As we celebrated the opening of Old Kate Court a few weeks ago, we thought it appropriate to share her story. The true embodiment of Park’s motto of Fides et Labor, she was much beloved by the students, and a plaque recognizing her achievements is located at Julian Field.
Before plumbing was installed at Park College, Kate, an independent yet faithful mule, delivered thousands of gallons of water to campus buildings by pulling a wheeled barrel up and down the many hills. The little flop-eared mule was given this job after having been slightly lamed in an accident during the construction of Mackay Hall. She knew her way and refused to be driven by the students assigned the task, a trait which endeared her to them.
Kate made her rounds for 12 years and was known to hundreds of early Parkites. Respected and beloved by the entire college community, she was retired in 1898 and was seldom harnessed thereafter, even though times were hard for the college. Kate’s place in college history was assured when, in 1900, on the very day that water was first pumped to the campus from the new water works, she lay down and quietly died, her labors no longer needed. She was 32 years old. Grieving students buried her and erected a large stone as a memorial, one which generations of alumni have revered as the embodiment of Park College spirit.
Kate’s story and her monument are symbolic of the faith and labor, the strength, the perseverance and the force of will that were required to create Park College and to keep it going. May they also serve as an inspiration for the future.