Above: Artists bird's eye drawing of the Washburn campus. This view shows the Carnegie Library which was dedicated on June 13, 1905. Whitten Hall is seen in it's new location to the right of the Observatory.
Above: Whitten Hall Dormitory on the Washburn College Campus.
Above: Whitten Hall can be seen at the left edge of this picture. The building was moved to make room for the Carnegie Library which still stands today. In 1906, The School of Fine Arts was located in Boswell Hall seen in the center of this picture. MacVicor Chapel is seen on the right.
August 6, 1906
- Cawker City will furnish at least
four new recruits for the first acad-
emy class. The parties are the two
Misses Hudkins and the two Misses
September 13, 1906
Cawker City Public Record
- Misses Ola and Nellie Cronk,
and Mae and Ulva Hudkins left
on Monday for Washburn Col-
lege, at Topeka. Mrs. Hudkins
accompanied them to see them safely domiciled.
Clara Viola "Ola" Cronk and her older sister, Nellie, from Cawker City are listed in the "First Year Roll of Students" of the Washburn Preparatory Academy as published in the 1906-07 Washburn College Bulletin, General Catalogue Vol. 6 #4, March 1907. Also listed from Cawker City as "Specials" in the "Roll of Students of the School of Fine Arts" are Mae Hudkins, Ulva Hudkins (as well as Nocea Shearer). Nellie, Ola and the Hudkins sisters lived in Whitten Hall dormitory.
On September 10th of 1906, the teenaged Cronk daughters left Cawker City with their best friends, Mae and Ulva Hudkins, to attend Washburn Preparatory Academy on the Washburn College campus in Topeka, Kansas. Mrs. Margaret Hudkins accompanied the girls to see them settled in Whitten Hall dormitory. The dormitory was a two story, frame building that had recently been moved west, behind Boswell Hall, to make room for the new Carnegie Library.
For the girls, this was their first experience with living in a really big city. But the many young students concentrated on the Washburn campus provided it's own source of excitement too. Just a month after their arrival, the girls experienced their first Washburn College tradition, the "Freshman Cane-Rush."
October 10, 1906
- The cane-rush took place Friday night. The Freshmen were victorious, yet the fight was long and hard. An entirely new feature was the football boys acting as policemen and preserving order. As a result the cane-rush was more orderly and there was less "butting in" than at any cane-rush for years. The Sophomore boys were lined up at the gate at about a quarter of eight, and in a short time the Sophomore girls appeared on the scene with class pennants and horns. Shortly after the Freshmen girls made their appearance, carrying small red lanterns. The girls of the two classes then did their best to out cry each other, and the air was filled with the class yells. About 8:30 the Freshmen appeared. A bunch of about thirty made their appearance down the street and the Sophomores quickly lined up across the gate. Just before this mass of Freshmen came to the gate, a crowd of fifteen Freshmen hit the Sophomores from behind and the canes went through the gate with a rush, not stopping till they were a third of the way up, then began a slow march. The canes would go a few feet and then stop, then a few more feet and again stop. When nearly to the chapel steps the Sophomores managed to push the Freshmen to the east and held them for a long time, even forcing them back a little. But numbers prevailed and by the expedient of pairing off, the Freshmen at last reached the steps. A musical program of four numbers was then given in the chapel, and after some delay the Freshmen started back. Not so much difficulty was experienced going back as coming up, and it was a steady march to the gate. Outside the gate the Freshmen quickly got away and the rush was over. Both sides fought hard all the way through, and there was no letting up at any time of the fight. No one was hurt through most everyone had a number of bruises. The result was a victory for the Class of '10 yet the Sophomores put up a game and pucky fight all the way through.
[October 17, 1906: The Washburn Review reported that 4 collars, 3 cuffs, 2 sleeves and a hat were left by the cane rushers.]
This tradition was followed two weeks later with a huge bonfire on campus. Clouds of black smoke billowed heavenward from the 25 gallons of oil which had been thrown onto the bonfire to stoke it. School pride and loyalty reached a fevered pitch when the "Ichabods" met their archrivals from the Kansas State Agricultural College on the football field. The victory toll of the College Bell atop Rice Hall was rung with such exuberance that it cracked.
By mid November, the first measurable snowfall provided a new source of recreation for the Academy students. Sleigh rides and snowball fights were a diversion from studying. A week before Thanksgiving, the faculty of the Academy entertained the students with a party:
December 5, 1906
The Academy Faculty Entertains
- Last Friday evening, November 23, the Academy faculty, assisted by Prof. Todd and Mrs. Paul Lovewell, entertained the students of the Academy in Boswell. The affair was unique and well handled.
Upon entering the rooms each person was given a tag bearing the picture of a large turkey and tied with a bit of blue ribbon. Upon this tag were six subjects and beneath each subject a place for a name. The plan was for each boy to get the name of some girl under each one of these topics and in turn to sign his name under the same subject on the girls card. When ample time had been given for these preliminaries, a bell was sounded which was the signal for each person to hunt up the one whose name accompanied the first topic and discuss this subject until the bell sounded again; whereupon the proceeding was repeated for the second topic and so on through the list. It is needless to say that the bell, like the 8:20 bell, sounded far too soon.
Then the crowd gathered in thesouth hall and enjoyed the next half hour watching some excellent pantomimes. The names of these were, The Oyster Man, The House That Jack Built and Lord Ullin's Daughter. The first and last were accompanied with music appropriate to the themes, furnished by Mr. Shoup. After the pantomimes, ice cream and wafers were served. About one hundred persons were present. All who failed to attend have excellent cause for regret.
Another month of intense studying followed before the Christmas break and the end of the semester. The Academy debate team faced off with the Southern Kansas Academy by debating the labor union question. From reading the Washburn Review, it is not clear if the Academy students were given final exams before the Christmas break or, like the college students, upon their return in January of the new year. In any case, everyone was anxious to get home and celebrate the holidays.
Ola Gets Expelled
1907 was only a week old when the Misses Cronk and Hudkins returned to Topeka. Ola found it hard to concentrate on studying again after the holidays and, feeling a bit adventuresome, began to evade the strict rules of the Academy. It did not take long before she was caught. The veiled details of the event appeared as a cautionary tale to the other students in the Jan. 23 issue of the Washburn Review:
- Julia was awakened suddenly with a sense of something being wrong. Yes. Now she knew what it was. Someone was at her window. She could hear pebbles pattering up against the screen. With a jump she had reached the door and was ready to rush out and give forth mighty screams to waken the house, when she heard her name called anxiously and cautiously. "Julia, come here to the window. Its only me. Yes, it's Carrie, go open the door. It's locked but for goodness' sake don't wake the dean. It's terrible late." After falling over all the chairs and tables in the room on her way to the window to make sure it was no burglar, she was finally convinced that it was Carrie, and then she remembered that Carrie had gone to a party that evening.
Sleepily she opened her door and tip-toed down the hall. Just as she turned the key in the door there was a sudden burst of light and about five feet away stood the dean who had just turned the light on.
"Julia, what are you doing here at this time of night?'
"I was going for a drink," faltered Julia.
"A drink, I presume, when there's no water outside. Go to your room,"
It is needless to say that Carrie got in with the assistance of the dean.
In a 1932 interview while passing through Kansas on the "Wonder Bar" tour with Al Jolson, Claire Windsor (aka Ola Cronk) confessed that her expulsion from school in Topeka at age 15 was due to "surreptitious activity" in the arts department. It is not known how literally to take the Washburn Review account of the incident, but it does appear that Ola had to move out of the dormitory but was not actually expelled from the Academy. Within a month, even the Misses Hudkins moved out of Whitten dormitory to room at their cousin's home on West Tenth Street.
Other activities of the Academy students during the 1907 spring semester were reported in the school newspaper. Ola was an active member of the Alpha Literary Society. There was enough snowfall and cold weather that winter to report of students taking sleigh rides and ice skating on the pond in Central Park (but there are no references to Ola's alleged skating accident). Washburn Day was celebrated by everyone on campus and the first and second preparatory classes each had parties:
February 20, 1907
- A second prep party on the evening
of Feb. 13, at the home of Mr. Mur-
phy, is said to have been a great suc-
cess. As the party was in honor of
St. Valentine, the social committee
had arranged various amusements ap-
propriate for the occasion. While re-
freshments were being served, the
Magic Box of Cirse was passed and
each person drew a card revealing the
mysteries of their future. After join-
ing in the Washburn Song, the crowd,
feeling that they had had a jolly good
March 13, 1907
First Prep Party
- The first prep party held at the
home of Miss Helen Plass a week ago
last Friday night was a decided suc-
cess. One feature of the evening's
entertainment was an "artistic con-
test. Each person was given the
name of some well-known song and
instructed to make a drawing illustr-
ating the sentiment. Darlington, the
class president, received the prize.
Another feature was the "baby
show." Each person contributed a
picture of himself in childhood. Then
everyone tried to guess the original
of each photo. Miss Rheva Pauly took
first prize, while Ray Kimball received
the booby prize.
The outbreak of a measles epidemic and the writing of theses overshadowed the remainder of the semester.
The 1907 Lincoln Park Chautauqua near Cawker City
After Memorial Day and the official end of the 1907 Spring Semester, the Cronk sisters returned to Cawker for the summer. Thoughts of studying and the classroom were replaced with less demanding childhood pursuits. The Lincoln Park Chautauqua in August, however, was being looked forward to with the same anticipation usually reserved for Christmas Eve alone. Described as "Every Man's University," the Chautauqua this year, it was hoped, would be the biggest and best one ever. In the meantime, Nellie and Ola were just happy to be home with family and friends.
June 27, 1907
Cawker City Ledger
Acquiring Practical Knowledge
- The domestic science club met with the Misses Cronk this week. It is composed of about twenty-five young ladies, who are devoting a part of the summer vacation from school to acquiring some knowledge of practical household work and economy. This is a commendable thing to do, far surpassing lounging in the shade and weakening the brain by poring over light stories of impossible heroes and heroines. The ability to make happy homes from a practical standpoint is far preferable to be able to rave over the soft pated leading person in some of the latest books. Let the good work go on.
The fourth of July was celebrated with the usual patriotic exuberance but the ongoing drought and heat wave led to a weaker than expected harvest. By the time of the Chautauqua, the grass was brown and temperatures were hovering over the century mark. The Cronk and Garrett store was granted the lucrative right to keep the campers at Lincoln Park supplied with ice cream and cold, cold drinks during the Chautauqua.
Lincoln Park was situated a mile and a half west of Cawker City on Oak Creek. Formerly known as Belk's Grove, Colonel Whitney was able to clear and improve the property to the point that it could be used publicly as a retreat in the summer of 1882 with the name of Lincoln Park. In 1896, the first annual 10 day church assembly was held which grew into the Lincoln Park Chautauqua. In 1906, the two story Women's Christian Temperance Union building was constructed and dedicated as the Lillian Stephens Hall. This summer's session, 1907, was to see the dedication of the rest cottage of the Kansas Federation of Women's Clubs and the addition of double-decker porches to Stephens Hall. None other than Bishop John H. Vincent, the chancellor and father of the Chautauqua movement, had been invited to give the keynote address to the 16 day outdoor university and bless the new facilities.
By the end of opening day, August 10th, over 300 tents were filled with an estimated 1,500 campers. Besides the two permanent buildings and several new private cabins, a telephone was installed for the convenience of the attendees. A brown tabernacle tent replaced the white one to relive the eyestrain of the 2,000 seating capacity audience. Daily, more families arrived by buggy, train and even a few in automobiles. By mid session, all attendance records were shattered as an estimated 8,000 people were found on the grounds of Lincoln Park.
The Chautauqua program was varied and covered topics in education, religion, politics, music and sports. Cooking and tailoring schools for women were among the popular new additions to the courses offered. John Day, rector of a catholic boy's home in Milwaukee, lectured about the care and education of homeless and neglected children. Rev. A. J. Finch of Denver gave bible lectures and rabbi David Liknaitz of Leavenworth spoke of the plight of the Jews in Russia. The president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union rallied support in their cause and Senators Charles Curtis, Chester Long and Robert LaFollette (from Wisconsin) expounded on their political philosophies. The Dunbar Bell Ringers and Nita Vennum, a virtuoso violinist from Los Angeles, gave daily concerts. Crosby Hopps directed the Chautauqua Chorus and the Lebanon Military Band and Manifold's 22 piece Band performed at regular intervals. The largest Oak tree in the park had a band platform constructed in it's branches and an upright piano found shelter on the ground beneath it. Baseball was the favored pastime of the boys and young men at the camp. In the end, it was the Ionia baseball team which retained the Loving Cup for another year. A new feature of the evening's entertainment were the moving pictures provided by C. M. Stebbins in the tabernacle tent. The images were projected by an acetylene lamp and a treadle operated projector. To summarize the Lincoln Park Chautauqua experience, Bishop John Vincent paid the highest complement when he stated, "This is the nearest in keeping with the ideal Mother Chautauqua of any I have ever seen."
The Chautauqua closed on the evening of August 25th and the summer came to an end on Labor Day, September 2. The very next day, Rosella Cronk and her two daughters, Nellie and Ola, boarded the train and headed for Seattle, Washington to spend the winter with relatives.
This page is still under construction.
In 1918, Washburn Preparatory School, the "Academy," separated and became Washburn Rural High School. Unfortunately, the records on file at the Rural High School begin at this time. The student records from the "Academy" are presumed lost from the devastating tornado which hit Topeka on June 8, 1966.