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In the meantime the trustees had decided, with the concurrence of the Indiana Conference of the Methodist Church, to establish a medical department in Indianapolis and appointed eight persons to its faculty in 1848. All were physicians except Charles G. Downey, who was transferred from the professorship of natural science in Greencastle. Known as the Indiana Central Medical College, the school opened in December 1849 but closed after only three years, having graduated 40 of the more than 100 students who attended its classes, including Joshua T. Belles, the grandfather of British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan. Reasons for its demise are hazy, but probably most important was a feeling that the university was overextending itself in view of its modest financial resources.

More enduring was the law school program which operated in Greencastle from 1853 to 1863. Its faculty consisted of a single professor of law who lectured for a few weeks each term to a handful of would-be lawyers. John A. Matson, Judge A.C. Downey, and John Cowgill each served as law professor at one time or another. The university awarded 54 degrees of bachelor of laws during the decade.

The diary of E.E. Edwards, who enrolled in the preparatory department of Indiana Asbury in 1846 as a boy of 15, presents a vivid picture of student life. He first lived in a rented room in the home of judge John Cowgill-a member of the board of trustees-located on the northwest corner of the town square and called "Tumbledown." Here were housed four boys on the ground floor and six on the second. All out-of-county students, many in their early teens, had to find both room and board from local landlords, the university providing no dormitory accommodations until 1885. The college bell rang at 4:00 a.m., but Edwards did not rise until about six. At eight he joined with the rest of the student body in a brief religious service in the college chapel, where scripture selections were read, prayers offered, and announcements made; sometimes the choir sang under the direction of Professor Tingley. Tumbledown



The rest of the morning was spent in class recitations. Edwards and his fellow students were supposed to study in their rooms after the noon meal until four or five o'clock, when they were free for recreation. After supper they returned to their rooms to study until the college bell rang at 9 p.m., signaling lights out. On Sunday morning students were required to attend one of the Greencastle churches and in the afternoon a lecture at the college by the president or one of the professors.

Snipe Hunt
This rather Spartan routine was occasionally broken by pranks and parties, though students in general came under much more rigorous faculty supervision than imaginable today. Parents were encouraged even to entrust students' spending money with a member of faculty. The young men managed to find time for occasional oyster suppers with ginger beer, but dating local girls was closely monitored. As for pranks, Edwards reports how he and others distributed the university woodpile around town to such effect that classes had to be dismissed the next day because there was no firewood for the classroom stoves.

  An Asbury student reads in a tree, from a    
  sketch by E. E. Edwards in his 1847 diary.


Some idea of college costs may be obtained from a letter written by student Aden G. Cavins in 1847 to his father:

At present I enjoy remarkable good health, and can cheerfully say that I have so far spent my time since I left old Green County in a flow of high spirits. Sickness prevailed here more during the fall than it has for a number of years, the cause of which, I believe, is unknown.



The number of students in attendance during this term is about 175 which exceeds that of any previous term, and of course renders the lower departments of study too much crowded for convenience, or thorough drilling, or rapid improvement. There is some probability that this will be remedied by the creation of another teacher....

I am boarding at Mr. Dicks at 1.75 a week. I commenced boarding at Mr. Talbotts (at 1.50 per week) a very large boarding house which accomodates about 22 students but the noise, confusion, and disturbance, was so intense and continuous that it required more concentration of mind than I could command to learn anything save that which if learned ought to be unlearned....I think it will take about $20 or $21 more to pay my expenses for this term since my books cost me $7.00.

Above, a drawing of the Greencastle home of trustee Rees Hardesty, first treasurer and later president of the board.  In this house, Professor Larrabee performed the wedding of Hardesty's daughter in 1850 to recent Asbury graduate and later Indiana congressman and senator Daniel W.  Voorhess.





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People, Events & Traditions

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

Japanese Students