HIGHER EDUCATION IN LA GRANGE
The first documented school in La Grange (although there was probably instruction earlier) was a Female Private Seminary advertised in the October 10, 1834 issue of the Tipton County newspaper, Randolph Recorder; Spelling, reading, writing and French will be taught...Mrs. Johnson to instruct on the piano forte...Drawing and Painting will be superintended by Mrs. Anderson". Trustees for this school were Thomas Booth, George H. Wyatt, John Anderson, Haywood Johnson and Charles Michie. In 1837, Reverend Samuel G. Litton of the Episcopal Church, advertised a Female Boarding and Day School at La Grange in the October 14th Somerville Reporter.
The first known school for males was the Synodical College in existence as early as 1839. Ninety-one citizens signed a petition to the Legislature in 1839 (Petition #152-1839-6) protesting the sale of liquor "within 3 miles of the La Grange Synodical College."
The La Grange Female College was holding exercises in December of 1846. The La Grange Female Institute was advertised in the Memphis Daily Eagle and Enquirer on March 22, 1853. Superintendent James Nicholson Cocke and his wife were in charge of this school. The La Grange Military Academy was in operation in the late 1850's and early 1860's.A.W. Lanier was principal of the La Grange Male Academy in 1872.
LA GRANGE PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE
In the spring of 1855, La Belle Village (as the town was also known) was in the midst of preparations for building a new brick Synodical College under the sponsorship of the Memphis Presbyterian Synod. The building committee was made up of John Walker Jones, Robert Locke, J. L. Pulliam, Hugh H. Falls (who built Chantilly), and Charles S. Palmore. The architect was R. Fletcher. In the early fall, Rev. John H. Gray, D.D., pastor of the Beale St. Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis had been unanimously chosen as president. Citizens of the town had collected subscriptions of $40,000 by December and L. B. Gaston (of Mississippi) assisted in raising a subscription of $20,000. The college was taken over by Federal troops during the Civil War who used it as a hospital and partially tore it down to get material with which to build barracks (This war claim was not settled by the government until around the turn of the century).
LA GRANGE FEMALE COLLEGE
The most successful educational facility ever built in the town, however, was the La Grange Female College, founded about 1854. Completed in 1856, containing about 25 rooms, it was built at a cost of $27,000 on a lot known as the Holcombe lots bought by John Hunt from Thomas Booth and deeded in 1858 to the college for $3,000 by Charles W. Hunt. Its first president was professor David Bancroft Johnson who died shortly after the college opened. Professor John D. Meredith, who had earlier been in Macon, TN, had a connection with this college in the 1858-1867 time period. The college closed during the war, reopened and continued operating for a long time. Later, the building was used as a public school until it burned in 1921.
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