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Witt World

Hidden Mementos
Work in Myers Hall Reveals Alumnus' Personal History

Finding buried treasure usually marks the end of a quest, but a cache of items discovered by electricians installing new smoke detectors in Myers Hall recently initiated an investigation that continues today.

Relics found in the ceilings of Myers included a tattered 1885 Springfield Opera House handbill, a packet of Enders razor blades, a Hill’s Cascara Quinine Bromide pill box, subscription letters, including one from Funk and Wagnall, advertisements, blank checks from West Liberty and Bellefontaine banks, and most rewarding of all, personal mementos that belonged to a Wittenberg student.

Edward Russell Johnson, a member of the class of 1919, placed an English exam booklet, history test, sales guides, a copy of The Ohio Farmer, a state agricultural weekly magazine, fragments of a love letter and a letter from his mother under the floorboards.

Johnson came to Wittenberg in the fall of 1915 at the age of 23, when the world surrounding campus included both a bustling industrial city and a large agricultural community. Johnson had taught at a rural school for four years before becoming a sales representative for The Ohio Farmer and wanted to return to teaching. He needed to work to pay for college, and interurban lines that ran in six directions from Springfield made that possible.

During his sophomore year, Johnson joined the Zeta Alpha fraternity and moved to its house on Cecil Street. He transferred to The Ohio State University his junior year to major in history, but his education was interrupted by a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. In 1918, Johnson enrolled in electrical engineering in the Naval Radio School at Harvard University and married Maude Corey, whom he met at Wittenberg when she worked during the summers in the education department. He graduated in 1919 with an A.B. degree and a teaching certificate. He then received his M.A. in school administration in 1927 and his Ph.D. in 1939, both from Ohio State. Corey earned an A.B. degree from Wittenberg in 1925 in addition to her undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan.

Widowed in 1967, Johnson returned to campus for his golden reunion in 1969 and met former classmate Mary Snyder Lauver who is said to have asked, “Why Edward, where have you been all this time?” He married Lauver the following year.

In 1977, records listed 34 family ties to Wittenberg. During his lifetime, Johnson, who maintained a strong relationship with Wittenberg throughout the years, was a teacher, high school principal, superintendent of schools, professor, editor, publisher, historian and foundation executive. Johnson died in Springfield, Ohio, May 20, 1998 at 106 years of age.

— Phyllis Eberts ’00 headline

Wittenberg Magazine P.O. Box 720 Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
Phone: (937) 327-6141 Fax: (937) 327-6112

In This Issue Around Myers Hollow
Witt World
Tiger Sports
Alumni World
Class Notes
Last Word