Through the Eyes of a Child – Sesquicentennial snapshot

The following comments by Charles Blanchard, who would have been 12 years-old when his father, Jonathan, assumed the presidency in 1860, are taken from David Maas’ Wheaton College Awakenings, 1853-1873.

“That fall [1860] I entered the academy, and my father being president of the institution, of course I was in touch with all college affairs. The home in which we lived was a small house one block south of the southwest corner of the campus, now owned and occupied by Mr. E.P. Webster, an alumnus. It is, as all who know it will remember, a very small house. My father had his study in the college building. There was only one building then and it was a very small part of what the central building is now. My father’s study was in the southwest corner. On the floor there were four class rooms. The college library was in my father’s office, and there was ample room for it there. I remember that when I was a child my father frequently wrote very late at night and that a light from his office window shown out in the dark.

My father’s life in the college was as my own has been. He taught the seniors and gave himself afternoons, Saturdays, Sabbaths, summer and winter, to the outside interests of the college. In this way funds were secured and students were attracted.”

Wheaton College, 1860“We, that is, the family, arrived in Wheaton on an April day in the year 1860. The thunder of the guns about Fort Sumter was only a year away yet there was no hint of that dread concert in the air or the earth of that April morning. As already intimated the town was unspeakably dreary. The cold damp of the spring rains, the low marshy grounds the inferior huddle of houses, the single college building standing alone in the midst of its campus, the boarding house at the foot of the hill, cheaply constructed altogether was wearisome and dreary.

My father had been at work since the preceding January. I marvel now as I think of his faith and courage and cheer as in those unfavorable circumstances, with almost no resources, he pushed on the work of empire-building. Not a material empire but a spiritual kingdom founded in the soul of men, to outlast the mountains and the stars.”

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