This research trip actually started over the summer while I was looking up a few records to verify some information on my Meharry line. In mid-August, I came across a sentence in H.W. Beckwith's History of Montgomery County, Indiana (Chicago, HH Hill, 1880). It said:
[Hugh Meharry] endowed a $10,000 chair in the Bloomington (Illinois) Wesleyan University...With such a large dollar amount in the later half of the 19th century, I figured there had to be a record of this donation somewhere. Even today, a donation of that size merits some mention in official records. So, I looked up the website for Illinois Wesleyan University. I thought about where this record would most likely be kept, and tried following a few of the links on the site for historical information. The school's history page said that the university was founded in 1850; so my theory was strengthened a bit knowing that the donation was made within the school's first three decades. Further poking around wasn't very successful. I then thought about who would be the best person to contact for help with this question. The only contact details that I could find that might be helpful was for the IWU Alumni Association. Without any indication of what they might be able to find for me, I sent the Alumni Association an email with my question. I wrote:
I'm doing some genealogical research and found a connection to the university that I would like to research further. According to H.W. Beckwith's "History of Montgomery County, Indiana" (Chicago, HH Hill, 1880), my 3rd-great granduncle, Hugh Meharry endowed a $10,000 chair at the university. Hugh's biographical entry in this book is reprinted online at the Montgomery County, Indiana, US GenWeb website (http://ingenweb.org/
I figure that with such a large amount in the first few decades of the university's existence, there must be a record of the donation somewhere in the university archives. Can you point me to the correct person to contact to verify this donation and possibly to obtain a photocopy of the record? Thank you in advance for your time.The first reply that I got back was from the association wondering if perhaps I had misinterpreted what I read and if maybe my request should go to the Indiana Wesleyan University instead. Rereading my original question today, it's pretty easy to see where the confusion might lie. When I replied to verify that it was the Illinois university that I was interested in and included a copy/paste of the text from the book (as is shown near the top of this post), my question was forwarded to Professor Meg Miner, University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian. On August 31, she sent me a note to say that they had found a record of the donation in the 1875 Alumni Journal and sent me a link to a typewritten transcription of the original document. She also mentioned that there were a couple of other notes in the original documents that related to Hugh Meharry. After a little more correspondence, we set up an appointment on Monday morning October 4 for me to see and photograph the original records.
Resolutions on death of Father Meharry:The following page consists of a motion by Brother Kumler to form a committee to handle the disposition of the Meharry farm in Kumler, Illinois, which is about 30 miles to the southeast of Bloomington and of about 40 acres of land in Belleflower Township. After some improvements were made, the lands were rented to different tenants by the end of 1885.
Rev Peter Wallace presented the following which was adopted
Whereas, Hon Hugh Meharry a warm friend and liberal patron of the University departed this life Dec 25th 1880 in Bement Illinois therefore,
Resolved - that we express our high appreciation of his sterling Christian character and his generous gifts to the cause of education and the Church
Resolved - that we extender to the bereaved friends our heartfelt sympathy and prayers commending them for true consolation to the Father of all our Mercies.
Resolved - that these resolutions be spread upon the minutes of the Board of Trustees and Visitors. That copies be furnished the city papers and a copy be sent to the bereaved family.
After photographing all of the pertinent pages of records, I asked for one last photograph of my host for this visit, Professor Meg Miner.
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The marker above Hugh's grave was one of the larger memorials in the cemetery. Each of the four sides of the memorial listed different members of the family with smaller headstones surrounding it denoting the grave locations.
As I was putting my things away and preparing to leave, another truck with a small excavator pulled in to the cemetery. I had been alone in the cemetery for most of my time there, but was a little wary of every vehicle (including the department of transportation truck that was working on filling potholes) that drove by and/or stopped just outside the cemetery for whatever reason. My mother had told me that when she visited this cemetery a few years ago, the caretaker was a bit protective and wanted to ensure that visitors were family relations and not vandals. I had come prepared on this trip with printouts of pedigree and descendancy reports showing my direct connection to several of the graves in the cemetery. So, with this evidence in hand, I walked over to the newly arrived truck and introduced myself.
I met Roger Kunkel who was getting ready to dig a fresh grave for a burial on October 5, the day after I was there. I'm very glad that I made the time to greet him, as he had a few more family stories for me. Now if only I had thought to turn on my MP3 voice recorder before I introduced myself... Oh well. Roger asked me if I knew about Meharry Grove. I had heard about it before, and written about it here on this blog a little over a year ago, but I haven't been able to pin down exactly where it was. He wasn't sure either but pointed to a few locations where some people thought it might be. Toward the end of our conversation, he mentioned that he had found a large stack of newspapers from right around the turn of the century and rather than throw them away, the newspapers were taken to a couple of local historians for safe keeping. Those historians had transcribed many of the stories within the papers and printed a book from them titled According to the Record: Selected articles from the New Richmond Record 1903-1904 (2006, Twin Publications, West Lafayette, Indiana; ISBN 978-0-9723558-2-7). Roger said that I could have a copy for $21, so I made sure to get his mailing address and forwarded a check after I got home.