In its earliest days, Davidson College established a manual labor system required of all students to promote health and prevent idleness among the students. In order to facilitate this manual labor system, the Concord Presbytery determined that “A manual labor system called for someone to oversee the labor–a farmer, in fact, who could work with sixty or seventy teen-aged boys and feed them into the bargain” (Beaty, 22). To this end, the Concord Presbytery appointed Abel Graham, from within their own ranks, as the first college Steward and Farmer on October 12, 1836.
The task of the steward was to “work closely with the students and have ‘care and possession of the College property'” (Beaty, 22). The position of steward was considered most prestigious and commanded “an annual salary as great as that of the tutor, five hundred dollars in 1838” (Beaty, 23).
Subsequent to Graham and his immediate successor Thomas Robinson, the college steward had more limited responsibilities, consisting primarily of “providers of food” in Steward’s Hall, where students paid six dollars per month to the steward for board, and the steward in turn paid rent to the college for use of the space (Beaty, 23).
Mary Beaty traced the full progression of college stewards. They include the first woman hired on staff at Davidson College Ann Brown:
1837-1838: Abel Graham
1838-1841: Thomas Robinson
1841-1843: Dan Alexander
1843-1852: Lewis Dinkins
1852-1854?: Robert Alexander
1854?-1855: Thomas W. Sparrow
1855-1857: Robert M. Alexander
1857-~1869: Ann Brown
1873-1874: Mrs. E.C. Williams
1875 (part): J.A. Craven
1876-1880: Mrs. D.C. Mebane
Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Briarpatch Press, 1988.
Beaty, Mary D. “Stewards.” Stewards (Davidson College) Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives., Davidson, NC.
Author: Jim Harris
Date: 29 February 2012
Cite as: Harris, Jim. “Stewards.” Davidson Encyclopedia, 29 February 2012 <https://digitalprojects.davidson.edu/omeka/s/college-archives-davidson-encyclopedia/page/stewards>.