Books

MARYANN MCFADDEN AND TILLIE SMITH

Maryann McFadden FB

Local author Maryann McFadden is coming to Taylor Memorial Library on Tuesday, April 9th to give a talk on the process of becoming a published author. Her latest book, The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, tells the tale of Rachel, newly married to the cemetery keeper of the Union Cemetery. Buried in that cemetery is the body of Tillie Smith, employee of Centenary Collegiate Institute (now Centenary University) and the focal point of a news story that gripped the nation. From Maryann McFadden’s website:

Reading the words carved into the stone, “She Died in Defence of Her Honor,” Rachel is overcome by a powerful memory buried deep in her past.A series of uncanny coincidences linked to Tillie Smith follows, setting Rachel on a journey that grows into an obsession: Why did the murder of a poor kitchen maid at the local seminary become a national sensation? Why were people in town trying to keep her from finding the truth? But most disturbing of all, why was Tillie reawakening a past Rachel chose to bury long ago. A past that could threaten her marriage.

Below is the compelling story that draws Rachel further into the past.

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.

Once 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.

Maryann McFadden will talk about her journey from writer to realtor to published author and offer advice for others who want to pursue writing. The presentation will be held in the library on Tuesday, April 9th at 7 pm. We’re excited to learn about her journey, and hopefully she’ll tell us about the process of writing The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife!

Advertisements

KAY & ME

This year for Centenary University’s Alumni and Family Weekend, the library will have a presentation on Katharine Brush, a student from Centenary who graduated in 1917!

Katharine Ingham Brush was born Katharine Ingham in Connecticut in 1902 and attended Centenary Collegiate Institute between 1913 and 1917. Casey, as she was known at Centenary, was very active in student activities.

katharine brush 6She was on several athletic teams and held positions in literary clubs and organizations. As an editor for the Hack Yearbook, she contributed jokes, articles, and essays to the 1917 yearbook.

katharine brush 1

Excerpt, Prophecy of the Class of 1917, 1917 Yearbook:

I know that I am soon to depart this earthly life, slain in an arduous battle with the Natural Enemy, college entrance exams, and I feel that this will be my last appearance on this terrestrial ball. So, on this thirteenth day of June, nineteen seventeen, I inscribe these facts for publication, that the consciousness of the greatness of my prophetic talents may not bloom alone within my own self but that, like the genius of the Cassandra that I once was, it may live on after my decease, to all eternity.

KATHARINE INGHAM, 1917

katharine brush 4She also performed in the Glee Club and in plays put on by her literary society, The Diokosophians.

VICTIM OF AMERICAN HISTORY

What time it was, I do not know, what place I do not care
But in American History class sat Casey, sad and fair.
Her turn was fast approaching, she was consumed with fright
Her one thought was, “Oh! how I hope I won’t have to recite.”
At last the one beside her had stood and had her say,
And then for poor dear Casey ’twas night instead of day.
A name was called, she, trembling rose, and started to”expound”-
But why this mighty laughter that shakes the whole room round ?
The class was in an uproar! Casey began to fumble
For instead of Katharine Ingham, the name was Kathryn Rumble.

E.B. (Edna Bigelow, associate editor of the Hack Board)

After graduating, Katharine Ingham began working as a columnist for the Boston Traveler. She published multiple short stories and novels under her married name, Brush. Later in life, she went by the nickname Kay.

katharine brush 5

Among her many published works are Glitter, Little Sins, Night Club, The Boy from Maine, and When She Was Bad. Several of her novels have been made into movies. Red Headed Woman was made into a film in 1932. It is considered a pre-code classic due to its racy comedy.

katharine brush 2

She passed away in New York City in 1952, just shy of her 50th birthday.

The Library is excited to host Kay & Me, a chance encounter in a lecture hall that lead to a decade-long love affair between a middle-aged scholar and the host of a long forgotten Jazz Age novelist, presented by Jonathan Matthews on October 7th at 1 pm. Come hear how the wise-cracking daughter of a prim New England headmaster became a leading luminary in the literary and motion picture worlds, one whose dazzling light burned alongside that of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jean Harlow, and, like theirs, was extinguished too soon.

THE CUMMINS FAMILY

 

The Archives holds a wealth of information about Centenary University, and any trip into the Archives storage produces fascinating pieces of historical value. Several of these pieces were donated by prominent New Jersey family, the Cummins.

cummins030Dr. George Wyckoff Cummins was born in Vienna, New Jersey and graduated from Centenary Collegiate Institute’s college prep course in 1881. From there he attended the Yale School of Medicine and later, the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He practiced medicine in Belvidere and specialized in the treatment of hay fever, asthma, and allergic diseases. A physician, surgeon, inventor, and research scientist, he authored many books on history, chemistry, and archaeology. Some of his works are in the library’s Special Collections Room.

cummins028Mrs. Annie Blair Titman Cummins attended Centenary Collegiate Institute in the academic program between 1881 – 1882, and in a special studies program for music from 1888 – 1891. She studied pipe organ, piano, and harmony. She was a member of several organist associations and served as organist for many years in local churches. She was also very devoted to the study of history and genealogy, compiling 423 volumes of 41,000 tombstone records from local cemeteries. She was the Organizing Regent of the General William Maxwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was one of the greatest authorities of local history.

cummins029

Mrs. Cummins at the organ

Dr. and Mrs. Cummins were married in 1890, and lived in Belvidere, New Jersey. After the death of her husband in 1942, Mrs Cummins donated an organ to Centenary in his memory.  Mrs. Cummins donated several items to Centenary during the last decade of her life, and in her will left many possessions, buildings, and plots of land to the school. Some of the items were displayed in The Cummins Museum Room in the newly built Taylor Memorial Library. The collection was dissolved in 1980 and some of the items sold, but many still remain in the library’s archives.

A list of titles by and about the Cummins Family:

Cummins, George Wyckoff. History of Warren County New Jersey. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911. Print.

– – -. History of Warren County New Jersey. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911. Print.

Records of the Cummins, Addis, and Carhart Families of Warren County, NJ. N.p.: n.p., 1942. Print.

* Titman Cummins, Annie Blair. Bible Records, Warren County, N.J. Vol. 1 N.p.: n.p., 1941. Print. 2 copies.

– – -. Cummins-Titman and Allied Families: Genealogical and Biographical. Hartford: States Historical Company, Inc., 1946. Print.

– – -. Diary of a trip to Europe in 1909 by Margaret E. Roseberry Titman and Annie Blair Titman Cummins.

* Wycoff Cummins, G. Churches of Warren County, N.J. Vol. 3. N.p.: n.p., 1944. Print. 3 copies.

* – – -. Historical Articles of Warren County N.J. Vol. 2. N.p.: n.p., 1943. Print. 2 copies.

* – – -. Organization of General William Maxwell Chapter D.A.R and Markers Placed. Vol. 31. N.p.: n.p., 1945. Print. 3 copies.

* – – -. Post Offices in the United States in 1819. Comp. Annie Blair Titman Cummins. N.p.: n.p., 1945.  Print. 2 copies.

 

SO THIS IS CENTENARY

The archives staff has been working on digitizing many projects, including Ellen P. Kratz’s booklet “So This is Centenary”. Ellen P. Kratz, more often known as Pat, was a freshman at Centenary in the Fall of 1959. She was very involved in Centenary activities; she played on the freshman softball team and became the art editor for the student newspaper Spilled Ink.

In a rare collaboration between Spilled Ink and the Hack (Centenary’s yearbook), Pat put her art skills to use when she created her cartoon flip book “So This is Centenary”. Pat’s booklet was created in order to help raise funds for Centenary’s next improvement project, a new swimming pool.

Ellen Kratz

Pat Kratz (left) and two others with President Seay.

Ellen Kratz.2

Students showing President Seay their collaboration.

The book was well received by President Dr. Seay, who stated that “If you like to laugh, read ‘So this is Centenary.’ ”  1000 copies were ordered, each being sold for $1.50. The following September, plans were made to build an additional wing onto the Reeves Student Union.

Plans to start renovation on the Denman gym and swimming pool were set to begin in November of 1962 and were not completed until February of 1964.

New Pool.1

The new wing cost $475,000 with an additional $125,000 in construction.

Kratz ended up getting married the next year and left Centenary to start her new life. The library is very lucky to have this small piece of history left behind by Ellen P. Kratz.

A YEAR OF SONG

            a year of song

Small hints of the influence of music at Centenary College are still visible around campus – the organ in the Whitney Chapel and pianos in the Ferry Building and the Seay Building are two reminders of the importance of music at Centenary. The College has a rich musical history that helps outline the value of tradition in togetherness and school spirit. In Ms. Leila Roberta Custard’s Through Golden Years it is written:

            “Spontaneous and exuberant as was this student life, there was still a noticeably conscious effort to achieve better school spirit…Periodically the editorials contained pleas that the better students exert continuous influence to keep the tone of the school high” (Custard, 120).

            Music played a leading role in how school spirit was expressed, and school-wide events were full of cheers, yells, and songs.

sweeney014

Students and faculty alike expressed their pride for their school by writing songs for different occasions, and in 1910 these songs were collected for a music book called A Year of Song. Published by Carl F. Price, a graduate of Centenary Collegiate Institute, class of 1898, and a writer of songs and hymns, it articulated the experiences of decades of Centenary College alumni.

sweeney016

The songs were arranged to correspond with the school year, starting in September with a song the school still uses today – the “Alma Mater”, written by Harry Runyon in 1903. This song has stood the test of time, and proves that it is still as significant now in 2016 as it was over one hundred years ago. We hope students will continue to sing it for one hundred years more.

THE TREES OF CENTENARY

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.

LYND WARD

One of the treasures in Centenary College’s Archives is a signed edition of Lynd Ward’s 1929 book God’s Man. Long before the graphic novel reached its current level of popularity, Lynd Ward became known for his “wordless” books illustrated with the author’s own woodcuts.

Image

Lynd Ward, self-portrait

Lynd Ward was an American artist and storyteller born in Chicago in 1905. He later lived in New Jersey and attended Englewood High School. Ward was known for woodcuts, but also worked in watercolors, oils, brush and ink, lithography and mezzotint. He wrote books for children and adults. In fact, he won a Caldecott Medal in 1953 for his book, The Biggest Bear.

God’s Man was the first of six wordless books Ward published. It was released just before the stock market crash of October 1929 and went on to sell more than twenty thousand copies in the following few years.

Image