Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Early Naperville College Days

North Central College celebrates its 150th Anniversary in November. Originally founded as Plainfield College by the regional Evangelical Association, the school moved to Naperville in 1870, attracted by access to the railroad and some funding deals by the city.

Women as well as men were both students and faculty, but there were limits to the college’s progressiveness.

Local young people in those first Naperville classes included Guy Ellis Sabin and Hattie Peaslee. Hattie’s father served as DuPage County Coroner and operated a store on Chicago Avenue in the building just to the east of the old red Rosebud building.

The following are some excerpts from Guy’s diary while he was attending North Central College:

February 28, 1871: Went up to the depot at 2 o’clock to give a letter to Fred. Pres. Smith was there; can’t tell what he will say, as it was in study hours; expect a lecture.

April 5, 1871: Commenced school today in earnest. Prof. gave us 8 pages in Geometry. Smith gave us a lesson in Virgil. My book cost $1.10. Paid for my scholarships this noon, $6.00. Fred B. gave Hattie a cigar. She said she would smoke it.

January 30, 1873: Mary was called up before the “faculty” today for going to a dance last week. They sent away Hattie Peaslee. Prof. Heidner came up this p.m. to see the folks. The Faculty is thinking of expelling her.

The Mary mentioned above was Guy’s sister and her diary completes his college career with this entry:

Next fall he went back to College and boarded at Ellsworth with Wallace Bush. We drove to Naperville first year after leaving, and attended commencement, and had a picnic at Butterfield Lake.

“Studious” Guy married fellow student, Nannie Sevier, but unfortunately was killed at age 35 while responding as a volunteer fireman. “Wild” Hattie settled down enough to marry W.E. Moore and helped him pursue his Regenerator Furnace patent.

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