Thursday, September 11, 2008

Manchester College

The dream of a Brethren College did not die with the failure of Salem College. And the birth of a new Brethren College in North Manchester, Indiana came about due to the failure of another college of the United Brethren Church.

The story begins with the Roanoke Classical Seminary in Roanoke, Indiana - some 20 miles to the east of North Manchester - and its Principal David Howe who had decided to move the school to North Manchester and met with a crowd of townspeople in May 1889. Howe had been sent to run the school as a prepatory school for the United Brethren's Otterbein College in Ohio. Howe, however, set it up more as a teachers' college and appears to have had mixed feelings about being under the control of the church.

Administrators at Otterbein apparently learned of Howe's intent to move the school from Roanoke to North Manchester through a newspaper article. The school opened in North Manchester in November 1989 with strong attendance despite an unfinished campus. The United Brethren affirmed in 1891 its desire to be supportive and stay involved with the school. Enrollment continued to grow until a misguided enterprise caught college officials off guard.

In January 1894 a Professor Kriebel came to town claiming to represent an anonymous, aging millionaire eager to endow the college with a million dollars. The offer, however, came with several conditions including that Kriebel would supervise all city schools and the college. One year after Kriebel had become President, he would confess under questioning that he had not given the college a day's service during the entire year. The school was in debt and the business manager was intercepted by officers heading out of town with all his personal belongings. The promised endowment never materialized and Kriebel left town, and was arrested on a charge of false pretenses.

Meanwhile the German Baptist Brethren were again considering starting a college in Indiana. Several communities were in the running as a location and a proposal to establish a college in Nappanee was in the final stages when the scandal in North Manchester changed the direction and plans of the Brethren. E.S. Young and friends seized the opportunity and acted quickly to buy the campus in North Manchester and start their own German Baptist Brethren College. Because of the proximity of the two towns, the plans for Nappanee ground to a halt.

Rev. Emanuel Sprankle young, a distinguished Bible teacher from Mount Morris College, became Manchester College's first president; and his brother, S.S. Young, became the Business Manager.

Two hundred students were enrolled as Manchester College opened its first fall term on September 11, 1895 - 113 years ago today.

Source: A Century of Faith, Learning and Service