Lehr, Henry Solomon, 1838-1923
Henry Solomon Lehr was born in Ohltown, Ohio on March 8th, 1838 to George and Salome Lehr. Henry Lehr was the couple’s 11th child. In 1854, Lehr earned his teaching certification and began part-time teaching while working as a farm hand. He then enrolled at Mount Union College in March 1857 but his studies were halted by the American Civil War. Post-war, Lehr moved to Ada, Ohio to become a schoolmaster, and then in 1871 he established the Northwestern Ohio Normal School, later to become Ohio Northern University.
As the founder and first president of Ohio Northern University, Henry Lehr served from 1871 to 1900. Lehr established the focus of the university on professional education, creating programs for education, engineering, pharmacy, and law. During the initial years of the university, tuition was kept as low as possible to increase affordability for all applicants. By the 1890s however, the school faced financial difficulties and Henry Lehr decided to transfer the Ohio Normal University to the Methodist Church for financial support. The university has been affiliated with the Methodist Church since 1899.
In May 1901, Dr. Leroy Belt was chosen as Lehr’s successor but Lehr continued to serve the university in a number of administrative roles for the next couple of years. After the 1903 academic year, Lehr left Ohio Northern University due to differences with Dr. Belt. When Dr. Belt resigned in 1905 and Dr. Albert Edwin Smith became president, Lehr returned to Ada. Henry Solomon Lehr died on January 28th, 1923 in Ada, Ohio.
Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:
The Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers document the life of Henry Solomon Lehr (founder and first President of Ohio Northern University), as well as offers insights into the lives of several of his ancestors and descendants. Materials in the collection date from the mid 18th century to the late 20th century and offer documentary evidence of 18th century European migration to America, 18th and 19th century German-American family life, and early Ohio Northern University history.