John McKnight Bloss (1839-1905) served as President of Oregon Agricultural College from 1892 until 1896. He entered Hanover College, Indiana in 1854 and received an A.B. degree with honors in 1860; in 1864-1865 he studied medicine at Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati.
Bloss fought with the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in General McClellan's Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. On the morning of September 13th, 1862, Sergeant Bloss found what would later be known as "Lee's Lost Dispatch" (Special Order 191) giving detailed Confederate troop movements. Bloss recognized the importance of this find and forwarded it through the chain of command to General McClellan. Bloss fought and was wounded in several battles, including Antietam, before he resigned in 1864.
His career in education included serving as a teacher; principal; superintendent of the city schools of Evansville (1875-1880) and Muncie, Indiana (1883-1886) and Topeka, Kansas (1886-1892); and the State Superintendent for Public Instruction for Indiana (1880-1882).
In April 1892 he was selected as the third president of Oregon Agricultural College. In addition to his duties as president of the college and director of the Experiment Station, he was appointed as professor of Mental and Moral Science and taught courses in political economy, psychology, and ethics. He resigned from the college in 1896 due to failing health and returned to his farm north of Muncie, Indiana where he remained until his death in 1905. President Bloss' son, Will, spent 1893-1894 in Corvallis. Although not enrolled as a student, he coached and quarterbacked the first college football team.
The written materials include local and family histories and clippings and a hand-drawn map of the Bloss farm north of Muncie, Indiana prepared by Will Bloss. The photographs include 2 portraits of Bloss taken in New Albany, Indiana (ca. 1870-1875); images of Bloss, campus views and buildings, Corvallis, and the Willamette River taken during Bloss' presidency (1892-1896); a photograph of the Bloss Family at their farm in Hamilton Township, Indiana (near Muncie) in early 1905 and a later family photograph from the 1950s; photographs of the 1886 and 1889 Indiana University football teams; and 2 photographs of Bloss' grave marker in Indiana taken in 1968 by his grandson. The most notable photographs show construction of the annex to Mechanical Hall in 1894; views of the orchard and garden north of Benton Hall; and a full portrait of Bloss wearing a Union greatcoat taken in the campus greenhouse.
John McKnight Bloss Collection, Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.