Furman's Great Advocate
C. H. Judson is a man who holds great importance in the history of higher education in South Carolina. Over the course of his life, Judson generously devoted almost 60 years and donated about $50,000 of his personal funds to the well being of Furman University.1 He has been celebrated for his loyalty to the cause of collegiate education for men and women, his stability and goodness of character, and his “Christian gentleness,” all traits that helped to develop the reputation of Furman University as it is known today.2
Judson originally entered school for the purpose of preparing for work in ministry, but began teaching due to his father’s financial problems.3 This setback in his own life made Judson sensitive to the struggles in the lives of young men striving for an education despite financial troubles, and for the rest of his life he was selfless in helping such students.4 While visiting Greenville to recruit students to attend a college in Ansonville, North Carolina with which he was associated at the time, Judson heard of the plan to start Furman University.5 In response to this, Judson attended the 1851 meeting of the South Carolina State Baptist Convention, where he first saw James C. Furman. 6 At this meeting, Judson was the first man specifically hired to teach at the new university,7 which, at that time, had no buildings, no scholarly equipment, and no endowment to its name.8 Judson is credited with organizing the first curriculum for Furman, purchasing all equipment needed for the new school, selecting the architectural design for the campus, and supervising the construction of its first edifice. 9
The partnership between Judson and James C. Furman, the university’s first president, is described as an unlikely one by historians such as Harvey T. Cook, although both men were tied together by a mutual devotion to the school. It was through the uniting of their different characteristics and personal talents that Furman University thrived under Judson and Furman’s care. They taught the first 68 students of the university alongside each other, and in 1855 Judson also assumed the role of treasurer after giving the board of trustees a bond worth $20,000 to take the position.10 Judson proved to be a meticulous treasurer for the new university, and it was through his “prudence, foresight, personal sacrifices, unremitting watchfulness, and faithfulness” that the university and all of its assets were not lost in the financial upheaval following the Civil War in the South.11 For example, during the darkest years of financial woe, Judson did not give himself a salary for at least two years.12 In his role as treasurer, Judson also created a very important separation between the Southern Baptist Convention and Furman University in his refusal to give the Convention copies of the school’s financial records, establishing its financial independence from the Convention.
Judson was always very generous with his money in relation to Furman University. Judson donated $15,000 to the endowment of the Carnegie Library, ensuring its presence on campus, and provided the remaining deficit of $15,000 needed to fund the Alumni Building that was later named in his honor.13 Upon his death in 1907, Judson’s remaining estate was bequeathed to the university.14
When Furman University closed during the Civil War, Judson provided his services to the Greenville Baptist Female College where he served as president from 1864-1878. By far, Judson’s greatest contribution to the struggling school during his time as president was soliciting the help of his sister, Mary Camilla Judson. She was an embodiment of the values that were honored by the Woman’s College, and it was through her example that the pupils at the institution became confident in their abilities to improve their minds and lives as independent women. 15 Therefore, just as he had with Furman University, Judson contributed to the strength of the Greenville Baptist Female College as well.
Over the course of his life, Judson held seven different positions associated with Furman University and the Greenville Baptist Female College: academic dean, professor of mathematics and physical science, professor emeritus of mathematics, treasurer, member of the board of trustees, and interim president for Furman University, and president of the Greenville Woman’s College.16 From the years 1864-1878, Judson held six of these positions simultaneously. He was constantly alert, looking for opportunities that could benefit the school; this is illustrated by the note Judson added to the bottom of a receipt he wrote in the year 1876: “If you have a son or daughter to educate, send for a catalogue of the University (Furman), or of the Female College."17
In addition to his loyalty to higher education in South Carolina, C. H. Judson was also a pious Baptist man. Judson was a Baptist convert, as his parents were of the Methodist denomination, but because of his gentleness and goodness of Christian spirit he “did not belong to the Baptists alone”18 as he was described as always standing for what was morally right, making him a friend of all who were in need.19 Upon his death, Judson had served at Greenville’s First Baptist Church as a deacon and as treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
During his life, Judson’s presence in Greenville was one of unwavering devotion to his Baptist faith and to the cause of education at Furman University and the Greenville Baptist Female College. He was a man who was admired by Baptists throughout the country, but also truly appreciated by people he touched on an everyday basis. His impact on Furman University was tremendous; he helped to start the school as well as ensured its survival during Reconstruction. As stated in a newspaper article honoring Judson upon his death, “no one in South Carolina ever merited to a greater degree the esteem and honor with which he has been held by hundreds, young and old, who have known and loved him in the university, in the Baptist denomination and in the community."20
Written by MaryJo Donzella
2 Alfred Sandlin Reid. Furman University, Toward a New Identity (1925-1975). Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1976, 30.
3 Robert Norman Daniel. Furman University: A History. Greenville, SC: Furman University, 1951, 63.
4 “Charles Hallette Judson,” The Baptist Courier, 17 January 1907, 6-7.
5 Daniel 63.
6 Charles Hallette Judson, “Dr. Judson’s Letter to State Convention,” The Baptist Courier, 5 January 1905, 1.
7 Daniel 62.
8 "Charles Hallette Judson”
9 “Furman and Dr. Judson,” The Bonhomie: Volume Seven: 1907, Published by the Students of Furman University, pg 13-14.
10 Harvey T. Cook. Education in South Carolina under Baptist Control. Greenville, SC: s. n., 1912, 79-81.
11 "Charles Hallette Judson”
12 Daniel 86.
13 “Furman and Dr. Judson”
14 Notes on an interview with Dr. B. E. Greer at his home, November 5, 1955, primarily concerning C. H. Judson.
15 Judith Bainbridge, "Greenville’s ‘Lady Principal’," Greenville Magazine, (March 1986): 4-7.
16 Tollison 24.
17 Excerpt from a receipt written by C. H. Judson as the treasurer of Furman University received by M.P. Douglass, January 1, 1876.
18 “Honoring Dr. Judson,” The Baptist Courier, 9 February 1905, 4.
19 "Charles Hallette Judson"