Skip to Main Content

WM: From the Archive - The Hadleys

Atlas Minor Hadley [W1852]It is interesting to see the recurrence of surnames throughout Wabash’s long history. While this often results from direct relations such as fathers and sons, that is not always the case. Several members of the Wabash faculty and staff have shared the last name Hadley but have no known familial connection. 

Atlas Minor Hadley [W1852] was the first Hadley in the Wabash history books. Born in Danville, Illinois, in 1830, Atlas came to Wabash in 1848. After graduating in 1852, Atlas returned to Danville to teach. Caleb Mills invited him back to Wabash the following year to serve as principal of the Wabash Preparatory School, a post he held for 10 years.

In 1862, his students presented him with a gold cane, which is housed in the Ramsay Archival Center. While at Wabash, he and his wife built what is now known as the Kendall House, located next to the Allen Center.

Frederic M. Hadley [H1928]Atlas was elevated to professor of Greek in 1865. He passed away unexpectedly in 1866 following a bout of pneumonia. 

It would be nearly one hundred years before another Hadley served as a member of the faculty and staff. In 1960, Frederic M. Hadley [H1928] joined the administrative team, serving as vice president under Byron K. Trippet. Born in Telluride, Colorado, Frederic attended Amherst College and came to Wabash following a 32-year career at Eli Lilly & Company.

He served at Wabash from 1960 to 1966 and led the College’s first real development program. He helped establish various trusts and endowments, including the Jane and Frederic Hadley Chair in History, which Professor Rick Warner currently holds.

Charles Elmer HadleyFrederic was made an honorary alumnus of the class of 1928 and presented with the honorary Doctor of Laws in 1966. He then served as the first president of Indiana Vocational Technical College (Ivy Tech).

Two other Hadleys called Wabash College home. Charles Elmer Hadley served as visiting professor of biology from 1965 to 1968.

Fred J. Hadley was visiting professor of chemistry from 1978 to 1984. Their impact was mostly focused on the sciences, but both also left their marks in theatrical and musical productions and other campus events. Fred starred alongside Professor Eric Dean in “Crimson Bird,” judged the Baldwin Oratorical Contest, and competed on the faculty racquetball team.

Fred J. HadleyTo close out the 1960s, David J. Hadley H’76 joined the faculty.

David came to Wabash from Indiana University, earning his bachelor’s degree in journalism before switching to political science for his master’s and Ph.D.

Because he was fresh out of IU, The Bachelor introduced him as “Rookie Hadley.” He brought issues like civil rights and the Vietnam War into the classroom and opened dialogues with his students, building bonds and trust. 

David chaired the political science department from 1989 to 1991 and again from 2000 to 2012. From 1991 to 1997, he served as the dean of students. In 1990, he received the College’s highest honor, the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Excellence in Teaching Award. He also chaired several campus committees, including the Committee on the Underrepresentation of Minorities. The resulting “Hadley Report” led to many programs still in place at the College. Although he retired in 2012, David continues to impact members of the Wabash community.

David J. Hadley H’76Atlas, Frederic M., Fred J., Charles, and David Hadley are all threads in the fabric of history at Wabash College. Each influenced the lives of the Wabash community of their time and left legacies that continue to impact our College. Who will the next Hadley be? Only time will tell!


Nolan Eller ’11