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It Happened in Oberlin

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

by Officer Bashshar Wiley,Oberlin Police Department

For the past 5 1/2 years I’ve been a police officer with the Oberlin Police Department. Prior to being employed by the city, I lived in Oberlin until the age of 11 when I moved to the Village of Grafton. Growing up, I became enamored with history due to an exceptional teacher I had while attending Open Door Christian School in Elyria. At the same time, I had a strong interest in law enforcement and investigations due to the fact my father worked as a detective after retiring at the rank of sergeant.

Wiley Photograph

Officer Bashshar Wiley (Right) and his father, retired Oberlin Police Sergeant and current Oberlin Municipal Court Deputy Bailiff, Bill Wiley.

 

My father, Bill Wiley, has seen just about everything there is during his law enforcement career which spans decades. This includes murders, arsons, sexual assaults, robberies, shootings and suicides. What is surprising about this fact is that my dad didn’t work for a police department in Cleveland, Akron, Lorain or Elyria. My dad spent 27 years as a police officer in Oberlin, Ohio from 1968-1995.

The quote “it happened in Oberlin” is something I heard many times over the years when my dad would share stories from his career. It’s important to note that while Oberlin is a very safe community, there have been incidents where some dangerous and even deadly occurrences have taken place. Although some of these incidents have been forgotten over time, it’s important to remember there is no such thing as a “crime free” community. In fact, cities and villages, no matter the size, do not have the ability to commit crimes. The unfortunate act of committing a crime is left to the resident or individual “passing through” the city or village to commit such an act.

As a 29 year-old man with interest in history and law enforcement, imagine my surprise when my father emailed me a month ago about an officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty way back in 1881 and completely forgotten about over time. This officer was Constable Franklin Stone, and he was shot and killed in Oberlin, Ohio.

The information provided to me by my dad began when retired Elyria Police Detective Alan Leiby was having a conversation with Oberlin author, Don Hilton, about police officers in Lorain County who had lost their lives in the line of duty. One of these officers, Constable Franklin Stone, was believed to be from Oberlin. Constable Stone’s name was not engraved on any memorial walls, nor was he acknowledged at any police memorials for fallen officers. There were no streets named after him or buildings constructed in his memory. In fact, there was no information at all about Constable Stone. At that point, the three of us were “all in” with conducting our own investigation into the life and unfortunate death of Constable Stone.

From three separate locations, my father, Alan Leiby and I each conducted our own investigation into the Constable Stone case. I don’t know how many times his name was typed into the “Google machine”, in a variety of ways, but anytime information was located, it was shared within our group. Although never in the same room together, we each found clues leading to just what took place back in 1881 on the streets of the “Village of Oberlin” with only a population of 3,242 according to the U.S. Census of 1880.

These “clues” consisted of old newspaper articles from The Oberlin Weekly News, book articles, Lorain County court records, gravesite information and even a map of Oberlin dated from 1876. Nothing was more exciting or rewarding than finding an old newspaper article describing the event. In fact, investigations are my favorite part of my job. Using the information we collected over the course of a two-week investigation, we were able to determine just what exactly took place.

Franklin Stone was born in Pittsfield Township on August 15, 1835. Stone lived there until 1866, when he moved to Iowa, where he remained for three years until relocating to Oberlin on South Professor Street. Stone worked as an agent for the United States Express Company and also owned/operated a carriage and transfer line. In the spring of 1881, Stone was elected marshal (constable) of Oberlin and New Russia Township.

Constable Franklin Stone succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained on May 12th, 1881, after a foot pursuit of a subject whom he was attempting to arrest at approximately 7:00 pm. Stone had arrested a man the previous day in an attempt to serve an assault warrant. The man initially cooperated with Constable Stone and agreed to accompany him to the police station, but then hesitated as they passed a blacksmith shop where his father and brother were working. The family members exited the shop and attacked Constable Stone, allowing the prisoner to escape. Constable Stone swore out warrants for the father and brother and then attempted to serve them the following day. As he attempted to arrest the brother, the man fled on foot with Constable Stone firing at him as he ran southbound on South Main Street. One of the rounds wounded the man, who ran to his home on Mechanic Street (modern day Locust Street). As Constable Stone reached the home, the man’s father stood in the doorway and shot him in the chest with a rifle, causing a serious wound. Constable Stone was taken to his home where he remained until passing away on June 4th, 1881. The man who shot Constable Stone was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was pardoned in 1891 due to his old age and frail condition. Franklin Stone is buried with his family at Westwood Cemetery.

Constable Stone is one of two Oberlin officers to lose their life in the line of duty. The other being Patrol Officer Robert Woodwall who died in a motor vehicle crash on March 10, 1971 when his patrol vehicle slid off the icy roadway and crashed into a tree on East Hamilton Street. Constable Franklin Stone will now be added to the Lorain County Police Memorial, Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial and his name will be engraved at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, Constable Stone’s memory could’ve been lost over the course of time if it wasn’t for the dedication and research of those involved. This includes the work of Maren McKee from the Oberlin Heritage Center who was able to provide me with additional articles describing the incident and even locating Constable Stone’s obituary.

Not only is this incident important to the history of Oberlin, but also Lorain County as Constable Stone is now the first recorded law enforcement death in the history of Lorain County.

I am very proud of the work which led to the rediscovery of Constable Stone and it will be one of the highlights of my career here in Oberlin. Although Constable Stone’s story was “lost” for 136 years, he can now be remembered and his life celebrated for his dedication to the safety of the citizens of Oberlin. Please share the story of Constable Stone, and when people ask, you can tell them “it happened in Oberlin.”

Constable Franklin Stone

1835-1881

Gone…but NOT FORGOTTEN

My SHA Experience

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

By Liz Schultz, Museum Education and Tour Coordinator

I wish to thank the staff, board, and supporters of the Oberlin Heritage Center for encouraging and supporting my participation in the three week workshop “Developing History Leaders @ Seminar for Historic Administration,” which ran from November 1 to November 22, 2014 in Indianapolis. Organized by the American Association for State and Local History, “SHA” is widely regarded as an exceptional training experience for individuals in the history museum field. For me, the experience was both informative and inspirational. I returned to the Heritage Center with a better understanding of the wider history museum field, the Heritage Center’s capacity to have a meaningful impact on individuals and the community at large, and my own abilities and responsibilities within the organization.

Black and White Group Shot

SHA Class of 2014

There were twenty-one participants in the seminar who came from varied history institutions, large and small, independent and government supported. It was a unique opportunity for me to share ideas and discuss challenges among peers. Daily morning and afternoon sessions were led by over 30 visiting leaders in the field, including CEOs of museums and managers of national organizations, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Council on Public History. It was amazing to meet so many passionate, experienced leaders. To a person, they were approachable and more than willing to answer questions and teach from their own past successes and failures.

The sessions were varied and intense. I include a quick list, although it does not do justice to the depth of our discussions:
Week 1: History Relevance Campaign, Changing Demography of America and Museum Visitation, Technology Trends, Models of Leadership, Strategic Thinking and Managing Change, Object-Based Experiences
Week 2: Exhibitions and Community, Fundraising and Boards, Earned Revenue and Entrepreneurship, Advocacy, Evaluation, Live Interpretation
Week 3: Engaging Communities, Financial Sustainability, Leadership & Followership, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Historic Preservation, Service to the Field

As much as I learned from the classroom sessions, I have to admit that the occasional evening dinners with the speakers and the few field trips we took were a welcome change of pace. (After all, I do work in an informal education setting). Either through the seminar or on our own time, I visited the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Museum, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indiana Children’s Museum, Indiana Landmarks, Indiana Medical History Museum, Indiana War Memorial, and Conner Prairie Interactive History Park’s Follow the North Star UGRR program. (Okay, I also visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

I came back with Powerpoint copies, journal articles, and a notebook full of notes, but what I really came back with is less obvious. I return with new understanding gained from the materials, talking with peers, and discussing multiple case studies. My professional network increased exponentially and I now know that whatever challenge I am facing, someone out there has the know-how to help out. I have color-coded lists of ideas – things I need to do, things I would like to see the Heritage Center try, ways I can improve my work habits and project planning, and lists of books I should read.

I also returned with a new frame of mind. I particularly enjoyed our sessions discussing the necessity of organizational flexibility and change, balancing different leadership strengths, and the need to step back and look at larger goals. I think it was great that I was able to participate in this just as the Heritage Center prepares to review its five-year strategic plan and launch into development of a new plan. I especially hope to weave in my new thinking about reaching new audiences and re-examining our interpretive goals and what exactly we want visitors to leave with.

The experience also gave me new perspective on the impact of historical organizations, and the Heritage Center in particular. There were many moments I was able to think to myself, “Ha! We’re already doing that.” Of course we’re not supposed to rest on our laurels, but it was still very encouraging knowing that we are already an organization that plans for long-term stability, tries new projects, realizes the importance of professional development, collaborates with community partners, shares significant stories, strives to be transparent, and is driven by community-minded, caring people.

Thank you to everyone who supported my participation in this program, whether through financial support, allowing me work time to go, taking on my daily duties, supervising projects, and leading tours in my absence.

I hope you are all able to attend my public program on December 17, 2014 (7:15 p.m., at Kendal at Oberlin) about my SHA experience and highlights of what I learned. I also had the opportunity to be a guest blogger during the SHA experience and you can read my post, “Ready for Change,” as well as other posts about the seminar.

Oberlin’s Business Growth As Seen In Oberlin High School Annuals

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

by Linda Gates, Front Office Employee

Hello everyone!  My name is Linda Gates. I work at OHC through the Mature Services program. Mature Services helps people 55 years old and over find jobs where we can learn new skills and get back into the working world. We are placed in non-profits. I have learned many new skills at OHC. So far I have learned new computer programs, GIANT MAIL PROJECTS, research, and oral history transcription. And I am still learning.

I have been working on an ongoing project for the Museum Education and Tour Coordinator for a year now. The project is this: documenting the advertisements in the O-High annuals (year books from Oberlin High School). The oldest annual in our collection is from 1900 and I have worked my way up through 1945. The spread sheet has this information: name of annual, year, the business name, description of the business, address and phone numbers, and slogans. It is interesting how the advertisements become more sophisticated through the years. Many businesses had their business phone and their home phones listed. It is interesting to see the growth of this area in the phone numbers. The numbers begin with just two digits, then three and four digits by 1945.

Here are a few that I have selected to share with you. Some are straight forward, some are funny, and some patriotic. I hope you enjoy them.

1900 Oberlin Coal and Lumber Co.
Leading Dealers in the best of all grades of hard and soft coal
Interior finish, doors, sash, blinds, shingles, lath, plaster, hair, etc.
Office Mills and Yard 271 S. Main St., Phone 52

1900 Lee, The Hack and Liveryman
Carriages, phaetons, buggies or traps for driving
“It is the season now to go, about the country high and low, and bring back pleasant time to show, ’tis well Lee’s Livery to know.”
32 E. College Street, Phone 77

1924 Jackson Broadwell Co.
Canfield Gasoline, Wm. Penn Motor Oils
N. Main Street (On the square)

1925 Dalton Bootery
“Tis a Feat to Fit Feet”

1925 Mary E. Vanderlip, Fireside Industries
Home-woven linen and wool in sport skirts, bags, scarfs, runners, table covers, luncheon sets and pillow covers
Berea, KY

1925 Gibson Brothers
Lunch, candy, ice cream, baked goods made daily

1925 Rent a Ford Car Rental
(first car rental ad in the annuals)

1925 Ford Ad-04

1925 Ford Advertisement
Source: oldcaradvertising.com

1925 Ohly’s Corner Drug Store
“The best in drugs. Phone us your wants. We deliver.”

1925 Weiss, The Tailor
“nuff said”

1925 The Yocom Brothers Company
Men’s and women’s clothing for vacation days: knickers, khaki blouses, corduroy and suede-like jackets, “Bradley Bathing Suits” new model, reasonable prices

Bradley Bathing Suit

 

Vintage Ad for Bradley Bathing Suits
Source: Vintage Ads, a Livejournal community

1925 Severy & Sage
“The Home of the Richelieu”
(Richelieu Foods is a private label food manufacturing company founded in 1862, headquartered in Randolph, Massachusetts.)

1927 J.V. Hill
Straw Hats in all the styles, knickers, dutch trousers, sport sweaters
“Watch our windows.”

1928 Henry G. Klermund
Authorized Ford, Lincoln, Fordson Agent

1929 Pfaff & Morris
“Sell Society Brand Clothes, Florsheim and Bostonian Shoes”

Society_Brand_Clothes_Colliers_1913_Oct_4_advertisement

1913 Advertisement for Society Brand Clothes
Source: Colliers Oct. 4, 1913 / Wikipedia

1929 Haislet’s Billiard Room
All leading brands of cigars, cigarettes, tobacco and pipes

1930 C. G. Hallauer E. E. West
This is a “Dairy Service Company”
Watch for”the Cap with the Red Tab”, Pasteurized Milk and Cream
135 S. Main Street. Call 284 for Daily Service. Quality-Courtesy Satisfaction

1930 Dalton & Crowell Bootery
Shoes Fitted by X-Ray
Fluoroscopes consist of an X-ray generating tube and a fluorescent screen. In use, the patient stands between the two, and an image of the patient’s body appears on the screen. Unlike still X-ray images made on photographic film, fluoroscopes allow doctors to observe a moving body in real time.
33 W. College Street

1938 Miles J. Watson
“See the New Frigidaire with the Meter-Miser”

1938 The Ben Franklin Store
Variety Store
(1st ad appearing in annuals)

1938 Oberlin Food Store
Authorized Birdseye Dealers – Groceries

1939 The Gas Company
Servel Electrolux, Gas Refrigerator, Silent – Economical – Permanent

1939 The Oberlin Printing Co.
“Anything in printing, from a card to a book.”

1939 Sprunger’s Hatchery and Poultry Farm
“Quality chicks from blood-tested matings”

1940 Apollo Theatre
“Always a Good Show”

1942 Glenn’s Tower Lunch
Glenn Butch Bahr
“Our Coke supply is limited, And sugar’s rationed, too; Best wishes, tho, are free, and “Here’s Luck” from us to you!”

1942 Locke’s
“Good Food – Your Best Defense”
(image of a soldier)

1943 The Oberlin Savings Bank Company
“Send a Letter to Hitler… You don’t have to write anything. All you have to do is sign your name and BUY A WAR BOND. Every War Bond you buy is bad news to him. Sent this message Regularly and Frequently. Member–Federal Deposit”

1944 The O-High 1944
This 1944 annual has an airplane on the cover.  The inside has two pages with O-High written out in stars and strips and also a war plane.  The whole yearbook is very patriotic and beautiful. Pictures of men in uniform introduce a new chapter.

Words of Wisdom for the Incoming Class

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

by Jen Graham, 2013-2014 Local History Corps AmeriCorps Member

I work in a basement. Don’t worry, though! It’s not nearly as dismal as it sounds. There is plenty of light, and I’m surrounded by objects and photographs older than my grandparents. But when you’re in a basement, surrounded by so much history, it can be difficult to keep up with what’s going on in the present. That’s why, yesterday, as I was leading a walking tour through Oberlin, I was shocked to be overtaken by what seemed like thousands of new faces.

My penchant for exaggerating numbers aside, the fact remains that summer is ending. Whether we like to admit it or not, it’s time for a new school year. A new school year means new college freshman and parents wandering aimlessly and asking questions. I’ve heard some complaints, but I love it. When you live somewhere full-time, it can be easy to take it for granted. Oberlin is a beautiful city and full of a rich, dynamic history.  Seeing the excitement of the new students and their families as they take in the sights and sounds of Oberlin reminds me that I’m pretty lucky to live here.

I wanted to give the new students some words of encouragement, but felt unqualified. After all, less than a decade ago, I was one of them. I wore a lanyard; I forgot my umbrella; I asked where the Conservatory was while standing inside the Conservatory… But! If the two years since my graduation have given me anything, they’ve given me unrestricted access to some of Oberlin College’s early documents. So, naturally, I turned to history to find the words.

In the Oberlin Heritage Center resource library, we have a small, yellow book. In crimson text, it reads: Students’ Handbook, Oberlin College, 1929-1930. The information inside is charming, if mostly irrelevant to today’s college experience. If you do not find it helpful, I hope you will at least find it funny, because, if I learned anything in college, it was the value of a shared laugh.

Without further ado, I present: College Advice from the Thirties.

They even included a helpful, fold-out map in the back!

They even included a helpful, fold-out map in the back!

“To the Class of 1933:

You will graduate in the very year in which Oberlin is to celebrate its one hundredth anniversary. That puts it up to us to give you the benefit of a hundred years of teaching experience; and it puts it up to you to prove worthy of a rich opportunity.

Oberlin is recognized nationally as one of the great colleges of the country: we count on you, giving as well as getting, to help us to maintain its high standard.

The best of luck to you, and, more than that, the best of planned and earned success!

Ernest H. Wilkins
President.”

“Whether or not you will be happy in your freshman year, and the years to follow, depends on the way in which you handle yourself. At the risk of seeming to give unrequested advice the following constructive suggestions are made:

  • Keep well physically; get plenty of sleep and enjoyable physical recreation; eat regularly and sanely.

  • Cultivate cheerful acquaintances; develop a few true friendships.

  • Be active in group social affairs; develop buoyant liking for people. Live in the world of people; learn to adapt yourself to people rather than avoid them.

  • Be thoughtful of other people, rather than thinking about yourself and your possible troubles. Project your thoughts outward—concerning other people and other situations—rather than inward, concerning yourself and your worries.

  • Live in the world of reality; face facts as they are rather than build pleasant air castles which will later bring you unhappiness…

  • Cultivate confidence in yourself without developing self-conceit.

  • Exercise your mind; stretch it for all you are worth. Hard work will not injure your mind.

  • Think for yourself; have your own opinions, but avoid obstinacy.

  • Remember…the upperclassmen will have greater respect for you if you act like grown men and women…People old enough for college are too old for childish antics.”

“Customs and Traditions:

  • Chapel services are held in Finney Chapel from 12:00 noon to 12:20 week days, except Monday and Saturday…It is traditional that the student body rise as the President enters and remain seated until he has left the platform. These meetings serve as a most effective means of achieving college unity. One carries away genuine inspiration and a sense of peace and quiet.

  • All freshman men count it a privilege to be graced with the traditional Frosh cap. Buy one early, for it must be worn every day except Sunday until spring.

  • An excellent chance is afforded first-year men to settle any minor differences with their 1932 superiors in the Annual Frosh-Soph Scrap early in the fall. Ropes are provided all men and after thrilling cat-calls from opposite sides of the football field, the men rush towards one another. The object is to tie their antagonists’ hands and feet and carry them off. Wear old clothes!

  • Early each fall freshman and sophomore women vie with one another in a good-natured “scrap” or contest to determine whether the Frosh women shall wear their distinctions until Thanksgiving or Christmas.

  • Beware of the fireplace in Peters Hall! Only juniors and seniors may stand on its sacred tiles…

  • Rallies or “pep meetings” are held before important football games. The speeches are rare and the singing boisterous.

  • Masculine vitality runs free and numerous stags given at the M.B. [Men’s Building]. Donuts and coffee, worked off by boxing and wrestling, make one sleep blissfully.

  • Senior distinctions and caps and gowns appear after spring vacation. From then on the Seniors rule the Campus with their dignity.

  • Since no autos are used by students, bicycles and roller skates have become a common means of travel.”

“There’s Mischief in this Man”: William Mallory and the Oberlin Collegiate Experience

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

by Jen Graham, Ohio History Service Corps member at the Oberlin Heritage Center

As a historian, I’ve fallen in love with letters. There is a striking liminality in reading someone else’s mail. It’s as if, by unfolding the delicate creases of yellowed paper and losing yourself in a sea of cursive, you unfold time as well. With each new reading, experiences of the past come alive in the present.  People long since dead become children again. Couples who grew old together find themselves back in the adorably awkward throws of courtship. Every casual misspelling, every witty retort, tells a story, and what began as a research topic ends up feeling more like a close friend.

My most recent foray into historical familiarity has been with a man named William Garfield Mallory (1880-1918).  William Mallory was born in Chautauqua County, New York, and entered the Oberlin Senior Academy in 1899.  He graduated from Oberlin with an A.B. in 1905 and a Masters in Physics in 1907.  In 1909, he married Mary K. Pope of Oberlin. Afterwards, he moved back to New York to study physics at Cornell and graduated with his Ph.D. in Physics in 1918.  He then accepted a teaching position in the Physics Department at Oberlin College, but, unfortunately, died only a few months later of influenza.

William Mallory, from the Oberlin Heritage Center collections

William Mallory
(courtesy of the Oberlin Heritage Center collection)

I first met William Mallory when Prue Richards, the Oberlin Heritage Center’s collections assistant, invited me to help her organize the letters in a writing box donated by his descendants, Marianne Caldwell and William Dickerman. Also donated with the box were a sled, a jacket, a portable stove, and myriad family photos. At first I was just taking the letters out of their envelopes, laying them flat, and placing each one in an archival plastic sleeve. I wasn’t reading them or transcribing them; I was just preparing them for storage in the collections.  Well, curiosity got the best of me.

What piqued my interest was not the overall story of his life. Those were just facts to me—information to help contextualize the task at hand—until I noticed a return address on a letter. That’s when I had my first moment with William Mallory. The letter was a note from Mallory to his cousin, Edith, penned while he was a student at Oberlin College. The address was 115 E. College St., which I recognized because, just over a century after that letter was written, I had lived right across the street in Tank Hall.

Spatially, our college experiences were beginning to merge. I had to get closer. I devoured that letter and the others with it. I followed Mallory through the Oberlin College “Hi-O-Hi” yearbooks like a lovesick teenager.  I found him on the track team in 1902. I found him included among the stony-faced members of the Phi Delta literary society in 1905. I even found his graduation picture and quote. Surrounded by “cheery-voiced” men and women with “an abhorrence of sin,” our straight-backed, intellectual William Mallory was described rather differently. Five words laid it all on the table: “There’s mischief in this man.”

William Malloyr's yearbook photo from the 1906 Hi-Oh-Hi Oberlin College annual

William Mallory’s senior yearbook photo
(from the 1906 Hi-O-Hi Oberlin College annual)

And it must have been true, because his accomplice in the prank described below, Merton Chamberlain, was accompanied by the quote, “A kinder gentleman treads not the earth.”

Into our freshman’s bed there strayed a tin can, and a spool of thread. Sometime after going to bed he was aroused, lighted a match and began looking about for “the devil,” as he said. Mr. Luckey came to the stair door to see what was the matter. My partner and I then jumped into bed, and let the fun go on.
— William Mallory to his grandparents February 17, 1905

Not simply a prankster, in another letter, Mallory casually poked fun at his roommate Laverne’s facial hair, writing:

“He is growing a mustache (comprised of 8 hairs, the color of road dust, and a stick of wax on each end.) He must spend 15 minutes daily cultivating it. What a waste of time!”
— William Mallory to his cousin Edith, 1900

William Mallory had a dry wit, but, like most Oberlin students, he worked hard. While he took a particular interest in the sciences, he also studied German, Latin, geometry, botany, history, and religion. Even reading his schedule was exhausting. He often rose before dawn to begin his studies, and worked or attended literary society meetings until 9:30 or 10:00 at night, only to repeat the process again the next day. He had laboratory sessions to attend, and various odd jobs in town to earn money for the rooms he rented. He joined a basketball team (“the best team in the college”) with some boys in his class and attended church four times on Sundays. Surprisingly, he somehow found time to sleep six to nine hours every night!

My favorite passage about his schoolwork concerned a history course Mallory took from Mrs. Adelia Field Johnston. Mrs. Johnston was first a graduate of Oberlin’s literary course for women in 1856. She then accepted a position as principal of the Oberlin Ladies’ Department. In 1878, Johnston was appointed the first female professor in Oberlin, and she later became the first woman on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees.  Of her class Mallory writes:

History is my most enjoyable course now. Mrs. Johnston gives us outlines of her lectures, then we listen, and write them out from memory. Because it compels attention, as well as because the course itself is valuable, I like it.
— William Mallory to Edith (undated)

A similar highlight in the collection of William Mallory’s letters (and in any account of Oberlin’s past) has to do with girls. In describing Oberlin to his cousin Edith in 1900, he lamented that “the rules are very strict about fooling with the girls. Cannot stay at the boarding house after 7 P.M. Must not speak to them after meals on Sundays, etc. etc.” Even still, despite his busy schedule and all the restrictions, he managed to find time to visit the ladies once a week. By the end of that first year, he already had favorites. As students were leaving for spring break, he wrote to William Wood, his grandfather: “There are only two girls left. But as they are the two best ones of the lot, I could stand it, if the other boys did not think so too.”

He didn’t just talk about women, though. In multiple letters, Mallory mentioned speaking with people of different races. Whether it was the African-American student who won an oratory contest in the Academy, or John Williams who spoke at a party of the treatment of African-Americans in the southern United States, or two Chinese boys who had survived the Boxer Rebellion, these encounters with such a diverse community expanded William Mallory’s horizons and opened his mind to new experiences.

William Mallory also encountered all the diversity of weather northeastern Ohio has to offer. His meteorological observations were a delight to read. I remember last October when residual storms from Hurricane Sandy blew off part of the roof of the Science Center on campus. Once, when driving into Cleveland, I experienced four different weather patterns on my commute. It wasn’t so different for William Mallory in the early 20th century.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, but it snowed hard in the evening. The weather changes very quickly.
— William Mallory to his grandfather April 4 1900

Once in a while we have a day with blue sky, but twice in a while we have dark, rainy days…The wind blew down the flag pole, on the campus, and took off a good many large limbs, and more small ones. But the next morning the sun came up clear, there was a little breeze from the north, and we thought we had a promise of fair weather, but now rubber boots are the proper things to wear again.
–William Mallory to his grandparents, 1903

The more I got to know William Mallory, the less I was prepared to stumble across the last two letters from Oberlin, dated October 6, 1918. One was from William Mallory to his mother in New York, wishing her a happy birthday, and describing a little of his new teaching job at Oberlin. He was busy because the laboratory was not in very good shape. There were a surprising number of young women in his classes, he declared, though “not all of them give early promise of being great scholars of Physics.” He wondered if some of the young ladies might not “drop out soon.”

The other letter was from his ten-year-old daughter, Stella Irene, to her grandmother, also wishing her a happy birthday. In the letter, little Stella Irene wrote in the large, careful print of a child about her school, her younger brother, Robert, a pet chicken, and her father’s health. “Dada is much better,” she said. “He is so he can get up and around some. A lot better than when we came.”

Sadly, not long after these letters were posted, William Mallory was dead. He was 38 years old. Out of respect for his memory, classes at Oberlin College were cancelled on October 21, 1918 for his funeral. He was survived by his wife, Mary Pope Mallory, and his two children, Stella Irene, age 10, and Robert, age 5.

William Mallory with his wife, Mary, daughter, Stella Irene, and son, Robert.

William Mallory with his wife, Mary, daughter, Stella Irene, and son, Robert
(from the Oberlin Heritage Center collection)

William Mallory’s letters are important, not simply for their sentimental value. They tell a story of a time in Oberlin when strict rules for female students were beginning to loosen, when people of all races came together to talk about their experiences, and when World War I took control of the community’s routine. The letters, photographs, and objects donated by Marianne Caldwell and William Dickerman add important dimension, not only to the name William Mallory, but to the already multi-faceted story of Oberlin as well.