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Wilberforce in Greene County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs
 
Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs Marker (side A) Photo, Click for full size
By William Fischer, Jr., November 14, 2008
1. Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs Marker (side A)
 
Inscription. Side A:
In the early 1800s, William and Eleanor Kendall owned this land, known for its natural springs, beauty, and farmland. In 1850, Elias Drake, lawyer and former speaker in the Ohio General Assembly, purchased the property and named it Tawawa or Xenia Springs. He developed a health resort hotel surrounded by summer cottages, all of which were completed the following year. “Tawawa” is believed to be Shawnee for “clear or gold water,” alluding to the clear, mineral-rich springs. From its beginnings, the resort did not fare well as it was popular among southern planters who, much to the consternation of nearby antislavery sentiment, brought slave entourages whenever they came. In October 1855, negotiations for its sale opened with the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which purchased Tawawa Springs, including 54 acres and the hotel and cottages, for $13,000 to establish a university for African Americans.
(Continued on other side)

Side B:
(Continued from other side)
Wilberforce University, the nation's oldest private historically African American institution of higher education, was founded at Tawawa Springs in 1856. Tawawa House, the resort's hotel, was remodeled for recitation rooms and other school activities, and the cottages
 
Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs Marker (side B) Photo, Click for full size
By William Fischer, Jr., November 14, 2008
2. Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs Marker (side B)
 
were utilized as dormitories. Several reasons have been suggested for choosing Tawawa Springs as the site for Wilberforce University. Foremost, perhaps, is the large number of African Americans that settled in Greene County as the result of the migration patterns of freed slaves before the Civil War and the Underground Railroad, which passed through the area. It is also suggested that Tawawa's natural beauty and readily available structures enhanced the selection. With the Civil War causing a decline in student enrollment, the first university failed in 1862. The following year Bishop Daniel A. Payne purchased the property on behalf of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Payne became the first president of Wilberforce and the first African American to lead a university.
 
Erected 2002 by The Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Central State University, and The Ohio Historical Society. (Marker Number 8-29.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Ohio Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 39° 43.01′ N, 83° 52.934′ W. Marker is in Wilberforce, Ohio, in Greene County. Marker is at the intersection of Brush Row Road and Shorter Avenue, on the left when traveling east on Brush Row Road. Click for map. Marker is near the northwest edge of the Central State University campus. Marker is in this post office area: Wilberforce OH 45384, United States of America.
 
Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs Marker Photo, Click for full size
By William Fischer, Jr., November 14, 2008
3. Old Wilberforce University Campus at Tawawa Springs Marker
Kezia Emery Hall (1913) in background center and former Carnegie Library in background right
 

 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Carnegie Library (1907) (within shouting distance of this marker); Kezia Emery Hall (1913) (within shouting distance of this marker); Central State University (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Brigadier General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. (approx. 0.2 miles away); Payne Theological Seminary (approx. 0.2 miles away); Paul Robeson (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hallie Quinn Brown (approx. mile away); Galloway Hall (approx. mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Wilberforce.
 
Also see . . .  History of Wilberforce University. (Submitted on December 3, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on December 2, 2008, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page has been viewed 10,219 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 2, 2008, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
 
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