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 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: North Manchester Journal, August 17, 1905

Rev. and Mrs. Otho Winger are here from Bloomington on a visit with her parents, Amos B. Miller and wife. Mr. Winger was formerly a college student here but is now completing his course at the state university.

Source: News-Journal, May 26, 1941


A more tangible expression of North Manchester's appreciation of President Otho Winger's many years of service as a leading citizen was made Friday in the presentation to him of a new, marooned colored DeSoto automobile. It came as a complete surprise to Pres. Winger and he was quite overcome. The presentation was made at the conclusion of the Senior Recognition Day Program Friday morning. President Winger was guided to the front steps of the administration building where a crowd was gathering with Coach Carl Burt as master of ceremonies. Dean Carl Holl paid tribute to the president for his service to the college, and City Attorney Raymond Brooks expressed an appreciation for the townspeople. then as E.W. hearn drove the automobile which had been concealed near the boys' dorm, out on the walk in front of the steps, Robert Stauffer presented Winger with the set of car keys.

The thought of the presentation came when it was discovered that Pres. Winger was bargaining for an old second-hand Ford. A committee was quickly organized with Carl Burt as chairman, consisting of E.W. Hearn, Robert Stauffer, Ad Urschel and Clay Syler, to raise funds to purchase a new car. A canvass of citizens, members of the faculty and business men readily produced the necessary funds for a new DeSoto, equipped with a heater, and full coverage insurance for a year.

Source: NMHS Newsletter Feb 2006

Otho Winger and Manchester College
It's reasonable to think of Otho Winger as a part of Manchester College. I personally doubt if Manchester College would be a living - and important - part of North Manchester today if Otho Winger had not come to College in the fall of 1898, and had not agreed more than a decade later to become the College President.

When Otho came as a student the College was primarily a Bible School and an academy or high school. The Church of the Brethren was not supportive of education but Otho likely came primarily to prepare to be a minister in the Church. The tuition was a bit more than a dollar a week and board and room cost less than two dollars a week. During the four years he was in College there were four different presidents. One of the four was L. D. Ikenberry and, although Otho was very impressed with him he had no idea that the two of them would work together to build Manchester College for thirty years.

But the College was in a desperate financial condition. The trustees owned the institution and they had given all the money they could but there was still heavy debt. Something had to be done or the institution would be forced to close. Otho Winger offered to solicit money among the Brethren. Here is his description of that experience:

"In the middle of the year I quit my studies and started out. It was a different thing then than now to solicit money for a college among the people of the Church of the Brethren. Many of them were not sympathetic. Not many had ever given to the college cause. In fact, giving was not insisted upon very much anywhere. I began my work in Huntington County. It was in the dead of winter; the snow was deep; there were no automobiles to take one from place to place. Sometimes I might have gotten somebody with a horse and buggy to take me, but not many people were willing to do this. So I proceeded on foot from house to house and asked folks for money to help save Manchester College. My success was not very great. Here and there I secured a ten-dollar donation, but not much more than that. ... I remained out until the close of the winter term. I secured only a few hundred dollars, but every bit added to the possibility of the sucess of the venture. I received some very good training for the soliciting I was to do in later years."

After finishing a Master's degree at Indiana University in 1907 Otho Winger was called to come to Manchester College to teach history and education. The first term he taught history and education and also classes in English, Latin and philosophy. For the next three years he taught thirty hours a week in several departments but had no administrative duties. Meantime, a new president had been chosen and Otho was chosen as the vice-president. The new president remained only one year.

These are Otho Winger's words to describe what happened next:

"I shall never forget the night the trustees called me in and said I had been selected President of the college. I frankly told them I didn't think they had selected me because I was best fitted for the presidency but because they thought I was about as well fitted to break my neck trying as anyone else they knew of. I knew the situation and outlook for the school were not good, but I did not know it all. Could I have foreseen what would have to go through, I would certainly have refused, and yet after thirty years, seeing the development and progress of the institution, I am glad to have had something to do with it in one of its most trying periods."

That first year was critical. Otho continued to teach a heavy load. Each weekend he solicited money among the churches. Any letter he had to write himself since the school had no money to hire a secretary. Opening day everyone was happy to learn that about 125 were enrolled. But tuition was about $15 a term.. the dormitories were not filled. L.D. Ikenberry was the treasurer and he tried to keep down the expenses and the year closed without a deficit.

In 1911 arrangements were made to build a gymnasium. Professor L. D. Ikenberry acted as architect and manager. The town businesses and the faculty were solicited for money and students gave some money but far more work hours.. Now and then a school holiday for half a day gave time for work by faculty and students. Soon there was a gym big enough for basketball. This building later became the Biology building and even later was used by maintenance before it was demolished. It was the first of several buildings built during the Winger years.

The second made it possible to have a central heating plant built in 1914.. then in the summer of 1915 a Science Hall.. giving a whole room to chemistry and another for biology. It also housed agriculture classes and practical crafts such as woodworking. This building became the library and, more recently the Communications building. Enrollment of women was increasing and in 1916 a wing of Oakwood Hall was built which also included a dining hall.

In the midst of the expansion, which included increasing enrollments, war came and attendance declined as men entered the war. And a very different crisis faced the College.. The flu came to campus. School was closed for four weeks.. Most of the students stayed on campus since the situation in their home areas was no better. At its worst there were 65 cases on campus and few well enough to care for them. President Winger spent most of his time trying to do what was possible for the men. Two of the students were faithful help for the women. Four students died: three at their homes and one on campus.

Soon after the flu experience, the armistice was announced and that demanded a special celebration. A new bell had just arrived destined for the Mission Chapel. It was still in a crate. No one asked permission: it was quickly loaded on a truck which drove through the streets of town that whole day and far into the night, students ringing the bell to express their joy.

After the experience with the flu, there are increased concern about medical care on campus. Donors gave money to buy a house close to the campus to be used as a hospital. Then a full-time physician was employed with an office in the hospital. Many students were treated there. When the hospital was closed the building was used in the Home Economics department as a home management house and in the early '70s it became Aafro house before it was sold to a private owner.

In 1919 a church as built on the west side of town called the Mission chapel. Students had been having Sunday schools in private homes for several years. Money was solicited to build a church and equip it and it was used for a number of years for a variety of religious services.

By this time the enrollment had reached 500 and buildings were crowded. After much discussion it was decided to join the College Hall and the Bible buildings and call the large building that would be formed the Administration Building. Begun in the summer of 1920, it was dedicated in January 1921. A former governor of Pennsylvania and former president of Juniata College (a sister college to Manchester), gave the address. This building more than doubled the classroom space. Then the size of Oakwood Hall was doubled in 1926.

The gymnasium had been too small for some time and in 1926 a new combined gymnasium-auditorium. Work was begun in August and by the first of January they were playing games in the new building. Winger reported that "this entire building, heated and seated, cost us less than $60,000." A women's gym was added twelve years later. The Goshorn Chemical Laboratory was erected with funds given originally by George Goshorn of Clay City to his home church with the condition that if that church ever closed, the money was to be used by his brothers as they saw fit.

So it came to Manchester. Meantime, more land was purchased, little by little as it became available until the campus reached the Eel River and included the college woods.

Winger describes how these buildings were built with the limited funds available to the College. L. D. Ikenberry was "a practical builder and helped to supervise most of the buildings that had been erected." No architect was used. Local artisans were used under Ikenberry's direct supervision. He also purchased the materials and, at least on one or two occasions purchased used bricks.

It was not until the 1920s that the College took on a strong aura as a college. Dean V. F. Schwalm and Professsor A. W. Cordier received their Ph. D. degrees from the University of Chicago, and C. Ray Keim, also with a Ph. D. from University of Chicago, joined the faculty. Charles Morris joined the faculty in 1926 though he did not have a Ph. D. until 1930. Dr. Schwalm left to become President of McPherson College. Carl Burt and Robert Stauffer led a strong program in athletics and physical education. George Beachamp who came to the faculty in 1929 had the ability and the enthusiasm to take Manchester to the front in debating and built up one of the largest debating tournaments in the United States.

Professor Paul Halladay came in 1928 and led the music department in achieving a strong postion. When Mt. Morris ( a sister institution ) was forced to close we gained only one professor, O. W. Neher, and he added strength to the biology department. Many other strong professors with Ph. D. degrees were added: Lloyd G Mitten in commercial, Robert H. Miller in Bible, O Stuart Hamer in education along with Nettie N. Leasure in 1936 and Samuel L. Flueckiger in music. Dr. Lucille Carman came as staff in the hospital and Harry Weimer came in 1938. So from a small beginning, the College had a faculty of more than forty members, twelve with a Doctor's degree and even more who were well prepared, by the end of Winger's tenure.

Attracting students was a critical aspect of growth. In 1911 the number of students was very low; there had to be more if the College was to survive. As Winger described that summer he said, "If I could have worked more hours of the day, I would have done so." On enrollment day, he was keenly anxious. At the end of the day there were one hundred twenty-five registered; the largest enrollment for several years. From that time forward, it was a steady climb. Faculty and students were strong boosters. The new buildings helped. By 1917 it was more than 550. In 1923 there were l,015. Near the end of his presidency he claimed more than ten thousand different students had been enrolled during his time here. The academy closed in 1923 and after that all the students had regular college standing. At the same time the alumni group was increasing and spreading strong support for the College.

A more formal recognition of the College required a significant increase in the endowment. In June of 1919, the minimum was reached and the State declared Manchester a standard college. But the North Central Association raised the requirement to five hundred thousand dollars. After a major effort that goal was reached in 1924. The next goal was to obtain membership in the North Central Association. The administration asked for a survey in 1931 and were very uneasy about the results. President Winger reported that "It was one of the happiest moments of my thirty years when it was announced at the meeting (of the North Central Association) that Manchester had been admitted to the Association."

And so, as Winger writes, "the years went by." He found no place to "slacken pace." "Really, I never knew how to be president of a small college like Manchester without doing a lot of work."

But he was finally slowed by illness. In 1936 he developed a serious infection back of his eye. It formed a dangerous pocket of pus. They tried to keep him in the hospital until it could be done but he refused, did some high school commencement addresses, but it continued to worsen. He lost one eye: it was removed in spring, 1938. This experience became a turning point for him. His statement: "I began to realize that I had had a serious sickness that, combined with my age, had greatly weakened my constitution." In 1940 he had an attack of peripheral paralysis.

In September, 1940 he prepared his last report to the Trustees. His resignation took effect as the end of that school year. In that year he wrote "Memories of Manchester" from which these materials have been taken. During the busy years as president he had also written other books among which was a History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana and a series of little books about Indian history in the local area.

In 1945 he wrote "And now I am old and tired. There are still things I long to do but I cannot. I have done my best for my church, my school and my family and for God. I will try to be satisfied."

Otho Winger died August 13, 1946 and his funeral sermon was given by Dr. Vernon Schwalm.