Sometimes you find items that you desperately want to be paper
money but that just don’t quite make the cut.
In looking through some of my scanned images I came across such an
item. It is a $1 receipt for a donation to Franklin College to build
Centennial Hall in 1876.
This “near-note” is really appealing to me because Franklin
College, a small liberal arts institution, is alive and well and
located in a small Johnson County town of the same name, not more than
eight miles from where I live.
Today, it has about 1,000 students and offers 36 majors, 39 minors
and 11 pre-professional programs. Athletics also has a place, and the
college’s football team, the Grizzlies, is in the Division III
play-offs this year.
The school was founded in 1834 and, in 1842, became one of the
first U.S. institutions of higher learning to admit women.
The college actually suspended operations for a brief period of
time in 1872 due to financial difficulties. It was revived later in
that same year, rescued by the Franklin College Association, whose
members, mostly local citizens and church members, subscribed more
than $51,000 in stock.
That generosity allowed the association to retire old debt and
purchase the school’s buildings and property at the sheriff’s sale.
The college reopened in September 1872 and has been in operation ever since.
The $1 receipt was issued in 1876, acknowledging an individual’s
contribution to the building fund for “Centennial Hall,” which was
intended to be used by the “Female Department.”
A vignette of the Rhode Island College, built in 1770, appears in
the center of the face of the receipt. It was apparently selected to
inspire contributors, as this building was noted on the receipt as
being the “only college building of American Baptists in 1776.”
This date is significant as the fund drive was being conducted
during the nation’s Centennial of Independence celebration.
In addition the receipt also detailed statistics for Baptists in
both the United States and Indiana and the number of Baptists in
America in 1776 (about 25,000) and 1876 (about 2,000,000).
As an aside, according to college sources, they never constructed
Centennial Hall, but they gave the fund drive a “heck” of an effort.
Wendell Wolka has been a paper money collector and educator for
more than 40 years. If you have questions or suggestions, you can
email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.