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I. M. E. (Isabella Margaret Elizabeth) Blandin.

History of higher education of women in the South prior to 1860. online

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court-house and jail and furnish means towards the
enlargement and improvement of the academy. The
sum of $10,500 was appropriated to the last purpose
by the police court, and private subscriptions increased
the sum to $14,121.59.

About this time an unsuccessful effort was made to
engage a Mr. Hollister as principal. Deeming it im-
portant to have at the head of the institution " a gen-
tleman of literary abilities and one who has practical
experience in conducting a female school/' the ses-



190 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

sion of 1838 was postponed until February, and mean-
while Colonel Henderson was dispatched on the special
mission of finding an acceptable man. The result
was, Mr. Thomas Johnson was selected.

Notwithstanding the financial calamities of the
period, there was prosperity throughout this commu-
nity. The frictions and disorders incident to new
settlements yielded so promptly to the power of a re-
fined and cultured element that they seemed hardly to
have existed.

The trustees resolved to readjust their plans; it
was determined to move the academy to a more desir-
able site. On the Qth of April, 1838, the special com-
mittee reported the purchase of a lot of four acres
from Mr. W. S. Randolph. A committee was ap-
pointed to make contracts and superintend the work.
It was further resolved to lay the corner-stone on
the 24th of June with Masonic honors, and Holly
Springs Lodge, No. 35, was invited to perform the
ceremony. This program was duly carried out, and
the academy (now called Holly Springs Collegiate
Institute) was established on grounds amply capa-
cious and beautifully located amidst residences well
improved, and even in some instances ambitious in
style. The grounds were laid off and shade trees
planted. Dr. William Hankins testified his interest
in the enterprise by the gift of an " elegant electrical
machine."

In 1838 there were about eighty pupils. The musi-
cal department was under the care of Mr. and Mrs.
Kenno, and was well conducted.

The institution embraced a primary and a colle-
giate department. The primary were taught orthog-
raphy, reading, writing, English grammar, geography,
history, and arithmetic. The collegiate department
was divided into three classes junior, intermediate,
and senior and the studies were arranged in this
order :

Junior Class Elocution, English, Latin or some



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 191

modern language, natural philosophy, chemistry, his-
tory, arithmetic, composition, vocal music.

Intermediate Class English, rhetoric, Latin or
some modern language, physiology, outlines of geol-
ogy, mineralogy, botany, natural history, algebra, vo-
cal music.

Senior Class English, Latin or some modern lan-
guage, optics, astronomy, natural theology, mental and
moral philosophy, criticism, logic, geometry, composing
themes, music.

The Institute was then provided with five teachers
in the collegiate department, including the president
and two teachers for art and music. There was a
sufficient additional force for the primary department.
The trustees paid no salaries, the principal and as-
sistants depending entirely upon tuition fees.

In the Republican of January 12, 1839, President
Johnson published an open letter to the public urging
the claims of the Institute. It contains a good presen-
tation of the advantages of a high education, a fine
insistence on the desirability of a home education
rather than a foreign one, and it has this passage of
interest :

" The people of Holly Springs have given such evi-
dence of their convictions on the subject of education
that we think the public may rely upon their establish-
ing schools of such a caste as to meet their views, how-
ever elevated. They have raised by subscription $30,-
ooo to erect and endow a college for young gentle-
men, and have already commenced improvements upon
a liberal scale for its accommodations, part of which
is already prepared ; the balance is in progress. This
college is now furnished with a faculty that would
do honor to any school.

1 They have appropriated $15,000 to erecting and
endowing a high order of female school, the principal
edifice of which is now in progress and will be finished
early next spring. This edifice is of the Tuscan order,
64 feet front, two tall stories upon a basement, with a



192 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

wing extending back 60 feet. When completed it
will be one of the best buildings for the purpose in the
Southwest, sufficiently large to accommodate the
teacher's family, 140 pupils, and 60 boarders.

" Our object is to impart a sound, substantial, lib-
eral education, not masculine, but approximating as
near to it as the peculiarities of the female intellect
will permit."

The Institute was granted a charter in 1839, and
in May of that year Mr. Johnson severed his con-
nection with the school, and was succeeded by Rev.
C. Parish, A. M., who remained until 1842. The
faculty during the latter part of 1839 was composed
of Rev. C. Parish, A. M., president and professor of
natural science, mathematics, languages, and belles-
lettres; Miss Ruth Beach, assistant teacher; Rufus
Beach, Esq., and daughter, Eliza, teachers of music;
Mrs. E. Langley, teacher of ornamental branches.
The students registered January, 1840, were 80 in
number.

During the summer of 1841 a Mr. Foster set up a
rival school, and for some months there was a con-
tention which school was the true Holly Springs In-
stitute; at last, in January, 1842, Rev. C. Parish re-
signed, and was succeeded by Mr. Foster. The board
accepted the resignation with reluctance, and passed
very complimentary resolutions on that occasion. Dur-
ing Mr. Parish's incumbency he graduated several
young ladies with the degree of M. P. L. possibly
these letters stand for " Mistress of Polite Literature."

Mr. Foster leased the institute for five and one-half
years. A fine cabinet of minerals was provided, and
a good philosophical apparatus, also a library; and
part of the grounds was laid out in a botanical gar-
den. Mr. Foster was remarkably successful for a
time.

An account of the closing exercises of the session
of 1844 ma y be found in the Holly Springs Gazette
of that date : " On the Thursday, Friday, and Satur-



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 19S

day of the last week in December, 1844, there was a
public examination; the pupils gave numerous experi-
ments and illustrations in practical chemistry; they
conversed publicly in French, and read compositions
in that tongue ; they were quizzed in mental philosophy,
in geometry, and in geology; they gave a public con-
cert, which was creditable to pupils and teachers. In
all they acquitted themselves with great credit."

Mr. Foster was succeeded by Rev. James Weatherby,
who was quite prosperous for two years, and was
succeeded by Rev. G. W. Sill, who remained ten years,
and was prosperous from the first of his administra-
tion ; indeed, the school was at its best during his ad-
ministration. It had tided over the financial crisis of
1837-40, the buildings were completed, and the pur-
poses of the trustees were crowned with success. This
board of trustees counted among its members some of
the most intelligent and influential gentlemen in the
State.

The Institute was destroyed by the War between
the States, and never rebuilt, but its work remains; it
contributed largely to the development of a high order
of Culture in the community, and to the establishment
of other fine schools, its natural and direct successors.

Sharon Female College, Madison County, Mississippi,

1837

This institution, located at Sharon, in Madison
County, was founded by B. W. Minter, J. W. P. Mc-
Gimsey, E. F. Divine, Kinsman Divine, William
Joiner, and James M. Baker, with others. The scheme
was to have a union school, under the direction of the
Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians ; each of these
denominations was represented on the board of trus-
tees and the faculty. The institution was incorporated
in 1837. The plan of organization was a college for
men and an academy for girls. These were distinct
establishments and faculties under one president. As



194 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

had been anticipated, this union did not last long,
about six years, when the school for girls was placed
in the hands of the Methodist Church. It was reor-
ganized, obtained a new charter, and began an era of
prosperity under the name of Sharon Female College.
The following extracts from an advertisement of the
date September 6, 1843, w ^^ show something of its
organization :

" SHARON FEMALE COLLEGE, MADISON COUNTY,
MISSISSIPPI

" This institution, under the patronage of the Mis-
sissippi Annual Conference, will commence its regular
session on the first Monday of October.

" Board of Instruction Rev. E. S. Robinson, A. M.,
principal and teacher of ancient languages, mathe-
matics, and natural sciences; C. W. F. Muller, Esq.,
(a native of France, and a gentleman of thorough edu-
cation), professor of music and modern languages;
Mrs. J. A. Robinson, chief governess and teacher of
botany, history, and ornamental needlework ; name not
given, second governess, and teacher of drawing, paint-
ing, and vocal music. A preceptress of the prepara-
tory department will be selected by October ist.

" Course of study : Preparatory department Or-
thography, reading, writing, English grammar, geog-
raphy, arithmetic, mythology, progressive exercises
in composition, Bible and its natural history, Latin
and Greek grammars, Latin tutors and readers, and
vocal music. Collegiate department Ancient and
modern languages, algebra, geometry, trigonometry,
mensuration, syntax and English composition, analy-
sis, rhetoric, natural philosophy, chemistry, geology,
mineralogy, botany, astronomy, logic, elements of criti-
cism, ancient and modern history, ancient geography,
philosophy of natural history, physiology, mental and
moral sciences, introduction to the study of the Bible,
evidences of Christianity, daily use of sacred Scrip-



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 195

tures, music, drawing, painting, wax, coral, and orna-
mental needlework.

" The last examination closed the first semi-annual
session of its existence under the patronage of the
Mississippi Annual Conference. Its success has equaled
the highest expectations of its trustees and patrons,
having closed with more than 80 students, and the
prospect of large accessions at the opening of the
next session.

" J. P. THOMAS,
"President Board of Trustees."



In 1845 Mr- Robinson was succeeded by Rev. Pleas-
ant J. Eckles; in 1854 Rev. J. W. Shelton was elected;
he resigned after a few months and was succeeded
by Rev. Mr. Guard, who remained until 1861, when
he was followed by Rev. William L. C. Hunnicut.
Mr. Hunnicut very soon enlisted as a chaplain in the
Confederate Army, and Rev. Samuel Aikin took his
place in the College ; in 1867 he resigned, and Mr. Hun-
nicut was re-elected and served until 1869, when he
was succeeded by Rev. Josiah M. Pugh. President
Pugh resigned in July, 1870, on account of ill health,
and Mr. Hunnicut was elected for the third time.
He served one year and was succeeded by Mr.
Pugh.

In 1868 the boarding-house was destroyed by 'fire,
and this calamity eventually led to the closing of the
College. In 1872, under President Pugh, the last
graduating class of Sharon College received their de-
grees. They were Mattie E. Holliday, Mary J.
O'Leary, and Emma M. Wiggins. The last named
was valedictorian. The commencement that year was
said to be the most brilliant in the history of the
institution. But it was the last. In July of that year
President Pugh resigned to take the presidency of
Marvin College, Texas, and was succeeded by Rev.
Mr. Moss of Alabama.

At the close of the year 1873 the College closed its



196 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

career. The suspension was due to the destruction of
property during the war and by the war, the general
upheaval of society, the destruction of the boarding-
house, and removals of many families and other con-
ditions that could not be changed.

(This sketch is taken from " History of Education
in Mississippi," by Hon. Edward Mayes.)

Oxford Academy Union College Woman's College,
Oxford, Mississippi, 1836-1908

Scarcely had the Indians been expelled from their
ancestral hunting grounds when the Mississippians be-
gan to establish schools. Only two years after the
Chickasaws slowly and sadly wended their way to the
far West, the Methodists of the little town of Ox-
ford established a school for girls. In 1838 this school
was incorporated under the name of Oxford Female
Academy, and placed under the control of a regular
board of trustees.

Miss Charlotte Paine was the first principal, and
was remarkably successful in the management of the
school. Her first session closed December, 1839, with
an enrollment of thirty-four. Three years later the
music department gave an exhibition recital in the
court-house of Oxford. Though the numbers were
simple, the pupils must have applied themselves dili-
gently to be able to render them in the creditable man-
ner they did. The style of music preferred in that
day was simple melody rather than the class that calls
for showy execution finger gymnastics or the purely
classical.

Under the management of several principals the
school was a decided success; but its friends and pa-
trons desired something better a higher standard;
and as at that time the impression prevailed that a de-
nominational connection was the only sure road to a
great career, the school was placed under the control
of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In 1854 a



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 197

new charter was obtained and the name changed to
Union College.

While the College is under the management of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, no sectarian test
is made in the selection of teachers, and it is patron-
ized by all denominations, and is conducted on a
Christian basis.

When organized as an academy there were three
departments literary, musical and art. The literary
was divided into primary, middle and advanced. The
following was the course of study for the advanced
department : " Comstock's Natural Philosophy, Corn-
stock's Chemistry; Lincoln's Botany; Playfair's Eu-
clid ; Day's Algebra ; Newman's Rhetoric ; Alexander's
Evidences; Goodrich's Ecclesiastical History: history
of England; history of France; Abercrombie's intel-
lectual Powers ; Abercrombie's Moral Feelings ; Watts
on the Mind; Burritt's Geography of the Heavens;
logic; Roman and Grecian antiquities; political econ-
omy ; composition." The literary course of Union Col-
lege embraces a preparatory and a collegiate depart-
ment. The latter requires the usual four years. The
College offers a short course of two years to those
who have not time to take the full course. There is
also a school of fine arts and a school of vocal and
instrumental music.

The College is unendowed, and is dependent upon
tuition fees for its support; these range from $20 to
$50 for day pupils, per annum. Music, art, and French
are extras. The average attendance is 1 50 pupils. The
first class graduated under the charter of 1854 num-
bered six, and was graduated in 1856. The War of
1861-65, caused a suspension of five years, but with
that exception the school has had a continuous ex-
istence from 1836 to the present time, and has sent
out hundreds of young women to disseminate the
truths of Christianity and morality.

The original building presented much the appear-
ance of a dwelling-house. It was a two-story brick



198 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

structure arranged for schoolrooms and music-rooms;
the boarders were accommodated in private families.

The Academy was furnished with a complete philo-
sophical, chemical, and astronomical apparatus, globes,
and a small library. When the Academy was enlarged
or advanced to a college, a three-story brick building
was erected, and the " old academy " was connected
with it by a corridor. These buildings were valued
at $50,000 and there was no debt on them. In 1896
another three-story brick building was added, at a
cost of $15,000.

The College added a much larger and more modern
chemical and philosophical apparatus, and enlarged the
library.

The campus of 10 acres, shaded by several hundred
native trees, affords ample ground for exercise and
amusement.

In 1899 some prominent ministers and members of
the North Mississippi Conference of the M. E. Church
South, recognizing the great value of the plant and
the favorable location for a college for women, as
well as the great need of such an institution within the
bounds of the Conference, negotiated with the owners
and purchased the entire plant.

This school enjoys the distinction of being the old-
est chartered school for girls in the State that has had
a continuous existence. All those established at an
earlier date have passed out of existence. It is now a
modern college and conservatory.

Port Gibson Female College, Port Gibson, Mississippi,
1843-1908

The town of Port Gibson is located on the Louisville,
New Orleans, and Texas Railway. It is one of the
oldest towns in the State, and at a very early period
in its history began the establishment of schools. In
1809 the Territorial Legislature chartered the Madi-
son Academy, then in successful operation under the



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 199

care of Henry C. Cox. This academy had a success-
ful career for many years. In 1826 Clinton Academy
was incorporated, and in 1829 its name was changed to
Port Gibson Academy, which was more or less success-
ful until about 1843. ^ n tnat Y ear a number of gentle-
men established Port Gibson Collegiate Academy.
This institution was opened for the reception of stu-
dents in 1844. The first faculty was Mr. John Har-
vie, A.M., principal; Mrs. Mary A. Harvie, his wife;
Mr. W. L. Whitney, A.M., Miss Mary J. Smyth,
Miss Marcia Howe, assistants, and Mr. L. G. Hartge,
professor of music.

Provision was made for teaching the usual college
curriculum, modern languages and music. An exten-
sive apparatus for teaching natural philosophy and
chemistry was supplied.

The building and one block of ground were donated
by the founder: these were valued at $15,000. The
management of Mr. Harvie was successful; his term
of service continued from 1844 to 1859.

This institution did not receive its charter until
1854, when it was chartered under the name of Port
Gibson Female Collegiate Academy.

In 1859 Rev. Benjamin Jones, a minister of the M.
E. Church South, was president. How long he re-
tained the position the record does not say, but he was
president again in 1871. It is not stated whether he
retained this position until 1875, when Rev. John A. B.
Jones was elected. Mr. Jones served seven years, and
was succeeded by Rev. Thomas C. Bradford, who
served six years and was succeeded by Rev. Edwin H.
Mounger, in 1888, who still retains the position.

In 1869 the College was taken under the patronage
of the Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church South, and the property duly conveyed
to that body.

This college was exempt from doing pioneer work,
for the way had been prepared for it by the fine
schools mentioned at the beginning of this article.



200 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

From the first it was successful ; even the turmoils and
disasters of the War of 1861-65 did not cause a sus-
pension of exercises. As the academies mentioned
were merged into it, its existence may be dated from
1809, and certainly some years earlier, perhaps from
the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Several buildings have been added to the original
Academy, and the property is now valued at $20,000.

The degrees conferred are M. E. L. (Mistress of
English Literature), B. A., M. A.

Grenada Collegiate Institute, Grenada, Mississippi,
1851-1908

This institution had many vicissitudes and changes
of name before it arrived at its present status and
name.

In 1851, before Grenada was in existence, the Yalo-
busha Baptist Association was an active denomina-
tional organization, whose circle included all of Yalo-
busha and parts of Carroll and Choctaw counties. That
association founded a school of high grade, under the
name of The Yalobusha Baptist Female Institute. For
its accommodation they erected the present edifice, at
a cost of $30,000. The money obtained came from
voluntary and varying contributions. Dr. W. S. Webb,
who was teaching school in what is now Grenada,
was elected president; he accepted and moved his
school into the building, September, 1851. He was
very successful, and continued for six years, command-
ing a large patronage from the surrounding country.

The school was closed during the War of 1861-65,
and the buildings used for a hospital. It seems it
had never been fully paid for, and the creditor pro-
cured a sale and it passed out of the control of the
Baptists. The purchaser, Mr. George Ragsdale, leased
it to a Mrs. Holcombe, who opened a school in the
building called " Emma Mercer Institute/' She was



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 201

not successful, and after a few years was succeeded
by Prof. R. A. Irwin.

At this period, 1873, the county superintendent of
public education said in his report to the State super-
intendent :

" The Emma Mercer Institute is an institution of
considerable renown as a female seminary, under the
management of Prof. R. A. Irwin, a gentleman of high
moral character, a fine scholar, and a thorough educa-
tor, being assisted by his wife, a most estimable lady,
who exercises a maternal supervision over the young
ladies intrusted to her care; and with the above are
associated three lady teachers of superior qualifica-
tions, making in all five, all of whom, combined,
insure the advancement and best interest in every
respect of the highest type of mental and moral train-
ing. The number of young ladies in attendance
averages 80. "

The institution was in debt, and about 1873 it was
sold for $7,000 or $8,000, and bought by a joint stock
company. The Episcopalians thought of buying it,
but some fear about the title prevented them.

The company changed the name to Grenada Female
College. From this time until 1882 there were fre-
quent changes of presidents, and the school did not
prosper; it accomplished little good.

In 1882 it was purchased by the North Mississippi
Conference for a nominal sum, and the Rev Thomas
J. Newell, a member of the Conference, became presi-
dent and has remained in office ever since. The Con-
ference obtained a new charter, in 1884, under the
name of Grenada Collegiate Institute.

The completion of the college course, without an-
cient or modern languages, entitles a student to the
degree of M. E. L. ; the completion of the English
course and Latin and one modern language entitles
to the A. M. degree. The institution has no income
except its earnings.



202 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION



The Central Female Institute, now Hillman College,
1853-1908

This school was established by the Baptist Church
at Clinton, Hinds County, in 1853. Its work was
not interrupted by the War of 1861-65, and it is
now pursuing- its fifty-fourth year of uninterrupted
work. The Baptists planned a building to cost $60,-
ooo, but it has never been finished. The part that was
finished before the war cost $4,000, and since that
time additions have been made as demanded.

The institution was incorporated in 1853. Estab-
lished in Clinton, where the Baptists had already
established Mississippi College, and fostered by that
denomination, its success was assured from the begin-
ning. The attendance averages 120 per annum; the
highest number was 169, in 1859, and the lowest 60,
in 1865.

The plan of instruction includes literary, musical,
ornamental and industrial departments. The literary
department is divided into primary, preparatory, and
collegiate schools. In the collegiate department there
are three courses leading to graduation. The English
course, without foreign languages, leads to the M. E. L.
degree; the English course with Latin and Greek, or
Latin and French, or Latin and German leads to the
A. B. degree; the English course with one ancient or
one modern language entitles the student to a di-
ploma.

Notwithstanding the $60,000 building has never
been completed, the Institute has ample room for all
purposes a large, well-furnished boarding depart-
ment, well-supplied laboratories, suitably equipped
studios for music and art, and a valuable museum of
geological and mineralogical specimens and natural


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Online LibraryI. M. E. (Isabella Margaret Elizabeth) BlandinHistory of higher education of women in the South prior to 1860. → online text (page 14 of 24)