April 11, 1886
My Dear Helen,
I was at a lunch party at the Avenue House, yesterday PM, I saw a Mrs. Maher or Mather, her husband’s niece is Mrs., Prof. Whitney’s wife of Beloit . She said the Beloit people were captivated with Mrs. Emerson, that they had a minister’s meeting and Mrs. E., entertained so beautifully etc, etc. The girls will start next week for New England- Anna wrote to Clara, yesterday. We are all well with Frank, and Anna, send special love with best regards to Prof. Emerson.
20 Lovingly and tenderly, your aunt,
Mary F. Willard
20 Joseph Emerson, Professor of Greek at Beloit College. Originally from Norfolk, Connecticut. He attended Yale College to study Theology and graduated in 1847. He came to Beloit College with Trustee Mr. Chapin’s endorsement, and became liked by both faculty and students. To the students he was their “Zeus.” Professor Emerson was noted for both his seriousness within the classroom but also for the occasional practical joke that took place within that same classroom. One particular tale was that of his students hiding a goose in his desk drawer. When Professor Emerson opened the door he exclaimed, “I see gentlemen, that you have found a teacher worthy of you,” and walked from the room. He had quite the lasting effect on his students and the college was very much in debt to him. The Book of Beloit, published by Daily News Publishing Company pages 38-40.
Frances too was a huge fan of her dear professor as was her brother, Oliver who attended Beloit College (class of 1859). In a letter she wrote to Professor Emerson in 1897, she wrote, “Perhaps you can hardly conceive the force of a tide of honor, respect and good will that began to act toward you in our old, far house of Rock Prairie over 40 years ago, because of a gifted, generous-hearted student beloved in that home, who thought you were everything that a good and great man ought to be… ‘Prof. Emerson is the enthusiasm of us boys; he always raises his hat to us and we all are proud to do so to him and he make us doat on Greek and I’d get my lessons for him quicker than for all the rest of the lot and as for looks he beats them away out of sight and as for himself-well, we thing nobody else can be mentioned the same day.’ That’s what our Oliver said over and over to us until it was ‘there to stay.’” Frances Willard as quoted in Richardson’s article in the Book of Beloit, 1936.