JUNE 21, 1889
A career of usefulness extending over seventy-five years is a record of which any school may well be proud, and it is a gratifying fact that Wheeling has a school with this proud record, in the Linsly Institute, which held its seventy-fifth anniversary of its founding by Noah Linsly in 1814. There was a fair audience of representative people in the house when, about 8 o'clock, Principal Roemer, President a. W. Campbell and Messrs. C. D. Hubbard, A. Pollack and A.J. Sweeney, of the Board of Trustees, Rev. Drs. Cunningham and Cooke, President Turner, of the State University at Morgantown, the graduating class, faculty and others appeared upon the stage and the orchestra played an appropriate selection. Rev. Dr. D. A. Cunningham, of the First Presbyterian church, made the opening prayer, which was fervent and fitting, and after more music, Mr. A. W. Campbell delivered the opening address.
Mr. Campbell's remarks were informal. The history of the Linsly Institute had its commencement only twenty-five years later than the American Union itself. It was founded when Wheeling was a rude frontier town, when there were few States, and civilization was crude. The country was in the midst of its second was. Steam was unknown in the navigation of the Ohio. There were few colleges or schools of national repute in the land. The noble-hearted and philanthropic Noah Linsly was a man of small means, but he gave his all to the cause of education.
The speaker expected brighter days for the institute in the future than any in the past. The trustees desired to give Wheeling a school which would supply the need of the community, and if the school is patronized as it deserves, it will thrive, and not only fill the full measure of the home people's views, but attract patronage from the surrounding country. For whatever is lacking in the institution, the people are to some extent responsible. He hoped that when the centennial anniversary of the school came to be observed, the seventy-fifth anniversary might be pointed to as an important turning point in the school,s history.
In closing, Mr. Campbell presented Hon. C. D. Hubbard, who delivered an interesting historical address.
Mr. Hubbard said Noah Linsly was a Connecticut man by abirth, who after graduating at Yale College came to Wheeling and entered into the practice of law. He died at the early age of 42, leaving a small gift to Yale, another to a friend, and all the remainder to a school to be located in Wheeling and known as the Lancasterian Academy. The property devised consisted of two farms and belongings, which have in all resulted in an income of $12,000. November 29, 1814, an act was passed by the Virginia Legislature incorporating the school with fifteen trustees.
At that time there were no churches in Wheeling, and to induce subscription to the school, the Trustees agreed to devote the building to divine worship at times. The did not have the effect. One farm was sold for $6,000. A building was completed in 1820, and in 1821 the first teacher's report was submitted. John F. Truax was the first teacher.
The Lancasterian system consisted of using the older pupils as monitors and teachers of the younger ones. Mr. Hubbard gave an interesting account of the origin of Lancaster's system. He said in 1838 he saw in New Haven a Lancasterian academy, the only one he ever saw except the one here. He read a graphic description by his brother, the late Col. H. B. Hubbard, of the method of teaching in Mr. Truax's school, interspersed with interesting comments of his own, which several times caused a smile, especially among the younger part of the audience.
In 1846, by a vote of the people, Ohio county and Kanawha county and one other adopted a free school system. This somewhat impaired the usefulness of the Lancasterian Academy. Part of the ground on which the school stood was sold, the site of the present building bought and the present house erected, and named the Linsly Institute. James Paull was the first teacher. When the new State of West Virginia was formed the government occupied the building for four years, so that in a sense West Virginia is a graduate of the Linsly. [Laughter and applause.]
Now the board has sufficient funds to found free scholarships, and this year six were awarded.
Mr. Hubbard closed with an eloquent plea for the Institute, and retired amid applause.
President Campbell, with some appropriate remarks, presented Hon. E. M. Turner, President of the West Virginia State University at Morgantown, who expressed his pleasure at participating in this celebration and his enjoyment of Mr. Hubbard's historical address.
Mr. Turner then made some remarks as to the necessity for just such schools as the Linsly Institute. It is a missing link in the system of public education in West Virginia. The high school or academy is a necessity. It furnishes properly equipped teachers, and it advances pupils so that they can enter the University. Besides the State Normal schools, the Linsly Institute, a school in Charleston and one other, there is not a school in West Virginia where a boy can secure a preparatory course for the University, and there should be one in every county.
Half education is a dangerous evil. We should get rid of the idea that when a boy is through the primary schools his education is complete. There are hundreds of people in West Virginia who cannot afford to go away to get a secondary education, and cannot get it at home; so that they are denied the advantages of the University. The State owes it to these people to give then this intermediate education. Mr. Turner advocated the abolition of the invested school fund and the expenditure of the three-fourths of a million dollars there locked up in the partial support of a high school in each county. He though, also, that the public grammar schools of Wheeling, ought to be graded, with a view to continuing the pupils' education in the Linsly Institute until they are ready to enter the University or Bethany or some other college. His remarks were practical and timely, and met with evident approval.
Mr. Campbell, in presenting the graduates, said he hoped there would come a day when a certificate that a boy had finished the course at the Linsly would be taken in the higher institutions of learning as sufficient evidence that he was prepared to enter college.
President Turner interrupted, saying that when a boy came to the State University with a diploma from the Linsly, he was admitted without examination.
Mt. Clifton E. Morris, of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, delivered an oration as his gradation effort, his theme being, "The power of education." His thoughts were good, his style graceful and forcible, and his delivery fine - a little lacking in gesture, but pleasing. His easy self-possession was an especially gratifying feature. He was heartily applauded and got flowers
Mr. Joseph A. Pollack, of this city, the only other graduate, read an essay on "The Spirit of the American People," which was beautifully written and well read. His paper was a tribute to the liberality. enterprise, pluck and independence of Americans. His bearing, like that of Mr. Morris, was self-possessed and manly, and spoke well for the training imparted at the Linsly. The class, in all but size was one of which any boys' school could not but be proud. Mr Pollack received in addition to the usual flowers, several packages of presents.
President Campbell presented the diplomas with some appropriate remarks.
Prof. Roemer announced that the successful applicants for the four free scholarships awarded this week were S. Percy Norton, of Wheeling, Earl Cooper, of Bellaire, Fred Etzler and Charles Hall, of Wheeling.
Prof. Roemer announced that the next term will open September 9, and made some pertinent remarks upon the usefulness of the Institute and its claims upon the public.
It was a matter of common remark that taken as a whole the exercises were the most interesting and enjoyable of the kind ever witnessed in the city.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and funded in part by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.