Cowgirl Pledges

Every so often we receive letters and packages containing fantastic stories and HSU memorabilia from HSU alumni or family members of alumni.

Earlier this month, a box found its way to the RC that has brought nothing but smiles and laughter since being opened.

Upon opening the box, we were transported back to 1949 and the shenanigans of the young women who participated in the Cowgirls organization.


The Hardin Simmons University Cowgirls was a social club for women on campus, founded in 1925. The club had many purposes, besides developing life-long friendships. The ladies acted as a pep-squad, cheering and dancing at athletic events. They were the school’s hostesses; anytime a guest was on campus, the ladies were called to assist with tea and receptions. They marched in parades, and had a presence both on campus and across the state.

The club, sadly, disbanded in 1974 due to the sudden development of various sororities and Greek clubs on campus competing for membership.

Prior to 1974, however, The Cowgirls were THE organization to join while a student.


Inside the box was a sampling of the what HSU women would go through while pledging to join the Cowgirls.

Below you will see the instructions pledges needed to follow, an invitation to join the organization, and the sweater/uniform worn by the Cowgirls in 1949:

Edna F. Edwards Carroll (pictured below) attended HSU in 1949, and was a member of the Cowgirls. The sweater, pledge-rules, and invitation belonged to her.

We are so grateful Edna’s daughter sent us these reminders of her time on campus.

Happy Halloween from HSU!

Do you hear the pitter-patter of paws? Dear ‘ole Dam-It, the campus’ sweet dog of a mascot, passed away due to pneumonia in 1920. There have been many instances across campus where some have heard the jingle of his tags, the sniffle of a wet-nose, or soft whine of a lost dog. For, you see, Dam-It’s spirit haunts the campus, looking for its final resting place.

Students, faculty, staff, and the greater community, mourned Dam-It’s untimely passing. A beautiful headstone was crafted to say, “Dam-it, He is Dead, College Mascot, 1916-1920.” Classes were canceled, and the campus celebrated the life of the mutt that had free reign over hearts and the campus of Simmons College.

Sketch from the 1920 Bronco

National news picked up the funeral procession and story, bringing more attention to the already larger-in-death-than-life dog.

As a result, both students and visitors would sneak about campus in the dead of night to chip away pieces of Dam-It’s tombstone to take away as souvenirs. To preserve the longevity of Dam-It’s last mortal marker, the powers-that-be removed Dam-It’s tombstone from the earth and placed it in the library for safekeeping.

What remains of Dam-It’s marble tombstone

The desecration of his grave, woke the dog’s spirit, forcing it to roam the campus to this day.

To appease the ghost, a purple and yellow fire hydrant has been placed outside, by the pond, as a permanent fixture and pseudo-grave marker for Dam-It. Unfortunately, this act has not allowed the dog’s spirit to rest. Dam-It’s original tombstone resides on the 2nd floor of the Richardson Library. Often, at night, library patrons hear Dam-It sniffing around, looking for his rightful resting place

Dam-It’s current grave marker

The Olsen House’s dirt basement is damp, dark, and full of stories. Brush off the dust and an occasional spider, and you’ll find yourself a piece of history.

The Olsen House

Completed in 1929, it was inhabited by the Olsen family for much of the 20th century. For about 80 years, children ran up and down the stairs, family dinners were cooked in the kitchen, and the average-every-day took place.

It is now an Abilene Historic Landmark.

Living across the street from the Simmons campus, students would often see Dr. Julius Olsen, professor and Dean of science, tearing apart and rebuilding his car in the family driveway on Sunday afternoons.

Dr. Olsen and his wife had five children; sadly, their youngest, also named Julius, died due to measles.  The school honors the memory of young Julius through the Julius Nelson Olsen Medal—a medal awarded each year to the graduate with the highest grade point average.

Dr. Julius Olsen 1926

On February 12, 1928, fifteen years after the death of Julius Nelson Olsen, his father wrote a poem, “Thinking of Julius,” on the back of a legal-sized envelope. 

Thinking of Julius

The sun is slowly sinking
On this quiet Sabbath day,
And I am sorrowing but thinking
Of Julius, our “sonny boy”
Who brought us love and joy.
Then left us, oh! so soon
Causing a deep, deep wound.

Just fifteen years ago
We knew our greatest sorrow
Because he went to lands unknown
And we were left alone.
But someday, we shall see him
In that blessed far-off land.
Then we may grasp his little hand
And kiss his golden hair—
Then we will be happy.

https://athinsilence.com/hardin-simmons-university/alma-mater-hardin-simmons-university-the-best-kept-secret-a-memoir/a-quiet-man-of-science-and-faith-1/

Be on the lookout for shenanigans and skullduggery! The students of Hardin-Simmons have always had a penchant for pranks and tomfoolery. Cows often found their way locked in professors’ offices, overnight. One can only guess which gave away the cow’s presence more…the mooing or the smell.

The campus’s current mascot is a white goose named Gilbert. Gilbert (or Gilberta… we’re not sure on the gender) roams freely around the pond. He approaches people without an ounce of fear and is well fed. Empty bread-loaf bags are found in the trashcan around the pond frequently.

Gilbert the Goose

Gilbert’s arrival to campus is the result of a student-led prank. The young, reputable boys of Nix Hall goose-napped our beloved Gilbert from Nelson Pond. The reason? Oh, because one of their friends was deathly afraid of birds.

After driving the bird back to campus, the goose-burglars hid Gilbert in the dorm-bathroom for their bird-phobic-friend to find.

Among the screams, honks, and rustling feathers and shower curtain, Gilbert made an impression on the rest of us. Campus police relocated Gilbert from the Nix 3rd floor bathroom to the pond in the center of campus.

HSU police finding Gilbert in Nix Hall

Students from McMurry once nabbed Gilbert and brought him to their campus as a cross-town prank. HSU students quickly rescued their feathery friend and brought him home.


Eva Rudd was an English teacher known by her students as one who did not tolerate an interrupted class or lecture.  One February morning in 1947, a student, by the name Lavoy Owens sat in Ms. Rudd’s class and noticed flames coming through the baseboard of a wall in the classroom.

Eva Rudd

Paralyzed by fear…not the fear of fire, but the fear of interrupting her professor, Lavoy sat quietly in her desk, debating whether or not to raise her hand and bring attention to the flames.

The class continued normally, the fire continued to grow.

Eventually, Lavoy plucked up the courage to raise her hand, suffer the scowl of Ms. Rudd, and when she was finally awarded the opportunity to speak, Lavoy could barely whisper, “Fire!” for fear of her teacher’s reprehension.

Ms. Rudd finished the point of her lecture before dismissing the class to exit the burning building.

Abilene Hall

The original Abilene Hall opened its doors to students in 1913 and stood until that fateful morning in 1947. The building wasn’t the only thing to be lost that day: books, instruments, original/sheet music, furniture, and other treasures of HSU history were destroyed.

The students who sit in the classrooms of today’s Abilene Hall (built 1948) now keep an eye trained on their professor and the other eye fixated on the baseboards. Constant vigilance!

Abilene Hall

HSU Trivia

Homecoming 2019 is here!

Put on your thinking caps. It’s time for HSU Trivia!

trivia

1. In what year did school begin at Simmons College?

Scroll below to see the answer.

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1892

Simmons College was incorporated in 1891, however, the first academic year did not begin until 1892, after the construction of Old Main.


2. True or False- HSU had an aviation program.

Scroll below to see the answer.

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True

HSU had a Civil Pilot Training Program 1939 through 1944, to train and certify pilots during WWII. It was a government sponsored program that took place on college campuses to prepare the next wave of pilots to deploy into war.

Ground courses were offered at HSU by Professors Olsen and Burman: classes in aviation, physics, meteorology, navigation, and more; Flying took place out of Abilene Airfield.

After WWII, the aviation program and certification continued for a few years, but no longer as a funnel for military enlistment.


3. True or False- Students sold oranges as a fundraiser for the construction of the library.

Scroll below to see the answer.

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True

In 1972, after the annual student orange-picking-trip down in the orange groves of Edinburg, TX students sold their haul.

60 STUDENTS, over the course of 2 DAYS, picked 11 TONS of oranges, transported in 500 BOXES, to sell, raising $20,000 for a new LIBRARY.


4. What was the Cowgirl Band?

Scroll below to see the answer.

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Cowboy Band Proxy

The Cowgirl Band briefly filled in for an absentee Cowboy Band in the late 1930s/early 1940s.

The lack of male students, due to wartime, allowed for women to pick up their instruments and continue the campus-traditions of pep and song.

Once WWII ended and male students returned to campus, the Cowgirl Band disbanded.

Women would finally be allowed to join the Cowboy Band in the 1990’s.


5. What’s the oldest standing building on campus?

Scroll below to see the answer.

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Marston Gym

Completed in 1918, Marston Gym is now enclosed by the Fletcher Fitness Center. It celebrated it’s 100th birthday in 2018.

When visiting the Fitness Center, look up after entering. You’ll see Marston’s original steel joists, visible as a token to the building’s past.


6. What are the different names the school has had over the years?

Scroll below to see the answer.

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Abilene Baptist College: the original name given to the school, when the idea for a Baptist College was pitched in early 1891.

Simmons College: After the financial and spiritual support of James B. Simmons, the Board of Trustees voted to rename the school Simmons College in 1891.

Simmons University: President Sandefer introduced graduate programs, elevating the school’s status to “university” in 1925.

Hardin-Simmons University: To stay afloat during the Great Depression, the Board preemptively changed the school’s name to Hardin-Simmons as a way to entice donors, John and Mary Hardin, into giving a larger donation.

An Ode to the Library

Today’s post comes from student worker, Lydia Page.

I have been working on the second floor of the library for two years. What a ride it has been! This was my first “real” job. Seeing where I was when I first began my job to where I am now, today, makes me feel emotional because of how much I have changed.

Being a student worker at a university has been a lot of fun over the years, especially since I have worked with some pretty outstanding individuals that I can call my friends.

While working in the Special Collections Annex, I had the opportunity to perform various tasks like inventorying photographs and negatives, and more recently, photographing newspapers in order to digitize them for online preservation.

One of the newspapers I photographed.

Many people ask me if I like this job, or if it is boring because it’s just me sorting out documents in a library. My answer to that would be that I really like this job!

To be completely honest, I did not expect to love this job as much as I do because I am the kind of person who loves interacting with people and participating in social activities, rather than being alone in an office doing one activity for a month or for six months at a time (which is what you do when working in my department). For me, though, my supervisor and the independence of the job are what make it an engaging experience for me. I never dread coming to work.

I’ve learned a lot while on the job, like problem solving; and I know that will help me in the future! Developing new skill-sets, both socially and technically, have really helped me become smarter about things like customer service and time management.

Hanging out with books

While working at the library, I learned a lot about myself that I did not know before being exposed to the adult-world-of-jobs. I learned that I do make a lot of mistakes, and, more importantly, I am able to learn from my mistakes quickly and move on from them. I also figured out that I love working with people, and that I love to try new things.

I feel like I grew up in this office even though I have only been here for two years. I have experienced so much in college and the fact that it all started here makes me feel sentimental, but excited to continue on my path towards adulthood! I think it has made me into a more responsible person with the ability to be courageous.

I would recommend anyone to come work in the library, especially if Mary Burke is your supervisor. If she can make typing in an Excel spreadsheet for six months fun, then she can do anything, and that is the kind of person others should be around. (Disclaimer: Mary did not tell Lydia to write those kind words.)


 

Lydia is a junior graphic design major who grew up in Turkey.

My First year at THE Rupert Norval Richardson Research Center for the Southwest

Today’s post comes from student worker, Ethan Pierce!

Guest-Blogger

Like many other students on the Hardin-Simmons campus, I am a student worker in the library; however, unlike all of the other student workers in the library, I have the unique privilege of working in THE Rupert Norval Richardson Research Center for the Southwest. (Extra emphasis on the “THE.”)

While working here, I have had the opportunity to learn so much about the history of Hardin-Simmons University.

One on the most fascinating aspects of working at the RC has been learning about the many men and woman who have taken part in the growth and continual growth of this institution.

Perhaps, because I work in a building named for him, or maybe because I have a natural soft spot for him, I have grown to admire Dr. Rupert N. Richardson. From his early years to the end of his life, Richardson devoted himself to Simmons College, Simmons University and Hardin-Simmons University.

Richardson outside library
Rupert Richardson in front of the Richardson Library.

While working in the RC, I had the opportunity to read Richardson’s book, Famous Are Thy Halls. Reading this book allowed me to learn about HSU’s rich history. I use the knowledge gained from reading Famous Are Thy Halls, both in my work here at the research center, as well as in my daily conversations with peers and friends.

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For the majority of this year I worked on a project about the Student Army Training Corps. Later, I will write a more informative blog-post about the SATC, but, for the time being, let me share that working on the SATC project was fascinating. I was able to handle documents that are 99 years old and read the regulations that the men of the SATC had to follow. This project allowed me to look back into the early years of HSU and see how different life was like for the early students here.

SATC letter001
My favorite letter from the SATC collection.

Working in the RC has not only expanded my knowledge of HSU, but has also given me much pride carrying on the traditions of an HSU cowboy.


 

Ethan Pierce is a freshman Biblical Studies major from San Antonio.

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Clear Raincoats

This week, HSU welcomed graduates from 1968 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their walking across the stage of Behrens Auditorium. Luckily, I was invited by the alumni office to offer a campus tour and spend the afternoon with this group.

This was the first time many in the group had returned to HSU since graduation. Needless to say, there have been many changes since then.

For comparison, check out the campus map students received at the start of the 1967/68 academic year:

Campus Map

And here is today’s map:

map

See, lots of changes!

We cruised the campus in an air conditioned bus. I pointed out buildings; gave dates, figures, and histories; and then excitedly asked, “Do you have any fun stories to share about this place?”

Here are a few of my favorite stories from that bus ride:

Girls were not allowed to wear shorts around campus. Whenever one of us walked from our dorm to the tennis courts, we had to wear raincoats to cover up our legs. Can you imagine? Wearing a raincoat across campus because we were in shorts to exercise? So, I went out and bought a clear raincoat.

A clear raincoat!!! Can you imagine the moxie she had pulling off that stunt??!!


I can’t wait to see the new art building! When I was a student here, it was literally a shack. A shack with a dumpster next door. (A commentator then added: I bet the dumpster came in handy…throwing away all of that “art.”) 

Hahaha! Everybody had a good laugh.


Ms. Cul was a strict dorm-mother. My parents wanted to pick me up at 6:00 am to get on the road for a trip. Ms. Cul, a staunch rule-follower, told my parents, “The dorm does not open until 6:30 am. You can pick her up at 6:30.” Ms. Cul would not bend the rules, not even for my parents! So, my parents had to check me out the night before (while the dorm was still open) so we could leave on time the next day.

The rules students follow today aren’t nearly as strict. There were audible gasps as we noted men and women are allowed to visit each other in their respective residence halls (that was not allowed in 1968).


Taco Bell (I think it was Taco Bell) opened in town when I lived in Behrens Hall. Since us girls had a curfew and couldn’t leave our dorms after dinner, we would pass money out our window to the boys (since they didn’t have curfew!) to bring us back food!


Another fun comparison, tuition in 1968 was $23 per semester hour!

Tuition 1Tuition 2Tuition 3

It was a fun afternoon.

I can’t wait for next year’s Golden Reunion group to return to the 40 Acres, and to hear their stories!

giphy

Mary Frances Hall

Mary Frances Hall was a female-residence hall, opened in 1916. Over its 64-year life on campus (it was razed in 1980), it was home to hundreds of female students, and later used as office-space for faculty and staff.

Mary Frances Ext

The building was named for the wives of the building’s two largest donors, Mary Paramore (married to J.H. Parramore) and Frances Merchant (married to C.W. Merchant).

Mary Frances Hall was built and furnished for ~$50,000


After the completion of (original) Abilene Hall in 1913, the Board of Trustees set their sights on remedying the over-population of residence halls. Per the 1915 BoT minutes, overcrowded halls were a significant issue:

Name of Hall Normal Capacity Population
Anna 35 45
Girls Industrial Home 72 85
Cowden 50 65

That year, Col. J.H. Paramore offered $10,000 towards the construction of a female residence hall, if the citizens of Abilene could raise $30,000.

That challenge was met.

According to an article written by Lucile Sandefer in The Abilene Reporter-News:

November 23, 1915: President J.D. Sandefer petitioned the town to contribute to the building fund.

November 25, 1915: $20,000 had been raised with a significant contribution by C.W. Merchant.

November 16, 1915: Faculty gave $1,000.

December 7, 1915: $23,450 total funds raised.

February 28, 1916: A benefit performance was given to raise funds.

February 29, 1916: Abilene Chamber of Commerce raised the remaining balance of $2,000.

August 11, 1916: It was announced Mary Frances Hall would open September 19, 1916.

September 10, 1916: New furniture was installed.

September 16, 1916: Grace Sandefer and E.T. Compere were married in the building.

The support the citizens of Abilene directed towards this project and the students of Simmons College was a trend in the school’s earlier days. For example:

  • Financially, if it were not for the people of Abilene, the original funds to open Abilene Baptist College (now Hardin-Simmons University) would not have been raised.
  • If it had not been for the people of Abilene, the amount of prayer and sacrifice that guided this fledgling school and the people who operated it would not have existed.
  • The people of Abilene opened their homes to the students and faculty of Simmons College, providing them a place to live while working and studying. President Thatcher (second president, 1894-1989) first convinced the town to house students and this tradition continued through WWII.

The fact that J.D. Sandefer and J.H. Parramore went to the people of Abilene was no surprise; and with hindsight, the fact that the town raised the funds came as no shock.


Mary Frances Hall was not only home to female students. The Sandefer family resided there, as well, until the completion of Compere Hall in 1924. Gilbert Sandefer, youngest son to J.D. and Lucile, introduced Dam-It to the campus as his pet and school mascot; Dam-It called Mary Frances Hall his home, too.

Lucile Sander also laid the first brick of Mary Frances Hall during construction.

Mary Frances interior
Entry way of Mary Frances Hall


Sara (Elkins) Sikes moved into Mary Frances Hall September 1925. In the attached document, she describes the shenanigans that took place while living there, including when she fell down the elevator shaft.

sara
Sara Sikes’ 1928 Bronco portrait

Read her memories here.


Aileen Culpepper was dorm mother of Mary Frances 1945- ~1956, her first placement while working at HSU. Her legacy with HSU spanned over 60 years. She had an impact on hundreds of alumni, and many can tell stories about her.

culpepper
Culpepper standing infront of Mary Frances Hall


Today, The Johnson Building stands where Mary Frances Hall did. The Johnson Building acts as a memorial to Mary Frances Hall: it copies the white pillars and interior staircase that set Mary Frances Hall apart from the rest of the buildings on campus.

campus map
Campus Map ~1972-1975

 

 

Pauline Richardson

Pauline Mayes Richardson will be inducted into HSU’s Hall of Leaders this year. Like her husband, Rupert Richardson, Pauline’s life was dedicated to Hardin-Simmons University.

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Pauline Mayes Richardson, 1892-1965

Her legacy became intertwined with the school’s as soon as she registered as a student in 1909. Pauline played the role of student, faculty, sponsor, and first-lady throughout her time at HSU and remained an active member of the community until her death in 1965.

Pauline was born to John and Julia (Hunt) Mayes April 17, 1892 in Eastland County. She had a younger sister, Lila Mayes Hardy, who graduated from Simmons College in 1914.

lila-mayes-1913-bronco

 

Hailing from Hamlin, Pauline entered Simmons College in 1909 as a member of the academy. She graduated from the academy in 1910, with a diploma in piano. The Bronco claimed she moved “her audience to tears with her wonderful touch.”

1910-bronco-music-graduateDuring her time as a student, Pauline was an active member of many social clubs, including: the Pope Society, Student Council, Prohibition League, YWCA, Chafing Dish Club, Tennis team, K.K. Club, Mandolin Club, and Pope Orchestra.

In 1912, Mrs. Richardson graduated with an AB in modern languages. According to her senior biography in the 1912 Bronco, Pauline was “very fond of Music, Language and the Class President.”

senior-description-in-1912-bronco

Pauline met her husband, Rupert Richardson (aka the Class President) while attending Simmons College. He referred to her affectionately as “one of the girls from Anna Hall” and his “sweetheart” in Famous Are Thy Halls.

After graduating from Simmons College, Pauline returned to Hamlin to teach. Over the next three years, she would split her time teaching in Hamlin and Lubbock, with visits from Rupert, who during that time earned a graduate degree from Chicago University and taught in Caddo, TX.

Pauline and Rupert married December 28, 1915 and lived together in Cisco, where they both taught, until moving to teach in Sweetwater.

Pauline and Rupert returned to HSU in 1917, where they lived in Cowden Hall and were the equivalent of today’s Resident Directors. From Famous Are Thy Halls: “We were not enthusiastic about the task but we complied with the President’s request. The assignment proved to be most interesting and it was fortunate for us that we were permitted to have such an experience. Save for a few more scars, a few more boys, who were a little more sophisticated perhaps, Cowden Hall was as I had left it in 1912.”

The Richardsons had one child, Rupert Richardson Jr., born in 1920. Rupert Jr., like both of his parents, attended HSU, and graduated in 1940. He enlisted in 1942 to serve during the war. When he returned, most likely due to PTSD, he was no the longer happy, charismatic young man we see pictured below, but rather a ghost of his previous self.

Along with mentoring and, at times, mothering, the young men of Cowden Hall, Pauline furthered her education. She studied at Madrill University in Montreal, Canada and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago for her postgraduate work. After she earned a Masters from the University of Texas in 1926 she taught French at HSU.

Pauline continued to teach French at HSU for over 30 years, up until her death.

 

Mrs. Richardson passed away at the age of 73 on April 28, 1965.

rnr-diary-page
An insert from Rupert Richardson’s diary where he jotted down thoughts about Pauline after her death.

Eleven years later, in 1976, The Rupert and Pauline Richardson Library opened on campus. Along with the preservation of her name through this building, the Richardson Research Center, located on the 2nd floor, houses papers, photographs, and memorabilia pertaining to her and her family.

In 1951, The Bronco was dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Richardson. The words written by the students are as applicable today as they were then:

No other two people have identified themselves more completely with Hardin-Simmons University during the years than have these two.

PAULINE MAYES RICHARDSON, M.A.

RUPERT NORVAL RICHARDSON, Ph. D., Litt. D.

To two who have dedicated themselves to us, we gratefully dedicate the 1951 BRONCO.