Saturday, April 15, 2017

HGB Ep. 196 - Coe College

Moment in Oddity - Anti-revenant Practices From the Medieval Era

Back in the 1960s, some human bones were excavated from the medieval English village Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire. They had peculiar marks on them that indicated the bones had been broken, chopped and burned post-mortem. Recently, researchers have begun new studies of these bones and reported their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The report indicated that people believed in revenants, which are re-animated corpses, all the way back to the 11th century. They believe that these markings indicate some kind of practice to keep dead people from rising. This would be the first evidence of such practices. The bones date back to between the 11th and 14th centuries and indicate they had all been decapitated and dismembered. Some might argue that this is actually evidence of cannibalism, but experts point out that the cuts do not line up with butchery for survival cannibalism. The cuts do not occur at the joints and animal bones found in the same areas do not have these distinctive markings. Head researcher Simon Mays said, "It shows us a dark side of medieval beliefs and provides a graphic reminder of how different the medieval view of the world was from our own." Our listener Jenni from Australia points out that "they chopped up their dead to rush the decomposition. They believed that the soul was released when the body was skeletons. I studied these when I completed my thesis on deviant burials. Whatever the case may be, medieval beliefs certainly were odd.

This Month in History - Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes

In the month of April, on the 18th, in 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes conducted the Midnight Ride to warn patriots that the British were coming. The two men rode out of Boston about 10 p.m. heading for Lexington and Concord. Concord was the temporary home of the Provincial Congress. A large armory stored munitions here as well and Revere and leaders in the patriot movement suspected that the British were planning a raid there. A plan was laid out for Revere to arrange for the placement of signal lanterns in the belfry of Old North Church. This spot could easily be seen across the Charles River. The signal would be that if one lantern was lit, then the British were coming by a land route. If two lanterns were lit it meant that the British were coming by boat on the Charles River. Early on the evening of April 18th, a stable boy informed Revere that the British were preparing boats for crossing the Charles. Revere was joined on his run by a young shoemaker named William Dawes. They split up to ensure one of them made it. Revere narrowly escaped capture by two British soldiers and Dawes slipped past the guards on Boston Neck. A third man named Dr. Samuel Prescott joined them later and he split off at a roadblock. He knew the countryside intimately. He was the only one of the three to make it all the way to Concord and raise the alarm.

Coe College (Suggested by: Zoe Timmerman)

Coe College is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The college began in the 1850s in of allplaces, the parlor of a reverend. The school grew from religious studies to a liberal arts college that was a pioneer in the education of women. The college suffered growing pains through the years and nearly closed, but today it thrives. There are tales of hauntings on the campus, with the most well known being the story of Helen and her spirit. Our listener Zoe Timmerman joins us to share her experiences. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Coe College.

Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa. It was originally the territory of the Fox and Sauk tribes. The Fox or Meskwaki tribe had lived in the Great Lakes area, but French colonization pushed them south. The first settler to establish himself in Cedar Rapids was Osgood Shepherd in 1838. He built a log cabin home for his wife and children and father. People coming to the area would stop here because of its position on the east bank of the river and people started calling the homestead “Shepherd’s Tavern.” While Shepherd was an accommodating host, rumors circulated that he entertained horse-thieves and that perhaps his affinity for these villains was that he himself stole horses. Some years later he was arrested in another state for horse stealing and sent to the penitentiary. He reformed and became a religion professor. William Stone arrived in the area in 1838 as well and he named the town Columbus. It was renamed in 1841 for the Cedar River that was nearby. It had rapids and so the city became Cedar Rapids. It was incorporated on January 15, 1849.
 *Fun Fact: Cedar Rapids is the largest corn-processing city in the world and former home to Grant Wood who painted American Gothic.*

Speaking of art, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art had a ghost visitation at one time. The building had been Cedar Rapids town library until 1985. A woman named Hazel frequented the library in the 1960s. So it was not unusual for her to visit the library, but on this particular day, it freaked out patrons and employees. The reason why was because Hazel had died in a fire at 4 a.m. that same morning. She was not seen again. Another haunted place in the city is Oak Hill Cemetery. The ghost of a little Czech girl named Tillie has been seen in the cemetery and she is usually carrying a lit candle. There is a mausoleum that she favors and people claim that she attempts to pull visitors into that mausoleum.

The location that harbors the most famous haunt in Cedar Rapids is Coe College. The college began in of all places, the home of a reverend. Williston Jones was a Presbyterian pastor and he invited a young man named George Carroll to study in his parlor. Soon, seventeen other men joined Carroll. He called his school "The School for the Prophets." In 1853, he asked the congregation to help raise $1500 to send three of the boys to seminary. A farmer named Daniel Coe approached Rev. Jones and suggested he open his own seminary. Coe gave him the money, some of which he had to borrow, with two stipulations. The seminary had to have a farm, so the students could support themselves and the education had to be opened up to women as well. There is also a legend about the money that claims the money that was raised came from New York west, sewed into the petticoat of a woman who arrived in Iowa by stagecoach. Coe's money was used to buy two downtown lots for the school and 80 acres of land for the farm outside of town. The school was incorporated in 1853 and was known first as Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute. In 1868, the trustees for the school hoped to acquire the Parsons estate and they changed the name to Parsons Seminary. That attempt failed and the college suffered financial difficulties. In 1875, the school became the Coe Collegiate Institute to honor Daniel Coe.

By 1875, the school was almost defunct and a push was made to change the school from a private institution to a public one. With all of the college's early trouble, it took 31 years before it graduated any students. Those students were E. Belle Stewart and Stephen W. Stookey. By 1901, the college had three buildings: Old Main (1868), Williston Hall (1881) and Marshall Hall (1900). Williston was a red brick dormitory for the women that had a veranda and hot and cold running water. Old Main housed mainly administrative and classrooms. Marshall was named for the second president of the school and was emblazoned with a Latin statement that meant "No Day Without a Line" and it housed classrooms. The gymnasium was constructed in 1904. By 1909 there was a real need for another building that was mostly financed by Andrew Carnegie. This would be the Science Hall.

The T. M. Sinclair Memorial Chapel was built in 1911. It was gothic in style and became the heart of the campus. T. M. Sinclair was the founder of the Sinclair Meat Packing Company. He used his wealth to liquidate the debt from Parsons Seminary and the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute. The property was then handed over to the Iowa Presbyterian Synod. The school was then known as Coe College. *Fun Fact: Coe College claims the shortest name of any American institution of higher education.* In 1907, Coe earned accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities. The widow of Ralph Voorhees financed the building of a new female dormitory that would carry the Voorhees name. It was completed in 1918 and had a drawing room, student suites and a swimming pool. Up to this point, the men had no dormitory, but it was decided that one should finally be built after Voorhees Hall was done. Greene Hall was completed in 1938 for this purpose. The Robert W. Stewart Memorial Library was built in 1929. Peterson Hall was built in the 1960s and since the late 1980s, the campus has doubled in size. McCabe Hall was built in 2005 and is named for former Coe President Joseph E. McCabe.

We are joined by former Coe College alumni Zoe Timmerman and she is going to share the haunting legend of Helen from the college.

Is the spirit of Helen still wandering the dorm hallways and does she haunt the old grandfather clock that was given to the school as her memorial? Is Coe College haunted? That is for you to decide!

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