Tuesday, October 31, 2006

International Students - Part of Reserve History

When the WRA Board of Visitors gathered for their meeting at the end of October, the focus of their discussion was on international students at Reserve. International students have been an important part of the Reserve community for 3o years, but it may not be well known that even in the 19th century, our Preparatory School welcomed students from beyond our borders.

As early as the 1840s our school had a student from England, and several who came from what is now the province of Ontario, Canada. But in 1879 we welcomed two students from Japan: Mishitado Tsura of Tokyo and Rikizo Nakashima from Kyoto. They arrived just 11 years after the Meiji Restoration which opened up Japan to communication with the outside world after nearly 300 years of total isolation. Very few Japanese had the opportunity to study abroad in those early years, and those who were allowed to go understood that they were part of a mission to modernize their country while preserving its cultural values. Both students had attended schools that had connections with the U.S. In the case of Nakashima, he had attended the Doshisha School in Kyoto which had been founded by Christian missioners, a fact confirmed by his great-granddaughter who visited our campus in the spring of 2001.

Nakashima boarded at Mrs. Lord's house directly across the street from the school because Mrs. Lord had spent several years working as a missionary with her husband in India and elsewhere. One of Nakashima's accomplishments was finishing three years of the prep school in just one year. He also impressed Hudson residents by giving an illustrated lecture on Japan at the Adelphian Hall, then located downtown where the Saywell building is today. He went on to a notable career as an academic after completing degrees at Western Reserve University and Yale. He wrote several books and became a leading figure in Japanese education. He died in Tokyo in 1918.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

WRA's Oldest Graduate Turns 103

It was a pleasure running into Ada Cooper Miller ’24 recently at Yours Truly Restaurant in Hudson where she was having lunch with members of her family who were visiting from the Albany area. She appears to be in good health and spirits a few weeks before she observes her 103rd birthday.

Born in England in 1903, Ada came to Hudson as an infant with her parents who were employed by James W. Ellsworth on his Evamere estate. Ada’s father was a gardener and landscape manager, and the family moved into a house on Franklin Street where Ada lived for nearly 99 years until going to the Elms Assisted Living here in Hudson. She graduated with the class of 1924, married Harry Cooper, raised a family and operated a successful florist business which she continued until about four years ago.

For many years Ada provided flower arrangements for the school, decorated the Chapel for commencement weekend, and was on hand on commencement morning to provide flowers and boutonnieres for the graduates. She served for 40 years on the Hudson Board of Education, was active in the Hudson Garden Club, Christ Episcopal Church, and the Hudson Senior Citizens. She was honored for her dedication to WRA on more than one occasion.

We send an affectionate salute to Ada and best wishes on her forthcoming birthday.

Lincoln's Chair Sits on Campus

It was my honor to attend a symposium in late October at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. I was surprised to learn that Goodyear founder Frank A. Seiberling of Akron served as a trustee and board president at LMU during the 1910s and beyond, at exactly the same time he was serving on the Board of Trustees here at WRA. Seiberling made possible the expansion of the agricultural education program at LMU and was interested in WRA's Evamere Farm which was part of our curriculum from 1916 to 1953.

My visit to the Lincoln Museum at LMU also reminded me that our benefactor, James W. Ellsworth, was just 12 years old when Lincoln's train stopped in Hudson in 1861. We believe he was there, as it would have been a great occasion for the town that had voted solidly for Lincoln in the election of 1860. Ellsworth attended our school in the late 1860s, and when his son was born in 1880, he named him Lincoln Ellsworth. After his retirement to Hudson, James W. Ellsworth rescued and reopened WRA, shaped and restored the campus, and eventually left his entire fortune to endow the school. And along the way, he became quite a collector of American antiques and implements which also were willed to the school. Among his treasured items is a chair that once was in the chambers of the Lincoln and Herndon Law Office in Springfield, Illinois. Ellsworth bought it at auction in 1914. It now can be seen in the WRA Archives.

Lucien Price Book Collection at WRA Library

Junius Lucien Price, who graduated in 1901 and went on to an illustrious career as a writer and journalist for the Boston Globe, published a charming memoir of his WRA years called Hardscrabble Hellas. Originally written as a magazine article, his short memoir was published as a keepsake for WRA graduates in 1929 and remained in print for many years.

Price himself kept in close contact with the school for the rest of his life and was regularly invited back to address the school. He had a lengthy and lively correspondence with Headmaster Joel B. Hayden, and in his final years he made arrangements to transfer some 3,000 volumes of his personal library to WRA. This decision was prompted by the building of Wilson Hall which would house the enlarged WRA Library.

Plans were also made for a special room to house WRA’s rare books, and this was named in honor of Lucien Price. The Wilson Hall Library was dedicated in 1963, and Lucien Price passed away the following March. Most of Price’s own books were incorporated into the general library collection, but a number of his special volumes were placed in his namesake room.

Over the years, classes were held in the Lucien Price Room, and some classes utilized the collection housed there. With the move to the new John D. Ong Library in the spring of 2000, the Lucien Price Room was phased out, but those volumes that had special meaning for Price can still be found on exhibit in WRA Archives on the lower level of the library.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More News about WRA Soccer

As a response to WRA playing its 1000th soccer game this month, we heard from former WRA Athletic Director George Helwig who reported on his early involvement with the soccer movement in Ohio. George came to WRA from Maine in 1960 and discovered there were no other Ohio high schools playing the game. He had to schedule interstate games, so he decided to begin a series of soccer clinics for Ohio high schools to come and learn about the game. As a result of those workshops, some 58 Ohio high schools fielded soccer teams by the time George left WRA in 1974. Before departing, he received an award that described him as "the founding father of the Ohio Scholastic Soccer."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Early WRA Alumna Became a Doctor

Doing research for an article on WRA in the 1870s, I learned that Marie A. Singletary, who was one of the first six young women to enter the school in 1873, went on to earn a degree at the old Western Reserve College, moved out to Colorado, taught school, then studied medicine at the college that became the University of Denver. She practiced in Denver well into the 20th century and died there in 1930. She had come to WRA from Streetsboro. Two sisters and a brother also attended our school.


Welcome to the newest way to stay in touch with Western Reserve Academy's historic past. I'm usually working on several research projects at a time, so please check back often for an update on one of those research topics.