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Early in September, 1890, I arrived at Elon College about a week after the opening of the first session of the College. I had in money and other resources that I could turn into money less than $100. My purpose was to stay until my money gave out—perhaps I could get on by supplementing it with odd jobs until well on into the spring. It was my ambition to be a teacher in an academy or high school. I felt that to rub my elbows against college walls a few months, at least, would eminently satisfy my ideal of preparation.

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Well, that was a wonderful $100. It opened doors, revealed vistas, heightened ideals, increased the tension of life until since the day I entered college I have lived in a different world. The College was young—had no traditions, casts or cliques among its membership. As a subfreshman I was allowed to possess my soul in peace and live my life as leisurely or as diligently as I pleased. I chose soon after getting into the college current to live as diligently as possible. I meant to make the freshman 76 year and the substudies also while my money lasted. I succeeded. By the time my money was gone—about the first of April, 1891—a long vista of a complete college course had burst invitingly before me with “graduation” in letters of fire at the end. What should I do? I was penniless, and knew no one from whom I could borrow. I had been reared, the son of a country minister, in a back section, sometimes called “backwoods,” where life was pure but simple and easy-going. Everybody was poor, and a college bred man a curiosity. Having grown to manhood under such conditions, I felt keenly the struggle now going on between poverty and the newly awakened ambitions in my life. But there was nothing to do but to accept the inevitable. The situation, I kept to myself. I felt it a disgrace to be penniless amongst many who seemed to have abundance; so I kept my troubles to myself until I was about to leave, when to my surprise, Mr. Tom Strowd, with whom and his excellent family I had boarded, offered to credit my board account until the end of the session. Another gentleman, Mr. P. A. Long, offered to give me a job of carpenter work during vacation. The results were, I finished the session on the strength of credit with people, all of whom were strangers to me when I came to the college.

The carpenter work in the summer and of afternoons and Saturdays until late in the fall, together with more credit on college expenses in the spring, 77 got me through the sophomore year. The severe strain of working my way and keeping up my studies threw me into a fever in the late fall, which lasted several weeks, and it was with difficulty that I passed my work in college. At commencement, however, I had put the sophomore year behind me with a fair record, and the burning letters “graduation” were perceptibly nearer than a year ago, yet I was almost as near out of debt as then.

This summer I taught school at Cedar Falls, a little manufacturing town in Randolph County, N. C. While here I fell under the kindly interest of the wealthiest man of the town, Mr. O. R. Cox, who, after learning something of how I had made my way thus far, offered to lend me such sums of money as I should need to get through the next two years. The remaining two years went smoothly along. I was in good health and supplemented the loans from Mr. Cox with what I could earn by various kinds of self-help; for I borrowed as little as possible.

These two last years were filled with work and many gratifications also, for the literary society and the religious organizations gave me what honors they had to bestow. I was president of the Y. M. C. A., was sent to Y. M. C. A. conferences and conventions; was teacher in the Sunday School and later superintendent. I represented the literary society several times, twice at commencement, and other times in public debates. I was the valedictorian 78 of my class on Commencement Day, and on the same day was offered a position in the English department, with privilege to prepare myself for the place by university study. I have, therefore, supplemented my college course by special study in the University of North Carolina, Yale, and Oxford.

It is trying and positively discouraging many times for one to have to make his own way through college. The experience has put the conviction in me, however, that the young person appearing at the threshold of a college course is more seriously handicapped if he has too much money than he who has none at all.

Elon College, N. C.



I had a great desire for an education. This desire was the outcome of two strong convictions—that my place in the world’s work was to be in the ministry of the Gospel; that I could never render the best service in that capacity without a thorough education. When I was ten years old my mother was left a widow. Father bequeathed to his wife and children a noble character, but no estate. I early learned the lessons of industry and frugality, and these combined with some native determination, made the venture of securing a college course at the age of eighteen rather easy. I was not afraid to work, nor to suffer.

I was a stranger to the faculty and student body. Moreover, I was a stranger to college ways, so my first step was to borrow enough money to put me through at least part of the first year. I found some janitor work that year. It helped, but not much. The next summer I worked in a grocery store, and when the term opened in the fall, I was back with a little money and plenty of nerve. During the second year more janitor work occupied my spare hours until the spring when I organized a boarding club, 80 and remained as manager of that for the next two years. This partly paid my board, but room rent, tuition, and clothing were to be provided. Each summer I sought employment. One vacation was spent in a tin can factory; another in the Y. M. C. A., as an assistant secretary; another in doing my first preaching in a schoolhouse in the outskirts of the city of Wheeling. I had to do almost three full years of preparatory work, and my work was so irregular that I scarcely had a “class” until my senior year in college. Through the kindness of the faculty, I was permitted to do some work during vacation, pass examinations at the fall opening, and receive credits. I thus made my full course in economics.

The first money which I had borrowed was long overdue, although I had kept the interest paid. The note called for settlement, so after I had been in the struggle for four years, I asked for an appointment at the fall conference of our church and was sent to a circuit that paid $500. I served it for one year out of school. I felt more than ever desirous to finish my education, so I made preparations to return to college the next fall. The officials of the churches which I had been serving made it possible for me to return to them while carrying the regular work in my studies. Pastoral work was not demanded, and each week I traveled something over two hundred miles on the railroad, going to and from these churches, or rather, the station nearest 81 the churches, and then walking from five to ten miles and preaching three times on Sunday. This was hard on the purse and the pulse, so the next year I asked for churches nearer the college. I got them. A job lot of them at that—just eight, with an extra preaching place tacked on! What I lost in railroad mileage, I gained in foot travel, beautiful mountain scenery, and good atmosphere. In June, 1908, I received the bachelor of arts degree, and in September of the same year entered Boston University School of Theology, from which I was graduated in June, 1911. My expenses were met here by preaching in a small church on the south shore of Cape Cod. With all my working I needed more money than I could earn, and the only resort was borrowing, which I did from my life insurance company, and from the board of education of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In all, I have spent nine full years in college and seminary work with a fairly good record in studies, and received no help except from my own labor. Having the will, I made the way.