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Brethren Evangelist 1889 credit Manchester University

Surprise find: 1889 time capsule hidden in Manchester cornerstone

One of the last relics removed from the Administration Building at Manchester University was the 1889 cornerstone of Bumgerdner Hall at what was then North Manchester College.

Andy Brown cornerstone credit Manchester UniversityLast week, the cornerstone was moved to the receiving area of Neher Maintenance Center, where it sat on a pallet for several days and had a few visitors.

Then, on Friday morning, longtime Maintenance Technician Andy Brown was on the stairs nearby and noticed that a square section on the bottom of the cornerstone was a different color than the stone.

“I wondered,” he said, “Could that be a time capsule?”

He got closer and saw that the section looked like tin. When he touched it, the lid fell open and some of the contents fell out. There were newspapers, written lists, small books.

Everything inside the box was from 1889, the year Roanoke Classical Seminary founded by the United Brethren Church in Roanoke, Indiana, moved to North Manchester and changed its name. Bumgerdner Hall was at the east end of what was in 1921 dedicated as the Administration Building. The building on College Avenue had a central portion that was built in 1920, connecting the 1889 building with the 1895 Bible School building at the west end.

Time capsule contents credit Manchester University“One of the best things for me is that we found a hand-written faculty list and a student list,” said Manchester Archivist Jeanine Wine, who transported the fragile finds in an archival storage box from the maintenance center to the archives area of Funderburg Library. 

Wine carefully spread the items on a table, looking at the names and making connections, making plans. 

One exciting find was the name of a student, Silvanues L. Heeter, possibly written in his own hand. Heeter’s family has been on a genealogical search tracing their relative’s educational history from Indiana to Minneapolis, where he worked as an assistant superintendent of schools. 

Jeanine Wine time capsule credit Manchester UniversityThere are several items connected to family members of Manchester’s first president, David N. Howe, and the United Brethren Church.

There are newspapers, including The Voice, proclaiming “Prohibition’s Success,” the North Manchester Journal, The Brethren EvangelistThe Highway of Holiness published by the Holiness Association of United Brethren in Christ, The Union Signal and the Religious Telescope. Each newspaper is tagged with a person’s name, possibly who donated it.

There were two small books outlining church government of the United Brethren in Christ, one coming from J. M. Baker, the pastor at Laketon. Also included was a program from the Philophronean Literary Society, a postage stamp, a program from an organ concert, damaged scraps, and a photo of Fern Williams, whose name also appears on the student roster.

“As we look at these items, it is an opportunity to honor Manchester’s rich history and recognize that it is the people who helped establish our legacy,” said President Dave McFadden, a 1982 Manchester graduate. “President David Howe – who rolled up his sleeves and led construction crews – and generations of students, faculty, staff and alumni make us what we are today, and what we will be for generations to come.”

For the media
Credit Manchester University for any photos you use.
The man with the cornerstone is Andy Brown. In the last picture, Jeanine Wine (right) is showing the collection to a staff member. 

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., provides vibrant and transformative student experiences. Learn more.

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Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.

Feb. 21, 2022