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Henry Carver, 1866-1871

Henry Carver, the first principal of what would eventually become Bloomsburg University, was born in 1820 in Greene County, New York. He became a successful educator and strict disciplinarian, teaching in his home state in Kinderhook and Binghamton, and heading academies in Binghamton and Cortlandville before moving west in 1865 to teach at the Oakland College School in Oakland, California.  While there he lost his left hand in a hunting accident and came back east to Binghamton to recuperate.  In March of 1866 he traveled through Bloomsburg and met with local leaders about the possibility of opening a school.  Carver was impressed with the beauty of the area and viewed it as a desirable place for his wife Elizabeth Ann and six of their children to live, and the town needed an institution to provide a better education than was currently available.

Persuaded to stay and convinced the community was serious and committed to building the proper facilities for a school, on April 9 Carver reopened the Bloomsburg Literary Institute (originally chartered in 1856) in the old Academy building that had been built in 1839 at the northwest corner of Third and Jefferson streets.  Instruction at the Institute was primarily intended for preparing students to go on to receive a college education.  After the Institute’s charter was renewed in May the trustees began to sell shares in order to raise money for a building.  Carver then proceeded to design and construct the new facility that became known as Institute Hall.  It was dedicated in April of 1867 and 60 years later would be named Carver Hall in his honor.  The following year construction began on a dormitory which was completed in February, 1869.  That same month the Institute was chartered as a state normal school for teacher education, and became the Bloomsburg Literary Institute and State Normal School.

While at Bloomsburg Carver was very interested in student affairs.  He encouraged the students to form the Philologian Literary Society and urged three of them, including future principal David Waller, to raise money for a bell to be placed in the Institute Hall tower.  Carver served not only as principal but also a professor of mental and moral science and taught the theory and practice of teaching.  His children contributed as well, with daughters Sarah and Alice teaching botany and instrumental music.  Carver's determination and dedication played a large part in this growing private school being established as a state normal school.  In five short years Carver laid the foundation for what would one day become a state university, and he might have made more progress had he not be stricken with an illness brought on by his many duties that forced him to miss most of the winter term of 1871.  Not long afterwards a combination of his illness and a financial disagreement with the Board of Trustees forced him to resign his position as principal that December.

Following his tenure at Bloomsburg Carver went to Colorado to become superintendent of the East Denver school system.  After one year health concerns forced him to surrender this position, and he came east to first an academy in Belleville, New York and then New Jersey as principal of Vineland High School from 1874 to 1876, being responsible for their new school building.  It was dedicated in 1874 at a ceremony attended by President Ulysses S. Grant.  His other teaching jobs in New Jersey included an academy in South Orange in 1880 and the Manasquan, New Jersey public schools in 1882.  He again became ill in 1884 and moved back to Binghamton and eventually Denver where several of his children were living, including his son George and oldest daughter Sarah, wife of real estate developer Hiram G. Wolff.  In January 1889 Carver went to Glenwood Springs for treatment at the spas, but died there on February 20 at the age of 68.  Brought back to Denver, a funeral was held at his son-in-law’s home in the Highlands section of the city, and on February 23 he was buried in Riverside Cemetery.  It was the end of a long and rewarding career in education, one in which the name of Henry Carver has become forever linked with the history of Bloomsburg University.


Charles G. Barkley, 1871-1872 

Charles Gillespie Barkley was the second principal of the Bloomsburg State Normal School (BSNS), serving for three months following the resignation of Henry Carver. Barkley was born on January 30, 1839 in Bloomsburg and lived here his entire life. Before becoming principal of BSNS he had worked in the field of education and studied law. In 1863 he was admitted to the Bar and  elected superintendent of common schools in Columbia County, a position he held until 1872.

The superintendent of public schools in Pennsylvania, J.P. Wickersham, recommended Barkley for the position of principal in December, 1871.  His term began on December 20, and it was understood to be a temporary appointment until a permanent successor could be found.  His time in office lent stability to the school, with increased enrollment and more organized finances.  In March of 1872 it was mentioned at a trustees' meeting that Barkley wished to return to his law practice and that the Rev. John Hewitt was willing to serve as principal.  The board immediately elected the reverend to the post as permanent principal and expressed their gratitude to Barkley for taking over when his help was needed.

After the end of his term as principal of BSNS in 1872 Barkley left the field of education entirely and devoted his full attention to the practice of law. But he did not forsake the school entirely, because on May 3, 1875 he was appointed a member of the BSNS Board of Trustees and served until his death on October 10, 1900. 


Rev. John R. Hewitt, 1872-1873

Reverend John Reeves Hewitt took over as principal of the Bloomsburg State Normal School on March 28, 1872. He was born in England, the son of an Episcopal minister, the Reverend Horatio Hewitt, and the family came over to the United States when he was very young. John Hewitt became rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Bloomsburg in 1870, and continued his duties there while serving as principal of the normal school. The discipline at the school was much stricter while he was in charge. The trustees granted Hewitt the power to dismiss or replace teachers, and students required his permission in order to leave campus.

Hewitt served well as principal, but in April of 1873 asked the Board of Trustees to relieve him of his duties at the end of the spring term, so he could return to the ministry fulltime. When graduation in June of that year concluded his tenure as principal was complete. John Hewitt was commended for the able and efficient manner in which he had run the normal school. He left St. Paul's in 1877, and continued on in the ministry, serving as pastor at Episcopal churches in Columbus, OH, Bellefonte, PA, and North Carolina. After his retirement he lived in Coldwater, Michigan, where he died on February 19, 1918.


Dr. T.L. Griswold, 1873-1877


Dr. Griswold was a physician and educator in Owego, N.Y. prior to being appointed principal of the Bloomsburg Literary Institute and State Normal School in June of 1873, being one of three candidates for the position.  He not only served as principal but was also a professor of mental and moral science and the theory and practice of teaching, and taught the physical culture classes.  Griswold worked to strengthen the coursework of the school and firmly believed that a normal school's philosophy had to be to teach teachers for the profession of teaching.  In this way the new teachers would be able to instigate improvements of their own in the grade schools and high schools throughout the state.  As he wrote five weeks after starting at Bloomsburg: "Thoroughness in scholarship and discipline is our motto."

The one great calamity during Dr. Griswold's tenure as principal was the September 4, 1875 fire that destroyed the dormitory building.  Committees were immediately formed to aid the displaced students by providing new housing in the town and purchasing for them clothing, books, and other necessities.  Plans were immediately made for the new dormitory building to be built on the same site for a cost of nearly $48,000.  The cornerstone was laid at the end of October, and less than eight months after the fire it was dedicated on April 26, 1876.  Fifty years later the dormitory would be named Waller Hall.

Although the normal school was prospering and now financially solvent a controversy arose on March 23, 1877 when Dr. Griswold was accused of teaching Spiritualism.  Rumors had circulated throughout the town about the moral and religious teaching at the school and the trustees elected a committee to look into the allegations.  In June the committee reported back and the majority did not find any real problem, but two members had talked to a faculty member who thought that Griswold was undermining religious thought and beliefs in both chapel and the classroom, and this was beginning to erode the convictions of some of the students.   When the board met again in July it refused to re-elect Dr. Griswold for a second term by a vote of nine against and eight in favor.  Problems continued with Griswold however when he claimed the school owed him nearly $2000. The case dragged on and little by little the debt to Dr. Griswold was paid, although the situation was further complicated in 1878 when contractors on the dormitory demanded more money.  It was not until a special state appropriation came through in 1880 that all debts were cleared, and the relationship between Bloomsburg and T.L. Griswold finally ended. 


Dr. David J. Waller, Jr. 1877-1890, 1906-1920


David Waller in 1877

David Jewett Waller was a Bloomsburg native, having been born here on June 17, 1846. His father, David Waller Sr., helped to found the Bloomsburg Academy seven years before in 1839.  Waller Jr. became one of the first three graduates of the Literary Institute in 1867, and further contributed to his school by working to solicit funds for a bell to go in the tower of what is now Carver Hall.  He then went on to earn his BA from Lafayette College in 1870 and master's degree in 1873. Waller also pursued theological studies at Princeton and Union Seminary, from which he graduated in 1874 and followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister. His pastorates were in Philadelphia and Orangeville, but in 1877 he was asked to come back to Bloomsburg as principal of the normal school.  This was the beginning of his 44 year career as an educator in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

There were still problems at the school from the tenure of T.L. Griswold and dissension among the trustees.  But the president of the board, Judge Elwell, promised that there would be cooperation, and so in July 1877 Waller was elected and accepted the position of principal.  

The early years of his first tenure were marked with some financial difficulties due to problems with the state's economy.  But the growing reputation of the school and increased enrollment led to a more stable environment for both the students and faculty, even though at one time their salaries had to be reduced.  The normal school also grew in size, with land surrounding it being acquired and in 1885 the construction of the new model school building, later to be called Noetling Hall.

But in December 1889 the Pennsylvania Superintendent of Public Instruction died, and Dr. Waller became interested in the position.  It was with great regret therefore that in March, 1890 the Board of CopyTrustees accepted his resignation as principal of the normal school.  Waller was appointed by the governor to complete the last three years of the four-year term of his predecessor.  There was a conflict however, when the new governor wanted his man, the principal at the Indiana State Normal School, to become superintendant.  It eventually went to the state supreme court which ruled in Waller's favor.  He completed his term in 1893 after a successful tenure which saw real improvements in the state's educational system, especially in terms of financial aid to the schools.

In June of 1893 Dr. Waller become, ironically enough, the new principal at the Indiana State Normal School.  He was the seventh person to hold that position and remained there for thirteen years.  During this time the institution saw the same growth and development that Bloomsburg and the public school system had experienced.  Several new buildings were constructed, including a dormitory, training school, and recitation hall.  Dr. Waller taught psychology and pedagogics as part of the normal school's professional department in addition to his administrative duties.  Indiana constructed a new gymansium in 1928 and honored David Waller twenty years later when it named the building Waller Hall.


When Judson Welsh left Bloomsburg in 1906 David Waller was asked to come back for a second time as principal, and to the relief of the school and the trustees he accepted.  The Normal School continued to grow in enrollment and stature, although no new buildings would be constructed until 1930 during the tenure of Francis Haas.  May Day ceremonies were begun in 1910, and the first school yearbook, Onward, was published in 1915.  It was followed the next year by the Obiter, which continues to be issued to this day.  Another significant event in 1916 was the formal sale of the Bloomsburg State Normal School to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It was now a fully state-owned institution.  Further evidence of the school's growth was the need in 1919 for its first summer session. 

David Waller in 1920

His last two years saw the acquiring of several enduring memorials for the campus.  The first of these were four stained-glass windows purchased from the George W. Spence Company of Boston and placed in the model school in late 1918 and early 1919.  For Memorial Day of 1919 the War Memorial Pinery was established to the north of Carver Hall in honor of the men and women affiliated with Bloomsburg who had given their lives during World War I.  The greatest memorial however, was ordered in 1919 from the famed Tiffany Studios in New York City.  Three large stained-glass windows on the themes of Truth and Virtue were intended to honor the 50th anniversary of the first class of teachers in 1920.  But when David Waller announced early that year that he would be retiring at the age of 74, the windows were also planned as a tribute to his many years of service.  So on Alumni Day, June 5, 1920, an impressive cermony took place and the windows were unveiled for the first time in all their glory.  They were installed in the addition to the main dormitory building, which was named after Dr. Waller in 1927.

After his retirement he continued to be active in the life of the town and the Normal School.  He was present at most Alumni events and in 1922 received a further honor when a bronze tablet from the Tiffany Studios was purchased with an inscription detailing his many contributions to the field of education.  Dr. Waller was respected and loved by the many graduates who came back to Bloomsburg year after year, and he was selected to ring the Carver Hall bell he had helped to purchase in May, 1938 to begin the school's centennial celebration.  His devotion and contributions to the now Bloomsburg State Teachers College continued until his death on June 28, 1941, eleven days after his 95th birthday.  David Waller continues to be remembered at the institution cofounded by his father, as exemplified by the new administration building which was named after him and dedicated in 1973.  The bronze tablet purchased in his honor now hangs proudly next to the two magnificent Tiffany windows in the new library, serving as a perpetual reminder after 80 years of the reasons why Dr. Waller meant so much to Bloomsburg.


Dr. Judson P. Welsh, 1890-1906



In July of 1890 Judson Perry Welsh became the second graduate of Bloomsburg to become principal of the school, the first being his predecessor, David Waller.  He was born on August 13, 1857 in a stone house near Orangeville, and after graduating from the Bloomsburg State Normal School in 1876 Welsh went on to receive a BA from Lafayette College in 1882.  That same year took a faculty position at West Chester State Normal School, where he taught and served as vice-principal of the school.  He continued his own education however, and earned his master's degree at Lafayette in 1887 and a PhD from there in 1891.  But it was in April 1890 after David Waller announced his intention of leaving Bloomsburg that Welsh was offered and accepted the post as its new principal.

During his tenure at Bloomsburg Dr. Welsh implemented the first course in manual training, as well as adding additional commercial and advanced methods courses.  In November of 1895 he oversaw the creation of a student government as Bloomsburg became the first school of its kind to develop a form of student government.  Welsh, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, was also active in promoting expansion in the size of the school campus and creating room for a growing student population. In February of 1894 the dormitory addition and gymnasium were dedicated. The gymnasium was very advanced for its time and was one of the finest facilities in this part of the state.  It was used by the physical education classes for gymnastic exhibitions and hosted the newly organized basketball team, which enjoyed great success during these years.  Other changes to the campus included the constuction of an employee's dormitory in 1895, and the building of a boiler house and remodeling of Institute Hall and its auditorium in 1900.  In 1904 Welsh and his family moved into the recently purchasedBuckalew Place, beginning a tradition that continues to the present. The finest building accomplishment during his tenure however, was Science Hall, which was completed his last year at Bloomsburg and was state-of-the-art for its day.

In July of 1906 Dr. Welsh was offered the vice presidency of Pennsylvania State College, and the following month submitted his resignation.  His time at Penn State however, was not nearly as successful as his tenure at Bloomsburg has been.  He served under an interim president who allowed him full control of the daily operations of the college, but in an attempt to show his abilities to become the next permanent president Welsh only succeeded in alienating the faculty and students.  The faculty especially believed he exercised too much authority and resented that fact, even though some of the policies he instituted did benefit the school.  By the time a new president was brought in in 1908 Welsh was serving as registrar, but was then moved to a position with little responsibility.  In 1910 he left Penn State to take a position at the Merchant's Dispatch, Inc. of New York City, and he and his family moved to Pleasantville, N.Y. where they resided for twenty years.  Judson Perry Welsh died at his home there at the age of 77 on August 29, 1934. 


Dr. Charles H. Fisher, 1920-1923


Before becoming principal of the Bloomsburg State Normal School (BSNS), Charles Henry Fisher had extensive experience in the field of education. He taught in York, PA and Trenton, NJ, and had been a professor of education at Swarthmore College. In addition, Fisher was the head of the education department at West Chester State Normal and assistant director of the Teachers Bureau of the State Department of Public Instruction at Harrisburg.

Dr. Fisher's most ambitious project at BSNS was the establishment of a Bureau of Educational Research.  In 1922 he started a three-year course for teachers of junior high school age students, which was the normal school's first step towards college status. In 1923 he resigned from Bloomsburg and became president of the Western Washington State Teachers College at Bellingham. Fisher left there after sixteen years when a dispute developed over his defense of academic freedom. He later worked as a professor of education administration at New York University, and in 1942 became the Dean of Huron College in South Dakota. In the last years of World War II he returned to Washington to work as a materials priority director for the state.  Charles Fisher died on December 8, 1964 at the age of 84 in a suburb of Seattle, Washington.  In 1968 Western Washington honored Dr. Fisher by dedicating the Fisher Fountain to his memory. 


Dr. G.C.L. Riemer, 1923-1927


Guido Carl Leo Riemer was born in Sax Weimer, Germany on August 27, 1873 and came to America with his family in 1882. He prepped at the Clarion State Normal School and the Bucknell Academy before earning his BA and MA degrees at Bucknell University, and then in 1900 received a second MA from Harvard University. Riemer later received his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Leipzig in Germany, and from 1901-1918 served as a professor of German at Bucknell. Before his term as principal of the Bloomsburg State Normal School (BSNS) Riemer was an official in the Department of Public Instruction at Harrisburg.

During his term at BSNS Riemer developed new rules and regulations for students living outside the dormitories. But his biggest accomplishment as principal was in 1926 when the Board of Trustees accepted Riemer's recommendation to change the normal school into an institution designed to prepare teachers for the public schools of Pennsylvania. On June 4, 1926 Bloomsburg was given the privilege to grant degrees and the school's name was formally changed to State Teachers College at Bloomsburg in May of 1927.  After these accomplishments Riemer resigned his job as principal the following month.

Dr. Riemer continued to work in the Pennsylvania State Education System after leaving Bloomsburg. He was principal and then president of Clarion State Teachers College from 1928 to 1937, and a professor of speech at Kutztown from 1937 until his retirement in 1943. He remained there until 1950, when he and his wife went to Shaker Heights, Ohio to live with their son.  Dr. Riemer died there on March 13, 1953 at the age of 79. 

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