October 9: On This Day in Eureka History

Abraham Lincoln spoke at Eureka College on this date in 1856. Lincoln arrived at the College unannounced and gave a ninety minute speech supporting the Republican presidential ticket that was headed by John C. Fremont. This evening address took place in the chapel that was part of the Walnut Grove Academy building [sometimes called "Darst's Hall"]. A crowd packed the thirty by thirty foot room, and many gathered outside to hear the speech through open windows.

At the time, Woodford County was a heavily Democratic region, but the strongest opposition to Lincoln's speech came from supporters of the American Party, or Know Nothing Party, which was supporting former President Millard Fillmore. These so-called "Fillmore men" supported a nativist platform that was anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic - - their view on the slavery question was one of neutrality. In 1850, 15% of the population of Woodford County was foreign born, a higher percentage than the Illinois average, so the presence of Know Nothing supporters in the region is not that surprising. Lincoln was able to win over his hecklers by ignoring them and by using humor during his address.

Five individuals who heard Lincoln speak in 1856 were still alive in 1926 when the Lincoln Stone was dedicated on the campus.

An interesting event happened on this date in 1895. A certain student orator named Mr. Harward competed in a statewide speech competition in Chicago and received the top prize in the contest. The news of his success was wired back to the College, and a spontaneous "welcoming committee" formed to honor him upon his return to the campus.

Several students, along with President Carl Johann, went to the train depot in town to wait for Mr. Harward to arrive from Chicago. This group had a buggy waiting at the station to carry Harward back to the campus, but they did not have a draft animal to pull the buggy. When Harward's train arrived, he was lifted on the shoulders of the assemblage, placed in the buggy, and pulled back to campus by the assembled group (including President Johann). The victorious orator was paraded through the streets of Eureka like a Roman hero. When the group arrived at the campus, the College bell was rung in Harward's honor. The group then retired to the Chapel for a repast of tea and cakes.

It was on this date in 1901 that Dan C. Ogle (Class of >24) was born. Ogle was a distinguished alumnus of the College who had an outstanding career as a military surgeon in the U.S. Medical Corps. From 1949-59 Ogle served as the Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force. During his military career he received the Bronze Star Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. Upon retiring from the military, Ogle served for three years as Director of the Blood Program for the American National Red Cross.