be of greatbenefit to the same and would put the said institution on a soundfinancial basis.” No further evidence has been found to indicate which version ofthis part of our story is more likely to be true, or to explain thecontradiction between them. Second, was Wagner Memorial Lutheran College named for thefather, or the son? Answer: the son. A formal resolution of the college’s board of directors, thankingthe Wagners for their generosity, dated Aug. 5, 1886, concludes bysaying, “Further resolved, that the institution should from now on benamed Wagner Memorial Lutheran College, in the memory ofJohann Georg Wagner’s son, who has fallen asleep in the Lord.” Third, at the time of his death in 1873, had 19-year-old GeorgeWagner intended to enter the ministry himself? If so, it would make his parents’ founding gift to the seminaryprep school all the more poignant. The documentary evidence is not overwhelming on this question,but it does provide an indicator of young George’s ministerialaspirations. Only one documentary source cites George Wagner’s clericalambitions, and that but briefly and in the most general of terms: theminutes of the college’s board of directors. Concerning the Wagners’$12,000 gift, the Wagner College Protokolle said that “the only 81
  • 88. stipulation made was that this should be considered a memorial to[the Wagners’] late son George, who was to have entered theLutheran ministry.” Rochester City Directory listings show “John G. Wagner Jr.”living in his parents’ home and working as a carpenter in his father’sshop, just around the corner, from the time he was 17 years old, in1871, until he was 19, in 1873. This does not mean, however, thatGeorge was necessarily working year-round for his father duringthose years. Rochester City Directory listings for George Seel, for instance,show him as a student boarding in his father’s home in 1880, 1881and 1882 — while his obituary says that he was studying atConcordia College in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Concordia TheologicalSeminary in St. Louis, Mo. during that period. The Rochester City Directory listings only showed where George Seel was living and what he was doing at the time the directory listings were made: in the middle of each summer. Even if young George Wagner had been living at home and working in his father’s carpentry shop all the way through the summer of 1873, that does not preclude him from having enrolled thatfall in a seminary or a seminary prep school program like the one atNewark College (which, you will recall, his father had bankrolled).Unfortunately, no enrollment records from Newark have survived, sowe cannot determine with certainty whether or not J. George WagnerJr. was a student at Newark. Newly discovered items published in mid-October 1873 in theRochester Union and Advertiser newspaper indicate that George diedat his father’s home on Central Avenue. On Oct. 14, 1873, a personal ad in the U&A said that Georgewas “lying dangerously ill, at his father’s residence, of typhoidfever.” This does not necessarily mean that he contracted typhoidfever while living in Rochester, rather than while studying inNewark. Had George been enrolled at Newark College at the timewhen he contracted typhus, he might well have been brought home toRochester for personal care and bed rest. The Oct. 15, 1873 paper said that George “died this morning athis father’s residence, after a short illness of typhoid fever.” Thenotice went on to say that George “was industrious, intelligent, andhad a bright future before him if death had not thus suddenly and, as 82
  • 89. we might say prematurely, taken him away.” Nothing wasmentioned, however, of George’s ministerial ambitions or hisenrollment at Newark College. Likewise, an Oct. 15 obituary resolution of the RochesterGerman Insurance Company’s board of directors, of which JohnGeorge Wagner was a member, mentioned that “by his many noblequalities [young George] was justly the pride and hope of hisparents,” but it did not mention his studies in Newark or his desire tobecome a minister. The obituary resolution was published in the Oct.17, 1873 issue of the Union and Advertiser. The rest of the Wagner story John George Wagner was 61 years old at the time he made hisfounding gift to the Lutheran Proseminary, in the summer of 1886. Heretired that year from active involvement in J.G. Wagner & Co., whichhis son-in-law, Charles Voshall, was then managing. By 1888, Voshallwas advertising contracting services in his own name. John George continued serving as vice president of the board ofWagner Memorial Lutheran College until his death on Aug. 13, 1891.He was 67. The following year, Catherine Wagner joined her husband in thefamily plot of Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery, dying just one dayafter her 74th birthday. Charles Voshall and Caroline Wagner Voshall continued livingtogether at the Central Avenue house for some time after her parents’death. Their only daughter Hattie married Mark G. Clark, who hadentered the Wagner household as the family’s private coachman in1888 and 1889. Mark and Hattie Clark had only one child, a daughter: ElsieHarriet, born April 16, 1898. By 1895, Charles Voshall was considered one of the leadingbusiness figures in Rochester, as evidenced by his profile in William F.Peck’s “Landmarks of Monroe County,” published that year: Charles Watson Voshall, son of John Frederick Voshall, of Syracuse, N. Y., was born in that city and educated in the public schools there. At the early age of fourteen he entered the employ of his father in the lumber business, and continued until 1872, when his fathers health failed. The latter then sold his extensive business, but Charles W. remained as manager for his fathers successor one year. In the spring of 1874 he moved to Rochester and became a partner in the large contracting firm of J. G. Wagner & Co., remaining as such until the retirement of Mr. Wagner in 1886, when Mr. Voshall became sole proprietor. Since that time he has constructed 83
  • 90. under his own name many public and private buildings, among which are the Genesee Brewery, the Lyceum Theatre, the Whitcomb House, the Standard Brewery, the German Insurance building, and many others. He is president of the Rochester Asphalt Paving Company, vice president of the Standard Brewing Company, treasurer of the Standard Sewer Pipe Company, and prominently connected with various other enterprises. He is proprietor of Big Elm Stock Farm in the town of Greece, which he established in the fall of 1891, and upon which he has constructed large and convenient stables, a good race track, and a new creamery. For some time he was engaged chiefly in developing trotting horses, but more recently he has converted the premises into a dairy farm stocked with high grade Jersey and Durham cattle. Mr. Voshall is a member of the Rochester Whist Club and takes an active interest in the prosperity of the city. May 25, 1875, he married Caroline P., daughter of J. G. Wagner, at that time his partner. In 1901, three years after the birth of their granddaughter Elsie,Charles Voshall and Caroline Wagner separated. Caroline continuedliving in the Central Avenue house, while Charles moved first to thenearby town of Greece, N.Y., then back to Rochester, where he livedin hotels for the rest of his life. Caroline died on Oct. 10, 1910, at the age of 59. On her MountHope tombstone is inscribed a line in German from the Gospel of John,verse 19:17, “Und er krug sein kreuz [And he bore his cross].” After Caroline’s death, Charles Voshall remarried. He died onNov. 3, 1913, three years after Caroline. Like Caroline, he was 59years old at the time of his death. Mark and Hattie Clark continued living in Rochester for severalyears after the deaths of Hattie’s parents, moving to Geneva, N.Y. in1932. Their daughter Elsie married Lawrence W. Gracey in 1922 —and, like the Voshalls and the Clarks, the Graceys had only onedaughter who survived infancy: Margaret-Anne, born in 1932.139 Formany years, Lawrence Gracey served as editor for the Geneva [N.Y.]Daily Times (now the Finger Lakes Times), as had his father beforehim. In 1947, the three surviving heirs of the Wagner family — HattieClark, Elsie Gracey, and young Margaret-Anne — renewed theirconnection with the college that John George Wagner’s gift had helpedestablish. The three women visited Wagner College’s Staten Islandcampus and presented the school with a portrait of John George.139 The Graceys did have a second daughter, Carol Adele, but she lived only threedays after her birth. 84
  • 91. During their visit, a snapshot was taken and a brief story was writtenfor the Wagner College Bulletin. Sixty-one years later, that snapshot and its accompanying storyhelped a Wagner College administrator track down the sole survivingmember of the 1947 Wagner family delegation: Margaret-Anne(Gracey) Milne, an accomplished organist and honored communityactivist who was living in Rochester. Mrs. Milne had broken the familytradition, bearing both a daughter (Susan [Milne] Carney of Victor,N.Y.) and a son (David Milne of St. Paul, Minn.) — and the Milnechildren had each borne two more descendants of John GeorgeWagner. In May 2008, during the 125th anniversary year of the college thatbore her great-granduncle’s name, Margaret-Anne Milne was invitedto attend Wagner College’s commencement exercise as an honoredguest. On behalf of her family, Mrs. Milne accepted a declaration ofthe college’s continuing gratitude for her great-great-grandfather’sfounding gift, without which the institution might not have survived tosee the 20th century, much less the 21st. On Oct. 15, 2008, at Wagner College’s 125th AnniversaryFounders Day convocation, the school conferred upon the late J.George Wagner Jr. a posthumous doctor of divinity degree, honoriscausa, honoring both his own clerical aspirations, which werefrustrated by death, and his father’s gift, which helped hundreds ofother young men fulfill their dreams of becoming ministers. The following month, Wagner College President RichardGuarasci concluded our 125th Anniversary commemoration by laying awreath upon the grave of J. George Wagner Jr. in Rochester’s MountHope Cemetery.140 President Guarasci was accompanied by thedescendants of young George’s father.140 The Wagner family is buried in Section S, Lot 35 at Mount Hope Cemetery. 85
  • 92. APPENDIX 1 The ‘direktors’ of Wagner College By Lee Manchester 141 and Prof. William Ludwig During the first 40 years of its existence, the leaders of WagnerCollege had a progression of titles. For a couple of years, they wereknown as “housefathers.” After the move into permanent quarters in1885, they became known as "direktors." It was only after the collegemoved from Rochester to Staten Island in 1918 that we began callingthe top person on campus “president.” Here are profiles of the six men who served as directors ofWagner College in its Oregon Street home in Rochester, from 1885through 1918. PAUL EMIL KELLNER (June 1885 through mid- 1887). On June 3, 1885, the board of directors voted to offer the position of director to Paul Emil Kellner who, at that time, was in Russia. His wife was engaged as housekeeper. There are conflicting statements as to thecompetence of the Kellners. William Arndt, a student at WagnerCollege in 1885, reflected, “It could hardly be expected that a mantranslated to entirely new surroundings could prove a success.” On the other hand, Alfred Beck, author of “An HistoricalAccount of the Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester, New York”(undated), said that Kellner was loved and respected by both studentsand teachers, and was a wise administrator and capable leader. An 1886 report from an examining committee of theMinisterium to the 82nd Synod meeting said that “kitchen, bedroom,and classroom, which are under the supervision of Mrs. Kellner, acompetent matron, are kept clean and in good order.” These positive reports, however, were counterbalanced by an1887 report to the New York Ministerium from the Rev. AlexanderRichter, co-founder of the college and president of the board. Richtersaid, “A Saxon, Paul Emil Kellner by name, a recommended141 Much of the information for these profiles comes from an article written byProf. William Ludwig for the March and April 1923 issues of the WagnerCollege Bulletin. Other sources were the alumni biographies from the LutheranTheological Seminary in Philadelphia (1923) and profiles from several parishhistories. 86
  • 93. philologist, who had satisfactory educational references and whoeven had passed an examination by the state while yet in Germany,was called [as director]. His wife was to take care of the household.We were utterly disappointed in both of them.” Perhaps a quotation from John Nicum’s “Geschichte des NewYork Ministeriums” (1888) would be appropriate here: “It is indeedthe sad experience of all institutions, especially the new ones, thatteachers and staff are more or less troublesome.”JOSEPH RECHTSTEINER (Sept. 1887 to June 1888, and 1902 toJuly 1904). The exact date of Director Kellner’s departure from thecollege is not known; what is certain, however, is that his successorwas the Rev. Joseph Rechtsteiner, pastor of St. Johns LutheranChurch in Rochester and a graduate of the University of Tuebingen.Rechtsteiner held the post of director twice, both times as atemporary responsibility. According to Ludwig, Rechtsteiner left Rochester after his firstterm as Wagner director (Sept. 1887 to June 1888) to accept a callfrom St. Peters Lutheran congregation in Port Jervis, N.Y. Othersources, however, recall that Rechtsteiner stayed on at Wagner as aprofessor for some time following his first director’s term. He wasnot shown, however, on the faculty roster in the college’s cataloguefor the 1889-90 academic year. Rechtsteiner rejoined the faculty inthe fall of 1901. In 1902, Director John Nicum resigned. Prof. Rechtsteineragreed to fill in again, serving from 1902 to 1904. When the boardsucceeded in recruiting a permanent director, former board memberHermann Kraeling, Rechtsteiner stayed on as a teacher through the1906-07 school year, when he accepted a call to a congregation inBuffalo, according to Ludwig. Rechtsteiner served there until hisdeath in the summer of 1922. JACOB STEINHAEUSER (June 1888 to Oct. 22, 1894). Following Rev. Rechtsteiners first term as director, his successor was the Rev. Jacob Steinhaeuser, who served from June 1888 to November 1894. Born July 5, 1850, in Rochester, N.Y., he was the son of Conrad and Ursula (Yauch) Steinhaeuser, natives of Germany who immigrated to the United States in 1846 and1847, respectively. One of 15 children, Jacob Steinhaueser graduatedfrom Hartwick Seminary (now Hartwick College) in 1872. He briefly 87
  • 94. attended St. Matthew’s Academy in Manhattan before matriculatingat the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, from which hegraduated in 1875. He later earned his doctorate in divinities fromMuhlenberg College in 1902. On August 19, 1875, after Steinhaeuser graduated from thePhiladelphia Seminary and was ordained to the ministry, he marriedMarie Christine Becker of Buffalo, N.Y. The couple had sevenchildren, one of whom (Albert) graduated from Wagner in 1894 andfollowed Steinhaeuser into the ministry. Steinhaeuser served as pastor at Lutheran churches inBoonville, Cohocton and Kingston, N.Y., and as president of theNew York Ministerium (1877-88) before taking the helm at WagnerCollege in 1888. At an Oct. 22, 1894 meeting of the college board of directors,the Rev. Dr. John Nicum, chairman of the board, forced Steinhaeuserto resign under circumstances that have never been very clear. Nicumthen took over as director. In a January 1947 memoir, formerprofessor Augustus Redderoth wrote, “The day after, he[Steinhaeuser] told the writer [Redderoth], ‘They have thrown me outlike a dog!’ The Faculty was never notified of the change that wasmade. It was only from students that we learned that Dr. Nicum hadtaken charge of the classes of Pastor Steinhaeuser. He never cameinto the room reserved for the faculty. His orders appeared in writingoutside of the door of the faculty room, signed ‘John Nicum, Directorof Wagner College, President of the Executive Committee andPresident of the Board of Trustees.’ ” Following his ouster from Wagner’s directorate, Steinhaeuseraccepted a call to serve as pastor at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church inAllentown, Pa., a post he held until his death. He taught Hebrew atMuhlenberg College, and also served as the German secretary of thePennsylvania Ministerium and on the ministerium’s board ofeducation. Steinhaeuser died on Sunday, Sept. 25, 1904. In the midst ofpreaching a sermon, he suffered a severe stroke, the fourth in eightyears, and died a couple of hours later in his home. He was buried inFairview Cemetery, near Allentown.JOHN NICUM (Nov. 1, 1894 to 1902). Elected president of WagnerCollege’s board of directors in 1891, the Rev. John Nicum alsoserved as director of the college from 1894 to 1902. John Nicum was born on Jan. 6, 1851, in Winnenden,Wuerttemberg, Germany, the son of John and Anna Margaret(Schaefer) Nicum. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg 88
  • 95. College in 1873, graduating from the Philadelphia Seminary in 1876.After serving for two years as pastor at Zion Church in Frackville,Pa., Nicum married Josephine Johanette Sanner in 1878. He servedas pastor at churches in Philadelphia and Syracuse before coming toRochester at the call of St. John’s Lutheran Church in 1887, where heserved as pastor until his death in 1909. Ludwig called him “a man of great talent for organization and an almost unlimited capacity for work, as may be seen from the fact that besides his pastorate and his office as president of the College he also gave instruction in Metaphysics, Advanced English, German, Civics and Hebrew. Under him the Regents examinations were introduced and the institution assumed more and more the character of an American College. He emphasized this in all ofhis catalogues, and his progressive views are further shown in theintroduction of such subjects as Commercial Law, CommercialGeography, History of Commerce, Economics and Book-keeping.” Nicum was highly regarded within the Evangelical Lutheranchurch. He served as president of the fourth conference of the NewYork Ministerium (1884-89), secretary of the general council of theEvangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1886-97), andpresident of the general council’s board of German home missions(1888-97). Nicum was the author of a number of books: “Laws of the Stateof New York Relating to Churches” (1884), “Gleichniss Reden Jesu[Allegorical Speeches of Jesus]” (1884), “Doctrinal Development ofthe New York Ministerium” (1887), “Geschichte des New YorkMinisteriums [History of the New York Ministerium]” (1888), and“Confessional History of the Lutheran Church in the United States”(1891). He also translated into German, with additions, E.J. Wolfs“Lutherans in America” (1891). Nicum “overtaxed his strength,” according to Ludwig. He diedin Rochester on Nov. 1, 1909. “His last will and testament left a sum of money to theCollege,” Ludwig said, “which is being used for prizes for higheststanding in general scholarship. “ Nicum also left a significant endowment that was applied to theconstruction of the Nicum Memorial Towers, the central architecturalfeature of Main Hall (1930). According to writer Harald Kuehne, thatendowment amounted nearly to the total salary Nicum had receivedas director of the college. 89
  • 96. HERMANN DIETRICH KRAELING (1904-14). Hermann Kraeling was the pastor of “the Lutheran church” [perhaps the German Lutheran Church on Grand Street] in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., when he was called to become the director of Wagner College in 1904. He had previously served on the college’s board of directors for 12 years, from 1889 to 1902. When Kraeling entered upon his new office as Wagner’sdirector, the number of students had dwindled to 25 and, owing tofinancial difficulties, “the institution found itself in a very precariouscondition,” Ludwig wrote. “But, thanks to the untiring efforts of thedirector and his wife, both of whom gave themselves wholly to thework, the number of students soon began to increase and the collegewas put on a sound financial basis: the treasury no longer showingdeficits, but a considerable surplus.” On May 14, 1908, the college celebrated its 25th anniversarywith a service at Zion’s Lutheran Church in Rochester, the “MotherCongregation” of the college. A jubilee fund of about $18,000 wasraised after this service, which helped to fund the college’s movefrom Rochester to Staten Island 10 years later. Rev. Kraeling, although emphasizing the aim of the college toconsist in the education of young men for the ministry, did not wishto restrict it to that one purpose only, but said in his first catalogue inhis frank and outspoken manner, “Also for sons of our congregationsto whom pious fathers and mothers wish to give a good Christianeducation to further them in their business and professional life,Wagner College is an excellent institution. So many Lutherans aresending their sons at great expense to military schools where heartand soul are deadened in mere drill, and here, at their very door, theyhave the best help and do not know or use it.” When Rev. Kraeling resigned from his office, the student bodynumbered 36 students, and the 10-member graduating class was oneof the largest in the history of the institution. His successor was theRev. J.A.W. Kirsch, pastor of St. Johns Church, Buffalo, N.Y. 90
  • 97. JOHN A.W. KIRSCH (1914-18). The Rev. Johannes Albert Wilhelm Kirsch — or, as he was more commonly known among his American colleagues, parishioners and students, John A.W. Kirsch — served as director of the college during the years of the Great War in Europe, from 1914 to 1918. He was the last director of Wagner College in Rochester. Kirsch was born on August 5, 1865, in Kappeln, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Hewas the son of master tailor Andreas Kirsch and his wife CharlotteAgnes Johanna, née Wittgrese. After graduation from the localschool, the gifted youth studied theology at various privateinstitutions. He concluded his studies at the Theological Seminary atKropp, Schleswig-Holstein, in order to prepare for church service inAmerica. On June 3, 1877, he immigrated to the United States, andon June 18 he was ordained by the New York Ministerium. His firstassignment was in Brooklyn, New York, as vicar to Pastor Dr. J.W.Loch of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church on SchermerhornStreet. Then he was at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church inSaugerties, N.Y. as vicar to Pastor F.J.A. Leddin. Later he wasappointed pastor in Webster, N.Y., Flatbush (in Brooklyn), andCanajoharie, N.Y. On July 3, 1896, he was called by the EvangelicalLutheran Church of St. John in Amherst, outside Buffalo, where heserved until 1914, when he became director of Wagner College inRochester. “Several factors contributed in making his administration amost difficult task, so difficult that only a man of his equanimity,faith and vision could have stood up under it,” Prof. Ludwig wrote.“The general unrest produced by the world war, the increased cost ofliving, and the decision of the Ministerium to remove the collegefrom Rochester made themselves felt in the life of the institution aswell as in the financial condition. The German textbooks, no longerobtainable, had to be replaced by English books, and accordinglyalso the medium of instruction, which heretofore had been in mostsubjects the German, had to be changed. In 1918, Rev. Kirschresigned, the college was removed to Staten Island, and a new erabegan.” 91
  • 98. APPENDIX 2 Student life on the Rochester campus Gymnasium curriculum, austerity characterize Wagner’s earliest era By Richard Darrow Wagner magazine, January 1968 The beginnings of Wagner College are well-documentedhistory and the legends of the Apple Tree and the founding fathersare known by almost everyone. This article will not be a collection ofnames, dates and financial statements. It, instead, will attempt to recreate the life and times atRochester as they were lived by the students themselves. This is howit was told by men who know, because they were there. In 1963, Mrs.Miriam Zeller Gross, then college editor for Wagner, distributed aquestionnaire to all known alumni from the Rochester days. Thisarticle is based on information received from these men as well assource material from the Wagneriana archives in Horrmann Library. The Wagner magazine is indebted to the following alumni whograciously provided information on their days at Rochester: Rev.Ernest Neudoerfer ’97, Rev. William Trebert ’97, Rev. Otto L.Schreiber ’03, Rev. Hugo Perdelwitz ’05 (deceased), Dr. Albert B.Helmkamp ’07, Rev. Henry B. Dickert ’09, Richard A. Hope ’09,Rev. Arnold F. Keller ’10, Rev. George J.V. Schorling ’11, Rev.Hermann A. Meyer ’11, Dr. Robert H. Ischinger ’13, Rev. W. PaulReumann ’13, Rev. Herbert L. Siegner ’14, Rev. Emanuel W.Hammer ’14, Rev. Frank P. Welkner ’15, Rev. Frederick E. Reissig’17 and Rev. Herman F. Reissig ’20. Wagner was founded in 1883 as the Rochester LutheranProseminary on a working capital of 10 dollars. It was a six-yearschool — high school through the first two years of college — whichwould prepare students for entrance into a regular Lutheranseminary, usually Mt. Airy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because ofthe tremendous influx of German immigrants in the latter part of the19th century, there was a great need for German-speaking pastors.This need was not being filled adequately by the seminaries, sincemost of their graduates were found to be weak in the Germanlanguage. By means of a gift from John G. Wagner, a Rochester buildingcontractor and vice president of the school, the Proseminary moved 92
  • 99. to its then permanent Rochester home in 1886 and took the nameWagner Lutheran Memorial College. This school was far different from the Wagner of Grymes Hill.Discipline was strict and likened by one alumnus to the discipline ofa military school today. The school consisted of one building, whichcontained three upper floors and a basement. Kitchen and diningroom facilities were located in the basement along with furnace,laundry and storage rooms. According to one former student, thesingle bath tub also was located in the underground nether regions ofthe building. This undoubtedly presented some traffic problems,since the rest of the bathroom facilities were on the second floor.Baths were “required” once a week, and a posted roster indicatedwho was to bathe when. Hot water was provided for two hours or soeach day specifically for those on the bath roster. Offices, teachers’ quarters and classrooms were located on themain floor of the building, while the library and student roomsoccupied the floor above. The majority of the students lived in alarge dormitory on the third floor. Each day began with the clang of a bell at 7 a.m. on the dot.Breakfast was followed by morning chapel, which lasted 15 minutes.Indicative of the emphasis placed on the German language at Wagnerin those days were the requirements that not only all classes beconducted in German (with the exception of English andmathematics), but that German be spoken in chapel and at all meals.A sign hung prominently in the dining room proclaiming, “Hier wirdDeutsch gesprochen” (Only German is to be spoken here). Theassumption obviously was that if you’re hungry enough for a secondhelping, you’ll learn to ask for it in German. This was not always easy for those students who had little or noGerman background. After one meal where herring was served andthey prayed “Danket dem Herren” (Thanks to the Lord), a studentasked surreptitiously if they were giving thanks for the herring. In general, the food was found to be “plain,” “not too varied”but “wholesome.” As one member of the class of 1905 wisely said,“Regarding board, who is there in an institution who does not gripe?As I am reaching 78 in a few months, the food could not have beentoo bad.” Things had not changed drastically five years later, as amember of the class of 1910 remembered, “We ate our share of mushand cornmeal, frequently reappearing on the table almost diabolicallydisguised. Protest meetings were often held. But we all survived.” Classes were held from 8 a.m. until noon, and from 1 p.m. to 3p.m. or 3:30 p.m. each afternoon. There were no Saturday classes,but there were the inevitable morning and evening chapel services. 93
  • 100. Wagner’s program of study was patterned after the GermanGymnasium, with six forms or classes. The gymnasium had itsorigins in ancient Greece, where youths met for exercise anddiscussions with master teachers. The word stems in part from theGreek “gymnos” or naked, and the young Greeks exercised andlearned “au naturel.” Things had changed somewhat by 1536, wheneducator Johann Sturm founded the German Gymnasium. Probablythe intemperate German climate did not lend itself to a totalacceptance of the practices of the Greeks. Sturm’s aim, according toMerritt Thompson in “The History of Education,” was “to trainpious, learned and eloquent men for service in church and state,using religion and the new learning as means.” It is this system uponwhich the Wagner course of study was based, and its intentions werenot far from Sturm’s original aim. Walter Thomas Schoen [Jr.], in a 1957 thesis on the early daysof Wagner, gives us an idea of the curriculum at that time: “Thecurriculum of the Sexta, or lowest form, consisted of religion,German, Latin, English, world history, geography, natural history,arithmetic, penmanship, drawing and singing. The Quinta, Quartaand Tertia forms taught the same subjects in an advanced degree,augmenting them with Greek and American history, while theSecunda and Prima forms included the teaching of Hebrew, naturalphilosophy and chemistry.” From the students themselves, we find that “it was but naturalthat religion should form an important part of the curriculum. Wewere indoctrinated with a conservative, fundamentalist theology inwhich the teachings of Luther were equated on a par with those ofthe Bible. It was expressed in the oft-quoted couplet: ‘Gottes Wortund Luther’s Lehr, Vergehen nun und nimmermehr’ (The word ofGod and Luther’s teaching never will die). Independent thinking wasnot encouraged. We were in school to be taught. Instruction wasdidactic and dogmatic. The marking was strict, and there were noelectives.” When an early housefather heard there were to be new rules, hesaid, “New rules? Why? I think if the boys keep the TenCommandments, we need no more rules.” On being reprimanded for attending an out-of-bounds churchand told “that’s the rule,” one student replied, “It’s a foolish rule.”“That’s none of your business”, he was told. Zion Lutheran Church in Rochester was the official schoolchurch. There is some disagreement as to whether students wereallowed to attend other services. Even the Reformed LutheranChurch in Rochester was looked upon as being somewhat heretical. 94
  • 101. After all, services there were held in English! On Monday morningsafter chapel, the boys had to give a full account of their actions overthe weekend, faithfully reporting the sermon they had heard. The firstquestion always was, “Where did you go to church yesterday?” Without a doubt, the favorite teacher of those days was C.F.W.“Papa” Betz. A member of the class of 1907 recalls that “Papa” Betzwas loved by all. “He was devoted to his work. He meticulouslycorrected every composition and grammatical exercise with aslashing red pencil and made a general evaluation of each paper. Hethen required us to re-write every paper correctly. We learned sound,classical German from him and were introduced to and came toappreciate the works of Goethe, Schiller, Lessing and other Germanmasters. Calm in demeanor, easy-going in many ways, infinitelypatient with the short-comings and antics of teen-agers, he still could,on occasion, explode in righteous indignation. Of course his innategentleness never would permit him to carry out any of his threats.” “Papa” Betz also taught Greek, but his goal was more than thesyntax and flow of language. He is quoted as saying, “In twentyyears from now you undoubtedly will have forgotten all your Greek,but if I can teach you how to think, I will feel that I haveaccomplished something worthwhile.” The discipline and supervision of the students was strict, and noone went anywhere without permission. “Permission” was the magicword, and it was not granted with largesse. Permission to go toconcerts and the theater was granted only occasionally. As onehousefather put it, “One does not need to hear and see everything.” But one alumnus remembers, “While the student life may seemto have been monastic, we had not taken the vows of poverty,chastity and obedience. There was the world of Juliets and Marias,which deserved attention. As I recall it, absences on such missionswhen detected after 10 p.m. were not dealt with too seriously, foreven the Direktor knew that over mountain and river, love will find away.” At one point, the college sweetheart was a Jewish girl namedFanny who lived in the neighborhood. We have it on good authoritythat “there was great rivalry on sneaking across the street to sit on theporch with Fanny, who, having virtually no competition, seemed amost glorious and beautiful girl.” Curfew usually was 10 p.m., with upperclassmen allowed outuntil 11 p.m. on weekends. At those witching hours, the doors werelocked, although there are two recorded methods of “breaking andentering” after the prescribed time. One method involved lowering arope from your room prior to leaving, or having a rope lowered at 95
  • 102. night by a trustworthy friend. The second method involved unlockingthe catch on the wide window next to the front door. This was notfoolproof, as the housefather “would often be waiting in thedarkness. So no matter how carefully you raised the window on yourreturn and stepped over the sill, a voice was apt to holler out, ‘Who’sthat?’ Then followed house arrests.” Recreational activities were somewhat limited, due to the verysmall area available for practice. However, the boys were able toplay curtailed forms of field hockey (referred to as “shinny”), tennis,baseball and basketball. In 1910, the basketball team, playing underthe name of “Warriors,” lost only one game. Their regular schedulewas a short one, but they “bootlegged” games by sneaking out andplaying under assumed names. The game they lost falls into thatcategory and is recounted as follows: “One Saturday evening our basketball team decided to go to theYMCA142 to play a game against the Rochester Athletic Club. Thiswas strictly against the rules, but seven of us slipped out after dark.The men on the RAC team outweighed us 45 pounds to a man, andthey were at least six inches taller. At half time, we were still slightlyahead, but height and weight were bound to tell, and we lost thegame. We sneaked back into our quarters, a trifle discouraged,unnoticed but expecting anything to happen. “The next morning, we bought the Rochester Democrat andChronicle and found the notice of our loss in the sports sectionheadlined, ‘RAC Defeats Collegians.’ We felt fairly safe because ourdean, Reverend Kraeling, might read everything else in the paper, buthe could not possibly be interested in sports. After breakfast, wewere called to the office. We knew that the bad news was out. Weexpected a strong reprimand, and we received it, but not the way weexpected. Apparently, he did not care much that we had slipped outand played the previous night — but why did we bring disgrace onWagner College by losing that game?” The literary and athletic societies were the only recognizedorganizations at the school — but, little known to the administration,there was a secret society ominously known as “The Invisibles.”They are recalled as meeting “every week in the dark in somebody’sroom. Each tried to think of a trick to play on his classmates, but itwas usually a boy called ‘Perfect’ Melville who decided what to do.One time, however, Eddie Crowe took shoe polish and blackened allthe door knobs. Knowing of the trick, I’d been able to keep my hands142 The Rochester Railroad YMCA, on Central Avenue, was located less than athird of a mile to the west of the Wagner College campus. 96
  • 103. clean, but Eddie had blackened his so he wouldn’t be suspected. Thenext morning in class we had to hold up our hands, and being theonly one with clean hands, I became the culprit.” For those who made it through the stiff curriculum and survivedthe disciplinary measures and the cornmeal mush, graduation had thespecial sweetness of “freedom at last” attached to it. There was butone more obstacle: graduation itself. Smartly attired in Prince Albertcoats, each graduate was required to deliver an address in German.For the small classes, this was not a matter of great concern, but asthe classes grew larger, the ceremonies became longer and longer,“as words of wisdom continued to pour from those young mouths.”One graduate “spoke dramatically on Alexander Irvine, and [I] nowcannot find a soul who knows who he was — and do not ask me.” Those years around the turn of the [20th] century and prior tothe First World War were not easy ones; the students at WagnerMemorial Lutheran College worked under conditions that would beconsidered exceptionally primitive by today’s standards. But as oneman recalls, “The economic status was very low. All equipment waselemental. Desks and blackboards were old and worn. Floors werecreaky. Yet if the essential element of a college is one student on theend of a log and a good teacher on the other, Wagner had it. And thestudents were proud of their scholarship, a learning which remindsone of Anatole France’s observation, ‘Fear the man of one book.’ ” 97
  • 104. APPENDIX 3 Wagner College enrollment, 1883 to 1954Figures in the tables below represent October totals forall sessions, plus Summer Session when offered. Thefigures were compiled from Registrar’s Office recordsand Wagner College catalogues. At Rochester, N.Y. Six-year “gymnasium” curriculum YEAR ENROLLMENT YEAR ENROLLMENT 1883 6 1901 38 1884 13 1902 31 1885 19 1903 28 1886 24 1904 25 1887 29 1905 30 1888 33 1906 30 1889 42 1907 31 1890 49 1908 35 1891 49 1909 42 1892 23 1910 43 1893 34 1911 40 1894 45 1912 36 1895 39 1913 43 1896 33 1914 36 1897 34 1915 40 1898 41 1916 41 1899 42 1917 30 1900 39 At Staten Island, N.Y.C.YEAR ENROLLMENT CURRICULUM1918 42 6-year program1919 62 7-year program1920 711921 72 8-year program1922 75 98
  • 105. 1923 70 4-year high school & 4-year college1924 661925 841926 1001927 1051928 1281929 1341930 1391931 1411932 117 4-year college1933 2031934 2711935 3131936 3351937 3461938 4031939 4201940 4041941 4221942 5101943 3901944 4421945 4401946 1,1641947 1,7631948 1,9621949 2,0611950 1,9951951 1,942 4-year college & graduate school1952 1,8291953 1,8141954 1,959 99
  • 106. APPENDIX 4 Housefathers, directors and presidentsInitially, the top staff member at the Lutheran Proseminary ofRochester was called “housefather,” a position akin to headmaster.With the move to a permanent facility in 1885 came a change in thattitle, to “director.” When the college moved to Staten Island in 1918,the title changed again, to “president.”Note: Some late college documents show Alexander Richter,founding board president of the school, to have been “director” from1883 to 1888. Early histories and records do not bear this out. HOUSEFATHERSSeptember Feb. 28, 1884 George Seel1883Feb. 28, 1884 November 1884 Pastor Koennemann (temporary). (Removed from residence in school facility Aug. 31, 1884; dismissed as housefather Nov. 1884.)November April 9, 1885 F.A. Kammerer1884April 9, 1885 June 1885 C.G. Schneider (temporary) DIRECTORSJune 1885 September 1887 Paul Emil KellnerSeptember June 1888 Joseph Rechtsteiner (acting)1887June 1888 Oct. 22, 1894 Jacob SteinhaeuserNov. 1 (or 11), 1902 John Nicum18941902 July 1904 Joseph Rechtsteiner (acting)July 1904 1914 Hermann Dietrich KraelingJune 1914 1918 John A.W. [Johannes Albert Wilhelm] Kirsch 100
  • 107. APPENDIX 5 Historical outline, Wagner College: 1883–1943This is one of several Wagner College chronologies found in theschool archives. The editor chose it for inclusion in this collection ofcollege histories because it was the most precise and detailed of all.1883 October 15 First meeting of the Board of Trustees of Lutheran Proseminary, with Dr. Alexander Richter, Zion’s Church, Rochester; Dr. George H. Gomph, Pittsford; Pastor George Seel, Dr. C.N. Conrad, et al. Institution began in home of Christian Seel, Jay and Magne Streets, Rochester. Mr. Seel provided board and lodging for the six students. His son, Pastor George Seel, first housefather. The housefather was a combination parent and institutional caretaker. Tuition $32 per year. Board $2.00 per week. No fees charged during the first year.1884 February 28 Pastor Seel resigns as housefather.143 Pastor Koennemann called as temporary housefather. March 24 Moved to 33 South Avenue,144 Rochester. Rent $30 per month. August 31 Rev. F.W. Kammerer called as housefather for one year. “It is an evidence of God’s miraculous grace that, in spite of this, he did not permit the destruction of the institution.”145143 According to Alexander Richter, George Seel was called to serve as pastor to acongregation in Newark, N.Y.144 The house, known in college records as “Reilly’s,” was located betweenByron and Comfort streets on South Avenue.145 Alexander Richter in an 1887 report to the New York Ministerium, asrecorded in John Nicum’s “Geschichte des New York Ministeriums.” 102
  • 108. 1885 April 9 Pastor Kammerer resigns. May 1 Moved to 4 Oregon Street in quarters vacated by the Rochester Collegiate Institute.146 Place offered for sale at $12,000. “We could hardly meet current expenses, yet … putting their trust in God’s help the Board of Directors decided to attempt to buy the property … as soon as half the sum had been subscribed.”147 October 1 Incorporated as “Lutheran Proseminary of Rochester, New York” by order of the Supreme Court of New York State under act of 1848. Rev. Paul E. Kellner, from Russia, director and housefather.1886 January $5,700 raised by subscription. Decided to buy the Oregon Street property. Mortgage for $_____ June 8 Mr. John G. Wagner, vice president of the board, announced his intention of giving $12,000 as a memorial to his son, George Wagner. “We did not escape tribulation … teachers and staff are more or less troublesome.”148 July 27 Charter changed by Supreme Court order — name to be “Wagner Memorial Lutheran College of Rochester, New York.”1887 September The Rev. Joseph Rechtsteiner called as director.146 The Rochester Collegiate Institute, operated by LeRoy Satterlee, occupied thebuilding at 4 Oregon St. from 1855 to 1875.147 Richter in Nicum’s “Geschichte,” 1887`.148 John Nicum, “Geschichte des New York Ministeriums,” 1888 103
  • 109. 1888 June Synod accepts proposal that Wagner College be made the property of the New York Ministerium at meeting at Rondout, New York. Dr. Rechtsteiner resigns. Dr. J. Steinhaeuser of Rondout elected director. Professor C.F.W. Betz appointed to faculty.1889 June Formal and legal transfer to New York Ministerium made at meeting of Synod in Brooklyn. October Dr. Steinhaeuser inducted into office of director — 42 students enrolled. Faculty of four.1893 State, on basis of law passed in 1892, tries to force college to abandon the word “college” in its name because it did not possess $500,000 endowment. Judge Rodenbeck fights case in Albany. Wins case.1894 October 22 Dr. Steinhaeuser resigns as of November 1. Dr. John Nicum called as director. Tuition raised to $40 per year; board to $2.50 per week. Library about 700 volumes.1897 Steam heat installed. “A great improvement.”1898 Sept. 1 Total students 41.1899 “The institution is assuming more and more the character of an American College.”1900 Sept. 1 Students total 39.1901 June Synod adopts resolution that removal of Wagner College [from Rochester] “is deemed desirable and necessary” and that “for many reasons the vicinity of New York City is recommended as the best location.” Committee appointed. 104
  • 110. 1902 Dr. Nicum resigns.1903 Dr. Rechtsteiner accepts directorship for one year only.1904 Dr. George C.F. Haas called as director. Declined call in following year. July Dr. Kraeling called. September Dr. Hermann D. Kraeling begins long term as director. 25 students — “Owing to financial difficulties, the institution found itself in a very precarious condition.”1905 Dr. A. Spaeth gives $2,300 to college.1906 September 32 students.1907 September The Rev. William Ludwig appointed to faculty as professor of Latin and Hebrew. Succeeds Pastor Rechtsteiner. 30 students.1908 May 14 25th anniversary service in Zion’s Church, Rochester. $25,000 Jubilee Fund planned. About $19,000 raised.1909 Nov. 1 Dr. Nicum dies.1914 44 students. Dr. Kraeling resigns. June Dr. John A.W. Kirsch called as director.1916 October 25 Special Synod meeting in Utica decides to move institution from Rochester, New York, to Staten Island.1917 June Pastor Sutter elected to Board of Trustees. September Cunard property, Grymes Hill, purchased by New York Ministerium for Wagner — 38 acres for $63,000. 105
  • 111. 1918 March 6 Dr. Richter and Dr. Gomph die. later Dr. Kirsch resigns. Total cost of property, remodeling [winterizing] two cottages, building of president’s home — $110,000. Synod raised $70,000 and mortgage for $40,000. Pastor Posselt elected to board. Gift of $4,000 from Jacob Vogt of Watertown. Wagner College moves to Grymes Hill, Staten Island. Dr. A.H. Holthusen called as president. Board $120, tuition $40. 16 students move with the college. Wagner College Guild formed. Mrs. Martin Wulff, president. Pastor Sutter elected president of the board.1919 Treckmann bequest $3,000. Mr. Frank Wisch, Mr. Stoughton called to faculty. Seventh year added to course.1920 Dr. George C.F. Haas, Dr. Carl Knoll added to faculty. 62 students. Dr. Benzinger and Dr. Metzenthin resign. 106
  • 112. 1921 September Synod authorizes campaign for $185,000 — 70% raised. 73 students enrolled in college and high school departments. “Largest number in our history.” Dr. Weiskotten, George Rugar and Walter Peterson appointed to faculty. “Annex” purchased. Class added to make four years of high school and four years of college. New faculty residences begun. Mr. and Mrs. Hettling give $1,500 to library as a memorial to son.1922 March 7 Wagner buys Vanderbilt property — alumni agree to pay cost — about 19 acres. April $1,000 from Mrs. Marie Geyer. June 13 Baccalaureate — Dr. F.H. Susch, preacher. Dr. Knoll resigns. August 14 Ground for new dormitory broken. September Room, board and tuition $300. Ministerial students, $180. 75 students. October 28 Cornerstone of dormitory laid by Dr. Sutter. Address by Dr. Heischmann. “Calisthenics every morning at 6:45.”1923 $6,000 raised toward endowment fund. Mrs. E. Bader, Jersey City; Mrs. T. Pregge; Mrs. E.C. Muncke; Dr. Holthusen; Mr. and Mrs. John Haaren, Allenhurst; Redeemer Church, Brooklyn — each $1,000 September High School department a separate unit. C.C. Stoughton appointed principal. 107
  • 113. Professor Krahmer added to faculty. Rates raised from $300 to $400; for ministerial students, $200. October New dormitory dedicated. Dr. Henry Elson joins faculty.1924 March Meinikheim bequest $1,646.75. September Dr. Edgar Dehn, Dr. DeWalsh, Mr. Genzmer, Mr. Montgomery appointed to faculty. October Gravenhorst bequest $500. December Meyerhoff bequest $2,000.1925 March Geyer bequest amounting to $10,000 & residuary. Becher will, $1,000. June Synod decides to raise $500,000 for college endowment in 1926. Dr. Holthusen resigns as of January 1, 1926. Baccalaureate by Dr. H.T. Weiskotten. High school building renovated. September Registered 35 in college department, 41 in high school. October Dr. Sutter appointed acting president. Elected to office permanently, but refused to leave congregation, “which seems to need me more,” he said. October 31 Dr. Holthusen terminates presidency. Agrees to carry on until succession is appointed.1926 Feb. 1-10 $500,000 endowment fund campaign: $540,000 pledged by 20,000 subscribers. Began a period of unusual enthusiasm for the college. Dr. Frederic Sutter, chairman and inspired leader of effort. 108
  • 114. March 9 Board calls Dr. Brezing as president. June Dr. Brezing declines call. Dr. Dehn, Mr. Montgomery resign. September 92 students. Dr. Holthusen ends term as Wagner president. October 31 Dr. Ludwig appointed dean of the college; Dr. Sutter, acting president. December Bequest of $5,000 from Henry J. Utz announced.1927 January Henry Michaelis bequest $1,000. Schenck bequest $250. Dr. Goller appointed college physician. April 12 Mr. Stoughton resigns as principal of high school and member of the faculty. March $5,000 bequest from Mrs. Trina Priggs. May Dr. Charles Dapp called to presidency. July Bronze plaque to Dr. Sutter unveiled. August Dr. Haas resigns work. September College enrollment 59 — high school 39. October Bequest of Marie Geyer: $10,000 directly; $40,110 a residium. Dr. Dapp accepts call. Dr. Haas dies. November E. Fey bequest announced: $3,200; Catherine Steitz $5,000; Emma Serbert $3,000.1928 January Survey Commission for Lutheran Colleges. Mrs. F.H. Hettling, president of Guild, succeeds Mrs. M. Wulff. 109
  • 115. February Dr. Hinman and Dr. Davidheiser begin work. New building [Main] authorized by trustees. March 29 Charter amended by Regents of the University of the State of New York, approving courses and granting right to award [baccalaureate] degrees. June Athletic field constructed. First baccalaureate and honorary degrees awarded — D.D. to Dr. Sutter. Ministerium votes to transfer all property to the board of trustees of the college. September Fees raised — tuition $200; room and board $300. October Reppenbagen estate $3,695.91. Professor Richard Haymaker joins faculty. Nov. 23 Wagner College Concert — Lawrence Tibbett, soloist — Mecca Temple.1929 March 5 Property deeded to Wagner College by New York Ministerium. Liber of Deeds 679, page 545, Richmond County. May 30 Administration Building cornerstone laid. Gifts of $15,000 from Mr. John Nicum, $5,000 from Mr. Dreyfus, $1,000 [each from] Mrs. Hettling, Miss Weber, E. Clarence Miller announced. June Dr. Theodore H. Becker, D.D. — Dr. George W. Sandt, commencement speaker.1930 February Lutheran Students Association on campus. February 27 Campaign for $130,000 — dinner at college. 110
  • 116. March Meta Wendler estate — bequest $3,607.49. May 30 Dedication of new Administration Building. June Bequest Addie G. Schmidt $1,000. Carnegie Corporation gives $5,000 for library. June 10 Commencement speaker, Wittenberg College President R.E. Tulloss. Honorary degrees to Pastor E. Heyd, Pastor J.A.W. Kirsch, Pastor E.C.J. Kraeling, Pastor William Ludwig, Pastor Charles Trexler, and Pastor H.C. Wasmund. September College opens — 90 students — Dr. Grier appointed to faculty. Sept. 25 Dr. Dapp resigns. Dr. Sutter appointed acting president. December Wittekind Scholarship established.1931 January Mrs. Hoffman elected president of Guild. Declines election. Mrs. R. Kleber, vice president, takes office. February Dr. Brezing elected president. Accepts call. June Dr. E.B. Burgess commencement speaker. September Dr. M. Nordgaard added to faculty. October Wendling estate $1,000. November Marie Scheminger estate $2,000. Nov. 17 Installation service [President Herman Brezing] — Trinity Lutheran Church. Nov. 27 Wagner added to approved list of colleges of the Middle States Association. Enrollment 117. 111
  • 117. 1932 February First mid-year entering class. Dr. Suhr resigns. W. Hoops bequest of $2,000. May R. Freymann estate $2,591. June 12 Baccalaureate — Dr. Brezing. June 14 Commencement — Dr. Charles Jacobs, speaker. [Professor of church history at Philadelphia Theological Seminary. Also spoke at 1923 dedication of South Hall dormitory.] High school department closed. 117 students — 49 new enrollers. Professors Krahmer, Brown, and Kleintop added to college faculty. Dr. Van Ormer new faculty member. September First extension courses. Nov. 25 Suspended from approved list of Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.1933 January Trustees decide to admit women to classes. Mr. Stoughton called as financial officer. March College-Bound Club organized. May First sub-freshmen day. June Dr. Deal, Dr. Anderson appointed to faculty. October 1 Enrollment 150. November Lutheran Student Association convention on campus. Dec. 13 Dr. Brezing resigns as of July 1, 1934. 112
  • 118. 1934 May Professor Ludwig resigns as dean; to continue teaching. Mr. Stoughton appointed acting dean. Dr. Sutter appointed acting president. July First Summer School. September Enrollment 179. Training of nurses for Staten Island Hospital begun. Dr. Haag joins faculty.1935 March Muller bequest $2,000. May C.C. Stoughton elected to presidency. Dr. H.D. Kraeling dies, leaving $3,000 to college. June Miss Mabel Spitzer is first co-ed graduate. September Enrollment 185. Mr. Childs called to faculty. Nov. 1 Installation of President Stoughton at Trinity Lutheran Church.1936 February 2,000 books given to library by family of Dr. George Collins, former member of Brooklyn Polytechnic School faculty. March Jubilee Scholarship established by board. April Dr. Ludwig resigns because of ill health. May Wagner restored to approved list of Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. October 5 Fiftieth Anniversary celebration [dated from renaming as Wagner College, not from 1883 founding]. Dr. Hans Meiser, bishop of Bavaria, and President Lars Boe of St. Olaf College, speakers. October 21 Fiftieth anniversary celebration by Wagner College Guild. 113
  • 119. October Remodeled Women’s Dormitory [North Hall/Reynolds House] dedicated by Dr. Sutter. November Ten-year development program announced. Campaign for $100,000 from Staten Island begun.1937 April 16 Charter amended by Board of Regents, permitting college to grant D.D., LL.D., L.H.D. as honorary degrees. June Milton T. Kleintop appointed dean of the college. Dr. John L. Tildsley, commencement speaker; Dr. Frederick Knuebel, baccalaureate preacher. Dr. Samuel G. Hefelbower appointed professor of philosophy. September Dr. Anderson resigns. Professor Theodore Gibson appointed professor of mathematics. Herbert Sutter made director of athletics. Board raised to $325. Dr. Bartlett and Dr. Brabec added to faculty. November First Community Forum under sponsorship of college and Jewish Community Center.1938 February First annual alumni dinner at Beekman Towers. Dean Luther Weigle, Yale, speaker. Kiwanis Club donates $550 for student loan fund. March Lutheran Student Association, Atlantic District, holds convention at Wagner. April Threat of city college for Staten Island. 114
  • 120. June Dr. Guy Snavely, commencement speaker; Dean Kleintop, baccalaureate preacher. July Dean Kleintop ordained. Second biology laboratory equipped. September Tuition raised to $250. Dr. Paulssen added to faculty. Professor Dunham appointed to take place of Dr. Rodick, who resigned. Largest new enrollment — 97 students — total 250. October First convocation. D.D. degree conferred upon the Rev. Theodore G. Tappart, Schieren Professor of Church History, Philadelphia Seminary. Graduate fellowship established. Bruce Carney, first recipient.1939 May Mrs. L.A. Dreyfus gives 300 shares Standard Oil of Indiana stock for scholarship fund. New constitution drawn up. June Dr. Alan Valentine, commencement speaker. Rev. P. Kirsch, baccalaureate preacher. July-August New chemistry laboratory equipped in basement of Administration Building. September Largest enrollment — total 287. Professor Haymaker resigns. October Second annual convocation — D.D. degree to Rev. Paul Andrew Kirsch, assistant executive secretary of the Board of American Missions. 115
  • 121. November Second annual forum. Indebtedness of $11,000 to Conable estate liquidated by special drive on the part of the Board.149 Professor Arlan Coolidge, visiting professor and artist.1940 Rev. Russell Auman, visiting guest preacher for three days. February Mrs. Dreyfus promises $5,000 for new laboratories in Administration Building. March N.Y.U. and Wagner sign agreement on five-year teaching training. March 8 Edwin Markham dies. Wills entire library of 15,000 volumes to Wagner. June Dr. Kenneth I. Brown, commencement speaker. Rev. Frederick Grunst, baccalaureate. Synod gives consent for joint campaign for Wagner College and Hartwick College. July Library stacks moved to third floor [Administration Building], increased to 32,000 capacity. Four new laboratories (Dreyfus) begun. September Wagner approved for CAA training. Enrollment 275 — down about 4%. First “Freshman Week” program successful. Tuition raised to $310, including fees. Nov. 3 Third Annual Forum begins.149 George W. Conable was the architect who designed South Hall/Parker Halland the Administration Building/Main Hall. He died Jan. 2, 1933. 116
  • 122. Nov. 11 Annual convocation. D.D. awarded to Rev. Henry C. Freimuth; LL.D. to Irwin Conroe, director, NYS Division of Higher Education. First distinguished citizenship award to Mrs. L.A. Dreyfus. Markham Memorial Room, Dreyfus Laboratories and memorial plaques dedicated. Staten Island District Guild organized.1941 January 3 Campaign for $300,000 for Hartwick and Wagner begins. February Mid-year enrollment: 14. Mar. 13-15 Carlos Buhler, visiting artist. Mar. 24-26 Rev. Russell F. Auman, visiting pastor. April 25 Campaign formally opens in Albany — about 400 at dinner. June Rev. F. Eppling Reinartz, commencement speaker. Dr. Luther D. Reed, baccalaureate preacher. Honorary degree of LL.D. awarded to William Betz, Class of 1894. July Dr. Julius Seebach gives 1,000 volumes to the library. $1,000 bequest from Miss Marie Wintjen paid. Virgil Markham gives 1,000 records to library. September Enrollment 294 — largest in history — increase of about 8%. Dr. Foote added to biology staff. Nov. 3-5 Ernest and Analee Bacon, Converse College, visiting artists. 117
  • 123. Nov. 11 Annual convocation. Honorary degree of D.D. awarded to Rev. Harold S. Miller; LL.D. to Ellsworth B. Buck, vice president of the Board of Education of New York City. Distinguished citizenship award to Mrs. E.C. Meurer. Ludwig Cottage dedicated. December Ten acres of land, adjoining campus, given to the college by Mr. Philip Berolzheimer. Dec. 26 Fire in Girls’ Dormitory [North Hall/Reynolds House]; none injured. Insurance settlement more than $18,000.1942 January Otto Meinhardt bequest paid $3,150.76. College plans accelerated program permitting graduation in three years. February Mid-year enrollment — 32. March Who’s Who in America Award from most outstanding non-monetary gift to libraries of the country to Wagner for the Edwin Markham collection. Mar. 16-18 Rev. Hugo Dressler, Buffalo, visiting pastor. Staten Island campaign yields about $40,000. James W. Robb Jr., Class of 1935, won Navy Cross for heroism in Hawaii. May 18 Commencement speaker: Professor Edward C. Lindeman. Baccalaureate: Rev. Russell F. Auman, Scarsdale. Honorary degree: LL.D. to Professor Lindeman. June Dr. Paulssen resigns. July Theft of $12,500 in securities by treasurer Philip Licht discovered. 118
  • 124. August Mortgage extension granted by Supreme Court — 5 years at 3-1/3%. September Enrollment 280, considered most satisfactory in light of war conditions. Mr. Kirby inducted. Dr. Paulssen and Dr. Brabec leave. New faculty members: Dr. Adolf Stern, Dr. E. Hellersberg, Mr. Virgil Markham. October Prof. Gibson resigns to enter C.P.T. Dr. Foote commissioned as ensign in Navy. Nov. 9 Mortgage reduced to $190,000. Nov. 11 Convocation D.D. to Russell F. Auman. Six get baccalaureate degrees. Distinguished citizenship award to Staten Island Borough President Joseph A. Palma. 18- to 19-year-old draft bill passed. December 1 164 men in service (students and alumni). Over 50 commissioned. Dieisen estate settled. College receives $5,000 interest on a first mortgage and nearly $1,000 cash. December 2 Faculty/Board dinner to celebrate 25th anniversary of Dr. Posselt and Dr. Sutter as officers of the board. Dec. 28 Dr. Holthusen dies in New Brunswick, N.J.1943 January 25 New semester opens. “Intensive study” plan inaugurated. [Students can take one class at a time, each class taking several weeks to complete.] 254 enrollment. January 31 First mid-year commencement. 119