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Faces Behind the Places of DePauw University

This guide includes historical information about the people behind DePauw University's building names.

Jesse and Jane Meharry

                                                                    Jesse and Jane Meharry
                                                                    August 15, 1806 – August 20, 1881

Jesse MeharryBorn and raised in Ohio, young Meharry, alongside his brothers, sought out land for farming. Originally exploring Texas, the brothers returned to the Midwest. They were forced to complete the last 300 miles by foot following the accidental sinking of their ship. The brothers then traveled to Indiana, Jesse Meharry settling in Tippecanoe County. In addition to agriculture, Meharry served in the court of law as a Justice of the peace, commissioned as a notary public, and was known as a premier legal advisor for his neighborhood.

Meharry married Jane Love Francis on August 10, 1831. Jane spent her life as a homemaker. She loved to read and was known to memorize entire chapters of scripture. Though the couple had no birth children, they took on the role of foster parents to many homeless children.

Much of Meharry’s fortune was made from buying war bonds. A delegate to the Whig convention in 1840, he went on to become a fervent supporter of Lincoln during the Civil War. Meharry used his fortune to support favored causes including the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The abundance of Meharry’s donations to the church entitled him to be a life member of the missionary society.

Meharry became particularly invested in the Methodist supported Indiana Asbury University, even suggesting moving the campus to his Tippecanoe County farm. Though the college never changed location, Meharry’s investment remained. Meharry gave multiple donations to the institution, directly providing the funds for eighteen students in need. After his death, Meharry bequeathed $13,000 to DePauw, over $15,000 to Methodist causes, and $5,000 to the Freedman Aid Society.

When the cornerstone of East College was laid on October 20, 1870, the construction that followed was slow due to low funds. Jesse Meharry contributed $10,000 to complete the building. Meharry Hall, the second-floor chapel in East College, is named for his wife, Jane Meharry. East College was officially dedicated at Commencement in 1877.

Jane Meharry

Meharry Hall