Aunt Jane

“Miss Jane E. Leonard is selected for Congress Democrats of this District will give women a chance.”  This mundane headline appeared in the March 25, 1922 edition of the Indiana Democrat, and it seemed to understate the newsworthiness of an event.  It was a historic occasion.  Miss Jane E. Leonard, as the Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s Twenty-seventh Congressional District, was one of the first women to seek a national political office as a major party candidate in Pennsylvania.*  Since only ten women in the entire country ran for congressional seats as choices of major political parties in 1922, Miss Leonard attracted national attention.

Jane E. Leonard was the former preceptress of Indiana State Normal School (known today as Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)).  The former Leonard Hall on the IUP campus had memorialized her name.  She served “the Normal” from its opening in 1875 until her retirement in 1921.  Then, less than a year after her retirement and at a spry eighty-one years of age, she ran for Congress.  This episode is both more incredible and, at the same time, less incredible than it seemed at first notice.

The 1922 election was only the second national election following the enfranchisement of women by the Nineteenth Amendment.  Miss Leonard had not been that active in politics; her life was spent in education.  And at eighty-one, it was an amazing age to be launching a new career.  She was, moreover, a Democrat in an area dominated by the Republican party. Despite this, she ran extremely well, polling a far larger percentage of the votes cast than any other Democratic congressional candidate in a ten-year period.

“Aunt Jane,” as Miss Jane Leonard was affectionately known by the thousands who attended the State Normal School in Indiana, came to Indiana from the Clearfield County area.  She was born on December 27, 1840, in Leonard, Pennsylvania.  Her family was so well established in the area, that there is reflected in the vicinity’s place names – Leonard Station, Leonard House, Leonard School, and Leonard Run as well as the town itself.

It is likely that her early education was at Leonard School, a gift to the rural community from her father.  Her life-long involvement in education began at the age of fifteen when she first taught in the public schools of her native Clearfield County.  Later, desiring more advanced educational preparation, she entered Millersville State Normal School, the first institution of its kind in Pennsylvania.  Then she spent some time teaching in Lancaster County schools.  Her attainments as a student at Millersville, her teaching experiences, and her personal qualities led to Miss Leonard joining the Millersville faculty in 1868 as instructor of history and mathematics.

1d3c5-jane
Jane Leonard

In 1875, the Board of Trustees of the new State Normal School at Indiana asked Dr. J.P. Wickersham, Pennsylvania’s superintendent of education and the founder and first principal of Millersville State Normal School, to recommend a candidate for the position of preceptress and instructor of English literature.  He recommended Jane E. Leonard.

For the next forty-six years, Miss Leonard served Indiana.  When she retired in 1921 she was awarded emeritus status and given permission to continue occupying her apartment in John Sutton Hall.  As an education she always stressed that her students should be ambitious both for themselves and their communities, that they should be active and participate in their world, that they should shoulder the responsibilities offered to them, and that they should work to better the world they lived in. In that educational philosophy lie clues which make “Aunt Jane’s” political adventure less incredible than it first suggests.

Although she could not even vote in a national election until she was seventy-nine years old, Jane E. Leonard had developed an active interest in politics. She was lauded as having a wide knowledge of politics and political men.**  As a member as the Indiana community, Miss Leonard while not seen as a political firebrand, had not been politically bashful.  She was accustomed to interrupting her return from Sunday church service to impose herself on one of the local newspaper editors or political leaders in talk over the public issues.  According to the March 23, 1922 Indiana Weekly Messenger, Miss Leonard “was one of the campaigners for years for equal franchise and has campaigned also for prohibition.  She never neglects an opportunity to assail the monopolistic practices of the tariff barons and speaks for National economy, friendly relations with other nations, universal peace and human advancement.”

Her political orientation appeared foreordained.  The Indiana Weekly Messenger said bluntly, she is “a democrat by nature and it was inevitable that with the enfranchisement of women she would be found aligned from the outset with the Democratic party.”  Her affinity for involvement in her interests, an “Aunt Jane” trait, made it rather natural that she later gravitated toward political stewardship when the opportunity presented itself.  In 1922, she was chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fund, devoted to soliciting monies for Wilsonian goals, chairman of the Indiana County Ladies Democratic Committee, and president of the Indiana County Democratic Women Voters League.  The octogenarian was one to give her personal time and support to those matters that personally touched her.

The challenge of being the Democratic candidate in the Twenty-seventh District’s congressional race was not a quest that she eagerly sought.  The distinguished lady had to be sought out, and, according to the Indiana Evening Gazette, “Her friends…demanding a fit representative in congress insisted that she permit her name to be used.  Miss Leonard did not make any effort for the nomination, letting her name be used but not spending a cent in a campaign or making one speech.”

The days preceding her nomination for the Democratic primary, Miss Leonard had another and very different, political interest – to secure the Republican gubernatorial nomination for Indiana’s native son John S. Fisher.  Although she was serving as the chairman of the Indiana County Ladies Democratic Committee, she strongly endorsed Fisher.  She attended the formal opening rally of his campaign in front of the Indiana County Courthouse, she wrote an open letter to the alumni of the Normal School urging their support for Fisher, and she later addressed the annual reunion meeting of the Allegheny County ISNS Alumni Association stressing the need of their support of his candidacy.  The Indiana Republican press praised her as a “grand old lady.”

While such incongruent activities might have branded Miss Leonard as a political maverick, they were in keeping with her character.  John S. Fisher, as a former Indiana Normal student, was one of “her boys” in whom she had confidence.  She declared that “Democrat though she was, she’d vote for him for governor if he’d capture the Republican nomination for that office.”  Her open support of the Republican Fisher was simply an indication that she never was and never could have been a narrow political partisan.

The primary campaign was very quiet since Miss Leonard was unopposed, and her opening political activity reflected that situation.  If any event served as a campaign kickoff it was the Democratic Ladies Tea which was held on March 30.  Miss Leonard presented the opening remarks which contained some advice on the Indiana County Democratic campaign.  The state chairman of the Women’s Democratic Committee of Pennsylvania was in attendance.  The Indiana Democrat hailed the event as “A Fine Success.”  The first public endorsement of Leonard’s candidacy, and the only known one in Indiana County, came on April 5 when the Joseph M. Blakely Camp, No. 71, United Spanish War Veterans unanimously endorsed her.  These were the only public acknowledgements in the Indiana press of the Leonard campaign prior to the May primary election.  Of course an active campaign is not required of an unopposed primary candidate.

The fall general election, however, was a different situation.  Miss Leonard’s political interests and knowledge must have suggested to her the seemingly insurmountable obstacle she was facing.  Pennsylvania in 1922 was essentially a one party state – Republican.  The Twenty-seventh Congressional District was solidly Republican, and Indiana County was rock-ribbed Republican. The primary returns reinforced this general knowledge.  In Indiana Borough, for example, only 124 Democrats bothered to vote while 1,481 Republicans cast their ballots.  In Indiana County, running unopposed, Leonard received 667 votes while a total Republican vote of 8,633 was split among three contestants.  In the fall when the voter registration for the Twenty-seventh Congressional District was announced it favored the Republicans over the Democrats, 68 percent to 23 percent.  Certainly a bleak prospect faced the novice candidate.

To make matters worse, her Republican opponent was formidable.  He was Nathan L. Strong, the incumbent Congressman from Brookville, Jefferson County.  Certainly everything was a disadvantage: Miss Leonard was running for her first elected political office, her opponent was an incumbent seeking his fourth congressional term.  She was eighty-one years of age, her opponent was sixty-three.  She was a woman, he was a man.  The odds were staggering.  There was little wonder that William K. Hutchinson, a national news correspondent, included Miss Lenard among the five feminine congressional candidates who had only “a chance in a hundred” of winning.  It could be suggested that perhaps, at least in “Aunt Jane’s” case, Hutchinson was even underestimating the odds.

It could be argued that Miss Leonard was not really a serious contender.  If newspaper advertisement is any indication, the Democrats spent little money on the campaign.  The Leonard campaign trail in Indiana County was not overly onerous.  It is possible that the Democrats, faced with the impossibility of winning the election, had conceded from the start.

Jane E. Leonard, nevertheless, seemed to use the public exposure to continue to stress ideals important to her. During her campaigning, light though it was, she worked to further her causes.  “Aunt Jane” challenged women to involve themselves in politics.  “We are in politics,” she declared, “and we are going to do our duty.  Our duty is to do the best we know how.”  In another instance she lectured the newly enfranchised women on “the importance of women taking the responsibilities which are now theirs with the assuming the principles of enfranchisement, an action which at the present time they are not prone to do.”  She became known for her positions on what were to her the vital issues, some of them most progressive – the inclusion of a secretary of education in the president’s cabinet, a tariff used only for revenue, measures to insure fiscal responsibility in national government, and election victories for Democratic candidates.

Miss Leonard, always bound by her principles, could not be bound by party lines.  She acclaimed the educational program of Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor William C. Sproul.  That program had been embodied in the Edmonds Act which aimed at consolidating schools, increasing aid to education, increasing aid to education, and standardizing curriculum, teachers’ qualifications, and salaries.  She publicly acknowledged that Dr. Finegan, the Republican-appointed superintendent of public of public education, had “done more to advance education in the past three years than had been accomplished in the preceding ten years.”

She apparently did not have many opportunities to express her ideals.  Her reported public appearances following the primary were at the Indiana County Congress of Women’s Clubs meeting in June and the one day Democratic County Tour in September.  It was an incident at the Cookport Fair, one of the stops on the County Tour, that permits a glimpse of “Aunt Jane” on the hustings.  One writer described the scene this way: “As she climbed aboard the hay wagon, the veteran educator carried her 83 [sic] years as though they were a mere 50.  She had a sprightly step and her voice was strong as she urged the assembled voters to support the Democratic candidates from top to bottom.”

Given the light campaigning effort, given the political realities, the November election results were surprising.  The eighty-one year old, former educator carried 37 percent of the vote in the Twenty-seventh Congressional District to her opponent’s 54 percent, and 30 percent in Indiana County to his 55 percent.  The popular vote was 18,682 to 12,927 and 5,071 to 2,764 respectively.  A loss by a landslide, yes, but a comparably minor landslide.  In 1920, Strong’s victory was 66 percent to 25 percent in the District and 70 percent to 16 percent in the County; in 1924 Strong would win by 59 percent to 18 percent and 59 percent to 13 percent.  The neophyte, maiden politician had done remarkably well.

The full story of Miss Leonard’s relative success rests more in events outside of the Twenty-seventh Congressional District since the Pennsylvania Republican party that year had been severely splintered by internal struggles.  The election of 1922, nevertheless, was a surprising story, and “Aunt Jane” really fared no worse than any of the other nine female candidates who were running for Congress – they all lost (even Alice M. Robertson, the incumbent congresswoman from Oklahoma).

Miss Jane E. Leonard, an Indiana institution as an educator, probably considered herself to be continuing her educational goals as a politician in teaching by example the duty of personal responsibility and active participation, expounding one’s convictions and ideals, and attempting to better the world.  If there was a loser in the 1922 election, it was not “Aunt Jane.”  Her “political whirl” was the giving of a practical lesson – she was engaged, as always, in educating.

*Ellen D. Davis was, in the same election, running for the congressional seat in Pennsylvania’s Second District.

** The “Indiana legend” that James Buchanan, fifteenth president of the United States, had proposed marriage to Miss Leonard has no basis in historical fact.

Annual Christmas Open House

Last week was a busy week at the Historical Society as the holiday season is in full swing.  On Wednesday afternoon the public was invited to join the Historical Society to view recent interviews of long-time residents of Indiana County conducted by students from IUP’s history department. It was a great afternoon as we got to experience what life was like during the first half of the 20th Century through individual stories.  These stories ranged from life in the coal towns, to time at the University, and military service. We would like to thank everyone who came out and shared the afternoon with us along with the students from IUP’s History Department who completed the interviews, and of course the residents of Indiana County who shared their memories.

community choir
IUP Community Choir

Then on Friday evening the Historical Society welcomed the community to celebrate the Christmas Season.  The weather was perfect, as the rain held off for most of the evening. The community came together to tour the festively decorated Clark House while enjoying holiday refreshments and to tour the museum. There were even gifts in the gift shop for people to do some holiday shopping for family and friends.  Our guests enjoyed holiday music provided by the IUP Community Choir, afterwards guests made their way to the Clark House for a holiday sing along around the piano in the parlor. If you were lucky you got to have a conversation with some historical figures, including Harry and Anna White who were in the Clark House. Thanks to all who came out to celebrate the season with us and to the Evergreen Garden Club for decorating the Clark House for the holiday season.

The whites
Harry and Anna White

As a reminder the Historical Society will be closed from December 22, 2018 through January 1, 2019. We will reopen on January 2, 2019. We are excited to see what the new year holds in store, stay tuned for future events such as programs and fundraisers, or just come in to visit the museum or do some family research in our library. Whatever the reason for your visit we can’t wait to see you at the Society. We wish everyone a happy holiday season and a happy new year.

Clark House2018
Clark House

The Eloquent J.P. Carter Home

Many people are familiar with the point in Indiana, the intersection of School Street, Sixth Street, and Wayne Avenue, as there are so many historic homes in this area. Two of the main homes are the Silas M. Clark House and the J.P. Carter Home (known as the Heritage Inn Suites). The history behind the J.P. Carter Mansion is an interesting one, and his story intertwines with our very own Silas Clark. The home was built in 1870, at the same time as Mr. Clark built his home. Carter had the single-family dwelling built at a cost of $30,000 (a little over $500,000 today). The house was built on a tract of 3 and a half acres of what was considered at the time as “the most desirable location in Indiana.” Mr. Clark began construction on his home, at the point, in 1869 and completed in 1870; Mr. Clark had obtained the architect whom Carter had desired, so he deliberately built a larger home than his neighbor. Not only was it larger in size, but it was also taller at the time.

Clark House
Silas M. Clark House

There is not much information regarding J.P. Carter, except that he married Nancy Ralston and he was involved in banking. The Indiana Progress reported on August 4, 1870 that the “large and costly residence of Mr. James P. Carter” was just about finished and would be ready for occupancy that coming winter.  The paper called the home “one of the finest private residences in the Western part of the state.”  By 1872, both Silas Clark and James Carter had pavements laid around their elegant homes. In 1874, it was sadly reported in the Indiana Messenger that the home would be put up for sale as Mr. Carter fell on hard times financially and his health was declining. Following is the description that was reported:

The cellar is nine feet high in the clear and divided into five compartments. The first floor consists of five rooms, parlor, library, bed chamber, large dining room, with kitchen, and wash house attached, one and a half stories high, with large cellar under the whole of it. Elegant range in the kitchen, and bake-oven in the wash house. The main hall is wide and spacious, the side hall on the north side is also wide, and in it is the main stair way. There is also a hall entering from the south side; also store room and china closet adjoining the kitchen and dining room. There is also bath room and water closets. Nearly the whole of the first floor is finished in walnut, the entire stairway, railing and steps are walnut. The second floor is component of five large bed chambers, bath rooms and water closet, hot and cold water, gas and every other convenience. The third story constructed with a mansard roof, forms five bed chambers on which also the water tank is located. [. . .] The mantles in the house are all of the finest marble, with marble stationary wash stands, hot and cold water in every room.”

James P. Carter died on August 5, 1874 after a battle with consumption. It was reported that Mr. Carter was an “energetic, reliable and industrious business man” and was held in high esteem.

J.P. Carter Home
J.P. Carter Home (now Heritage House Suites)

The next owner of this marvelous home in Indiana was Thomas Sutton, who purchased the house in 1879, and moved in with his new wife Ella Hildebrand. He was the son of John Sutton, one of the founders of the Indiana Normal School (now IUP). Sutton was a lawyer and went to Princeton at the age of 16, and was a prominent businessman and community leader. Thomas was also involved with the Indiana Foundry and the Strawboard Company (later known as the Indiana Paper Mill Company). He also served as Treasurer and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Indiana Normal School, and was President of the Board for 39. Thomas Sutton had such a profound impact that when an addition was built on to John Sutton Hall it was known as Thomas Sutton Hall.

After Thomas Sutton died in 1942, the home was sold to Mr. Musser, who divided it into apartments. The home now features suites that can be rented, and the history of the home comes alive on warm summer days when going past you notice that there is a wedding ceremony occurring. This is one of the most unique and grandeur homes in Indiana. Although today, you will notice one prominent piece of the home missing and that is the tower above the third floor; it was removed sometime in the 1970s due to disrepair. As you stroll down Sixth Street, you will have a better understanding of one of the unique homes located on this historic street.

There’s a Spring Under the IUP HUB

Covered over by the construction of the HUB building on the IUP Campus is an interesting piece of Indiana County history, that being what became known as “Shaver’s Spring.”

The earliest mention of the spring goes as far back as 1733. The exact location was documented in a warrantee survey dated July 9, 1773. The spring was on a pathway traveled by the Indians for centuries, that trail being the Kittanning Trail, which ran east to west on what is now Washington Avenue. Running north was the Catawba Trail, which crossed over the Kittanning Trail close to the location of the spring. The spring has had many names throughout its history: Shaver’s Spring, McElhaney Spring, Armstrong Spring, and Shaver’s Sleeping Place.

Shaver's Spring

The namesake comes from a Native American trader named Peter Shaver. Shaver was operating in the area in the early to mid-1700s. He was known by many as an outlaw who was charged with trading alcohol with the local Native American tribes, which was illegal at the time. The Native Americans actually suggested to the colonial government that he be “called away from these parts,” because he did not bring to them what they needed. His activities resulted in his death and his remains were found missing his head.

In 1756, another name came to the spring, when three hundred men led by Lt. Col. John Armstrong marched along the Kittanning Trail. They were traveling west from Fort Shirley (now Huntingdon County) with the purpose of destroying the Indian village at Kittanning. In order to avoid warning of their approach, the men walked single file and spoke in whispers, and sent scouts out ahead. They spent one night on the banks of Cush Cushion Creek, near the future site of Cherry Tree. The following night they reached the vicinity of the spring and camped nearby. The trail gained the name of the Armstrong-Kittanning Trail and the spring became known as “Armstrong’s Spring.”

The spring was again noted in the 1871 Atlas of Indiana County. By the 1880s, the spring was located along College Avenue behind the residence of William G. McElhaney, and then became known as “McElhaney’s Spring.” The last of the family to live at the residence was Miss Jean R. McElhaney, longtime instructor and chairman of the art department at what is now IUP.

In 1959, the property was purchased by the University’s Student Cooperative Association, with plans for the Student Union Building. The spring was stood beside the new building, encased in brick. The local James LeTort Chapter, Daughters of the American Colonists presented an appropriate plaque that was attached to the brick encasement in 1963. Frances Strong Helman, founder of the Historical Society, was among those who supervised the installation and dedication of the plaque.

Two years after this, there was an proposal to expand the Student Union and the fate of the spring was once again in jeopardy. Fortunately, it was decided to incorporate the landmark into the building.  The spring stood in a coffee shop and enclosed in a modernistic metal fountain. Thankfully the spring had been preserved, its flow was diminished and city water was piped in to accommodate the fountain.

Another renovation of the Student Union Building, proved fatal to the spring, covering over the site of the spring. The location became part of the Co-op Store, where the plaque was hung on the wall, hidden from view by merchandise. This fascinating piece of Indiana County history has been lost through time.

Source: Indiana Evening Gazette 2 July 1963; 8 Aug 1966; 12 Oct 1974; Stephenson’s “175th Anniversary History,” Vol. 1

 

2017 Society Summary

It is time once again for us to ring in a new year, and what a year it has been for the Indiana County Historical Society. We have done so much this past year and we take this time to reflect on what we have accomplished. We held a number of programs and workshops that we hope to continue in 2018, so be on the lookout for dates of those events. This year was a year of fundraisers and cooperation with many different organizations in the area.

eeefa-clark2bhouse2bchristmas

The Historical Society once again worked with the Indiana Art Association, sponsoring the Open Arts Show, that is exhibited at the Society from November to early January. We have also worked closely with IUP to bring interns to our Museum. Internships help students learn about how a museum operates and it also enables the Society to use young talent to expand our outreach. Thanks to the Evergreen Garden Club, the Silas Clark House is always beautifully decorated for the Christmas season. Along with decorating the Clark House at Christmas time the club also creates and maintains the garden at the point of South Sixth Street and Wayne Avenue during the Spring/Summer season.

This past year also bring with it new partnerships, including one with the Young Professional Organization (YPO). The YPO is a subgroup of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce comprised of individuals from 18-40 years old with the purpose of promoting networking between local businesses. This past October they sponsored the Haunted School Spirits program that brought approximately 75 people into the museum, along with funds paid by attendees. Also, this past September/October the Society worked with the Paranormal Society of IUP who investigated the Museum, Clark House and grounds for possible spirit entities that may still be roaming the buildings. The activities ended with a reveal of the investigations.

In addition to these big events, the Society also works with the Rainbow Diamond Glass Club, the Horace Mann Elementary School, and showcasing exhibits at the annual Air Show at the Jimmy Stewart Airport. Further, Board members and volunteers have given presentations at the Indiana Free Library and the Blairsville Historical Society. It is important for organizations to work together to expand our horizons; if you know of an organization that would like to work with the Historical Society please contact us at ichistoricalsociety@gmail.com or by phone at 724-463-9600.

A few closing notes about our 2018; we have many fun programs, events, and fundraisers planned so stay tuned to our various social media accounts, or consider becoming a member to learn about member exclusive events. Also, we have the following closings for 2018: March 30-31; July 3-4; November 20-24; and December 22-31.

We want to wish all our readers, followers, and members a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. We hope to see you at the museum in 2018, either to visit the museum, attend one of our programs, fundraisers, or other events, or to volunteer. We will be closed until January 2, 2018 to give all our staff and volunteers a much-needed vacation.

John Sutton Hall: The Symbol of IUP

John Sutton Hall has been the main building on the campus of IUP since it’s inception in 1875, at the time the school was known as the Indiana State Normal School. An advertisement in the Democrat on July 13, 1876, spoke highly of John Sutton Hall, the sole building on campus as follows:

“The building is remarkable for its being well lighted, well ventilated, and for its general air of cheerfulness. It has been pronounced by Prof. Wickersham, the Superintendent of Public Instruction as unquestionably the best building of its kind in the United States.”

The first catalogue for 1875 listed that tuition, room and board “…including light, heat, and washing,” was $70 for the spring term, $75 for the fall term, and $80 for the winter term. Over the next few years the school in order to cut down on some expenses had to dictated that students who washed more than ten pieces of personal items — this excluded towels and napkins — had to pay an extra 50 cents per dozen per week. Student life at the time was much different than today, but one should keep in mind that this was a different time period and everything dealing with the school was run out of just one building!

John Sutton Hall was constructed out of bricks that were fired on a corner of campus and the architecture of the building allowed for the following: lecture and recitation rooms, laboratory and library, reception rooms, recreation room and and chapel, kitchen and dining hall, student dormitory, faculty offices and apartments, water-closets, society rooms, laundry and heating plant. Originally John Sutton Hall was built to accommodate 400 students, but the initial enrollment in 1875 was 150 students. In 2016, the enrollment at IUP was 12,853.

John Sutton Hall continued to be a staple on campus until 1974 when the decision was made to demolish John Sutton Hall because renovation costs soared and there was limited funds allocated to renovate. But the community rallied around John Sutton Hall created “The Committee to Save John Sutton Hall; and on September 19, 1975 the Board of Trustees received a letter indicated that as of September 17, 1874 John Sutton Hall was included on the National Register of Historic Places. And so John Sutton Hall was saved.

A banner made during the Save Sutton Campaign

Today John Sutton Hall serves the purpose of administration offices, faculty offices, and boast Gorell Recital Hall and the Blue Room used for receptions and concerts.

Some interesting facts from the First Catalogue of the State Normal School in 1875 gives us today a time to pause and consider the difference in education and how we live what seems like a different life.

  • Students were not to correspond, walk, or ride with those of the opposite sex nor meet in the reception room, parlor or elsewhere, except by special permission from the Principal and the Preceptress.
  • All wrestling, running, scuffling, or other rude and boisterous noises, were forbidden at any time.
  • Students were required to sweep their own rooms daily, previous to the sweeping of the halls in the morning, and they would not be allowed to sweep dust into the halls at any other time. 
  • Students were not allowed to throw water, dirt, or anything offensive or dangerous from the doors or windows of the building at any time.
  • Students were not allowed to keep carbon oil, camphine, or burning fluid of any kind in the building and all lights were to be extinguished by 10:00 PM.

John Sutton Hall holds a lot of history within it’s walls, this posting is just a snapshot of its beginnings and the beginning of student life on campus. University life has expanded a lot since the first class came through in 1875 and it is sure to continue to change in the years to come.

Sources: John Sutton Hall–A Victorian Restoration; First Catalogue for Indiana State Normal School

Who was Jane Leonard?

Jane Leonard
March is women’s history month and we want to showcase some notable women from Indiana County.  One of those women was very influential to the Indiana community, coming here to teach at the Indiana State Normal School in 1875, Jane Elizabeth Leonard.

Jane was born on December 27, 1840 to Robert and Lydia Wilson Leonard in Clearfield County.  She furthered her education by attending Millersville State Normal School in Lancaster County, PA and upon graduation joined their faculty from 1868 to 1875 teaching History and Geography.  In 1875, Ms. Leonard accepted a position at the Indiana State Normal School, arriving in on May 18, 1875.  She had an apartment and office in what is now John Sutton Hall.  She taught history, geography, and English.  She had also served a Preceptress.  After her retirement in 1921 she became the Dean of Women.

Jane Leonard officially retired on July 1, 1921, but she continued to reside in John Sutton Hall; which her residence there became a center for returning alumni, who aptly named her “Aunt Jane.”  Not only was Jane a teacher and mentor, but she also actively supported women’s suffrage, chairing the Indiana County Ladies Democratic Committee and the Women Voters League.  At age 81, she ran for Congress to represent Indiana County in 1922, using her campaign to challenge women to be involved in politics.  That same year, one of her former students, Sarah “Sadie” McCune Gallaher, ISNS Class of 1888, was one of eight women elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.


Leonard Hall postcard from HGSIC postcard collection

In 1903, the ISNS Board of Trustees named the Jane E. Leonard Hall, which was located near the Oak Grove and was destroyed by fire in 1952, and the current Leonard Hall opened in 1954.  The final classes were held in Leonard Hall in the Fall of 2015 and the building is slated for demolition in the next year.  It is this month that we honor the influential women of Indiana County, starting with “Aunt Jane” Leonard.  If you have any stories that you have heard about Jane Leonard or memories of Leonard Hall we would love to hear from you in the comments below.