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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"


Chapter  25 - The Public Schools of Eau Claire


by W. H. Schulz


Hunt's Business College

(-As transcribed from pages 431 - 435)

Eau Claire can now boast of having a live, modern, up-to-date business school, known as Hunt's Business College, now permanently located in the Gas building in the quarters formerly occupied by the Eau Claire Commercial College.  Professor D. L. Hunt is at the head of the institution.  He is owner and business manager, also the principal of the department of penmanship and bookkeeping.  This gives to the college a prestige that is at once a prophecy and guarantee of abundant success, and insures to the people of this locality a first-class business school for which there has long been a popular demand.  Eau Claire is a central point and an ideal location for such a school.  It is only at a central point like this that such a school can be maintained and, besides, no other school can have a Professor D. L. Hunt to put at its head to bring to it the prestige necessary to its success.

For several years Professor Hunt has been a well-known promoter of business college work in Eau Claire.  In 1907 he accepted a call to the position of professor of penmanship in the Eau Claire Business College.  In a very short time, however, his ability not only as a teacher, but as a business manager became apparent and he was promoted to the position of principal of the business department of the school. He was able to greatly strengthen the school by bringing to it a largely increased patronage from students who desired to be under his tuition as teacher of penmanship and bookkeeping.  His fame as a penman and teacher spread rapidly over the entire field.  He has marvelous skill as a penman, but his ability and skill as a teacher is no less marvelous, for he has the rare gift of being able to impart to others a generous measure of the skill that has made him so famous.  It is one thing to be a penman and another to be able to teach the art to others.  An expert penman who is a poor bookkeeper finds no demand for his skill no more than there is for the man who is a good bookkeeper and a poor penman.  The two things go together, penmanship and bookkeeping, and as Mr. Hunt combines the two in his method of teaching, his great success as a teacher is accounted for.  His success has made him famous all over the country, and his graduates are in demand at good salaries by business men.  Indeed, the demand is so great for Professor Hunt's student graduates that he is able to supply only some of the larger offices where skill is absolutely demanded, and even then the demand is something like six months ahead of the supply.  This is one reason why prospective students will have no other teacher, and it follows as a reason why students are so loyally flocking to his school.

The writer of this article in a talk with Mr. Hunt just previous to his writing it learned as a matter of fact that the starting of this school was practically forced on him. Early in January of this year the Eau Claire Business College purchased the good will and fixtures of the Eau Claire Commercial College.  Professor Hunt had been the principal of the business department of this school since 1912, albeit during the first year the school was known as the Union College.  When, however, the transfer was made to the Eau Claire Business College some fifty or more of the students mutinied and refused to be transferred.  Many or most of them had matriculated with the Commercial College because of their desire to be under Professor Hunt's teaching. The rebellious students flocked around Professor Hunt and urged and petitioned him to open a business college of his own, offering to go with him in a body.  They pointed out to him that there was a moral obligation imposed on him to teach to the end of the term inasmuch as it was at his solicitation they joined the school.  After careful deliberation Mr. Hunt finally consented to accept the burden thus imposed on him and some fifty or more of the students followed him to temporary quarters where an organization was effected and Hunt's Business College was born.  The temporary quarters lacked the conveniences and comforts of the quarters they had forsaken but they bore the hardships cheerfully until their present quarters are available.

The present home of the school is now fitted up with all fixtures and accessories necessary to make a perfect schoolroom adapted to the purposes intended.  The schoolroom is splendidly lighted, well ventilated and with modern equipments adapted to the comfort and convenience of the students, the school is on the highway to great prosperity.

Professor Hunt came to Eau Claire with a big reputation back of him.  He certainly stands at the head of his profession.  He is not only one of the best penmen of the country but there are those who lay the broad claim that he is the best penman in the world today, and and examination of his work makes it easy for one to believe that this is true.  Even as a small lad back in Indiana where he was born, he was known as the boy prodigy in using the pen.  As a child he attracted the attention of penmen all over the country.  But not satisfied with the natural skill that was born in him, his love of the art led him to use every available educational advantage that would contribute to perfecting him in the art.  He began his career as a teacher when but seventeen years of age and he frankly acknowledges that in teaching others he has himself learned more than he taught his pupils.  He has not yet ceased to study and learn, but is progressive, becoming more efficient as the years go by, though it is hard to understand how he can make any further advancement, for to ordinary observers he appears to have reached a point where there is nothing more for him to learn.  He has now given a quarter of a century of the best years of his life to teaching penmanship and bookkeeping as well as the various branches that go with them.  He has always had a passion for the West, and at an early period in his career his migratory instincts led him to go west.  His westward movements began in 1888 when he visited Hutchinson, Kans., where he spent a year and then spent another year teaching in Topeka.  It was while he was at Topeka he took first prize at the state fair for pen work in competition with all the best penman of the state.  He then accepted a call to the position of principal of penmanship and bookkeeping with Depue & Aydelotte's Business College and Normal School.  Here again his ability as a penman was shown by his taking first prize at the state fair for the best collection of pen work in the state.  His great ability as penman and teacher attracted the attention of the management of Heald's Business College at San Francisco where he succeeded Professor Fielding Schofield as penman and teacher.  He remained with this school for three years and during the time acquired the title of Hunt, the Budget Man, by his introducing the budget system of bookkeeping.  This system won great popularity on the Pacific coast as indeed it has wherever it has been introduced, and it might be added here that it is taught here in Eau Claire in Professor Hunt's College. From this school he went to Norristown, Pa., where he was offered and accepted a position as principal in the penmanship department of Schlissler's College of Business, where the budget system of bookkeeping was again introduced and taught by Professor Hunt as a special feature, and was very popular.

But the professor's migratory instincts kept drawing him again toward the West, and we find him next at Oklahoma City, where he acquired the ownership of the business college there which he developed into a great success.  After three years at Oklahoma City he sold his college that he might give his time to some business interest that demanded attention.  Early in his career he began to understand that it was the dollar saved and not the dollar earned that enriches, so he early began to save and invest his earnings, and his outside business now demanded more attention than he could spare from his school work, so for a time he gave up teaching and made a success of his business the same as he had made with teaching, but the love of his professional work led him to answer the demands made on him as a teacher which had become so insistent that he could not ignore them, and in 1904 we find him again in the harness.  He accepted a position with the business college at Wichita, Kans., a school that for a long time had been seeking to have the professor on its teaching staff, not only because they desired a good teacher, but rather for the prestige he would bring to the school, for long ere this he had a national reputation.  He did good work for this school for he greatly improved the pen work of the college and also introduced the budget system of bookkeeping, which was popular, as it was wherever taught.  Soon after leaving this school he came to Eau Claire.

It may not be out of place to mention here that while yet a young man he was called to the position of penmanship teacher in the Gem City Business College, of Quincy, Ill., the largest and best school of its kind in the world, a school that would have none but the best teachers obtainable at any price.  It might also be added that while filling his engagement with this school he took the opportunity for taking a post-graduate course in bookkeeping, not because he particularly needed the course, but rather to perfect himself in that branch of his work.  While he has been teacher he has also always been a learner, and he will be a seeker for knowledge in the line of his profession as long as he lives.

The brief history of Professor Hunt's career as penman and teacher is summed up by saying that he has a quarter of a century of experience during which time he has given to his work all of the best there is in him to fit young men and women for life's battles with the world.  He has had great success, not only because of his skill, but also because of his unfailing estimate of the human nature he deals with.  He adapts his teaching to the nature of the man.  Herein lies the secret of his success.  He is human and he deals with his students as human beings worthy of the best he can give them.  His students love the man because he is human.  He wins his way into their confidence and is able to get out of them intellectually all there is in them.

The writer has given this much of Professor Hunt's history.  A sketch of his career is a history of business college work, for he is Hunt's Business College, a school that takes high rank from the very start because he is at its head.  Without him it would lapse into mediocrity and in the business world there is no demand for the young man of mediocre attainments.

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