Prince/Printz Family History

From "Brentz" in Duehren, Germany to "Printz" in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to "Prince" in Ohio and Beyond

Benjamin Franklin Prince of Wittenberg University


In the Footsepts of a Prince

Benjamin PrinceNearly 70 years have passed since Benjamin Prince died, but his legacy still lives on in the leadership, commitment and generosity of the more than 400 alumni and friends who continue to follow in his name. In the last 15 years alone,
members of the Benjamin Prince Society (BPS) have
contributed more than
$60 million in support of
Wittenberg. They have also devoted their time, knowledge, energy and resources to preserving the traditions that define the institution they hold dear.

Now as the society celebrates its silver anniversary,
Wittenberg Magazine takes a look back at Benjamin Prince and the society that has made a significant difference in the university’s life.

From the beginning, great things were probably expected of Benjamin Franklin Prince, a farmer’s son whose grandparents were named Adam and Eve — and he didn’t disappoint.BPS Logo

Only five years old when a Lutheran college was founded
in Springfield, just a few miles from his family’s farm, “Little Bennie,” as he was affectionately called as a child, would eventually serve Wittenberg with a vitality and longevity unmatched by anyone at the time in a U.S. educational institution.

For 68 years, Prince, who graduated with honors from Wittenberg’s Preparatory Department in 1865, devoted his life to Wittenberg, both as a student and in a variety of offices ranging from professor to collector of tuition to vice president. He knew every graduate of the university during his time on campus, and he founded the college’s first alumni association. He also played in instrumental role in the creation of the college’s annual alumni fund,
and he knew and worked with every president of the college except the first one, Ezra Keller.

Heralded by the Class of 1914 as a “diligent and untiring scholar, a thorough and painstaking teacher; a man beloved by all who knew him,” Prince made the university’s concerns his own concerns, and in so doing, he helped to ensure that Wittenberg entered the future with confidence and strength. The boy nicknamed Bennie was indeed Wittenberg’s “Grand Old Man” when he died in 1933 at the age of 93, but his legacy continues to inspire hundreds each year who now follow in his name as members of the Benjamin Prince Society (BPS).

beckFounded in 1977 in recognition of individuals who were willing to invest significantly in the university, the society
aims to carry on the work to which Prince dedicated his life. Throughout its 25-year history, the now 440-member-strong society has devoted its time to preserving Wittenberg’s traditions, stimulating involvement in university affairs, establishing an impressive standard of
financial support, and positioning the university for continued success.

“ The Benjamin Prince Society was founded on the notion that alumni ought not to take their college or university for granted because people sacrificed for them — people they never knew,” explained Jake Baas, former executive director of advancement.

Baas played a prominent role in the creation of BPS when he worked at Wittenberg from 1976 to 1984. As executive director, Baas thought that any leadership-level giving society should reflect Wittenberg’s heritage.

“ Bennie Prince had practically every job available at Wittenberg,” Baas said. “He resonated loyalty and service. He lived on campus in the house now named after him, and many alumni remembered giving him their tuition. His dedication and commitment reflected the Wittenberg tradition, and we thought this society should have his name,” he explained.

More than 150 charter individuals and couples heeded the call and quickly filled the BPS ranks, increasing their gifts from $100 to $1,000 to join — an impressive increase back in 1977. Their gifts helped to secure needed resources for a growing college in the years that followed. Hundreds of
students also benefited from their generosity just as many of the BPS donors themselves benefited from those they never knew did during their own college days.

Bitner Browne ’35 definitely did. A BPS charter member, Browne, director emeritus of the board of directors, has actually given to Wittenberg for more than 60 years because he recognized the important role Wittenberg’s high academic standards and commitment to Christian life played in his success as a Springfield attorney. He also recognized the importance of the university in the context
of the larger Springfield community.

kuss“Wittenberg is one of the most
important things in the
community both
and culturally,”
he said. “It’s
absolutely vital to Springfield.” Fellow BPS charter member Mary Lu Noonan ’35, whose late father, Harry S. Kissell 1895 knew Prince, agreed.

“ Giving to the university has always been a lifelong thing for me,” said Noonan, director emertius of the board of directors, Class of 1914 Award and Medal of Honor recipient. “It’s the college I want to support. Whatever we can do to be helpful we do because Wittenberg is so very
important to the community.”

A retired Springfield horsebreeder, Noonan, like Browne, has consistently supported the university for more than 40 years. In fact, her BPS-level gifts brought the campus Kissell Auditorium in memory of her father.

“ I feel so close to the university, and I think so much of what the people there are doing, which is why I have a long history of involvement,” she said.

It’s that kind of involvement that Charles Weller ’70, another BPS charter member and member of the board of directors, said makes all the difference in Wittenberg’s success.

“ I’ve found that the more involved people are with
Wittenberg, the more excited they get,” he said. Weller, himself, has regularly supported Wittenberg at the BPS-level. He believes in the university’s mission, and he sees the society as a necessary component of that mission.

“ Giving at the BPS level is absolutely critical,” he said, noting that BPS-level gifts provide much needed financial aid for students, faculty salaries, academic facilities such as Hollenbeck Hall and the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center, all of which help to further teaching excellence and student success.

“ The Wittenberg experience has enabled thousands of alumni to enjoy success in their personal lives and careers,” added Bob ’58 and Barbara Hein VanKleunen ’62, current co-chairs of BPS. “Leadership giving at the BPS level is a way of expressing our gratitude to Wittenberg. It also provides our leaders of tomorrow with an
opportunity to prepare for their future roles in society,” they said.

Together, the VanKleunens hope to make the society an even larger reflection of the values for which Benjamin Prince stood. A lifelong learner, Prince taught seven subjects during his professor days at Wittenberg, including history, Greek, botany, physiology and English literature. As a result, teaching has become a focal point of BPS Day, an annual event for BPS members and other volunteer leaders that the VanKleunens founded three years ago.

friendsThe all-day event, scheduled for April 5, provides a classroom
experience where BPS members can learn from some of Wittenberg’s esteemed faculty. It also offers a time for members
to discuss university affairs with key administrators, meet with students and see the changes taking place on campus just as
Prince regularly did more than seven decades ago.

“ This day helps to engage our alumni and allows them to pass their light onto others,” Bob VanKleunen said. The VanKleunens are also in the process of forming a leadership committee to assist the university in future planning.

“ Gifts from the society can effect a real change on
Wittenberg’s financial landscape and in the lives of
students,” he said, “and effecting change is our greatest reward.”

That commitment to provide the support that keeps the university among the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges reflects Benjamin Prince and confirms what Jake Baas discovered way back in 1977:

“ Wittenberg alumni and friends want to make a difference in the life of the university that made such a difference in their lives,” he said “and when asked to do so, they will.”

Wittenberg Magazine
P.O. Box 720
Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
Phone: (937) 327-6141
Fax: (937) 327-6112

Here is the obituary from the Springfield Daily News.

Dr. B. F. Prince   


Dr. B. F. Prince, 93, dean of the faculty of Wittenberg college and affectionately called "The Grand Old Man" at that institution, acclaimed as the oldest professor in point of years and active service in the United States and beloved by thousands of men and women in and out of Springfield, died at 5:15 a. m. Mnday at his home, 644 N. Wittenberg Avenue, following an illness of one week. Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p. m. Wednesday at a place to be decided later. Burial will be
made in
Ferncliff Cemetery.


He was honorary head of the history and political science department of the college; had served for 55 consecutive yearsas chairman of the prudential committee; was treasurer of the Alumni Endowment Association; for 31 years was a director of the Ohio Archaeoloical and
Historical Society. He was con
sidered one of the best and most trustworthy authorities on historical matters in Ohio. His two volumes of
the history of
Clark County are widely read and contain much valuable information. He was formerly president of the Clark County Historical Society and had recently completed a fine history of Wittenberg College.

The death of Dr. Prince is mourned by rich and poor, the high and low, for he was a man of lovable character, who always spoke a kindly word for his fellow-men. His was the service always of joy, of ministration and of wise counsel. He never shirked in duty and devoted his life assiduously and earnestly that others might be benefited. He was for many years a member of the board of directors of the college. Dr. Prince was a former president of the Men's Literary Club.


He was born on a farm near Westville, in Champaign County Dec. 12, 1840. He spent his early days in the toils incident to the farm life of pioneer days, attending school but a few months each year. He entered Wittenberg College as a student in the fall of 1860, a few
months before the Civil War actually began. He
was graduated from the College in 1865, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was
granted a Master of Arts degree in
1868, and in 1891 Wittenberg honored him as a Doctor of Philosophy.


He was reared in a Lutheran family and from the age of 13 he had been deeply interested in that faith. Much of his inspiration also, he often said, came from reading the Lutheran Observer. He also was wont to remark that although he came to Wittenberg College to gain an
education, he never dreamed that he would be
a teacher there. He
was offered a position in the preparatory department of he College
in 1865 but he did not accept it until the fall of 1866.


Since that time he taught such studies as Greek, Latin, mathematics, political science, economics, sociology and history. He taught Greek for 30 years.

Dr. Prince married Miss Ellen Sanderson of Springfield on August 3, 1869. She died February 17, 1911. He remembered distinctly all of the
presidents of Wittenberg
except the first, Dr. Ezra Keller. There have been seven of these presidents, the present one being Rev. Dr. Rees
Edgar Tulloss.


He always said that teaching was to him one of his greatest joys and that he had never been dissatisfied with his life or his work. He was
always a busy man and he had not only the faculty of
teaching well, but he possessed unusual business ability.


For many years he served as president of the Springfield Building and Loan Association.

Dr. Prince was injured in 1928, when he was struck by an automobile skidding on icy streets.


When he first came to college Dr. Prince said he brought six dozen candles which his mother had made for him to study by. Coal oil lamps had just been introduced among the students and the candles were not used. Springfield, according to Dr. Prince, was then a city of about 7,000. There were very few houses north of Buck Creek. There was a rickety wooden bridge across that stream at N. Market St. (now N.
Fountain Avenue) and a small foot-bridge a little east
of where the Wittenberg bridge is now. "We played football then, too," Dr. Prince
was wont to com
ment, "that is, the kind of football which was played then. We were also accustomed to taking long walks out into the
almost every morning.


"We didn't get over to Springfield very often, probably about once a week. However, after the Civil War broke out the students were eager
for the latest news about the war and they began
to go over to the city about every day." A large number of Wittenberg students left school to go to war in 1860 and 1861. In the meantime the students week. Dr. Sprecher, then president of Wittenberg, and a number of the professors drilled with the students.

When Dr. Prince came to Wittenberg there was but one building on the campus and that was the "Old dorm" or "Old Wittenberg," as it is known among the old graduates. Dr. Prince had seen Wittenberg grow from a college of one building to an institution of learning now embodying many buildings. He was also treasurer of the College at one time. It was
largely owing to his care and fidelity in the work as
chairman of the prudential committee that Wittenberg's funds have been so well administered. Dr. Prince served long terms as a member of the Springfield board of education and the city council, and had held other civic posts.


"Work" is the best prescription for a long life, according to Dr. Prince. As campus custodian he made the rounds of all the college buildings regularly, and as one student expressed it, "it is doubtful if anywhere in the country there could have been found a teacher who was so well and favorably known among such a large number of his former students as was Dr. Prince."

He leaves three daughters, Misses Flora and Grace Prince, at home; and Mrs. J. C. Easton of 40 E. Ward St.  "The life of Dr. Prince has been
intimately interwoven with
the history of Wittenberg College for more than three quarters of a century," said Dr. Rees E. Tulloss, president of the college. "During a large portion of that time he occupied a unique position in the academic and business organization of the institution. For more than 50 years he was chairman of the Prudential Committee. 
In this position and as vice president of the College he has cooperated in the conduct of the institution during the terms of office of five presidents of the College. To his wise and cautious administration of the finances of the institution at various critical points in her history, it may
almost be said that the existence of
the College is due.

From 1866 to 1928, a period of 62 years, Dr. Prince was a 
member of the teaching faculty, during most of which time he served as head of the Department of History. Dr. Prince's intimate knowledge of the activities of the College from a very early date fitted him peculiarly for the task of writing a history of the institution, which he finished after his retirement from active teaching.


Dr. Prince possessed an unusual combination oftalents. As a scholar his historical writings were of importance. As a teacher he commanded, the respect and admiration of many student generations. As a business
administrator he rendered the
College a service the value of which cannot be overestimated.


"His name deserves a place along with the presidents of the institution. His passing will be mourned by thousands of Wittenberg alumni and former students who loved him as a man, and esteemed him for his notable service to the institution to which his life was given.