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JIM: School Butter and Bees Around a Hive: The Lindsey Wilson Opens, 1913

By JIM

A century ago this summer, the News "announced" the opening of the Lindsey Wilson Training School via a rather ignoble front page classified ad the week before the term started:

"The Lindsey-Wilson will open September 2nd. On September the first we will be ready to buy all kinds of kinds of vegetables, butter and eggs."



During the summer of 1913, a large ad on interior pages of the News featured a handsome representation of the classroom building, and a banner headline assured parents the school was "A safe place to put your children." The ad also informed readers that Lindsey Wilson offered "A good course [of study]. A strong faculty. Clean athletics. Low rates." The ad also stated (without giving particulars) that "So many young men and women have visions and not sufficient funds to make these visions real. We are making it possible for ALL these ambitious young people to get an education."

While no costs were mentioned here, they certainly were comparable to those of the Spring term, 1914 (per month):

Board, $10.00; Tuition: Intermediate, $3.00; Teacher training, $4.00; Training School, $4.00; Commercial Course, $5.00; and Elocution and Music, each, $3.00. There was also an "Incidental Fee," possibly a one-time charge, of a dollar-fifty.

Come Tuesday, September 2nd, the doors to the Training School opened, and (reported the News),

"quite a number of pupils were enrolled. The increase in attendance will grow weekly, and by the time cool weather comes, the hill will swarm with happy faces. The management has every assurance that the school will be larger than usual. Parents should start their children early in order to get the full benefit of the year's work. All the foreign teachers arrived the latter part of last week." (In this instance, "foreign" referred to the instructors whose places of residence were outside the metes and bounds of Adair County.)

As evinced by the second sentence in the excerpt above and in Prof. Moss'es comment below, matriculation was rather more a moving target in 1913 than it is today, with some students arriving as late as two months into the term.

No enrollment numbers ever appeared in the paper but come mid-September, Co-Principal R.R. Moss, in response to the question, "What is the outlook for a full school?," went into full-blown PR mode and answered thus:

"The finest of any year in the past. It was the best opening for years, nearly all grown pupils. We have more pupils than for several years. And the patronage from a distance, up to this time, surpassed our expectations. When the farmers get through with pressing work, you may expect the hill to swarm with boys and girls--like bees around a hive. The new members of the faculty are doing fine work, liked by all the students."

The newspaper, constitutionally unable to resist the urge to comment, appended a directive to parents to "Send up your boys and girls, and close and proper instruction will be given them."

The following week (September 24th), long time News man John Ed Murrell, then a year or two past his sixtieth summer, wrote, in a bit of introspective reverie,

"School Butter That's the name that has been applied to the youths of who go each day to the school house to learn the three R's since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. They can be seen now in large numbers filling the streets, their bright happy faces evidence of the joy the have in life, and the hope of the future. It does one good to come in contact with them, and makes him wish he were once again of that number."

(Mr. Murrell greatly soft-pedaled "school butter," as the expression frequently was used in the pejorative.)

The faculty members and administrators for the 1913-14 school year were as follows:
Prof. R.R. Moss, Co-Principal. He had been with the school since it opened.

Rev. J.S. Chandler, Co-Principle. The Educational Board tendered Rev. Chandler the position upon the departure of Prof. P.D. Neilson in May, 1913. (Six individuals had expressed an interest in the position; Rev. Chandler was not among that number.) At the time, the good reverend was serving as pastor of the Columbia Methodist Church. He was hardly a stranger to Arbor Vitae Hill, however, as years earlier he had served on the committee that "came to Columbia and selected the site for the planting of the school buildings." Almost certainly, he taught Bible classes and possibly other subjects in addition to his administrative duties.

Prof. C.D. Nelson, of Conway, Ark., was a graduate of Oxford College. In addition to teaching "advanced courses," he also had charge of the boys' dormitory and was director of athletics.

Miss Flora Powell, of Monticello, Ky., Primary Grades.
(Prof. Nelson and Miss Powell stayed at Columbia just one year before accepting employment elsewhere.)
Miss Elizabeth S. Hewitt, of New York, Music and Expression. (Less than three weeks into the fall term, Miss Hewitt's students gave a recital. Reported the News, "Her musical students, both instrumental and vocal, were of the highest order and were faultlessly rendered while her work in expression was most excellent." Miss Hewitt taught at Lindsey Wilson for two years.

Miss Alice Walker, of Columbia, assistant Music teacher, joined the faculty at some point after the term began. She was a daughter of William L. and Tollie Eubank Walker.

Miss Katherine E. Murrell, of Columbia, Latin and German.
Compiled by JIM


This story was posted on 2013-08-22 13:45:44
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