This institution was chartered in 1852, and went into operation in a brick building erected for the purpose at Boonsboro‘. Rev. Robert M. King, of Missouri, was president, and Prof. S. Doak Lowry, assistant. After laboring for about six years Mr. King resigned, and his place was filled by the promotion of Prof. Lowry. James H. Crawford and P. W. Buchanan were at the same time made assistants. An effort was made to raise an endowment by scholarships, and Rev. W. G. L. Quaite was appointed endowing agent. He received in donations and scholarships about $1,000, but owing to the loss occasioned by the war very little was realized from this effort.
In March, 1859, Rev. F. R. Earle, of Greenville, Ky., accepted the presidency, and was formally inaugurated the following June. At the close of the collegiate year, in June, 1859, two young men, S. H. Buchanan and J. T. Buchanan, were regularly graduated, receiving the first diplomas given by the institution. At that time, also, the first catalogue was issued. S. H. Buchanan was employed as tutor for the next session, and at the close of the school year, in 1860, Prof. Lowry resigned. In 1861 work was necessarily suspended, and in November, 1864, the college building with all its contents was destroyed by fire. A building previously used as a boarding-house escaped the flames, and after the close of hostilities the president began preaching and teaching there. In 1868 a new frame building, valued at $5,000, was completed, and in September the president, assisted by Prof. James Mitchell, opened the college. The next year J. P. Carnahan was added to the teaching force. In 1874 Prof. Mitchell resigned, and his place was filled by Prof. Harold Bourland. In 1875 the trustees resolved to admit pupils of both sexes, and Rev. H. M. Welch was placed in charge of the young ladies’ department. He retired in 1879. In the four years following Mrs. Earle, Miss Welch, Miss Moore and Mrs. Whittenburg were employed as teachers whenever the patronage demanded it. In 1883 Prof. Carnahan retired, after eighteen years’ service. The president then had entire charge of the work until 1885, when he too resigned, and Rev. J. P. Russell was placed in charge. Mr. Russell taught for two and one-half sessions. In the second session of his administration the college building was burned. In this emergency the Methodists offered their house, and this, with a small dwelling, furnished accommodations for the school. Upon the resignation of Mr. Russell, Dr. Earle again undertook the management of the institution, and in 1886 there was completed a new brick building, better than either of the former ones, at a cost of about $8,000. In 1887 the president, assisted by two good teachers, began work in the new building, and a fairly successful year ensued. Dr. Earle is an able educator and a faithful worker, and Cane Hill College is doing much for the cause it represents, but it is now under the shadow of the State University, and is so far removed from railroad communication that it can scarcely hope to regain its old-time prosperity.
At about the time Cane Hill College was established Esquire James B. Russell, who had previously done much for the promotion of education in the community, erected a large frame building about one mile south of Boonsboro, furnished it with a library and apparatus, and installed Thomas G. McCulloch as teacher. McCulloch, who was an excellent instructor, although a somewhat severe disciplinarian, remained in charge of the school for four or five years, and under his administration the attendance became so great that an addition to the building was made. After Prof. McCulloch’s retirement the school was successively under the direction of Miss Coleman and Miss Lloyd.
Upon the establishment of Cane Hill College Mr. Russell proposed to donate the property to the church, provided $500 was raised for the college in his name. This was done, and Cane Hill Seminary became as famous an institution for the education of young ladies as Cane Hill College was for the education of young men. During the three or four years before the war this institution was under the care of Prof. Newton Gibens and three assistants.
Prairie Grove Institute is the name of a high-school conducted under the auspices of Fayetteville District Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was opened in 1883, under the care of N. J. Foster, in a two-story brick building, erected for the purpose in a beautiful grove near the town of Prairie Grove.
Back to: Washington County, Arkansas History
Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.