The names of Joseph Henry Apple and his family are inextricably linked with the founding of Hood College and early Hood history. The library, which opened its doors in 1941, was named in honor of Joseph Henry Apple, president of Hood College from 1893-1934. Members of the Apple family have always been and continue to be active in the life of the College.
Joseph Henry Apple was born in Rimersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1865, the youngest son of Elizabeth Geiger and Joseph Henry Apple, a teacher and minister. An 1885 graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, he was called to be the President of the Woman’s College of Frederick (the College did not become Hood College until 1913) in May of 1893 from Pittsburgh Central High School where he was enjoying a successful teaching career. Encouraged by his first wife, Mary Rankin Apple, to heed the call, Dr. Apple was to stay in Frederick and serve as president of the College for the ensuing 41 years. Upon his retirement in 1934, he was the oldest living college president in continuous active service at a single institution in the United States.
Dr. Apple dedicated his life to the work of establishing the campus at its current location, constructing fourteen buildings and setting the high standards for academic excellence that continue to this day. A man of great vision and high purpose, he was noted for his persistence, dauntless determination and natural leadership ability. During his tenure, Hood grew from a small female seminary with an uncertain future to a campus of 125 acres, 14 buildings, 27 administrative staff, 57 faculty, and 500 students. He awarded diplomas to 1,591 students during his presidency.
Not only did Dr. Apple give his life to Hood College, but so did the members of his family. Miriam Rankin Apple, the daughter of Dr. Apple and his first wife, graduated from Hood in 1914. She served as librarian in the library that bears her father’s name from 1914 to 1950, with the exception of a two-year leave of absence. Born in 1893, her life span coincided with the early life span of the College. She was noted in her grace, charm, and friendly disposition. The Miriam Apple Memorial Room in the library is dedicated to her memory and houses the archival treasures of the College.
A second daughter, Charlotte, died as a child. Mary Rankin Apple died in 1896.
In 1898 Dr. Apple married his second wife, Gertrude Harner Apple, who was employed by the College as an English instructor and is credited with establishing Hood’s literary magazine, The Herald. Additionally, Mrs. Apple was responsible for supervising the planting of many of the original trees, shrubs, and flowers which contribute to the extraordinary beauty of Hood’s campus.
Gertrude and Joseph Henry Apple had three children. Two of his daughters, Elizabeth Apple McCain ’23 and Emily Apple Payne ’24, live in Frederick and are active in the life of the College, including supporting the Friends of the Library. Their brother, Joseph Henry Apple, is deceased, but his wife lives in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
The dedication of the Apple family to the life and work of the College is unparalleled. We owe much to this family. Their courage, vision, leadership, dedication, and commitment have resulted in a lasting legacy.