Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  •  
  •  

Indiana University Libraries

Andrew Wylie

Andrew Wylie

Andrew Wylie was born in 1789, the son of an immigrant Irish farmer. He grew up in Washington County, Pennsylvania, graduated from Jefferson College in Canonsburg in 1810, and immediately became a tutor at that institution. He studied theology under his oldest brother, Rev. William Wylie, D.D., and was licensed as a Presbyterian minister in 1812, the same year he was unanimously elected the president of Jefferson College. Margaret Ritchie became his wife in 1813, and together they had twelve children. In 1817 he became the president of the nearby Washington College and served in that capacity until 1828. He received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1825.

In 1828, Dr. Wylie was invited by the trustees of Indiana College (later to become Indiana University) to be its first president.

"Dear Sir: Enclosed you will receive a notification of your appointment as President of the Indiana College, and you will permit me to hope, that this invitation to preside over our infant College will be successful. The board of trustees has every confidence, that under the guidance of so experienced and able an instructor, our institution will flourish..."
David H. Maxwell [trustee of Indiana College], Bloomington, IN, to Andrew Wylie, Washington, PA, May 7, 1828

Dr. Wylie accepted the post in 1829. In addition to being the college administrator, he taught moral and mental philosophy, political economy, and polite literature. Under his guidance, the student body increased, the curriculum was expanded, and in 1838, Indiana College became Indiana University. The Law School was founded in 1842 while Dr. Wylie was still president. Two former students remember Dr. Wylie:

"Dr. Wylie was very intellectual, his mental acuities naturally strong being developed into powers by long and careful study. He read Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and German as fluently as he did his native language, and he was the best read of English that I have ever heard."
Matthew Elder, Jr.; Autobiography
"He was one of the best liked professors in school. He was a man of very liberal and democratic ideas, although he impressed one differently, for he was very aristocratic in appearance."
James A. Cooper, student 1845-47

And his half-cousin, Theophilus Wylie had this to say:

"Two characteristics of a good teacher Dr. Wylie had almost to perfection. He had learning and the faculty of communicating what he knew."
Theophilus A. Wylie, Indiana University, Its History, 1890

Andrew Wylie died, here in Wylie House, on November 11, 1851 at the age of 62. His importance to the University was summed up by Dr. Herman B Wells many years later:

"(1) He established the college curriculum which has been changed and modified during he intervening years but which is still the basic curriculum of the present College of Arts and Sciences; (2) he introduced a form of government for students which was progressive, as well as realistic, and which led to unusually harmonious student-faculty relations; (3) he was the most articulate spokesman and publicist for higher education in the state for a period of twenty-two years; (4) he was a successful defender of the University against eccentric forces that threatened to weaken or dismember it in the early days."
Herman B Wells; "The Early History of IU as Reflected in the Administration of Andrew Wylie (1829-1851)"; address to Louisville's Filson Club, November 7, 1960

Margaret Ritchie Wylie Margaret continued to live in the house until her death in 1859. The heirs sold the house and 5 acres of the original 20 acre homestead to Theophilus A. Wylie, Andrew's half-cousin and also a professor at Indiana University.

Andrew and Margaret's children and grandchildren include:

Andrew (1814-1905): Married Caroline Bryan;
        children Andrew, Pendleton, Horace
William (1816-1835)
Mary Ann (1817-1886): Married James F. Dodds;
        children Rachel Emma, Samuel Wylie, Mary Elizabeth, James Kemper,
        Annie Louisa, Margaret Irene, Lilian Madora, Willis Ritchie
Craig Ritchie (1819-1840)
Elizabeth (1821-1900): Married John McCalla;
        child Mary Ballantine
John Hosea (1823-1855): Married Lizzie Leeds;
        child Irene E.
Samuel Theophylact (1825-1850)
Margaret (1826-1898): Married Samuel Martin;
        children William Boone, Susan, Mary, Emma, Nevins, Claudius, Flora Ballentine
Irene Catherine (1829-1878): Married Joseph Bell;
        children Andrew Wylie, Joseph Henry, Margaret, Walter, Frances
Redick McKee (1831-1904): Married Madeline Thompson;
        children Jane, Redick Andrew, Francis B., Madeline
Anderson McElroy (1833-1892): Married Margaret Conklin;
        children Henry, Mary, Caroline, Andrew
Jane Melheme (1836-1865)

The Andrew Wylie Bibliography (available here as a word document) contains reference to letters, lectures and other materials about and by Andrew Wylie.


Last Update 11.16.2010 (JR) | Send Comments to libwylie@indiana.edu | Libraries Privacy Policy