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The board chose three Greencastle men as its first officers: Dr. Alexander Stevenson, a physician and farmer, was named president and served twice from 1837-1839 and again 1840-1841; Dr. Tarvin Cowgill, who had headed the group that successfully presented Greencastle's case before the Indiana Conference, secretary; and Rees Hardesty, a local businessman, treasurer.


Hardesty later served twice as president (1839-1840, 1841-1843), as did prominent Greencastle businessman William H. Thornburg (1843-1848) and lawyer John Cowgill (1848-1853). Largely because of travel conditions, a group of relatively young Methodist farmers, merchants, and professional men of Greencastle were dominant in the early planning and direction of Indiana Asbury University.







John Cowgill, Greencastle lawyer, judge and mayor.

Among the first business transacted by the trustees, who met 17 times during 1837, was the selection of a building site in the southern part of the town plat of Greencastle. Two Methodist clergymen, John C. Smith and Aaron Wood, were chosen as agents to raise money for the university by stumping the state and selling scholarships enabling the purchaser to enroll students in its classes. They frequently received more goodwill and prayer than cash. Leasing the county seminary building for the anticipated preparatory department, the board complied also with a requirement of a loan of $200 by opening an "ABC Spelling reading writing and Arithmetic School" in a small two-room "town seminary" on Washington Street on March 20. The pastor of the local Methodist Church, John Newell, taught a handful of children here until mid June, when he was succeeded by James McCachran, who turned the teaching duties back to Newell again sometime during the following year. This initial educational venture at Old Asbury is not mentioned in the records after September 1838, when it apparently came to an end.


Martin M. Ray, a lawyer from Shelbyville.





More enduring was the preparatory department, essential to any institution of that day hoping to obtain students qualified to undergo the rigor of the classical college curriculum. The preparatory department opened on June 5, 1837, under the direction of Cyrus Nutt, a Methodist minister and recent graduate of Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. He used a room in the town seminary until August, when he moved to the more commodious county seminary on the southeast corner of the present Seminary Street and College Avenue, which remained the site of the new university's activities for the next three years.
Hoosier Town




By November 1837, the infant institution boasted 40 students, ranging in age from 13 to 28. As early as December the trustees began making appointments to the college faculty. They elected the Rev. Joseph S. Tomlinson professor of mathematics, but the Transylvania University graduate declined to leave the presidency of Augustana College in Kentucky for what seemed an uncertain future in Greencastle. A few months later he also rejected the board's offer of the presidency. The first regular member of the faculty, then, was Cyrus Nutt, who accepted an appointment as professor of languages in addition to his post as principal of the preparatory department. For the moment he also served as acting president and was assisted in the preparatory classes by the Rev. John Weakley.

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Cyrus Nutt

The Edifice

Tommy Goodwin

Matthew Simpson

John W. Ray

William C. Larrabee

Rebellion of 1856- 57

Literary Societies

Thomas Bowman

The Civil War

Joseph Tingley

Alexander Martin

The Edifice Fire

Bettie Locke (Hamilton)

East College

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