Society Halls 517
to employ a servant "at the lowest possible price," and secured Green,
another colored servant, for $2.75. Green remained in service until the
next December, when the Society bethought itself of electing one of
their own members sexton with a salary of two dollars for ten weeks,
which increase was justified on the score that the sexton was to have
the several duties of sweeping the floor, lighting the lamps, and
keeping the hall in order. Even with this great stipend a sexton on one
occasion failed to do his duty and incurred the inevitable fine.21 Lest it
be supposed that this office was considered menial it is necessary to
state that it was held by sons of some of the noblest and richest
families of the South, among whom may be named Alonzo Timothy
Dargan, afterwards a lawyer, and a lieutenant-colonel of the 21st
South Carolina Infantry, who paid for his devotion to his State and the
Confederacy by his death in the battle of Petersburg, May 9, 1864;
another was Luther Rice Mills.
Though the Philomathesians were less harsh in their name for the
office, they were no less inexorable in bestowing it, and they
continued it all through this period. Their term on making the
appointment of the two was "to attend to the hall." After January 28,
1854, they used the term "besomers," stating week by week that So
and So were appointed Besomers for the next week, probably with the
hope of making the work of using a broom the less wearisome as it
had a more honorable appellation. During the spring session of 1848,
indeed, they had Bill Pearce employed for sweeping the hall, but
having a difficulty about paying his salary, they returned to the old
plan of doing their work themselves.22
Although under the leadership of Professor John Armstrong a
library for the Institute was begun in 1835, the Societies al-
21 Eu. Records, March 20, 1858.
22 At the beginning of the next term they ordered Bill to be paid $2.50 for his
service. Bill wanted more and refused the proffered amount, and the Society
canceled the debt. Then Bill came to terms and took the $2.50. A year or two later
Bill had so far forgiven them that he lighted their lamp for a term for two dollars.
Phi. Records, August 12, 1848, February 2, 1850.
Previous Page Next Page