Margaret Hood, "Alma Mater"
This weekend Mount Olivet hosted a special event organized by Hood College’s History Club, with help from the school’s Office of Alumni Relations and Special Events. It was a remembrance ceremony for the college’s namesake, and major benefactress, Margaret Elizabeth Scholl Hood. The event was part of a larger, year-long celebration of the school’s 125th anniversary.
Students walked to the cemetery from Hood, as they were able, to Mrs. Hood’s final resting spot here in Mount Olivet. Once on site, they placed carnations on the gravesite. There was a brief graveside ceremony, and a small, informal reception followed in the cemetery’s Key Memorial Chapel.
This event revived a bygone tradition intended to honor the college's namesake, one of Frederick's earliest philanthropists. Mrs. Hood was known for her thoughtful and discriminating generosity, along with an interest and concern for others. She was a called a “zealous supporter of good works,” and possessed a cheerful and lively nature.
Many others have written fine pieces on the tremendous achievements and life contributions of Margaret S. Hood. I, however, will share some information on her death and burial here in Mount Olivet. But first, here’s a biographical sketch taken from Hood College’s website:
Margaret Elizabeth Scholl, the only child of Daniel and Maria Susan Thomas Scholl, was born at Manchester Farm in Frederick on July 7, 1833.
In 1847, when Margaret was 14 years old, she enrolled as a boarding student at the Frederick Female Seminary, which was operated by Hiram Winchester on East Church Street. She graduated two years later; in 1849 this was considered a very adequate education for a young lady.
Margaret returned to Manchester Farm to live with her parents. She traveled a great deal with them, helped with the management of the farm and cared for her parents until their deaths, after which, in 1873, she married James Mifflin Hood, a widower with several grown children. He was the owner of the successful firm Hane and Hood, which built and serviced carriages and wagons.
Margaret's alma mater, the struggling Frederick Female Seminary, closed in 1863 after serving as a hospital for wounded soldiers following the Battle of Antietam. The seminary was reopened in 1866 with Rev. Thomas M. Cann as its president. He introduced many innovations, including a library and a college newspaper. He helped with the formation of an alumnae association, known as the Pioneer's Club, which was one of the first women's clubs in the United States.
In 1893, when the seminary could no longer afford to operate, the buildings and equipment were leased to the board of directors of the Woman's College of Frederick, operated by the Potomac Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States. The synod had decided to eliminate the women's part of Mercersburg College in Pennsylvania and instead establish a college for women below the Mason and Dixon Line. The synod commissioned Joseph Henry Apple, a 23-year old mathematics teacher from Central High School in Pittsburgh, to recommend measures for establishing such an institution. Professor Apple helped in its formation, and then accepted the presidency of the newly formed college. The Woman's College of Frederick was officially incorporated Jan. 12, 1897 and its first four-year class graduated in 1898. The seminary continued as a preparatory department of the College until 1920.
Margaret was especially interested in the management and development of the newly founded College. In January 1897 she contributed $20,000 to what was to become the James Mifflin Hood Endowment Fund, which was established in October 1896 at the request of the Potomac Synod. In the following year, when the Potomac Synod issued a challenge from the Church to provide maintenance funds, Margaret contributed an additional $5,000. She also took a keen interest in raising funds for the establishment of additional buildings, purchasing new land and remodeling Brodbeck Music Hall. She contributed $10,000 toward the building fund on condition that the community contribute at least an equal amount.
In 1912, in recognition of Margaret's generous support, the Potomac Synod, at the request of its board of directors, adopted a resolution giving authority to change the name of the College to Hood College. The College's charter was amended in May 1913.
Margaret passed away January 12, 1913. Her will provided an additional $30,000 for the College, which was the impetus for President Apple to begin building Shriner and Alumnae halls.
Margaret's philanthropy and charitable efforts extended to many other causes in the Frederick community and beyond. She was a charter member of the Frederick Art Club; one of the organizers of the Historical Society of Frederick County; contributed to and served on many Reformed Church committees; and was one of the founding members of Frederick Memorial Hospital, eventually giving the James Mifflin Hood wing and later the Margaret Hood wing to the hospital. To Franklin and Marshall College she gave $15,000 for an observatory in memory of her father, she contributed to the seminary at Lancaster and to the academy at Mercersburg and was interested in the establishment of the C. Burr Artz Library by her relative, Margaret Catharine Thomas Artz.
A few months back, I wrote a “Stories in Stone” article on Dr. Joseph Henry Apple, and was fascinated to study the relationship between the young educator (Apple) and the more mature patroness, Mrs. Hood. In his first year on the job, Dr. Apple properly, and professionally, built a relationship of trust with the former student of the Frederick Female Seminary. It was in 1893 that Mrs. Hood would put her faith (and money) in Dr. Apple’s leadership abilities by creating the $25,000 endowment in the name of her late husband, James Mifflin Hood.
Years later, Margaret Hood would be invited by Dr. Apple to live at the school. He certainly made Mrs. Hood feel at home, becoming more than just an alumnus, but actually part of the institution itself. So much so, she would return the favor. In her will, Mrs. Hood made arrangements to donate property (formerly known as Groff Park) and give an additional $30,000, which would be the impetus for President Joseph Henry Apple to begin building Shriner Hall and Alumnae Hall.
In light of Margaret Hood’s many contributions, Dr. Apple led the charge to have the school change its name from the Woman’s College of Frederick to Hood College. This occurred in October, 1912.
A few months later, Mrs. Hood would travel to Baltimore to celebrate Christmas with widowed step-daughter Sallie A. (Hood) Harkins. It is said that she contracted pneumonia on Christmas Eve and was soon bedridden. Her personal physician, Dr. Thomas B. Johnson made trips to Baltimore to check on the 80 year-old patient. Newspaper accounts from early January claim that Mrs. Hood started had slowly been getting better the first week of January but took a downward turn thereafter becoming despondent, and unable to recognize friends and family. She would pass away at 11pm, Sunday, January 12th.
After a short memorial service at the college, Margaret Hood’s body was brought to her beloved Evangelical Reformed Church located less than two blocks to the west of the college on W. Church Street. The 2pm service was conducted by a host of clergyman, including college president Dr. Joseph Henry Apple.
The church service was followed by an impressive procession to Mount Olivet, as Mrs. Hood’s hearse was pulled by two personal horses which she had owned for 25 years. Her personal coachman, Thomas Clarke, served as driver. A well-attended funeral culminated with her burial next to husband James and her parents (Daniel Scholl and Maria Susan (Thomas) Scholl) on the Scholl family lot located in Area E, Lot 155.
Five months later, Hood College graduated its largest class to date. Diplomas were distributed during a ceremony held at the college on June 10, 1913. Dr. Apple concluded the ceremony with the following passage:
“For a number of years past it has been customary to personally present at this time a bouquet of red flowers to our friend and benefactress, Mrs. Margaret Elizabeth Scholl Hood, the number of flowers commemorating her graduation from the Frederick Female Seminary. She is with us today in spirit, and we now lovingly institute the custom, which we trust may never fail of observance in the long years to come, of entrusting a bouquet of 49 red carnations to a committee composed of the Presidents of the four undergraduate classes, who will, at the close of these exercise, place the same upon Mrs. Hood’s grave. Will the audience stand as I entrust these flowers to the President of the incoming Senior class, and as we stand may we all think lovingly of all that Mrs. Hood has done for her community, for her church and for her college.”
3/25/2018 06:24:58 am
I always enjoy your articles about the history of Frederick. They are interesting and well-written.
3/25/2018 06:13:54 pm
Chris thank you for the in-depth story and participation yesterday.
5/18/2021 01:54:18 pm
Wow! Your article was very helpful for my research!
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