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

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

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building, and which, somewhat facetiously, was
christened " Minerva " by the students. This figure
has stood guard over the College for more than fifty
years, and has a sacred place in the memory of many
an old-time student. By the terms of the original
charter the property was given to the control of three
fraternal orders, the Masons, Odd Fellows, and the
Sons of Temperance, and the board of trustees was
composed of members elected by these orders.

When the Sons of Temperance ceased to exist its
interest was transferred to the city of Eufaula.

For many years this institution was recognized as
one of the foremost institutions of learning for women
in the eastern section of the State. It did not close
its doors during the War between the States, and dur-
ing the Reconstruction period, when educational af r
fairs were in a chaotic state, it was a real blessing to
have this well-established school of high grade to
which girls could be sent, and where they could study


free from the interruptions of political or religious dis-
cussions ; for by the terms of the charter no tenets of
any religious sect were to be taught; and the College
has always been non-denominational, though all de-
nominations are represented by members of the faculty
and board of trustees.

The present management has restored the school to
its former popularity and efficiency, and in some re-
spects the school enjoys a greater popularity than ever
before. The music department has been much en-
larged, and the pupils attain a higher proficiency than
ever before. New departments have been introduced
and new buildings erected to meet the educational
demands of the present day.

Several degrees are now conferred, whereas for-
merly only one the A. B. was granted.

During the commencement in June, 1908, the
alumnae held a reunion and the essays of the olden
time were read, and compared favorably with those
of the present students ; also papers were read and dis-
cussions held which were calculated to show that the
old-time training was thorough and lasting.



Alabama Female Institute, Tuscaloosa, Alabama,

THE friends of this school proposed to raise the
standard of education for girls, to extend the curric-
ulum, and to establish a school of collegiate grade.
The Institute was the heir of the Tuscaloosa Academy,
and thus owned commodious buildings and a suitable
equipment for the departments of music, art, and
natural science, as well as a boarding department.
The school opened November, 1833, but was not
chartered until January 9, 1835.

This charter empowered the trustees to grant such
rewards and confer such honors on graduates as might
be deemed expedient, and conferred the usual powers
relating to purchase and disposal of property, but
made no stipulation as to amount of property.

The merging of one school into another seems to
have been authorized by the Legislature, for one sec-
tion of the charter granted to the Alabama Female In-
stitute reads as follows : " The lots, grounds, and
buildings erected by the trustees of the Tuscaloosa
Female Academy now the property of the trustees
named in this charter, together with all other buildings
they may erect or grounds they may purchase for the
exclusive use of the said female institution, shall be
exempt from taxation whatever."

From this statement it would seem that the trustees
of the Tuscaloosa Female Academy had made exten-
sive preparation for maintaining their school ; and it
would be quite interesting if the causes of the merging
of one school into another could now be known.

The first, Sims' s Academy, continued only one year,


and was merged into the Tuscaloosa Female Academy,
which had an existence of three years and was merged
into the Alabama Institute.

It is almost certain that the curricula of the first
and second were nearly identical, and the teachers the
same for both, therefore the character of the schools
could have had little to do with the change.

However, the Institute was very popular and quite
successful as to numbers. According to an old cata-
logue, 1836, only three years after its commencement,
there were 10 teachers connected with the school, and
184 pupils; 60 in the primary department and 124 in
the advanced department.

The trustees of the Institute for the year ending
July 14, 1836, were Hon. Peter Martin, president;
Wiley J. Bearing, secretary ; John O. Cummins, treas-
urer; John F. Wallace, James H. Bearing, H. C. Kid-
der, William H. Williams just the same, with the
exception of John J. Webster, who had retired, as the
trustees named in the charter, January 9, 1835.

The following extract from an old catalogue will
show something of the views of educators of that early

" This institution proceeds upon the principle that
education does not consist merely in acquiring knowl-
edge, or in unfolding the reasoning powers, or facul-
ties, or in cultivating the moral feelings, or in forming
the manners, or in developing the physical powers;
but in the pursuit of all these objects combined or
rather, in rendering the mind the fittest possible instru-
ment for discovering, applying, and obeying the laws
under which God has placed the universe; if either of
these objects be pursued exclusively, the result is, the
character is not well balanced.

" The object of this institution is, to aid young
ladies to educate themselves to answer the great end
of their being to enjoy and impart happiness.

" The system of government is really one of self-
government, induced by the principles of moral recti-


tude. The interests of teachers and pupils are one and
the same, and the co-operation of both to promote the
general good renders the business of instruction and
study, of communicating and receiving instruction
peculiarly delightful."

The health of the pupils was a prime consideration
with the management; provision for exercise in the
open air, and suitable recreation hours was made.
" Calisthenics, designed to give ease, grace, and elas-
ticity of motion, and erect forms, and bodily and men-
tal vigor, is a daily exercise in the institution. Indeed,
the entire arrangements, both general and particular,
are conducive to health/'

From an old catalogue the following classification
and curriculum have been copied :

" After completing the primary studies, the pupils
are arranged in three classes: junior, middle, and
senior; pupils ,who pass a satisfactory examination
may enter either class.

" Junior Class : English grammar exercises,
analyzing, critical reading of the poets, transpositions,
etc. Watts on the Mind, ancient geography, intro-
ductory lessons in botany, political economy, algebra,
rhetoric commenced, philosophy of natural history,
ancient and modern history Worcester's Elements of
History, with Goldsmith's Greece, Rome, and Eng-
land and Grimshazv's France.

" Middle Class : Geometry Euclid or Legendre;
natural history Olmstead's; chemistry, astronomy,
botany, physiology, evidences of Christianity, eccles-
iastical history.

"Senior Class: Geometry finished; rhetoric
concluded; mental philosophy Upham's; Logic
Whateley's; moral philosophy Wayland's; natural
theology, Milton's Paradise Lost, analogy of natural
and revealed religion."

Latin was studied throughout the course, and
usually French also ; vocal music, drawing and needle-
work were taught to the whole school without extra


charge, and competent teachers for modern languages
and music were employed. Reading, spelling (until
the pupils were proficient in spelling), composition,
writing, and vocal music were daily exercises through-
out the course; also calisthenics and such other exer-
cises as tended to advance a " moral, intellectual,
physical, and polite education." A part of every Fri-
day afternoon was devoted to ornamental needle-

The equipment included a philosophical and a chem-
ical apparatus, and a telescope, maps and globes, but
just how complete this equipment was cannot now be

It was the original intention of the founders of the
State University to establish a " branch of the Uni-
versity for female education," but this intention was
never put into effect. However, a few years after the;
establishment of the Alabama Institute the regents of
the University decided to extend the advantages of
the University to this school, by allowing its classes
to attend such lectures of the professors of the Univer-
sity as the principal of the school should select, especi-
ally those lectures on natural science and mathematics.

The first principal of this school was Rev. W. H.
Williams; his principal teachers were Miss Maria Belle
Brooks (afterward Mrs. Stafford) and Miss Abby
Fitch (afterward Mrs. Searcy).

In 1842 Professor and Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz
took charge of the school.

In 1852 Miss Lavinia Moore was principal and the
assistant teachers of the collegiate department were
Miss Mary W. Humphreys, Miss Martha A. Inge, and
Miss Sarah W. Bigelow.

Professor and Mrs. Stafford again became principals
in 1856. A few years later they associated with them-
selves, Mrs. W. C. Richardson, and Mrs. R. E. Rodes,
widow of General Rodes. They retained charge of
the Institute without interruption, except during a few
months while Tuscaloosa was occupied by Federal


troops, until Professor Stafford's death. Mrs. Staf-
ford continued in charge until 1888, when she sold the
property to the city of Tuscaloosa for public school
purposes and left the State.

(The information on which this sketch is founded
was furnished by Hon. W. C. Richardson of Tus-
caloosa, also the catalogues; the charter is on record
in the Acts of Legislature of 1834-5.)

The Athenaeum, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1835-1908

This school has had many and various vicissitudes
during its existence from 1835 to the present time.
When it was organized the Baptist denomination had
not established a school for girls in Tuscaloosa, and
was anxious to do so. They bought the large com-
modious brick house then recently built by Dr. Drick,
and situated in the suburbs, and opened a school, with
Rev. James Dagg, principal. Dr. Alva Woods, presi-
dent of the University of Alabama, was president of
the board of trustees. Mr. Dagg did not enter upon
his duties immediately, and until his arrival the school
was conducted by one of the professors, Rev. J. C.
Koeney of South Carolina.

The school did not prosper as its founders had
hoped. The Baptist denomination made strenuous
efforts to maintain this school, and from time to time
changed the principal, in the hope of finding some one
who could make it popular.

The last principal who had it in charge under the
original management was Professor Saunders and his
wife, who had charge from 1859 to ^65 ; then Dr.
J. H. Foster and Rev. Eldred Teague leased the build-
ing and conducted a school for boys. After a year or
two the building was sold to Chancellor Landon C.
Garland for a private residence. When Dr. Garland
left Tuscaloosa he sold the building to the North
Alabama Conference, and it became known as the
Methodist College and was restored to its original pur-


pose, a school of high grade for girls. After a year
or two the Conference sold it to Rev. B. F. Larrabee,
who endeavored to have a first-class school ; but not
succeeding as he had hoped to do, he sold out to Prof.
Alonzo Hill, who continued the school with more or
less success until his death, when his widow leased the
building to a Mr. Perry, who continued for a year or
two, and cancelled the lease; then Mrs. Hill sold the
building to the North Alabama Conference, or rather
to a member of the Conference, who donated it to the
Conference. It is still the property of the Conference
and under its supervision.

After the last transfer the charter was amended.
This amendment of February 7, 1860, granted all the
powers and privileges usually conferred on colleges in
the United States, and changed the name from Athen-
aeum to Tuscaloosa Female College.

The school opened under the new management Octo-
ber, 1860, with Rev. W. G. Melton, president. Since
that time the buildings have been completely renovated,
and two large buildings erected; apparatus bought, a
modern gymnasium fitted up, several hundred volumes
added to the library, and the equipment for a thorough
course in music and art supplied; the curriculum ex-
tended to embrace a commercial course ; in short, it is
a modern school. Dr. Melton resigned in 1901, but
the school has continued to flourish under the manage-
ment of B. F. Giles.



Marion Female Seminary , Marion, Alabama,

THIS was the name given to the school established
by the " Society for Promotion of Education," and
after the Baptists withdrew in 1838 this school con-
tinued without any other charter privileges than those
granted to the association.

In 1841 William E. Jones was the owner of the
stock of this association, and he applied for a charter
for the school and for management of the stock. This
charter granted him the power to sell to parties shares
in this seminary not exceeding fifty dollars each nor
less than that sum. " The purchasers of these shares
shall be known as the ' Marion Female Association/
and by that name and style shall be entitled to buy, sell
or dispose of the shares of said Association ; they shall
have judiciary powers, and make such regulations as
are not repugnant to the constitution and laws of this
State and United States. The amount of property
shall not exceed five thousand ($5,000) more than the
value of said property and building of said Associa-
tion. Purchaser of stock shall be liable to amount of
stock he owns and no more. All stock or shares of
said seminary shall be a separate and not a joint in-
terest or property." The property was exempt from
taxation, and certificates of stock were assignable.
This charter was approved January 9, 1841. The
stockholders were the trustees.

An amendment which empowered the trustees to
grant diplomas, certificates, or other evidences of
scholarship; and to own property to the amount
of fifty thousand dollars, and confirming the name


" Marion Female Seminary,'* was approved Decem-
ber 14, 1841.

This school has three departments, primary, aca-
demic, and collegiate, and schools of music, art, elocu-
tion, and physical culture. The equipment includes a
library, chemical and physical apparatus, a cabinet of
minerals and fossils. The art department has a liberal
assortment of models, studies, and other facilities for
art study. The building is not large, but it has been
remodeled and made up to date, and is lighted with
electricity. Only fifty boarders can be accommodated
in it.

Recently a business department has been added to
the school. It includes stenography, typewriting, and
telegraphy. Also a large, well-ventilated gymnasium
has been added to the equipment.

This school has had an unbroken and fairly pros-
perous career, and though its annual enrollment has
never been large, the names of hundreds of women who
have been useful and honored citizens are enrolled
among its alumnae.

Centenary Institute, Summer -sfield, Alabama, 1838

The beginning of this Institute dates back to 1829,
when the Valley Creek Academy was established.
The charter of this school, which was approved Janu-
ary 6, 1829, authorized the sale of the sixteenth sec-
tion in which the school was situated and the proceeds
of the sale to be applied to the said school. The pur-
chaser of this sixteenth section was T. J. Goldsby, and
the patent issued for the protection of said purchaser
is still in the possession of his descendants.

The school was a success as a local institution, but
the trustees, two-thirds of whom were Methodists, ad-
vocated the establishment of a school of a higher grade,
and in order to celebrate the centennial of Methodism,
they projected a Centenary Institute; or rather, two
schools under that name. Accordingly, they enlarged


the building used for the boys' academy, and purchased
several acres, and built a large two-story brick build-
ing with wings, for the girls' school. This school was
known as the Centenary. Its first session opened
October, 1838, and the attendance was good, quite as
large as its friends expected, but not as large as they
hoped to make it.

The first president did not meet expectations, and in
1843 tne board elected Rev. A. H. Mitchell of Georgia,
who took charge of the school October, 1843, an d con-
tinued in charge until 1856, when he returned to the
regular pastorate.

During the time of his administration the school
flourished as to numbers, and the standard of scholar-
ship was high. During this period many sons and
daughters of Methodist preachers were trained for
their life-work.

Rev. W. A. Montgomery and Dr. Rivers each for a
few years was president of Centenary, and from 1865
Prof. William Vaughn, now of Vanderbilt, was presi-
dent until 1872, when he resigned to go to Franklin,

After Professor Vaughn left the school became a
local school again, and in a few years was merged into
the public school. However, the buildings were
owned by the Alabama Conference, and when the Ala-
bama Conference decided to establish an Orphan Home
the building was appropriated to that purpose.

This orphanage was especially interesting to Dr.
Mitchell, who had always felt a deep interest in Cen-
tenary from his first connection with it, and his last
work was supervising the building of a fence around
the farm. He contracted a severe cold while thus
engaged, and from it he never rallied. This work of
love proved too arduous for a man of ninety-five.

The charter of this institution was twice amended.
In 1843 five trustees were added to the board of
trustees, and by the amendment approved January 6,
1845, tne trustees were authorized and empowered to


grant diplomas and confer degrees under the same
rules and regulations governing all other institutions
of a similar character.

The first diplomas were granted June, 1845, when a
class of nine young ladies graduated. They repre-
sented the nine muses. Miss Lucinda Swift repre-
sented Clio, muse of history, and Miss Sallie Smith
of Orrville represented Euterpe, muse of music.
These two are the only ones surviving ; the others have
been graduated from life's school and have joined the
throng beyond.

The first president was a Mr. Horton, who was not
a success as a teacher of girls, and Mr. D. I. Harrison
was appointed to supply his place until a president
could be found. This president was Rev. A. H.
Mitchell, who remained fourteen years. Then Mr.
J. N. Montgomery was president until the War be-
tween the States began, when he raised a regiment and
went to the front, and was succeeded by Dr. R. H.
Rivers. In 1865 Dr. R. K. Hargrove succeeded him.
Prof. J. W. Vaughn was his successor, and then Rev.
A. D. McVoy took charge and remained a number of
years. The school was declining all the time, and at
last was only a small local school, which was sup-
planted by the public school and the building was
closed for several years.

(The material for this sketch was obtained from the
Acts of the Legislature, 1838, 1840, 1845, an< 3 from
letters from Rev. A. H. Mitchell, D.D. ^Mrs. B. M.
Woolsey, nee Swift, gave the information concerning
the first graduating class.)

Dallas Academy, Selma, Alabama, 1839-1908

In 1838 certain public-spirited ladies of Selma, feel-
ing the importance of having good schools for their
children, organized what was known as the " Ladies'
Education Society " of Selma, and began to raise
money to establish a school of high grade. Among


the most diligent of these may be mentioned Mrs.
William Treadwell, Mrs. Phillip J. Weaver, Mrs. Wil-
liam Waddell, Mrs. Elias Parkman, Mrs. Isaiah Mor-
gan, Mrs. Hugh Ferguson, Mrs. Robert L. Downman,
Mrs. Robert Patteson, Mrs. John F. Conoley, Mrs.
Andrew Hunter, Mrs. Stephen Maples, and Mrs.
Uriah Griggs. In 1839 tne Society was incorporated
by the General Assembly with the following gentlemen
as trustees: Nicholas Childers, Robert N. Philpot,
John W. Lapsley, Elias Parkman, John W. Jones,
Jeremiah Pitman, and Harris Brantly.

In 1844 William Johnson, a wealthy citizen,
donated to the Ladies' Educational Society a lot. By
the united efforts of the Society and the Masonic
fraternity a brick house was erected, the first floor for
school purposes, and the second for a Masonic lodge.

Professor Lucius B. Johnson and his wife were em-
ployed, and opened the school, calling it Dallas Male
and Female Academy. The school soon grew so large
as to require the whole building, and the trustees
bought the interest of the Masons.

In 1845 it was deemed best to change the plan. The
new institution was incorporated as the Dallas Male
and Female Academy with a new board of trustees.
The act incorporating the Ladies' Educational Society
was repealed, and their property rights and privileges
were transferred to the new board of trustees. This
board was made self-perpetuating by the act of incor-
poration and has so continued until the present time.
The building was still inadequate to the demands of
the school.

The charter of this school was amended January 25,
1845. This amendment granted the power to grant
diplomas and to confer degrees, and all the privileges
usually enjoyed by institutions of like grade in the
United States.

The Society, continuing as a voluntary organiza-
tion, began to raise money for another building, by
giving concerts and other entertainments. They re-


ceived large subscriptions from the public-spirited men
of the place, and the donation of another lot by the
same benevolent citizen, William Johnson. The pres-
ent Dallas Academy stands on this lot. The original
brick building was used for boys, and the new build-
ing for girls.

Some Northern teachers were brought out and other
teachers from among our own people were employed,
and thus an excellent corps was organized. Among
the latter were two Misses Meek, sisters of Prof. A. B.
Meek of the State University. Each year a teacher
of instrumental and a teacher of vocal music and an
instructor in military tactics were employed. Success
crowned the efforts of the able principal and his wife
and the efficient corps of teachers. The school at-
tracted citizens to the place and thus increased its
business and prosperity.

These were the flourishing days of Dallas Academy.
Rigid discipline was maintained and a high grade of
scholarship required. The sessions lasted nine months
and were closed with public examinations, continued
morning and evening for a week, with military drills
and concerts at night. Large numbers of people came
from different parts of the State to witness these clos-
ing exercises. It is stated that as many as four thou-
sand persons were present on one occasion. The
crowds were so great that the exercises were held in
the city warehouses, the buildings being entirely too
small. " Hundreds of the best men and women in
Alabama and other States," says " Hardy's History of
Selma," " graduated during this period of Dallas Acad-
emy, and remember with gratitude until this day
Prof. Lucius B. Johnson, and his wife, Harriet B.

In 1851 the Johnsons, under strong inducements,
left Selma to establish a school in Camden, Alabama,
and Dallas Academy was placed under the charge of
Rev. A. R. Holcombe. Under the administration of
the Rev. Mr. Holcombe the school waned, its popular-


ity and patronage declined, its classes withdrew, and
with them the income, until the trustees found them-
selves in debt, and were compelled to sell the brick
building and lot to Col. P. J. Weaver, to refund the
money he had advanced for them.

In October, 1853, Professor Johnson and his wife
returned to Selma to take charge of Dallas Academy.
Professor Johnson died soon after his arrival, a victim
of yellow fever. Mrs. Johnson continued the school
and conducted it successfully until 1864, when she re-
tired to private life. She died in Hartford, Connecti-
cut, in 1887, closing a long and useful life, cherished
in the memories of many Alabamians of the present

Online LibraryI. M. E. (Isabella Margaret Elizabeth) BlandinHistory of higher education of women in the South prior to 1860. → online text (page 6 of 24)