Before Classes Began

On February 18, 1891, with the school’s charter already submitted to the state, the Board of Trustees of Abilene Baptist College (now Hardin-Simmons University) voted on and agreed to the school’s charter. This day, February 18th 1891, is the day we recognize as the official start of our school with:

“We, the Subscribers, citizens of Taylor County, Texas, under the provisions of the Revised Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby form and incorporate ourselves into a voluntary association for educational purposed, and to that end, we hereby adopt and subscribe the following Charter.”

(Read the full Board minutes/charter later in the post)

School didn’t begin until September 1892, but that doesn’t mean people weren’t hard at work up until that point. In the time between when the school was incorporated and classes began, money was raised, land was acquired, a building was built, faculty were hired, and students recruited. It was a busy time.

February 18th may be our birthday, but let’s look at the years that surround the day to better appreciate the work that went into our school.


In 1888, Judge Henry Sayles suggested to George W. Smith, Pastor of Abilene First Baptist Church, the opportunity to form a Christian high school/college.

A Christian Education Committee was formed to survey the idea and form a plan. Two years later the committee was ready to propose their plan to the Sweetwater Baptist Association.

Read more about this time in Abilene, here.

August 1890

On August 1, 1890, The Sweetwater Baptist Association met for the weekend, and The Christian Education Committee (composed of George W. Smith, K.K. Legett, and J.S. Williams) made their proposal.

You may wonder, why did the committee from Abilene take their proposal to the Sweetwater Baptist Association? Just like today, any new endeavor needs a network of people to help build awareness and financial support. At the time, the Sweetwater Baptist Association was the ideal source of support because:

  • The association was a growing community of Baptist churches from Taylor County to El Paso.
  • This conglomerate of churches would provide financial assistance, students, and marketing across the state. What better way to spread the word of a new school than from the pulpit or from church memos?
  • Abilene First Baptist Church, where the committee members came from, was a member of the Sweetwater Baptist Association.

Most of the men present at the meeting were in favor of the project, however it is noted Rufus C. Burleson was persuasively against it. Burleson, former president of Baylor College, was against the idea of a competing school (competing for students and resources). Baylor College was in debt, and Burleson took offense that the people and church-communities who were suggesting a new school had not done their duty of providing financial support to an already existing Baptist school.

Burleson did not sway the decision, and the Sweetwater Baptist Association appointed a committee to establish the school, consisting of: K.K. Legett, G.W. Smith, J.M. Hanna, J.T. Fergeson, H.C. Hord, C.R. Breedlove, and G.W. Smith.

October 1890

The committee met in October 1890 and had a productive meeting where they:

  • Chose Abilene as the location for the new school
  • Drafted a charter
  • Appointed a Board of Trustees and term limits
  • Launched a fundraising campaign to begin construction on a new school building

During this meeting, Otto W. Steffens and Associates provided a bid of 5 acres and $10,000 to the new school. The committee had until November 24, 1890 to accept or reject the bid and raise an additional $5,000.

Steffens and Associates’ bid was pulled before November 24, for unknown reasons, putting the committee in a lurch. As a result, new land and a new money source had to be located for the school.

Late 1890

The Board needed help. They thought they had $15,000 and a plot of land, and suddenly all they had was the $5,000 they had raised and no land.

O.C. Pope was asked to get involved and aid with fundraising. He wrote to his friend, James Simmons, and introduced Simmons to Abilene.  

Early 1891

Correspondence began between James Simmons and the school’s Board. Simmons expressed his interest in the school and teased a financial contribution. Simmons had had a lot of experience in this phase of school-building. He shared his expertise with the Board and helped them navigate the pitfalls of other schools Simmons had worked with.

February 18, 1891

The Abilene Baptist College Board voted on and adopted the school’s charter. Abilene Baptist College was officially incorporated.

March 1891

March 12- Simmons wrote to the Board and agreed to give $5,000 to the school, under the condition the Board agree to and sign a “bond.”

That bond, which Simmons drafted later, was the Foundation Agreement. Today, the Foundation Agreement is the backbone to Hardin-Simmons’ mission statement.

March 13- George Smith confirmed the Simmons donation and agreed to discussing a “bond.”

The town and Sweetwater Baptist Association successfully raised almost $10,000. Now with Simmons’ donation of $5,000, the Board could move forward.

Somewhere between March 13 and April 11, 1891, Simmons sent his Foundation Agreement to the Board. The Board quickly agreed to it, and signed.

James Simmons’ draft of The Foundation Agreement:

April 1891

The deed to the property was officially secured on April 11, 1891. Theo Vogel, E.T. Ambler, and Geo. Phillips provided lots in North Park in exchange for $1.

With land and money secured, construction on the school’s first building could finally begin.

May 1891

Construction began on Old Main. Old main was the school’s first building and cost $12,000. It provided housing for the president and his family, board for female students, classrooms, chapel, library, and anything else a school would need.

July 1891

July 4, 1891 The school hosted a BBQ picnic (4000 attendees, included Sweetwater Baptist members, Abilene community, and more) to celebrate the cornerstone laid of Old Main.

July 29, 1891 The Foundation Agreement, written by Simmons, was officially added to the school’s charter.

September 1891

September 13, 1891 First day of class

November 1891

Even though the campus was already called Simmons College by the time classes began, the offical paperwork was not processed until November to change the name from Abilene Baptist College.

Decade Box Series: 1935-1940

Decade Box Series: 1935-1940

About the Decade Box Series: The Research Center (on the 2nd floor of the library) is home to many different collections and materials. (See a sampling of these items here.) One of the most utilized collections is the Decade Box.

Decade Boxes contain any paper material, we’ve been able to get our hands on, produced by the school/faculty/board over the years. Items start in 1891 with original land deeds securing property for the new school and continue through the present.

This collection is titled Decade Boxes because the boxes were once organized by decade. Over the past few years, however, we’ve procured much more content, and the amount of boxes have expanded. Boxes are still organized chronologically; however they are no longer organized in 10-year increments.

The Decade Box Series highlights randomly selected items from these boxes for viewers to catch a glimpse into HSU history.

View previous Decade Box posts here.

With eyes closed, Box 1935-1940 was chosen.

In 1935, the Speech Department performed the Danish play Ghosts in the chapel auditorium.

You’ll see at the bottom of the program that furniture was supplied by Waldrop’s.

For those familiar with town, W.G. Waldrop & Co. was located downtown where O’Kelley’s Office Supply currently operates (next door to McKay’s Bakery).

Pre-internet, the campus needed to be proactive in keeping its constituents informed on the goings-ons of the school. This resulted in a constant churning of various marketing and educational materials mailed out to alumni, exes, prospective students, and anyone else who should know about the school.

While today we rely heavily on social media and the school’s website, we still produce physical mailouts, like the Range Rider, as way to keep individuals engaged.

Below, you’ll see snapshots of June 1935’s Bulletin. The Bulletin was a precursor to the Range Rider.

Another example of the Bulletin from 1938:

After President J.D. Sandefer’s death in 1940, the Board of Trustees approached Dr. Rupert Richardson and offered him the position of university president. Dr. Richardson declined the offer (he eventually did accept the position in 1943) because he was not interested in leaving the classroom for a full-time administration position.

Below is Richardson’s refusal letter, published in a 1940 Bulletin.

In 1936, just like in 2021, fans kept track of their teams’ statistics. Today, we can easily find a digital spreadsheet of any team, professional or collegiate, with a simple Google search. Prior to Google, however, one would have to obtain “Dope-Books.”

D-O-P-E (Data On Previous Engagements)

Dope-Books contained the stats of previous seasons, along with blank grids and opponent information, for fans to track current season stats. Have you ever kept your own stats for your favorite teams?

In keeping with the sports-theme from this Decade Box, below are football programs from the 1936 season:

And, a spread from The Dallas Morning News, Sunday Oct. 16, 1938:

Alumni gatherings are a tradition at HSU. Have you ever wondered what sort of menu would have been served during a 1935 alumni gathering? Well, look no further!

Stay tuned for future installments of The Decade Box Series!

Homecoming Traditions

HSU’s Homecoming is right around the corner! To our more recent alumni, it may seem odd to offer Homecoming during the Spring semester rather than the Fall semester. But, did you know, throughout the school’s history, Homecoming has bounced back and forth between the two semesters?

The first recorded Homecoming took place May 30 and 31, 1917, coinciding with graduation. Highlights included a large BBQ and gala.

As Homecoming solidified into a yearly tradition, the campus would host the event around a sporting event. The years HSU did not have a football program, Homecoming took place during the Spring semester, with basketball games as the rallying point. When football was not on hiatus, Homecoming took place in the Fall to accommodate the football schedule.

The Fall 2020 football season was postponed due to COVID-19, so in keeping up with tradition, Homecoming has shifted to the Spring semester of 2021. Where this Homecoming will differ from past years, both basketball and football games will take place.

There are many aspects of Homecoming that have stayed the same over the years: alumni returning to campus; an abundance of food; sporting events, and school spirit. Let’s look at some of the traditions that surround HSU Homecoming. You’ll see some are still celebrated today!


LARGE bonfires were a regular tradition during Homecoming. These massive fires were hosted at the Rodeo Grounds, located off Grape Street, next to the Six-White Horse Barn. The student-led bonfire committee’s goal was to build a pile of debris as tall as, or taller than, the nearby telephone poles.

The bonfire was made with whatever the committee could get its hands on: wood, old furniture, boxes, trash, brush, and more.

Students, alumni, and community members would gather around the bonfire, where they would sing the school song and share in each other’s company.

Campus theme and decorations

We are familiar with the balloons, streamers, and signs on campus that accompany Homecoming week. Students decorate their car windows, and various clubs make sure their presence is known for the incoming alumni.

In years past, the campus was decorated on a much larger scale, with more student involvement. All in unity, under the same theme, the social clubs, res-halls, sports teams and, any other grouping of students would be responsible for decorating their assigned area of campus.

Intense rivalries developed between the dorms to determine who had the most elaborate decorations.


This school spirit continued downtown in the Homecoming Parade. Student groups created intricate parade floats to highlight the upcoming football/basketball match, advertise their clubs, or just to celebrate their school spirit.

Competition between the groups made the quality of each float topnotch.

In true HSU parade fashion, the Six White Horses and Cowboy Band would be in attendance.

University Queen

Each homecoming, a university court was (and still is) voted on by the student body. Originally, only women were nominated to hold the title of University Queen. As the years have gone by, men have been added to the lineup with the opportunity to be University King.

Students are nominated and voted on by their peers. The coronation typically takes place at halftime of the football (or basketball) game. Those who are crowned University Queen and King carry various responsibilities throughout the year. One of those duties is to participate in the Golden Reunion gathering (alumni who visit campus for their 50th anniversary).

Alumni Awards

With many alumni back on campus, the university takes this opportunity to award the yearly honors reserved for alumni. These awards are the John J. Keeter, Jr. Alumni Service Award (began in 1943), the Distinguished Alumni Award (began in 1970), and Outstanding Young Alumni Award (began in 2004).

Alumni must be nominated to be in the running for these awards, which can be done here. Nominations are voted on by various committees and boards, with the winners announced at Homecoming.

Read about previous award winners here.


In March of 1962, Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha collaborated to create a show to bring students together. The original goal of Sing! was to encourage various clubs to find community through dancing and singing. It was not until 1967 that Sing! became what it is more well known for today: a musical competition between clubs on campus.

In its 59 year history, Sing! has become a foundation of Homecoming. Current students perform, while alumni watch from the crowd remembering their past and when it was their turn on stage.

To participate in this year’s events, check out the schedule HERE.

The Campus Cemetery

Did you know there is a cemetery on campus? It joined the grounds in 1901.

Over the Christmas holiday, vegetation was removed, making the headstones more visible to passersby.

The seven lives memorialized here are joined, not just in their shared final resting place, but in their commitment to and belief in Simmons College, now Hardin-Simmons University.

Owen C. Pope

Mary Pope

James B. Simmons

Mary E. Simmons

Robert S. Simmons

Jefferson D. Sandefer

Lucile G. Sandefer

Owen and Mary Pope were the first to join the narrative of Simmons College. With a successful track record of mission-work, fundraising, and community-building, the school’s first Board of Trustees contacted Owen Pope in the desperate hope he could help procure funds for the new Abilene Baptist College.

Abilene Baptist College had hit a financial roadblock in 1891, before construction of the first building on campus even began. Owen Pope, who believed “education as the handmaid to religion,” wrote to his close friend, James B. Simmons, and invited him to come to the financial aid of the budding school.

James Simmons, like Pope, was known for his successful fundraising and an ardent belief in education for all.

It was Mary Simmons, wife to James Simmons, who convinced James to join and support the work in Abilene. Believing in his sense of duty, Simmons provided the necessary funds for construction of Old Main, the school’s Foundational Agreement, and clear directives to the Board for how the school should operate, fiscally and morally.

Robert Simmons, the son of James and Mary Simmons, believed in the impact of the school, and actively gave, like his father, in terms of money, books, prayer, and support.

The Simmons family became so intertwined with Simmons College, that in 1901, seven years after the death of Mary Simmons, James Simmons had her remains removed from their family plot in Rhode Island and interred on the campus of Simmons College—a place that represented her devotion to Christian education and the importance of training a new generation of missionaries. Mary Simmons was the first individual to be buried on campus.

In 1898 when the position of college president was up for debate, James Simmons highly recommended the Board hire Owen Pope. Pope served as president of the school until 1901, stepping down from the position shortly before his death. His wife, Mary Pope, inherited his earthly possessions, and upon her death in 1930, donated the Pope estate to the school.

While alive and in friendship, James Simmons offered the Popes be buried next to him and his family, on the campus they all loved so dearly.

Jefferson Davis Sandefer was president of the school from 1909-1940. His thirty-one-year tenure allowed him to continue the work of his predecessors laid to rest next to him. Successful recruiting, a vision for campus infrastructure, high standards, and a focus on the Fundamentals showed Sandefer shared the same vision as the Simmons and Pope families.

His wife, Lucile Sandefer, like both Marys, was as active and of import to the campus’s success. She led the beautification of the campus through the planting of trees and flowers and installing an irrigation system and established a permanent fund for student scholarships.

The Sandefer influence lasted after their deaths, and many of the buildings, traditions, and programs across campus were developed under their watch.

The work of these three families, upon the upload of this post, has impacted 130 years of history and will impact an untold number of years into the future.

These seven souls were dedicated to Christian education. They believed in the power of education for all and used their lives to work towards that goal. From the moment they heard of this school, they devoted their lives to this campus and continue to inspire others to carry on this tradition.

Families who worked together, bound by their faith in God, their love for each other, and in their belief this campus was worthy of their duty.

a confederate soldier | an abolitionist pastor | a man named for president of the Confederacy

Owen C. Pope | James B. Simmons | Jefferson D. Sandefer

Three variant paths that all converged on this plot, unified by a common goal.

Snow Days

2021 is off to a fun start! The first day of the semester was moved online to accommodate for the snow that blew in over the weekend.

No matter the age, one can remember the exhilaration felt knowing school would be canceled for snow. Think back and remember those days. Desperately praying for the snow to fall over night, waking up early to check the radio or television (and later, webpages/smartphones) to see if your school was canceled. And then the pure joy knowing your only commitments for the day were sledding, snowball fights, and hot chocolate.

HSU’s visual media department put together the video below. It highlights the beauty of our campus and the pure joy of our students when snow is the forecast.

January 10, 2021

Are there many things more fun than building a snowman or having a snowball fight?

What about the childlike joy of knowing classes are canceled? Nothing can beat that.

In celebration of our childlike wonder, here are images from throughout the years where students of the past act like the students of 2021…

1923 Bronco

1938 Bronco

1944 Bronco

1958 Bronco

1969 Bronco

1977 Bronco

1989 Bronco

Presidential Inaugurations

In honor of this week’s inauguration, let’s have a presidential-themed post.

In Hardin-Simmons’ almost-130-year history, 17 men have served as president of the school.

The center photo, in color, is of Eric Bruntmyer, the current president of HSU. His predecessors surround him.

The responsibilities of university president are endless; and while the job description for university president evolves with the times, it boils down, simply, to: how to make the school successful, maintain that success, and grow that success.

Every school defines “success” differently, and that is why no university president is the same.

The first president of Simmons College was Rev. William C. Friley. Along with his presidential responsibilities, Friley taught mental and moral science. His tenure lasted only two years.

Rev. William C. Friley

Prior to the Great Depression, HSU’s charter prevented the school from taking on any debts. Simmons College/Simmons University/Hardin-Simmons University could not take out loans or apply for credit. Since the school was not allowed to do this, the financial burden fell to the president (and board members).

If payroll was short one month, it was up to the president to personally take out a loan to pay salaries.

If a bill could not be paid, it was up to the president to find the difference, either through a donor or taking out a personal loan.

The president only received a salary after all bills and payroll were satisfied. With what money was leftover, he divided with the vice president (when there was a VP).

Many of the early presidents of the school resigned their positions financially burdened. They believed in the mission of Simmons College, but were unable to remain employed by the school because they were, essentially, bankrupt and, in some cases, unable to support their families.

A schism between President Owen C. Pope (president of Simmons College 1898-1901) and faculty members was born because of finances. Faculty of the time believed Pope was not prioritizing a much-needed dormitory. The faculty went to the Board and demanded Pope’s dismissal. Knowing the school could not take on a loan for the project; knowing there was not enough capital for such a project; and knowing the work ethic and track record of Pope, the Board dismissed the faculty and kept Pope.

Owen C. Pope

During the presidency of Jefferson Davis Sandefer (president 1909-1940), a donor named H.C. Coleman, from Philadelphia, sent many checks in support of the school. Coleman was the ideal donor. His letters to Sandefer instructed Sandefer to put the money where the school needed it most, AND Coleman often sent checks with the memo: to Sandefer’s salary. Coleman knew Sandefer was not compensated for his time and efforts. Coleman believed in Sandefer and the college so much he made sure the right person could continue to run it.

Jefferson Davis Sandefer

When a new administration begins, the campus partakes in the pomp and circumstance traditional of academia. The new president is sworn in, guests are invited, speeches are given, and the community welcomes the new president, while bidding adieu to the former.

Below are samplings from various inaugurations:

Letter from President Jimmy Carter congratulating Dr. Jesse Fletcher’s inauguration.
Invitation to Dr. Craig Turner’s inauguration

It is customary for the incoming president to give a speech during the ceremony.

In April 1978, Dr. Jesse Fletcher’s inauguration took place in Behrens Chapel. His inauguration speech focused on six questions that ranged from the financial security and prosperity of private, [Christian] universities, to the ability to recruit students and compete against public schools, to the diminishing relationship churches have in supporting their college-counterparts.

The questions Dr. Fletcher posed in his inauguration speech reflect conversations and challenges we, in higher-ed, still face today.

There are endless stories about each of the presidents who served HSU, and I hope you take the time to read about each of them.

Our campus has lived through wars, depressions, booms, recessions, expansions, and pandemics. And while each president has experienced different student populations, world-events, and trends, each administration was (and currently is) joined by a strong devotion, their faith, and a belief in the importance of Christian Education.

I will leave you with words from Dr. Elwin Skiles, president of HSU 1966-1977.

1969 address from President Skiles to the student population

P.S. Here are images of the Cowboy Band from different U.S. Presidential inaugurations.

Decade Box Series: 1950-1954

Decade Box Series: 1950-1954

About the Decade Box Series: The Research Center (on the 2nd floor of the library) is home to many different collections and materials. (See a sampling of these items here.) One of the most utilized collections is the Decade Box.

Decade Boxes contain any paper material, we’ve been able to get our hands on, produced by the school/faculty/board over the years. Items start in 1891 with original land deeds securing property for the new school and continue through the present.

This collection is titled Decade Boxes because the boxes were once organized by decade. Over the past few years, however, we’ve procured much more content, and the amount of boxes have expanded. Boxes are still organized chronologically; however they are no longer organized in 10-year increments.

The Decade Box Series highlights randomly selected items from these boxes for viewers to catch a glimpse into HSU history.

To view other Decade Box posts, click here.

With eyes closed, Box 1950-1954 was chosen.

1950-1954 Decade Box

Right off the bat, colorful football programs caught my eye. Games against Arizona State, Texas Tech, and West Texas A&M were commonplace during the Fall season in the 1950’s.

Do you see the hyphen between H and S (H-SU)? The school no longer hyphenates in shorthand (HSU); however, we still continue to hyphenate when writing out Hardin-Simmons completely.

Hardin-Simmons has a long history surrounding rodeo and rodeo culture. While we no longer have an active rodeo team, the spirit continues through the Six White Horses.

Below is an account of the 1954 Intercollegiate Rodeo’s expenses. Hardin-Simmons was a founding member of the intercollegiate rodeo (an organization still alive today) and would host the event on the campus rodeo grounds each year.

For those of you who are in the rodeo/equine world, how do these prices compare to today?

Below are programs for the 1951 Spring Commencement. Similar to today, the campus hosted multiple ceremonies to accommodate the graduating class and their families.

1951 Commencement Programs

At the start of the Fall semester, students were given a Range Guide. These booklets contained the name and contact information of every registered student and faculty; student government information was listed, along with all clubs, calendar, and sport information; the school song, history, and any other basic information that students were expected to know could be found in here.

1951-1952 Range Guide

Lastly, the Board of Trustees updated the school’s charter in 1953. The amendments can be found in this box, too.

1952 Charter

The Hidden Library

Did you know, tucked safely away, in the Richardson Library, you can find the original library of Simmons College?

In the school’s early days, James Simmons did not just give spiritual and financial support to Simmons College, he also donated more than 500 books to build the core of the library. His son, Robert, acted similarly and gave to the school in those ways, too.

Books from their personal libraries were donated. New purchases and subscriptions were gifted as well.

Items from James and Robert Simmons included their signatures, noting their gift. (You will also see the college’s library stamp. As the school’s name changed over the years, so did this stamp.)

The texts in this collection, all a minimum of 130 years old, are in various states of health. Some are well-loved and worn; others appear pristine and untouched; and others sit on the shelves wrapped in acid-free paper to slowdown the deterioration process. These books no longer circulate in the library’s main collection, meaning they cannot be checked out; however, they are searchable in our catalog and can be viewed/read in the building.

Speaking of the catalog, prior to word processors and other technologies, the inventory of the library was kept by hand.

Here are the first two catalogs of Simmons College.

I’m sure you’ve noticed; the name Sarah Anna Simmons has appeared throughout this post. Sarah Anna was the daughter of Robert Simmons, granddaughter of James Simmons. Many donations were given in her name and eventually by her.

Read more about the library’s history here and here.

Senior Days

In honor of this Friday’s graduation, let’s look at a lost tradition surrounding past senior classes: Senior Day.

1925 Senior Day

First mentions of Senior Day appeared in 1907 and, eventually faded away shortly before 1940.

Taking place on February 22, each year, the senior class would have a day dedicated to them. A day full of pomp and circumstance; gift-giving; friendship; kidnapping (record scratch); good food; and celebration would ensue.

Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the kidnapping in a bit.

The senior class, adorned in cap and gown, would march into the auditorium, and with the whole school in attendance, a program focused on the upcoming graduates would begin.

1928 seniors walking in cap and gown

The program lasted about 2.5 hours, and included musical performances, storytelling, gift-giving, and ended with the planting of a new tree on campus.

Typical order of events in 1932

The Round Table would host the seniors for an afternoon lunch, where all were on their best behavior. Afterwards, the merriment would continue on and off campus (best behavior not guaranteed), with the seniors both celebrating and lamenting their latest milestone.

During the program, excitement would bubble when the senior class presented their class gift to the school. Various examples of the senior class gift include:

  • The class of 1921 gifted, the “latest improved wireless telegraph and telephone station for the science department and twenty purple and gold blankets for the athletic department.”
  • In 1927, the senior class gifted “an ornamental electric light system for illuminating the campus.”
  • In 1934, the senior class gave the school both books and $100.
  • In 1936, stage equipment was gifted by the senior class.
1935 Senior Day recap

After the recessional, still in cap and gown, all would parade outside to plant a new tree on the campus. The “historical” spade would pass from senior to senior, each taking a turn to move dirt. Each student would have the opportunity to share words when he or she placed a shovel of dirt on the sapling.  

After the tree was planted, each year, the students would say the same words, “Grow little tree, grow.” Then, the senior class president would hand the ceremonial spade to the junior class president, as a way of passing the torch, in preparation of the next year.

Various Brand articles show trees were planted in different places across campus.

  • In front of Simmons Science Building…2020 translation, along the sidewalk in front of Sid Richardson Science Center.
  • Between Abilene Hall and the tennis courts…2020 translation, between Abilene Hall and the Richardson Library.
  • At the front entrance of the school…2020 translation, The Hickory Street Entrance.
In front of Simmons Science Building…2020 translation, along the sidewalk in front of Sid Richardson Science Center.
Between Abilene Hall and the tennis courts…2020 translation, between Abilene Hall and the Richardson Library.
At the front entrance of the school…2020 translation, The Hickory Street Entrance.

Different trees are mentioned, too. The class of 1921 planted an elm outside of the Science Building; an Arizona cypress by the class of 1935; and an evergreen on the “west side of the administration building” by 1934 graduates.

While today, we can’t confirm which trees on campus were planted by seniors, Round Table, facilities, or God’s hand, we can confirm the foresight to plant saplings those years ago is a benefit for us all today.

Now, to the kidnapping.

Senior Day, like most HSU traditions, has a quirky story, with elements of shock, and amazement that no students were arrested. (Read about various pranks here to see what I mean.)

In Famous Are Thy Halls, Rupert Richardson details the rivalry between the classes, freshmen vs. sophomores, juniors vs. seniors. Sabotage was a skill developed while enrolled at Simmons College/University. Along with the occasional round of fisticuffs, underclassmen would often attempt (and succeed) in kidnapping prominent senior class members to prevent their participation in senior-related-events.

Kidnapped individuals would spend days in various farmhouses in the area, and were eventually released, without too much distress.

To combat this disruption, the senior class convinced administration to make Senior Day a campus-wide holiday. The hope was that this new holiday would send underclassmen away for the day and prevent them from interfering with Senior Day festivities. This plan worked for a few years, but ultimately led to the downfall of Senior Day.

Senior class participation in Senior Day began to dwindle, as they too, took advantage of the holiday from classes, and left campus for the day.

Richardson said, in Famous Are Thy Halls:

Congratulations to our graduating seniors! May you, like those little trees, grow.

A Look Through Time

With the holidays (and an increase in free-time) approaching, here’s a fun activity to help spend some socially-distanced time.

Bundle up, print the images below, and go for a walk around campus.

As you explore campus, find where the photos were located in the past.

Once you have located the spot, hold the printed-photo up, aligned with the present, and snap a photo with your phone.

Here’s an example:

Share your findings by replying in the comments below, or tagging HSU in a social media platform.

Good luck, and have fun!