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Presbyterian College Under Construction in Floydada Tx - Early 1900's

"Despite boasting of an athletic field almost as expansive as the prairie itself, the wide-open spaces around Floydada Presbyterian Academy soon swallowed it up. Conceived in 1909 and opened in the fall of 1911, the college lasted just 2 1/2 terms before the doors of its fine three-story brick building slammed shut for the final time.

The idea of establishing an institution of higher learning in Floydada was born during a boom time of rapid growth for the surrounding area.
According to "Memories," a 1979 book by the Floyd County Historical Museum, "No one person seems to be known for having conceived the idea, but in 1909 a majority of the prominent citizens were talking it up."

The same year Dr. John H. Wayland donated 40 acres of land and $10,000 to the Baptists to establish a college in Plainview, the Southern Presbyterian (representing the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.) received a proposition from Floydada residents to plant a church-affiliated institution there.

In response, the denomination sent the president of Austin College, located in Sherman, to check out both the offer and the community. After spending several days in Floydada, he recommended that the Presbyterians accept the proposal.
W.T. "Billie" Montgomery initially offered a tract for the college, but a defect in the title was discovered and that offer was declined. Instead, Dr. R.A. Childress and John Farris donated 22 acres for the new college, and a building committee was organized. Among those on that committee were E.C. Henry and A.D. White of Floydada and Judge A.L. Love and H.V. Tull of Plainview.

With a contract price just short of $20,000, work on the new school began in August 1910 with W.A. Gound in charge of carpentry. It was completed the following July, in time for classes to begin in September 1911.

Serving as superintendent that first year was John C. Schley with Mrs. Schley and Miss Violet Buchanan joining him as teachers. Trustees were the Rev. U.N. Ivey, Judge A.L. Love, the Rev. Leonard Gill, A.A. Beedy, H.G. Tull, Tom Curry and E.C. Henry.
For the school's second term, in 1912-13, Dr. and Mrs. Bailey from South Carolina came to teach. They were assisted by the Rev. and Mrs. W.H. Matthews and an unnamed expression (speech) teacher. Also listed on staff was music teacher Miss Ruby Barrow of Plainview.
For the school's final abbreviated term, in the fall of 1913, "there may have been changes made in the expression and music teachers, but otherwise the faculty was the same," according to "Memories."

Historian Ferenc Morton Szasz, in his book, "The Protestant Clergy in the Great Plains and Mountain West, 1865-1915," noted that the Floydada school in 1913 boasted, "We have almost the entire prairie for an athletic field." In fact, according to "Memories," the school fielded formidable football and basketball squads which "were dreaded by the high school teams against which they played."

The school's first commencement was held in May 1912. Twenty-eight years later, in 1940, W.A. Gound recalled that Lee Rushing delivered a masterpiece of oration on the occasion, according to the 75th anniversary edition of the Floyd County Hesperian in 1965.

But just as quickly as the institution blossomed it began to fade, and by the end of 1913 it had closed after graduating just two classes.

Among others identified as being associated with Floydada Presbyterian Academy during its brief history were W.M. Massie, W.M. Colville, W.T. Montgomery, E.C. Henry, A.D. White and Floydada's Methodist minister, the Rev. J.E. Stephens."

(Contact Doug McDonough at dmcdonough@hearstnp.com for more information)

Article Courtesy K Cummings Pipes


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