Pio Past: The origin of The Pioneer

Pio Past

For 120 years, The Pioneer has reported on news from the Whitman campus and surrounding community. Pio Past pulls old articles from past decades from the Penrose Library archives to give modern readers a glimpse of campus history. This week, we look at the first article from the first issue of The Pioneer, published in November 1896.

The students of Whitman College, some days ago, began to think seriously of publishing a college paper. A meeting was held and officers elected for carrying on the work. One of the first things to be decided upon was the name by which our paper should be known. We found this question a very difficult one to solve, for none of the names suggested suited us. At last President Penrose came to our aid and proposed that we call our paper The Whitman College Pioneer. This name was acceptable to all, especially when we were informed that we could have an editorial for our first number written by Dr. Nixon, editor of the Chicago Inter-Ocean. The name of Pioneer is one suggested by him to President Penrose, and it is due to the kindness of the latter that we are able to present to our readers the following article written by Dr. Nixon.

The Whitman College “Pioneer”

There seems to be a fitness in the name of Pioneer for our magazine. The old Christian hero, Dr. Cushing Eells, who founded Whitman College, was not only a pioneer, but a prince among pioneers. After the great massacre the whole district in which Walla Walla is the center was closed to white immigration. When it was opened Dr. Eells immediately returned. His first visit was to “The Great Grave,” where rested the remains of Whitman. Standing there upon consecrated ground, he writes: “I believe the Power of the Highest came upon me.” Then and there he resolved to honor the memory of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman. He says: “I felt as though if Dr. Whitman were alive he would prefer a high school for the benefit of both sexes, rather than a monument of marble.” It was with that thought Whitman College had its birth. We need not rehearse the long years of labor required before even the foundation could be laid for the edifice. They were many, but the grand object was never lost sight of; year after year the old founder of Whitman College, and his noble wife, toiled and prayed until $6,000 had been accumulated. By that time Walla Walla had grown into a prosperous village, and instead of the original idea of locating the school on the old Mission ground it was wisely placed at Walla Walla, and here it will stand to bless the present and coming generations if the patriotic Christian people so will it. Conceived in advance of civilization, who will deny by Divine command, with its foundation stones laid in prayer, and all its material the result of privation and daily toil, the College can rightfully claim to be the pioneer in what all will agree is best in all this fair land.