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Encyclopedia of Baldwin Wallace University History: 1850s

An Index of Historical Content and Their Sources

1856: Creation of Baldwin University

Citation: Kieth A. Peppers, 2020.


The educational needs of the surrounding community were evolving and alternatives to tuition-based preparatory schools, i.e. public schools, were springing up at a steady rate. In light of stagnate enrollment and the institutes inevitable decline, the trustees re-envisioned the school as having a collegiate focus. A charter and subsequent renaming to Baldwin University took effect in January 1856. As a center for higher education, BU quickly grew to occupy several classrooms, dormitories, and other early structures south of what we associate with campus today. These would have stood south of the Triangle where Coe Lake and the Metroparks are today. Student life and social norms were quite different by today’s standards. Male and female students were not to speak. Dorms were warmed by firewood collected and cut by students. The consumption of alcohol and the patronage of establishments that served it was prohibited. Church attendance was required as a means of imparting the Christian values John Baldwin held so dear. Attendance after the first year under the new name rose to two-hundred and seventy students.

1858: German Department established at Baldwin University

Citation: Victor Wilker, "History of the Gordian Literary Society," 1920-21 Grindstone, page 120.

Due to the efforts of Rev. Jacob Rothweiler, a German Department was opened in Baldwin University in August, 1858, with one instructor, Mr. O. Henning, and twelve German Students. An endowment of $10,000 for the department had been contributed by the German Methodists. The students resided with their instructor in Baldwin Hall, which had been donated to the Germans by Mr. John Baldwin, Sr. At the close of the year, Prof. Henning resigned and Rev. Jacob Rothweiler succeeded him. 

1859: First Bachelor of Arts Awarded

Citation: Kieth A. Peppers, 2020.


BW’s reputation as a liberal arts college can be traced back to the early years of the institution. The first recipients of the Bachelor of Arts received their degrees in 1859. What coursework this degree entailed is a bit vague. The names of the first recipients were recorded as being Adam C. Barnes, George N. Huckens, Ira H. Pool, and Harriet P. Gee. Baldwin, John Baldwin Jr, son of John Baldwin Sr., and served as mayor of Berea. Barnes became a reverend and married classmate, Harriet Gee. Lieutenants Huckens and Pool met their end during the Civil War: the former from disease in 1862, the latter from a musket ball in 1864.

1859: Germania Literary Society founded

Citation: Ryan Cross and Debby Vespoli, "Through the Years...," Pursuit, Fall, 1995, vol. 27, no. 1, pg. 3.

The Germania Literary Society was the first male literary society at B-W, founded in 1859. It later became Phi Kappa Tau.