The next most important event in the educational history of Washington County, and of the State also, was an act of the Legislature, approved March 27, 1871, entitled “An Act for the Location, Organization and Maintenance of the Arkansas Industrial University, with a Normal Department therein.” It begins thus:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas:

SECTION 1. That the treasurer of said State be a financial agent and trustee of said State, immediately after the passage of this act, to apply for and receive of the United States Government all the land scrip to which this State may be entitled by reason of her acceptance of the provisions of the act of Congress entitled “An act donating public lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts,” approved July 2, 1862, and acts amendatory thereof.

The act further provides for converting this scrip into funds; for a trustee from each judicial district, who, together with the State superintendent of public instruction, were to constitute the board of trustees; for receiving bids from counties, cities and incorporated towns for the location of the institution; for proceedings for its erection; for the organization and maintenance of it; for the appropriation of $50,000 for these purposes, the 150,000 acres of land scrip being only for endowment; to provide also for the purchase of from 160 to 640 acres of land for the university and its farm, etc.

In 1872 the board, consisting of Hon. Thomas Smith, and Trustees Bennett, Cohn, Prather, Boteführ. Bishop. Searle, Young, Clayton, Sarber and Millen, sent a committee to visit the universities of Illinois and Michigan. Among the bids received by them was one from Hon. Liberty Bartlett, of Pulaski County, offering ninety-two acres; one from Batesville, subscribing $50,000; one from Washington County, voting $100,000, with the city of Fayetteville voting $30,000 in addition, and one from A. P. Robinson, of Conway, offering a quarter section of land. Washington County was chosen, and the homestead of Mr. William McIlroy, embracing 160 acres, was bought by the committee on buildings and grounds, A. S. Prather, J. E. Bennett and M. A. Cohn, who paid the sum of $12,000, $1,000 of which was at once raised by citizens of Fayetteville. Large donations of land were offered by Hons. Lafayette Gregg and David Walker. Mr. Van Odell, of Chicago, was the architect chosen, and the contract let to Meyers & Oliver for $130,000. Work began September, 1873, and the following is a description of the results as completed August 10, 1875, and as reported by the board of visitors for 1875 to the governor:

We spent half a day in examining the new building, and were impressed with its grandeur. Its foundation is deep, broad, durable and abundantly able to support the heavy and well proportioned superstructure erected thereon. It is replete with beauty, solid in its construction, and well adapted to the purposes and objects for which it was built.

It is 214 feet long by 122 feet wide, covering an area of 26,108 square feet. It is five stories high, with French or Mansard roof, covered with slate and tin. The height of the building is 134 feet.

The basement story is built of stone; the foundation is bedded on solid rock. The three next stories are built of brick, and the attic of wood. The basement story is in height thirteen feet in the clear, first and second stories sixteen feet each, third and fourth fifteen feet, the clock and bell tower extending two stories above the attic.

There was used in the construction of [the] building 2,600,000 brick, 2,300 perch of rock, 719,805 feet of lumber, 260,000 pounds of iron, 250 kegs of nails, 85 doors, 282 windows, and 12,008 square yards of plastering in first and second stories. The building is to be heated with hot air furnaces and lighted with gas.

There are ten rooms 77×61 feet, ten rooms 22×29 feet, ten rooms 22×28 feet, ten rooms 22×25 feet, ten rooms 22×22 feet, ten rooms 22×19 feet, five rooms 15×28 feet, four rooms 22×20 feet, and one room 77×50 feet, making a total of seventy rooms. In addition there are four corridors 15×28 feet, and four corridors 14×206 feet.

There are four entrances to the building, and three flights of stairs from first to third floor, the principal stairway leading from the main entrance to the attic story. The principal entrance to the first floor is on the east, by circular steps surmounted by a beautiful portico of stone.

The fact that the stone, lumber and brick used in this building were obtained in Arkansas, and that the workmen who wrought so faithfully in “cutting, hewing and carving” are chiefly residents of this State, is, or ought to be, a source of congratulation to the entire commonwealth.

Says Prof. F. L. Harvey: “The brick for that beautiful structure, the Arkansas Industrial University, was made from clay found inside the campus, while the brown sandstone for the basement was quarried a few hundred yards away, and the ornamental grey limestone, used in the facade, procured in Washington and Madison Counties.”

The entire value of the university property, as given in its first catalogue (1873-74), was $355,000; and the main building was to be finished by September, 1875.

In a memorial of the board to the United States Senate, praying for aid, they say: “* * in the month of January, 1872, (it) was opened for the reception of pupils;” and that 200 students had become connected therewith. The first faculty was Gen. Albert W. Bishop, A. M., president and professor of mental and moral philosophy; C. H. Leverett, A. M., professor of ancient languages and literature; T. L. Thompson, B. S., professor of theoretical and applied chemistry; Gen. N. B. Pearce, professor of mathematics and engineering; Lieut. E. S. Curtis, Second Artillery, United States Army, professor of military science and tactics; Richard Thruston, M. D., professor of practical and theoretical agriculture and horticulture; N. P. Gates, principal of normal department; Mary R. Gorton, preceptress in normal department; Lu J. Stanard, instructress of training school, and W. D. C. Boteführ, professor of music. The freshman class opened with 16, the normal class with 13, and the preparatory department with 201.

It proposes as its object in the first catalogue:

First. To impart a knowledge of science and its application to the arts of life.

Second. To afford to students, such as may desire it, the benefits of daily manual labor. This labor is to some degree remunerative. But its remunerative character is not so much intended to lessen the expenses of students as for educational uses, as it is planned and varied for the illustration of the principles of science. The preservation of health, and of a taste for the pursuits of agriculture and mechanic arts, are two other important objects.

Third. To prosecute experiments for the promotion of agriculture and horticulture.

Fourth. To provide the means of instruction in military science; and to this end skilled instructors and suitable military implements will be secured and obtained as soon as practicable.

Fifth. To afford the means of a general and thorough education, not inferior to those afforded to all classes in the best colleges.

The experimental farming was to be done entirely by the pupils, under the faculty direction; the number of beneficiaries for Washington County, who were to receive four years’ tuition free, was eight; the uniform prescribed for the male students was the West Point cadet suit; the courses arranged were the classical, agricultural, engineering, normal, and preparatory and musical courses; the discipline was to be self-government; one literary society, the “Claiosophic,” was established; a mineral and geological cabinet and library was established; likewise a horticultural collection; a four-acre orchard; and the year closed commencement exercises during the first three days of July, 1873.

At the first commencement held June 27, 1872, President Gen. A. W. Bishop delivered an excellent address on the educational history of the county and of the A. I. University movement in particular.

The report of 1874 shows an aggregate attendance of 321, and a commercial course added. A military band of fourteen pieces was added also, and the cadets placed under military government; a professorship of history and English literature was established. The report of 1875, with the announcement, shows N. P. Gates as acting president, and Mrs. V. L. Gray as teacher of painting and drawing; a total attendance of 344; the “Mathetian,” a literary, and two musical societies, the Euterpean and Philharmonic, were organized; $500 received from the Peabody fund; a branch normal college, for colored students, was opened at Pine Bluff, September, 1875. The report for 1876, and announcement for the following year, shows the attendance 270; the first graduates, six in number. The report for 1877, and announcement for 1877-78, shows Gen. D. H. Hill, president; total attendance, 287; four prizes are offered. For 1878 the report and announcement show an attendance of 256; morning and evening religious exercises in the chapel; two more prizes added. For 1879, with announcement for 1879-80, the report shows the faculty increased to sixteen; a medical department at Little Rock with a faculty of sixteen; aggregate enrollment, 420 (exclusive of medical department); one prize added; two more literary societies, Philomathean and Phamakopton; general increase in collection and library. The report for 1880, and catalogue of 1880-81, show the attendance 450; cadet battalion of three companies; uniform for ladies; large contributions to collections, library and reading room; number Washington County scholarships increased to twenty-one. For June, 1881, faculty numbers seventeen; attendance (exclusive of medical department and branch normal), 441; Y. M. C. A. organized; seven degrees obtainable; an oratorical contest established; fourth annual meeting of Alumni Association reported; seven literary societies reported; large contributions to cabinets, library, etc.; twenty-two scholarships for Washington County. For June, 1882, attendance 363. In 1888 a new three-story brick dormitory was opened; it contains forty rooms, and is lighted by electric light. The officers (at Fayetteville) are as follows: E. H. Murfee, A. M., LL. D., acting president, professor of mathematics, logic and astronomy; J. M. Whitham, A. M. (late assistant engineer United States Navy), superintendent of mechanic arts, and professor of engineering; H. Edwards, A.M., professor of history, English, French and German; F. W. Simonds, M. S., Ph. D., professor of biology and geology; E. L. Fletcher (first lieutenant Thirteenth Infantry, United States Army), professor of military science and tactics; A. E. Menke, F. C. S., superintendent of agriculture, and professor of chemistry and mineralogy; J. F. Howell, A. M., instructor in pedagogics and senior assistant; W. E. Anderson (graduate Miller Manual Labor School), assistant professor of mechanic arts, and instructor in mechanical drawing; S. S. Twombley, B. S., assistant professor of chemistry and agriculture; C. H. Leverett, A. M., assistant professor of ancient languages; G. W. Drake, A. M., assistant in preparatory department; A. M. Waggoner, assistant in preparatory department; J.C. Massie, Jr., A. B., assistant in preparatory department; N. J. Williams, assistant in preparatory department; K. V. King, instructor in music; C. B. Lyon, B. P., instructor in free-hand drawing and industrial art; J. W. Mayes (graduate Miller Manual Labor School, Va.), instructor in iron work; L. C. Gardner (graduate Chicago Manual Training School), instructor in foundry and forging; W. F. Bates, foreman of the farm; L. Treadwell, instructor in field engineering; P. H. Babb, instructor in wood work; W. N. Crozier, instructor in English; I. Pace, English instructor; M. Danaher, instructor in Greek; G. A. Warren, English instructor; A. Polson, English instructor; J. H. Hobbs, English instructor; Prof. Edwards, librarian; Prof. Howell, secretary of faculty; Miss Taff, assistant librarian; Prof. Drake, superintendent of dormitory; Mrs. F. W. Washington, matron; W. French, engineer, and W. W. McCant, janitor. The State Agricultural Experiment Station, located here, have a board of control, station council, and eleven station officers.

The students are as follows: In the agricultural course, 48; mechanical engineering, 26; civil engineering, 68; scientific, 46; classical, 55; normal, 54; irregular, 6; literary, 2; in lowest preparatory, 112; total matriculates at Fayetteville, 417; music, 27; medical department at Little Rock, 67; branch normal at Pine Bluff, 181; total, 665. Eight courses are offered, and among the degrees gained at Fayetteville are B. S. A., B. M. L., B. C. E., B. S., B. A. and L. I. Three post-graduate degrees are conferred. M. A., M. S. and Ph. D. Nineteen agricultural journals are taken for that department. Six shop-rooms accommodate fifty pupils at one time. Thirty-three engineering journals and about sixty volumes of proceedings of various societies in Europe and America are used in that department. Over 160 machines or models are in the museum of that department. The Gordon Engineers’ Club, organized in 1887, have had six prominent lecturers during the year. A battalion of three companies is thus officered: E. L. Fletcher, first lieutenant Thirteenth United States Infantry, colonel; G. C. Shoff, first lieutenant and adjutant; W. N. Crosier, first lieutenant and quartermaster; W. E. Dickson, first lieutenant and ordnance officer; G. A. Humphreys, sergeantmajor; Company A, Capt. G. A. Warren; Company B, Capt. J. H. Hobbs; Company C, Capt. Press Boles. The property is valued at $300,000. There are three literary societies. Library, apparatus, museums, cabinets, etc., are good. The long vacation is now had in winter. The classes have been as follows: 1875 numbered 8; 1876 numbered 9; 1877, same; 1878, 5; 1879, 8; 1880, 10; 1881, 6; 1882, 15; 1883, 7; 1884, 10; 1885, 6, and 1886, 5.

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.