Blue Grass Blade vs. Hough Pt. 2 : The Blade Asks for Facts

As seen in Part 1, on June 13 1909 the Blue Grass Blade had published its doubts on the veracity of the Rev. Hough’s account that M. D. Leahy, president of Liberal’s Freethought University, had later converted to Christianity, and that the Freethought University was funded by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll. The Blue Grass Blade had asked those with knowledge of the situation to write in. A supporter of Blue Grass Blade, J. Frantz, contacted Hough on the matter and here they publish Hough’s response.

Introduced here is the name of L. H. Hausam who is given by Hough as providing him with the facts of Leahy’s conversion at Great Bend. By Part 4 we will have learned that Hough was a one time professor of penmanship at an institution where Leahy had been educated, which is how he had known him. The Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, published 1912 reveals that L. H. Hausam, born in 1870, was a president of Hausam School of Penmanship in Hutchinson, Kansas, that interest in penmanship being perhaps one of the acquaintance points of Hausman and Hough.

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Volume XVIII, Number 9
Lexington, KY., July 4, 1909


In our issue of June 13 we offered a criticism upon Rev. George A. Hough, pastor of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, of San Francisco, concerning certain statements made by him in regard to the alleged “National Freethought University” and its first president, which institution was referred to by him as a “pet scheme of Ingersoll’s” and pointing it as an object of ridicule and a pronounced failure. One of our most energetic friends, Mr. J. Frantz, saw that a copy of the Blade article reached this preacher’s hands, and we judge that answer was asked to each of the questions we had propounded. Howbeit, Mr. Frantz received a letter in reply, wherin the preacher seeks to substantiate and justify his statement.

The founding and institution of the town of Liberal, Mo., were accomplished long before our open and public affiliation with the Freethought cause in America, and it was never our fortune to visit the town, although we have had considerable correspondence, in the past, with Freethinkers residing there. The sparsity of our personal information upon the subjects here treated, precludes a positive and definite reply, but as many of our older readers, especially in Missouri, may be more familiar with the facts than ourselves, we publish Mr. Hough’s letter in these columns, first to give it prominence, and second, in the hope of securing the information necessary to probe into the situation and get at the truth. We are not in the habit of taking any preacher’s word for and upon matters connected with Freethought. If any of our readers know the facts, will they kindly furnish them to the Blade? Mr. Hough’s letter is as follows:


San Francisco, Cal. — As to the facts called for submit the following: Name of institution referred to — “National Freethought University” established in Liberal, Mo., in fall of 1886. First president, M. D. Leahy. I had it from Mr. Leahy’s own lips that he had Mr. Ingersoll’s advice before he accepted the presidency and that Mr. I. contributed $5,000 towards the sum necessary for establishing the institution. I am not sure as to how long it continued in operation, I think less than 3 years. After that Mr. I. lectured widely throughout the Southwest. He finally became president of an Independent Normal School in Great Bend, Kansas. While there he was converted during a series of revival meetings conducted by a lady evangelist. Was not converted in a public meeting, but at his rooms in the College building. The remainder of his life he spent in trying to undo the evil which he had done and widely proclaimed the fact of his conversion. For my facts as to his conversion I am indebted to Prof. L. H. Hausam, who was then an unbelieving professor in the same institution at Great Bend and who was converted at the same time. Prof. Hausam is now in charge of one of the Commercial Colleges in Denver, Colo., and he can give the exact dates. Mr. Leahy was very “brilliant” as an orator. The finest speaker of his age I ever knew. His general scholarship was not remarkable. Know a little something of his early life, I was not surprised that he should have some prejudice against religion. I was much pleased to know that he had at last discovered the error of his way. I can hope and pray for you no better experience than that which ultimately came to him.


The Blade now desires particular information upon the following items:

1. Did you know M. D. Leahy?
2. What was his connection with Liberal, Mo., if any.
3. Does any Freethinker remember him as a Freethought lecturer, especially in the Southwest?
4. At what points did he lecture?
5. Does anyone at Great Bend, Kansas, remember him as being connected with his alleged conversion in his room in that city by a lady evangelist?
6. Does anyone know where he died and when?
7. Does any reader know Prof. I. H. Hausam of the Commercial College, in Denver, Colo.?
8. Was he at any time a Freethinker, and what was his connection with the Freethought movement?
9. Can any of our readers state whether or not either M. D. Leahy or I. H. Hausam, had an intimate, personal acquaintance with the late Col. Robert G. Ingersoll?
10. Can anyone give the name of the lady evangelist who converted them?

Briefly commenting upon the purported facts as given by Mr. Housh, in his letter, we observe:

1. That he has given us a dead one to investigate.
2. That the alleged conversion is made to take place in the privacy of a room.
3. That the dead man was not “remarkable” for his “general scholarship” as a Freethinker, but grew to “brilliancy” after his supposed conversion.
4. That if Ingersoll did give $5,000 to this “National Freethought University” the lips of him to whim it was given are closed in death.
5. That Hough’s alleged facts upon Leahy’s conversion were obtained second hand.

We propose to push this investigation as far as we possibly can and hope that our friends, capable of doing so, will aid us to the full extent of their power.

Continue to part 3

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