Charles L. (Charles Lee) Coon.

North Carolina schools and academies, 1790-1840; a documentary history online

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Online LibraryCharles L. (Charles Lee) CoonNorth Carolina schools and academies, 1790-1840; a documentary history → online text (page 1 of 87)
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Charles L. Coon


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The documents brouglit together in this volume attempt to portray
education as it existed in IN'orth Carolina during the fifty years immedi-
ately succeeding 1790. In two former volumes covering this same
period an attempt was made to trace the development of the sentiment
\; which led to the passage of our first public school law in 1839. In many
X ways this volume supplements the material brought together in the Be-
ginnings of Public Education in North Carolina 1790-1840.
^ No claim is made that these documents are entirely complete. It has
Wi been impossible to get first hand information about many schools of the
period. However, these documents are representative and typical.

0. L. C.

til-' .'■'■a/i


These documents reveal mucli tliat is interesting in our educational
history. The influence of the University of the State, the kind of teach-
ers who taught the schools and from whence they came, the equipment of
the schools as to buildings and furniture, the salaries of teachers, school
entertainments, methods of teaching and courses of study, the attempts
to establish Lancaster schools, the current ideas of religious education,
the beginnings of the denominational colleges, the military school craze,
the first law schools, the general resort to lotteries to raise school funds,
and the kinds of books sold in the bookstores of the day and the like are
the topics which stand out as worthy of the notice of the student of our
educational history. I shall try to show how a number of these topics
are set forth in these documents, considering each in chronological order.

Influence of the University — These documents contain many evidences
of the educational influence of the University of North Carolina, which
was opened for students in 1795. As early as 1801, Andrew Flinn, an
A.B. graduate of that college, was principal of Hillsboro Academy.^
The next year he was principal of the Fayetteville Academy^, and re-
mained there for several years. In 1803, Bartlett Yancey, an early
graduate, was assistant to the principal of Caswell Academy^, where
he was supposed to teach the "English Language grammatically." In
1804, Chesley Daniel, another early graduate of the University, was
principal of the Ealeigh Academy* ; and "Wm. C, Love, a University
man, was principal of the Springfield Academy in Caswell^. In 1805,
Richard Henderson, another University man, was principal of the Hills-
boro Academy,^ and William Bingham, lately "one of the professors in
the University," was principal of the Pittsboro Academy.'^

In 1809, John B. Bobbitt was principal of the Westrayville Academy
and William Crawford presided over the Warrenton Academy. The
Raleigh Star of that time said of Mr. Bobbitt : "'No small recommen-
dation of the teacher is that he is a graduate of the University of North
Carolina. "S

In 1810, Laurel Hill Academy gave notice that its principal was
Murdoch McLean, "a graduate of the University of North Carolina."^
During the same year the Raleigh Register said that Rev. Joseph Cald-
well, President of the University, honored the Raleigh Academy with
his presence during a part of the examination. ^^

In 1815, Laurel Hill Academy gave notice that "students will be pre-
pared for any grade in the University ,"1^ while Tarboro Academy
announced that Robert Hall, a graduate of the University, was its prin-
cipal. ^^ The same year Williamsboro Academy announced that An-

>P. 280. 2P. 61. sp. 19. <P. 391. ^p. 29. ^P. 281. 'P. 37. sp. 263. 'P. 343. lop. 420. "P. 344.
12P. 77.


vi Inteoduction

drew Ehea, late a professor iu the University, was the principal of that

In 1816, Franklin Academy advertised that its principal, John B.
Bobbitt, was "a graduate of our own University."!'*

In 1818, Hyco Academy stated that its principal, John H. Hinton,
was educated at the University, and had taught there both in the College
and in the preparatoi-y school. i^ The same year Union Academy in
Halifax County had William E. Webb as principal and said that "those
who intend that their children or wards shall complete their education in
]N"orth Carolina will do well, it is presumed, by availing themselves of
this opportunity — the preceptor having been educated at the University
and acted for some time therein as a Tutor and Professor."i6 During
this year, Hyco Academy announced that "this school is strictly pre-
paratory to the University," 1''^ and repeated the announcement in 1820. i^

In 1819, Professor Mitchell of the University was commissioned by
the Raleigh Academy to buy its "philosophical apparatus" ;19 and Abner
W. Clopton, a University graduate, founded the female academy at

In 1820, Thomas G. Stone, a graduate of the University, began to
teach at the Hilliardston Academy in Nash County ;2i and the next year
Williamsboro Academy announced that "the different branches of edu-
cation as established by the Faculty at the University of this State will
be adopted in this Institution. "22 In 1824, the same school published
that "Students may here be prepared for the Freshman or Sophomore
class in the University."23 Xhe next year the principal of this school
said that "the department immediately under my own care will hence-
forth be divided into four classes, preparatory to the University."^*
It is worthy of note, too, that in 1820 James F. Martin "a late graduate
of the University of North Carolina" was principal of the Madison
Academy ;25 and that James A. Craig of Chapel Hill Academy, said
that "the course of studies in this Academy will be (as usual) so ar-
ranged as to render it in every respect preparatory to the University" ;26
also that tbe Louisburg Male Academy claimed that "the plan of educa-
tion is calculated to prepare young gentlemen for the University. "2"

In 1821, Shocco Male Academy announced, among other things, that
"young men can be prepared for the University."^^

In 1822, John Rodgers said that the studies in Hillsboro Academy
were preparatory to the University.^^* From 1822 to 1828, Charles
A, Hill conducted Midway Academy in Franklin County as a school
7)repnratorv to the University. A typical announcement of his said
that the course of classical studies is so arranged as to constitute Mid-
way Academy preparatory to our University.*^^ During this year John
Louis Taylor, an jilnmnus of the University, began his law school at

In 1823, Warrenton Academy advertised that its principal was James

>'P. 125. ««P. 95. >'P. 25. "P. 178. »'P. 26. "P. 27. i»P. 4.55. "P. 30. J'P. 264. ^^P. 125.
»'P. 125. »*P. 126. "P. 345. "P. 299. "P. 99. »'P. 606. "P. 283. »°PP. 107-113. "P. 531.

Introduction vii

H. Otey, who was educated at the University of North Carolina.^^
The same year the Raleigh Academy gave notice that "the sessions and
vacations of the school will be regulated for the present, by those of the
University of North Carolina" ;^" and a like announcement was
made in 1823 for the Episcopal School at Raleigh. ^'^ Wake Forest
Academy this year announced that "the classical course prescribed
by the University of North Carolina will be followed here."'^^ Also,
during the year 1823, John Rodgers of the Hillsboro Academy had pub-
lished that "at the late Examination of the Faculty of the University
of this State, fifteen young Gentlemen were approved on the studies
preparatory to the Freshman Class, and six for the Sophomore."^^
Finally, in 1823, the New Bern Academy Plan of Education announced
that "the system of studies in the Classical Department shall be similar
to that preparatory to admission into the University of N. C. and include
the studies of the Freshman and Sophomore Classes of the University,
when required."^'^

In 1824, the Catawba School in Lincoln County, advertised that its
"course of instruction is such as to qualify students for admission into
the University of this State."^^ Farm well Grove Academy in Halifax
announced that its principal was John Bragg, "a graduate of our Uni-
versity, "^^ William C. Love, who has already been mentioned as a
University man, was now principal of the Springfield Academy.^o
Morganton Academy advertised Alexander E. Wilson, a graduate of the
University, as its principal ;^i and William Hooper announced that his
Select Classical School at Fayetteville will prepare students to enter
the University of North Carolina.

In 1825, William M. Green, a distinguished graduate of Chapel Hill,
began his famous female seminary at Hillsboro. "^^ John Rodgers, of the
Hillsboro Academy, announced that "we decline admitting students who
are, at this time, qualified to enter the Freshman Class in Jhe University
of North Carolina, as our scheme of studies extends no farther than a
thorough preparation of our pupils for admission to this class" ;'*3 and
Pittsboro announced that Mr. Lalor's tuition prepares for the Univer-
sity and that John D. Clancy, a University graduate, had succeeded to
the principalship of that school.'*'*

In 1826, John J. Wyche, a University man, took charge of the Farm-
well Grove Academy in Halifax.^s

In 1827, Smithfield Academy, then in charge of J. Waruock, a grad-
uate of Glasgow, announced that "the classical course will be adapted to
that observed at Chapel Hill."'*^ The same year the Nashville Academy,
then in charge of the Rev. John Armstrong, advertised that "the Trustees
are well aware of the inconvenience a young man labors under, who enters
College, having pursued a course of studies different from that taught in
the University, and they are determined to have an eye to it."^'^ On Jan-
uary 1, 1827, William J. Bingham took charge of the Hillsboro Academy.

»2P. 585. 33P. 470. 34P. 535 ssp. 532. sep. 284. s'P. 55. 'SP. 225. s'P. 179. "P. 29. "P. 17.
"P. 300. <3P. 286. <«P. 39. "p. igo. 48p. 195. 47p. 267.

viii Introduction

He was a graduate of Chapel Hill and was destined to attain great fame
as a teaclier."48

In 1828, Absalom K. Barr, a Chapel Hill man, took charge of the
Lexington Academy, 49 and Thomas G. Stone, mentioned above, was in
charge of Mount Welcome Academy in Franklin. 5*^ Charles A. Hill,
then at Louisburg, gave notice that his "plan of education accords with
that of our University.''^!

In 1829, William J. Bingham advertised that his "system of studies
is, in general, preparatory to our University" ;^2 Pleasant Spring, in
Wake, said that "the course of studies will be preparatory to the Uni-
versity" ;^2 and H. R. Hall's Ebenezer Academy in Iredell claimed that
"a course of studies is here pursued preparatory to admission into the
University of this State."54

lu 1831, James Grant took charge of the Raleigh Academy and
printed the testimonials given him by his Chapel Hill teachers.^^ Of
the examination at the end of his first term the Raleigh Register said:
"We were gratified at the performances of the Senior Class, who are
about to leave the Academy and enter College — more especially as their
destination is our own University."'"*^ About this time Walker Ander-
son began his female boarding school at Hillsboro,^^ which enjoyed con-
siderable success for a number of years. Shortly after the founding of
this school William E. x\nderson, a graduate of the University assumed
its management.

In 1833, the Pittsboro Academy claimed to prepare students to enter
any one of the three lower classes of the University.^^'^ During this
year Benjamin Sumner took charge of Arcadia Academy in Person and
advertised the fact that he was a graduate of the University and printed
what his teachers said about him as a student.^^ A few years later on
he says that the Arcadia "Course of Studies is usually preparatory to
admission into the University. "^*^ In 1833, Ponoma Academy near
Rowles' Store in Wake advertised with pride that its principal, William
B. Strain, had been a tutor at Chapel Hill.'^i During this year J. D.
Hooper, a distinguished graduate of the University, became connected
with the Episcopal school at Raleigh. ^^

In 1834, Solomon Lea was made principal of Warrenton Academy.
Tlio trustees in a public statement said : "To those unacquainted, it
will be sufficient to know that he graduated at Chapel Hill, and is
recommended by the Faculty of that celebrated school. "'^•'^ The Raleigh
Academy was now in charge of L. B. Johnson and Thomas B. Haywood.
They announced that "the Classics will be pursued to any extent that
may be desired. The excellent Prosody of Professor Hooper, and the
Fine Scheme of Preparatory Studies prescribed by the Faculty of the
University of this State will be constantly kept in view."^'^ Joseph
H. Saunders, during this year, became chaplain of the Episcopal School

*»P. 286. <»P. 328. "P. 115. "P. 102. "P. 288. "P. 560. "P. 190. "P. 497. "P. 500. "P.
312. "P. 41. "P. 331. »op. 333. "P. 553. "P. 536. "P. 588. ''P. 503.

Intkoduction ix

at Ealeigh. He was a Chapel Hill graduate^^ and a distinguished
minister and teacher.

In 1835, William H. Owen took charge of the Leasburg Classical
School in Caswell. He was a graduate of the University.^^

In 1836, it was announced that Robert G. Allison had become prin-
cipal of Raleigh Academy. It was also said that ''he is a graduate of
our University."^"

In 1837, the principal of the j^orthampton Academy said that "with
boys who design to enter College, the Preparatory Course of Studies
and the Standard authors adopted by the Faculty of our own excellent
University at Chapel Hill, will be, henceforth, invariably adhered to."^'^
And the trustees of Stony Hill Academy in ISTash the same year said
that "those who intend a course at College will invariably use such au-
thors as are recommended by the Faculty of our University."*^^

In 1838, there are numerous evidences of the influence of the Uni-
versity on the schools of the State. The Oxford Academy gave notice
that "Classical Students will be prepared to enter the Freshman or
Sophomore class, agreeably to the course of studies prescribed by the
University of the State. "'''^ Pomona Academy announced that it taught
such studies as "prepare young men for entering the University."'''^
William B. Otis, Raleigh Classical Academy, advertised that its "pupils
are prepared to enter the advanced classes of the University of this
State. "'''2 Shocco Classical Seminary said that "students for the Uni-
versity will be prepared to enter Freshman or Sophomore class."'^^
Finally, Manly's Private School, in Raleigh, announced that its prin-
cipal was a graduate of the University of ISTorth Carolina.'^'*

Physical Equipment of the Schools. — These documents give us only
glimpses of the school buildings and their equipment. It is well to
remember that the North Carolina of this period was a sparsely settled,
agricultural State Avith no large towns. It is well to remember, too,
that blackboards were not much in use anywhere in the world before
1820 and that modern school desks and furniture were unknown eveiy-

The academy at Warrenton as early as 1795 was quite well known in
the State. The first building was replaced in 1800 by a structure "forty
feet by thirty-five, two stories high."'^^ I have never been able to find a
description of the first house used by this school. In 1805 the Warren-
ton trustees said that they had "contracted for the building of a stew-
ard's house, together with all necessary outhouses." They also said the
academy had "a good mathematical and philosophical (physics) appa-
ratus, which most other institutions of the like kind in this State are
destitute of."'^^ In 1820, when Jones and Andrews had charge of the
female academy they said they had "an extensive apparatus for Natural
Philosophy and chemistry and an excellent Orrery"''"'' and several
pianos.'''^ In 1826-7, when the female academy was in charge of

•sp. 537. 66P 32. 67P. 5J1. «8p. 276. e'P. 269. '»?. 147. "P. 554. "P. 570. "P. 632. '<P.
671. "P. 577. 7«p. 57g 7 7p. 615. "p. 616.

X Introduction

Elijah Brainerd, it was said to have "a Chemical and Philosophical
Apparatus and a choice Cabinet of Minerals, selected by Professors
Silliman, Smith, and Dr. Manson, of Yale College.""*^

The Raleigh newspapers of this period give us a fairly good idea of
what the school buildings of the Kaleigh Academy were like. The first
building, erected in 1802, was to be two stories high, pillared on brick or
stone, forty feet long, twenty-four feet wide, with twelve feet pitch be-
low and ten feet above, and a brick chimney at either end. There were
to be two doors and eight windows of 18 panes each in the first story
and ten windows of 18 panes each in the second story. The win-
dow panes were ten by twelve inches in the lower story and eight by ten
inches in the upper story. There were to be two rooms twelve feet
square cut off from one end of the upper story. The house was to be
painted inside and out.*'^ In the fall of 1807 it was announced that "on
the first day of January next, the new building for the Female Depart-
ment will be finished. "81 In 1808, it was said that "the Students of the
Kaleigh Academy, who are members of the Polemic Society have deter-
mined to establish among themselves a Circulating Library."^^ Jn 1810,
the trustees of the Academy erected a home for their principal. This
building was twenty-two by twenty-four feet, two stories high, and had
a piazza. '"^-"^ In 1811, the trustees bought a second hand safe from the
U. S. Internal Revenue Collector.^'* In 1813, the trustees "deemed it
expedient from the great increase of students to erect a separate House
for the Preparatory School. "^^ j^ 1815, the Polemic Society Library
and the Raleigh Subscription Library were united. ^^ In 1815, the
authorities of the Academy bought 90 shares of stock in the Bank of
New Bern and several shares in the State Bank. 8" An account of the
school closing for 1815 said that "the experiments made by the Students
in Chemistry did honor to Miss Nye." Evidently the Academy then
had some kind of chemical api)aratus. In 1817, the trustees insured two
school buildings for $1,000 each, a one-story building used by the female
department for $250, and a one-story building used by the preparatory
(elementary) school for $500.'*''^ In 1819, the trustees spent $500 for a
philosophical a])paratus, to be selected by Prof. Mitchell, of Chapel
Hill.'*'' An advertisement of 1823 refers to the fact that the Academy
has a number of ancient maps. In 1835, a visitor to the academy, then
conducted by Johnson and Haywood, spoke of sinnll children using the
blackboard in solving problems in arithmetic."*^

In 1806, the Caswell Academy announced that it was "provided with
an excellent pair of globes, a set of fine Maps, and some geometrical
apparatus.""' In 1807, John Henry (Janlt, a traveling teacher and
braggart, claimed to have a pair of "New British Globes" for the use of
his school. "2 The Salisbury Academy trustees, in 1807, said they had
"procured for the accommodations of the students in a retired part of
the town, a large and convenient pile of buildings, containing twelve

'•p. 625. »"P. 388. "P. 404. "P. 407. "P. 419. »«P. 424. s'P. 438. 8»P. 444. "PP. 44.5-449.
»»P. 451. »»P. 455. "P. 510. "P. 20. "P. 514.

Intkoduction xi

rooms, of which nine are furnished with fire places."^^ In 1808, the
Lonisburg Male Academy was said to be "a pleasant building on the hill
about one-fourth mile from the Yillage."^^ In 1810, the pupils of this
academy gave a play "for the benefit of the Library lately established
in that Institution. "'^s

The tiaistees in letting out the contract for the academy building at
Smithfield in 1812 said that it was to be "22 feet by 40 feet two stories
high, with such conveniences as is necessary for an academy."^'*^ The
same year the trustees of Hyco Academy speak of the wood w^ork of their
"elegant brick building."^^ And the trustees of the Oxford Academy
in 1812 refer with pride to "an elegant two-story Building, 50 feet
long and 32 wide."^^ Tarboro erected a school building in 1813 which
the trustees said was to be sixty feet by twenty-four feet and two stories
high. 99 In 1814 the building of the Louisburg Female Academy was
erected. The trustees specified that it was to be 30 feet by 20 feet and
two stories high, with two chimneys, and painted outside. ^^o In 1815,
it was advertised that the Jamestown Female Seminary "School Room is
furnished with a pair of Carey's Globes, a complete set of large Maps
and one of the United States six feet square. "i*^! In 1818, the trustees
of the Salisbury Academy say that "besides the large and elegant build-
ing on Academy Square, provided for the Males, a very convenient
house has been prepared for the Young Ladies. "^^^ Jn 1820, the two
academy buildings were described as being "about 40 or 50 feet long and
two stories high," situated upon handsome sites and surrounded with
pleasant groves of native growth. "i^s

The trustees of the Hillsboro iVcademy, Iti 1821, advertised that their
new house was to be of brick and "large enough to contain about 150
students. "i*^'* The same year Mrs. Robert L. Edmonds claimed that
her school room at Wadesboro was "furnished with Maps and Globes
equal to any in the United States''^^^ which reminds us that the modern
habit of boasting about our schools is not really modem in origin after

In 1822 Jones and Andrews conducted the Oxford Female Seminary.
In one of their advertisements they declare that they "possess a better
philosophical apparatus than most of our colleges." They also said they
had "three excellent Piano Fortes" and that "the models for Drawing
and Painting are numerous and good."!^^

In 1824 a committee of the tnistees of the Charlotte Male and Female
Academies gave notice that they intended to erect two academy buildings.
These buildings were to be "fifty feet long by thirty feet wide, two
stories high, on a stone foundation. "i'^'' There were to be two partition
walls in each building. In 1824, the trustees of Lincolnton Female
Academy "Resolved unanimously that the building be brick." This
school was 40 feet long and 25 feet wide, two stories high, the pitch
below being eleven feet and the pitch above ten feet.^os xhe window

9 'P. 346. "P. 89. »5P. 92. "P. 192. 9 7p. 25. 'sp. 132 sap 77 loop 94 loip 170 i0 2p. 349.
msp. 361. 104P. 283. losp. 10. lo^P. 151. i»'P. 231. losp. 20I.

xii Introduction

sills were made of good soapstone and cost sixty-two and a half cents a
foot.i*^^ In ls25 the trustees authorized John Zimmerman "to contract
for writing tables and seats for the Academy and to have three other
tables made, one three feet square, and the other six feet long and four
feet wide/'ii*^ In 1827, a committee of the trustees was appointed 'Ho
purchase a sufficient quantity of calico to make a curtain in the Academy
for the exhibition at the ensuing examination. "m In 1828, Daniel
Shuford was paid "for erecting a stage in the Female Academy.''^^-
In 1836, a resolution of the board authorized "Mr. Johnson to procure
for the Academy a pair of good globes when he visited the north. "^^^

Possibly the best equipped school building in the State prior to 1840
was the Fayetteville Academy building. In 1825 the trustees published
the following description of it : "The main building and wing are three
stories high, with a double Portico in front, and is surmounted with a
beautiful Belfry — the length and breadth of the main building is
about 65 by 45 feet, divided into large apartments, separated by large
halls or passages through the center. They are sufficiently capacious to
accommodate a school of 200 scholars and a family, and the lot is sup-
plied from a Hydrant in the front yard with good and wholesome
water."! 1-1

In 1826 the Salem Boys' School had sufficient buildings to accommo-
date five teachers. ii-^ During this year the Oxford Female Seminary said
that "we have received a chemical and Philosophical Apparatus ; and now
each recitation in Chemistry, Philosophy and Astronomy is accom-
panied with a Lecture and Experiments illustrating the principles of the
sciences."! 16

In 1827, the Hillsboro Female Seminary prided itself on the "pos-

Online LibraryCharles L. (Charles Lee) CoonNorth Carolina schools and academies, 1790-1840; a documentary history → online text (page 1 of 87)