The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 18.


Prof. Henry Baker Brown's Own Story of How He Came To Come To Valparaiso and Build School

Sometime in June, I believe, in the year 1873, I visited Valparaiso to determine whether it would be a desirable location for a school having in mind the establishment of a normal school somewhere. I met the board of trustees of the Valparaiso Male and Female College, and after a thorough investigation I returned to my home at Republica, Ohio, without having entered into any agreement.

However, a correspondence was kept up until along in July, 1873, and I decided to come to Valparaiso. From that day whatever time I had of my own was devoted to the starting of the school. This, we decided, should be September 16.

I reached Valparaiso the first of September, 1873. Mr. B. F. Perrine has already preceded me here, and together we began the work of the school, he taking charge of the boarding department and acting as instructor in history. The county institute was then in session. We gave such time as we had to those sessions in order to become acquainted with the city and teachers.

The first work I had done in August was to employ some half dozen boys to pull up the weeds in the college campus; then the cleaning of the buildings began. Looking out for students in real earnest every moment of our time. A Mr. Fifield and myself visited the various families in the county and solicited students. This was done in a most effective and thorough manner. The building was prepared and the boarding house opened. On September 16, 1873, school began with thirty-five students in attendance, four teachers and four courses of study, preparatory, music, teachers and scientific.

The teachers were Mr. M. E. Bogarte, Mr. B. F. Perrine, Miss Mattie E. Baldwin and Miss Flo Hutchinson. In the music department we had only one piano and as I remember it now two students. Perhaps half of the students were from surrounding counties, the other half from Valparaiso. From this time on the work was pushed with as much earnestness as possible. The enrollment the first term numbered 61 different students, the second term 90. During this time advertising matter had been sent out to various places and the third term the enrollment was 172.

Perhaps the proudest moment of the my life in the school was at the opening of this third term, after the train reached Valparaiso over the Pennsylvania, about three o'clock in the afternoon this being the only railroad then passing through Valparaiso. I had been busy at the college until after this train had passed. We had during the day, half a dozen students, but I was not expecting very many because of the fact that it was the springtime of the third year.

When I reached where the Commercial building now stands, I looked across the ravine (Where no buildings then stood) and saw what appeared to me about a million students coming. The omnibus was filled with students inside and out, and a long row of young people were coming up what was then the old sidewalk crossing the ravine at the corner of what are now Union and Morgan streets. Of course at that time there were no buildings on the "Hill."

I returned to the college building and posted myself where I might meet those students in a way to make them think it was no more than I expected. At that time I had no office excepting my own private room, the northeast corner of the old college building. I explained to them that we would have accommodations for them at once. We ordered two livery teams and took the students to various places in town where we had been promised rooms if we needed them. Whether I slept that night I do not know; but at any rate we were ready for the opening of the term in the morning at 8:30. There has never been a time since when it seemed that we had so many students as that morning. Over and over I kept thinking how remarkable it was.

At the opening of the school we had as recitation rooms what is now called Elocution hall. It was two-thirds as large as it is at the present time. The entrance was the same as it is now and on either side of the entrance was a small room. The one on the left was used as a music department and the one on the right was used for an office, but not having any need for an office we used it for the wood house. Above these rooms were small rooms. These rooms together with what is now known as Room 5 were used for recitation purposes. What was latter known as Crescent hall was used by the elocution department and for the "actual business" in the commercial department.

Miss Baldwin was to teach rhetoric, Latin, literature and I don't know how much else. Mr. Perrine taught history. Mr. Bogarte commenced with penmanship, and I was to teach the rest. At the close of the first day, Mr. Bogarte said he thought my work would be too heavy and he would be glad to relieve me by taking my work in elocution, which he did, and soon after he took over the work in the commercial department. At any rate the first year proved to be a very successful one, and a happy one as we looked at things at that time.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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