Saturday, August 01, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 2

Advocate Reports on Progress at Bell Plains (sic) College August 2, 1884

One of the many short-lived educational efforts of 19th century Texas Methodism was Belle Plain College in Callahan County established by the North West Texas Conference in 1881. As was typical of the era, the trustees received land and monetary donations from local boosters. The prospects grew brighter when it obtained a state charter in 1882. At one time Belle Plain College enrolled 122 students.
The college specialized in music. It owned fifteen pianos and had both a brass band and an orchestra. It also offered instruction in arts, sciences, languages, and mathematics.

:Like many other colleges, Belle Plain was a story of “wrong place, wrong time.” The railroad surveyors bypassed Belle Plain, and in 1883 the Callahan County seat was moved to Baird, six miles away. The loss of trade and county offices devastated the town. Then the drought of 1886-87 dealt economic disaster to the whole region. The mortgage holders foreclosed but allowed the president to operate a private school not connected with the church until his death in 1892.

Here’s what the Advocate said about the school on August 2, 1884.

Bell Plains College, founded in the summer of 1881, and under the superintendency of F. W. Chatfield, A. M., entered upon its first session in June (?) of the same year with 22 pupils.
In the spring of the following year it was duly chartered and fully empowered to confer degrees and grant diplomas and certificates, medals, etc. Numbered at close of first year 85 pupils. At close of second 122, and during this year just closed 115. It has property of stone buildings and town lots valued at $8,000. The trustees have contracted to erect an additional ten thousand dollar building.


Post a Comment

<< Home