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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A key document ensuring that Purdue University would flourish during its formative years became part of Purdue University archives on Saturday (Sept. 7).

A Release of Mortgage – a document filed when a loan has been paid in full – from the estate of university founder John Purdue was presented during a 9:45 a.m. pep rally in Mackey Arena before Saturday’s home-opening football game against Indiana State.

Shortly before his death in September 1876, Purdue mortgaged about 2,000 acres of Warren County land to the state of Indiana. He did so to ensure that, in the event of his death, the remaining funds he owed from a $150,000 pledge to the university would be paid in full. The mortgage document allowed the state to sell the land to pay off the remainder of John Purdue’s pledge to the university trustees.

Ruth Martin, Purdue’s great-great niece, will present the paper to university President Mitch Daniels. About 20 family members, including Martin’s daughters Constance Hayman and Marcia Morningstar, both Purdue graduates, and cousin Marshall Horn, will be in attendance.

“My mother had a chance to get this document from her uncle when he died. She had it much of her life – from the 1920s until the ’80s, and I’ve had it since,” Martin said. “It meant a lot to her, so it has meant a lot to me to have it. But I’ve had the document all these years, and we just decided we would give it to the university so it would be preserved and taken care of properly.”

The document will go to the Purdue Libraries’ Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center to be digitized and stored as part of university history.

“We are delighted that Ruth Martin has donated this historical document to the Purdue University Libraries, Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center,” said Sammie Morris, head of the Division of Archives and Special Collections and associate professor.  “Without John Purdue, there would be no Purdue University. This document shows the commitment he made to provide financially for the university he helped establish and his integrity in fulfilling that promise. We are grateful to Ruth and her family for entrusting us with the preservation of this piece of Purdue history.”

The document was signed in December 1882 by Purdue Board of Trustees treasurer Martin L. Peirce. It reads: “This certifies, That a certain Mortgage executed by John Purdue to the State of Indiana for the use of the Board of Trustees of Purdue University, securing the payment of $150,000.00, dated September 14, 1876 and duly recorded in the Records of Mortgages of Warren County, in the State of Indiana, in Record No. six (6), on page 272, has been fully paid and satisfied, and the same is hereby released.”

The document will become part of an archives collection that is rich in historic figures and pioneers who earned an education at Purdue University. The Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives includes papers and artifacts from famous astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Eugene C. Cernan, Roy Bridges, Jr., Janice Voss and Jerry Ross. The world’s largest compilation of papers, memorabilia and artifacts from late aviator Amelia Earhart are maintained there; as are papers related to Virginia Meredith, nicknamed the Queen of American Agriculture; Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, renowned as the “Father and Mother of Modern Management;” Dorothy Stratton, a military pioneer for whom a U.S. Coast Guard cutter is named; and Charles Ellis, designer of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The 211 Session (one degree before boiling) Saturday will feature the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, drumline, Purdue Pete and the football team.

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Source: Sammie Morris, 765-494-2905, morris18@purdue.edu

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