RAVENDEN SPRINGS ENCAMPMENT
SOUTHERN BAPTIST COLLEGE
The little town of Maynard is eleven miles north of Pocahontas at the crossing of what was in the early days two very important highways. Captian [sic] John Maynard settled there in 1872 and established a mercantile business. In 1885 a postoffice was established and was called "Maynard" from the Maynard family. About 1894, Eli Abbot, a wealthy farmer, mill man, and merchant, constructed a two story frame house and began a school known as Abbot Institute. Among the first teachers were John Q. Pond and L. F. Maynard two young men who did much to make of it a Baptist institution. (Both are still living).
In 1897 a movement was launched to get Ouachita College to sponsor the school and make of it a Baptist school. After much discussion pro and con the baby institution was born and christened "Ouachita-Maynard Academy". State line and Current River Associations raised enough money to buy the od [sic] Abbot Institute property and Ouachita College agreed to furnish a faculty. Under the principalship of Professor J. F. Rorex the school opened in the fall of 1899. He managed the school well and in 1904 led a campaign to erect a bigger and better building. A very substantial structure was constructed and it was ready for use in the fall of 1905.
About 1910 the school catalogue made this bid for pupils and support: "This institution of learning is located in the foothills of the Ozarks, far away from the death lurking swamps of the South, and the dangers associated with the North and East." Unfortunately the records of the school have not been preserved, but we know that several of our well-known Baptist preachers and laymen drank from her fountains of learning. Among them were Elders J. W. Cunningham, J. A. Wheatley, J. A. Allison, H. E.
Navy, L. G. Miller, Ralph Kerley, and Taylor Stanfill. Among the educators must be mentioned Burl and Gilbert Short.
Others who served as Principal not already mentioned were J. M. Shaw, C. M. Myrick, C. E. Downs, W. A. Cummings, Miss Luna Wilhelm, H. E. Peters, Roger M. Baxter, and in 1922 C. E. Myrick again became the Principal and served until the institution closed in 1927. Most of these served as pastor of the local church at the time they were serving the school.
A brief picture of the school in 1920 was furnished to the writer by a friend. This is what he had to say: "Roger M. Baxter became principal in June 1920. The year ended with about 20 pupils. He spent the summer walking over the hills contacting students, and the fall term started the latter part of August with four faculty members and 65 students. Before the year had ended there were five faculty members and 82 students. The cost of tuition was $2.50 for seventh and eighth grade students, $3.00 for ninth an [sic] tenth, and $3.50 for eleventh and twelfth. Music and express were $4.00 per month. The girls who boarded had co-operative dormatory [sic] run by the mother of one of the teachers, and room and board cost them about $11.00 per month."
Among the graduates of this school who are making good as Baptist leaders should be mentioned the name of Miss Irene Chambers who is an employee of the Home Mission Board.
Ravenden Springs Encampment
The Ravenden Springs Encampment was founded by W. O. Taylor in 1937 while he was serving as missionary for Current River and Gainsville Associations. The first encampment was held July 20-28 of that year, with a total enrollment of 101. The Old Ravenden Springs Hotel was used for sleeping quarters, the public school building was used for class work, and the Baptist Church house used for general services. The Baptist Book Store gave a supply of hymnals, and the Sunday School Board gave a text book to each teacher. The charges for room and board for the eight day period were only $3.00. Among the special speakers that first year were Dr. J. S. Compere, Dr. O. L. Powers, Dr. B. L. Bridges, and Homer B. Reynolds.
Encampments have been held annually since 1937 with a regular increase in enrollment. In 1946 the enrollment reached 450, and in 1947 it reached 460. In 1941 a four acre plot of ground just north of the spring was purchased. Prior to that time it had been a privately owned park. Later that same year, four other lots adjacent to it were purchased making about a six acre plot. Several stately oaks scattered about on this park help make it a very desirable place for an encampment. Six buildings have been added ince [sic] 1941 four dormitories, a large diding [sic] hall, and a 50x90 tabernacle, bringing the total value of the property to about $6,000. Money for this property has been raised by local citizens, individuals, and churches of Northeast Arkansas.
The officers elected at the annual business meeting in 1947 are:
J. I. Cossey, President-manager, P. H. Jernigan, Vice-president, W. Harry Hunt, Secretary, and J. I. Cossey, Treasurer. The members of the Board of Control elected in this same meeting are: A. C. Hervey, L. G. Miller, E. C. Polk, M. C. Bennett, Blake Westmorland, Noah Rowe, and Lehman Bounds.
Southern Baptist College
Southern Baptist College was founded by H. E. Williams in 1941 while he was serving as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pocahontas. When his dream of a Baptist College for Northeast Arkansas was told to the Baptist leaders in that territory, many of them believed it was of the Lord, and joined heart and hands with him to bring it to pass. Golden Neely, pastor of the Corning Baptist Church, went with him to many pastors and churches in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri to lay the challenge before them and recieved [sic] a very satisfactory response. The city of Pocahontas caught the vision also and proposed to sell a community building which had been erected in 1934 by the WPA as a community center at a cost of $40,000, and a home for this baby institution. Terms of purchase were agreed upon and on June 10, 1941 the College had its birth. On that day, known as "Founder's Day" by the college, about 200 Baptists gathered and set up the formal organization.
The building which was bough from the city of Pocahontas was a two story stone structure which crowned a gently sloping hill in the north section of the city. It was large enough to house the college for the first few years, and needed only a few partitions to be ready for use. The college opened its doors September 10, 1941 with the following faculty: H. E. Williams, President, F. H. North, dean; H. L. Waters, Bible teacher; Mrs. F. H. North, C. F. Gwinup, and W. O. Taylor, teachers. Fourty [sic] two students were enrolled at the end of the first month. The number of faculty members and number of students have grown steadily since the first day it was opened.
On December 26, 1946 about midnight fire started in the library and spread with such rapidity that the Pocahontas Fire Dept., arriving shortly after, was unable to check it and the building and contents were almost a total loss. Some of the most important records rescued from the dean's office were among the first things saved. President Williams estimated the loss at about $70,000. Insurance on the building amounted to $10,00 [sic], and on the printing equipment $1,500. The student enrollment at that time was 163.
The college was opened again January 6, 1947 in quarters at the Air-base ten miles south of Pocahontas and five miles north of Walnut Ridge on U.S. Highway 67. During the 1946-1947 school year, 223 students enrolled, coming from 16 different states, 78 of whom were ministerial students. The institution is a co-educational Junior College with membership in American Association of Junior Colleges, and North Central Council of Junior Colleges. While it is fully recognized by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, it recieves [sic] no funds from the Co-operative Program of Arkansas Baptists, but recieves [sic] its support from churches and individuals who believe it is meeting a vital need and is worthy of financial support.
The Air-base mentioned above as temporary location of the college will likely become its permanent site. The property is for sale and the college official [sic] are negotiating for it. This will leave the college outside the bounds of Current River Association, but because it was founded within our bounds, and still is near to our borderline we shall claim her as our own.