1853, the year in which the first classes were held, is traditionally considered the year in which Shimer College was founded. However, other years, such as 1852 (when the school was formally chartered) or 1855 are occasionally used.
- On April 12, the Board of Trustees issued the announcement seen to the right, stating that classes would begin on May 11 under Shimer (then Miss Wood) and Gregory.
- On Friday May 6, Frances Shimer, Cindarella Gregory and Isaac Nash set out from the rail terminus at Janesville, Wisconsin toward Mount Carroll.
- On Saturday May 7, Shimer, Gregory and Nash spent the night at a farmhouse in the Carroll County settlement of Cherry Grove.
- On Sunday May 8, Shimer, Gregory and Nash arrived in Mount Carroll.
- On Wednesday May 11, Frances Shimer and Cindarella Gregory began teaching classes to eleven students in a leaky room in the Presbyterian Church.
- On Friday May 17, Frances Shimer sent her sister Caroline Nash a letter.
- On Friday June 3, Frances Shimer sent her sister a letter.
- On July 28, the first organizational meeting of the First Baptist Church was held, with participants including J.V. Allison, Lewis Chrisman and John Rinewalt
- On August 1, the second quarter of the first term began.
- On August 28, the founding services of the First Baptist Church were held.
- On October 14, the second quarter ended.
- On November 2, the second term began.