Someone has said that history is biography written large - which definition has appealed more and more as we have thought on the subject assigned to us.
Pawnee City Academy is now only a memory, but to many here tonight, a very precious one - linked with some of the most outstanding influences of our lives - influences that led to our best attainments and pointed us, most definitely, to our ultimate goal.
From the time of a meeting of citizens for the purpose of considering means and measures for establishing an Academy in Pawnee, led at the home of Rev. R. J. McCready July 17, 1883, until Commencement of 1908 measured a span of twenty-five years but influences were set in motion whose far-reaches Eternity alone will reveal.
This early meeting led to articles of incorporation signed by the following men:
J. A. Wallace, J. C. French, R. J. McCready, Wm. A. Wallace, J. K. Goudy, G. W. Miller, A. B. Anderson, John T. Wallace, John Turnbull, G. A. J. Moss, John L. Marshall, Daniel Giffen.
It is worth of note, in passing, that three of the original incorporators were present at the final meeting of the stock holders January 1, 1913, namely, A. B. Anderson, G. A. J. Moss, and G. W. Miller.
Following the incorporation, a constitution was prepared whose preamble read:
"We, the undersigned, in order to furnish necessary facilities for a higher and more thorough culture, promote the moral intellectual, and social welfare of our children and the children of our citizens, do ordain and established this constitution for the government of Pawnee City Academy."
One article in this constitution is worth of note. It read: "No dividends shall ever be declared but the entire income from sales of stock shall either be invested in real estate for the use of the corporation as a school site, together with necessary buildings and furniture for said Academy, or invested in such manner as shall be provided in the constitution and by laws."
And now as we see their purpose, and know how it has worked out in our lives, it seems fitting that we pause, and in silence, give expression to our appreciation for these men whose Christian lives led to such high purpose, far vision, and unselfish service. This part of Academy history is, really, a part of the biography of these men, "written large."
The first term of school opened the second Tuesday of January, 1884, in rooms over Hankins and Hazzard's store, now Fay Bakery building, for which a rental of $8 per month was paid. R. D. Anderson was the first teacher employed, who with his sister, Miss May Anderson, taught the two terms, completing the usual school year. Primary grades were taught at this time but were dispensed with in 1885.
For the second year arrangements were made to rent the upper rooms of what was known as the Nemaha Valley Seminary, then used as the residence of Prof. A. K. Goudy, and he was employed to complete the year, on the resignation of Prof. W. C. McMillan at Christmas time.
. . . rods of that property were purchased and a building was erected which served for ---- ---- when it was enlarged to accommodate the growing enrollment.
Continuing to prosper in 1898, a new building site was purchased and the new brick building erected which was used until the closing of the school.
Early in its history the financial need was represented through the Presbytery to the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian church and the records show that substantial aid was granted yearly for 24 years, amounting to about $8,000.
The Woman's General Missionary Society, too, had its part in meeting financial needs. An extract from the minutes of a trustees' meeting is interesting, under the date of November 30, 1901, as follows: "Letter from Mrs. Elizabeth M. Campbell was read, informing us that the woman's general missionary society had voted us a donation of $3,000. Prayer of thanks by Rev. McCready. Moved that the business manager and secretary acknowledge the receipt of same."
The height of the academy's prosperity was reached, possibly, in the year of 1903 and 1904 when the catalogue stated there were 186 students enrolled with seven instructors; also that the academy had enrolled up to that time 923 students and sent out 125 graduates.
The rapid development of public high schools in Nebraska, with free tuition to rural pupils, during the following years caused a decrease in enrollment and in income. As a result it was found necessary to close the school with commencement of 1908.
But in a printed volume entitled Presbyterian Colleges and Academies in Nebraska, I found this statement which I quote regarding Pawnee City Academy: "There was no other institution for learning in all of the southeastern part of the state of Nebraska that had a higher reputation than did the Academy."
Only the best of teachers could this record have been possible and as the roll of teachers is read to you as students will com the different personalities who touched your life in that capacity, no doubt there was one you considered your ideal teacher whose influence on your life was outstanding, whose example was a pattern and whose memory is a joy.
Again in the history of the academy we have "biography written large" in her teachers:
Prof. R. D. Anderson.
Miss May Anderson.
W. C. McMillen.
Prof. A. K. Goudy.
Prof. E. G. Glenn.
Prof. R. T. Campbell.
Miss Mary Campbell.
Miss Huldah Campbell.
Miss Lucy Stewart.
Prof. H. W. Speer.
Miss Margaret Logan.
Miss Helen Moffett.
Miss Anna McConnell.
Miss Janett Stevenson.
Miss Antoinette Latson.
Miss Faith McAulay.
Miss Laura Strong Sheldon.
Miss Margaret Bell.
Miss Daisy McClure.
Miss Maud Stokes.
Miss Sadie Brown.
Miss Ruth Stevenson.
Prof. A. G. Owen.
Miss Maude Smith.
Miss Erma Hutchison.
A. J. Deitrick.
Mrs. Violet Butler McCoy.
Prof. J. R. Wright.
Miss Anna Titus.
Miss Nell Beach.
Miss Caroline McCready.
Miss Grace Landon.
Prof. Frank Henderson.
Miss Grace Johnson.
Miss Sarah Edie.
Since this list was gathered from different sources some names might have been accidentally omitted and if any such are recalled will you please mention.
And now the students, your schoolmates, their peculiar weaknesses, their ambitions, their reactions in school and personal problems brought a close personal relation, only excelled by the family relation itself.
Through the years that have followed, our interestr has continued with them in their various achievements and with many things in common we meet here tonight. Verily - the history of the Academy students is in a great measure "biography written large."
This could hardly be a complete history without mention of a few outstanding influences which, in these days, would be called extra-curricular activities, such as:
The Literary Societies, with their much dreaded compulsory performance and drill on Robert's Rules of Order.
The public programs at the end of the term, with drills, music, pantomime and tableaus.
The evening music classes.
The Blue Ribbon Society, which did what it could to help the cause of prohibition.
Arbor Day picnics.
Tuesday evening young people's meetings we remember is having a place in this list.
Teachers, took who came for a short season to drill us on our junior and senior productions, as Miss Collins and Miss Jolly who are remembered with pleasure by the classes of '90 and '91, and left their imprint on the plastic material at hand.
The final orations should be listed too. According to "The Kicker's Column" of the Pawnee Republican of 1891 we discoursed on subjects entirely too deep for our immature minds. While that was true, yet we know that in the reading necessary to organize and express, in a logical way our deductions, we had real mental training, though not deserving the words of our critic, quote "I question very much if there is a lawyer or minister in the city who could surpass some of these papers in literary effort."
We hope these glimpses may awaken other memories you may feel the urge to share with us, on this night dedicated as academy night.