"In This and Some neighboring Counties"

John Dudley ’95

QUALIFYING A "REGION" in terms of Hampden-Sydney College's influence is tricky (the title is Stanhope Smith's definition in his first advertisement for the College). It can justifiably extend anywhere from Prince Einsettextdward County to the entire southeastern United States. Realistically, though, our sphere of influence extends about 200 miles in each direction. Folks in Roanoke know us, for example, but by the time you get to the border with Tennessee they are less familiar with the Garnet and Grey.

Regardless of specific boundaries, Hampden-Sydney College has been instrumental in building an intellectual foundation for its alumni to think critically and to lead engaging lives.

Virginia is steeped in history. From the Jamestown Settlement and Monticello to the Capital of the Confederacy and the Civil Rights movement, the Old Dominion has played a role, and Hampden-Sydney College has been here for nearly all of it.

Farmville and Prince Edward County have seen the economic tide come and go over the centuries. Thanks to the Appomattox River and the arrival of the railroad, the greater community has developed a modest manufacturing infrastructure. Of course, no one has shipped goods down the river for generations and the last train left Farmville years ago. Various industries remain, but the local community relies heavily on educational institutions such as Hampden-Sydney College to contribute culturally and economically to the area. Not only does the College provide a steady wage (at least in recent history) to the faculty and staff, but also students stimulate the economy by shopping in local stores and eating in local restaurants.

At a very basic level, it is safe say that, without Hampden-Sydney College, Prince Edward County and the surrounding communities would not be what they are today. Farmville would be a mere shadow of itself without the College (and certainly without Longwood University). Economics Professor Ken Townsend, who is widely versed in the ways of econometric modeling, has provided us with the evidence to show the tremendous financial influence of Hampden-Sydney College on the region.

Using an input-output modeling technique developed by Nobel-prize-winning economist Vassily Leontief, Dr. Townsend determined that if the College’s annual budget were removed from the regional economy, Farmville, Prince Edward County, and the seven surrounding counties would suffer an annual loss (direct, indirect, and induced) of $86.4 million. Losses from labor income would total $36.8 million and taxes not collected (state, local, and federal) would reach $8.1 million.

Nearly every alumnus falls in love with Hampden-Sydney (there must be one who has not), but some develop an affection for the greater community and choose to remain here. For example, Robert C. Wade ’91, who came to Hampden-Sydney from Bon Air, dreamed as a student of turning the old Worsham School into a medical clinic; he is now a family physician in Farmville. Harlan L. Horton ’81 came from Lubbock, Texas, and now has a law office on Main Street. Dr. Marvin Scott ’59 has taught biology at Longwood University for decades. These graduates, and scores more not listed here, contribute intellectually and financially to the community.Venable

Union Theological Seminary, an outgrowth of Hampden-Sydney's religion department, has been the dominant resource for Southern Presbyterians for nearly two centuries.

THE COLLEGE’S REGIONAL INFLUENCE took true hold in the 1820s, with the arrival of an eager young man from Vermont, Jonathan P. Cushing, as a science professor and later as President. His energy revitalized a tired college, firming up the curriculum, raising money to build what is now named Cushing Hall in his honor, founding the Virginia Historical Society, and encouraging the establishment of the Union Theological Seminary. The stronger curriculum raised respect for the College; the new building made it attractive to students; the Historical Society has been in the forefront of educational and preservation programs for the entire South; and the Seminary has furnished Presbyterian ministers to the entire nation for nearly two centuries. Twenty years later, a group of doctors used the Hampden-Sydney charter to found the Medical College of Virginia, still one of the premier institutions in the South.

OUR CENTRAL VIRGINIA LOCATION means Hampden-Sydney has been within a day’s horseback ride (about 21 miles) of many historical events. Some of the College’s Founding Fathers were Founding Fathers of our country, as well. As most Americans—and certainly any Virginians worth their salt—know, Virginia played a large role in the Civil War.

Among the many alumni involved in secessionist movements throughout the South, Col. Thomas Flournoy 1831 was a lawyer, U.S. Congressman, and leader at the Virginia Secession Convention where he may have met John S. Preston 1824, a South Carolina State Senator who had been sent to help persuade Virginians to join the Confederacy.

Sitting squarely on the path between the capital of the Confederacy and the site of the final surrender in Appomattox Court House, Hampden-Sydney College was destined to be involved. Thankfully little fighting occurred in the vicinity, but our students were eager to be enlist. John Brinkley ’59 says in On this Hill, “Thucydides tells us that inexperience makes young men eager for war. This sober observation becomes a grotesque understatement when the youth are Southern college boys.”

Southern historian and president of the University of Richmond, Edward Ayers, puts their eagerness in historical context: “College students were some of the most vociferous supporters of seccession. When you look at the situation from their perspective, you see that their entire experience was the 1850s—one crisis after another. It is hardly surprising that they wanted to show the North how they felt. That, and the fact that young men are eager to show their manliness, gives us some understanding why college students of the era played a vocal role in the secession movement.”

As the reality of impending war grew in early 1861, students at Hampden-Sydney formed a fighting unit and prepared as best they could for duty. Third Lieutenant Tazewell McCorkle 1861 recalled in the 1906 Kaleidoscope, “The company became very popular, and was soon the ‘pet’ of ‘the Hill.’ The ladies became enthusiastic recruiting agents, and every fellow’s sweetheart saw to it that his name was enrolled. We were invited to drill in the yards of the homes on ‘the Hill’ and the girls would gather to applaud, and furnish refreshments.” The author later notes: “It is amusing what limited knowledge of war and of what it meant we possessed.”

Then-president Dr. Atkinson became the de facto leader of the unit, despite his lack of military training. Undeterred, he drilled the boy soldiers regularly, even after dark, in the basement of Venable Hall. Seminary student G. T. Lyle took part and years later recalled: “After drilling for an hour, we dispersed, I returning to my room to ponder the fact that a grave divine—the President of a College—had come to a neighboring theological seminary to drill a lot of boys by lamplight, and ask myself what it meant. There is nothing that I can recall from those days that so opened my eyes to the desperate state of affairs and so revealed the war spirit of the time as that little incident did.”

Lyle says when a delegation went to Richmond asking to be sent to the front, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replied, “To put those boys in battle is to act like the farmer who grinds his seed corn.” Nonetheless, the Hampden-Sydney unit was formally mustered into service on May 28, 1861, as Company G of the 20th Virginia Regiment, known as “The Hampden Sidney Boys.”

While stationed at Camp Lee, the ­“Hampden-Sidney Boys” were instructed in military tactics by cadets from Virginia Military Institute under the command of Major T. J. Jackson, who would later earn the nickname “Stonewall.”

The unit was sent to northwest Virginia and Rich Mountain. G.T. Lyle recalls in On This Hill how the Hampden Sidney Boys engaged Union troops near the Middle Fork of Tygarts Valley River. The unit was captured by the Union General George McClellan and sent to Beverly, West Virginia. Parke Poindexter Flournoy 1861, who became a Presbyterian minister and author, wrote in the 1909 Kaleidoscope: “I can never forget the sight of Hart’s house, which was utilized as a field hospital. It was the first time I had witnessed the horrible havoc of war on poor human beings, and it was enough to make one see that it is very nearly what General Sherman called it.” He continues, “The Hampden-Sidney Boys were, with a few exceptions, prisoners within the next day or two and confined at Beverly until July 17th, six days after the battle, when all except those who, like Colonel Pegram, had served in the United States Army, were paroled, and kindly provided by General McClellan with wagons and provisions to take us on our way home.”

Rich Mountain

The battle of Rich Mountain, where the Hampden-Sydney student militiamen were captured and sent back to their studies.
Flournoy goes on to say that most of them returned home or to school. In August 1862 they were ordered back into service, though not as The Hampden-Sidney Boys. Any student-soldier who made his way to an already existing unit met his individual fate.

As the war raged in the world around them, Dr. Atkinson again formed a reserve unit consisting of teenage students and elderly men, who Samuel McCormick 1868 says were “unfit for almost anything, especially fighting.” The unit saw very little action and upon the news that the Confederate army was in retreat, Dr. Atkinson ordered the unit to disband and the boys to return home. As McCormick said in the July 1929 Record, “We could be of no service and, by our presence, might cause the College buildings to be destroyed.”

Pride in the Confederate cause extended well into the 20th century. Then former-President J. D. Eggleston 1886, said in a 1943 brochure Our Country and Our College, “It is believed that no educational institution in the South furnished, in proportion to its enrollment, more of its alumni and students—if as many—to the Confederate States Army; and certainly no institution in the North as many to the Federal Armies.”

President Henry Tucker Graham, also Class of 1886, said, “The number of Hampden-Sydney men who went into the Confederate States Army exceeded the number of her matriculates for the fourteen years preceding the outbreak of the War. Two-fifths were commissioned officers.”

Brinkley’s On this Hill, from which much of this information on H-SC’s role in the Civil War has been taken, provides many interesting footnotes, including this one on notable alumni during the War: “There was the chess whiz Allen Morton 1860, who failed out in 1859 because he spent his time playing chess, sometimes blindfolded, sometimes several games at once; he was killed at Gettysburg. On 3 July 1861, James H. Martin 1843 made the first capture of a Federal soldier north of the Potomac River. John Baptist Smith 1863 as a lieutenant in the Signal Corps invented naval flash-light signals still in use.”
Not every Hampden-Sydney soldier returned home. Ninety-two names of alumni killed in action during the War are recorded on the College’s Memorial Gate.

SOUTHERN INSTITUTIONS, according to Professor Ayers, have been struggling for generations with being on the losing side of the Civil War. “We have an obligation to confront directly the issue of segregation and we are in a unique position to educate people about the issue. Remember, our history is always there. We have no choice about that. Being in Prince Edward County—at the site of so much history—Hampden-Sydney College is well positioned to answer the questions of race and education in this country. In many ways schools and universities felt more comfortable before integration. Now we’ve begun the real journey of understanding race in our country and in ourselves. We have had only half of a century or less of legal equality in the country.”

Race and education rose to national prominence in the 1950s as the country debated public school integration. Rather than take a leadership position in this national discourse, Hampden-Sydney College stepped back. For many individuals on both sides of the issue, inaction was thought the safest stance.

Southside Virginia—Prince Edward County in particular—is forever linked with the injustices of racial segregation because of the County’s 1959 decision to refuse court-ordered integration of public schools, to eliminate all funding for such programs, and to deny public education to all children of the community. The issue of educational equality for Prince Edward County children had been intensifying for many years, reaching a tipping point in April 1951 when 16-year-old Barbara Johns led students at the all-black Moton High School in a walk-out to protest the building’s deplorable conditions. Following the student strike, some of the students, with the help of the NAACP, filed a lawsuit against the Prince Edward County School Board seeking an integrated educational system; this lawsuit would become one of the five suits comprising the famous U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.

A waterfall of racially-based events poured through the community during the ’50s and ’60s. After Prince Edward County closed its public schools, local white residents created the private Prince Edward Academy. Many parents of black children sent them to live with relatives in other school districts. Poor white families who could not afford the private school also tried to send away their children. Nonetheless, many children had nowhere to go and did not go to school for years. Some organizations created learning centers for black children until the federal authorities stepped in and created the Free Schools movement in 1963. The public schools were refunded and reopened in 1964, though many white families continued to send their children to the Academy.

Ayers says it was common for private institutions not to take the lead in integration. “When you look at the time, schools like the University of Virginia and William & Mary were forced to change. On college campuses, students were often calling on school leaders to address injustices. Private schools could sit back and see how things would turn out for other institutions; generally schools try to avoid change.”

Though Hampden-Sydney College never took an official position on the public school closing, many individuals—local alumni, faculty, and staff—were active on both sides of the issue. J. Barrye Wall ’19 was the publisher of The Farmville Herald, which supported segregation. Lester E. Andrews, Sr. ’36, a local businessman, was a member of the school board, as was B. Calvin Bass, a professor of physics and chemistry, who served as the board’s chairman. They both supported integration. Professors Joseph Clower and William Odom also actively opposed the school closing.

William F. Watkins, Jr. ’34 was the mayor of Farmville from 1958 through 1966. Mr. Watkins was also elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in 1964; he and Ernest P. Gates, Sr. ’45, who was Commonwealth’s Attorney in Chesterfield County, were attorneys of record in U.S. Supreme Court filing of Brown v. Board of Education.

Dr. Owen Norment, Jr., professor emeritus of religion, moved with is wife and children to Hampden-Sydney in the early 1960s. He says, “We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place in regard to where our children would go to school. The situation looked pretty dismal back then and the school closing factored in pretty heavily as to whether or not I should take the job there. We had one child entering the first grade. It might not have been the best moral decision, but we opted for sending her to the [private] Academy to begin with. I remember one family that supported the public school left the area rather than send their children to the private school.”

Log Cabin
The Log Cabin, the former headquarters of the Student Ministerial Association, was used to teach children during the closing.
One of the community members actively working to bridge the racial divide was the pastor of College Church, the Reverend Arthur M. Field, Jr. ’39. He arrived at his post in June 1962 and lasted only three action-filled years. He began by coordinating biracial community meetings in the basement of College Church, the same space that had only a short time earlier served as classrooms for the all-white Academy. According to the Rev. Dr. William Thompson’s history of College Church (where he too served for many years), the church’s basement also served for a time (after the Academy moved out) as the location for Marlene Miller’s biracial pre-school. Mrs. Miller had moved the school from her home at the request of Hampden-Sydney because she and her chemistry-professor husband, Dr. Tyler Miller, were renting the house from the College. Again the preschool moved, this time from College Church to the Log Cabin on Fraternity Circle.

In 1963-64, the last year before the public schools reopened, Rev. Field recruited more than a dozen Hampden-Sydney College students to work as tutors for the predominantly black students attending the Free Schools developed by Virginia leaders and the U.S. Department of Justice. Attorney General Robert Kennedy visited Hampden-Sydney in May 1964 in connection with the Free Schools movement.

The issue of integrating the public schools permeated the community to such an extent that only through active isolationism could local citizens not play a role. While the question of racial equality challenged the integrity of Prince Edward County—if not the entire country—we should be proud that community members could take opposing positions and work through them without violence. Certainly this was a dark period in our history, but there were glimmers of light leading us forward. For example, Rev. Thompson notes that Dr. Maurice Allan ’16, professor of philosophy and psychology, regularly wrote “chiding” letters to the editor of The Farmville Herald “about the prevailing circumstances and the newspaper’s supporting stance.” Although Barrye Wall did not agree with Dr. Allan, he did agree to print his letters, thus facilitating the public discussion.

The public schools reopened in 1965 and the community, through the efforts of new generations of Hampden-Sydney College faculty, staff, and students, has worked toward a unified citizenry; indeed, it has been called the most successfully integrated of the five communities involved in Brown v. Board.

In 1999, the College sponsored Prince Edward Stories, a symposium in which men and women affected by the school closing were invited to share their personal stories and discuss the progress toward racial reconciliation that the community has made. Some 40 years after the public school closing, Hampden-Sydney College finally accepted a leadership role in the county’s struggle with racial and educational equality.

Dr. Norment adds, “One of the most astonishing things is that when I first came to Hampden-Sydney the notion of an African American as president of the College was utterly unthinkable. The inauguration of Dr. Howard is a sign of the wonderful progress we have made in this country.”

The region around Hampden-Sydney College continues to make progress in many areas and the institution’s presence here plays a vital role in that progress. Whether we are contributing to the regional economy, providing skilled and talented community members, or confronting dark moments in history, we are moving forward.