George Anson Jewett

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George Anson Jewett

Originally submitted by Matt McGowan on 12/1/11, Drake University


In 1838, George A. Jewett’s parents came to Iowa and settled near Mt. Pleasant. On September 9, 1847, Jewett was born in Red Rock, which is part of Marion County. His early years of schooling can be attributed to his mother. At age two, Jewett’s father made the dangerous trip to California in order to take part in the gold rush. Thus, Jewett’s mother was largely responsible for educating and raising him from then on. At age ten, his mother entered him into the primary department of Central College in Pella, Iowa in order to further his education. When the Civil War struck, many young men left the school in order to enter the army. Jewett was not yet old enough to enter the army, but he could no longer attend the school, as it could not continue without a student body. As a result, he sought out work from farmers in the community and worked for the duration of the war. In order to continue learning amidst the turmoil of the war, he farmed by day, studied by night, and went to teachers on the weekend in order to receive a more formal education. [1]

College and Careers

Between 1861 and 1864, Jewett studied in order to obtain his Ph. B in philosophy from Central College in Pella, Iowa. He finished his scholastic training with a course that he took at Bryant and Stratton Business College. Yet, it has been said by many, and even Jewett himself, that he never truly stopped learning as he was quite eager to continue doing so throughout his life. His first job in Des Moines came when he arrived in the city at the age of eighteen. He was responsible for loading and unloading wagons for $25 a month. He remained there for eight years and worked his way up to the position of bookkeeper where he received a wage of $125. [2] Later in his life, he was associated with a number of successful business ventures, including Jewett Lumber Company and Jewett Typewriter Company. [3]

Contribution to Drake University

While Jewett was at Drake University, it was well know that he was an active member in the founding of the school. In fact, he is considered to be one of the founders. Also, he served as Secretary on the Board of Trustees after the founding of the university. He served in this position from 1883-1934. He also signed every diploma during this fifty-one year span, including the first diploma ever which he traveled to California to sign. Today, one of the well-known residence halls on campus, Jewett Hall, is named after him. [4]

Awards and Interesting Facts

On June 9, 1926, George Jewett was elected the Honorary Member of the Gamma Chapter in Iowa of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. At the Founder’s Day meeting on December 4, 1926, Professor Herriot, who was President of the Chapter at the time, initiated him at Craig House.[5] Jewett was also well known as a man of a deep religious nature. Throughout his life in Des Moines, he was a member of the Central Church of Christ. Also, he became the editor of the Christian Worker in 1887. In general, he was very proud of the Christian principles rooted in the founding of Drake University.[6] Jewett was also known for his vast knowledge of the French language and culture. It was often said that he knew Paris just about as well as he knew Des Moines.[7]

Works Cited

1. The Grand Old Man of Drake University. (1927, January). The Drake Crusader, 2(1). 2. The Grand Old Man of Drake University. (1927, January). The Drake Crusader, 2(1). 3. The Jewett. Best in the World: Jewett Typewriter Co. The Quax [Drake University Yearbook]. 4. Glidden, G. (1930, December 4). Drake Praised as Des Moines' Greatest Asset. The Times Delphic. 5. Herriot, F. I. (1928, November). George A. Jewett: An Appreciation of His Life and Work. Drake University Record, 24(11), 13-14. 6. The Grand Old Man of Drake University. (1927, January). The Drake Crusader, 2(1). 7. G.A. Jewett Lectures Mrs. Boyd's French Students Wednesday. (1927, May 5). The Times Delphic.