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WE WERE AEONS
105 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE AT
WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE
Our first reunion in 2015.
Several questions came up:
Who were the founders?
Are there still Aeons?
If not, what happened?
What did the Bands say?
How many Aeons?
Where is the Black Box?
How did Panaegis start?
Dirty Little Secrets
Secret University Societies (Not Fraternities) go back to the 1700s and represent efforts of students to overcome the paternalism of their institutions.
By incorporating secrecy they gain control over surroundings and create elitism and “ego enhancement”.
Being left out may be detrimental on the uninitiated.
These clubs were initially literary societies or debating clubs and the first ones were at Yale.
The first ones at Jewell were the Philomathic and Excelsior Literary Societies, both of which were in existence within 7 years of the college founding (1949).
REMEMBER, (so said the societies) HOWEVER, COLLEGE LIFE NEVER INTENDED TO INCLUDE ALL STUDENTS.
Quintissential example is Phi Beta Kappa, organized at William and Mary in 1776.
Utmost secrecy was essential for it was almost treasonable and dangerous to do anything disapproved by the teaching masters.
The aims were basically “self-improvement in the intellectual manly arts”.
Men not tapped were the harshest critics. Hence the origin of the Skull & Crossbones at Yale by men not selected for PBK.
This is referred to as “schismatic differentiation”.
Eventually many gave up the secrecy in response to public clamor.
These tended to become the Honor Societies which did not have secrets. Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics), Sigma Tau Delta (English, Beta Beta Beta (Biology), Pi Kappa Delta (Debate)
Other non-fraternal societies were made up of the “generally best students” of the year, noted for scholarship, literary ability, athletic prowess, good fellowship or great wealth.
Some administrators and faculty considered them “alienative” organizations as they operated beneath administrative supervision.
What do these societies have to offer?
Meet and become close with like-minded strangers.
Forum for discussion and debate.
A fortress outside of your clique.
A source of intelligence on the concerns of students to the Administration. Like THE AEON BOARD AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY.
Aeon Board is 12 students chosen to assist the President in evaluating the character, actions, spirit and concerns of students. Instituted in 1921 by University President.
Societies should cooperate, not meddle with college administration.
Secrecy is a problem if it runs counter to the tenants and vision of the college.
Many societies have given up the secrecy in favor of openness and inclusiveness under threat of federal Title IX financial sanctions.
Phi Beta Kappa (started by men), Omega Delta Kappa (started by men, Sigma XI (started by men). Mortar Board (started by women).
Any society or club will have criteria, and these will naturally include some and exclude some.
Students will inevitably have to come to terms with and grasp the merits and demerits of such an elitist system.
As long as there is equal opportunity and recognition for gender there is no exclusiveness.
How did it all begin?
1906 Founders of Aeons
Left to right Back Row:
Herschel Cast, Robert Browning, Robert Acker, John Penix.
Chester J. Prince, Manley Hudson, John Guthrie, Clyde Lake
THE FOUNDER OF AEONS
Herschel Ezekiel Cast (KA) Senior Class President, Classical course. Editor-in-chief of Student and assoc. editor of Tatler, Track team, Debate team, Clark medal for prose article in Student.
The historian of the class of 1906 who wrote in the class history in the newspaper (of which Cast was editor) attributes Cast as the founder of the Aeons.
Attended Washington University Law School, practiced law in Swifton, Arkansas where he started a Telephone Company, real estate development (named Cast Addition), then moved to Pleasanton, Texas, as a bank examainer, and finally as an attorney with a bank in Phoenix.
Died in Phoenix Arizona, in 1919 of complications of Tuberculosis and the influenza epidemic at age 35.
Who were the other founding Aeons?
Robert Booth Acker (KA) Science major, President Excelsior, Debate team, Captain Track team, WJC all-around athlete.
Graduated Rush Medical College, studied in Europe and practiced orthopedics in South Bend, Indiana.
Died in South Bend in 1968 at age 85.
William Browning (SN) Art Editor of Student, Manager Tennis team, Modern Language major,
Business man in Kansas City, served as President of William Jewell Board of Trustees and donated 340 acres of his family’s farmland to Jewell. A student dorm, Browning Hall, was named in his honor and Mr. Browning was also a major benefactor of the Sigma Nu fraternity.
Died in Kansas City in 1978 at age 93. The last to die of the founders.
WHENCE THE AEONS?
John Addison Guthrie (SN) Classics major, baseball team.
At age 40 he moved to Wyoming, married, had two children and was initially a Bank Examiner, then with his brother-in-law started and became president of the First National Bank of Laramie, Wyoming which is the largest bank system in Wyoming.
Died in Wyoming in 1977 at age 93.
Who were the other founding Aeons.
Manley Ottmer Hudson (KS) Classical course. Sophomore class President, Reading medal, Debate team, Athletic editor of Student, Editor-in-chief Tatler, commencement speaker.
Graduated Harvard Law School and was active negotiator in the President Wilson administration for Paris peace conference and the League of Nations. Retired as Bemis Professor and Chairman of the International Law Department of Harvard Law School and the American Society of International Law prestigious international law medal is named in his honor.
Died in Cambridge in 1960 at age 73.
The Hudson Medal
Manley Hudson and John Guthrie
Clyde Frank Lake (KS) Modern Language course, specialized in Greek literature, business manager of Tatler.
Returned to Oklahoma where he was a banker in Pawhuska.
He died in Oklahoma in 1960 at age 76.
John Harve Penix (KA) Literary student, Science couse. President of both junior and Senior Excelsior society and won both Declamatory Medals. Gymnasium director and basketball manager.
Graduated from Harvard Medical School with colleague Paul Dudley White of WPW fame and practiced medicine in Detroit, Michigan.
He died in MIchigan in 1967 at age 79.
Chester Johnson Prince (PGD) Modern Language course, Alumni editor of Student, President of Excelsior society, Clark medal for prose article in Student, basketball and baseball team and captain baseball team, fastest runner in the college, President Junior class.
Career as a journalist, banker and served as William Jewell College Director of Personnel.
Died in Webster Groves, MO in 1958 at age 76.
MEANING OF “AEON”
In the Bible the Hebrew word yom and the Greek word aionios refer to the same thing: “An age” or “Without beginning and without end. That which always has been and always will be.”
The Aeon constitution states: “According to the ancient philosophers, God, the highest intelligence dwells in the fullness of light and is the source of all good. From God, before time began, emanated beings called AEONS, which are described as divine spirits----IMMORTALS. From these was derived our name in that we are striving to leave behind us works of such nature that we may deserve the names of IMMORTALS in the pages of the history of WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE; insofar as we have undertaken worthy undertakings, “in the best interests of William Jewell”.
Purpose of Aeons
TATLER editorials: “The organization attempts to bring about a higher level of thought and action on campus though the exemplary conduct of its members. Throughout their history the Aeons have avoided efforts to attract attention; they have worked quietly but effectively to better campus spirit.
AEON CONSTITUTION: The purposes of the Society are: to keep aglow the fires of college spirit; to hold undefiled the college honor; to strive for everything tending to the progress of college men; to set a good example to the lower classmen; to support all worthy college institutions, knowing that their progress means college progress; to revere college customs and traditions; in short, to promote the best interests of William Jewell College.”
HOW DID AEONS GET “TAPPED” and to what were they told.
Most by a phone call or a note from the Senior Aeons.
Often told to meet in cemetery, or on train tracks, some were told to meet at Prof. Harriman’s house.
Some were told to dress up and come to President’s home.
There were many who crawled the train tracks, some who had activities in the cemetery, some who had no hazing.
Almost all were given armband immediately and told to wear it the next week in a suit on campus.
All were encouraged to fellowship and select the next class.
Initiation was usually on commencement early in the morning somewhere on campus, where ceremony was serious. Traditions were discussed and the “Black Box” was shown.
During the 2008 re-boot, juniors were called to Prof Harriman’s house and given a copy of Hamlet and no arm bands.
ARM BANDS and PIN
50s to 70s
PIN is 1925
Made by Aeons
1980 PINS 1922
The crossed key pins have always been the same.
1933 from m1933 My father’s father, William “Ed” Sharp. Mine is exactly the same.
What do documents say?
Constitution allowed NO OLD COPIES OF Documents, so any changes would mean older ones are destroyed.
Only constitution in the Black Box is from 1963, written by our group.
The initiation ceremony is also written by our 1963 class.
Both documents say symbols are Aleph Tau.
But the 1920’s armband and the Pins are not Aleph Tau
This will forever be a Mystery! You choose the ending.
HEBREW WORDS READ FROM RIGHT TO LEFT
Bands: ALEPH TAU
Pins: DALET ALEPH
Jesus (Rev 22:13)
From eternity to eternity
From beginning to end
Always is, was and will be
The “I AM”
Hebrew word: DA
Hebrew meaning “This” or “This one” or “chosen one”.
Remember Aramaic Hebrew was taught at Jewell.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE INITIATION VERBIAGE?
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing.
Timeline of Aeon History
1944: Only one Aeon (WW II)
1984: Croquet on the Quad begins
1907: Armbands 1st seen
1910: P. Casper Harvey Graduates (not Aeon)
1952: 1st Who’s Who
1953: Dick Harriman is Aeon --new armband V-2
1959: Aeons break book theft ring
1971 New armband V-3
1978: Panaegis becomes coed Mortar Board
1984: 1st men actually in Mortar Board
1987: Tatler picture with upside down armband
2000: First demise of Aeons
2002: Last edition of Tatler. Last 5 did not mention Aeons
2008-2010: 3 year re-boot of Aeons
2010: Prof Harriman dies.
2015: Continued Urban legend of underground Panaegis.
1918: Women admitted
1920: Leona Kresse grad.
1922: Oldest Armband V-1
1927: First Pins
1929: Panaegis begins
1934: Georgia B. Bowman graduates (Panaegis)
1936: Aeon purpose from the constitution is in Tatler
1940: 1st Col Doniphan selected
105 years of existence with 98 years of selections!
515 men tapped over 98 years.
Probably less than 5 chose not to go on to initiation.
One disagreed with philosophy.
What about recognition at Jewell? How well did seniors predict junior success.
Faculty Award (‘80)
Student Body Pres. (‘25)
6/11 men 54% (23 overall)
Col Doniphan (’40)
The mysterious black box contents. Only had 85 years of information.
Intermittent minutes of meetings. Earliest secretary, 1932 was my father.
7 notebooks of minutes from almost every class from 1932 to 2000.
Minutes are VERY sparse.
One copy each of constitution and initiation ceremony, both 1963.
Point system for selecting men, modified multiple times from 1936-1967.
20 loose letters, newspaper articles and photos.
There are documented capers and significant issues dealt with by the Aeons.
Discussion about academic freedom and Baptists
Urging college to discontinue Homecoming queens and parade, freshman initiation and hazing
Justification to administration about selection criteria
What Did Aeons Do at Jewell? Evidence from the Black Box
That the editor of the newspaper “must be competed for, rather than appointed”
Change “chapel” to “Assemblies” and urged students to burn their chapel cards.
Successfully argued against a undesirable professors and lectureship procedures and test security.
Discussion of Academic freedom and Baptists
Cow in Jewell Hall, horses in the cafeteria
Ringing of the Bells for Dr Binns Sermon
Fake Who’s Who Letter and Panaegis terrible grammar letters
Breaking up a Bookstore book theft ring
Eliminate Homecoming parade and Homecoming Queens
Newspaper articles about Marston locked doors, trophies taken from Chapel trophy case and replaced with plaster of Paris replicas, the uncovering of the Panaegis board.
Unsure how well each class was educated on traditions!
Croquet and casual! But still smart!
What was different in the re-boot 2008-2010
Invited to President Salle’s House with Dr Sallee, Richard Harriman and Clark Moris
No armbands or pins
Aeon given a copy of Hamlet with no Aeon identifying marks.
Encouraged to develop a cohesive group and select individuals for next year.
Only two more classes were selected.
Are There multiple family members that were Aeons?
Sharp: Four family members over Three generations
Zahnd Four family members over two generations
Howard: Three over three generations-unknown if related
Martin: Four over two generations-unknown if related
Miller: Four over two generations-unknown if related
White: Four over two generations-unknown if related
Smith: 8 men over three generations-unknown if related
Jones: 6 men over three generations-unknown if related
What have Aeons done since Jewell- National recognition (Represents half of Aeon achievers)
Thomas C. Bailey, Prof Medicine Washington Univ
Harold Brooks, Physicist, National storm lab
Charles Campbell, Illinois Baptist Assoc.
Tom Coleman US Congressman
Bob Curnow, MD Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame
Brad Gans, General Counsel CitiCorp Europe
Richard Harriman, Founder Director WJC Arts
Robert Hawkins, Prof. NYU & All American football.
Larry Holley Basketball coach WJC
Eugene Holoman Actor
Manley Hudson Lawyer, Harvard Law
Don Jackson PhD Semiconductors Physicist
Daniel Lambert President Baker University
Drew Luten III, US Agency International Dev.
Ollie Malone, Pres, Olive Tree Associates
A.C. McKInney Vice Chancellor MU
Don Page, PhD theoretical Physicist and Prof
James Pierce, R&D Director Dow Chemical, Europe
Charles Rendlen MO Supreme Court judge
Adm. Charles Rixey, US Navy Dir. Programs
Raymond W. Settle, Pony Express History Author
Steven Stites, Professor of Medicine, KU Med
Terry Teachout, Writer, Author
John Truex VP TWA
James Vogel, Professor Dentistry School U. Tex
William Jewell Achievement awardees
21% of 249 William Jewell Achievement Day Honorees have been Aeons.
28% of 185 men achievement Day Honorees have been Aeons.
What sorts of careers do Aeons have? Last 65 years 244 men
College President 2
Navy Admiral 2
Artist, Analyst, Auctioneer, IT, Musician, Physician Assistant.
PhD Professor 28
Business Owner 17
Church related 15
What led to the demise of Aeons?
Secretive, Male organization. After the Mortar Board was instituted, there was continued pressure to eliminate Aeons.
Pressure from female faculty, Student Editors, female Hilltop Connector Editors and Tatler Editors. Administration remained supportive
Sometimes not so friendly competition between Mortar Board and Aeons.
Failure to appear to be politically correct (Croquet and not invite the new female Dean).
The Tatler stopped proudly promoting Aeons in 1997 and stopped entirely in 2002.
Students did not rise to insure continuation, “band of brothers didn’t develop”, no interest in the tradition and responsibility for continuation.
Aeons didn’t take on projects or sponsor activities like many other organizations, i.e., they didn’t make themselves known or valuable to the college.
Death of Richard Harriman in 2010, the faculty advisor for 50 years.
From Oct 13, 1977 Student Newspaper-Kathy Griffith, Editor, ‘78, (not a Panaegis).
“Ladies and Gentlemen we have begun an evolutionary cycle from 1918-2018 – the college of tomorrow will be the William Jewell Academy for Women, the campus of achievement.”
Aeon Class 2010 (courtesy social media)
Drew White & wife Callie
Comments by Cody Johnson, last class of Aeons 2010
“Knowing the prevailing attitude of Jewell students regarding secret organizations (especially gender-exclusive ones), it will be an uphill battle to revive the great tradition and gravity of achievement that election to the Aeons represents. Also, without the momentum of the past decade or so of active members working to maintain a presence on campus, it may be difficult to be heard over the din of a plethora of student activities and interest groups vying for members (several who attempt to use secrecy and exclusivity as a marketing technique).”
Clark Morris, V.P. Advancement, WJC
What we propose to continue from here.
We propose a nice bronze plaque to honor 104 years of Aeons and Richard Harriman as the faculty advisor for 50 years.
PLACED AT AN APPROPRIATE LOCATION ON CAMPUS
Is there a means to continue the tradition?
Without advocating the secret, self-selective aspects of the society.
Establish an Aeon Citation Medal with a monetary award.
Competitive for male junior students or at start of senior year.
Funded from the Aeon Scholarship fund-a WJC-managed fund created from Aeon Alumni donations.
Selection is by a committee of:
From two to three senior members of Aeons.
Two alumni Aeons.
From one to three faculty or administrator former Aeons.
Two members of the Scholarship committee of the College.
Expectation that fund would grow over time from subsequent Aeons.
Cost of Plaque and Medals:
18 x 24” Bronze etched plaque with WJC and Aeon artwork: $1500.00
Strike 50 medals: $1250.00
Endowment fund to produce $3000-5000 per year: $60,000.00
Propose one year fund raising activity and committee working with the College to arrange the manner the medals would be decided and distributed annually. Pres, Olive Tree Associates