Recognizing remarkable women faculty on the Illinois Campus

In an era when men controlled faculty, administration, boards of trustees, and Lutheran synods, three women faculty members, collectively, gave 115 years of service to Carthage College. Although their years of teaching did not completely overlap, they together constituted a strong female core among the male-dominated faculty from 1927 to 1952. Moreover, these women taught in disciplines often considered male strongholds — foreign languages, biology, and English.

The women were called to Carthage by two of the youngest Presidents of the College to that date. They were also the first two men to have earned doctorates in addition to the customary Lutheran seminary training. Age 29 when he became President in 1909, Harvey D. Hoover oversaw the hiring of Emily Cynthia Pennock in 1911 and Alice Lovina Kibbe in 1920. In between those hirings, President Hoover also oversaw the College’s rigorous self-study which propelled it to accreditation in 1916, only two years after the North Central Association began accrediting colleges. Carthage achieved its accredited status with an A+ rating, prestigious among Illinois colleges. A decade later, President Hoover was succeeded by N.J. Gould Wickey. At age 35, his achievements included a Harvard doctorate, a year of teaching at Oxford, a pastorate in Fargo, North Dakota, and teaching experience at Concordia College in Minnesota. The next year, 1927, President Wickey called a young Juanita Jones to serve as an instructor in English at Carthage.

Although each of the three women profiled had unique, individual talents, they all possessed some traits in common. They were born between 1879 and 1900. Thus, they grew up in the era when women were lobbying for the right to vote. All three women remained single throughout their lives. They each brought to Carthage several years of public school teaching experience in their home states. Finally, all three women demonstrated determination to succeed in their careers, as well as loyalty to the College and dedication to their students. Here are brief portraits of these remarkable Carthage women.

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Professor Emily Cynthia Pennock

Professor Emily Cynthia Pennock was born in Carthage, Illinois, in 1879, nine years after the College opened in the small town, county seat of Hancock County. Her parents had lived their entire lives in or near the town. They would have been considered influential citizens of Carthage, particularly her mother, Elizabeth E. Johnston Pennock. She was one of a small group of town women who, in 1893, called themselves the Columbian Society. That was the year of the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. These Carthage women advocated for a free, public lending library in town. When they got approval from the mayor and town council, the library opened for circulation on March 10, 1894. Mrs. Duane Pennock became the first librarian and continued in that role for the next 32 years. Daughter Emily, 15 in the year of the library’s opening, grew up with her mother as the model of a career woman, wife, and mother.

Professors Emily Pennock and LL Simmons in 1890.

From her father’s side of the family, Emily must have gained some sense of history. Her Daughters of the American Revolution membership says that she was descended from a Connecticut man, David Blakeslee, who fought in the Siege of Boston. Her grandfather, David T. Pennock, was born in New York state about 1808, married Cynthia Blakeslee there in 1829, and emigrated to Hancock County in 1837. The couple moved into Carthage in 1848. Their son, Duane Pennock, lived his whole life in the town. In his early working years he served as a civil engineer, but concluded the latter decades of his life as an accountant in a Carthage bank. He married Elizabeth E. Johnston, also from Hancock Country, in 1875. A son was born in 1877; Emily Cynthia Pennock followed two years later. When Cynthia Blakeslee Pennock was widowed in 1863, she remained in Carthage living with her son Duane, and later his family, until her own death in 1881. Thus, Emily Pennock grew up with family roots going back more than four decades in Hancock County. She also grew up in the shadow of the new College in town. Moreover, she had examples from women just ahead of her in school.

Several young women from the area had entered Carthage during the time that Emily was growing up. For example, Kate Griffiths, whose father was a town banker and had given the land on which Old Main was built, studied at the College during the 1880s. Several others, including Kate Griffiths, were even granted honorary master’s degrees by the College during that decade. Such events would have been reported in the local newspapers. A youthful Emily Pennock could not have been oblivious to the aspirations and achievements of such early women students.

Although we don’t know when she entered Carthage, chances are good that she first matriculated in the Academy. We do know that she received her bachelor’s degree in 1900. Not surprisingly, she went on to several summers of graduate work. In 1903, she studied Latin and ancient history at the University of Chicago. In 1906, she again studied Latin but at the University of Illinois. By that summer, Emily Pennock had been teaching at Carthage High School for a few years. Altogether, she taught in that school from 1902 to 1911. Moreover she served as Principal of the High School from 1902 to 1907. Then, in 1911, she became an instructor in Latin and history on the faculty of Carthage College Academy. She was 32 years old with a decade of experience as a public school teacher and principal. But she was not done learning.

Professor Pennock earned a master’s degree from Carthage in 1913. Records are sketchy, but the College did offer this graduate degree on an individualized, directed-study basis. Though we do not know what she studied in her graduate program, we do know that she had a flair for languages. By 1920, she had been appointed instructor in Latin and Spanish on the College faculty. During the preceding summers, she had again studied at the University of Chicago, as well as one summer at the University of Southern California. In 1922, she became associate professor of modern languages. By 1927 she held the rank of professor of Spanish.

Known to generations of Carthage students as Senorita Pennock, the editors of the Crimson Rambler dedicated the 1929 yearbook to her:

To Miss Emily C. Pennock, Professor of Spanish in the College which we love and adore, this RAMBLER is respectfully dedicated.

During her long tenure at Carthage, Prof. Pennock also served as College librarian until 1947 when a professional librarian was hired, thereby enabling her to devote full time to teaching Spanish. Harold Lentz, in his history of the College, pays tribute to her service as librarian and also credits Prof. Pennock with helping to get the College re-admitted as a member school in the American Association of University Women, a membership lost during the Depression years. Her obituary states that she was also a charter member of the American Association of University Professors.

From the time she was hired to teach in the Academy, this remarkable woman went on to give 41 years of time and talent to Carthage College and her students. She retired in 1952 at the age of 74; Lentz writes that she was honored by being named Professor Emeritus. She lived on in the town until 1980, when she died at the age of 100. Memorials were designated to the Carthage Library or St. Cyprian Episcopal church.

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Professor Alice Lovina Kibbe

Professor Alice Lovina Kibbe came to Carthage as an outsider and via a circuitous route — from Washington state to Ithaca, New York, to Carthage, Illinois.

Born to parents who had traveled west from New York state, she was the youngest of five children, with one older sister and three older brothers. Her father, Edgar Cline Kibbe and mother, Alice Sophia Kibbe, married in Wisconsin. In 1870 he was teaching school in the small town of Ellsworth, located in the center of the state on the Minnesota border. A decade later, he had become a newspaper editor, serving the citizens of Elroy, Wisconsin, a bit northwest of Madison. By 1881, the family had moved to yet another small town, Bridgewater, South Dakota, where Alice was born. Apparently finding the newspaper business to his liking, the father moved the family to the larger town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by 1898. There he published the Hartford Plain Talker. Five years later, Edgar C. Kibbe moved once more — this time to the far West. He became editor and proprietor of The Elma Chronicle in Grays Harbor, Washington. He continued in the newspaper business to the end of his life, and the family stayed in the western part of Washington, just south of Olympia.

Carthage professor Alice Kibbe leads a class in the 1930s.Thus, Alice Kibbe grew up in a family that travelled from the Midwest to the far West during her lifetime. Moving long distances was commonplace for her. She also grew up in a family of smart siblings. Two older brothers became teachers and one older brother became a lawyer. It is not surprising, then, to find that she had a long career in education.

In 1900, at the age of 18 or 19, she was teaching school in her hometown of Elma, Washington. By 1905 she had moved north to Bellingham and graduated from the state normal school located there. In 1910, she graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a bachelor’s. Four years later she earned a master’s from the same school. Between 1910 and 1917, Alice Kibbe taught and served as a school principal and also as a county superintendent of schools in several small towns in the state.

What prompted her, at the age of about 38, to move east to Cornell University to get another master’s degree is anybody’s guess. It may have been recommended to her or she may have investigated graduate schools on her own. She had spent at least one summer studying at the Washington State College Agricultural Station. Obviously, she had an insatiable appetite for learning and teaching. As a single woman, she apparently had no constraints which kept her in Washington. Her parents and one brother were all deceased. Her other siblings were all married when she moved to Ithaca. She must have pursued biology with single-minded determination after 1918. By 1920 she had graduated from Cornell with an master’s degree and been hired by Carthage College.

The College had just been accredited in 1916 and operated under new and more stringent requirements with respect to faculty and department strengths. Notably, these new guidelines allowed faculty members to hold the rank of professor if their master’s degree was considered the equivalent of that same degree from the University of Illinois. Accordingly, Alice Kibbe came to Carthage as a professor of biology, a position formerly held by a male Ph.D. Though she could rest secure in that position, she chose to continue her studies at Cornell and received a doctorate in 1926. She thus became the first woman faculty member at Carthage College to have earned a doctorate!

Prof. Kibbe obviously found her niche at Carthage, despite the fact that she was a Methodist of strong convictions. She was 39 years old when hired, and she stayed another 36 years teaching. She also wrote two books on botany in the years just before her retirement. Following that milestone she stayed on to curate the college museum for a few years. Among her other contributions, Prof. Kibbe was known to take college students each Sunday to conduct worship services in a home for the elderly. Lentz also noted that some years students selected honorary Homecoming Queens. One year they selected Alice Kibbe.

Prof. Kibbe’s professional career was recognized by her inclusion in the first volume of “Who’s Who of American Women.” This biographical dictionary of living American women appeared in 1958-59. To be included in this prestigious first volume, even though she was retired, suggests additional significance attached to her professional career. In the introduction to her book, “The ‘Liberated’ Woman of 1914,” Barbara Campbell noted that for much of the nineteenth century, women gained prominence only by virtue of their relationship to a husband or father. By contrast, Alice Kibbe became part of a wave of new women in the early twentieth century who achieved prominence by virtue of their own accomplishments.

Alice Lovina Kibbe lived in Carthage, Illinois, until 1964 when she donated her house to the town of Carthage and, at age 83, moved back to Bellingham, Wash. She died there in 1969, having outlived all of her siblings. Today, the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Carthage contains collections that began with her work as biology professor at the College.

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Professor Juanita Jones

Professor Juanita Jones came to Carthage as a student and was called to the faculty just a year after her graduation. Given her rather humble roots, she was an unlikely candidate for the extraordinary career that she pursued.

Born in July of 1900, she grew up in the small river town of Muscatine, Iowa. Her father had been born in Illinois, and her mother in Ohio. Mary Jane Turner Jones was about 39 when Juanita was born; she was also eight or nine years older than her husband, Henry Samuel Jones. One son, born two years later, completed the family. The father may have tried several trades; at the time of Juanita’s birth, he was working as a “button cutter.” In 1910, he was working as a barber, apparently in his own shop. The family rented their home and had a single man in the household who evidently lodged with them.

By 1930, Henry Jones was still working as a barber in his own shop, but he owned the house in which he and his wife lived. The son still lived at home, as did two other lodgers. The family was public-minded enough to own a radio, a question asked on the 1930 census. Radio had only been known by the public since 1920, but sales had become hugely popular by the latter part of the decade. Nonetheless, many citizens did not own radios in 1930. The Jones family also belonged to Grace Lutheran Church in Muscatine.

Located along the Mississippi River, the town is a bit south and west of Davenport but well north of Keokuk. In turn, Carthage was just across the Mississippi from Keokuk, Iowa. A young Juanita Jones would have known about Carthage College, since the Muscatine Journal carried frequent stories about the school. In fact, Carthage made the news in papers throughout the state. The Iowa Synod of the United Lutheran Church in America supported the College. Thus Carthage presidents made frequent trips to Iowa towns to speak and raise money on behalf of the College. In its edition for April 14, 1914, the Muscatine Journal announced that President H. D. Hoover would be speaking at a Lenten Service at Grace Lutheran Church. Juanita would have been in her first year of high school about that time.

Graduating from Muscatine High School in 1918, she taught for three years in the public schools before entering Carthage. Interestingly, during this time she also made the newspapers with accounts of her sports participation. On August 24, 1920, Juanita Jones was listed as playing in a local tennis tournament. In January of 1921, the Muscatine Journal noted that she played for the YWCA girls’ basketball team — in the position of “jumping center.” Iowa then played six-person basketball, three players on one-half of the floor and three on the other half. In addition to two forwards and two guards, there was also a “running center.”

Undoubtedly, her brief career in teaching enabled Juanita to earn money for college. She evidently saved enough to attend Carthage for three consecutive years, from fall 1921 through the 1923-24 academic year. However, she did get some scholarship help. An article in the Muscatine Journal for June 9, 1922, indicates that she, and several other local students, were home for the summer. It further announced that she had been awarded the “freshman scholarship” for that year.

Nonetheless, by spring of 1924, she had to interrupt her college studies once again. She taught for the 1924-25 academic year before going back to Carthage and completing her final year of study in 1925-26. The caption by her senior picture in the Crimson Rambler indicated that she had majored in English but had also worked as academy assistant in chemistry and in algebra. She continued to play girls’ basketball, was active in girls’ intercollegiate debate, served on the library council, and had been elected vice-president of the senior class. An article in the Muscatine Journal for June 11, 1926, noted that Juanita Jones had resigned her teaching job and been awarded a “teaching position in Cincinnati.”

A photo of Sigma Tau Delta in the 1950s, with Prof. Jones in the center.In the summer of 1926, N. J. Gould Wickey succeeded Harvey D. Hoover as President of Carthage College. For the academic year beginning in September of 1927, President Wickey hired several new, young faculty members. When he called Juanita Jones to the position of instructor in English, it is clear that she was a talented Carthage graduate who was no novice teacher. Moreover, she had demonstrated a clear and persistent determination to earn a college degree. Whether she had encouragement and financial help along the way from family or others, we have no way of knowing. By the time of the 1930 census, she was living in Denhart Hall dormitory with several other working women, including Pearl Goeller, college registrar.

The Depression hit the College and all its employees very hard, but Juanita Jones continued her practice of saving money and going on with her studies. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Iowa by 1933. Then she continued on toward her doctorate despite the fact that faculty went several months without pay in 1932 and never earned a full salary throughout the decade of the thirties. In addition to financial struggles, life interfered at least once that we know of. Her mother died of dementia in 1940. Juanita was the informant for the death certificate. Her brother lived in Ft. Worth, Texas, at that time. She may very well have been trying to write her dissertation at this time of emotional turmoil. Eventually, her perseverance paid off.

The University of Iowa conferred the doctorate degree on her at its commencement ceremony December 19, 1942. A total of 15 doctorates were awarded by the University; of those, 12 were men and three were women, including Juanita Jones. She was the only woman to receive the degree based on her work in the English Department.

Among Carthage faculty, Juanita Jones was also distinguished. Besides Alice Kibbe, she was the only other long-standing woman faculty member on the Illinois campus to have earned a doctorate! She chaired the English Department from 1950 until she retired. For the College’s Jubilee celebration in 1945, she wrote and directed a musical which depicted the history of the College and was performed before the public. According to her obituary in the Muscatine Journal for July 19, 1968, Juanita Jones won the National Poetry contest “on the American Association of University Women” in 1966 and had served as President of the Hancock County Creative Writers.

Prof. Jones’ professional achievements were recognized by her inclusion in the 4th edition of “Who’s Who of American Women,” which appeared in 1966-67. The preface to that edition states that the goal of the biographical dictionary was: “To present women outstanding as women, without regard to their accomplishments or position in relation to men; to stress the woman who stands out from her sisters.”

Prof. Juanita Jones taught on the Carthage campus until she retired in 1965. Sadly, she lived only three more years, succumbing to cancer at the Mayo Clinic in 1968. President Harold Lentz travelled from Kenosha to officiate at her funeral service in Trinity Lutheran Church in Carthage, Illinois.

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Researched and Written by:
Dr. Ann Wagner for the 150 Years of Carthage Women celebration
Member of the Academic Programs Committee
Daughter of Herbert L. “Hub” Wagner, who was called to the Carthage faculty by President Wickey in 1927, the same year as Juanita Jones. The two were colleagues for the next 16 years.

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