In the fall of 1873 I visited New York City hoping that I could afford to take one course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons or at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Deciding to go to Ann Arbor, I entered upon my work in October, a week or two after the term had opened. At that time the entrance requirements were indeed superficial. After being asked a few questions as to my educational qualifications, I was admitted without having to submit to a written test. At that time the entire medical course consisted of two years' attendance, six months constituting a school year. During the first year, freshmen were not quizzed. The second year duplicate lectures of the first year were given and seniors were quizzed.
Not infrequently young men after matriculating proceeded to go out from Ann Arbor, teach school or do other work, return for the second year, purchase the notes of some student who had actually heard the lectures and graduate after having attended only six months. This was made possible on account of the loose methods of keeping records of attendance.
I attended one course of lectures for which I received full credit. I did not pursue medicine anticipating that I would practice it. I hoped to make use of my medical knowledge in my chosen work, teaching. I made no mistake in this plan. I was an enthusiastic medical student. At no time in my life has this interest waned.
While at the University I practiced the most rigid economy, boarding myself most of the time. My roommate, M. W. Cooper from Texas, was several years my senior. Having belonged to that notorious organization in the South called the Ku Klux Klan, he bore the wounds of numerous conflicts.
During the winter I had the pleasure of hearing the great British astronomer, Richard Proctor, lecture on the "Sun". Whatever interest I have manifested in astronomy I owe to this discussion. I remember hearing a member of the English Parliament, whose name does not come to my recollection, also J. G. Holland, then editor of Scribner's Magazine, who talked on the "Elements of Personal Power." After his discourse I retired to my room to make a hurried analysis. Many years afterward I purchased a copy of a volume of Holland's lectures for the simple reason that he had included this particular one. I had preserved my notes, consequently I made haste to make a comparison of notes and lecture. To my surprise, I found my outline correct. His presentation was so simple and logical that the most ordinary man could on listening to him readily recall the framework of his discourse.
It was during my stay in Ann Arbor that I had the great pleasure of hearing a course of lectures on evolution by Edward S. Morse. These lectures were not given in a University building because this subject was not popular in 1873-74. The professors in other departments than the Medical were noncommittal. The churches other than the Unitarian condemned the new doctrine. Professor Morse illustrated his lectures by means of simple blackboard drawings. In making bi-lateral drawings he used both hands simultaneously.
While at the Oswego Normal and Training School, I had been a very frequent visitor at the Garret Smith Library, in fact, after purchasing my first book from the sale of blackberries, I became not an omnivorous, but a persistent reader of the books I enjoyed. The university library commanded much of my spare time. It was here that I read Herbert Spencer's "First Principles."
In the Medical department, I enjoyed Professors Dunster, McLean, Frothingham, Palmer, Ford and Gerrish. There were only a few more professors in this department but for some reason I did not allow them to impress me.
It was at Ann Arbor that I met and frequently heard Charles Brigham of the Unitarian church. My early religious training was received in the Methodist, Campbellite, Congregational, and Baptist churches, together with a year heretofore described of contact with the Seventh Day Adventist denomination.
Dr. Brigham presented to every student who came to his classes, Channing's Sermons, a volume of James Freeman Clark's writings, and a volume by Metcalf. I read those books, especially Channing's, with delight. This experience forever ended any inclination I may ever have had to accept the doctrines of the orthodox churches.
From Channing I went to Theodore Parker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and O. B. Frothingham for spiritual inspiration. All things considered, my one year at Michigan University marked the turning point in my trend of thinking.