St Johns' College of Arkansas was state's first chartered
institution for higher learning, ---- however, third to open her
collegiate door, following Arkansas College and Cane Hill College. 

WHY name St Johns'? 

"In the United States, Masonic Lodges are dedicated to St. John the
Baptist and St. John the Evangelist (the two Holy St. Johns). Therefore,
it would have only been natural for the Grand Lodge to dedicate its
institution of higher learning to them." 
Source: librarian of Grand Lodge of Arkansas May 14,2007. 

Centrally located, was Masonic sponsored school becoming the
premier collegiate facility prior to Arkansas' accepting responsibility
for education. St Johns' College occupied one-hundred and five acres
immediately east of United States Arsenal in Pulaski county, five
donated, one-hundred purchased in 1852, with intent on selling sixty
acres. She's illustrated at upper left corner on Little Rock's, 'bird's
eye view' of 1870's, after 1869 subdivision into "Masonic Addition" to
City of Little Rock, with streets named for lodge members. Her structure
is at bottom, 2nd from left with blind school's first from right. 

St Johns' College educated and trained her students (referred
to as "cadets" by third president's wife), for their life's
responsibilities, to name but a half-dozen: 

BORLAND, George Godwin (1846AR-1862TX)
DODD, David Owen (1846TX-1864AR)
ENGLISH, Peyton Danley (1846AL-1921AR)
HEMPSTEAD, Fay (1847AR-1934AR),
ROSE, George Burton (1860AR-1943AR) 
NEWTON, Thomas Willoughby, Junior (1843AR-xxxx), with son, T W, III,
married HEMPSTEAD's daughter, Elvyn, having son, T W, IV 

"Arkansas' History Wound Itself About St John's" --- 

---- so wrote Margaret Deane Smith
ROSS (1922AR-2002AR), Little Rock historian, for her 1950 newspaper
tribute to St Johns' College. 

Seldom is ST JOHNS' found spelled correctly, even twice in
"June 24th 1873" letter by president's wife. The "official" state record 
even misspelled the name causing confusion every since because a state 
clerk wrote it wrong. 

One needs to review early Arkansas history for better appreciation for 
the hardships of life and education confronted in those pioneering days. 


Memorial honoring St Johns' College is its 1857 engraved cornerstone 
displayed at Albert Pike Consistory, Seventh and Scott streets, Little 
Rock, retrieved from building's site after found covered with overgrowth 
by author Mrs Bernie BABCOCK, now with plaque affixed to its top, to wit: 

"This cornerstone is from old
St. Johns College of Arkansas
Formerly located East of MacArthur Park
Founded and operated by the
Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted
Masons of Arkansas during a time
prior to the states assumption of 
its responsibility in the field of education." 

Two monuments were erected in or near modern day MacArthur Park
honoring her students: 

FIRST: To memory of "Capitol Guards" during May 1911 16th Reunion of 
United States Confederate Veterans, fifty years following "Capitol
Guards" (some being St Johns' students), organized on the old United
States Arsenal (1838-1890) grounds (pre-1837, the Jockey Club & race
track). This statute represents a Confederate soldier standing at guard,
placed on a tall white granite pedestal with words, to wit:

During unveiling ceremonies, afore mentioned Fay HEMPSTEAD, poet
laureate of Freemasonry,, read poem 
entitled "At Camp Shaver," in which high tribute was paid to the "Capital Guards". Also 
included was Miss Mary FLETCHER (Mrs Leonard H DRENNAN) (1890AR-1982MD), daughter of Colonel 
John Gould FLETCHER (1831AR-1906AR), (3 June 1861 Captain, Age 30, Capital Guards. Elected 
May 8,1862; Severely wounded in thigh at Murfreesboro, Tennessee 31 December 1862; 6th 
Arkansas Infantry, Company A, and Mayor 1875-1881), standing at the east side of the monument, 
holding a blue ribbon, while Miss Helen Frances PEAY, granddaughter of Gordon Neil PEAY 
(1819KY-1876AR), first captain of the Guards (Mayor 1859-1860), stood on the south side 
holding a white ribbon. At a signal, Misses FLETCHER and PEAY pulled the ribbons while the 
band played "Dixie" and the old veterans assembled shouted at the tops of their voices. The 
screen fell away, with a shower of roses, the tall granite shaft stood revealed. 

SECOND: To memory of former student David Owen DODD, "Boy Martyr of the Confederacy"
http://, thought to have 
worked in Masonic member Alderman James A HENRY's, mercantile store, --- in 1926 (created 1890) 
placed a large piece of granite with a commemorative plaque attached, to wit: 

"In Memory of
David O. Dodd
The boy hero of the Confederacy 
This marks the place of his execution January 8, 1864 Erected by the
memorial chapter U.D.C.1926" 

Originally located one block east of former United States Arsenal
building (wherein General Douglas MacARTHUR (1880AR-1964NY) was born, marking
site on St. Johns' college former property of DODD's execution as a spy,
by hanging, January 8, 1864 at three o'clock in afternoon, coldest day
of the year with ice covering river and snow under foot, before a crowd
estimated 5,000 to 6,000. Hanging ordered by Major General Frederick
STEELE (1819NY-1868CA), United States Army. DODD's body removed to Dick
JOHNSON's Rock street home, following day interned in Mount Holly
cemetery in plot reportedly donated by Barney NIGHTON where in 1913, an 
eight-foot tall spire was placed. Interstate Highway 30's access road 
now covering hanging site with 1926 monument currently (May 2007) found 
at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Law School's parking lot. 
(At Civil War Heritage Trail Round Table meeting 24 June 2008 was said 
the City of Little Rock is planning on moving the David O. Dodd marker 
over to the little courtyard behind the Arsenal. - Pris) 

Organization of Johns' College began 1848 as a thought of Elbert
Hartwell ENGLISH (1816AL-1884AR). Then through efforts of Masonic Grand
Lodge of Arkansas, reportedly following creation of similar schools in
neighboring states (Missouri(ah) ca1844). Grand Master of Masons Elbert

"...his brain and heart in it [St Johns'] as long as he lived.", 

Arkansas' fourth Supreme Court Chief Justice, considered by many, the
father of St Johns' College (some credit Albert PIKE, who didn't become 
a mason until 1850), starting 1844, law partner and junior editor with 
fellow mason Solon BORLAND, Esquire (1811VA-1864TX), 

Elbert addressed Arkansas' problem of no higher education in 1850, year 
following Solon's son Thomas age 16, attended Alexandria Boarding School, 
Alexandria, Fairfax county, Virginia under Benjamin HALLOWELL (1799-1877), 
then in 1850 at Blue Lick Springs, Nicholas county, Kentucky in Western 
Military Institute, where its said many Little Rock boys attended, under 
Colonel Edwin Wright MORGAN (1814PA-1869PA), --- both Elbert & Solon had 
4 y/o sons. 

A committee was formed to establish an institution of higher learning 
somewhere in Arkansas: 

Charles ADAMS, John DRENNEN, Joseph H EGNER, Elbert H ENGLISH, Rev
Joshua F GREEN (1820-1854), Thomas D MERRICK (Mayor 1854), Albert PIKE
(1809-1891), Christopher C SCOTT, Nathanial G SMITH, William H SUTTON,
James H WALKER, and George Claiburne (Claiborne?) WATKINS (Arkansas'
third Chief Justice, 1853/4, as infant fell overboard on boat journey
with mother, Maria, to Little Rock, arriving 11 March 1821 to find one
house and a few cabins. Father, Major Isaac WATKINS was assassinated 13
December 1827 by John SMITH)
She was chartered December 31, 1850 with name, St Johns' College of 
Arkansas, by action of Thompson R FLOURNOY, Speaker of the House of 
Representatives, John R HAMPTON, President of the Senate and signed by 
Governor John Seldon ROANE (1817TN-1867AR), under whom Major Solon 
BORLAND served in Mexican war and who was noted for his advocacy of 
state system of education and roads,

Two years following St Johns', the second college was chartered, Reverend 
Robert GRAHAM's,robt.htm
Arkansas College (1852-1862), (Elbert H ENGLISH a board member with
Robert GRAHAM a board member at St Johns') December 14, 1852, located in
Fayetteville on what is now College Avenue just south of Dickson Street,
where the First Christian Church later stood. College Avenue took its
name from the college. On July 4, Arkansas College awarded the first
collegiate degrees in the state to its seven graduates. Linda ACREY's
g,grandfather, Pleasant Harrison LOYD attended 1861-1862 later serving
the "36th Arkansas CSA". 

The third chartered following day, December 15th, Cumberland
Presbyterian Church's Cane Hill College (1852-1891), reportedly opening
its collegiate door in 1858. 

Solon BORLAND, M D, while serving in the United States Senate
(1848-1853), introduced a bill in Congress on December 31, 1849, 

"...which had already passed the Senate, and which, if it were enacted
into law, would yield as he surmised, ample funds with which to carry
out the most admirable system of common school education that can be

The senator's action was followed by State of Arkansas (no doubt other
states as well) passing its first serious attempt to establish a system
of common schools, signed by Governor ROANE so reported January 11, 1851
in Arkansas Gazette. (HOWEVER, it wasn't until 1868 that Arkansas had
common public schools). 

It was agreed St Johns' College of Arkansas shall be at a location which 
is generally, healthy, accessible and a moral community, with approval 
by ballot of not less than two-thirds majority vote. The third day of 
1851's communication such balloting occurred and upon their sixth ballot, 
city of Little Rock was selected, meeting all pre-established requirements. 

Masons set forth "zealously", following board of trustees meeting April 2,
1852, to acquire a large tract of land. Many offered donations or tracts 
at reduced price complicating the task. Finally, July 16, 1852 they bought 
a one-hundred acre tract, fronting on what became Ninth street, adjacent 
to east side of Arsenal grounds having a nice frame structure near its 
northwest corner. Intention was to sell sixty acres. Price reportedly 
paid was either $4,214.73 or $5,500. (In 1855, they had Solon BORLAND, 
Robert W JOHNSON and E A WARREN seeking (unsuccessfully) to obtain the 
Arsenal grounds from U S Congress for their site.) 

From the 1852 communcations came forth, --- each Lodge would be
enitled to one student without charge, provided he: 

"... teach a primary school, for the benefit of the children of the
membership of each Lodge, and their orphans, until he shall feel he has,
according to his ability, discharged himself from any obligation to said
Lodge, more than reverence for a great benefactor." 

Proposed funding for their school was agreed during 1853 communication 
to be: a levy of $2.00 per anum per member, payable semi-annually to 
their Lodge who in-turn was responsible for payment to the Grand Lodge. 
Reportedly two Lodges disagreed, one later agreeing, the other did not, 
so it, the Calhoun Lodge No 50, was suspended until succeeding 
communication. History professor Michael B Dougan wrote the lodge at 
Helena refused to make payments (see below). 

At 1854 communications was reported to be over fifteen thousand
dollars in fund. 

Feelings reportedly surfaced during 1855 communication over proposed 
college's location (?). A review of payments revealed $1,907 was paid 
with $2888 outstanding, having a total in account of about $20,000. 

"At the annual communication of the Grand Lodge, in 1856, Hon Solon
BORLAND, in behalf of the Board of Trustees of the College, submitted a
very able report, reviewing the subject of the College in detail,
referring to the circumstances under which it was undertaken, the
embarrassments [??] which interfered with its progress, its condition at
that time, the benefits it was designed to secure to the order and
prosperity, as well as to the State and country at large, and proposing
some measures looking to its advancement and early completion." 

August 4th 1857 notice was published in Arkansas Gazette that building 
for the preparatory school was completed and classes would commence 
September 1 under James M MATHEWS, A M, retained from Shelby College, 

November 6th, 1857, afore mentioned granite cornerstone, quarried at 
Big Rock, was "set" for this Gothic Revival styled, fifty-seven foot 
wide, eighty-seven foot deep, two four story towers with balance three 
story, westward facing, first (East) wing of their brick building at 
Tenth and Barber Avenue and McGowan and Welch Streets for estimated 
$20,000 building, to be on "eternal granite" foundation, walls of 
"hard brick" [should have been (?) "fire brick"] with "slate roof", 
such that: 

"...nothing but engines of war, or earthquake, shall be able to

Building was reportedly destroyed by fire following The Brooks-Baxter
War, of 1874,

Judge Elbert H ENGLISH addressed the gathering with Grand Master Luke E
BARBER (thirty-nine year clerk of Supreme Court) overseeing the Masonic
ceremonies, represtenting some 5,000 masons within its 115 Lodges in

During 1858 the masons set about completing plans, buying materials 
and signing contracts for the construction of their building. 

School's Board of Trustees were: 

WATKINS, George C - President
DODGE, Roderick L - Treasurer
ENGLISH, Elbert H - Secretary 

General William Eliot ASHLEY 
(1823AR-1868AR) (Mayor, 1857-58 & 1861-63), Luke E BARBER (1806-1886),
John J CLENDENIN (1813-1876), George A GALLAGHER (1824-1878), James A
HENRY (1817-1899), G McPHERSON, Thomas D MERRICK, and Samuel W WILLIAMS. 

Summer of 1859 two University of Virginia and in 1860 one Virginia 
Miitary Institute graudates were retained to head their school. 

   PRESIDENT: John Baker THOMPSON (1834VA-1862TN),
highly recommended by president of University of Virginia, a
mathematician, most recently professor at Albermarle Female Institute,
and University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Albermarle county, Virginia
(Virginia's 39 independent city status' within her 95 counties allowed
after 1871) and with his close friend and fellow professor at Albermarle
Female Institute vice-president. 

   VICE-PRESIDENT: William Naylor BRONAUGH (1833VA-1862VA),
strong in the languages (listed in Elbert H English's 1857 speech as
Frank (?), but, ---- 1871published biography, military and other records
list William Naylor as vice-president with Frank, his brother whom he
financed through medical school, as surgeon in 2nd Battalion Arkansas
Infantry) while there, wrote a book on Latin language but killed before

   COMMANDANT: John William LEWIS (1837VA-1882AR) (ID 952, with class photo) and Professor
of Math, (incorrectly noted as Major John B LEWIS), from Virginia
Military Institute, Lexington, Rockbridge county, Virginia was employed
as Professor of Math and Tactices where he graduated 7th of 29, Class

Colonel THOMPSON with wife Alice POWERS, eldest daughter of his
Staunton, Augusta county, Virginia school teacher, the honorable Pike
POWERS, Esquire, she then of Charlottesville, found in Pulaski county
household #417 on Eighth Census, 1860, in Gray Township, later
reportedly boarding with William Edward WOODRUFF (1795NY-1887AR) in his
new 2-1/2 story home on twenty-five acres (later "Woodruff's Addition")
north across Ninth street from school (re-faced north when later
remodeled, 1077 East Eighth street {on market in 2007} where Alice died 
in 1860. She was buried in Hollywood cemetery, Richmond, Henrico county, 
Virginia, later her husband reinterred next to her. Her portrait was 
given to afore mentioned Fay HEMPSTEAD's mother, Elizabeth Rebecca 
(Beall) HEMPSTEAD, by THOMPSON, ending at one time with granddaughter 
Mrs Janet Laurie (Hempstead) PIERCE, Fay's daughter, with poem on back 
composed by Fay's mother. In 1871 when Fay brought his bride home from 
Charlottesville they found she was related to Mrs THOMPSON.
Arkansas, once "The Land of Opportunity", was a work in progress, 
population nearly doubling since school was chartered. Once noted 
--- Arkansas was ONLY state capable to self-sustain itself. 

Judge Elbert H ENGLISH's article dated August 8th, from which
Arkansas Gazette printed August 10th, school to open "Monday, October 3,
next" and published September 7, 1859, in Arkansas True Democrat
newspaper, announced it no longer is necessary to send children out of
state for education and among other things, school classes would
commence 3 October, 1859, however classes started the following Monday,
the 10th. School offered preparatory and collegiate departments, each
with 10 month sessions, costing $50 and $60 respectively. School
emphasized the teaching profession by requiring graduates receiving
"tuition-free" instruction to teach in Arkansas schools at least two
years after graduation, but operating as military-like organization with
uniform clothing specified by the Trustees. 

Within its first year's fifty students was, afore mentioned, eleven year 
old (soon to be twelve) Fay HEMPSTEAD, most likely with thirteen year 
olds: Solon's son George Godwin BORLAND & Elbert's, Peyton Danley 
ENGLISH, clerk of Arkansas' Supreme Court, 1896-1915. 

Like most other institutions, she closed her door to education
until after the civil war (1861-1867), however her staff, students and
property were far from being strangers to the Confederate cause: 

A)- Both, president and vice-president with others, created 1st Arkansas
Infantry, then enlisting May 1, 1861 at Pine Bluff, Jefferson county,
Arkansas (BRONAUGH in Company D). This before Arkansas (on its third
ballot), became 9th state to secede from the Union, May 6th with one
dissenting vote. They were mustered into Confederate service at
Lynchburg, Campbell county, Virginia, 19 May, short two companies for
regiment size. James Fleming FAGAN (1828KY-1893AR) elected colonel
(served in Mexican war under Major Solon BORLAND, M D), James Cade
MONROE lieutenant-colonel and THOMPSON major, later in Tennessee when
reorganized elected lieutenant-colonel. Company D's 3rd-lieutenant
BRONAUGH returned to Pine Bluff summer of 1861, recruiting more
companies, which later became part of 2nd Battalion Arkansas Infantry
under his command when promoted to major. The 2nd remained in Virginia
February 1862 when Major THOMPSON requested the regiment be assigned to

A.1)- Lieutenant-Colonel John Baker THOMPSON wrote his father April 4th 
from near Monterrey, Putman county, Tennessee, then wounded two days 
later (his 28th birthday), as part of an early wave of attack at Shiloh 
(near Pittsburgh Landing), Hardin county,Tennessee. Colonel James F 
FAGAN's letter from Corinth dated April 9th to THOMPSON's father said, 
hit with seven bullets, died the 8th, his official report: 

"On the right of the regiment, dauntlessly leading the advance, fell
Lieutenant Colonel John B. Thompson, mortally wounded, pierced with
seven balls. His loss no one can feel so sensibly as myself. Like
Havelock, he united the graces of religion to the valor of the soldier." 
"THOMPSON was buried on "the field" by his orderly. His remains were
transferred to Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond [Henrico county], Virginia,
postwar, to lie beside his wife. According to Chris FERGUSON's book on
Hollywood cemetery, which has a photo of THOMPSON, courtesy Library of
Virginia."(5/30/07, Bruce ALLARDICE) 

Former student Captain Thomas Willoughby NEWTON, Jr of Company A, also 
dangerously injured, --
Margaret ROSS reported: "...was with him (THOMPSON) as he lay dying...", 
likely at Cornith, Alcorn county, Mississippi, whose brother, former
student of Kentucky's Western Military Institute, Captain Robert
Crittenden (1840AR-1887AR) of Company F (later a CSA colonel), and he
were in 3rd Regiment, Confederate Infantry, HINDMAN's Brigade, HARDEE's
Corps, while THOMPSON in 1st Arkansas Infantry, in GIBSON's Brigade of
BRAGG's Corps during battle of Shiloh. 

A.2)- Major William Naylor BRONAUGH, with sharp hazel eyes, auburn hair 
and slight of frame but highly thought of in Virginia, as of October 
1861 courageously commanded 2nd Battalion Arkansas Infantry, Confederate 
States Army, dying a hero, July 5, 1862 from fragment of a shell to his 
lower right thigh received early in Seven Days Battle, 4-miles northeast 
from Richmond, Henrico county, Virginia near Mechanicsville bridge 
(Beaver Dam Creek), June 26th. The men surviving became part of the 3rd 
Arkansas Infantry. 

A.3)- John William LEWIS enlisted August 19, 1861 and appointed
Adjutant of the 52nd Virginia Infantry; promoted to 1st Lieut. December
2, 1861; Wounded in action at Port Republic, Virginia; appointed Captain
and Assistant Adjutant General October 7, 1862 and ordered to
Trans-Mississippi to report to Major Gen T H HOLMES; ordered to duty
with Maj. Gen T C HINDNAN's division January 23, 1863 and assigned as
Assistant Adjutant General to Brig. Gen. D.M. FROST; assigned to duty at
Head Quarters, District of Arkansas April 4, 1863; assigned to Brig. Gen
T F DRAYTON's brigade October 17, 1863 but soon back at District Head
Quarters; There on staff of Major-Generals S. PRICE and J. B. MAGRUDER
until assigned as Assistant Adjutant General of PRICE's Division March
7, 1865; Ordered back to Head Quarters March 15, 1865. No further record

B)- Other St Johns' students joined with thirty-nine year old Captain
William Edward WOODRUFF, Junior's artillery company (1860 census, in
widow Mary W W ASHLEY's (1798VA-1865AR) Markham street dwelling, listed
above his parents) ie: George G BORLAND & Henry "Hal" HALLIBURTON, yet
others in other units with some on June 1861 formed part of the "Capitol
Guards", Company A, 6th Regiment Arkansas Infantry Volunteers,
Confederate States Army under Gordon N PEAY, which was: 

"....recruited from the "first families" of Little Rock, as well as
prominent merchants and skilled artisans. There were a few St. Johns'
College students in the company as well. You'd think that a company of
"blue bloods" wouldn't be as feisty as the typical company of Arkansas
farm-boys, but the Capitol Guards built quite a reputation during the
war, as tenacious fighters and seasoned campaigners. The survivors of
the company were among the "movers and shakers" of Little Rock for the
rest of the 19th century.", 

wrote Bryan HOWERTON on Arkansas Civil War Board. 

C)- February 6, 1862, Mayor William E ASHLEY (s/o Mary W W & U S Senator
Chester Ashley) reported to Arkansas State Gazette and Democrat, that
school's Board of Trustees granted their property for hospital use.
Therefore constructed on campus were eleven frame, temporary wooden,
structures by the Confederated States of America, designed for 908 beds.
St Johns' College became a large military hospital complex serving over
8,000 patients by 1865 with many surgeons including Dr Henry Montgomery
DYE (1830VA-1878TX). 

First wounded were from March 1862 battle at Pea Ridge. Reportedly on 
May 8, 1862, there were six-hundred injured listed being cared for. 
Following Major General Sterling PRICE's (1809VA-1867MO) defeat at 
Little Rock, 10 September 1863, it became a United States General 
Hospital, with early newspaperman, William E WOODRUFF senior's home 
(wife's  sister of Judge George Claiburne (Claiborne?) WATKINS), north 
across street, used as an officers hospital. (see 1865 photo in "HOW WE 
LIVED: ...", page 83 & Quapaw Quarter Association's 1864 map, page 97). 

Such is some history of service to the Confederate States of America by
those at and of St Johns' College of Arkansas. 

Following end of war, during reconstruction era (1865-1874), another 
Board of Trustees existed: 

Luke E BARBER, William D BLOCHER (1841-1879), Dr Roderick L DODGE
(1808-1893)(Mayor 1847), Elbert H ENGLISH, J W FAUST (1829-1879), Samuel
(1821NY-1896AR) (1854 partnered with Dr Solon BORLAND, Mayor 1866, and
in 1879 one of eight who started University Medical Department), W D
RISON, Rev Thomas Rice WELCH (1825KY-1886CANADA) (minister of first & 
started second Presbyterian church in Little Rock), Samuel W WILLIAMS. 

Following being used as a post-war general hospital, Federal's returned
school's property in fairly good shape, spring of 1867. Is it safe to
assume the school kept some structures for school use, view Arkansas History
Commission's images #1143, ca 1864 & 5097.16, ca 1868 (notice two story
building along side main building)? Trustee's set forth to refurbish,
restock, restaff then reopen Arkansas' premier college's door for
classes starting October 1,1867, before Arkansas was re-admitted into
the United States on 22 June1868. Luke E BARBER (1806-1886AR) was
president, ably assisted by 1855 graduate of Colby College, Confederate
veteran officer and ex-prisoner of war, Oliver Crosby GRAY
(teaching seven of the sixteen years college door was open), a
mathematician and former headmaster of Princeton Female Academy, Dallas
county, since 1860, less war years. 

GRAY enlisted June 1861 under Colonel Solon BORLAND, M D, in what became 
Company A, of 3rd Regiment Arkansas Cavalry, Confederate States Army, 
fighting more skirmishes than did any other Arkansas unit. GRAY entered 
as private, became 1st sergeant, elected 1st lieutenant, promoted to 
captain, appointed divisional provost marshall, resigned Army to join 
Navy, captured, imprisoned, exchanged, returning home April 1,1865. 

Amongst GRAY's pupils were: Judge Robert Barnett WILSON (1850TN-xxxxAR)
whose bed Governor Baxter's heavy weight broke the night of April 15,
1874, and --- M A AUSTIN, John M BLACKWOOD, Hoarce O DALE, John G
MILLS, John PIETCHER, Sam PRICE, John Milton & George Burton ROSE, J E
WILLIAMS, Frank WITTENBERG, W R WORTHEN to name a few of thousands who
benefited from Colonel O C GRAY during his forty-five years teaching in
his adopted Arkansas. 

Upon GRAY's December 1905 death, former student George B ROSE's
850+ word tribute at funeral,
in part said: 

"Perhaps the time he has the best opportunity to show his capacity was
when he was at the head of St John's College in this city; and the
numerous men of our state who in the old days attended that institution
all regarded him with a love and respect that were only strengthened
with the passing of the years, and with a ripened experience that
enabled them to appreciate even more fully the value of his services and
magnitude of their debt to him. A military school, it gave him an
opportunity to display his fine qualities as a soldier; and while he
never forgot his dignity as commandant, he took a personal interest in
each cadet, and bound them to him with hooks of steal, whose grip time
only tightened. In this solemn hour when the guide and instructor of our
youth lies cold in death many a strong heart is bowed with grief for his
loss, and from every corner of our state there go forth blessings from
grateful hearts." 

Pallbearers were former students: John W BLACKWOOD, John Gould FLETCHER,
1869 found more than one-hundred students enrolled. A list of some 
students compiled by Melissa TOBAT mostly, from "Arkansas Families:
Glimpses of Yesterday Columns from the Arkansas Gazette" by Lucy Marion
REAVES, Edited by: Desmond Walls ALLEN: 

Josiah Nichol BELCHER (1852-1933)
Isaac Thomas CATES Jr
Julian EAKIN
Frank Martin FLETCHER, b. 1858
Orlando HALLIBURTON, b. 1851
William Blackmore HUGHES
George J. LESCHER, b. 1848
Philip Drennaen SCOTT, b. 1855 and, 
Eugene HANGER (1860AR-1880AR), brother-in-law to Mrs Frances
(Fanny) Marion (Harrow) HANGER (1856IA-1945AR), w/o Frederick HANGER
(1855AR-1900AR) who saved Fanny BORLAND's poem "At My Father's Feet"
(Solon BORLAND). 

Other known students: Lieutenant William Field RECTOR (1847AR-1863xx), 
s/o Henry Massie RECTOR an adjutant killed in battle, Colonel W H 
HALIBURTON's son Hal and Doctor W A NOEL's son Dr James W NOEL. 

The school for the blind moved from City of Arkadelphia, Clark county 
to Little Rock, Pulaski county nine blocks west of St Johns'. Its
first brick three story building in 1869 was dedicated to "Colonel
Gray"., GRAY).

Colonel Oliver Crosby GRAY, wrote a letter August 24th 1869, to
his brother-in-law Ray, wife's younger brother who with older brother
sailed around the world in 1849/51, brief lay-over in San Francisco
during "Gold Rush Days", with their father, and 1872/3 spent winter in
GRAY's home: 

"I am spending my vacation preparing the Foreign Correspondence of the
Grand Lodge of Ark. and it will pretty nearly consume the whole time." 

(Source: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Raymond C
DAVIS papers)
Virginia GRAY, wife of O C GRAY, in her letter of December 1870 when 
visiting in Princeton, (buried her father Christmas Day,(next to her 
son), whom she too had sailed across the ocean with her father) writes 
of herself as chief committee women to get up money for a college 
library etc. which may have been before Robert Ward JOHNSON's donation 
of his library to the school. Aaron PIERCE wrote the state also donated 
a library. 

June 23, 1871 school closed with a big party that night. 

The GRAY family built (her September 27, 1871 letter) a home between 
the school and Arsenal in 1871, with view of school shown on AHC
image #1667, also seen on 'birds eye view' of Little Rock. 

The students (cadets) went downtown and marched November 8, 1871 
escorting the Masons concluding with a speech by Colonel GRAY. 

Financial contributions were less during the reconstruction years, 
falling heavily upon shoulders of Colonel O C GRAY as president
(1871-1874). Dallas T HERNDON and others, wrote St Johns' College was
co-educational in some departments for awhile, possibly Virginia was
teaching drawing and painting to both as mentioned in one letter, 
otherwise. not so mentioned in family's forty letters, thirteen
written from Little Rock nor in wife's, "Jennie", 242 page diary
(1867-1872) of son Carl Raymond, but
more likely in her penned 845 fragile pages, bound in three volumes
of 1872-1874 diary not yet transcribed at Arkansas History Commission
since ca1964 from Farrar Clinton NEWBERRY, Senior, (1887AR-1968AR) a
prolific writer, served as president of The Woodmen of the World
organization for a number of years. No doubt material from Virginia
GRAY's son Carl, more likely, grandson Russell Davis (1899KS-1975NJ)
(father of Eleanor Gray KNUTSON, (1923ME-1994MN) who provide her
g,grandmother's 1863-1865 diary for publication) while living in Omaha, 

As afore stated, "Masonic Addition" was platted 1869 within the
City of Little Rock with many grandeur homes built. It was estimated to
render them about $100,000 to help finance their school. 1893 map shows
street car line to area, with being south across 9th street from
"Woodruff's Addition", west of "Hanger Addition". See "HOW WE LIVED:
Little...." page 138, the Reichardt house. 

In 1872 it became necessary for St Johns' to construct a frame
building at a cost of about $10,000 for housing eighty more students.
Funds reportedly came from sale of some lots in their subdivison. (The
GRAY's had, for four years till 1873, boarded one student who graduated,
Virginia said NO MORE.) 

Its highly likely the orignal work for Arkansas History Commission's 
images #5097.16, ca 1868 and #1667, ca 1873 (#1667, a view from GRAYs 
property) was product of Virginia GRAY's (Mrs V L GRAY) artistic work, she the 
wife of Colonel GRAY, St Johns' College president (1871-1874) and she 
later the "first chair" of "Drawing and Painting" (Art Department), 
1874-1881, at Arkansas Industrial University. 

School graduated three, including one boarding with the GRAYs four 
years, June 1873 and seven in 1874. The staff for 1873/74 consisted

"President GRAY, Professor of Pure and Mixed Mathematics: Colonel 
Luke E BARBER, LLD, Professor, Belles Letters; Colonel William 
Cunningham PARHAM, 1850 graduate of The College of William & Mary 
with his A M, Professor of Greek and Latin Languages: and since 1869, 
Major Richard H PARHAM, Professor of Physical Science and Applied 
Mathematics", whose life's actively was a tireless involvement with 
state laws for better education. He & wife Ora were adored by GRAY's 
young son Carl (became vice-chairman of Union Pacific Railroad
Systems, whose first son, Maj-Gen Carl Jr (1889KS-1955MN) headed all
military railroads in Africa & Europe during WW II, third son Doctor
Howard Kramer (1901MO-1955MN) of Mayo Clinic operated on Jimmie
ROOSEVELT, s/o FDR, in 1938, and surgeon aboard Navy hospital ship in
Pacific theater during WW II. 

Here's a bit passed, ca 1985, to Clora PARHAM by her daughter
concerning Professor W C PARHAM (found listed next to (General) Robert
Crittendon NEWTON on couple of census): 

"He received an AM degree from Wm & Mary, taught mostly ancient
languages, in private schools in VA [Virginia] and MS [Mississippi] from
1857-1860. Vice principal at academy at Princeton 1861-64. ? (can't make
that out [maybe Little Rock (?)) Masonic Institute 1868-69: Prof. of
Latin and Greek at McKenzie College, TX, 1864-65; St. John's College, LR
[Little Rock], 1869-75; AR Female College, LR, 1875-1877; Central
Collegate Institute, Altus, AR; 1884-1885; Millersburg Female College,
KY, 1887-91; Galloway Female College, Searcy, AR, 1891-93; president of
Masonic Female College , Marshall, TX, 1899-1909." 

"Prof. Parham was 2nd in command at St. John's College when Brooke-
Baxter [war] affair occurred. Now conducting a private training school 
at Benton(1906) and hopes to retire with 60 years of pro. work. Now
entering 52 years as teacher--done about 40 years in AR--probably the
senior teacher in the state." 

[GRAY served Arkansas forty-five years, Minnesota four and Mississippi
one year] 

A Law School was begun in 1873 having former United States Senator 
(1853-1861) Robert Ward JOHNSON's (1814KY-1879AR) donated personal 
library with faculty consisting of: yankee, Henry Clay CALDWELL
(1835VA-1915CA), Elbert Hartwell ENGLISH, Augustus Hill GARLAND
(1832TN-1899DC) & Uriah Milton ROSE (1834KY-1913AR). 
U M Rose's sons, John Milton and George Burton ROSE, were students and 
most likely his other sons. There are those who believe this to be 
origin of University of Arkansas Little Rock's, Law School which is 
highly possible but we found no such documentation. 

The BROOKS-BAXTER WAR crisis arose April 15th, 1874, --- with Judge 
S W WILLIAMS suggesting Governor Elisha BAXTER (1827NC-1899AR)
(served thirty days, ca. November 1861, under Colonel Solon BORLAND, 
--- go to St Johns' College where Colonel William Cuningham PARHAM
greeted them and Colonel Oliver Crosby GRAY called his 150 students out
and asked for volunteers to guard the governor with all 150
volunteering. GRAY selected forty, armed them and they did guard duty
with loaded guns stopping all but those with special permission to enter
while Governor BAXTER conferred that night with Judges Henry Clay
CALDWELL (the Yankee), Uriah Milton ROSE (statute stands in the Nation's
Capitol, Statuary Hall, Washington, D C), Elbert Hartwell ENGLISH,
Freeman Walker COMPTON (1824NC-1891AR)(moved into Gray's first house 
November 1871) and Augustus Hill GARLAND (governor following BAXTER, 
later United States Senator then United States Attorney General, and 
one of three signing Solon BORLAND's probated will). College again 
closing her door to education and Dr Weldon E WRIGHT reportedly 
donating $30,000 to battle BROOKS). 

Colonel Oliver C GRAY and Judge Sam W WILLIAMS after consultation, 
hastily drafted a proclamation declaring martial law which was 
published next day when BAXTER was moved to the Anthony House for
his headquarters. 
President Ulysses S GRANT (1822OH-1885NY), (visited Little Rock six 
years later, April 15, 1880, three months following birth of General 
MacARTHUR, GRANT as a lieutenant, fought along side Major BORLAND in 
final battles of Mexican war), --- sided with Governor Baxter! This 
ended the month long bloody crisis May 15th, reportedly as many as 
two-hundred died state-wide, with General James F FAGAN leader
of BROOK's forces in Little Rock. Major-General Robert C NEWTON in charge of
BAXTER's military forces. 

Her door remained closed for awhile after the main building burnt 
sometime following April 15th 1874, pictured with caption "Old St. 
John's College, destroyed by fire in 1874" on page 66 in "100 years, 
1819-1919: supplement commemorating the founding of Arkansas' first 
newspaper". The center section photograph is same as:
Be this a result of The BROOKS-BAXTER War or not is questionable,
however my review of the month long battle did NOT reveal such an

Margaret Smith ROSS' 19 November 1950 article in Arkansas Democrat, 
page 12, says: 

"...building burned to the ground.", 

giving range of dates between which she had seen mentioned, post 1874,

"January 17, 1879 to January 17,1890". 

I have also seen 1890 date elsewhere. Maybe a number of devastating
fires may have occurred at St Johns', not bad as at the Deaf school
September 30, 1899, until after it was sold like so many structures in
Little Rock, therefore additional research is required to unscramble the
history of fires at St Johns' College of Arkansas. Review of Arkansas
Gazette articles may reveal when, why and results of these disasters,
and if buildings were repaired or what? Also a review of Virginia L
GRAY's non-transcribed 1872-1874 (listed as letters) diary pages for
that time period, filed at Arkansas History Commission may well reveal
the first-hand, inside story, of what really occurred, both at The
BROOKS-BAXTER War as well as the 1874 fire in that time frame. (If only 
I could be in Little Rock) 

School's demise is said to have accelerated during political
unrest of The BROOKS-BAXTER War, which may (?) include its fire damage
with more unrest after July 8, 1874, when Colonel GRAY was retained at
newly created Arkansas Industrial University --- (who in 1906 built and
dedicated "GRAY HALL" to honor Colonel GRAY for his achievments) ----, 

Other factors are claimed contributing to demise of St Johns'

1)- Professor Michael B DOUGAN's, Arkansas Odyssey. Rose Publishing Com.
Little Rock, 1994,684pp. 

"Its failure to thrive was caused in part by state sectionalism: Helena
Masons refused to contribute because they felt Little Rock favored
Memphis over Helena as the terminus for the railroad." and 

2)- the State of Arkansas' assuming its educational obligations in 1871
with successful creation of Arkansas Industrial University in
Fayetteville, Washington county. This under the 1862 Morrill Act, signed
by President Abraham LINCOLN, shepherded by former commander of Union's
4th Arkansas Cavalry, the 1868-1874 Supreme Court Justice LaFayette
GREGG (1825AL-1891AR),
later, member AIU's Board of Trustees, whose historic home, is west, across Gregg Avenue
from GRAY's. AIU's classes began January 22, 1872 in former landowner,
Mr William McILORY's (1812NC-1886AR) house. (buried next to GRAY's plot
in Old Masonic cemetery, now Historic Evergreen cemetery, Fayetteville).

Utter confusion sets in as to her presidency following 1874, with BROOKS-
BAXTER War, devastating fire and Colonel GRAY moving on to the new 
university at Fayetteville. This being one reason we contacted The Grand 
Lodge of Arkansas. 

a)- Librarian for Grand Lodge of Arkansas said he was not familiar with
the presidential sequence but noted on May 14, 2007: 

"The last year students studied at St. Johns' was 1879." 

b)- Dallas T HERNDON's 1922 book states Rev A R WINFIELD followed GRAY 

c)- Lucy Marion REAVES' 30 September 1934 newspaper article cites, 
following GRAY was Richard H PARHAM, then W J ALEXANDER however, 

d)- Margaret Smith ROSS' 1950 Centennial article of 19 November
1950 states Reverend A R WINFIELD opened after the political debacle

e)- I recall reading elsewhere that Major Richard H PARHAM was
president in school's final years. 

Colonel William Cunningham PARHAM (left in 1875 for The Arkansas Female
College, Little Rock, 1875-1877), reportedly was in charge at St Johns'
while Colonel Gray was away, then it appears Methodist Reverend Augustus
Roberts WINFIELD (1822VA-1887AR), Camden, Ouachita county for 1870
census and Hot Springs, Garland county in 1880, may have become
president of St Johns' College following GRAY, with ----Major Richard H
PARHAM (ca1834VA-1924AR), St Johns' College professor since October
1869, may have become her last president. While there he also served the
public as an elected state Democrat legislator, who wrote a school law
still being used, for the legislature in 1874, providing for unpaid
local school boards elected by the people, county examiners appointed by
the county judge, and a state superintendent of education, to be
elected; public education thus became a component of the new state
constitution after delay from U S Senator Solon BORLAND's December 31,
1849 afore noted bill in Washington city before Arkansas first opened
public schools in1868.

Major PARHAM afterwards taught in Little Rock's school system, becoming
a principal of schools, Ft Steele, Peabody, Scott Street & Kramer, and
the county examiner of public schools. He and wife Ora are listed living
with son-in-law Powell CLAYTON, Esquire, in "Masonic Addition" at 1301
Welch (same street St Johns' College had been built on) in 1900, he,
less wife, in 1910 census. PARHAM served Little Rock's public schools
till about World War One. Little Rock honored him by naming Parham
school, built 1909 closed 1979, 100 years following last classes at St
Johns' College, when I-630 highway construction did away with it.
Memories are retained in a school museum. 

In concluding this compilation of information assembled from many
sources, reveals that Masonic, St Johns' College of Arkansas and those
involved, served pioneering Arkansan's well during its short life,
actual schooling only sixteen or less years. Her known presidents were
each notable, dedicated men of worthy distinction. Her property was
reportedly sold after 1882 with funds used to build their Masonic temple at
Fifth and Main streets Little Rock which likewise was destroyed by fire
during early twentieth century along with many records! Fires took a
heavy toll in Little Rock. 

One finds considerable difference in St Johns' College's leadership
following 1874 between what I found documented prior to 06/21/07 and
that included by Dick E Browning's material dated 02/21/08 within 
Mr Browning apparently found the school was contracted out starting 1878
till 1882 of which I found no hint of. 
I submitted my 2007 final draft to the editor of Encyclopedia of
Arkansas for their use and it appears much information was used.


Credits and additional information: 
ALEXANDRIA Boarding School (1824-xxxx): ne_exhibits/letters/abs.html 

ARKANSAS' Civil War Board and more; 

a)- 1st Regt Ark Inf:,http://www.couchge 

b)- 2nd Batt Ark Inf:, 

c)- Capital Guards, 6th Ark Inf:, 

d)- 3rd Ark Cav: 

ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT: 19 November 1950, page 12, Margaret Smith Ross 

ARKANSAS GAZETTE: "100 years, 1819-1919 : supplement commemorating the
founding of Arkansas' first newspaper", page 66; 30 September 1934, Pt
II, Page 3, Col 1, Lucy Marion Reaves and State Centennial Edition, June

ATKINSON, James H: The Brooks-Baxter Contest, Arkansas Historical
Quarterly, Vol IV, No 2, 1945, pages 126 & 127 

BOGGESS, William S: The Story of Two ARKANSAS Pioneer School Teachers,  

ENCYCLOPEDIA of Arkansas History and Culture: 

GRAY, Oliver Crosby & Virginia LaFayette (Davis), family letters (most
held by Davis descendants, some Bentley Historical Library of University
of Michigan) and her MC 1618 material at Special Collections, University
of Arkansas. 

HALE, Harrison; University of Arkansas,1948 

HERNDON, Dallas T; Centennial History of Arkansas (pages 570 & 571),1922 

JOHNSON, Reverend John Lipscomb (1835-1915): The University Memorial:
Biographical Sketches of Alumni of the University of Virginia who fell 
in Confederate War; 1871. 

a)- (THOMPSON: pages 98 to 108, 

b)- BRONAUGH: pages 158 to 163), 

MASONARY IN ARKANSAS: by M. Shelby Kennard, 1860 (Courtesy: Special
Collections, University of Arkansas) 

MONEYHON, Carl H: The Impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on
Arkansas, 1994 (pages247 & 260). 

PARHAM, Richard H, Major: Thirty-Three Years of Educational Work in

PIERCE, Aaron B: St John's College, Pulaski County Historical Review,
Vol 36, No 2, 1988 

REYNOLDS, John Hugh & THOMAS, David Yancey: History of the University of
Arkansas, 1910 

ROY, Frederick Hampton, Sr & WITSELL, Charles, Jr: HOW WE LIVED: Little
Rock An American City, 1984, pages 82, 83, 84, 85, 97, 125,151, 158,
161,170, 173 & 177. 

SHINN, Josiah H; Pioneer and Makers of Arkansas: 1908, 423 pages: (search: "Major Gray"
and/or other names, WATKINS) 


a)- 1834-1858: Cane Hill College (accessed March
15, 2007) 

b)- 1858-1891: Cane Hill College (accessed
March 15, 2007) 


WILLIAMS, Hattie E: OUR NEIGHBORS --- THE GRAYS, Washington County (AR)
Historical Society's 'FLASHBACK', May 1958

Submitted by William S. Boggess, July 4, 2008; August 23, 2008

Pulaski County AR GenWeb Coordinator

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