Chapter VI: A New Tree Grows on Manitou

IN the fall of 1886 the college department was launched at St. Olaf. Also from 1886 to 1890 the Lutheran Divinity School, with thirty men in attendance, had temporary accommodations in the main building — though not considered an integral part of St. Olaf. It brought two theological professors: Dr. M. O. Bøckman and Dr. F. A. Schmidt. Thus, the Main was the home of an academy, a college, and a theological seminary during the latter eighties.

There is quite a story connected with the beginning of the college department. It was during the period of controversy in the Norwegian Synod concerning predestination and conversion. Dr. C. F. W. Walther, a German Lutheran theological professor, who set forth pronounced views, lived in St. Louis, Missouri, and belonged to the German Missouri Synod. As a logical consequence, those who agreed with this leader received the appellation “Missourians,” and those who opposed were called “Anti-Missourians.” The two designations became household words, and everyone took sides. The Missourians became the larger division, and most of the institutions of the Norwegian Synod remained in their hands. Luther College, at Decorah, which already had a college department, was their college. With feelings running very high and tense, the Anti-Missourians would not consider sending their children to the college of the opposition. The ever alert Pastor Muus was ready with a solution. In the fall of 1886 he called a “folke mode” to ratify what he and other representative Anti-Missourians had already considered, namely, the starting of a college department at St. Olaf and the establishing of a separate theological seminary. The eventual addition of a collegiate department had been the plan of the founder, as indicated in the articles of incorporation.
The addition of courses necessitated greater facilities and more teachers. Laboratories were built in the basement of the Main. Enlarged library facilities were provided. The teachers for the year 1886-87, in the combined academy and college, were President Mohn and Professors Ytterboe, Felland, Grose, and Kalheim. There was exactly one student enrolled in the freshman class when the school year opened. He was Mr. C. J. Rollefson. At the opening of the winter term four more men enrolled. Tuition was free in the college department!
The spring of 1887, the end of the first year of the college department, saw six girls and two boys graduate from the preparatory department. Agnes Mellby was one of these girls, and the only girl in the class who went on into the new college division.
The Messenger for June 1887 has this rather pathetic item: “The Reverend and Mrs. Mellby were unable to reach St. Olaf in time to hear their daughter deliver the valedictory address. The St. Louis Railroad had changed the time table the day before, which caused them to miss the train that would have brought them here on time. They were present at the evening exercises.”
In the fall of ’87 there were six men and one woman registered as freshmen and eight men as sophomores.
The studies included Greek, Latin, German, English, Norwegian, religion, history, mathematics, and science — the so-called classical course. Norwegian, as a language, was important, and those not qualifying for the college courses had to step down into the academy for grammar and rhetoric. Greek was a major subject, with four years of the classics plus two years Greek Testament, catalogued as religion. Also required were three years of Latin, on top of the four years in high school or academy. No wonder that during the minutes classes were assembling some one would give vent to pent up feelings by writing on the blackboard: “Greek! All are dead who wrote it; All are dead who spoke it; All must die who learn it. Blessed death they surely earn.” “Little lines of Latin, Little lines to scan, Make a mighty Virgil, And a crazy man.”
At these times the habit of scanning might bring forth strange mixtures, such as: “Arma virumque cano, Trojanske primost paa bordet! ” “To las kul i to rum. Kan du ikke legge der i to rum, faar du legge der i tre rum.”
This rhyming was a favorite pastime in the romantic period. No subject escaped, be it momentous occasions, student, or teacher, love affairs, or the catching of mice in the wood shed. One daring young man memorized his friend’s lofty production and recited it in class. When the impressed but puzzled teacher asked him who the author might be, he frankly named his class mate!


It was not till June 20, 1889, that the corporate name of the institution was changed from St. Olaf’s School to St. Olaf College.
For a time the college was supported by means of annual contributions from the Anti-Missourian Brotherhood. In 1890 three Norwegian Lutheran church bodies — Anti-Missourian Brotherhood, the Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Conference, and the Norwegian Augustana Synod — combined to form the United Norwegian Lutheran Church, at which time St. Olaf was formally made the college of that large organization. The commencement exercises were held off one-half hour that June waiting for President Mohn to come with the report. One can imagine the jubilation!
But, this joy was short-lived. A part of the Norwegian-Danish Conference, the so-called Augsburg element, did not look with favor on this action of the combined synods, and openly opposed St. Olaf. As a consequence, St. Olaf lost its official connection with the Church in 1893. The six years that followed were a period of hardship, during which the untiring efforts of Professor Ytterboe in collecting funds were largely responsible for the survival of the school. In the words of Dr. Mellby: “Cheerfulness, quiet humor, his shrewd and sympathetic understanding of the people with whom he had to deal, his infectious faith in the valuable mission of the college which he represented, opened the way for him and appealed to the generosity and loyalty of stranger as well as friend.” “Not only was he able to collect enough each year to keep the institution out of debt, but was even able to cancel some small indebtedness resting on the college at the time it was thrown on its own resources.”
It was toward the latter part of this trying period that the country was upset by the Spanish-American War. It was an exciting time. The call for men came on a Saturday night. On the following Sunday morning while President Mohn was conducting a service in St. John’s, of which he was Pastor, Mr. W. F. Schilling appeared at the side door to ask permission for the St. Olaf Band to accompany the recruits to Faribault. Some thirty men had already signed up at Cooper’s Store, among them several St. Olaf boys. The 10:40 train was held several minutes waiting for the band to gather. The first funeral in Northfield as a result of this war was in St. John’s Church. After the war President McKinley presented to Congressman Heatwole of Northfield the gold pen with which he had signed the treaty. That souvenir is now reposing in the Schilling Hobby House.
In the spring of 1899 something happened in the Old Main which may have been a portent of good or of evil to the superstitious. While President Mohn was resting in his bedroom, lightning struck the room. A bolt entered through the wall telephone, jumped through a typewriter underneath, without damaging it, split a leg of the typewriter table in two, throwing a portion of it across the room; passed through a wall, leaving a hole; into a shoe box, following a letter opener on the bottom of it, leaving holes in each end; bounded to a metal piece at the foot of a wooden bed less than five feet from where Mr. Mohn was lying; then to the metal piece at the head of the bed; finally to the plumbing pipe in an adjoining closet, where it was grounded. Mr. Mohn saw a big ball of fire, heard a shot, and smelled sulfur, all in a twinkling, but got up unharmed to tell the family his experience.
The question as to whether Augsburg College, Minneapolis, or St. Olaf College, Northfield, should be made the college of the church became a live issue. Agitation ran high. The question was prominent in the deliberations at the church convention. “By the generous efforts of the Northfield people a special train was chartered on the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, on June 11, 1898, to bring 596 delegates from the annual meeting of the Norwegian Lutheran Church in St. Paul to Northfield to visit St. Olaf.” When the train of nine coaches arrived, about 3 p.m., seventy-five carriages stood ready to transport the older people. The rest walked, many abreast, the long tramp up to Manitou Heights.
At the risk of going from the sublime to the ridiculous, mention is here being made of an incident on that memorable day. A student who was staying after commencement thought this visit a worthy occasion for a bath. So, he hied himself down to the Cannon River, peeled off his clothes on the river bank and plunged in for a good ablution. When he came out and looked for his clothes, he discovered that the cows in the pasture had done away with his shirt and underwear. All he had left was trousers, socks, and shoes. Thus partially clad, he hurried toward the Hill only to behold that long, wide procession marching along Forest Avenue in the same direction. Fortunately, there were dense woods along the south side of the road where he could hide till the procession had passed by. Freed of observers, he sped on his way again, got to his room and dressed, to appear neat and clean at the assembly of delegates, who had no idea of the youth’s recent predicament.
What had been a very rainy day accommodatingly turned into brilliant sunshine just as the delegation arrived, helping materially to put the town and the college in a good light. The Main had been scrubbed from tower to base ment, and everything was in tip-top order. On the green in front of the Main the audience listened to talks by Mayor Skinner, Professor Huntington of Carleton, and others. The St. John’s Ladies’ Aid served a hearty picnic lunch before the excursion train took the much-impressed delegation back to St. Paul for the evening session of the convention.
The Church came to no agreement on the college question that summer. Tactfully and patiently, President Mohn let the question rest till the following year. Finally in 1899 the college was accepted by a large majority vote.
This was an event to celebrate. As soon as the telegram was received, the four sons of President Mohn — then living in the Main — who had formed their own quartette, grabbed their brass instruments, rushed out on the east porch, and played triumphant tunes out over the city — till their faces were red as beets.
With the opening of the century a new day had arrived for St. Olaf. Its support was assured. A new president was elected who would carry on in the spirit of the leaders of the first twenty-five years. He was the Reverend John Nathan Kildahl, “a man of deep spirituality and compelling personality,” who had just closed a successful ten-year pastorate in Chicago, with the intention of succeeding the pastor who had confirmed, ordained, and married him — none other than Pastor Muus. J. N. Kildahl was a graduate of Luther College and of Luther Seminary at Madison, Wisconsin. In characterizing the early leaders of St. Olaf, some one has made the comparison that Muus was a James, Mohn a Peter, and Kildahl a John.
The legal transfer of the college property to the church body did not take place till 1911. For that important, though delayed, transaction, Mr. S. H. Holstad, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Church, thought that nothing short of a gold dollar should be used as the purchasing medium. These choice bits were no longer in circulation, but Mr. Holstad found a way. At the Scandinavian American Bank was a teller who was a collector of rare coins, and from him he was able to buy just what he wanted — a gold dollar minted in 1874. The price, $2.50, was met by the nine trustees and the treasurer of the Church, who each contributed twenty-five cents. This souvenir is in safe keeping in a St. Olaf vault to this day.
At the ’99 Church Convention Professor Mohn was made vice-president and teacher of history. But, sad to relate, Mr. Mohn was not well. He had risen from a sick bed to champion the cause for which he had spent his life.
During President Mohn’s last year the family lived out at Deer Park, an idyllic place south of the Hill. It was on this lawn, lighted with Japanese lanterns, that some fifty Northfield citizens gathered on August 24, 1899, to pay tribute to the man who had guided St. Olaf College through its first twenty-five years, and to his faithful helpmeet. Mayor Skinner, as master of ceremonies, presented Mr. G. M. Phillips as chief speaker of the occasion. Mr. Phillips said, in part: “In looking for a suitable token of our regard at this time, the old idea of the loving cup might naturally be suggested. But, as that might seen a little out of harmony with your temperance record, the cup must be put aside, though something of the idea may be retained. Then, we are reminded that during all these years of ‘strenuous endeavor’ you have been counseled, sustained, and encouraged by the faithful companion of your life’s early choice. The trophies you have earned in life’s contest you would share with her. So, at last, we bring you tonight this silver set, and with it the hope that you and yours, and your chosen friends, may from time to time for many long years receive from it the cup that cheers but not inebriates. May it prove as sterling as yourself; and in our hearts and homes we will ever raise to you Van Winkle’s hearty toast, `Here’s to your good health and your family’s.’ May you live long and prosper. And may St. Olaf prosper and grow and become a lasting honor to its founder and the State.” — ( North field News, August 26, 1899).
Later Mayor Skinner requested Professor Goodhue to cane Professor Ytterboe. In presenting Professor Ytterboe with a gold-headed cane, Professor Goodhue said that there were nine on the St. Olaf faculty and that if President Mohn had occupied central place, it was well known who had played at first base. In responding, the much surprised Professor Ytterboe said that Professor Goodhue had caught him off his base and he feared he was out.
The task of caning President Mohn was delegated to Professor Huntington, who said that the Hebrew words for staff, shepherd’s crook, and sceptre were the same and that they wished the cane presented to symbolize three ideas: the staff to support him, as he had supported the institution; a symbol of the shepherd’s crook, in that it stands for care over generations of young that have passed under his instruction; and as a sceptre, because he who wields the power of education is greater than kings.
When the college celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, ex-President Mohn was too ill to be present. Alumni and students presented him with a purse of two hundred dollars on this occasion. President Mohn had finished his task. He died November 18, 1899, at the age of fifty-five years. The entire community mourned. From all public buildings flags were flying at half mast. All schools and places of business suspended work on the day of the funeral. The Carleton faculty attended in a body. “Seven columns in the Northfield News were devoted to tributes from church and college associates and an account of the funeral.”
Upon the foundation President Mohn had laid for a coeducational college, with a broad curriculum, a deep religious emphasis, and a keen appreciation of Norwegian culture, the college continues to build.
Shortly after President Mohn’s death the alumni built a home for his widow at 1208 St. Olaf Avenue, just below the Hill, on a lot furnished by the citizens of Northfield. There the delicate, charming, little lady spent her last twenty-three years, in view of the college and in the close, affectionate companionship of her devoted sons and daughter. When Mrs. Anna Elizabeth Ringstad Mohn passed away, in January 1923, at the age of seventy-one years, the Reverend H. B. Kildahl speaking at the service, said: “Mrs. Mohn’s life was like a benediction, the manuscript of which is now being laid away.”
In her active years Mrs. Mohn exerted a molding and refining influence in the college community. This fact was recognized by the board of trustees of the college at Christmas 1894 when they presented her with a gold watch and chain in appreciation of her many services.
Of the professors’ wives connected with early St. Olaf there were three who spent their entire married lives at the school. These were Mrs. Mohn, Mrs. Felland, and Mrs. Ytterboe, the two latter having also been students in the academy.
Mrs. Ytterboe had the distinction of having spent more years at St. Olaf than any other woman and to have lived in more of the college buildings than any other person. As a wife she lived in the Main and in Ytterboe Hall. In her widowhood, after her children had left the home on St. Olaf Avenue, she was an occupant of Mohn Hall and later of Agnes Mellby Hall, while serving as cashier at the college cafeteria. In this latter capacity she was the gracious hostess who knew personally all former students that on visits to their Alma Mater were happy to see the familiar figure and to be welcomed heartily by her. Her seventieth, seventy-fifth, and eightieth birthdays were celebrated by the entire St. Olaf family, and she was honored with gifts of flowers and money and speeches. Her relatives furnished a room in Agnes Mellby Hall in her memory. Mrs. Ytterboe died November 17, 1944, at the age of eighty-three years. At the time of her death she was the only person in the St. Olaf family who had seen the erection of all the college buildings erected so far. In the words of Theodore Jorgenson: “She was an incarnation of something deep and great, a spirit and an abiding trust, a vision, and an unshakable confidence in its realization.”
As for Mrs. Felland, her life is a part of the saga of Ladies’ Hall, dealt with in another chapter. Very appropriately, one of the rooms in Agnes Mellby Hall is furnished in her memory. In gardens along St. Olaf Avenue may be found specimens of a pure white iris developed by Professor Felland and named “rhea Alba” for his wife, Thea Midboe Felland. Underneath his favorite photograph of her Professor Felland inscribed, in Hebrew, the passage from Proverbs 3:17, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
In writing about these women for the Messenger, May 1907, Mrs. Amalie Olsen Granrud, one time preceptress at St. Olaf and later wife of a Minnesota University Professor, has this to say: “It has been my privilege to become acquainted with different schools, but never before or since have I had the pleasure of meeting professors’ wives who so willingly worked for the students and the school. They were always willing to give both their time and money for the benefit of St. Olaf, and through those dark days of uncertainty these loyal women did a great deal more than is generally known.”


Although the founders of St. Olaf thought always of their school as a place of equal opportunities for students of both sexes, every once in a while the question of coeducation would be brought forth for debate, showing that the idea was not yet generally accepted. One might say that coeducation on the college level was still a comparatively new venture in this country, or at least in this part of the country. In fact, institutions of any type of higher education for women were relatively few in number. The oldest boarding school for women, the Ursuline Academy, New Orleans, 1727, still remains an academy. The second oldest girls’ boarding school in the United States, the Moravian College for Women, at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1742, now confers degrees in arts and sciences. Salem Female Academy, 1772, North Carolina, was chartered as a college in 1866. The Georgia Female College, at Macon, founded 1836, granted its first degrees in 1840. Oberlin College, founded 1834, was the first coeducational college in the United States, and granted three lady BA’s in 1841.
The University of Minnesota accepted women students from the start (1869). It even had a women’s rifle team in 1890, of which pictures are extant. More than thirty women in a company appear in frog-buttoned blouses and full length pleated skirts, with swords at the belt. Although not opposed to coeducation, Dr. Folwell once said: “In my opinion there should be separate entrances and corridors for ladies, a separate study room, adjacent to which should be their cloak rooms and other apartments.”
Fredrika Bremer writing while on a visit to America, in 1850, had this to say: “Perhaps the most important work which America is doing for the future of humanity consists in her treatment and education of women. . . . Woman’s increasing value as a teacher, and the employment of her as such in the public schools, even in those for boys, is a public fact in these states which greatly delights me.”
Harpers for 1857 speaks thus: “The education of women is one of the great facts of the age. It is a bold, outstanding movement, full of significance and worthy to challenge the profound attention of all thinking people . . . Female education ought to excite no more surprise than female goodness; and if the world had used its common sagacity, the cultivation of womanly mind would have been as sacredly guarded as the protection of womanly virtue. But the past slumbered over this hallowed trust, and not until the last quarter of a century has female education taken its proper place among the highest of earthly duties.”
In 1888 the Messenger has this “Exchange” item: “Among the 559 women graduated from the fourteen leading women’s colleges and seminaries in this country only 117 are married.” Evidently a deplorable fact at the time! Contrast the present day emphasis: In 1948, with the popu lation increased by twenty-six million babies born in the U.S.A. during the past seven years, and the marriage rate still running high, the cry is for more educated women as teachers for American youth. Colleges are a fruitful source of the needed supply. With the ratio of one and one half woman teacher to every man in 1870, increased in 1900 to two and one half women to every man, and in 1948, to five and one half women to every man, there is surely great need of unmarried, educated women to teach the children of the married!
It was argued that “school life would render housework distasteful and disqualify girls from becoming home makers,” and that “coeducation effeminates a man and makes woman too manly.” In answer to such arguments Frida Bue had a disarming essay on “Housekeepers” in theMessenger for March, 1901. In the same periodical for October, 1901, Mr. Erik Sovik wrote convincingly on coeducation, saying, in part, “One of the material advantages of coeducation is the possibility of employing more economy in support and management of a school . . . inculcate good manners, relieve and recreate the mind of the hard working student, foster a home-like spirit, opportunities for the study of character, an aid to good manners and good morals.” Mr. J. P. Tandberg wrote: “Coeducation is one of the triumphs of the century.”

ST. OLAF GIRLS-1894-’95

It seemed that everyone connected with St. Olaf was in favor of coeducation. The “Exchange” department in the college paper had many items on the subject. In November 1892: “Although the first college for women was opened only twenty-five years ago, 40,000 women are now in attendance at colleges.” Too big a stream to stop! Another: “At the University of London a Scotch girl twenty years of age carried off the honors against 1600 males.” No inferiority!
The young women at St. Olaf made no great stir — even in the suffragette age of the English Pankhursts. They quietly went about their work enjoying the present, confident of the future.
One wonders what agitation may have been the cause of a statement by an alumnus, in theMessenger, May 1899, to this effect: “If St. Olaf is changed to St. Olava and made a ladies’ seminary, about fifty of us would enjoy the unique distinction of being alumni of a ladies’ seminary. May it never happen!”
Such fears, if ever the least grounded, must have been dispelled completely when, in 1900, the college department of the United Church Seminary in Minneapolis was transferred to and united with St. Olaf College, bringing a number of male students and additional teachers.
The beginning of the new century saw many changes on the Hill. A scientific course was added both in the college and academy departments. On Foundation Day, November 6, 1900, the cornerstone was laid for a boys’ dormitory. When this building was taken into use, in the fall of 1901, a boarding establishment was fitted up in its basement, releasing two large basement rooms in the Main for physics and chemistry laboratories and a reading room. With the departure of the boys from the third floor of the Main, all those rooms were converted into class rooms.
The fall of 1905 saw further changes in the Main. The outside bricks were painted deep cream. The president’s and treasurer’s offices were moved from the first to the second floor, and science laboratories from basement to first floor. Kerosene lamps were replaced by electric lights. The first power plant brought in steam radiators. During the installation of the central heating plant there were several weeks in October when the Main was too cold for full period recitations. Classes were cut down to fifteen minutes. Everyone wore his overcoat and some felt the need of caps. They had not yet heard of going without headgear outdoors in dead of winter! The fact that it was too cold to take notes and write tests brought no complaints from the students. The Hoyme Memorial Chapel, named for the presi dent of the Church at the time, was built in 1906. A post office was equipped on the first floor of the Main, with a box for each student, the number corresponding to the number of his seat in chapel. The student body of 357 was too large to be accommodated in St. John’s Church. Every Sunday a third of the student body attended services in the Chapel.


Before being carried along further with the external development, it may be in order to retrace our steps a little and look at the inner workings of the school.
The academy commencement exercises June 19, 1889 — the year before the first college graduates — give an insight into the quality of the work.
Oration — “Dr. Martin Luther”
Norwegian Debate —“Ought the Norwegian Language to Be Preserved in America?”
Affirmative, H. O. FOSNES
Negative, TH. S. KOLSTE

Essay — “Little by Little”

German Declamation — “Die Lorelei”

Essay — “The Value of the Education We Have Received”

Class History

Oration (with valedictory remarks) — “Life and Duty”


In passing, attention might be called to the fact that the Ole Fugleskiel here listed is the pastor in whose memory the “bautastein” monument deep in the St. Olaf woods was erected. He froze to death in the performance of his pastoral duties in northern Minnesota.
The first fruits of the “new tree” were the class of three who graduated with B. A. degrees in 1890. They were Carl J. Rollefson, Anders O. Sandbo, and Anton Engebretson. Their graduation picture was taken on the platform in No. 7, as they sat under an arch of ferns, with three beribboned baskets of flowers at their feet.
Shall we blade through an album of early “graduation pictures?” The class of 1891 numbered only two. Carl Herman Bjorn, in striped trousers, frock coat, and white tie, sits stiffly beside John P. Tandberg, in “conventional black,” each holding a rolled up “sheep-skin” in one hand and a bunch of flowers in the other, the while their feet are buried in a border of ferns.
The class of 1892 numbered six: O. G. U. Siljan, H. F. Dahl, Louis Johnson, John I. Egge, Thorstein K. Thorstenson, A. G. Bjorneby. Their picture, on the same platform, shows on the wall behind them their class motto, “Esse non Videri,” worked out in greens.
The year 1893 saw the first girl graduate from the college department. She was Agnes Mellby. In the class picture she is seated between the two men graduates, Adolph Larson and Hans E. Fosnes. All are tightly clutching their diplomas. The arch has been dispensed with, but there is a mass of ferns on the edge of the platform, and prominently displayed on the wall behind them is the Ladies’ Hall picture of “Pharaoh’s Horses,” brought over to the chapel room for the occasion. On the commencement program, June 21, Miss Mellby read an essay entitled “Unnoticed Lives.” Mr. Fosnes gave an oration, in Norwegian, on the subject, “Hvad du gjør, det gjør av al din magt.” Adolph Larson spoke on “Mental Culture.”

FIRST WOMAN GRADUATE-1893 Notice “Pharaoh’s Horses”

The following year, 1894, also, there was only one lady graduate, Lingah C. Anderson. She and her six men classmates are all holding their diplomas on the commencement picture, and the year ’94 is outlined in ferns on the wall. On that commencement program there was an oration in German, on the subject “Die Zukunft der Amerikanischen Indianer,” by W. Homme.
In the class of ’95 the men are alone — six of them. And, “Pharaoh’s Horses” is again prominent in the stage decorations! The invitations that year were something very unusual. Several times the ordinary size, they were, and of flowered parchment. On a separate, attached sheet were printed names of members of class and class officers, — and, underneath, in small letters, the words, “No Flowers.” Consequently, very few flowers are to be seen in this picture. This class likes to think that the fact of there being five of their number who went to the Church Seminary to study for the ministry was one of the deciding factors in the renewed acceptance of St. Olaf as the official college of the Church, in 1899.
Five men graduated in 1896. Picture decidedly masculine. Motto and diplomas in evidence. No flowers.
By this time there were three women on the St. Olaf Faculty: namely, Agnes Mellby, Marie Krohn, and Mathilda Finseth. The men were: the Messrs. Th. N. Mohn, H. T. Ytterboe, O. G. Felland, Olav Lee, A. Fossum, and C. J. Rollefson.
The class of ’97 was made up of seven men. The largest class so far. All are clad in Prince Albert coats, wing collars, and bow ties. Instead of flowers, a fur rug lies at their feet!
In the class of ’98 are the well-known names Johan A. Aasgaard, Lars W. Boe, Olaf M. Norlie, Olaf Lysnes, Ole H. Heimark, and Ditman Larson. They sit proudly, amidst potted plants, the American flag stretched out on the wall, with the Greek class motto superimposed.
The class of ’99 reached the unprecedented number of ten — all men.
The third girl graduate did not appear till 1900. She was Agnes Kittelsby. She was followed by Sophia Berg, in 1901, by Frida Bue in 1902, and by Georgina Dieson in 1904 — each being the only girl in her class.

“JUST ONE GIRL” GRADUATES OF 1893, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1904
Alumna of 1894 not in picture

Mention should be made of Frida Bue’s part on the commencement program, for she read an original poem, entitled “Castle Inheritance,” comprising thirty-six stanzas of eight lines each.
The class of ’03 was conspicuous for not having a co-ed. The Messenger reported in 1903 that “The reading of Othello in the senior class is made rather difficult on account of a lack of ladies.”
The one girl in the ’04 class had to be both Desdemona and Lady Macbeth! In the days of the ’04 co-ed there was a popular song, entitled “Just One Girl,” which the nineteen boys of her class adopted as a class song. When they sang, “Just one girl, only just one girl. We’ll be happy forever with just one girl,” they irritated the ’03ers, who retaliated with: “Not one girl, oh, not one girl. We’ll be happy forever without one girl.”
At commencement ’04 the “just one girl” was on the program together with three of the boys. The coach’s instructions were: “Miss D., you memorize your essay just as the boys do; but, because you are a lady, you must hold your manuscript.”
The ’04 class was the last to sing “Just One Girl.” It had other distinctions, too, and delighted in calling itself “the class of innovations.” They originated the Sophomore-Senior reception. They published the first college annual, and gave it the name Viking. Also, they introduced the use of caps and gowns for the seniors.
The class of 1905 fell back to the no girl list. This did not mean that there had never been a girl in the class, however. A number of girls were taking college subjects at the time, but only a very few stayed on to finish a course. Up to 1906 only six women had graduated from the college, as compared to 159 men.
But the class of 1906 created quite a sensation with seven girls graduating. These girls felt very important and made their presence felt. As sophomores they received the name “Pandoras,” and as juniors they organized a “Pandora Society.” “Claws II” of the constitution reads: “The ultimate end in view in assembling such a crowd of conflicting individualities into a band (where each blows her own horn) is to further the hilariousness of said confederation, and, further, to encourage mutual affection between the constituents of said confederation (a retrogression of which said mutual affection has been grievously experienced) ; and furthermore to promote the femininities of each monstrosity, and furthermore, inasmuch as we consider ourselves the only lions in the desert, we feel intuitively that we are entitled to the hospitality of the general and professional (this hits the Faculty) public.”


At an inter-collegiate debate at the Ware Auditorium these “Pandoras” made themselves very conspicuous by dressing exactly alike in cream colored shirt-waists, red ties, and black skirts, and occupying chairs in one of the lower boxes. In writing themselves up in ’06 Viking they end the article with the breath-taking hope that when they return “as staid alumnae” they may find “not only seven girls in each class, but seven times seven.”
Miss Thonny Felland, a member of this class, has the distinction of being the first graduate in the college department of music.
This 1906 class numbered thirty-five all told. So large a class that the exercises had to be held in the Ware Auditorium!
The class of 1907 numbered only nineteen, three of them women. There were eight women in the 1908 class, and five in 1909. In 1910 the number jumped to sixteen women in a class of forty-eight. These sixteen, proud of their unprecedented number, had themselves photographed in a long strung-out line, which looked very impressive at the time.
A sprightly bulletin distributed in 1906 indicates in rather a unique way some of the characteristics of the school at that time:
“Only $44 for twelve weeks of board, room, tuition, light, and use of library. You gather useful knowledge; you cultivate your mind; you prepare yourself for greater usefulness in life. Are not such results worth $44? Make up your mind to find out by attending St. Olaf College during the winter term.
“If you do not have much to do during the long winter months, use your time in going to school. It will keep you out of mischief and from forming habits of idleness. Have you noticed how some people — young, strong, and healthy — stand around street corners, hang around grocery stores and livery stables, and sit on dry goods boxes drumming the sides of these with their heels? Why do they do this? Many of them do so — to begin with — because they find nothing else to do, and thus try to while away the time hanging heavily on their hands. To some this mode of spending time is but a preparatory course for pushing them down the rungs of the social ladder until they become slaves of their appetites.
“Now look what safeguards are thrown around you while attending St. Olaf College. In the first place, you will be given so much to do that you will wish you had more time at your disposal than you do have to do it. In the second place, you will find yourself protected by salutary rules. You are not permitted to use intoxicating liquors, to visit saloons, billiard rooms, or theaters, to play cards, to read papers or books disapproved.
“Most students find no trouble in observing the rules, as they contain nothing else but what the students have been keeping away from before they came to the institution. The rules offer no hardship. Rules — like law — are not for the righteous, but for the transgressor. A few students — very few — may find it hard at first to conform to rules, but soon — if they are bright — find out that the rules are for their good; they get a habit of observing them cheerfully, and go away from the school morally stronger men and women than they were when they came.
“You also get things outside of books. You learn to associate with others; you enlarge your circle of friends; you become acquainted with a large number of the best Norwegian young men and women in the Northwest; you have a chance of joining literary clubs, of being present at debating and oratorical contests, of attending excellent concerts, readings, and lectures, of becoming a member of musical organizations, both vocal and instrumental.
“Besides getting systematic instruction in some religious subject, going to church twice on Sunday, and attending devotional exercises morning and evening on week days, the students hold prayer meetings every Thursday evening in order to build up their spiritual lives and to get the blessings that result from bringing their wants to God in com mon prayer. A Luther League meets every Sunday after supper and renders such programs as peculiarly belong to Luther League work. In other words, you are surrounded with Christian influences.
“Do you like to go to school where such advantages are offered? Try it.”

As It Was In The Beginning


To Be Read First, Please
The Big Woods
On the Banks of the Cannon
Up to Manitou Heights
The Hall in the Woods
From Dawn to Dusk
A New Tree Grows on Manitou
In and Out Among the Trees
Boughs and Branches
The Woods Recede