I was born January 19, 1888, on a small farm near Ladora, Iowa County, Iowa. My first nine years were care free, with no responsibility except school and play. In the spring of my tenth year my mother died, and there being a large family it was difficult for father to keep the children together thereafter. In the following fall I, with two younger brothers and a sister, was placed in the care of the Iowa Children’s Home at Des Moines, Iowa. In the following February I was “bound out” to a big ranchman in South Dakota.

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Tagged as a sack of sugar, stating my name, from whence I came, and my destination, I was ushered aboard a Milwaukee train, only too soon to reach my new home on the Dakota prairie. Very soon after my arrival upon the ranch, I was informed that the purpose of my presence there was not for ornament but for work. I also very early realized that my portion of the work was not imaginary. During the second summer, my assignment was to milk ten cows twice daily and to spend the rest of the eighteen hours of the working day in the harvest 61 field. I did not, however, complain about the amount of work that I had to do, but I did object to the kind of treatment that was accorded to me. Being but eleven years of age, I did not have the judgment of a man, and I suffered for it. I shall carry through life scars of that old raw-hide whip,—and they did not come by chance. Believing that I was not adapted to ranch life, I decided to take an extended leave of absence. On the 5th of August, 1899, before daybreak, unknown to anybody, I started on my journey. All day under a scorching sun I tramped the dusty road westward across the prairie. Tired, penniless, and half starved, I begged food and lodging of a family late in the evening. I told them my story, and winning their sympathy I remained with them several weeks.

After an absence of about two years, I returned to Iowa County, only to find that my old home was no more. My father, older brother, and sisters were each supporting themselves, and I must do likewise. For seven years I made my home with an old soldier, who lived near Ladora. I worked during each summer, and very profitably spent the short winters at the yellow schoolhouse located in the woods. In the fall of my eighteenth year I entered the high school at Ladora. The school was small, not accredited, hence the advantages offered were much inferior to those of larger schools. Believing that I could make better progress elsewhere, I entered the Iowa Wesleyan Academy in the fall of 1907. It 62 was here that I first came in contact with the real struggle for an education. I had often dreamed of college life and its opportunities. Now my visions were beginning to be realized, but not without effort. I entered the Iowa Wesleyan Academy with three hundred dollars and an ambition; after graduating from the Academy, I had only an ambition. My money was gone, and there were four years of college life yet before me; but my ambition was only bigger. My willingness to work and my good health were the factors which made my education possible.

Upon my arrival at Wesleyan I had a very cordial introduction to a Hershey Hall dishpan and we very soon became intimate. In addition to the dishwashing, I mowed lawns, tended furnaces, swept houses, and even did family washing. I was there for an education and determined to get it at any cost. During my first summer vacation I followed the worn trail of the canvasser, to return with some valuable experience and little profit. During my second summer I was given employment with a Chautauqua system as tent hand. I am now serving my fifth consecutive season, having been promoted to advance diplomat. The Chautauqua affords employment for about ten weeks during the summer and an opportunity to hear the very best talent on the American platform. The experience in Chautauqua work has been worth as much to me as two years or more in college. I value very highly indeed the privilege 63 of coming into personal contact with such men as Senator Gore, and Hon. W. J. Bryan.

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While listening to these masters of the platform, I conceived the idea of lecturing on my own account. Realizing my lack of ability to compile an original lecture, I secured a note-book, wrote down everything I heard. After collecting for two summers I arranged my stories in series under the caption of “Chips and Whittlings.” I had printed a lot of advertising material, and posing as a humorist, I began my platform career. Some of my friends laughed at my undertaking, while others commended my nerve; but it was easier bread and butter than sawing wood. I had to do one or the other, so I stuck to the platform. Without serious neglect to my college work, I had by the end of that school year realized a profit of three hundred dollars above expenses. After another summer I compiled another lecture entitled “Scrap Iron.” My people did not fall over each other to hear my lectures, yet I usually made good and have even filled a number of return dates.

I cannot remember when or how I received the inspiration to attain a college education. I entered with a determination to win; to win not only a degree, but every experience possible. In many ways I have won, but not because of my ability; only by hard and persistent work. Three times I represented Iowa Wesleyan in debate; twenty-two times I fought for her laurels upon the gridiron; and, last 64 year, representing Wesleyan in the Iowa State Oratorical Contest, I carried the purple and white to victory. I served as president of the Hamline Literary Society; was for three years a member of the Y. M. C. A. Cabinet, one year as president; a member of a Gospel team; and a student member of the Forensic League. In my sophomore year I won the debating medal. In my senior year I was awarded the national degree in the Pi Kappa Delta, an honorary forensic fraternity. I was charter member of the Sigma Kappa Zeta fraternity, which, during my senior year, was granted a charter by the national Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. My activities were not, however, confined to college alone.

My college life at Iowa Wesleyan has truly been full of many and varied experiences. Believing that old motto, “We are rewarded according to our efforts,” I resolved always to do my best, and the results have not been disappointing. While studying constitutes a big part of college, yet I am convinced that books alone are by no means all of an education. In college I have ever striven for the practical. I now possess two degrees, one from the college of Liberal Arts, the other from the college of “Hard Knocks.” I know what I have; but more than that, I know the price that it cost. I pride myself as being one of the fortunates who has worked his entire way through college.

Batavia, Iowa.


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When I was nineteen years of age, I concluded that it was no longer right to ask my father to continue my support while I was a college student. It simply meant going in debt for him. I preferred, if it were necessary, to assume the debt myself. I then began to plan to maintain myself during the remaining five years of my collegiate and professional courses.

I was able to do this without any particular difficulty. I do not have the slightest reason to pose as a hero in the transaction. I made considerable money by securing the agency for a photograph gallery in a large city not very distant from the College. I added to my funds likewise by getting out certain advertisements for a lecture course, being paid a fair commission on all advertisements secured. I preached occasionally also as a supply and received some remuneration for this work. In addition to these three sources of income, in my senior year I received some prize money, which was a very great help. My last two years in the theological seminary I was able to support myself entirely and 66 to add very largely to my working library by taking the pastorate of a small church. Indeed, while I was in the seminary, I managed to pay off all the debt that I had incurred while going through college.

It is my deliberate opinion that the poor boy in America has even a better chance for an education than the wealthy boy. This observation grows out of the experience of my student days, and likewise out of my experience as a college president. The poor boy is much more likely to present over the counter those higher purchase-prices than are absolutely necessary in the securing of an education. Given strong purpose and good health, there is no reason why the average American youth should not go through college.

My final word on the subject would be this: Some young fellows who “work their way” through are a little too apt to do considerable whining and to put themselves in the attitude of claiming sympathy. I do not believe that this mood has a good effect on character. A smiling self-reliance will represent a much more winning attitude.