Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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.