Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Oldest Images of the Marion Campus, Plus Harry, The Hero Slave

Here are the three oldest known photographs of Howard College, now Marion Military Institute, courtesy of the Samford University Special Collections in Birmingham (thanks, Jennifer Taylor). The originals are paired with the same images as printed in 160 Years of Samford University: For God, For Learning, Forever (Arcadia, 2001) by Sean Flynt.

Finally, here is an image of the obelisk to Harry, the hero-slave, in the Marion city cemetery. On the night of October 15, 1854, the four-story brick Howard College building (then located near the Siloam Baptist Church in Marion) burned. Harry, slave of Howard’s president, Henry Talbird, who also served as the College janitor, saved the lives of the students at the cost of his own. Awakened at midnight and told to save himself, he replied, “I must wake the boys first.” Harry then proceeded to knock on doors and rouse students up to and including the fourth floor when the flames overtook him. Harry died from injuries sustained from jumping from the fourth floor. One student and a tutor eventually died from injuries sustained in the fire.

Harry was buried as a hero in the Marion cemetery and a marble monument to his bravery was erected by the students of Howard College and the Alabama Baptist Convention. President Talbird of Howard College, President Miles P. Jewett of Judson College, and the later Confederate general, Isham W. Garrott, supervised the erection of the monument and its public dedication.