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::The Revolutionary College Project

The Revoluntionary College Project

colin ferguson

ABOVE - Colin Ferguson, Washington College president from 1793 to 1805, was a respected scholar and an Episcopal priest. His silhouette will be used to represent notable alumni for whom we have no portrait.

Red Swirl Notable Alumni


Joseph Hopper Nicholson, 1780s

Joseph Hopper Nicholson, 1780s (May 15, 1770-March 4, 1817)

One of the earliest students to attend Washington College, Joseph Hopper Nicholson went on to win national fame as a political and military leader. He is best remembered today for his role in securing the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency – as well as for assisting his brother-in-law, Francis Scott Key, in creating the song that would become America’s national anthem.

Born into a Kent County family that had participated with distinction in the Revolution, Nicholson moved with his young wife, Rebecca Lloyd, to a family plantation called Chesterfield, which he subdivided to help create the new town of Centreville. He entered public life early, serving in 1792 as one of the counselors to the Eastern Shore Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. After several terms in the Maryland legislature (where he opposed repealing property requirements for voting) he was elected in 1798 to the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic-Republican party, adherents of Jefferson.

In 1801, he proved his party loyalty in dramatic fashion when a tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr in the Electoral College threw the choice of president into the House. The story was told that although gravely sick in bed, Nicholson insisted on being carried, still in his bed (and through a driving snowstorm, no less), into the House chamber, where he cast his crucial vote for Jefferson on 36 consecutive ballots. In any case, he became one of Jefferson’s most trusted allies in Congress, as well as a frequent dinner guest at the White House. Nicholson defended the Louisiana Purchase, and served as an impeachment manager in the notorious trials of federal judges John Pickering and Samuel Chase. Shortly before resigning his seat in 1806, he introduced a resolution calling for the non-importation of British goods, which led eventually to the Embargo Act of 1807.

Nicholson’s smoldering hostility to Britain rekindled in 1812, when he was one of Maryland’s most vocal advocates of war. The following year, he raised a militia company known as the Baltimore Fencibles, and became its captain. During the bombardment of Fort McHenry in September 1814, Nicholson and his men kept their posts in the fort for more than 25 hours. Just after the British attack ended, Nicholson encountered his brother-in-law and close friend, Francis Scott Key, who had witnessed the engagement while detained aboard a British warship. Key showed Nicholson a poem he had written about the bombardment, and Nicholson wrote an introduction and arranged for it to be printed as a broadside even before the smoke of battle had cleared. He also suggested that the verses be set to music, an old drinking tune called “Anacreon in Heaven.” The song that Key and Nicholson created would become known, of course, as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Joseph Nicholson is mentioned in William Smith’s 1784 Account of Washington College as one of three freshmen students who participated in the 1783 Commencement dressed in shepherds’ garb to perform a “Pastoral Dialogue.” (It was common then for students to begin college at the age of 13 or 14.) He may also have been present when George Washington visited the following year. Due to the loss of graduation records from that period, it is uncertain when or if he received his degree.

Sources: Scott S. Sheads, “Joseph Hopper Nicholson: Citizen-Soldier of Maryland,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Summer 2003), pp. 133-151; Roger Brooke Taney to Charles Howard, March 12, 1856, in Samuel Tyler, Memoir of Roger Brooke Taney (Baltimore, 1872), pp. 109-119; William Smith, An Account of Washington College in the State of Maryland (Philadelphia, 1784), pp. 29-30; Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.


Colin Ferguson

Charles Smith, 1783 (March 4, 1765 - April 18, 1836)

Charles Smith, third son of William Smith and his wife Rebecca Moore Smith, graduated Valedictorian of Washington College at its first Commencement on May 14, 1783.  He studied law with his eldest brother, William Moore Smith in Easton, Pa., and was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia in June 1786.  He set up a law practice in Sunbury, Pa., and was elected a delegate to the convention that drew up a new constitution for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1790. On March 3, 1791, he married Mary Yeates and moved from Sunbury to Lancaster, Pa.  Thereafter, he traveled extensively in the northern and western parts of Pennsylvania with the circuit court, pleading cases on the settlement of land titles.  He became one of the Commonwealth’s most eminent land lawyers, and in his mature years framed, under the authority of the Legislature, a new compilation of the laws of the State, that came to be known as Smith’s Edition of the Laws of Pennsylvania.  In March 1819, Charles Smith was appointed President Judge for the Judicial District comprising Cumberland, Franklin and Adams counties, and the next year President Judge for the city and county of Lancaster.  The father of seven children who reached maturity, he later practiced law in Baltimore and then in Philadelphia, where he died at the ripe age of seventy-one.

Sources: William Smith, An Account of Washington College in the State of Maryland (Philadelphia, 1784), p. 28-29, with valedictory oration on pp. 31-36, and Horace Wemyss Smith, Life and Correspondence of the Rev. William Smith, D.D (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1880), 2:542, 543-44, 570-71.


Colin Ferguson

James M. Anderson, Jr. 1790's? (1774 – May 31, 1830) Washington College Grad, President pro temp, 1819  

In 1819, as the United States economy suffered through its first major depression since the end of the Revolution, Dr. James Mouat Anderson sat as the President pro temp. of the Board of Visitors and Governors of  Washington College. As with much of Washington College’s history, mystery surrounds Anderson’s identity. Living in Kent County in 1819 was a father-son duo, both named James M. Anderson, and both worked as medical doctors. It is likely, however, that James Jr., a Washington College graduate, was the Anderson who held the Presidency of Washington College’s Board in 1819.

The elder Anderson was the son of a Scottish immigrant doctor and was the first President of Chestertown’s Abolition Society in 1791. Early in his life, James Sr. became a devout Methodist and strictly adhered to Methodism’s initial antislavery dogma. The senior Anderson studied medicine at Edinburgh, and although he returned to Chestertown without a proper diploma, he did carry a certificate signed by the era’s foremost medical authorities. Upon his return he began a joint medical practice with his father, “James Anderson and Son.” The two lived in a large brick house on Cannon Street that his father purchased in 1737. Upon the death of his father, James M. Anderson, Sr. was bequeathed “all medicines, drugs, chirurgical instruments” as well as the brick house. It was in that house where Anderson, Sr. raised five children, the oldest of whom was James Jr.

James Mouat Anderson, Jr. was born in 1774 or 1775 in Chestertown, Maryland, and was likely delivered by his medical doctor father and grandfather. James Jr. graduated from Washington College and then studied medicine under the Declaration of Independence signer and abolitionist Dr. Benjamin Rush at the University of Pennsylvania. Like his father before him, James Jr. returned to Chestertown and joined his father’s medical practice. On February 16, 1796, he married his first wife Elizabeth Bedingfield Hands. They had four children, none of whom lived past the age of three. His first wife died in 1804. Two years later he married Elizabeth Smith, who bore him seven children.

A friend and fellow Chestertown doctor described James Jr. as “a great reader” of popular and medical literature of the day. As a doctor, he was “a good Physician, and always held a respectable rank among his professional brethren.” In 1800, James Jr. was an Honorary Member of the Philadelphia Medical Society and in 1807 he was a founding member of Maryland’s first “Medical and Chirurgical Faculty or Society of Physicians and Surgeons.” By 1810, James Jr. was so highly respected that he sat on the Board of Examiners for the Eastern Shore.  He was actively involved in local politics and in 1812 was unanimously appointed to the county committee of the Democratic Republicans. And in 1826, James Jr. was one of two representatives from Kent County to sit on Maryland’s Electoral College.

James Jr., “was quick at repartee, and enjoyed the society of kindred spirits so keenly” that friends report having “seen him almost fall from his chair in convulsions of laughter.” But as President of the Board at Washington College, James Jr., oversaw the reform of the school’s boarding practices. The Board, under his leadership required all students to live with the college’s steward and pay $120 per year for room and board. Additionally, the Board composed a list of twenty-four rules that regulated student behavior in the steward’s home. The rules ensured proper treatment of the steward’s “servants,” specified that students keep their rooms “free from filth,” prohibited “games of chance,” the possession of alcohol and firearms, and outlawed “whistling, jumping, ball-playing or other boisterous noise at any time within the College.”

Although Thomas Worrell had taken over fulltime Presidency of the Board by the October 30, 1819, meting, Andersons continued to guide Washington College. Edward Anderson, James’s younger brother, who had been a board member during his brother’s tenure, remained on the Board.

On May 31, 1830, James Jr. died suddenly in his bed. Notices of his death were placed in most of the major newspapers throughout Maryland. He left behind his second wife Elizabeth and four children, one of whom, unsurprisingly, became a doctor.

Sources: Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America 1815-1846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 135-7; Virginia Jones, ed., “The Minutes of the Board of Visitors and Governors 1816-1848,” 22. Dr. Peregrine Wroth, “Memoirs of Physicians of Kent County,” 1852 from George A. Hanson, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland; Notes Illustrative of The most Ancient Records of Kent County, Maryland, and of the Parishes of St. Paul’s Shrewsbury and I.U. And Genealogical Histories of Old and Distinguished Families of Maryland, and their Connections by Marriage, etc. (Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1990, 1876), 364; “Constitution of the Chester-Town Society, for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and for the Relief of Free Negroes, and others, unlawfully held in Bondage,” (Baltimore: Goddard and Angell, 1791), 7; for information on the house see: Michael Owen Bourne and Eugene Hall Johnstone, Historic Houses of Kent County: An Architectural History: 1642-1860 (Chestertown: Historical Society of Kent County, 1998), 105-106; Hanson, Old Kent, 367; “The Act of Incorporation and Laws of the Philadelphia Medical Society,” (Philadelphia: Carey, 1800), 22; “A summary of Proceedings from the Organization of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland,” (Baltimore:Fryer and Rider, 1807), 1; Easton Star, March 27, 1810. Easton Star, June 1, 1812; Baltimore Patriot, September 15, 1826; Hanson, Old Kent, 367; “Minutes of the Board of Visitors and Governors, 1816-1848,” 22-25; Baltimore Patriot, June 8, 1830.   


Thomas Ward Veazey Picture borrowed from the Maryland State Archives website. The photo is of a portrait of Thomas W. Veazey by C. Gregory Stapko.

Thomas Ward Veazey, 1795  (1774-1842)

Thomas Ward Veazey, a 1795 Washington College graduate, dedicated his career to serving Maryland. Born in 1774, Veazey married three times and had eleven children. He died in 1842 after an illustrious career in government.

The youngest son of Captain Edward Veazey, who was killed in the Battle of Long Island in 1776, Thomas Veazey served as a Lieutenant Colonel during the War of 1812. Better known, however, for civilian public service, in 1808 and 1812 Veazey was a presidential elector who supported James Madison. In 1811 he was elected to the Maryland House of Representatives as the delegate from Cecil County and from 1833 to 1835 he was a member of Governor James Thomas’ Executive Council.

In 1836, Veazey, a slaveholder who opposed abolition and advocated states’ rights, began his first term as Governor of Maryland. The state’s final Whig governor, he was also the last governor elected by the General Assembly, rather than by direct popular vote. Re-elected in 1837 and 1838, he served the maximum three one-year terms. During his tenure, eight million dollars was allotted to public works projects, including the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. The Maryland Constitution was amended during his term of office to provide for direct popular election of the governor and senators.

Sources: Dumschott, Fred. W. Washington College. Chestertown, Md.: Washington College, 1980,Miller Library Archives. Vertical Files 1728-1832. Series I, 5, B(2) pre 1782-1832. Alumni. Members. Biographical info &/or papers & correspondence. Thomas W. Veazey, National Governor’s Association



Peregrine Wroth

Courtesy of William Jones '88

Peregrine Wroth, 1803 (Apr. 7, 1786 – June 13, 1879)

Baptized as an infant by Washington College founder Dr. William Smith, Peregrine Wroth, class of 1803, never lost his loyalty to and love for the school in Chestertown.

At age eight, Wroth entered the college’s preparatory school. After graduation, he studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania before returning to Kent County where he practiced for nearly fifty years. During his years as “one of the ablest and most learned physicians on the Eastern Shore,” Wroth wrote a well-known paper on the history and treatment of Endemic Bilious Fever, or malaria, which was prevalent on the Eastern Shore. His advocacy for the establishment of a school for training pharmacists, led to the formation of the Maryland College of Pharmacy.

From 1846-1854, Wroth was a lecturer and professor of chemistry at his alma mater. He served on the Board of Visitors and Governors at the college, and was the president of that body for several years, until he moved to Baltimore. He was married and widowed four times.  His first wife, Martha Page, the daughter of Milcah and John Page, who served on the founding Board, bore him nine children, of whom three, including his favorite daughter, Eugenia Maria (Feb. 26, 1817- Sept. 30, 1861), survived to maturity. Upon Martha’s death, he married on June 19, 1827 Margaret S. Nicols, who had five more children. He was also a close friend and correspondent of Mrs. Robert E. Lee.

Throughout his life, Wroth’s “active mind continued to keep him in the forefront of chemical thought.” He also remained dedicated to Washington College. In a letter to a friend in 1874, five years before his death at age 93, Wroth wrote: “I still feel and, forever shall while I live, a deep interest in my dear old College – with which so many delightful memories are associated.”

Sources: J. M. Miller, “Vignette of medical history: Peregrine Wroth, MD (Hon.) and his Maryland descendants.” Maryland Medical Journal, 43 (9) (1994): 807-09., Gina Ralston ’04: “Dr. Peregrine Wroth, George Alfred Townsend, and the Literary Life of 19th-Century Chestertown.” WC senior English thesis, McLain, Joseph H. "Dr. Peregrine Wroth (1786-1879) and Chemistry at Washington College 1846-1854." Maryland Historical Magazine 75 (1980): 233-237, Dr. Peregrine Wroth letter to Wm. J. Rivers, Esq.,. 25 July 1874. Lower photo courtesy of William Jones '88.


John Emory Image from Found on Wikipedia

John Emory, 1805 (Apr. 11, 1789 – Dec. 16, 1835)

Called “one of the most eminent men in the history of the American Methodist Church” by The Methodist Protestant-Recorder, John Emory was born in Queen Anne’s County, Md. in 1789.  Emory’s father planned a law career for his son and after graduating from college, Emory studied law under Richard Tilghman Earle, passing the bar in 1808. Despite an aptitude for the profession and against his father’s wishes, he began an exceptional career in the Methodist ministry after a profound conversion experience. 

His humble start as a circuit preacher led to nominations to the Methodist General Conference nearly every year after 1816. In 1820, he had the honor of serving as a delegate to the British Wesleyan Conference. Three years later, Washington College recognized “his reputation for pre-eminence as a preacher and pastor” with an honorary doctorate of divinity.

In 1824, as the Methodist Church’s Assistant Book Agent, he began publishing a church periodical and when he became agent, Emory was able to pay off the office’s growing debt. He was in charge of the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review from 1830-1832, until he was elected a bishop. Emory was involved in organizing both Wesleyan University and Dickinson College but is perhaps best remembered by Emory University, an institution founded in 1836 and named in his honor.

“A man of unflinching integrity, of great strength of will and of more than ordinary discretion,” Emory’s brilliant career in the ministry was cut short when he was killed by a runaway wagon team en route to Baltimore from the Eastern Shore in 1835.  Most accounts of Emory’s death state only that he was killed in a “tragic accident” while traveling. An undated letter in the Miller Library Archives, handwritten by Albertus Perry, originally read: “He was killed in what appears to have been a team runaway.” That phrase was crossed out and replaced with “He was killed in an accident while on his way to Baltimore from his farm on the Eastern Shore.”

Sources:  Adams, J. Peyton. “John Emory.” The Methodist Protestant-Recorder, April 1940, 8-9.  “Dr. Mead’s Address on John Emory.” The Centreville Observer, May 1935 (a clipping in the archives noted a “Centreville Paper,” which at that time would have been either the Observer or the Queen Anne’s Record (a weekly). No author was given. Mead, Gilbert W. Letter to Rev. Roy T. Thawley. 3 March 1941.  Perry, Albertus. Undated letter.   Simpson, Bishop Matthew. “John Emory.” Cyclopedia of Methodism.


Ezekiel Chambers

Ezekiel Chambers, 1805 (February 28, 1788-1January 30, 1867)

Yankee and Southerner, patriot and slave-owner, Ezekiel Forman Chambers is a perplexing figure for historians.  Throughout his many years as a public figure, Chambers engaged in battles for freedom as well as drag-out fights for the status quo.  His career encapsulated the paradox of Antebellum America.

In 1814 young Ezekiel played the part of the Yankee, raising a group of volunteers to fight the British at the Battle of Caulk’s Field in western Kent County.  His bravery and leadership earned the admiration of his superior officers.  Chambers continued to serve his country, serving in the United States Senate from 1826 to 1834, when he was appointed as a Maryland District Judge.  He would also later serve as President of Washington College’s Board of Visitors and Governors for twenty-four years, greatly affecting the course of the institution.

The Civil War emboldened the Southern disposition of Judge Chambers.  In the early days of the national crisis the Judge was associated with the “Peace Party,” men who favored recognizing the Southern Confederacy and desperately opposing coercion from the North.  Never an open secessionist, Chambers nonetheless presided over the “Southern Rights Convention,” assembled in Baltimore in February, 1861, where he goaded his colleagues to “refuse” the benefits of Union if Southern “honor” could not be guaranteed. The conservative-leaning voters of Kent County sent the Judge as one of the county’s delegates at the tumultuous Constitutional Convention of 1864, where Chambers delivered an impassioned, but futile, defense of slavery.  The Judge berated the new constitution as “a sudden, violent, and most mischievous destruction of the relation of master and slave.” Also in 1864, Democrats chose Chambers to be their candidate for Governor.  He lost to Thomas Swann of Baltimore.

The Judge’s life tells an important part of the tale of Kent County and of Maryland; he has been cast as a obstinate conservative, or, as one local historian has described him, a model for “all who love freedom in government and justice to all men.”  The life of Ezekiel Forman Chambers tells of the complexity of the young Republic.   

Sources:  Fred W. Dumschott, Washington College (Chestertown: Washington College, 1980) 85-7; Unpublished Biography of Ezekiel Forman Chambers, author unknown, Historical Society of Kent County Archives. Address and Resolutions Adopted at the Meeting of the Southern Rights Convention of Maryland, Held in the Universalist Church, in the City of Baltimore, February 18th and 19th, 1861:  Together with the Address Delivered by the President, Hon. Ezekiel F. Chambers, on Taking His Seat” (Baltimore:  J.B. Rose, 1861) 10, 6


John Woodland Crisfield Image from Wikipedia

Courtesy of William Jones '88

John Woodland Crisfield, 1826? (November 8, 1806 — January 12, 1897)

John Woodland Crisfield was a U.S. Congressman from Maryland, representing the sixth district from 1847—1849 and the first district from 1861—1863. The town of Crisfield, Maryland is named after him.

Born near Chestertown, Maryland, Crisfield was educated at Washington College on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1830, commencing practice in Princess Anne, Maryland.

Crisfield entered the Maryland House of Delegates in 1836, and was later elected as a Whig to the Thirtieth Congress, serving the 6th Congressional district of Maryland from March 4, 1847 until March 3, 1849. He was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1850, and a member of the peace conference of 1861 held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending American Civil War.

In 1861, Crisfield was elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-seventh Congress from the 1st Congressional district of Maryland, serving one term from March 4, 1861 until March 3, 1863. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1862, and resumed the practice of law. He served as a delegate to the National Union Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1866.

The town of Crisfield, Maryland was located and founded by Crisfield in 1866, and he was instrumental in building the Eastern Shore Railroad and served as president. He died in Princess Anne in 1897, and is interred in Manokin Presbyterian Cemetery.

Source: This article incorporates facts obtained from the public domain Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, as found on Wikipedia.


Colin Ferguson

James Barroll Ricaud, 1828 (February 11, 1808 – January 24, 1866)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Ricaud attended the common schools and graduated from Washington College of Chestertown, Maryland in 1828. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1829, and commenced practice in Chestertown. He served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1834, served in the Maryland State Senate from 1836 to 1844, and served as presidential elector on the Whig tickets in 1840 and 1844.

Ricaud was elected as the candidate of the American Party to the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth Congresses, serving from March 4, 1855 to March 3, 1859. He later resumed the practice of his profession and was appointed associate judge of the second Maryland judicial district in 1864 by Governor Augustus Bradford and served during the May term. He died in Chestertown and is interred in St. Paul’s Church Cemetery

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


George Alfred Townsend

George Alfred Townsend. Attended in the 1850s (Jan. 30, 1841 – April 15, 1914)

Journalist and novelist George Alfred Townsend was born in Georgetown, Delaware, on January 30, 1841, to the Reverend and Mrs. Stephen Townsend. Townsend lived throughout Delaware and Maryland, as his father transferred from parish to parish, before his family settled in Philadelphia, in 1855. There, Townsend was graduated from Central High School with a Bachelor of Arts in 1860.

Townsend's first full-time employment began in 1860 as a news editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1861, he moved to the city editorship of the Philadelphia Press, and in the same year, his play, The Bohemians, was published. Although Townsend's stories and poems had been published in high school newspapers and, in fact, Townsend had published a small high school magazine, this play is his earliest known surviving publication.

By 1866, Townsend had become a noted news journalist, as a war correspondent covering the Civil War for the New York Herald, the New York World, and later, as a ghost writer, for The New York Times.

His reports of Lincoln's assassination (part of which was later published as Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth [1865]) and General Sheridan's victory at the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia, brought him considerable recognition. Townsend, who was the only correspondent present for the battle on March 31, 1865, conveyed word of the Union Army's decisive victory, which resulted in the Confederate abandonment of Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia.

Townsend's reflections on the Civil War and on his two-year journey in Europe during the war were collected in his Campaigns of a Non-Combatant and his Romaunt Abroad during the War (1866). Townsend's recognition as a war correspondent led to his popularity as a lecturer. He traveled throughout the United States, lecturing on the Civil War, European politics and U.S. government.

By 1867, Townsend had made his home in Washington, D.C., choosing the capital because of his desire to report on political news and issues. His books, The New World Compared with the Old (1869), Washington Outside and Inside (1873), and Events at the National Capitol and the Campaign of 1876 (1876), explore American government, the nation's capital, and political topics.

During the 1860s and 1870s his columns, articles, and letters appeared in newspapers throughout the United States, including papers in Boston, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. Some of these articles, as well as some of his books, were written using a number of pen names, including "G.A.T.," "Swede," "Laertes," "Johnny Bouquet," and his favorite, "Gath."

Several of Townsend's books, written during the 1880s, are set in Delaware and Maryland. The first, Tales of the Chesapeake (1880), was a collection of poems and stories about Delaware and the Maryland shore. Townsend's first historical novel, The Entailed Hat (1883), tells the tale of Patty Cannon, the slave "runner," and her adventures in what is today the Governor's House in Dover. The sequel to The Entailed Hat was Katy of Catoctin (1884), set in Western Maryland.

In 1884, Townsend purchased land near Burkettsville, Maryland, and established an estate, which he named Gapland. It was on this estate, in 1896, that he built the only national memorial to Civil War correspondents. Located near the Antietam Battlefield, the monument bears the names of 157 correspondents and artists.  After Townsend's death in 1914, and following a succession of other owners, the estate was deeded to the Maryland State Department of Forests and Parks in 1949. The estate was renamed Gathland State Park, using Townsend's popular pen name "Gath." The park honors George Alfred Townsend as one of America's most important journalists and novelists of the Reconstruction Era.

Many of Townsend’s works can be read or downloaded free of charge on the internet.

Sources: From Univ. of Delaware web site on Townsend papers.   Frank, Bill. "Famed Sussex War Correspondent," The News Journal (Wilmington), February 23, 1987. Hindes, Ruthanna. George Alfred Townsend: one of Delaware's Outstanding Writers. Wilmington: Hambleton Printing & Publishing Co., 1946.


Charles Hopper Gibson Image found on Wikipedia from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

Courtesy of William Jones '88

Charles Hopper Gibson. 1862 (January 19, 1842 – March 31, 1900)

Gibson was a United States Senator from Maryland, serving from 1891–1897. He also served as a U.S. Congressman from 1885–1891.

Gibson was born near Centreville, Maryland, and attended the Centerville Academy and the Archer School in Harford County. He graduated from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, engaged in the study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1864, commencing practice in Easton, Maryland.

President Andrew Johnson appointed Gibson as collector of internal revenue for the Maryland Eastern Shore district in 1867, but Gibson was not confirmed. He became auditor and commissioner in chancery in 1869 and resigned in 1870 to accept the appointment of State’s attorney for Talbot County, Maryland, serving from 1871 until 1875.

Gibson was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-ninth, Fiftieth, and Fifty-first Congresses from Maryland's 1st congressional district, serving from March 4, 1885 until March 3, 1891, but was not a candidate for reelection in 1890. He was appointed and subsequently elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ephraim King Wilson II, and served in that position from November 19, 1891 until March 3, 1897. As senator, Gibson served as chairman of the Committee on Manufactures (Fifty-third Congress).

After his service as U.S. senator, Gibson resumed the practice of law, and later died in Washington, D.C. in 1900. He is interred in Chesterfield Cemetery in his home town of Centerville.

Source: Biographical Dictionary  of the United States Congress as found on Wikipedia


Colin Ferguson

Robert Franklin Bratton 1864 (May 13, 1845 – May 10, 1894)

An American politician, Bratton was born in Barren Creek Springs in Somerset (now Wicomico) County, Maryland, and graduated from Washington College of Chestertown, Maryland, in 1864. Thereafter, he served as deputy register of wills for Somerset County and was admitted to the bar in 1867.

Bratton's political career began as a member of the State convention of 1865, which sent delegates to a peace convention held in Philadelphia in the following year. He also served as a member of several state and congressional conventions and as member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1869. He entered the Maryland State Senate in 1873, and was re-elected for terms in 1879, 1887, and 1890. During 1890, he served as President of the Maryland State Senate.

After his tenure in the Senate, Bratton engaged in the practice of law in Princess Anne, Maryland, and was elected late in his life as a Democrat to the Fifty-third Congress. His tenure was just over a year in length, having been brought to an abrupt conclusion after his death in Princess Anne in 1894. He is interred in St. Andrew's Cemetery.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, as found on Wikipedia


Colin Ferguson

George Avery Bunting, 1891 (Apr. 3, 1870 – Jan. 1, 1960)

George Avery Bunting, a precocious and entrepreneurial young man who entered Washington College at the age of 16, pursued a career in pharmacology and invented the facial cream known as Noxzema. He founded the company in 1917 and served as its president until 1948. He donated Bunting Hall as the college’s first library.

Source: WWA, vol. 3. p. 122.


Mary L. (May) Matthews Jones

Mary L. (May) Matthews Jones

Mary L. (May) Matthews Jones, 1895

Women were first admitted to Washington College as day students in 1891. No facilities were available for their residence until 1893, when the college acquired a house a few minutes walk from campus, in order to accommodate those coming from a distance. May Matthews of Chestertown enrolled as a freshman in 1891; at commencement ceremonies four years later, she became the first woman to graduate from Washington College. By her senior year, the student body included 24 women, eleven of whom were enrolled in college classes.

Matthews distinguished herself academically throughout her college years, maintaining an academic average of 85.7 as a freshman, 82.3 as a sophomore, and 83.4 as a junior, each year earning herself the designation of “Meritorious” scholar. She took first prize for Declamation in 1893, for an oration she delivered before the student body, and served as founding Vice President of the college’s first female student organization, the Pieria Literary Society. Founded in 1894, the eighteen members of the literary society met twice a month in the college chapel to share essays, recitations, and debates.

Enrolled in the “scientific course,” as opposed to the “classical,” Matthews took a full schedule of Latin, German, Political Economy, Science, Psychology, Elocution, and Composition her senior year. As the only female member of the senior class, she had the option of substituting a third year of French for Differential and Integral Calculus. She also took three hours of Gymnasium per week, in the company of female underclassmen rather than her male classmates.

After graduation, Matthews married J.S. William Jones, a professor of mathematics and natural science, and remained in Chestertown. Her husband later became Dean of the College, and served as Acting President from 1918-1919.

Sources: DePasquale, Sue. “Coeducation and the Changing Role of Women at WC,” Washington College Magazine, Vol. XL, No. 1 (Fall 1991)

Dumschott, Fred W. Washington College. Chestertown, Maryland: Washington College, 1980, p. 115-127; 165-167.

Landskroener, Marcia C., ed. Washington: The College at Chester. Chestertown, Md.: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.

Washington College Catalogue, 1891-92; 1894-95; 1897-98, Special Collections & Archives, Miller Library


Colin Ferguson

Mary C. Burchinal, 1896, M.A. 1899

A member of the college’s second coeducational graduating class, Mary C. Burchinal spent a lifetime pioneering new frontiers. The first woman to serve on the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors, Burchinal helped lay the foundation of the Philadelphia public schools’ foreign language curriculum, and earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1911, only four years after the university trustees formally approved the admission of women to graduate study.

Burchinal enrolled in the “scientific course” at Washington College in 1893, and graduated three years later, earning the prestigious “Prize for Scholarship in Senior Class.”

After graduation, Burchinal taught in the Chestertown public schools, and became a charter member of the Women’s Literary Club, which established the town’s first library in 1907. The college bestowed the M.A. degree upon her in 1899. She joined the WC faculty in 1902, teaching French, German, and drawing. Moving across the bay to Baltimore, she briefly taught at Goucher College before relocating to Philadelphia in 1909 to teach French and German at the newly opened William Penn High School. After earning her Ph.D. in Germanics, she refused several offers for college work, choosing instead to accept a position as inaugural chair of the Foreign Language Department at West Philadelphia High School for Girls, opened in 1912. Later moving to Overbrook High School, Burchinal took an active role in the city’s modern language associations, developing a new syllabus for high school French that was soon adopted statewide.

A leader in the Philadelphia chapter of the Washington College Alumni Association, she made history in 1923 as the first woman appointed to the Board of Visitors and Governors, where she served on the Faculty & Curriculum Committee. Reappointed in 1929 by Gov. Albert Ritchie, she remained a member of the board until her death in 1935, at which time she donated her extensive library of French and German literature to Washington College.

According to her colleagues at Overbrook High School, “those who worked with her will not easily forget the fearlessness she showed, her utter indifference to adverse opinion, in fighting for a cause which seemed to her a righteous and just one.”

Sources: Burkart, Anna D., “Necrology: Mary C. Burchinal,” The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 20, No. 7 (April 1936), p. 421

Landskroener, Marcia. “Women’s Work: Forging a Town’s Character,” in Here on the Chester: Washington College Remembers Old Chestertown, ed. John Lang. Chestertown, Md: The Literary House Press of Washington College, 2006, p. 63-79.

Washington College Catalogues, 1893-94; 1894-95; 1896-97; 1899-1900; 1902-03; 1923-24; 1930-31; 1937-38, Special Collections & Archives, Miller Library


Colin Ferguson

T. Alan Goldsborough, 1899 (Sept. 16, 1877 – June 17, 1951) LL.D., D.C.L.

Goldsborough, a Representative from Maryland was born in Greensboro, Caroline County, attended the public schools and the local academy at Greensboro. He was graduated from Washington College, Chestertown, Md., in 1899 and from the law department of the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 1901.  He was admitted to the bar in 1901 and commenced practice in Denton, Md.  Goldsborough served as prosecuting attorney for Caroline County 1904-1908 and was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-seventh and to the nine succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1921, to April 5, 1939, when he resigned, having been appointed an associate justice of the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia, where he served until his death.  He was a cosponsor of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and a regent of the Smithsonian Institution from1932-1939.  He was buried in Denton Cemetery, Denton, Md.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present



Colonel Hiram Staunton Brown

Colonel Hiram Staunton Brown, 1900 (Oct. 3, 1882 – May 4, 1950)

Called “The Last Emperor” by the Washington College faculty and staff, Colonel Hiram Staunton Brown, class of 1900, handled the institution’s personnel and finances during 28 years as chairman of the Board of Visitors and Governors.

As an undergraduate, Brown was already prominent on campus. According to a classmate, federal judge T. Alan Goldsborough, Brown held many student offices, earned high grades, and always had the prettiest dates. He graduated magna cum laude at seventeen, then moved to New York City, where his success as a banker and businessman prepared him to be Chief of Finance of the Air Corps during World War I.

After the war, Brown served five years as president of the United States Leather Company before becoming president of the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp (RKO)

A fan of Broadway, Brown was behind the pairing of the legendary Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, whose popularity kept RKO from bankruptcy during the Depression and allowed RKO to offer jobs to a number of Washington College graduates.

Brown had been chairman of the Washington College Board since 1922, earning a reputation as “a benevolent dictator” for closely monitoring the college’s finances and making important decisions without consulting anyone. His legacies include helping arrange the 1933 visit of his close friend President Franklin D. Roosevelt and convincing Colonel Clarence Hodson to make a generous financial gift.  

Though Phillip J. Wingate remembered him as “a glamorous and awesome figure on the Washington College campus, Brown’s life ended tragically in 1950 when, after a lengthy battle with a nervous condition, he shot himself through the heart.

Source: Phillip J. Wingate, “Hiram S. Brown is Formidable Board Chairman” in Washington: The College at Chester, ed. Marcia C. Landskroener (Chestertown, Md.: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003), 183. “Colonel Hiram Staunton Brown, W. C. Alumnus, Dies Thursday in Chestertown.” The Washington Elm XLX, no. 24, 5 May 1950.  Dumschott, Fred. W. Washington College. Chestertown, Md.: Washington College, 1980. Wingate, Phillip J. “Hiram S. Brown is Formidable Board Chairman.” In Washington: The College at Chester, edited by Marcia C. Landskroener, 183-188. Chestertown, Md.: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.


Mary Adele France

Mary Adele France, 1900 (Feb. 17, 1880 – Sept, 1954)

As a student and as an educator, Mary Adele France, class of 1900, was a pioneer. The fifth woman awarded a Bachelor’s Degree from Washington College, she was also among the first women to receive an honorary degree from the school.

France, who also earned Master’s Degrees from Washington College in 1902 and from the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1923, dedicated her career to providing young girls with inspiration and educational opportunities rare in the early 20th century.

After spending the first six years after graduation teaching at a private school, France began teaching at St. Mary’s Female Seminary in Maryland in 1909, beginning what would be an enduring association with the school.

During the 1913-1914 school year, she taught science and math at the Bristol School in Ocean City, Md. before returning to St. Mary’s. From 1918 to 1920, France was the supervisor of the Kent County Elementary Schools, and during the following two years, she held the same position in the Shelby, Tennessee school system.

In 1923, she returned to the seminary, where she served as principal for fourteen years before becoming president in 1937. During her tenure, she established a junior college program which laid the foundation for the present-day St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

At her alma mater’s fiftieth anniversary of coeducation in 1942, France, along with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the writer Sophie Kerr, received an honorary degree from Washington College for her significant contributions to education for young women.

Sources: Dumschott, Fred. W. Washington College. Chestertown, Maryland: Washington College, 1980.

“Eleanor Roosevelt and the 50th Anniversary of Coeducation.” In Washington: The College at Chester, edited by Marcia C. Landskroener, 72. Chestertown, Maryland: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.

“Three Honorary Degrees to be given to Women.” The Washington Elm XLI, no. 27, 1 May 1942, p. 1.


Colin Ferguson

Lewin Wethered Barroll,1908 (Oct. 16, 1921 – Feb. 2, 1969)

Born in Chestertown, the son of Margaret Wethered and Hopewell Horsey Barroll of the Class of 1878, Barroll attended Yale receiving the A.B. in 1910 after graduating from Washington College in 1908.  As a young man, he wrote a fundamental article on the founding of the College, based on a now lost ledger of early College accounts: “Washington College, 1783,” Maryland Historical Magazine 6 (1911), 164-78.  From New Haven, he moved to Baltimore where he studied at John Hopkins and the University of Maryland Law School, receiving the degrees of Master of Arts and Bachelor of Laws in the same year.  He first practiced law in Chestertown with his father and later in Baltimore in the firm of Barroll and Wethered.  He rose to the rank Major in the Army in World War I, commanding installations of coastal artillery. Throughout his life he was a great supporter of Washington College.

Bibl. Obituary, Baltimore Sun, Feb. 2, 1969.


Colin Ferguson

Julio Del Toro, 1913

Born in Cuba and educated in the United States, Del Toro spent most of his career as a professor in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Michigan. He served two terms as president of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers and was editor of the Modern Language Journal for a longer period than any other editor.

Bibl., J. Alan Pfeffer, The Modern Language Journal, 43, No. 8  (Dec., 1959), 365-372


Colin Ferguson

Colin F. Stam, 1916 (Aug. 21, 1896 – Jan. 1966)

Colin Stam was an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service from 1922 to 1926 and served as assistant counsel for the Joint Congressional Committee on Internal Revenue taxation 1927-29, counsel 1929-38, and in 1938 was made Chief of Staff. Dr. Stam was coauthor of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939.


James M. Cain

James M. Cain. 1910, MA 1917 (July 1, 1892 – Oct. 27, 1977)

Born in Annapolis, Cain moved to Chestertown with his family in 1903 and entered the College’s preparatory school the next year. Cain’s father was the President of Washington College and his mother was an opera singer. After graduation, he returned to the college to teach English and math, earning an MA in 1917.

Cain then began a career in journalism. He edited the 79th Division’s newspaper during World War I, and later wrote for The Baltimore American and The Baltimore Sun. He contributed several pieces to H.L. Mencken’s American Mercury, including one about Washington College’s football team.

After a brief stint with The New Yorker, Cain moved to Hollywood to be a screenwriter, but his biggest successes in the movies came from his three novels adapted for film by other writers.  The novels, and the movies they inspired, firmly established the film noir genre.

In 1934, he published his first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice; it was an instant sensation but was the last of Cain’s books to make it to the big screen, in 1946.  Double Indemnity (a 1935 novella first published as a serial in Liberty Magazine) was the first to be filmed, in 1944.  It was Cain’s favorite, with a screenplay by his peer, Raymond Chandler. In 1945, Mildred Pierce (published in 1941)was released on film, starring Joan Crawford, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role.

Cain’s novels “of crime, sex, and violence” were notable for their “terse, almost brutal simplicity,” a style honed when he was a newspaperman earning just enough money to support his drinking and pay for three expensive divorces.

Cain continued to write until his death in 1977, which was memorialized with a cocktail party per his request.

Sources The articles from the periodicals are from clippings in the Miller Library Archives, vertical files 1873-1923. Full citations were not available for all clippings; 1910 Pegasus yearbook; “Author Spotlight: James M. Cain.” Random, 2006,;  Bode, Carl. “Let’s Lift a Glass to James M. Cain.” The Baltimore Sun, 25 June 1978, Section D.;  Cain, James M. “Tribute to a Hero.” The American Mercury XXX, no. 119 (1933): 280-288;  Dorsey, John. “The Writer Never Gives Up.” The Sun Magazine, 29 March 1970; Dumschott, Fred. W. Washington College. Chestertown, Md.: Washington College, 1980; Hoopes, Roy. Biography from The Washingtonian (1975): 186-196; “James M. Cain.”  “James M(allahan) Cain.” Books and Writers, 2002, Landskroener, Marcia C., ed. Washington: The College at Chester. Chestertown, Md.:The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003, Well, Martin. “James M. Cain, Author of Almost 20 Novels, Dies.” The Washington Post, 29 October 1977,  “James M. Cain,”


William Wallace

William Wallace,1918

William J. Wallace, a 1918 Washington College graduate, had a long, distinguished military career.

An Eastern Shore native, Wallace played basketball in college and was sophomore class president. In 1916, he alerted the campus to the devastating fire raging in William Smith Hall.

After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. After his flight training, Wallace was stationed in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic until 1924.  He was a squadron commander in China in the late 1920s.

From the beginning, Wallace had an important role in World War II, for he was on the ground defending Oahu’s Ewa Airfield during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Soon promoted to colonel, Wallace was a commanding officer at the Battle of Midway, Okinawa, and Guadalcanal, where he was wounded.

One of Washington College’s most decorated alumni, Wallace received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Distinguished Service Medal, as well as other medals with stars for his service.

On June 6, 1948, Wallace was the keynote speaker at the College’s 166th Commencement. Introduced as a “leader of men, faithful and honored warrior,”1 he talked fondly of both the school and his former coach, Tom Kibler, before delivering his address and accepting an honorary doctorate of laws.

From 1948-1950, Wallace served as Director of USMC Aviation, and he was commander of the Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force in Santa Ana, California until his retirement in 1952.

Wallace died in 1977 at age 82.

Sources: Alexander, Colonel Joseph H., USMC (Ret). “The Final Campaign: Marines in the Victory on Okinawa.” Marines in World War II Commemorative Series.

“Document Details: Reminiscences of William Jennings Wallace.” In the First Person,

Alexander Street Press LLC, 2006.

Landskroener, Marcia C., ed. Washington: The College at Chester. Chestertown, Md.:The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.  Miller Library Archives. Assorted documents from the 1915-1926  and

The Washington Collegian XIII, no. 4. February 1916. Notes on a 1948 Commencement program in the Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1944-1948 G. W. Mead, folder: Commencement 1948.


Gilbert Valliant Byron

Gilbert Valliant Byron, 1923 (July 12,1903-1991)

Known as "The Voice of the Chesapeake," Gilbert Valliant Byron was born in Chestertown, Maryland on July 12, 1903. He is also referred to as "the Chesapeake Thoreau" because he shares the same birth date with Walden Pond's Henry David Thoreau and is known for his poems, short stories, novels, historical research and magazine and newspaper columns and articles detailing life on the Chesapeake Bay from the early through the latter years of the 20th century. During his lifetime, Byron published 14 books and over 70 short stories, poems, and articles. His books and poems, including The Lord's Oysters, Done Crabbin', and These Chesapeake Men, make up what is likely the largest collection of written works on the Chesapeake Bay area authored by one person. The Gilbert Bryon Society was founded in 1991 to cultivate an awareness and appreciation of the Chesapeake Bay region's literature in particular, and the environment in general, through the works and legacy of Gilbert Bryon. The Society is a subcommittee of the Pickering Creek Audubon

Dorothy Hudson recalls: Someone had purchased the bookcase. The books, unwanted, had been dumped helter-skelter on the floor. A small sign gave notice, " All books — 10¢ each." Buried near the bottom, I found a first edition of Chesapeake Duke by Gilbert Byron. Never has a dime been proffered so gladly. To a Delaware book collector, the moment was absolute delight!

Gilbert Valliant Byron was the son of Mary Evelyn and George Valliant Byron of Chestertown, Maryland. Also born on July 12, was Henry David Thoreau (1817) whose philosophy and writings were later to inspire and influence Byron.

At the age of 14, Byron was awarded a tuition scholarship to Washington College's preparatory school in Chestertown. He entered in September 1917, five months after the country entered World War I.

His teaching career began in 1923 at Kennedyville (Maryland) High School, where he taught all subjects to all of his 20 students. Byron said, "I was everything but the janitor. I was even the coach." A Pennsylvania coal-mining region school became his next teaching assignment.

In 1926, Gilbert Byron went to Lewes (Delaware) High School where he taught history and English; he also served as principal and athletic coach. Here, in partnership with a student, he became the owner of his first boat. Friendships begun here were to remain through the years until his death. Lewes people, scenes, and incidents later became the themes of many poems and essays.

From 1933 to 1945, he taught at Dover (Delaware) High School, where he was also coach of the basketball team and was active in Sea Scouts.

While in Dover, he published his first book, These Chesapeake Men. Included is a 34-verse poem about Parson Joshua Thomas.

In a move not intended to be permanent, he established a small cabin at Old House Cove on San Domingo Creek near St. Michaels, Maryland. After a brief return to Dover, he went back to his cabin where he continued writing, selling some work to Colliers and the Saturday Review of Literature. While trying his own Thoreau lifestyle, Byron lived off the water and the land; he did odd jobs such as painting barns and repairing buildings. For six years he held a job at Easton (Maryland) High School; at the same time he was principal at St. Michaels elementary schools.

A weekly journal column was begun in the Easton Star-Democrat newspaper titled "Cove Journal" — later "Chesapeake Cove." Byron said the columns helped him survive those years.

A book was published — then another — and another. (It is interesting to note how many were published in the later years of his life.) As his visual world increasingly narrowed due to glaucoma, Byron said in 1978, "It's like twilight." He continued to write — first on his typewriter on which a friend fastened large letters, then by using large pencils with heavy lead, and then with black felt marking pens.

Byron's genres included prose, short stories, and poetry (including the Japanese form haiku). Among the haiku in The Sight of a Marsh Hawk is a sequence titled "Memories of Old Lewes." The concluding line of the poem "Dear Superintendent" would find echo in the heart of every teacher: "I've been taught by some mighty fine youngsters."

To you, Gilbert Byron, we say, "Our lives have been enriched by a mighty fine man."


Rebecca Neal Brown Owens

Rebecca Neal Brown Owens, 1925 (March 4, 1904 – January 7, 2007)

A retired teacher, Rebecca Neal Brown Owens advocated for the elderly for over thirty years, and served as the first female president of the Washington College Alumni Council.

Born at Quaker Neck’s Wilmer Point in 1904, she walked to a one-room schoolhouse in Johnsontown as a child, and drove a horse and buggy to high school in Chestertown. As a Washington College student, she played intramural basketball, took part in dramatic productions, and served on the Girls Student Council.

Owens taught school for many years and earned a Masters degree from Montclair State University, before beginning a second career in community service and elderly affairs. After directing the Newark, New Jersey Office of Elder Affairs, Owens moved to Florida in 1975, where she co-founded the Charlotte County Council on Aging, and served as the driving force behind several other senior programs, including a companion-caregiver service, a retired volunteer program, a meals and activities program, and a handiwork-exchange program.

A few weeks after her 70th class reunion, Owens, a member of the National Association of Senior Friends, traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress regarding cuts to Medicare. In 2006, Charlotte County opened the Rebecca Neal Owens Senior Center, honoring her tireless work on behalf of the elderly.

A lifelong friend of Washington College, Owens was instrumental in establishing the Alumni House. “When I was president, the Alumni Council had the best attendance ever,” she noted. “All the men came to watch me so I wouldn’t put anything over on them.”

Sources: Class Notes, Washington College Magazine, Vol. LV, No. 1 (Winter 2006)

Landskroener, Marcia C., ed. Washington: The College at Chester. Chestertown, Md.: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.

“Rebecca Neal Brown Owens, ’25: An Advocate for the Aging,” Washington College Magazine, Vol. LIV, No. 2 (Spring 2006)

Zalaudek, Mark. “Charlotte Leader Helped Found Council on Aging,” Herald Tribune, 13 January 2007,



Louis L. Goldstein

Louis L. Goldstein, 1935 ( March 14, 1913  - July 3, 1998)

Maryland’s longest serving elected official, Louis L. Goldstein graduated from Washington College in 1935 and remained attached to the school until his death in 1998.

His experiences in college – selling shoes to cover expenses during the Depression and acting as business manager for The Pegasus, The Elm, and the student handbook – prepared him for the role of state comptroller, which he held for forty years (1958-1998).

The “happy, carefree manner” that made him a popular figure on campus contributed to Goldstein’s later successes in state politics. After earning a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1938, Goldstein was elected to the state House of Delegates. In 1942, during World War II, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

He was elected to the state Senate upon his return in 1946, rising through the ranks to majority leader (1951-55) and then president (1955-58) before becoming comptroller.

He was a delegate or alternate to 14 Democratic Party National Conventions and was a six-time member of the conventions’ platform and resolutions committees.

In 1957, Goldstein joined Washington College’s Board of Visitors and Governors. He became chairman in 1980, serving in that capacity until his death.

Of his years as an undergraduate Goldstein said, “I had the best time I’ve ever had in my life! He worked tirelessly to give others the same opportunities. Using his government contacts, Goldstein secured funding for several campus projects, including the renovation of the college’s original buildings. He also donated more than one million dollars to the school and endowed the Louis L. Goldstein Chair in Public Affairs.

Sources: 1935 Pegasus;  Landskroener, Marcia C., ed. Washington: The College at Chester. Chestertown, Md.: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.  The Washington College Elm, 1935,


William Oliver Baker Dr. Baker in his office at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, in 2002.  Photograph courtesy of A. Michael Noll.

William Oliver Baker, 1935 (July 15, 1915 – 2005)

William O. Baker, a Chestertown native and 1935 Washington College graduate, was a pioneer in scientific research and public policy for more than half a century.  Baker was born on July 15, 1915, at his family’s farm, Comegys Bight Plantation on Quaker Neck, and died of heart failure in 2005 at age 90.

As an undergraduate, Baker won awards each year for the highest scholastic average and was the senior orator at his graduation. He was active in numerous extra-curricular organizations, most notably as editor of The Elm during his senior year.  After earning his Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University in 1938, Baker began a long career with Bell Laboratories, joining the company in 1939. During World War II, his research contributed to the development of synthetic rubber.  Baker became vice-president of research in 1955 and had overall responsibility for Bell Laboratories research programs for the next 25 years. He served as president of the company from 1973-1979 and retired in 1980 as Chairman of the Board of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc.

Applying his technical knowledge to national issues, Baker was an advisor to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan. He served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Federal Emergency Management Advisory Board and was a member of the National Academies of Science and of Engineering.

Modest and unassuming, Baker earned more than 25 honorary degrees and numerous accolades. In 1982, he received the President’s National Security Award and in 1988, he was honored with the National Medal of Science “for a distinguished record of leadership in the combined disciplines of science and engineering, and for distinguished service to government and education.” He also served as vice-chairman of the New Jersey Board of Higher Education and co-authored A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (1983).

A “diplomat of science in…improving life in America,” Baker received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marconi International Fellowship Foundation in 2003.

Sources: National Science Foundation, Dr. Martin Meyerson quoted in “In Memoriam: William O. Baker ’35, Former President of Bell Laboratories and Presidential Science Advisor.” Much more information is available at


William Beck NicholsonWilliam Beck Nicholson

William Beck Nicholson,1936 (December 11, 1914 – March 8, 1996)

Better known as “Swish” because of his powerful swing, Nicholson was a Kent County native who graduated from Kent County High School and played football and basketball as well as baseball at Washington College. He was recruited by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1936,  played several years in the minor leagues, and moved up to the majors in 1939 when the Chicago Cubs bought his contract.   Nicholson, a right fielder who batted left and threw right, starred as a two-time National League home run and RBI leader, helping to carry the club during the World War II years. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948 and was a member of the team when they played the Yankees in the 1950 World Series.  Recently diagnosed with diabetes, however, Nicholson was unable to play. He returned and played part-time until 1953. During his professional career, Nicholson appeared in five All-Star games, hit 235 home runs, batted in 948 runs, and had an overall .268 batting average. Sources: Wikipedia and oral history from the archives of the Historical Society of Kent County


Joseph A. McLain

Joseph H. McLain, 1937 (d July 26, 1981)

Joseph McLain, a brilliant Washington College graduate, was president of his junior and senior classes, played varsity basketball, football,  lacrosse and track, and graduated magna cum laude.  After earning his doctorate at Johns Hopkins and serving as an officer during World War II, McLain returned to Washington College as a professor of chemistry.  Students voted him their most popular instructor, both for his inspired teaching and his loyal support for the college’s athletic teams.  Named as President of Washington College in 1973, McLain was the first and only graduate to hold this position.  During his tenure, McLain worked tireless to increase faculty compensation, broaden the curriculum, and put the college on a sounder financial footing. A distinguished innovator in the field of pyrotechnics, he held more than 30 patents for devices such as pyrotechnic actuation devices for stage separation in spacecraft and smoke grenades for camouflaging troop movements. He also authored three textbooks in the field of solid-state chemistry. Source: Washington, the College at Chester


Jean Harshaw Lesko

Jean Harshaw Lesko

Click on tennis team pic to enlarge

Jean Harshaw Lesko, 1937

Throughout her four years at Washington College, “sweater girl” Jean Harshaw dominated the athletic fields, making a name for herself as the best of her era in tennis, field hockey, and basketball. Despite the fact that the college supported varsity teams for men only, relegating women to intramural sports, Harshaw played two years of varsity tennis, becoming the only woman in Washington College history to hold a spot on a normally all-male team.

A former Pennsylvania junior champion, Harshaw helped the newly resurrected team make a “credible showing” against its opponents. She remembered no opposition to her involvement from coaches, administrators, or other players, although the 1937 student yearbook, the Pegasus, did note that when she accompanied the team on the road, “it was quite a new experience to the St. John’s boys.”

President of the Board of Managers of the Women’s Inter-Class Athletic Association, which oversaw the women’s intramural program, and Vice-President of the Women’s Student Government Association, which managed the internal affairs of Reid Hall, the women’s dorm, Harshaw never saw herself as a feminist. “For me, that wasn’t the question,” she reflected. “I just liked to play team tennis.”

A “consistently good student,” she served as Sports Editor of the school newspaper, the Elm, President of the Mt. Vernon Literary Society, Maryland’s oldest college literary society, and Secretary of “Le Cercle Francais.”

In 1986, she was elected to the Washington College Hall of Fame, the second female athlete so honored.

Sources: Brown, Gary. “Women Athletes Vie to Even the Score at the Century Mark,” Washington College Magazine, Vol. XL, No. 2 (Winter 1991), p. 15-19.

Landskroener, Marcia C., ed. Washington: The College at Chester. Chestertown, Md.: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.

1937 Pegasus, Special Collections & Archives, Miller Library

Washington College Hall of Fame listing,


Benjamin Hays Vandervoort Benjamin Hays Vandervoort

Benjamin Hays Vandervoort, 1938 (March 3, 1917 – November 23, 1990)

A famed officer in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Vandervoort was one of the few soldiers to be awarded three Distinguished Service Crosses for Bravery in combat, in addition to three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with Valor. Renowned for his heroics during the Normandy Invasion, Lt. Col. Vandervoort refused to abandon his troops despite breaking his leg during the early morning jump into France. Actor John Wayne portrayed him in the 1962 movie, The Longest Day.

One of the most decorated Washington College alumni to fight for his country, Benjamin Hays Vandervoort earned numerous honors for his bravery in World War II.

Vandervoort, whose brother also attended Washington College, was a member of the Washington Players drama club, the Y.M.C.A., the Mount Vernon Literary Society, and the football and track teams. He also was an officer in his fraternity, Theta Kappa Nu.

His senior yearbook hailed him as “one of the leaders in the class of ’38: President of the Thetas, President of the Debaters, A letterman in football.”1

The same “aggressive influence…in all the many organizations in which he has held membership” in college made him an effective leader in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

Vandervoort took part in all the Division’s World War II combat jumps, including those at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He broke his leg during the jump on D-Day but continued fighting, using his rifle as a crutch. He was unstoppable until the winter of 1945, when a fragment of shrapnel struck him in the face, taking his left eye, leaving a hole in his forehead and causing severe sinus damage.

Vandervoort was awarded three Distinguished Service Crosses for bravery in combat, three Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star for valor; he also received honors from France, Holland and Belgium. In 1962, the film The Longest Day, in which he was portrayed by John Wayne, immortalized his heroics on the silver screen.

Sources: “Benjamin Hays Vandervoort.” 1938 Pegasus; Thompson, William L. “Remembering a Hero: Benjamin Hays Vandervoort, ’38,” in Washington: The College at Chester, edited by Marcia C. Landskroener, Chestertown, Maryland: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003, 50-51.


Owen Anderson, 1940

Owen R. Anderson '40, a native of Chestertown who achieved distinction during a 45-year career with the National Geographic Society, died August 6, 2003, three weeks shy of his 84th birthday. A highly-decorated Army veteran, Anderson was an enlisted man in the first full division to arrive in Hawaii after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He returned Stateside a few months later for Officer Candidate School, and in September 1944 shipped out to Europe as a reconnaissance officer in an anti-tank company. For his 130 days of combat, he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, a European Ribbon with three battle stars (Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe), and Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals. Anderson joined the National Geographic Society in 1946, rising from printing press operator to executive vice president. By 1967, Owen had been promoted to associate secretary and was responsible for its fulfillment operations. He became vice president and secretary in 1976, and was named to the number two position in 1980, handling such administrative duties as accounting, membership services, purchasing and promotions. With his duties distributed among six senior staff, Anderson retired in 1991, becoming a trustee emeritus of the Society. Anderson received Washington College's Alumni Citation in 1981. Upon his retirement, he received the Society's Grosvenor Medal for exceptional service. Throughout much of his career, Anderson maintained a summer home in Kent County, and a close association with his alma mater. On August 9, 2008 the Miller Library became the proud recipient of a state-of-the-art Stellanova illuminating globe, imported from Germany. Dr. Ralph Thornton '40 spearheaded the friends-and-family donation of the globe in memory of his classmate Owen Anderson. "He would have been so proud to have his achievements at National Geographic and his love for Washington College combined this way," said daughter Penny Anderson at the Miller Library globe-unveiling ceremony. "It's the perfect tribute."


William B. Johnson

William B. Johnson, 1940

A true captain of industry in the classic American mode, Johnson enjoyed 50 years at the heights of corporate leadership. After graduation, he became a tax lawyer and counsel in the railroad industry, first for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and later for the Illinois Central Railroad, where his management and financial skills guided the company during the challenging 1960s. Johnson became Illinois Central’s director and later CEO and Chairman in 1969, bringing his company and his investors out of the “railroad blues” through diversification and the creation of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that included businesses such as the Abex Corporation, Pepsi bottlers, Midas Mufflers, Pet Foods, Hussman refrigeration equipment, Pneumo Aircraft Systems and the Illinois Center corporate office complex in downtown Chicago.


Theodore Kurze Photo from The Society of Neurological Surgeons

Theodore Kurze, 1943 (May 18, 1922 - 2002)  

After graduating from Washington College’s accelerated program during World War II, Theodore Kurze revolutionized the field of neurosurgery.

Kurze received his medical degree from the Long Island Medical College in 1947. In 1949, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was promoted to captain after serving at Fort Bragg, N.C. and in Germany. After leaving the army, Kurze relocated to the West Coast, where he became a prominent neurosurgeon.

While removing a tumor from a child’s ear in 1957, he became the first to use a microscope during surgery. He was also one of the first to mount a small light on his forehead during surgeries and to use diagnostic ultrasound technology.

In 1961, Kurze began a long career at the University of Southern California, where he was Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery from 1963-1978 while simultaneously serving as the Director of Neurosurgery at the Los Angeles County Medical Center.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Kurze “was a key figure in establishing the role of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center as a leader in the development of neurosurgical concepts and instrumentation.”1

A Senior Fellow at Washington College and professor emeritus at USC, Kurze published more than 100 articles on medicine and philosophy. He also served as a consultant for medical television shows and in 1978 was the subject of an episode of NBC’s Lifeline.

In his spare time, Kurze sailed around the West Coast of Mexico and earned a master’s degree in literature. He died from prostate cancer in 2002, at age 79.

Sources: “In Memoriam.” American Association of Neurological Surgeons Bulletin 11, no. 3 (2002). <>

“In Memoriam: Theodore Kurze ’43.” Washington College Magazine XLX, no. 3 (2002).


“Lifeline.” <>

Liu, Charles Y., M.D., Ph.D. and Michael L.J. Apuzzo, M.D. “The Genesis of Neurosurgery and the Evolution of the Neurosurgical Operative Environment: Part One – Prehistory to 2003.” Neurosurgery 52, no. 1, (2003): 10. “Marriages, Births and Deaths.” USC Trojan Family Magazine (2002). The Society of Neurological Surgeons.<>


Betty Brown Casey

Betty Brown Casey, 1947

After leaving Washington College, Casey earned a MSSW at Catholic University in 1953 and subsequently practiced psychiatric social work until her marriage in 1955. She joined the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors in September 1973 and continues this service as an emeritus member. Mrs. Casey, with a long and special affection for opera, has served on the board of the Washington Opera since 1974; she now holds the title of life chairman. She has served as chairman of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation since her husband’s death in 1986. In 2001 she created the Casey Trees Endowment Fund to establish an organization to restore the tree cover of the District of Columbia. Her lifelong appreciation of trees and green spaces influenced her decision to donate $50 million to the District of Columbia/s tree planting and maintenance program. Her generosity to her alma mater is credited with pushing Washington College into a “higher orbit,” renovating existing buildings and constructing new facilities to provide space for the arts, academics, technology instruction, athletics and student housing.

Betty “Betts” Brown’s senior profile in the 1947 Washington College yearbook reveals a dedicated, well-rounded student: biology major, basketball player, member of the Young Women’s Christian Association. Her plans – “to enter the field of economics”1 – do not foretell her future as a philanthropist and one of the school’s most generous benefactors.

With her husband, Betty Brown Casey “championed opportunities for economically disadvantaged students and leadership opportunities for women.”2 Mrs. Casey endowed the Eugene B. Casey Medal in her husband’s honor, awarded annually to the most outstanding senior women, and the Clark M. Clifford Scholarship, given to a deserving pre-law student, in addition to numerous other scholarships.

In 1984, the Caseys pledged five million dollars to build the indoor swimming facility on campus, and they funded the construction of the Casey Academic Center, the Cater Walk and Martha Washington Square, as well as the purchase and renovation of the Rose O’Neill Literary House.

Mrs. Casey’s altruism is not limited to Washington College. She established the Casey Trees Endowment Fund for planting trees and restoring green spaces in the nation’s capital and, after sitting on its board for years, earned the role of life chairman of the Washington Opera.

Mrs. Casey’s generous gifts made an indelible mark on her alma mater, but her greatest contribution was enabling students to fulfill their ambitions.

Sources: “Betty Brown.” 1947 Pegasus;  “Caseys Provide Impetus for ‘Higher Orbit.’” In Washington: The College at Chester, edited by Marcia D. Landskroener, 199-203. Chestertown, Maryland: The

Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003.


Jean MacNeil Wetzel

Jean MacNeil Wetzel, 1966 (1917 – April 1, 2007)

Born in England in 1917, Jean MacNeil spent World War II in Paris and Tunisia, working as a translator for the American army in North Africa. She relocated to the United States in 1947, married Frank Wetzel, and later enrolled at Washington College as a nontraditional student. Mrs. Wetzel majored in French, completed certification in education, and served as President of the Student Education Association. She spent her career teaching in Centreville, Maryland, at Kennard Elementary School and Queen Anne’s County High School, where she instituted an exchange program with a high school in France.

Sources: In Memoriam, Washington College Magazine, Vol. LV, No. 3 (Fall 2007)

1966 Pegasus, Special Collections and Archives, Miller Library


Christine Lincoln

Christine Lincoln, 2000

Winner of the 2000 Sophie Kerr Prize, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation, Christine Lincoln published her first book, Sap Rising, to great acclaim in 2001.  The short stories that comprise Sap Rising have been hailed as “luminous…in the great tradition of Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and the early Alice Walker.”  Set in a fictional rural Maryland community, the connected narratives that make up the collection probe deeply into the world of the town’s African American residents, revealing, according to Kirkus Reviews, “the author’s deep conviction that the writing process can redeem the poverty, ignorance, cruelty in her characters’ lives.”

Born and raised in Baltimore, Lincoln came to Washington College as a nontraditional student, a single mother with a young son and little disposable income.  She was active on campus, serving as the driving force behind the establishment of the Center for the Study of Black Culture.  She overcame enormous obstacles to graduate at the top of her class, hone her literary voice, and pursue her dream of writing.  Within six months of graduation, she had been profiled by the New York Times, interviewed on Oprah, and courted by several publishing houses.  After a nationwide book tour for Sap Rising, she and her son returned to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she is pursuing a doctorate in African literature at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Pantheon Books, the publisher of Sap Rising, called Lincoln “a stunning new voice in contemporary American fiction.”  She exemplifies the best of the Washington College writing tradition, and her stories are far from finished.  

Sources: “History of the Center for the Study of Black Culture,”

“Lincoln Signs Contract for First Book,” Washington College Magazine, Vol. XLIX, No. 2 (Spring 2001),

WC Press Release, “Sophie Kerr Weekend Brings Author Christine Lincoln ’00 and Musical Poets Brady’s Leap to Campus, March 18,” 9 March 2005,

WC Press Release, “College Opens Nationwide Tour for Sophie Kerr Prize Winner,” 27 August 2001,

WC Press Release, “Washington College Awards Nation’s Largest Undergraduate Prize,” 21 May 2000,



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