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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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Company gave two large lots in the center of the
town for school buildings one for boys and one
for girls. On the one donated for a girls' school the
citizens built a large, rather imposing structure sur-
rounded by a board colonnade whose colonial columns
were two stories high. In this building the Synodical
Female College commenced its existence in October,
1854. It was chartered December 13, 1855; the bill
was vetoed by Governor Winston, but passed by the
constitutional majority.

The incorporators were William Mitchell, Robert
M. Patton, James Irvine, Richard W. Walker, Syd-
ney C. Posey, Neal Rowell, Thos. Kirkman, Samuel
D. Weakly, Charles Gookin, Benjamin F. Foster, John
S. Kennedy, William K. Key, Benjamin Taylor,
Boyles E. Bourland, John T. Edgar, A. Smith, A. A.
Doak, and R. B. McMillan. These trustees were em-
powered to hold real and personal property in trust
in perpetuity for use of said college and for the Pres-
byterian Synod of Nashville, Tennessee, and all
powers concerning property usually conferred upon
trustees were granted to this board; also all legal
title to property heretofore donated or conveyed to
the Synod of Nashville by the president and trustees
of the Florence Female Academy or by the mayor and
aldermen of Florence, or by any others, was vested in
the President and Trustees of Florence Synodical
Female College. In addition, the power was given
to confer diplomas upon graduating pupils, and to do
all other necessary and proper things for the promotion
of education in said college.

Mrs. David, corresponding secretary of the Ala-
bama Division of U. D. C., has kindly furnished the
following sketch of this old school:

" This was for many years one of the largest and
most popular of the many colleges for girls in the
South. At that time our schools were all supplied
with Northern teachers, there were no Southern teach-
ers, except men; therefore, all the teachers in this



HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

school, except the president, were Northern women.
When satisfactory they were retained for years.

" The first president was a Mr. Stebbins ; a man
highly esteemed. He was connected with the school
for several years. He was followed by a Mr. Nicholls,
a red-headed, high-tempered, disagreeable man who
was a terror to the girls; in fact, little else than a
bear ; therefore his stay was short.

" The next president was Mr. Rogers from Georgia,
a fine man and excellent president. He presided dur-
ing the most prosperous years of the school. During
this time every department was conducted by compe-
tent teachers. There was a German professor of
music, Professor Neumayer, with competent assistants.
Music was never more successfully taught ; the piano,
violin, guitar, pipe organ, and harp were skilfully
taught. The professor was proud of his class, and
the frequent musicals and concerts given in the chapel
were enjoyed by large and appreciative audiences.
Light operas were rendered, when the girls dressed in
the required costumes. A native Frenchman, Monsieur
De Soto, taught French, and creditable recitations
were given, and compositions read in French, at the
entertainments of the school, and these were frequent.

" There was always a large class in art, to whom
everything in art of that day was taught. Beautiful
work in oil paintings done by the pupils of these
classes to-day beautify the homes of the old pupils in
many of our States.

" The president of the board of trustees, Hon.
Robert M. Patton, afterward Governor, who devoted
much time and thought to the school, and was de-
votedly loved by all the pupils, was once invited to
the art-room, where he was informed that the art
pupils intended to paint his portrait, and then and
there he had the first sitting. Each girl gave some
strokes to this portrait, and when it was finished they
presented it to him. It was ever afterward one of his
most highly prized treasures.



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 123

" Every pupil dreaded the examinations, at which
time the chapel was filled to overflowing. Business
of the town was almost suspended, and everybody at-
tended the exercises. There was then none of the
humbuggery about written examinations of the pres-
ent day ; the classes were called up to take seats on the
stage and were examined on the work done during
six or twelve months, and each girl was required to
stand while reciting.

" After the teachers had finished their questioning
an invitation was given to any one in the audience
who wished to ask questions to do so. This invitation
was always accepted, and the girls were truly thankful
if only one accepted.

" The pupils were drilled in spelling through the
entire course, and were really taught to spell, and of
course to read. Few children can now either spell or
read well.

" I remember especially among the teachers in the
school two beautiful and elegant women from the
North. They were of the English style in appearance
large, handsome women, having beautiful fair com-
plexions, luxuriant black hair, and large brown eyes
the Misses Reynolds. They were delightful women
in society, useful in church and Sunday-school, and
their services were highly valued. They were excel-
lent teachers, a blessing in the school-room, and much
loved by their pupils. Everything breaks down in
time, and after many years these teachers were not
satisfactory, and they returned to their Northern
homes and friends, and wrote a book against the South
called ' Peter Still/ When compared with this pro-
duction, * Uncle Tom's Cabin ' was tame indeed.

" Peter Still, the hero, was the overseer of course
a Northern man on a plantation where the Misses
Reynolds had visited, been hospitably entertained,
treated royally. ' It was ever thus ' with the Southern
people.

" Dr. Rogers resigned the presidency on account



HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

of the ill health of his wife, and was succeeded by
Dr. William N. Mitchell, who had been for many
years the Presbyterian minister in Florence. The
school was large and flourishing under his administra-
tion, until his health failed and he resigned. Mr. J.
S. Anderson next took charge, and had a large school
of lovely girls, from all over the South ; however,
he remained only a few years and resigned and bought
property in Huntsville, and for many years had a
large and flourishing school in that city.

" Mr. Frierson succeeded as president. The school
did not prosper under his administration. His health
failed and he remained only a short time.

" Dr. Bardwell, a lovely Christian gentleman, then
took charge. He was a Presbyterian minister, and
very acceptable as a teacher and presiding officer,
but his health failed and in a year or two he died.

" The impression that misfortune came to ministers
who abandoned the regular work of the ministry for
any other work seemed to prevail in the community,
and the trustees made a decided departure from the
long established custom of electing a minister to pre-
side over the school, and elected Miss Sally Collier
president.

" The school continued during the War between
the States, as the invading armies did not enter that
portion of the State.

" During the Reconstruction period the school be-
gan to decline; and the trustees, anxious to restore
it to its pristine greatness, decided that an addition
to the first building would be advantageous. They
borrowed money to make the improvement, and thus
encumbered the property with debt, which they have
not been able to liquidate.

" After the establishment of the State Normal and
the public school, the attendance steadily decreased
until it was thought advisable to close the doors for-
ever.

" A year or two ago the property was sold to a



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 125

Northern man, for a very small sum, and he has now
sold a portion of it to the government for a very
large sum."

(The material for this sketch was taken from the
Acts of Legislature, 1855; the remainder is a sketch
by Mrs. McDavid.)



126 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION



CHAPTER XIII
Schools in Florida

ACCORDING to information obtained from the Cath-
olic Historical Association there were no schools in
Florida, during Spanish dominion, except schools for
the Indians, taught by the fathers of the monastery of
St. Francis in St. Augustine.

During British occupation, from 1763 to 1783, at-
tention was principally directed to warlike affairs.
Neither did Spain pay any attention to education when
she assumed control the second time.

From the organization of the territorial government
by the United States, in 1822, to 1842, the unsettled
condition of the country, produced by the Seminole
War, prevented progress in the arts of peace. All
the schools in Florida prior to 1850 were common
schools.

The first step taken by Florida toward the estab-
lishment of schools for higher education is found in
the Act of the Legislature, January 24, 1851, in which
it is provided : " That two seminaries of learning shall
be established, one on the east, the other on the west
side of the Suwanee River, the purpose of which shall
be the instruction of persons, both male and female,
in the art of teaching all the various branches that
pertain to a good common-school education; and,
next, to give instruction in the mechanical arts in hus-
bandry, and in agricultural chemistry, in the mechan-
ical arts, in the fundamental laws, and in what regards
the rights and duties of citizenship. . . . Lectures on
chemistry, comparative anatomy, astronomy, and the
mechanic arts, agricultural chemistry, or any branch of
literature that the board of education may direct, may



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 187

be delivered to those attending the seminary in such
manner, and at such time, and on such conditions as
the board of education may prescribe."

One of these schools was established in Tallahassee,
the other in Ocala subsequently removed to Gains-
ville. They were until the formation of the State
constitution, in 1868, and for a decade following,
the only public educational institutions of collegiate
grade.

On November 24, 18^6, the board of trustees of
Florida Institute (owned by the city of Tallahassee)
offered to the Legislature of Florida the college build-
ing with its appliances, to be given at an appraised
value, and the remainder in money, $10,000 in all,
to locate the State Seminary in Tallahassee. The prop-
osition was accepted March 27, 1857. Until June 14,
1858, this university received boys only, then it was
resolved, " That the board provide for the instruction
of females from and after the first day of October
next."

August 28, 1858, the board accepted a deed of con-
veyance from the president of Leon Female Academy
of two lot's in the north addition of Tallahassee, and
the college has ever since maintained a female de-
partment. It was taught in the academy building until
1882, when the two schools were merged.

By an Act of 1861 the Seminary was authorized to
assume a collegiate standard as a basis of its organ-
ization. At the annual meeting, June 5, 1901, the
board of education resolved " that the official title of
the school now located in the city of Tallahassee, and
formerly known as the ' Seminary West of the Suwa-
nee,' or the ' West Florida Seminary/ shall, from and
after this date, be the Florida State College."

The buildings are College Hall, two dormitories,
Westcott Memorial Chapel, and Gymnasium.

The equipment consists of Library of several thou-
sand volumes and the University Library, physical,
chemical, biological, physiological, and histological



128 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

laboratories, museum, and mathematical instruments,
and a telescope.

To prepare for this college a high school has been
established. The course of the high school requires
three years. It offers two courses, classical and com-
mercial, and diplomas are awarded to those com-
pleting either.

The Alumni and Alumnae each have an association.
Each holds annual convocations during commencement
week.

There are two debating societies the Platonic and
the Anaxagorean ; each has a hall and each gives pub-
lic debates during commencement week.

In a note appended to the catalogue of the State
College the President says, " Florida has never fallen
into the old routine of instruction " meaning, I sup-
pose, the establishment of separate schools for girls;
also, " Florida can boast of good schools for both
white and black."

The only distinctly girls' school of which the writer
could find any record is Leesburg Institute, established
by Florida Conference of M. E. Church South, in Lees-
burg, Florida.



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 129



CHAPTER XIV
First School in Georgia for Girls

THE first immigrants who came to Georgia after
its settlement by Oglethorpe were the Salzburgers.
They were cordially welcomed and permitted to se-
lect lands. The land selected was twenty miles from
Savannah, and here they settled a village and called
it Ebenezer. As soon as they built their houses of
pine boards, sixteen by twenty, they built a tabernacle
for public worship; then a schoolhouse. Few records
of this school have been preserved, but it is certain
that both boys and girls attended it. The records of
the early Lutheran school that are now extant show
that they did not favor mixed schools, and it is pre-
sumable that this school was not a mixed school.
They brought their teacher with them, and their pub-
lic library at Ebenezer contained books in thirteen
languages. (Letter from Mrs. Gignilliat.) This
school continued until the colonists were driven from
their homes by the British forces when Savannah was
captured.

Doubtless there were other schools for girls estab-
lished in Georgia during the eighteenth century, but
no record of them remains. Notwithstanding Georgia
was settled by intelligent and cultured people, they
were for some reason decidedly opposed to granting
a charter to a school exclusively for girls, and though
bills for such charters were many times introduced in
the Georgia Legislature, not one was ever passed prior
to 1827. However, the Georgia people were not un-
mindful of the importance of schools, and they made
provision for common schools and established acad-
emies, some of which had a department for girls. A



130 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION



few of them were endowed and are reaping the benefit
of that endowment even now.

The first school for girls of which any record re-
mains was that of Madam Dugas at Washington,
Wilkes County. Madame Dugas was one of the
refugees from the San Domingo massacre of 1791.
That she was a woman of great refinement and well
educated is the testimony of a daughter of one of her
pupils.

The school began in 1792, but in what month is
not known. It became a very popular boarding-school.
The only record obtainable is found in the " Report
of the Academy Commissioners of Wilkes County
Academy," located in the town of Washington. This
notice is: " In March, 1806, Madam Dugas asked the
commissioners to patronize her school, and to ap-
point a day to visit and examine her pupils ; the min-
utes show that the visit was made." This is all that
can be learned of the history of the school.

The next school for girls was College Temple at
Newnan, taught by Mr. M. P. Kellogg. It was es-
tablished about 1820, and was conducted on a college
basis, but was never chartered, and had only one
president, and when he died the school was discon-
tinued.

Among institutes, seminaries and colleges that were
organized in Georgia prior to 1860 may be mentioned:
Culloden Seminary, at Culloden, Monroe County;
Monroe College, Baptist, Forsyth, Monroe County;
private academy taught by Early Cleveland, Forsyth,
Monroe County; Georgia Masonic Female College,
Covington; Girls' High School, Appling. Columbus
County, organized in the thirties : Levert Female Col-
lege, Talbotton, Talbot County; Mrs. Warne's Acad-
emy, Sparta, Hancock County ; Harmony Grove Acad-
emy, Jackson County; Methodist College in Madison,
Morgan County; Baptist College also in Madison;
Americus Female College, Americus; Warrenton
Academy, Warrenton; Georgia Episcopal Institute,



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 131

Montpelier Springs; several seminaries for girls in
Augusta; LaGrange Institute, founded in 1845, m ~
corporated in 1846, conducted on a college basis; La-
Grange Female Seminary, established in 1843, by
Rev. John E. Dawson plan of instruction strictly
collegiate; furnished with chemical and philosophical
apparatus, minerals, and a small library.

Clinton Female Institute, Clinton, Jones County,
Georgia

In 1833 R CV - Thomas B. Slade established Clinton
Female Institute, at Clinton, Jones County, Georgia.
This school continued there in much prosperity until
he accepted a professorship in the Georgia Female
College, which opened January, 1839.

After much persuasion Mr. Slade consented to close
his school and transfer as much of the patronage of
his school to the Georgia College as he could. Many
of his pupils followed him to Macon, and formed the
majority of those present on that memorable opening
day. He also took his own apparatus, chemical and
physical, and his pianos; and his music teacher, Miss
Maria Lord, and her assistant, Miss Martha Massey,
were also employed as teachers in the College.

The pupils from Mr. Slack's school formed the
first graduating class of the Georgia College a fact
not generally known, and never mentioned in any of
the catalogues of Wesleyan.

The president, Rev. George Pierce, and Rev. T. B.
Slade resigned their places, at the close of the second
session of the College, about eighteen months after
the opening.

At the earnest solicitation of the trustees of Mer-
cer University, Mr. Slade accepted the position of
principal of a school in Penfield. This school was
deemed essential to the welfare of Mercer.

This school did not prosper, and again Mr. Slade
packed his equipment, and this time he went to Colum-



HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

bus and opened a private school, The Columbus In-
stitute. This school flourished until closed by the War
between the States, in 1863.

A quotation from an obituary notice will serve to
show the character of the man and his methods.

" In all his enterprises he never asked and never
received pecuniary assistance from any one. He paid
his own way, put up his own buildings, hired and al-
ways paid his own teachers, bought his own pianos,
and supplied amply and fully all apparatus illustrating
natural sciences. He never electioneered for pupils,
and no pupil was ever rejected because she was un-
able to pay her tuition fee.

"Mr. Slade was one of the pioneers in the higher
education of women in Georgia, and the good influence
of himself and his most estimable wife runs like a
thread of gold through many lives that bless our
country."

(This account of Mr. Slade's school was kindly sent
by his daughter, Mrs. J. E. Gignilliat. It is the only
information obtainable of the Clinton Institute and
the Institute in Columbus.)

In 1829 or 1830 Dr. Brown had a school for young
ladies at Scottsboro, a small place near Milledge-
ville, which was well patronized.

There was also a school for young ladies, estab-
lished in Fort Gaines in the thirties by Mr. Taylor,
who made music a prominent feature of his school.
He had a number of pianos and a large pipe organ
brought from Germany. This school, though well
patronized, did not last long.

(This also is from a letter from Mrs. Gignilliat.)

Wesleyan, Macon, Georgia, 1839-1908

In 1835 Hon. Daniel Chandler, an alumnus of the
University of Georgia, delivered an address on fe-
male education before the Demosthenian and Phi



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 133

Kappa Societies of the University. It was so highly
esteemed that the Phi Kappa Society requested a copy
for publication; five thousand copies were printed and
it was widely circulated. Through its inspiration the
Wesleyan sprung into existence. The proposition to
establish a college for women received favorable con-
sideration from men in high position in church and
state. As a majority of these belonged to the Metho-
dist Episcopal Church, when the annual session of the
Georgia Conference convened the projectors of the
College offered to place it under the charge of the
Conference, and this offer was cordially accepted. Dr.
Lovick Pierce was appointed traveling agent, and other
agents were appointed.

The institution was chartered by the Legislature of
Georgia, in 1836, as Georgia Female College.

The Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
at the session of 1836 appointed the following board
of trustees : James O. Andrews, John W. Tall}'-, Wil-
liam Arnold, Samuel K. Hodges, Lovick Pierce, Ig-
natius A. Few, Alexander Speer, Thomas Samford,
William J. Parks, George F. Pierce, Elijah Sinclair,
Henry G. Lamar, Jere Cowles, Ossian Gregory, Rob-
ert Collins, E. Hamilton, George Jewett, Henry Solo-
mon, Augustus B. Longstreet, Walter T. Colquitt,
Jas. A. Nesbitt, Robert Augustus Beall. The board
held many meetings and had many interesting discus-
sions as to the plan of the building and the ways and
means, the ceremony of laying the corner-stone, the
course of study, etc.

Two years after their organization, in June, 1838,
the trustees elected a president of the College and one
professor, and in November following, the other pro-
fessors and officers. The College, crowning Encamp-
ment Hill, since known as College Hill, was opened
to the public and beean its appropriate work January
7, 1839, with tn e following faculty: Rev. G. F. Pierce,
president, and professor of English literature; Rev.
W. H. Ellison, professor of mathematics; Rev. T. B.



134 HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Slade, professor of natural science ; Rev. S. Mattison.
principal of preparatory department; B. B. Hopkins,
tutor; John Euhink, professor in music; Miss Lord,
first assistant in music; Miss Massey, second assistant
in music; Mrs. Shelton, matron; Mrs. Kingman, de-
partment of domestic science ; A. R. Freeman, steward.

The following notice of the opening of the College
is taken from the " History of Macon " by John C.
Butler, Esq. :

. " It was an occasion of great interest and deep
and thrilling excitement. A large and respectable
number of citizens of Macon assembled in the Col-
lege chapel to witness the opening scene. The hopes
of the friends of the College, and speculations of its
enemies, and the eager delight of the congregated
pupils, all conspired to invest the service with an in-
terest additional to its intrinsic importance."

On the first day ninety young ladies enrolled their
names as pupils ; during the term the number increased
to one hundred and sixty-eight.

Notwithstanding Dr. Pierce had traveled two years
as agent to collect funds to build the College and put
it in operation, the College was encumbered with a
large debt when it was opened. Dr. Pierce encoun-
tered many difficulties and met many objections to
the enterprise that would be considered ridiculous at
the present time. On one occasion he was urging
the claims of the College upon a gentleman of large
means and liberal views as to the education of his
sons, and received the reply : " No, I will not give
you a dollar. All that a woman needs to know is how
to read the New Testament, and to spin and weave
clothing for her family." Another man said : " I will
not give you a cent for any such purpose. I would
not have one of your graduates for a wife, for I
could never build even a pig-pen without her criticizing
it, and saying that it was not put up on mathematical
principles."

These prejudices did not die, and when the College



OF WOMEN IN THE SOUTH 135

was about to enter on its fourth year, President El-
lison and Professor Darby deemed it wise to issue
a circular combating them. A question constantly
asked was, " Will the study of conic sections and spher-
ical trigonometry aid a woman in making a pudding,
or in performing any other household duty, and if
not, what is their use?" The answer given to this
was an eloquent vindication of " woman's right " to
the highest form of culture, including even the dry
subject of conic sections and spherical trigonometry.
This state of feeling made it impossible to get sub-
scriptions for the enterprise, and at the end of five
years the College was irretrievably bankrupt. Most
of the friends of the College surrendered the enter-
prise as an entire failure : but two of the number, Rev.
Samuel Anthony and William H. Ellison, determined
to make an effort to continue the school. They con-



Online LibraryI. M. E. (Isabella Margaret Elizabeth) BlandinHistory of higher education of women in the South prior to 1860. → online text (page 9 of 24)