Saturday, December 27, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History December 28

Soule University Reopens with Twenty Six Urchins, January 2, 1869

Soule University in Chappell Hill started instruction in 1856. Its prospects were bright. It had two endowed chairs, its own building, and the backing of the entire Texas Conference. The East Texas Conference later participated so it could rightly claim to be the central university of Texas Methodism. The Civil War brought an end to this enterprise. In 1865 Soule once again accepted students, but in the fall of 1866 a yellow fever epidemic swept the Texas coastal plains. Soule closed again and Chappell Hill itself was all but abandoned.

In 1868 the trustees offered the presidency to Francis Asbury Mood of South Carolina. He arrived in November and began the task of restoring Soule. He found the institution $17,000 in debt. One of his first tasks was climbing onto the roof to repair the holes with molten lead.

Soule advertised for students, and on Monday, January 2, 1869 the school reopened. Here’s how Mood reported the event

We went over to the University building at the appointed hour—for the whole staff of instructors were living in the same house---and there what? We found some four trustees, about ten citizens and some twenty six little urchins! Here was the enthusiasm of a new opening! Here were the “students” which we were to send forth—eight or ten years hence I suppose—to represent the great central Methodist University of Texas.(from For God and Texas, Autobiography of Francis Asbury Mood, edited by Mary Katherine Metcalf Earney, 2001)

Mood soon began making plans for a larger central Methodist university, Southwestern University in Georgetown.


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