The Sower

The Sower quietly welcomes visitors to the beautiful green lawns of Duke’s East Campus.  Purchased from Germany in 1914 by James B. Duke, the statue is often mistaken for Johnny Appleseed, but instead depicts a 17th century peasant sowing in the fields.  James Duke donated the statue to the campus when Trinity College president John Kilgo admired it while visiting the Duke’s estate in NJ.

Kilgo, a Methodist Bishop, frequently related the statue to the New Testament parable of the sower. Trinity College students, though, used it as a dating game.  Back in the day, Trinity students were allowed three dates a week, but if they strolled with a young man along selected campus areas, it wasn’t counted as a date.  The Sower stood in one of those areas and couples would place pennies in the outstretched hand of the statue.  If the pennies were gone the next time they visited together, the gentleman could claim a kiss.

The Sower is definitely worth a visit the next time you’re on campus.  From the School of Nursing, it’s a good hike, so allow plenty of time.  You may consider walking to the Abele Quad on West Campus, then taking an East Campus bus.  Or, if you’re driving, you may be able to snag a parking place just inside the East Campus entrance.  Be sure to look for pennies.  If you find one, give a guy a break and keep the penny as a momento.