October 6th, 2014
Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian.
Bob, at the feet of his owner, Professor William P. Willey, poses with the Junior Law class of 1909.
Dogs have always been popular pets for students and faculty alike at WVU. This is just as true today as it was 107 years ago when Bob, a medium sized dog of unknown parentage with black and tan markings, first placed a paw on campus. The beloved pet and constant companion of William P. Willey, one of WVU’s first professors, serving both the History and Law departments, Bob was more than one man’s best friend. Known and loved by every student on the WVU campus, Bob happily held the tail wagging title of mascot for the WVU College of Law from 1907-1910.
Woodburn Hall, the center of campus at the time, was the original home of the College of Law. Classrooms, shown above, were spacious with bookcases lining the walls. Bob faithfully attended every class and lecture with his master. Professor Willey’s desk was elevated on a raised platform, providing a full view of the classroom and its students. Bob would take his seat on the platform while his master lectured. The following quote from the law department tribute to Bob in the Monticola, WVU’s annual, states: “He was as regular in his attendance upon the lectures as Professor Willey, himself, for they were inseparable. He occupied a place on the platform, it was said that he had become so familiar with the law that he did not always pay close attention, but would betimes lapse into a nap.”
It was said that Bob was known to walk among the students at times during lectures. Strolling between the rows of chairs he received loving pats from all and after making his rounds, returned to his seat, settling beside his master’s desk on the platform shown above.
Bob makes his first appearance in WVU’s yearbook posing in this Delta Chi law fraternity photo.
Bob appears to be a high ranking fraternal member, wearing his own version of the robes and seated equally among his fraternal brothers in the law section of the yearbook for 1907.
The West Virginia Chapter of the Delta Chi law fraternity was established at WVU in 1903.
Professor William P. Willey sits on Bob’s left; Professor St. George Tucker Brooke is seated to the left of Willey.
Bob never missed an opportunity to be in a class picture.
This photo from 1908 shows Bob at the feet of his master, Professor William P. Willey.
Others in the front row are Dean Charles Hogg, seated beside Willey, hat resting on his knee. Instructor Uriah Barnes sits to the left of Hogg.
The West Virginia and Regional History Center is the repository for the photographs, anecdotes, and memories that bring WVU’s early days to light. Through these documents we can connect to the people who were here before us, people not unlike ourselves, who faced life’s challenges, both good and bad. One of these small, yet compelling moments in WVU’s history occurred when Bob suffered a tragic death from poisoning on January 16, 1910. Professor Willey shared his sad news with his class saying,
“I loved that dog, because he was worthy of love. And the more I compare him with men, the more I love and revere the memory of Bob. And the man who gave Bob poison will go to a worse place than Bob has gone. I hope and believe I will meet Bob somewhere in the great beyond; but I do not want to meet the man who murdered him – we could not live in the same place . . . Good bye, Bob, I do not know where you have gone, but I will look for you, and search for you among the mysteries of the hereafter.”
In recognition of his passing the junior law class published a four page tribute to Bob in the 1911 Monticola, WVU’s yearbook. This loving tribute referred to Bob as “one of the boys,” and “Professor Willey’s gentlemanly dog.” The story of Bob’s death was of such great importance to the WVU community that it was also reported in the pages of WVU’s student newspaper, the Daily Athenaeum.
Always by his owner’s side, Bob, the Law School Mascot, was ever ready to sit in on a class or pose for a photo. It was well known among the students that “Professor Willey maintained a hall of fame of which he has pictures suitably framed of all classes that have passed through the portals of the College of Law for years back . . .” These old class photographs still hang in the hallways at the College of Law to this day, the tradition of recording each class begun in the early years of Willey’s professorship, and Bob is in many of these photos.
From Bob’s first appearance in the Monticola in the 1907 Delta Chi Law Fraternity photograph, to his last in the loving tribute printed in the 1911 annual, no dog has filled the role of mascot since his passing. The photographs, Monticola yearbooks and the Daily Athenaeum on microfilm are all available for viewing at the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
Monticola. Morgantown: Junior Class, West Virginia University, 1907. Vol. IX, p. 151
Monticola. Morgantown: Junior Class, West Virginia University, 1908. Vol. X, p. 75
Monticola. Morgantown: Junior Class, West Virginia University, 1909. Vol. XI, p. 70
Monticola. Morgantown: Junior Class, West Virginia University, 1911. Vol. XIII, p. 83-86, 256
Daily Athenaeum, Microfilm reel 123.