Sandburg's Hometown

October 14, 2013


Marion D. Shutter

By Barbara Schock

The students at Lombard College were expected to attend chapel several times a week. Carl Sandburg recalled a number of the sermons/lectures in his autobiography Ever the Winds of Chance. He was particularly impressed by Marion D. Shutter (1853-1939), who was pastor of the First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. He came to Galesburg for three years in succession to speak at Lombard as a non-resident lecturer in Biblical Literature.

Dr. Shutter was the son of a Baptist clergyman and was born in Tuscarora County, Ohio. Following graduation from the University of Wooster in Ohio, Shutter preached in rural communities of the state. He established two flourishing churches and then enrolled in the theological department of Oberlin College. He continued to preach on Sundays as a means of supporting himself. He completed his theological studies at the Baptist Seminary in Morgan Park, Chicago, in 1881. He was called to the Olivet Baptist Church in Minneapolis. During his five year pastorate a beautiful new church was erected and completely paid for.

During this time Shutter’s religious views began to change. He had studied at Baptist and Congregational seminaries, but was attracted to the Universalists. He accepted the assistant pastor position at the First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. In 1891, Shutter became the chief pastor and served for there for many years. The same year he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Lawrence University in New York.

Dr. Shutter was very active in his community. The Minneapolis Kindergarten Association was organized in his office and he drafted its constitution. He also founded a settlement house in 1897 in a tenement. By 1912 a $75,000 building had been constructed in which its activities continued. He served on a city-wide committee to establish playgrounds for children. Later, summer schools were conducted at the playground sites. Several years later the Board of Education took over the program.

After Shutter joined the Universalist Church, he was elected to several high positions within the denomination. More of his sermons were published in church publications than any other clergyman. He also served as a trustee of Lombard College.

Dr. Shutter was married to Mary E. Wilkinson on June 30, 1887, at Madison, Wisconsin. They had one son who served with distinction in World War I and became a captain of field artillery in the regular army.

One of Dr. Shutter’s lectures was entitled, “The Wit and Humor in the Bible.” He quickly pointed out to his listeners that the Bible was not a collection of jests. They were used to reveal the character of certain individuals; to show absurdities and to enhance the power of the stories in the Bible. The lecture was later expanded and published as a book which may be viewed on the Internet at

In his memoir Sandburg described Dr. Shutter: “He wore a dark sack coat, standup collar with corners turned down and a wide, striped bow tie. His eyes and mouth had subtle and swift changes from utter solemnity to droll and quiet merriment. He hit me deep and was the first preacher to get me to saying to myself, ‘Could it be that my line of work in life ought to be somewhat along his line?’ ”

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity