3/17/2010 - Visiting university students spend spring break working in Marion
By Bill Mathews
Six students and a philosophy professor from Samford University spent part of their spring break laboring in Perry County's Sowing Seeds of Hope's Self-Help Housing program.
The working vacation was sponsored by Samford's Universities Ministries. The students stayed in the Samford House in Marion while on their mission trip.
Chris Fite and Nichole Williams, student leaders on the trip, said that many Samford students volunteer to work in Marion because of the help citizens of Marion gave to Howard College in Samford's early years.
Dr. Dennis Sansom accompanied the six students. He has become a regular visitor to Marion through participation in the Old Howard 100 Bicycle Rides in April each year.
Four other students made up the work team. They are Nancy VanderVeer, Lauren Womack, Alison Ozment and Ashley Hester. Both Womack and Hester reported that their mothers had attended Judson College, which was another reason they wanted to spend some time in Marion.
The students on this trip wanted to learn more about the early days of Samford University, which was founded as Howard College in 1841. Howard College moved to East Lake, near Birmingham, in 1887 and moved to its present location in Homewood in 1957.
While on a tour of Marion one of their stops was at the graves of four children of Samuel Sterling Sherman, the first president of Howard College. The children died of various illnesses before reaching age seven.
They also visited the grave of J.T. Murfee, the last president of Howard College when it was located in Marion. When Howard College left Marion in 1887, Col. Murfee remained in Marion and founded Marion Military Institute.
Marion Military Institute occupies two of the 1857 buildings remaining on Howard College's second campus in Marion. The first campus was located on Smith Street at the west end of Early Street. A marker at that location indicates that it was the first location of both Judson College and Howard College.
The students learned that Howard College's first building burned in 1844. A new building was erected at that location, but it burned in 1854. In both cases local citizens housed faculty and students until new facilities were available. Marion citizens also contributed money for new buildings.
After the second fire, Howard College relocated and rebuilt on the present site of MMI. This time it built three buildings instead of a single all-inclusive building. The chapel contained a central auditorium, and administrative offices, classrooms and laboratories in the two wings. Two dormitories were built to the north and south of the Chapel but far enough apart to minimize the chance of a fire destroying all of the facilities.
* Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.