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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 10:

Galesville University

-As transcribed from pages 194 - 196


It was a pleasant May morning that a child stepped across the threshold of the assembly room in the old court house at Galesville.

Rude wooden benches filled the main floor; the judge's desk was at the opposite end; connected with this was a long narrow desk, inclosing a square space, with an entrance, middle front; within the inclosure a pine table. 

The few young people present sat at the long desk.  Beside the table sat Samuel Fallows, a young man of brilliant promise, secured to take charge of instruction in the new institution.

School had commenced the day before.  There was a recitation in Latin.  The professor turned to the child repeating the questions he had just asked of the class.  His kindly manner brought reply, for every word had been indelibly impressed.

He took the new books - National Fifth Reader, Davies' Arithmetic, Clark's English, and Andrew's and Stoddard's Latin Grammar - writing within her name and the date, May 18, 1859.

That Latin Grammar, solid and hard, was quite unlike the modern "Easy Lessons," but the children sang the declensions and conjugations about their play and received no  permanent injury, wondering at the greater difficulty experienced by those older.

an accurate list of those attending the first term has not been obtained.  We have always recalled the number as sixteen.  Of this number were Addie Marsh Kneeland and Geo. Gale, yet residing at Galesville.

Those were the days of "flowing" sleeves, "low neck" and ample crinoline.  The hair drooped low over the ears in "basket" braids, and twenty strands were announced as a triumph one morning.  No baneaux or jewels, but graceful sprays of wild flowers.  They were pretty girls.

Elvina Swift, later Mrs. Farrington of Mondovi, and Emma Clark (Mrs. R. A. Odell) were sweet singers, alto and soprano.  Their voices, hushed long years ago, I can hear yet trilling the "Rain Upon the Roof."

One beautiful autumn day in the second term, rooms having been made  ready, we marched in a body the length of the village to the permanent building. 

One can remember many things with amusement.  So has the world always looked back, as it will to the end of time.  The jokes that pleased our grandfathers grace as new the pages of the latest college journals.  Professor Fallows, questioned at the close of the first day, is said to have remarked:  "We have done better than old Harvard at its beginning."

Of Bishop Fallows we all know.  In this year of 1912, strong and magnetic in humor or in pathos, he moves his audience as of old.  The inspiration of such a personality was of more worth than many text books.

The new country contained individuals rarely endowed in intellect and thoroughly trained.  Shabby as to clothes, and roughened by the hardships of pioneering, they were, nevertheless, an able resource when there was need.

Professor Kottinger, author of books in use in the schools of his native Switzerland, was most proficient in Hebrew, as well as several other languages, while his hands could draw rare harmony from piano or violin.

Professor Cheney, of Middlebury, Vt., after driving a breaking team of oxen all day, could help many a student over the hard places, perfectly conversant with classic, science or mathematics.

Meager as were the advantages, no on could estimate what they meant to the new country.  Older men came to make good as best they might that the advance of civilization should not find them wanting.  That the child of ten should be classmates of the man of forty years was only example of the wide range that sought instruction.

Numbers and influence were steadily increasing when the Civil War bade all stand still, and the boys hastened bravely to their country's defense.

In later years, when the older colleges began to consider co-education, we realized upon what progressive ideas our training had been founded.

We girls were always welcomed to the boys' ball games.  Those who wished were privileged to take part in oration or debate.  Fine courtesy toward each other prevailed.

The Indian trails were well worn, their corn fields deserted at the coming of the white man yet well marked.  The surroundings were not like those left in Easter homes, but I can recall no expression of ill-natured comparison. 

The life record of many is already complete, and across its page has been written success.  Light-hearted and happy, as youth ought to be, I think an unusual earnestness pervaded that little band; upon them, the impress of responsibility, that they were in the making of a future for others, as well as directing their own lives.  Over all, the spirit of the pioneer.

(Written at Durand, Wisconsin, Nov. 8, 1912, by Flora Luce Dorwin.)




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