College owes its
existence remotely to a bequest for benevolent purposes made in 1885 by Mr.
A. L. Thiel, of Pittsburgh, Penn. The sum, $5, 500, was placed in
the hands of Rev. W. A. Passavant, to be used
for some benevolent purpose connected with the cause of Christianity. It
was accepted, and the following year was invested in some lands and
buildings which had been devoted to a water cure at Phillipsburg, Beaver
Co., Penn. An institution of learning, known as “Thiel Hall,” was in
operation at Phillipsburg for several years under the direction of Revs.
E. T. Giese, H. E. Jacobs, W. Kopps and others. In October, 1869,
Mr. Thiel offered to the Pittsburgh Synod of the Lutheran Church, held at
Greensburg, Westmoreland County, the entire property known as “Thiel
Hall” on two very liberal conditions, which were intended to secure for
the denomination an institution of learning of a high order. The gift was
accepted, and accordingly put under church control.
the early part of 1870 the people of Greenville made to the board of
trustees a very flattering offer as an inducement to have the enlarged
institution located in their midst. The proposition included the gift of
seven acres of land as a site, and a bonus of $20,000. The offer was
accepted, and the institution was transferred from Phillipsburg to
Greenville, the opening exercises at the latter place occurring in the
academy building on the 1st of September, 1871. Mr. Thiel, prior to his
death, which occurred on February 16, 1870, had made some additional
bequests to the institution. The college grounds were afterward increased
by seven acres, donated by Dr. D. B. Packard;
one acre by Samuel Ridgeway, and the balance
by purchase from Mr. Ridgeway.
first of the college, buildings, known as “Greenville Hall,” out of
compliment to the liberality of the citizens of Greenville, was erected in
1872-74. The cornerstone of the structure was laid August 15, 1872, with
suitable ceremonies, appropriate addresses being made by A.
D. Gillespie, Esq., Hon. James Sheakley, Rev.
G. A. Wenzel, Hon. M. C. Trout and Hon.
Samuel Griffith. The regular address was made by Rev.
W. A. Passavant, of Pittsburgh, who gave the history of the
institution. The structure, made of brick, three stories in height, 53x76,
and containing thirty-three rooms, was erected by T.
E. Heilman, of Greenville, for $22,649.79, of which amount the
citizens of Greenville paid $14,307. The architects were Griese &
Weile, of Cleveland, Ohio. The building committee consisted of Revs.
H. W. Roth and J. B. Fox, and Dr.
G. D. Kughler, A. D. Gillespie and Dr. D. B.
Packard. The dedicatory services were held on June 25, 1874,
addresses being delivered by Rev. J. G. Pfuhl and
Prof. H. E. Jacobs. The services were under
the direction of Prof. H. W. Roth, Prof. H. E.
Jacobs and Rev. W. A. Passavant. Until
the completion of “Greenville Hall,” in June, 1874, the old academy
building, and afterward three rooms in the union school building, were
Hall was commenced in 1885, the laying of the corner-stone taking place on
June 25, of that year, Rev. J. A. Kunkleman,
D. D., performing the ceremony. It was completed and dedicated with
appropriate ceremonies November 10, 1880. It is a substantial three-story
brick structure, and was erected at a total cost of about $8,000. This
building contains the chapel and the recitation and society halls, and is
quite a convenient addition to the original college building.
College has a good equipment and a fine library, and affords the regular
college course. The usual attendance is over 100 students. Rev.
H. W. Roth, at first connected with the institution in the capacity
of an instructor, was chosen president in August, 1875, and filled that
position with commendable credit until the close of 1887, when he
resigned, and removed to Chicago, Ill. The board has recently chosen Rev.
William A. Beates as his successor. The other members of the
faculty are Rev. David McKee, professor of
mathematics; Rev. Josiah R. Titsel, professor
of Greek, and Rev. Herman Gilbert, professor
ameritus of German. Prof. McKee has been
connected with the college since its inception, Prof.
Gilbert since 1872, and Prof. Titsel
since June, 1874. The following instructors are also connected with the
college: Rev. H. K. Shanor, A. M., principal
of the academic department; S. H. Miller, A.
M., instructor in natural sciences; Rev. William
Rehrig, instructor in the German language, and Miss
Julia Ackerman, musical instructor. The duties of the Latin chair
are distributed among the members of the faculty. Thiel College is a great
advantage to Mercer County, but more especially to Greenville, as it
furnishes her ambitious youth an opportunity of obtaining a first-class
collegiate course without leaving home. Its most enterprising citizens
fully appreciate this blessing, and while proud of its past history, are
also sanguine of the future prosperity of this local home of learning.
of Mercer County,
1888, pages 418-420