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

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

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tury, and were established at intervals during the re-
mainder of that century and the next, and even in the
early part of the nineteenth century. They were en-
dowed, and this endowment was sufficient to meet the
demands. Both boys and girls were taught in these
schools. So far as the record shows, the earliest
schools exclusively for girls, of a higher grade than
primary, were established in Norfolk and Richmond.
Miss Whateley's Boarding School for Young Ladies
was established in Richmond in 1776. (Virginia

The following notice is given in " Richmond By-
Gone Days," p. 204: "Haller's Academy, 1798-99.
Haller was a Swiss or German adventurer who estab-
lished an academy for girls in Richmond. He em-
ployed good teachers; the teacher of French was
Monsieur Fremont, father of Col. J. C. Fremont of
Rocky Mountain fame."

During the latter half of the eighteenth century (the
exact date is not given) Mrs. Anne Maria Mead estab-
lished a boarding school for girls in Norfolk. This
became very popular, and most of the prominent Vir-


ginia girls as well as many girls from other States were
educated in this school. The school passed into the
hands of Mr. Le Fevre, the French teacher employed
by Mrs. Mead. Later Mr. D. Lee Powell had charge
of the same school ; then Mr. John H. Powell, and
some others. At the present day Mr. Charles Wil-
liamson has practically the same school.

Lynchburg was laid out in 1787, and very early in
its history began to give attention to education. The
Lynchburg Star publishes several notices of schools
very early in the nineteenth century, but does not men-
tion whether for boys or girls. However, in 1815
John and Sarah Pryor opened a school for girls, and
Mrs. Mary B. Deane also had a school for girls. The
same year Rev. William S. Reid, a Presbyterian min-
ister, established a school for girls of high grade. It
was extensively patronized, and continued for many

About 1820 Rev. Franklin G. Smith established the
Lynchburg Seminary, a school of collegiate grade. In
1832 or 1833 he took charge of a school in Columbia,
Tennessee, and then the school gradually declined.

About 1820 the Methodists, under leadership of
Bishop John Early, established the Buckingham
Female Collegiate Institute. It was very prosperous,
and continued many years.

There were some other schools whose names only
have been preserved, as Hayes's school for girls, which
was flourishing in 1843 date of establishment not
given. Miss Jane McKenzie's school was also a
flourishing school of this period. The sister of Edgar
Allan Poe attended this school early in the nineteenth
century. George Persico taught a popular school for
girls 1830-1840. These last mentioned were in Rich-

The interest in education so early manifested by the
people of Lynchburg did not grow dull, but rather in-
creased, and in 1829 the Misses M. A. and G. Gordon
opened a school for girls. In 1848 this school had so


increased that they built a large brick house for its
accommodation, and the name was changed to Lynch-
burg Female Seminary.

In 1836 Mrs. Botsford and Mrs. Kirkpatrick each
had a school for girls.

About 1850, or perhaps earlier, the Montgomery
Female College at Christiansburg was established, and
continued until closed by the War between the States.

None of these schools issued catalogues, or if they
did they have not been preserved, as none are now
extant. Therefore, it is impossible to give the curric-
ula or, any details of them.


Virginia Institute, Staunton, Virginia, 1833-1908

About 1833 or 1834 Mrs. Maria Sheffey "opened a
school which became in 1843 tne Virginia Female In-
stitute. The Episcopalians of Virginia deemed a
diocesan school a necessity, and this school was incor-
porated with a capital stock of $30,000 in shares of
$100 each. The corner-stone was laid in May, 1846,
the Masons and the Sons of Templars uniting in the

The early life of the Institute was not prosperous,
the cost of a suitable lot and the buildings far exceed-
ing the original estimate. The board sought relief
from this financial embarrassment through the Con-
vention of the Diocese of Virginia. New bonds were
issued, and the public-spirited men of Staunton con-
tributed liberally to this fund. Seven thousand dol-
lars was raised and the diocese became the chief stock-

The Rev. James McElroy and Mrs. Sheffey were the
first principals. Then Mr. B. B. Minor held the posi-
tion for a short time. In June, 1848, the position was
tendered to Rev. R. H. Phillips. In January, 1856,
it was thought best to rent the property to some one
who would become responsible for the management of
the school. Rev. R. H. Phillips assumed the respon-


sibility and continued in charge until July, 1861, when
the State of Virginia impressed the buildings for the
use of the deaf, dumb and blind pupils whose own in-
stitution in the town had been taken for a hospital.

The school was not opened again until the fall of
1865, when the buildings were restored after a petition
to the House of Delegates then sitting in Richmond.

Under the wise and judicious administration of Mr.
Phillips the school enjoyed a long season of prosperity.

In 1870 a wing was added to be used for a mus'ic
hall and studio. In 1874 Bishop Johns became presi-
dent of the board, and Bishop Whittle, vice-president.
Buring the next few years additions were made to
the property and modern improvements were intro-

In i$$, after a faithful service f twenty-nine years,
Mr. Phillips resigned on account of ill health, and on
the 3*th *f March, 1880, Mrs. Stuart, widow of Gen.
J. E. B. Stuart, was asked to take charge of the school.
For more than eighteen years she held the position, and
those who have been under her care know her wonder-
ful fitne c s for it. Born and reared on the frontier,
being the daughter of Gen. Philip St. George Cooke of
the old Army, her military bias is great, and her vari-
ous experiences during the War between the States,
as the wife of a Confederate general, gave her a
peculiar training in self-control, courage, and those
stronger qualities which make up noble character. By
a wonderful ability to read human nature and capacity
for choosing, she surrounded herself with women of a
very high order as teachers. It was her aim to secure
only those whose gentle qualities of mind and soul
might influence the young to develop the womanly
traits for which the Southern woman has always been

The Institute is not a college proper, but the solid
and faithful work done by it gives ample preparation
for a higher college course. However, a diploma from
the Institute means years of hard and faithful study.


Bishop Whittle never signed his name to one unless
he was satisfied that it was merited. The Institute,
confers three diplomas one for a course in English
and Latin and one modern language ; one for English,
and one for music.

On February 16, 1898, the board met to consider
the renewal of Mrs. Stuart's lease for another term of
five years. This done, the important question of re-
modeling and adding to the building was discussed
and plans for raising the money on the property sub-
mitted and officially acted upon. The plan adopted
was to issue new bonds upon the property by first
mortgage, by taking up the old debt. The building
committee toc*k active steps toward the work decided
upon, and in April, 1898, the first ground was broken
for the new hall. The work went on through the
spring and summer, but the opening day of the fifty-
fifth session found it incomplete, and it was not until
Thanksgiving that the new dining-hall was used for
the first time, and the following Monday " Stuart
Hall " was opened with its new desks and many com-

Few institutions are so blessed in a board of trustees
and directors as Virginia Institute. These men are
among Virginia's strongest characters, spiritually and
intellectually. They embrace those foremost in church
and state, and have given generously of their time and

A great sorrow came upon the Institution, the
shadow of which cast a widespread gloom. Mrs.
Stuart was called to sustain the greatest loss possible
to her, in the death of her only daughter, who left
her the care of three small children, and after deep
and prayerful thought she decided she must give up
the work which she had for nineteen years carried on
so faithfully and successfully. She sent in her resigna-
tion, but the board refused to accept it. A meeting
was called April 4, 1899, but the business was so great
that it lasted until the evening of the 5th. Mrs.


Stuart again sent in her resignation, which was ac-
cepted after due deliberation.

The school is well equipped, having twenty-one
teachers and four officers, the same faculty Mrs. Stuait
had with few exceptions. The buildings are four mas-
sive four-story brick buildings, heated by steam and
lighted with gas. They contain a chapel, large
gymnasium, well furnished with necessary apparatus;
ample music-rooms ; large class-rooms ; schoolrooms ; a
new auditorium with large stage, art studio, library,
and infirmary.

The school organization consists of primary, aca-
demic and collegiate departments. The academic re-
quires three years, the collegiate four. In addition to
these courses, the Institute has the departments of
music, art, elocution and the commercial course; the
last consists of book-keeping, stenography, and type-

In the sixty-two years of its existence the
Institute has had only five principals, Mr. McElroy
and Mrs. Sheffey, associate principals, Mr. Phillips,
Mrs. Stuart, and Miss Maria Pendleton Duval, the
present incumbent. Miss Duval has proved a worthy
successor of the lamented Mrs. Stuart, and has fair
prospects for continued success.

(This sketch was prepared by Miss Duval. Only
a few items, taken from a catalogue sent by her, have
been added.)

Mary Baldwin Seminary, S taunt on, Virginia, 1842-


The Valley of Virginia was settled by Scotch-Irish-
men, who are called in history " the most intelligent,
industrious, and best educated of the English-speaking
races." Thomas Carlyle says " a man's religion is
the chief fact in regard to him." The character of
these people is given in the statement that they were
mostly Presbyterians; and they built the church and


the schoolhouse side by side. It is not surprising then
to find a school for girls in this little settlement about
1796. It was taught by Mrs. McGlassau. Following
Mrs. McGlassau was Monsieur Labas and his wife,
who taught in " Hilltop," which afterward became a
part of the Seminary buildings. His successor, Mr.
Easterbrook, from New England, taught from 1820
to 1830 at Hilltop. He was well patronized, but for
some unknown reason went to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Following him came Mr. Thatcher, also from New
England. His school was so large as to require several
teachers, one of whom was Mrs. Sarah Mosby Taylor,
teacher of drawing and painting. She was a former
pupil of Mrs. McGlassau. Mr. Thatcher's closing ex-
hibitions were the delight and talk of the town. In
1833 Mr. Robert L. Cook, at the request of the Pres-
byterians, opened a successful boarding-school, the
boarders being accommodated in private houses.
These schools were taught in private or rented houses.

In 1840 the Presbyterians, with a view to establish-
ing a permanent school, bought from Mrs. David W.
Pattison a brick-yard near the church, leveled and
sodded the ground, planted trees, and enclosed it with
a neat paling fence, but did not build a schoolhouse.

In 1842 Rev. Rufus Bailey, assisted by his wife and
two daughters, inaugurated the Augusta Female Semi-
nary, with neither lot nor building nor funds. Both
schoolroom and board were furnished by Mr. William
Craig in the Peck house on Greenville avenue. That
same year a plan or constitution of the Augusta Female
Seminary was adopted, the first article of which reads,
" The founders of this Institution design it to afford
the means of a thorough literary and religious educa-
tion to the female youth of this portion of our coun-
try." The board of fifteen trustees worked to such
purpose that on June 15, 1844, tne corner-stone of the
main building was laid. Dr. B. M. Smith delivered
the address, and Rev. Francis McFarland, president of
the board, and Rev. R. R. Howison, pastor-elect of the


Staunton Church, offered prayers. Within the stone
were placed The Staunton Spectator; a copper plate
inscribed with the names of the trustees, officers and
pupils, the architect, stone-cutter, mason and carpenter ;
the Holy Bible, wrapped in oil silk, with the super-
scription, " The only rule of faith, and the first text-
book of the Augusta Female Seminary." The pupils
numbered sixty, one of whom was Miss Mary Julia
Baldwin. Board was $8 and $9 a month, and tuition
fees $100 and $130 for a session of ten months; music
was $20 a session, while French, drawing, and paint-
ing were $10 each.

From 1849, when Dr. Bailey resigned, until 1863 the
principals of the Seminary were Messrs. Matthew and
Campbell, Miss Reinnelles, and Messrs. Browne, Mar-
quis and Tinsley. About the time Mr. Tinsley resigned
Mrs. Elizabeth McClung, a sister of Dr. Archibald Al-
exander, visited her son-in-law, Mr. J. A. Waddell. She
wished with her daughter, Miss Agnes, to exercise
their mutual gift for business, so their host proposed
they should invite Miss Baldwin to join them and take
charge of the Seminary. They repudiated the scheme
as preposterous, despite the promise of twenty
boarders, the assurance that Miss Baldwin's peculiar
skill in managing young girls would win pupils, and
the fact that experienced teachers were easily obtained.
The trustees met and elected Misses McClung and
Baldwin joint principals and Mrs. McClung matron.

In the midst of the War between the States friends
arose on all sides, and gave or loaned all necessary
furnishings. Tuition fees were paid in flour ($25 a
barrel), bacon ($i a pound), or in corn meal, beef,
potatoes, sorghum molasses, and wood. Whenever
the cry " The Yankees are coming ! " was made, the
schoolgirls gleefully hid the cord wood in the cellar,
the hams in the desks and stoves, and arrayed the flour
barrels as toilet tables in voluminous white petticoats.

The first session under Misses McClung and Bald-
win there were 25 boarders and about 75 day scholars.


Miss Baldwin taught, and was assisted by Misses E. E.
Howard, Emma and Julia Heiskell, M. Alansa Rounds,
and Prof. Joel Ettinger. The distinguished Dr.
W. H. McGuffey, of the University of Virginia, as-
sisted Miss Baldwin in devising a course of study,
meanwhile assuring her she was choosing too high a
standard to ever make the Seminary a popular institu-

In 1893 a few of the full graduates met at the re-
quest of Mrs. Elizabeth Andrew Hill of Georgia (class
of 1879-80), and formed a temporary organization
with Miss Nannie Tate as president, Mrs. Hill, secre-
tary, and Mrs. McCullough, historian. Then the glad
reunion was held in 1894, the jubilee year of the Semi-
nary's foundation.

By an Act of the Legislature of Virginia, passed
during the session of 1895-96, at the request of the
board of trustees, the name of the institution was
changed from Augusta Female Seminary to Mary-
Baldwin Seminary, as an acknowledgment of their
high appreciation of the valuable services and unparal-
leled success of the principal for "thirty- four years.

To the original Seminary building and the chapel,
which was the old church, Miss Baldwin added by pur-
chase and construction " Hill-Top," " Brick House/'
" Sky-high," and sundry smaller buildings, making this
establishment one of the most extensive and pleasant
colleges in the Southland.

The buildings are lighted with gas and furnished
with modern conveniences and heating apparatus. The
equipment includes a gymnasium and swimming-pool,
a well-selected library, well-furnished studio, forty
music-rooms, and a laboratory for chemical and phys-
ical experiments.

The course of study is divided into primary, prepar-
atory, academic and university departments. The plan
of the last department is that of the University of
Virginia, modified only so far as to adapt it to the
peculiar requisites of the education of women. The


course of study is divided into schools, each constitu-
ting a complete course on the subject taught. The
school of business training consists of book-keeping,
stenography and typewriting.

The degree of Bachelor of Music is given to the
graduates of music. The degree B. A. is conferred
on those who satisfactorily complete the university

An event in the session of 1895-96 was the death of
"Uncle Chess," Chesterfield Bolder, who once be-
longed to Miss Baldwin's grandfather, and was the
faithful mail-carrier and guardian of the grounds for
twenty-five years. He was eighty-eight years old, and
will descend into history on the strains of the Seminary
song in the verse ending, " His last words were ' Pretty
tol'ble ; mail, mum/ '

Miss Baldwin controlled the Seminary for a full
generation, and at the time of her death she was edu-
cating " her grandchildren," the daughters of her
former pupils.

One hundred teachers and officers have been asso-
ciated with the school, and thousands of pupils, mostly
from the Southern States, are scattered widely. Some
are missionaries in distant lands, many are earnest,
faithful teachers, many more are useful daughters and
sisters, happy wives and mothers, and each and all
have tender memories of the school days spent under
Miss Baldwin's care at the Mary Baldwin Seminary.

(This article was compiled from a sketch of " Au-
gusta Female Seminary," prepared by Mrs. McCul-
lough for the alumnae meeting of 1894, published in
the Record of the Alumnae Association, and kindly
sent by Miss Weimar, the present principal.)

Hollins Institute, 1842-1908

The question as to the best location of a boarding-
school for girls is one to which much attention has been
given in recent years. After an experience of two cen-


turies on this continent the general conclusion has
been reached that country localities, easily accessible
to cities, are decidedly preferable from many consider-
ations. This school has these advantages. It is lo-
cated in Roanoke County, Virginia, seven miles from
the city of Roanoke, and one and one-half miles from
Hollins Station on the Norfolk and Western Railway.
Roanoke County lies in the extreme southwestern sec-
tion of the great valley of Virginia, between the Blue
Ridge and Alleghany Mountains.

The Institute owns a tract of five hundred acres,
and the buildings are so located that they are excluded
from the annoyance of close proximity to public thor-
oughfares. About eighty years ago the premises now
'held by the Institute were improved and equipped
with a view to render available valuable mineral waters.
In 1842 the whole property was purchased for educa-
tional purposes, and since that time has been so used.
All the original buildings have been removed, and
others better adapted to school purposes erected. The
main buildings (of which there are six) are of brick,
and contain ample accommodations for a large school.
They are modern in structure and furnished with all
the conveniences of the best homes.

This school opened its first session in the spring of
1842, under no distinctive name. It was known as the
" School of Botetourt Springs," and was conducted
in the interest of both boys and girls. Subsequently,
as it continued to grow in strength and numbers, it
was called " The Valley Union Seminary." For ten
years it prospered on the original plan, and during that
period sent forth many young men who became promi-
nent in business and professional life. It was under
the control of a joint stock company. In the year
1851, both departments being filled with pupils, the
company determined from various reasons, the control-
ling one being inadequacy of accommodations, to sus-
pend the department for boys, or transfer it to another


The most potent reason for continuing this school
for girls only arose from the fact that there was at
that time no chartered institution for girls in all Vir-
ginia, city or country no institution with elaborate
and systematic courses of study.

The session of 1852-53 opened for girls only, with
broad and elevated courses of study. The accommo-
dations were soon all rilled, and since that time the
school has continued to prosper. The fact that girls
from many parts of Virginia eagerly entered school
and took advanced courses of study, many of them
from uncultured homes, had a startling effect ; for it
demonstrated the fact that the people were in advance
of their leaders on the question of higher education
for women.

This school continued to overflow with pupils. In
1855 Mr. John Hollins of Lynchburg, a gentleman of
wealth, inspired by his pious wife, Mrs. Anne Hollins,
proposed to the company having charge of the prop-
erty to place the entire enterprise in the hands of a self-
perpetuating board of trustees. The company acceded
to this proposition, and Mr. Hollins placed at their dis-
posal the sum of $5,000 for further improvements.
Soon after this arrangement was made Mr. Hollins
was stricken with paralysis, from which attack he
never recovered. Mrs. Hollins continued the friend
of the school, and made several handsome donations,
and would doubtless have endowed it at her death had
not her investments been totally swept away by the
results of the War between the States.

Until 1870 the school was sustained by Virginia
patronage alone. Since that time it has drawn pupils
from other States, about twenty being represented.

In 1846, while holding a professorship in Richmond
College, Mr. Charles Lewis Cocke was invited to take
charge of Valley Union Seminary. The school at
that time was in great financial difficulties, but under
Mr. Cocke's management its halls were soon filled
with students of both sexes, and so continued until


1852. By that time Mr. Cocke and his coadjutors be-
came convinced that co-education was not the best
way of conducting a school. When the board of trus-
tees decided that the school was thenceforward to be
for one sex only, the question arose, for which? and
then Mr. Cocke, seeing the opportunity for realizing
the aspiration of his early youth, threw all the weight
of his influence in favor of making it a school for the
higher education of women. The speed with which
all the rooms available were at once occupied by eager
and enthusiastic students, the numerous applicants for
admission, necessitating enlargement of accommoda-
tions every year, all demonstrated how accurately Mr.
Cocke had discerned the supreme need of the young
women of Virginia.

The original scheme of instruction and standard of
graduation have been maintained during its whole
career. The doors of this institution have never been
closed, not even during the War between the States;
indeed, at no time in its history were its rooms so
crowded as in the stern time of war. When nearly all
the schools were closed, Hollins, from its secluded situ-
ation, was supposed to be a safe retreat from the rav-
ages of war, and proved an asylum to refugees from
Maryland and Washington, D. C., and the eastern
parts of Virginia.

The establishment and the great success of this
institution were due to the efforts of Charles Lewis
Cocke, who, after graduating at Richmond College,
entered Columbian College, Washington, D. C., from
which he graduated with the degree of Master of Arts.
Immediately after his graduation he was elected pro-
fessor of mathematics in Richmond College. On De-
cember 31, 1840, he was married to Miss Susanna
Pleasants, fifth child of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Pleasants
of Picquenocque, Henrico County, Virginia. Profes-
sor Cocke remained with the Richmond College un-
til 1846, when he was invited to take charge of Valley
Union Seminary, a co-educational institution. Pro-


fessor Cocke's management soon filled the halls with
students, and so continued until 1852, when Rollins

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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 23 of 24)