campus 1909

Centenary Collegiate Institute c. 1910

Before the campus of Centenary College was built in Hackettstown, the land it now sits on was a cornfield, described during the laying of the cornerstone in 1869 as “desolate – not a tree – not a shrub” (Custard, pg 10). In fact, the town hadn’t yet grown to reach the campus. There was no street in front of the grounds and Church Street, which runs from Main Street directly to the college, was not yet opened. Shortly after opening, the grounds were beautified with the planting of over 200 trees and 800 shrubs. Only a few years later, the lawn seemed “like a very pleasure garden” (Custard, pg 57).

The campus had a broad representation of ornamental species, thanks to the work of early arborists. Over the years, some species have died away due to harsh weather or other natural causes, and the campus has gained some newer plantings. In the spring of 1954 Mrs. Marjorie T. Bingham, instructor of biology, directed a project to mark the trees of Centenary with small metal plates giving the name of the species. This project recorded over 40 varieties of trees. In the 1990s, another survey was done of the trees on campus and printed into a booklet called The Trees of Centenary. A joint effort by members of the Centenary community, it listed all the trees on campus that could be identified and included several photographs of leaves and bark.

gray birchHeading the publication was Professor Lewis T. Parrish, then professor/department chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Parrish, who came to Centenary in 1959, was a pillar among Centenary’s faculty for over 3 decades and came to Centenary with a well-rounded resume. He had previously held jobs as a metallurgist, meat packer, haberdasher, farmer, and a US history and mathematics teacher.

japanese cherry

At Centenary he was the head of the Science Club, participated in Faculty vs. Student sports like bowling and softball, received grants to study genetics and biology, advised one of the sororities, and was a member of several faculty panels. Professor Parrish was in awe of the flora around campus and hoped creating The Trees of Centenary would benefit those who loved it as well.

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 -1943. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc, 1947. Print.


This post was written by guest contributor Courtney Butrymowicz. Butrymowicz, a student in Dr. Mastrangelo’s Spring 2016 Advanced Composition class, had the opportunity to work with archival materials to learn more about Centenary College’s history. This is an excerpt from her Archival Scrapbook Paper.

Editha Trevorrow was an invaluable person and staple to Centenary College and the surrounding community during her time as Dean of Students, interim President, and wife of the late President of Centenary, Robert Trevorrow from the years 1917 to 1943 (Custard, 195). She kept many scrapbooks during her years at Centenary, but one has contents that could only be described as deeply moving. The fact that students felt the need to invite her to their weddings and tell her about the births of their children after they had graduated, shows that Editha had a huge impact on these students’ lives. Other pieces of ephemera indicate that her role in the Centenary College community was just as prevalent and important.

edith trevorrow1Editha Trevorrow was very active on campus as Dean of Students and made a huge impact on the students during their years at Centenary. Editha attended bi-monthly meetings with the Student Council, which helped resolve any disputes between students and administration (Custard, 185). She was very active in teaching and mentoring students as well. In 1929, Centenary became a Junior College, helping and teaching young women in high school and college. Editha Trevorrow took over recruiting and helping high school girls come to Centenary. She drove trucks to and from the school, and had meetings and interviews with prospective parents and girls interested in college. This boosted the Centenary enrollment rates, per the ten year plan, and now Editha was well-known amongst a huge majority of Centenary students (Custard, 175). She was invited to tea parties hosted by societies on campus, class parties, recitals, dances, and prose and poetry readings, which were performed by societies and students alike (Custard, 165). Editha received weddings invitations from former students and as well as their children’s birth announcements (Editha Trevorrow Scrapbook). She held a Weekly Young Women’s Christian Association meetings and was the chairwomen of the Junior Red Cross (Custard, 168). She helped young women form committees and knit to help the soldiers in World War II (Custard, 168).Pages from 1943 HACK

After her husband’s passing, Editha took over the role of Centenary President until the college could find a replacement. The transition was smooth because Editha was already the Dean of the college, and so already understood the administrative duties of a President. She also previously had a good repertoire [sic] with the students and faculty as Dean of Students.

            The scrapbook should be kept in the archives because if the scrapbook was not in the archives, people would not know what college was like in the 1930s and 1940s. By not having the scrapbook, Centenary would lose part of its rich history. Dr. Trevorrow and Editha Trevorrow influenced Centenary in a substantial way: they paid off Centenary’s debt, introduced new and innovative programs and classes for the college, and helped the surrounding community…This scrapbook truly captures her life at Centenary and what it was like for a student to go to Centenary.

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through the golden years 1867-1943. New York, Lewis

            Historical Publishing Company, Inc. 1947. Print.

Frey, Raymond. The Campus History Series Centenary College, New Jersey.

            Charleston, Arcadia Publishing. 2012. Print.

Trevorrow, Editha. Scrapbook, bound with twine. Approximately 10 by 14 inches

             (beginning with wedding announcements and invitations-1934). Taylor Memorial

              Library, Archive. Centenary College, Hackettstown NJ.

This document was reproduced as it was written by Courtney Butrymowicz for her Advanced Composition class. No changes have been made.


lincoln dead

The announcement of President Lincoln’s assassination. From the Cummins Collection in the Taylor Memorial Library Archives.

“The President of the United States MURDERED!!”–April 15, 2016 marks the 151st anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the unfortunate but historically significant event that shocked a nation still suffering from the aftermath of the Civil War. Just five short days after the end of the war, southern supporter John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. An extensive article printed in New Jersey’s Warren Journal on April 21, 1865 discusses the incident in detail including the moments leading up to the shooting, “the corpse of the late president,” and the life attempt on Vice President Johnson. Visit the library archives to view the article in full.


Through Golden Years chronicles the history of Centenary College from its inception to 1943, but omits one scandalous event that captivated the entire country: the 1886 murder of Tillie Smith. The circumstances of her death and the trial that followed have become Hackettstown lore.

TillieApril 8, 1886:

[Matilda ‘Tillie’ Smith was born in Waterloo, NJ, and settled in Hackettstown in 1885. She had recently been hired as a kitchen maid for Centenary Collegiate Institute.] The headstrong Smith left campus alone that night and walked to an entertainment hall on Main Street, where she met with friends and two new acquaintances, Harry Haring and Charles Munnich. After the performance, the group walked through town together.

After the crowd dispersed, Haring and Smith walked back to the Institute alone. They arrived at the school’s gate around 10:10 pm. The college had a strict curfew of 10:00 pm, and by then the doors were locked. Haring offered to pay for a room at his hotel if Tillie would accompany him back to town but she refused. They said good night and parted ways. As Haring turned to walk back to his accommodation at the American House, he heard Tillie’s footsteps walk around the side of the building. That was the last time anyone saw her alive.

April 9th, 1886:

John White discovered Tillie’s body at 8:40 am as he walked his dog around the campus perimeter. What followed next was a confusing and misguided witch-hunt for justice. Sensational coverage by major newspapers drove a fervent public to the belief that 29-year-old janitor James Titus had “brutally ravaged and murdered” Smith, even though there was no evidence to substantiate the claim. Titus was meek and respectable, an employee of C.C.I. for over 11 years, and had neither the strength nor the stomach to commit such violence. The public demanded justice for Tillie, a virtuous young woman who had been shamefully murdered and then even more shamefully committed to a pauper’s grave.

Tillie an James TitusApril 29th, 1886:

Pressured into solving the case, police arrested James Titus and charged him with rape and murder.

September 28th, 1886:

The trial against James Titus began. The prosecution disregarded several pieces of evidence that lent credence to Titus’ innocence, and painted a picture of a man of bad conduct, whose lewdness was concealed behind an unassuming demeanor. Titus professed his innocence, but the court (and the public) was already convinced of his guilt. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Titus avoided death by quickly confessing to the rape and murder, and instead was sentenced to life in prison. He served 19 years and returned to Hackettstown upon his release. For nearly 50 years, he lived peacefully among the very people who had condemned him to death.

After his death, James Titus was buried in Union Cemetery, the same cemetery where Tillie Smith also rests. The town had her body moved from her pauper’s grave to a prominent spot in the cemetery, beneath a monument that proclaims, “She Died in Defense of her Honor.”

The event was not included in our college history, Through Golden Years, but it is a part of our history, and a part we should not forget. The truth of Tillie’s rape and murder may never be known but we will all do our part to preserve her memory.


Today marks April Fools’ Day, a day reserved each year for playing pranks and practical jokes on each other. It has also become a day well known for spreading hoaxes. One needs only to visit Google, Wikipedia, or any number of publications’ websites on April 1 to understand how far –reaching and deep-rooted this tradition is. The student newspapers at Centenary are no exception to this madcap tradition. As early as the 1950s, “extra” editions of Spilled Ink, the college newspaper, were made up and printed in addition to a regular April issue. These issues would typically use cut and paste photography and showcase outlandish stories about different departments and faculty on campus. Can you tell which ones are fake?

1951.03.21 pink elephant extraMarch 21, 1951

Pages from 1998.04 1952.04.01 spilled bilge extra





April 1, 1952                                                                             April 1998


2014.04April 2014

This jovial tradition was forgotten during the transition from Spilled Ink to its successor, The Quill in the 1980s and did not pick back up again until the 1990s where it once again became and continues to be an annual tradition.

Happy April Fools’ Day!


music1At one time, Centenary had a large music department. In fact, the music department was the largest department the college’s first year, with 87 studying instrumental music and 72 studying vocal music. Fine Arts & Music were special features for Centenary at a time when few other schools had facilities for musical instruction that rivaled theirs.

There were many musical clubs for students in the early years – The Mandolin and Banjo Cub, The String Glee Club, the C.C.I. Concert Band, and the C.C.I. Orchestra, which thrived for many years.

banjo mandolin club 1898

The Glee and Mandolin Club of 1898

The music department, or Observatory of Music, remained unchanged for many years, thanks to the untiring energy of its students and faculty. Mr. Mets, former Head of the Music Department, was a teacher of Piano and Organ at Centenary from 1906 to 1946 – a staggering 40 years!

The music department received its own building in the mid 1960s when the Joseph R. Ferry Music and Arts Building was constructed. The building was named after Joseph R. Ferry, graduate of Centenary in 1907 (when it was still Centenary Collegiate Institute) and member of the trustees since 1948.  Formerly the Denman Gymnasium and swimming pool, it was expanded with a new wing and the existing structure was converted to practice rooms, rehearsal spaces, a recital hall, classrooms, and offices for music teachers. The building opened in the spring semester of 1965.

ferry building

Architectural plans for the 3rd floor of the Ferry Music and Arts Building

By the mid 1990s, the building was just called the Ferry Building, an indication of the diminishing music program. The building has found several new uses and functions as classrooms and office space. The college still offers several music classes for those students interested in learning and making music. 


The library is in the middle of converting its catalog from the Dewey Decimal system to the Library of Congress system.


Ready for books!


Ready for shelves!

All of the books in the Quiet Area (the academic books) have gotten new call numbers and are in the process of being relabeled and shelved in their new locations.

dewey to lc428The first time the library saw such a large scale reshelving was in 1954, the day they were moved from the old library to the newly built Taylor Memorial Library. Every member of the College community helped move the books that day. Students were separated into groups by dorm and each group was given assigned times to help the shift.

Head Librarian Ruth Scarborough selected seniors to be put in charge of each group. Their job was to make sure that their group was working steadily while also keeping the books in order. Staff and Faculty were designated as ‘checkers’ and ‘helpers’. Checkers were positioned in the old library to make sure that everything was being moved in order, and helpers were in the new library to make sure that the books were being shelved in order. According to documentation, the project took only one day.

dewey to lc429

The current project has several more steps and so it is naturally a longer process. The books are getting new labels and being put in order by their designation. After all the books have been relabeled, they will be put in the proper order.