CONGREGATIONAL ACADEMIES IN NEBRASKA
At the request of the writer the Rev. G. W. Mitchell, for ten years pastor at Franklin, Chairman of "The Academy Endowment Fund," prepared the following statement of the academies which enter into our educational system. As Mr. Mitchell is thoroughly acquainted with the work and needs of the academies, no one is better qualified than is he to give this brief resumé of the Congregational academies in Nebraska:
"Doane College is the center of a Congregational educational system in Nebraska that has, in addition to Crete Academy, its own preparatory department, four outside academies, which stand to it in the relation of feeders, though there is no organic connection.
"These academies are at Chadron, in the far northwest corner of the state, at Franklin, in the southwest, at Neligh (Gates Academy), in the northeast, and Weeping Water in the southeast. The total student enrolment (sic) in this system, in the year 1903-4, was 768, of whom 555 were in the four 'corner' academies.
"Franklin and Gates academies were established in 1881, soon after the homesteaders settled the new country. At Franklin, in 1880, four or five men, members of the little home missionary Congregational church, used to gather frequently at the home of one or another of them, and talk and plan and pray for their children and the welfare of the new country. They agreed at last that a Christian academy would be the best contribution they could make to the new region in which they had located.
"This mutatis mutandis might be stated as the origin and motive of each of the other three academies. Franklin Academy, has three good buildings set in a campus of ten acres with an athletic field of five acres adjoining. The first principal was Rev. W. S. Hampton, who for five years did a splendid work in organizing and laying foundations. Prof. Alexis C. Hart, principal since 1888, the Nestor among academy people in Nebraska, has made Franklin Academy the foremost Christian academy in the West.
"Gates Academy, the predecessor and successor of Gates College, at Neligh, was opened in September, 1882. In 1886 college work was begun; in 1899 the college charter was given up, and the institution continued as an academy. It has two substantial brick buildings, a library of 5,000 volumes, well equipped laboratories, and in 1903-4 enrolled 171 students.
"Weeping Water Academy was started in 1885 in the hearts of a few Christian people who wanted their own boys and girls to prepare for college. The students have come from many counties in southeast Nebraska, and an unusually large per cent of them have gone on to college. Its home has been the old church meeting-house. The first new permanent building, Hindley Cottage, a dormitory for young women, is now completed at a cost of $9,000.
"Chadron Academy was established in 1888. In 1890 a fine brick building was erected which, two years later, was totally destroyed by fire. School continued without a day's delay, and a new brick building was soon erected. Chadron Academy has a contributory territory of not less than 35,000 square miles, a region of vast cattle ranges, isolated ranch homes, and scattered farms. It is just the place for a Christian academy, and has well fulfilled the ideal and purpose of its founders.
"Not less than 5,000 different students have attended these four academies, about 500 of whom have completed the full three-years courses, and 400 of them prepared for college.
"January 1, 1902, a committee of five was organized to help the academies secure funds to pay off all debts, provide for current expenses, and raise a permanent endowment fund of $100,000. June 30, 1904, the committee reported:
|Pledges still unpaid||
Making a total of
"The cash received, $58,300, was enough to pay all expenses of the four academies for the two and one-half years, covered by the canvass, and leave a surplus of about $13,000 for debts, endowments, and new buildings, besides the $4,000 of pledges still unpaid."