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

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

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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 20 of 24)
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and drawing; Madame Feugas, M. Strawinski, danc-
ing; M. Manget, French.

" Board and the entire course of studies, exclusive
of extra studies, which were chemistry, botany, Latin
and French languages, lessons on piano, harp, guitar,
and dancing lessons all fancy dances were taught and


very gracefully danced by the young ladies, also draw-
ing and oil painting, was $250 per collegiate year;
this charge included table board, washing, firewood,
candles, etc.

" There were two secret societies at Barhamville ;
the most prominent of which was the * Tri-une.' The
organization was very secret, being composed of only
ten or twelve members. Of course these societies
were organized with the consent of Dr. Marks. The
badge of this society consisted of a cross and an anchor
joined in some fanciful way. Only a very few of them
are still in existence, and these few are treasured as
priceless. The graduating badge was a six pointed
star, similar in shape to the Euphradian Society badge
of the South Carolina College. At commencement
time all the relatives and lady friends of the girls
came to the graduating exercises. The graduates were
all dressed in white and each girl in turn read her

" The following young ladies were admitted to the
highest honors of the institute, June 15, 1860: Misses
Mary A. Dubose, Harriet C. Geiger, Maria L. Garling-
ton, Eliza E. Johnson, Anna E. Kirtland, Sallie D.
McCall, Elizabeth W. Verdier, Caro B. H. Yancey.

" Many famous ladies have been graduated from
this school, among whom was Miss Pamela Cunning-
ham, who conceived the idea of purchasing and pre-
serving Mount Vernon, and was known as the ' South-
ern Matron/ Barhamville also enjoys the distinction
of having been the alma mater of Miss Bulloch of
Georgia, the mother of Theodore Roosevelt.

" Attached to the institute were a well-selected li-
brary, philosophical and chemical apparatus, and a
cabinet of minerals. The laboratory, where chemistry,
philosophy, and the languages were taught, is still
standing. It was bought by the late Dr. Frank Greene,
repaired and fitted for a dwelling. The cottage on
the hill a little east of the institute was sold to Mr.
Beard. ' The Spring lot ' south of the school was


purchased by Dr. Kendall. * Rose Hill cottage/ on
the north, was sold during the War between the States
to Mr. Arthur Middleton, and he sold it, I think, to the
party who owns it. The third cottage toward Colum-
bia was sold by Dr. Marks, during the War between
the States, to a man named Gruber.

" * Barhamville ' ! How the name calls up hallowed
associations work, earnest and true, fun and frolic,
the noble, the beautiful, the generous. Some have
filled the highest walks of life, some have lived in
humbler spheres, but the principles taught will ever
exalt the name of ' Barhamville.' '

(This sketch was written by Mrs. Jean H. Wither-
spoon of Columbia, South Carolina, for The State,
published in Columbia, South Carolina. It was sent
to the author of this history by Mr. Dreher, Superin-
tendent of Public Education, South Carolina.)


First Academies in Tennessee

THE first Territorial Legislature of Tennessee as-
sembled in Knoxville, August 25, 1794, and on loth
September " a bill to establish Blount College " was
passed. The College was named for the Territorial
Governor. Co-educaton was practiced for a while, and
this is one of the rare instances of co-education in the
Southern States prior to the War between the States.

Barbara Blount, daughter of the Governor, gained
such high distinction among the young ladies that
the hill on which the College was built was named
" Barbara Hill," in her honor.

Fisk's Female Academy, at Hillam, Overton County,
was chartered September n, 1806. A "female"
academy at Knoxville was chartered in 1811, and the
Female Academy at Maysville, Blount County, was
chartered in 1813. These were all the "female"
academies that were chartered in Tennessee before
the establishment of the Nashville Academy. (Crew's
"History of Nashville.")

Nashville Female Academy

The first school established in Nashville was organ-
ized on the flag-boat of General James Robertson's
pioneer fleet, by Mrs. Ann Robertson, and perhaps
it may seem strange that any one should think of
teaching children who were hourly exposed to danger
of death from attacks of Indians, from drowning,
from tempest, and perhaps from cold or starvation;
but these stalwart backwoods people were building
for the future. This unique traveling school landed


at Big Salt Lick on Sunday, Arpil 24, 1780, after a
winter voyage of four months. Thus the city of Nash-
ville had a school before its citizens had houses, and
it is not surprising that the city became a center for
educational enterprises, and famous for its schools
and the culture of its citizens.

Other excellent schools were soon opened in the
rapidly growing town, but people desired something
better, something of a high order for their girls, and
early in the year 1816 they began to discuss the ad-
visability and the possibility of establishing an Acad-
emy for girls. The formation of a stock company was
the plan adopted. The organization of this company
was completed on July 4, 1816. The members of this
corporation were Joseph T. Ellison, James Jackson,
James Hanna, John Baird, Stephen Cantrell, Wilkins
Tannehill (resigned and John Anderson admitted in
his place), John E. Back, James Trimble, Samuel Clai-
born, Thomas Childress, Elihu S. Hall, Samuel Elam,
Thos. J. Read, John Childress, Robert Searcy, David
Irwin, James Porter, John Nichol, John P. Ewin.
Willie Barrow, Felix Grundy, George M. Deadrick,
John C. McLemore, Robert Weakley, Robert White.
In the charter immediately following, the subsequent
names, making fifty in all, complete the original stock-
holders of the Nashville Female Academy: M. C.
Dunn, Joel Lewis, John Stump, Eli Talbot, John M.
Smith, Andrew Hynes, Thomas Crutcher, Thomas
Hill, Wash. L. Hannum, Thomas H. Fletcher, James
Roane, Thos. Williamson, John Williamson, John
Harding, Alpha Kingsley, Alex Porter, Thomas Ram-
sey, Christopher Stump, David Vaughn, G. G. Wash-
ington, N. B. Tryor, Alfred Balch, George A. Bedford,
and Matthew Barrow.

So liberally did these men contribute to this enter-
prise that years later, when the money invested in the
school was returned to the descendants of the original
subscribers, $1,000 came to one family. Yet the
worldly possessions of that man did not exceed $10,-


ooo ; in fact, none of these men was wealthy, but they
realized the importance of a sound education.

The school's grounds occupied a block, a little be-
low what is now Tulane Hotel, east of the old Chatta-
nooga depot, running from Church to McLemore and
to Cedar street. The lawn, with its grassy turf, shaded
by magnificent forest trees, was very beautiful.

There were three separate buildings in front, the
center one three stones, the others two stories. They
had a front of 180 feet and extended back 280 feet, and
were so arranged as to give sunlight to all the rooms.
This rambling structure was of gray brick. The door-
ways were colonial. There were no front verandas,
though at the rear, where were several large additions,
there were connecting galleries with paved courts. The
building was handsomely fitted for school purposes.
It contained a spacious chapel, a recreation hall, and
other attractive features. No expense was spared by
Dr. Elliott to make the school first class, and the build-
ing suited to this purpose. When any new feature was
presented, if he thought it would add to the cpmfort
or convenience of the pupils, he immediately adopted
it regardless of expense. It is estimated that during
the twenty years of his connection with the school he
spent $143,000 in improvements.

The first principals were Dr. Daniel Berry and Mrs.
Berry, formerly of Salem, Mass., from 1817 to 1819.
The much-beloved Rev. William Hume was principal
from the retirement of Dr. Berry until 1833, when his
death occurred from cholera. Dr. R. A. Lapsley suc-
ceeded him, and remained until 1838, when he retired
on account of ill health. Rev. W. A. Scott was next
principal, and remained until 1840, when Rev. C. D.
Elliott and Dr. R. A. Lapsley became joint principals.
Very soon Dr. Lapsley retired and Dr. Elliott became
sole principal, and so continued until the close of the
school in 1862.

In 1840 there were enrolled 198 pupils; in 1860
there were 513 students, 256 of whom were boarders.


So popular was this school and the advantages offered
so highly esteemed, that girls traveled hundreds of
miles, making the trip by stage coach, private con-
veyance, and on horseback, to enjoy the benefits to
be derived from it.

Dr. Elliott always employed the very best teachers
he could find. He imported experts from the East,
from England, from France, and from Italy. In or-
der to keep in touch with the best talent and the best
means of obtaining it, Dr. Elliott corresponded with
Count Cavour and other prominent personages abroad.
Sometimes the French and Italian women engaged
knew not a word of English. They were sent over
in care of the captain of the vessel, and forwarded
to their destination. One of the ladies thus brought
over was Madame Curso. Her daughter, Camille,
was a young girl when she arrived at the Academy,
and received her training there. She afterward
taught music in the Academy, and later achieved
celebrity as a violinist. Her first husband, a Mr. Tay-
lor, was also instructor in music at the Academy and
organist for the First Presbyterian Church.

Though much attention was paid to music, art, and
modern languages, the more solid branches were not
neglected : The standard was high, and the students
were thoroughly drilled in reading, mathematics, and
Latin. Much attention was paid to reading, and the
pupils usually became good readers. A prominent
teacher of this study was Miss Collins, a Quakeress,
who was an accomplished instructor and a charming
woman. She introduced a " phonetic " reader. Doubt-
less many of her old pupils can readily recall this
unique character, always dressed in unobtrusive gray,
and wearing her hair cropped in short ringlets.

Most prominent of all the faculty, however, from
length of service, and success, was Miss Lucy
Lanier. The name of Miss Lanier appears on the di-
plomas of both mothers and daughters in a number of
instances. One is that of Miss Emmeline Hill, after-


ward Mrs. Mortimer Hamilton, in 1831, and on that
of her daughter, Mrs. Leonora Hamilton Daviess, in
1859. Miss Lanier was, in commercial phrase, an
A i teacher. She estimated her pupils according to
their ability and adapted her teaching to their mental
calibre. As an instance of her sagacity it is said that
she singled out Miss Mary Murfree as perhaps the
brightest mind she ever taught.

Miss Ann Lanier, Miss Lanier's sister, was also a
member of the faculty, and the late Miss Fannie
O'Brian, whose name is so much revered in Nashville,
was presiding teacher for a number of years. The
venerable Miss Martha O'Bryan was Dr. Elliott's pri-
vate secretary, and Mrs. O'Bryan was also connected
with the domestic department.

* In the quaint language of that time, the assistant
teachers were called officially " auxiliary tutoresses,"
and a very large number of these assistants have been
connected with the school. For many years the faculty
consisted of thirty-eight members, and during the last
few years of the " old Academy " even a larger num-

The most cordial relations existed between Dr. El-
liott and his teachers. He appreciated the nervous
strain consequent upon teaching, and had a special
row of rooms reserved for teachers. These rooms
were aloof from the girls' quarters, hence the teachers
could have rest and quiet.

Ten years were required to complete the entire
course, and many of the pupils have this record to
their credit two years in the primary department,
four for the academic, four for the collegiate depart-
ment. There were two sessions a day, from g to 12
A. M. and from 2 to 4 P. M., and holidays were rare.
There was one day's vacation at Christmas.

While the mind was studiously cultivated, the phys-
ical development was by no means neglected. The
lawn afforded a pleasant opportunity for such games
as " battledore and shuttlecock," " grace hoops," and


other games of that period, and the girls were en-
couraged to indulge in them. However, Dr. Elliott
was not satisfied with this voluntary exercise, but
deemed some systematic drill necessary, and imported
a teacher from Boston to teach calisthenics; and he
deemed dancing among the girls not promiscuous
dancing one of the best forms of physical culture, and
well suited for a school exercise.

The recreation hall was 120 feet long and 40 feet
wide, and had a gallery at one end and a platform at
the other. There was a piano, and a " dancing
piano " ; the latter ground out polkas, mazurkas, reels,
and other old-fashioned dances, by turning a crank.

In this hall the girls danced three-quarters of an hour
every evening after supper. Much stress was laid on
dignity and grace of carriage, and awkwardness was
carefully corrected.

Courtesy was demanded from every one connected
with the school, and honor was the atmosphere of the
school. A matron could not enter a pupil's door with-
out knocking and waiting for permission; correspon-
dence was sacred ; no teacher was allowed to accept a
present with a money value from a pupil, nor correct
a pupil in the presence of others. There never were
any run-away matches, nor was a breath of scandal
connected with the school.

This school was never endowed, but depended en-
tirely on tuition fees ; yet annually there were admitted
five daughters of Masons, five daughters of Odd-Fel-
lows, and all the daughters of ministers actively en-
gaged in the ministry.

Notwithstanding the discipline was very strict,
the girls were never allowed to speak to acquaintances
when they took their daily walks or attended McKen-
dree Church, or other churches, there were red-letter
days when they were released from restraint.

One of these days was in 1825, when General La-
fayette visited Nashville, and was received at the Acad-
emy; another occurred in 1846, when the girls of the


Academy made the gift of a handsome flag to the First
Regiment of Mexican Volunteers. Another grand
event was in 1851, when Jennie Lind, the " Swedish
Nightingale," gave three concerts in Nashville, under
the management of P. T. Barnum, in the new Adelphi
Theatre. The tickets were sold at $6 apiece, and the
best seats were sold at auction at $200 apiece, but ar-
rangements were made for the boarders to attend the
concert. A patriotic event was the presentation by
the school, in June, 1861, of a handsome silk flag
made by the pupils to the First Regiment of Confed-
erate Volunteers.

The annual May-Day picnic was a great event, and
commencement was a grand occasion. These exer-
cises required three or four days, as each pretty maiden
was scheduled to read an original essay, a number
appearing on each programme, on the installment plan.
A list of the graduates and the titles of their essays
was recently published in the Nashville Banner, and
makes interesting reading.

The diplomas bore curious Cupid devices with curv-
ing wings in pen and ink drawings, and many are still
preserved. They were duly dated, signed, and sealed
by the faculty and trustees. The following is the quaint
form used in the inscription : " These presents shall

certify to all whom they may concern that has

completed the course of study prescribed by the in-
stitution, and that her diligence in pursuit of knowl-
edge and her uniform good conduct whilst a member
of the Academy may receive their appropriate reward,
we have granted unto and conferred upon her this
diploma, as a testimonial of our approbation of her
correct deportment and of her literary attainments."

When Fort Donelson was captured the citizens of
Nashville were dazed. Doubtless many thought the
end of time had arrived. The news was read at the
churches Sunday morning. While others were inac-
tive, Dr. Elliott worked, and by night he had obtained
cars, and all the boarders of the Academy were safely


on their journey home. As soon as the invading army
entered the city Dr. Elliott and four prominent citi-
zens were arrested and thrown in the city prison, and
later sent to Camp Chase; the Academy was stripped
of its furniture, and the fine pianos were shipped
North. His family remained for a time in the dis-
mantled building, but were finally forced to leave it by
an adverse decision. For one year, 1866, at the close
of the struggle, a school was carried on in the name
of the trustees of the Academy, but then discon-
tinued, the United States Government still occupying
the " Old Academy," and a suit was pending. This
suit, when decided, sent Dr. Elliott out a ruined man
financially, a broken man in prospects, but still the
possessor of ardent convictions and loyalty to his State.

The old Academy degenerated into a boarding-
house, and later was demolished to make room for
business houses.

A sketch of the " Old Academy " would scarcely
be complete without some mention of Dr. Elliott's life
and character.

His parents emigrated from Maryland to Butler
County, Ohio, where Dr. Elliott was born in 1810.
He was not at all fond of mentioning his birthplace,
he was such an ardent Southerner. He received his
collegiate training at Augusta College, Kentucky.
Afterward he taught in LaGrange College, Georgia,
for a number of years, and resigned this position to
take up work in the Nashville Academy, where he
spent twenty-two years of the prime of his life.

Dr. Elliott's baptismal name was Collins, but while
at college he added D. to his name for another initial,
and to make the alphabetical order correct, C. D. E.

He attained at one time a fortune, and his yearly
profit from his school in 1860 was $25,000. His
home when not residing at the Academy was what is
now the Protestant Orphan Asylum, then a palatial
residence surrounded by a large yard enclosed in a
rustic cedar rail fence, which was one of the owner's


prides. When residing there he went to and from the
Academy in a buggy drawn by a black thoroughbred,
driven by a faithful retainer. When once convinced
that a course of action would be a proper course, he
allowed nothing to turn him from his course. He
demonstrated this in the case of allowing the boarders
to dance. The Methodist Church, of which he was
an ordained minister, dismissed him from her com-
munion. He neither complained of nor resented this
action, and during the severance of his church relation-
ship he joined no other church, but quietly pursued
the even tenor of his way, allowing the dancing and
beginning the school exercises with religious service
and closing with the same, and having family prayers
before "retiring for the night. A few years later he
was lovingly reinstated.

Dr. Elliott believed in the observance of the small
courtesies of life, and he greeted his pupils with the
gracious courtesy due to ladies. When school was
dismissed the pupils formed a line and marched past
the platform, each making a curtsy, to which he re-
sponded with a courteous bow.

To his slaves he was a kind and loving master, and
the bond of friendship between them was severed only
by death.

Dr. Elliott retained his mental vigfor unimpaired un-
til he passed away, July 31, 1899. He was survived by
several children, who with many of his old pupils ren-
dered him loving service in his sweet-spirited old age.
His faithful servant, Henry Trabue Porterfield, was
his honorary pall-bearer, following veterans from the
First Tennessee Regiment, walking close to the cof-
fin. The pall was a Confederate flag, on which rested
a beautiful tribute from pupils of the Academy.

(A long description of the " Old Academy " and a
sketch of Dr. Elliott was published in the 'Nashville
Banner in July, 1906, and from that this sketch was
taken. )



Institutes and Colleges

Columbia Institute, Columbia, Tennessee, 1836-1908

THE Institute is situated on a terraced hill in the
suburbs of Columbia. The building is a castellated
structure, unique in architecture, having been de-
signed by an English architect, after a foreign model.
Since the erection of the original building, seventy-two
years ago, two memorial halls have been erected; the
first the Museum, a memorial to Bishops Leonidas
Polk and James Harvey Otey, of the Protestant Epis-
copal Church; the second, Margaretta Bowles Memo-
rial Hall.

Columbia Institute was established in 1836 by Bish-
ops Polk and Otey, who were desirous to establish a
school for girls, of collegiate grade, which would be
under the direction of the Episcopal Church. Bishop
Otey was especially interested in this work. In 1852
he wrote : *' I have spent the best energies of my soul
and passed the most vigorous years of my life in its
[the Institute's] cause, or it would have been hope-
lessly ruined by its load of debt. For five or six years
I have labored incessantly, being sometimes absent
for six months from my home and family in my ef-
forts to raise funds for its relief. I have worked hard
and worked long without hope of fee or reward other
than the humble expectation of being serviceable to the
people among whom Providence has cast my lot/'
(See " Higher Education in Tennessee.")

Another devoted friend of the Institute was Miss
Margaretta Bowles. Miss Bowles was a lady of leisure
and culture, who had spent many years and large sums


of money in collecting a museum which comprised
cabinets of minerals, rocks, and fossils; of zoology,
illustrating all the sub-kingdoms, and especially rich
in ornithology ; a botanical collection containing speci-
mens from every part of the world ; an anatomical cab-
inet and a collection of curios and virtu. The most
valuable of the last named are the celebrated ala-
baster vase from the Medici collection, the Portland
vase, and an Etruscan cist between 2,500 and 3,000
years old ; a statue of Cupid by Gibson and a few
original paintings by Cana, Gainsboro, and Carter.

Miss Bowles also collected a library of 10,000 vol-
umes, compiled with a view to its educational uses,
and containing old and rare books. Among these are
two works of Erasmus, " The Praise of Folly " and
the New Testament, Froben edition, published in
1530; the first English translation of " Don Quixote,"
published in London in 1612; the Black Letter Bible
of 1690; the Breeches Bible of 1582; the Prayer of St.
Nersetis, in thirty-three languages, published in the
Arminian Convent of Venice; Boydell's Shakespeare,
which has now become so rare as to bring $500; and
Beda's Ecclesiastical History in the original Latin,
and many other ancient books of equal value and in-

Miss Bowles wished to bequeath this collection to
some school, and after visiting many schools in the
South she selected the Institute as the school to which
she would donate the collection. She also taught
gratuitously in the Institute for nine years, and be-
queathed to it all her unentailed estate.

The building was occupied and much abused by the
Federal troops during the war between the States.
As soon as it could be repaired after the withdrawal
of the troops, school was again begun. With this in-
termission the school has been in active operation
since its opening in 1836. It has always been a char-
tered institution, having the power to confer degrees,
and has always granted diplomas ; though now it does


not claim to be a modern college, but a preparatory

The course adopted was the usual A. B. course of
the colleges for men, modified by substituting French
for Greek and adding courses in music and art. This
course has been still further modified by the adop-
tion of modern methods and the addition of the busi-
ness and domestic science departments.

The present principal, Miss Mary A. Bryant, says :
" We do not claim to be a college, but we are a church

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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 20 of 24)