In the summer of 1895, Professor Carl H. Eigenmann established a “Biology Station”, the first inland biological station in America, at Turkey Lake, Kosciusko County, Indiana. He did this with the consent of Indiana University, but without financial support. The University trustees agreed to allow the use of apparatus from the zoology department for the duration of the nine weeks session with the understanding that there would be no cost to the University as a result of operating the station. The first year was such a success that, thereafter, the trustees provided permanent equipment. The purpose of the station was research and instruction in biological sciences. The first year 19 students attended. That number grew to 32 the second year, 63 the third, and 103 the fourth year. The number of classes offered also increased so that by the summer of 1898 students could study zoology, botany, bacteriology, mathematics, French, and German. At the end of the fourth year, the station was moved to Winona Lake where there were better facilities to care for the increasing number of students.
Morton C. Bradley, Sr. attended the Biology Station for at least two summers, 1897 and 1898. He was already courting his future wife Marie Boisen, granddaughter of Theophilus and Rebecca Wylie who lived here in Wylie House with her mother and grandmother. The two young people wrote copious letters to one another any time that Morton was away from Bloomington, so we have many letters written from the Biology Station, some of which provide interesting glimpses of student life there. Morton, or someone else, took photographs while there. Some of these were used in the 1899 Arbutus (Morton was business manager of the IU yearbook that year), and he also put together an album for Marie made up of images from IU and the Biology Station. Morton’s letters to Marie were largely lengthy, lovesick ramblings….a young man longing for his sweetheart. He says very little about his classes, concentrating more on the social life at the lake, but we have found a few interesting quotes that, paired with some of his photographs, give an interesting glimpse of what it was like to be an IU student attending the Biology Station in the last part of the 19th century.
June 28, 1897: “You asked about Turkey Lake. There isn’t much to tell. It’s just a common old lake about 6 by 2 miles. But I can better tell you when I see you…. I have been rowing so much I have ten blisters. I have rowed about eighteen miles in the last 2 or three days. … Don’t worry, sweetheart, I shall come back to you safe and sound…. I shall be none the worse for wear, mentally, physically, nor morally except that I shall, I hope, know a little Botany, be free from the cigarette habit, and a great deal tanned. The only thing I fear is that you won’t recognize me after such a change.”
July 18, 1897: “Since I wrote last nothing has occurred that amounted to much until yesterday. Our team played at Millford and won too—12 to 9. That’s pretty good for the second game isn’t it? … we went in a wagon. We started back about seven. As you probably know, whenever boys get together of an evening, they always sing. Well, last night was no exception. They sang everything I like to hear, Sweet Marie included. I think they sang that especially for the captain. I appreciated it anyway.”
Aug 10, 1897: “Last Friday everybody went to Winona. It’s an awfully pretty place so we spent the morning in ‘taking in’ the place. Just after dinner—if one could apply that worthy name to our unworthy meal—we went for a steamer ride around Eagle Lake. After the ride came the ball game. We made 4 and 8 scores in the first and second innings respectively. Then they settled down and we made but three scores, getting four ‘Eagle’ eggs. They scored in only five innings, one score an inning, we giving them four ‘Turkey’ eggs. We were happy with the score 15 to 5 in our favor. Patten pitched for us and he pitched a good game too. John Coulter played second base for Winona. I think he knows how to treat a fellow, but I fancy he has some traits of character that I am happy I don’t possess to any great degree. About the seventh inning in an attempt to steal home, I scraped about six square inches of skin off my right forearm. Besides I bruised the elbow so that it got real stiff as we were coming home. That’s one reason I couldn’t write.”
July 13, 1898: “I hope that by the time you receive this letter you’ll have had your picture taken. You know, dear, I thought that only one of your pictures ever did you justice—I like the one I have in my watch more than I used to, however. By the way, I was glad the other day that Prof Andrews hadn’t a watch. We went to the lecture tent to take a lecture and he asked me for my watch so that he could tell when the hour was up. He placed my watch on a chair with the lid opened, in such a position that I could see your darling picture the whole hour. And for the first time since he has been lecturing to us, I didn’t get sleepy. It was such a comfort to have your picture where I could see it all the time!
Speaking of his lectures reminds me of the one today. I got awfully sleepy and was almost asleep when he said something that wasn’t true mathematically speaking. I corrected him in a moment and was wide awake the rest of the hour. This morning we—three boys of my class—went out into the woods to hunt flowers. We found some and classified them. Then we concluded that, since it was cool and shady there, we had worked enough for one morning. Consequently we went to sleep and slept about an hour and a half, nearly missing our dinners. Botany work is fine!!!”