This saddlebag is nearly 180 years old and was used by Denison’s first president, John Pratt, to collect donations for what was then the Granville College. Pratt passed the bag on to his successor, Jonathan Going (that’s him, on the left), who continued to hitch it to his pony and set off in hopes of securing funds to keep the college alive during its fiscally bare early years. During the summer of 1841 alone, Going covered 2,750 miles. In a letter to the college’s treasurer dated November 1841, he recounts his trip and reports that he managed to secure some donations: two hats worth $6; one dozen caps worth $21; one pound of oil worth $30, and in this bag, $211.67 in cash. Even Going expressed disappointment in that haul–especially after he admitted that the trip itself cost nearly $90. Having seen its share of the country, the bag now quietly exists in the University Archives.
Published August 2009