~ Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas

Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas
Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas


Proposed College Building


(Johns’ – – – John’s)

WHY name Saint 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.

Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas’ proposed building, of which only the center section, less the bell tower, was built, started its construction in 1857, ~ ~ appearing suspiciously like that known as Knox College in Galesburg, Knox county, Illinois, created 1837, a progressive institution that welcomed women and people of color. Its Old Main, was constructed in 1857, one-hundred & fifty-six years later (156), still proudly standing and in use. In 1858, said Knox College, was site of the fifth of seven Lincoln-Douglas debates, where Abraham Lincoln, challenging incumbent Senator Stephan A. Douglas, debated the nature and future of slavery.

~ Researched, then ascribed March 2007, last revised 10/21/2013 by William (Bill) Samuel Boggess, billboggess@webtv.net ~

~ ~ ~ This is my working hypothesis – the way I currently understand it ~ ~ ~

~ You may want to save this to your flashdrive or a C D.

~ Additional relevant information may be found by clicking on the highlighted words.

~ Please, keep in mind, times were different in those days than they are today. One needs to review early Arkansas history for better appreciation of life’s hardships and education confronted during its early pioneering days.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saint 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. During its short, interrupted, College life of some fourteen years under Arkansas Freemasons, (its preparatory school open sixteen years) it trained some of the most important leaders in Arkansas.

Centrally located, was this Masonic sponsored school, becoming the premier collegiate facility prior to Arkansas’ accepting responsibility for public education some twenty years later. Saint Johns’ College occupied one-hundred and five acres immediately east of United States Arsenal in Pulaski county (which had been Col James DANLEY, along with Emzy WILSON and John N BOYLE Little Rock’s Jockey Club and Race Track since 1834, which in 1837 was purchased by the government for the United States Arsenal grounds at request of Governor CONWAY, sudden loss of the jockey club nearly causing a local riot) and west of Dr Robert Anderson WATKINS‘ acreage known as Oakwood Plantation, till 1859 when purchased by Peter HANGER, then being used as headquarters for Gen Sterling PRICE when Little Rock fell to the Feds September 1863, ~ ~ 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. Modern day, area known as Hanger Hill.

2 Pic from The Arkansas History Commission.

Saint 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), and brothers
ROSE, George Basil (1860AR-1943AR), and brothers
NEWTON, Thomas Willoughby, Junior (1843AR-1908), whose son, T W, III 1883AR-1962AR), married Fay HEMPSTEAD’s daughter, Elvyn (1880AR-1950AR), having a son named, 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 centennial tribute to Saint Johns’ College.

Seldom is SAINT JOHNS’ found spelled correctly, even twice in “Jan 10th 1871” letter on schools stationary by its president’s wife. The “official” state record even misspelled the name causing confusion ever since because a state clerk wrote it wrong.





Memorial honoring Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas 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 (1868OH-1962AR), (born Julia Burnelle Smade Babcock). Corner stone 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.”

pic by Pris Weathers

~ MII)-

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 Saint Johns’ students), organized on the old United States Arsenal (1838-1890) grounds (pre-1837, 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 he wrote 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 (1894AR-1928AR), 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.

pic by Pris Weathers

SECOND: To memory of former student David Owen DODD,

“Boy Martyr of the Confederacy”

In 1867 while Fanny Green (Borland) MOORES was visiting Albert Pike‘s daughters, Isadora and Lillian in Memphis, the General suggested she write a poem in tribute to afore mentioned David Owen DODD. He most likely published it in the “Memphis Appeal” which Gen PIKE was then editor before moving to Washington city, a newspaper her father, Solon BORLAND, started January 1839, which, one hundred seventy four (174) years later is, The Memphis Commercial-Appeal.

 DODD is thought to have worked in Masonic member Alderman James A HENRY‘s, mercantile store, – – – in 1926 United Daughters of the Confederacy (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 former property of Saint Johns’ College of DODD’s execution as 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 crowd estimated 5,000 to 6,000. Hanging ordered by Major General Frederick STEELE (1819NY-1868CA), United States Army. DODD’s body was reportedly removed to Dick JOHNSON‘s (1826-1889) Rock street home, following day interned in Mount Holly cemetery in plot reportedly donated by Barney A KNIGHTON (1805MO-1873) (whose home the body may (?) have been taken), 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.

pic by Pris Weathers

In January 2009, this memorial was moved to the parade grounds at the Little Rock Military Museum and rededicated by the Joseph Thornhill Chapter of the U.D.C, Sons of the Confederate groups and many other organizations..  Many more memorials exist for Dodd in other locations.

pic by Pris Weathers

Organization of Saint Johns’ College began 1848 as a thought of Elbert Hartwell ENGLISH (1816AL-1884NC). Then through efforts of Masonic Grand Lodge of Arkansas, reportedly following creation of similar schools in neighboring states (Missouri c1844). Grand Master of Masons Elbert H ENGLISH,

“…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 Saint Johns’ College (some credited Albert PIKE, who didn’t become a mason until 1850), starting 1844, law partner and junior editor with fellow mason, Dr Solon BORLAND, Esquire (1811VA-1864TX).

Elbert addressed some 4,000 members of about 50 Lodges of Arkansas’ problem with no higher education in 1850, year following Solon’s son Thomas, age 16, attending Alexandria Boarding School, Alexandria, Fairfax county, Virginia under Benjamin HALLOWELL (1799PA-1877MD), 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, to wit:

Charles ADAMS, John DRENNEN (1801PA-1855IN), Joseph H EGNER, Elbert H ENGLISH (1816AL-1884NC), Rev Joshua F GREEN (1820KY-1854TN), Thomas D MERRICK (1814MA-1866AR) (Mayor 1854), Albert PIKE (1809MA-1891DC), Christopher C SCOTT (1807VA-1859AR), Nathanial G SMITH (1802NC-1869AR), William H SUTTON, James H WALKER (!800NC-1861AR), and George Claiburne (Claiborne?) WATKINS (1815KY-1872MO) (Arkansas’ third Chief Justice, 1853/4, as infant fell overboard on boat journey with, mother Mari, to Little Rock, arriving 11 March 1821 to find one house and a few cabins. Father, Major Isaac WATKINS (1777VA-1827AR) was assassinated 13 December 1827 by John SMITH)

She was chartered during Arkansas’ eighth legislative session on December 31, 1850 as, Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas (incorrectly spelled in state records as John’s), by action of Desha county’s Thompson Breckenridge FLOURNOY (1810KY-1861KY), Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Union county’s, John Robinson HAMPTON (1807NC-1880AR), President of the Senate and was signed into law by Governor John Seldon ROANE (1817TN-1867AR), under whom Major Solon BORLAND served in Mexican and Civil wars and who is noted for his advocacy of state system of education and roads,

Two years after Saint Johns’, a second college was chartered, Reverend Robert GRAHAM‘s (1822ENG-1901KY), Arkansas College (1852-1862), (Elbert H ENGLISH a board member with Robert GRAHAM a board member at Saint 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 great,grandfather, Pleasant Harrison LOYD, attended 1861-1862 later serving the 36th Arkansas CSA.

The third chartered following day, December 15, 1852, Cumberland Presbyterian Church’s Cane Hill College (1852-1891), reportedly opening its collegiate door in 1858. After Cane Hill College in Washington County closed in 1891, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church moved the school to Clarksville, Johnson county and the school opened on September 8, 1891, as Arkansas Cumberland College. The school was renamed the College of the Ozarks in 1920 and became the University of the Ozarks in 1987.

U S Senator Dr Solon BORLAND, Esquire, 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 devised.”

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 nearly twenty years later, 1868, that Arkansas had common public schools).

It was agreed Saint 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 purchased a one-hundred acre tract, fronting on what became Ninth street, adjacent to east side of U S Arsenal grounds and west of Dr Robert Anderson WATKINS’ Oakwood Plantation, which Peter HANGER bought in 1859, and south across what now is Ninth street from William Edward WOODRUFF‘s 1852 built home, 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, depending on which document you read.

From the 1852 communications came forth, – – – each Lodge would be entitled 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 annum 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 it 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 $2,888 outstanding, having a total in account of about $20,000.

In 1855, they had the ex-first Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary’ to Central America, formerly United States Senator, Solon BORLAND (1811VA-1864TX), United States Senator Robert W JOHNSON (1814KY-1879AR) and United States Congressman Edward A WARREN (1818AL-1875AR) seeking, unsuccessfully, to obtain the Arsenal grounds from U S Congress for their school site.

“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 5th, 1857, afore mentioned granite cornerstone, quarried at Big Rock, was “set” for their westward facing, Gothic Revival styled, fifty-seven foot wide, eighty-seven foot deep, two four story towers with balance three story, being center portion of their proposed brick structure, less bell tower, at Tenth and Barber Avenue and McGowan and Welch Streets for estimated $20,000 building cost, said to be on “eternal granite” foundation, walls of “hard brick” with “slate roof”, such that…

“…nothing but engines of war, or earthquake, shall be able to demolish…”,

Judge Elbert H ENGLISH addressed the gathering with Grand Master Luke E BARBER (1806MD-1886AR) (thirty-nine year clerk of Supreme Court) overseeing the Masonic ceremonies, representing some 5,000 masons within its 115 Lodges in Arkansas.


Luke E. Barber

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 (1815KY-1872MO) – President
DODGE, Roderick L (1808VT-1893AR – Treasurer
ENGLISH, Elbert H (1816AL-1884NC)- Secretary

General William Eliot ASHLEY (1823AR-1868AR) (with blood line to King Edward 1 (1239-1307) of England, Mayor, 1857-58 & 1861-63), Luke E BARBER (1806MD-1886AR), John J CLENDENIN (1813PA-1876AR), George A GALLAGHER (1824-1878MN), James A HENRY (1817MA-1899AR), G McPHERSON, Thomas D MERRICK (1814 MA-1866AR), and Samuel W WILLIAMS (1828SC-1900AR).

Summer of 1859 two University of Virginia and in 1860 one Virginia Military Institute graduates 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 Albemarle Female Institute, and University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Albemarle county, Virginia (Virginia’s 39 independent city status’ within her 95 counties allowed after 1871) and with his close friend and fellow professor at Albemarle 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, – – – 1871 published 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 was killed before published.

~ COMMANDANT: John William LEWIS (1837VA-1882AR) 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 Tactics where he graduated 7th of 29, Class of 1859.

Colonel John B THOMPSON with wife Alice Wayles POWERS (1836VA-1860AR), eldest daughter of his Staunton, Augusta county, Virginia school teacher, the honorable “Pike” POWERS, Esquire, (1813VA-1897VA), (named for pioneer Zebulon Montgomery PIKE (1779NJ-1813CANADA), earlier Arkansas visitor who then discovered Pikes Peak), she then of Charlottesville, Albemarle county, Virginia, are found in Pulaski county household #417 on Eighth Census, 1860, in Gray Township, later reportedly boarding with William Edward WOODRUFF (1795NY-1887AR) in his 1852 built 2-1/2 story home on twenty-five acres (later “Woodruff’s Addition”) north across Ninth street from Saint Johns’ College, (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 re-interred next to her. Her portrait was given to afore mentioned Fay HEMPSTEAD’s mother, Elizabeth Rector (Beall) HEMPSTEAD (1813KY-1873AR), by THOMPSON, ending at one time with granddaughter Mrs. Janet Laurie (Hempstead) PIERCE (1884AR-1938AR), Fay’s daughter, with poem on back composed by Fay’s mother. In 1871 when Fay brought his bride, Gertrude Blair O’Neal (1849VA-1929AR), 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 before college started. Once noted – – – Arkansas was ONLY state capable to self-sustain itself from within it borders.

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, the 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 and two of his brothers, with thirteen year olds: Solon’s son George Godwin BORLAND & Elbert’s, Peyton Danley ENGLISH, later, nineteen year 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)- Governor Henry Massie RECTOR (1816KY-1899AR), who had reportedly received information that the Fed’s from Missouri & Kentucky were going to reinforce their facilities within Arkansas! So, the Governor took advantage of the states’ Militia Law, by asking his friends to organize Volunteer groups, NOT MILITIA, to overtake these facilities (before the state had seceded from the Union): U S Marine Hospital complex of Nepoleon, U S Arsenal of Little Rock and Fort Smith, ~ ~ also asking Thompson Breckenridge FLOURNOY to create, what became 1st Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, in which John Baker THOMPSON and William Naylor BRONAUGH, of Saint John’s College, enlisted 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. FLOURNOY was passed over (Flournoy was of course never made a Confederate Brigadier General–though some wartime newspaper reports have him as such. He was a prewar militia general, a very prominent AR politician, and undoubtedly would have been one of the first generals PACS from AR, had he not died in 1861, Bruce Allardice, Oct 13, 2013, on the Arkansas Civil War Board) and James Fleming FAGAN (1828KY-1893AR) elected colonel (served in Mexican war under Major Solon BORLAND, M D), James Cade MONROE (1837SC-1865MEX) lieutenant-colonel, later known as: “The Ragged Colonel of the Rawhides” 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 Tennessee.

View, if you will article published 150 years following the included newspaper article about Saint Johns’ College.

~ ~ 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. His death included in the 364 killed of their, some eight hundred men. 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
(Source: 5/30/07, Bruce ALLARDICE)

Former student, afore mentioned Captain Thomas Willoughby NEWTON, Jr. of Company A, also dangerously injured, — Margaret ROSS reported:

“…was with him (THOMPSON) as he lay dying…”,

likely at Corinth, Alcorn county, Mississippi, whose older brother, former student of Kentucky’s Western Military Institute, Captain (Robert Crittenden NEWTON (1840AR-1887AR) of Company F (later a CSA colonel), and he were in 3rd Regiment, Confederate Infantry, (HINDMAN‘s (1828TN-1868AR) Brigade, HARDEE‘s (1815GA-1893VA) Corps, while THOMPSON in 1st Arkansas Infantry, in GIBSON‘s (1832KY-1892AR) Brigade of BRAGG‘s (1817NC-1876TX) 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, four 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, which was comprised of many from Arkansas Military Institute, Tulip, Dallas county, Arkansas, another school law partners, English and Borland helped create in 1850.

~ ~ A.3)- John William LEWIS enlisted August 19, 1861 and appointed Adjutant of the 52nd Virginia Infantry; promoted to 1st Lieut. December 2, 1862: 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 (1804NC-1880NC); ordered to duty with Maj. Gen T C HINDMAN’s (1807TN-1880AR) division January 23, 1863 and assigned as Assistant Adjutant General to Brig. Gen. D.M. FROST (1823-1900MO); assigned to duty at Head Quarters, District of Arkansas April 4, 1863; assigned to Brig. Gen Thomas F DRAYTON‘s (1809SC-1891SC) brigade October 17, 1863 but soon back at District Head Quarters; There, on staff of Major-Generals S. PRICE (1809-1867) and J. B. MAGRUDER (1897VA-1871TX) until assigned as Assistant Adjutant General of PRICE’s Division March 7, 1865; Ordered back to Head Quarters March 15, 1865. No further record found.

~ B)- Some Saint Johns’ students joined with thirty-nine year old Captain William Edward WOODRUFF, Junior‘s (1831AR-1907AR) artillery company (1860 census, in widow Mary Worthington Watkins (Eliot) ASHLEY‘s (1798VA-1865AR) Markham street home, she d/o Benjamin ELIOT, listed above his parents) ie: George G BORLAND & Henry “Hal” HALLIBURTON, yet others in other units with some on June 1861 forming 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 Worthington Watkins (Eliot) & 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), with Dr Charles Minor TAYLOR as Little Rock’s Post Surgeon.

Confederate hospitals in Little Rock (1862-1863) included the St. Johns’ College Hospital, The Rock Hotel Hospital, The Ditter Building, The Beebe House, The Hill Hospital, Main Street Hospital, as well as the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches.

A few records of patients treated in the Rock Hotel Hospital are located at the Arkansas History Commission.

SOURCE: Bill Gurley, > http://www.history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs62x/arcwmb/arch_config.pl?md=read;id=13664

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, Jane Eliza MILLS (1810KY-1887AR), raised with and a cousin to, Judge George Claiborne WATKINS (1815KY-1872MO)), north across street, used as an officers hospital. View 1865 photo in “HOW WE LIVED: …”, page 83 & Quapaw Quarter Association’s 1864 map, page 97). ~ ~ Such, is some of the history of service to the Confederate States of America by those at and of Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas.

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

Luke E BARBER (1806MD-1886AR), William D BLOCHER (1841MD-1879AR), Dr Roderick L DODGE (1808VT-1893AR)(Mayor 1847), Elbert H ENGLISH (1816AL-1884NC), J W FAUST (1829NC-1879AR), Samuel L GRIFFITH (1817MD-1893AR), D E JONES (1829NY-1913AR), John KIRKWOOD, Dr John J McALMONT (1821NY-1896AR) (1854 partnered with Dr Solon BORLAND, Esquire), Mayor 1866, and in 1879 one of eight who started University Medical Department), W D RISON, Rev Thomas Rice WELCH (1825KY-1886CANADA) minister of the First and started the Second Presbyterian churches in Little Rock), Samuel W WILLIAMS.

After being used as a post-war general hospital, Feds 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 (note, two story buildings along side school’s main building)? 11

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 June 1868. Luke E BARBER (1806MD-1886AR) was 2nd longest serving president, ably assisted by 1855 graduate of all male Waterville, Colby College since 1867, 1st coed college in New England as of 1871, Confederate veteran officer and ex-prisoner of war, Oliver Crosby GRAY (1832ME-1905AR) (its longest serving president, teaching seven of the fourteen years its college door was open), a mathematician and former headmaster of Princeton Female Academy, Dallas county, since 1860, less war years. GRAY had enlisted June 1861 under Colonel Dr Solon BORLAND, Esquire, in what became Company A, (Princeton Light Horses) of 3rd Regiment Arkansas Cavalry, Confederate States Army, fighting in more skirmishes than did any other Arkansas unit. GRAY entered as a 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-1928AR) whose bed Governor Baxter’s heavy weight broke the night of April 15,1874, and — Mumford A AUSTIN, John M BLACKWOOD, Hoarce G DALE, L P GIBSON, S U HARRISON, Willie HARRISON, Charles JENNINGS, Julius KEMPER, Henry LASKER, Dr W A LAWARANCE, Thomas B MARTIN, David I MILLS, Sam PRICE, brothers John Milton ROSE & George Basil ROSE, John Edwin 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 adopted Arkansas.

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 Maron REAVES, Edited by: Desmond Walls ALLEN:
Josiah Nichol BELCHER (1852AR-1933AR)
state senator Dotey CLARKE

Julian M EAKIN (1859-1899)
Frank Martin FLETCHER (1858AR-1917TX),
Orlando HALLIBURTON, b. 1851
William Blackmore HUGHES (1859-1924)
George J. LESCHER, b. 1848
Philip Drennaen SCOTT (1855AR-1922AR) 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”.

Other known students: Confederate Medal of Honor awardee, Lieutenant William Field RECTOR (1847AR-1863AR), s/o Henry Massie RECTOR an adjutant killed in battle, Colonel William Henry HALIBURTON‘s (1816TN-1896AR) son “Hal”,jr and Doctor W A NOEL’s (1820-1903AR) son Dr James W NOEL.


Original Little Rock School for the Blind constructed 1869-1870, shown here in 1890

The school for the blind removed from City of Arkadelphia, Clark county to Little Rock, Pulaski county, nine blocks west and nine blocks south of Saint Johns’. Its first brick three story building in 1869 was built (on, former Arkansas’ Territorial Governor, Senator William Savin FULTON’s (1795-1813), property, “Rosewood”, 18th and Spring streets, land once owned by Roswell BEEBE (1795NY-1827NY), and was dedicated to “Colonel 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 with their father in 1849/51, brief lay-over in San Francisco during “Gold Rush Days”, twenty some years later, in 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 L Davis GRAY, wife of O C GRAY, in her letter of December 1870, written while visiting Princeton, (buried her father, Capt George DAVIS (1798ME-1870AR), Christmas Day next to her son, Clyde Leslie (1859MN-1861AR), ~ she too had sailed across the Atlantic ocean with her father to Europe in the mid 1850s), writes of herself as chief committee women to get up money for a college library etc. which may have proceeded 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 from Maine, both with blood of Mayflower passengers and Revolutionary veterans, built (her September 27, 1871 letter) a home between the school and Arsenal in 1871, decorating it in her favorite color of green, with view to south-east of school as shown on ‘AHC image #1667’, also seen on ‘birds eye view’ of Little Rock raising two distingused children to adulthood, ~ their son having a fifty-six year railroad career, starting cleaning spittons in Arkansas ending as Vice-Chairman Union Pacific in New York City, in Who’s Who in America along with two of three sons, oldest son, a Major General awarded country’s second highest military medal, youngest, third son a football hero and distinguished graduate of Princeton University, a Navy surgeon.

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 (1878GA-1953AR) and others, wrote Saint Johns’ College was co-educational in some departments for awhile, ~ ~ possibly (?) Virginia was teaching drawing and painting to both sexes as mentioned in one letter, otherwise. Not so mentioned in family’s forty letters (transcribed, but not pulished), thirteen written from Little Rock, nor in wife, “Jennie”‘s, 242 page transcribed diary, (1867-1872) of son Carl Raymond (1867AR-1939DC), found in (M C 1618, U of Ark), however may (?) be in her scribed 842 fragile pages, bound in three volumes of 1872-1874 diary, begging to be transcribed, at Arkansas History Commission since 1964, from Farrar Claudius NEWBERRY, Senior, (1887AR-1968AR) a prolific writer, who served as president of The Woodmen of the World organization in Omaha, Douglas county, Nebraska for a number of years. No doubt material from Virginia GRAY’s son Carl, or more likely, middle grandson Russell Davis GRAY (1899KS-1975NJ) while living in Omaha, Nebraska (father of Eleanor Gray KNUTSON, (1923ME-1994MN) who provide Virginia’s 1863-1865 diary for publication, with her hubby, Dr Robert Charles KNUTSON (1922IA-2013MN) transcribing diary of her grandfather, Carl).

As afore stated, forty-five acre “Masonic Addition” was platted 1869 within the City of
Little Rock with many grandeur homes built. This 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 twenty five acre “Woodruff’s Addition”, west from “Hanger Addition, formerly part of Oakwood Plantation”. View “HOW WE LIVED: Little….”, page 138, the Reichardt house.

February 1872 a deadly outbreak of cerebra-spinal meningitis claimed three students lives (same as killed president Colonel O C Gray, December 1905 at the Arkansas School for the Blind). Dr Philo O Hooper (1833AR-1902AR), investigated the three deaths at Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas February 1872 of students, believing cause was from old Civil War temporary wooden hospital buildings and the water cistern then in use, causing all to be removed. The disease starting at the College was less fatal in Little Rock than in other towns, according to Jennies’ April 25th 1872 letter. Thus, in 1872 it became necessary for Saint 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 subdivision.

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: John W BLACKWOOD, John Gould FLETCHER, J H HARROD, asscoiate justice Arkansas Supreme Court, Jesse HART, J E WILLIAMS, Carroll D WOOD.

(The GRAY’s had, for four years till 1873, boarded one student who graduated, Virginia said NO MORE.)


Its highly likely the original drawings for Arkansas History Commission’s images # 5097.16, ca 1868 and # 1667, ca 1873 (# 1667, is a view from GRAYs property) was a product of Virginia GRAY’s (V L GRAY work, she the wife of Colonel GRAY, Saint Johns’ College president (1871-1874), ~ she later, the “first chair” of “Drawing and Painting” (later the 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 of:

“President GRAY (1832ME-1905AR), Professor of Pure and Mixed Mathematics: Colonel Luke E BARBER (1806MD-1886AR), LLD, Professor, Belles Letters; Colonel William Cunningham PARHAM (1837VA-1912AR), 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 (1833VA-1919AR), 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.

Here’s a bit passed, ca 1985, to Clora PARHAM by her daughter concerning Professor W C PARHAM (found listed next to (General) Robert Crittenden NEWTON on a 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 Collegiate 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.”[older cousin Major Richard H PARHAM, Jr served Arkansas fifty-one years and Colonel O C GRAY served Arkansas forty-five years, Minnesota four and Mississippi one year]

A Law School was begun in 1873 under president Oliver Crosby GRAY, including former United States Senator (1853-1861) Robert Ward JOHNSON’s (1814KY-1879AR) donated personal law library with faculty consisting of:

Yankee, Henry Clay CALDWELL (1835VA-1915CA), Elbert Hartwell ENGLISH (1816AL-1884NC), Augustus Hill GARLAND (1832TN-1899DC) & Uriah Milton ROSE (1834KY-1913AR).

U M Rose’s sons, John Milton and George Basil ROSE, were among its students and likely, his other sons, as well as many other future prominent leaders of Arkansas. There are those who believe this to be origin of the 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 Sam W WILLIAMS suggesting Governor Elisha BAXTER (1827NC-1899AR) (who served thirty days, ca. November 1861, under Colonel Solon BORLAND), — go to St Johns’ College where Colonel William Cunningham PARHAM greeted them while Colonel Oliver Crosby GRAY called his 150 students out and asked for volunteers to guard the governor. ALL 150 volunteering. GRAY then 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 (1835VA-1915CA) (the Yankee), Uriah Milton ROSE (1834KY-191AR) (statute stands in the Nation’s Capitol, Statutary Hall, Washington, D C), Elbert Hartwell ENGLISH (1816AL-1884NC), Freeman Walker COMPTON (1824NC-1893AR) (moved his family into the GRAY’s first Little Rock home November 1871) and Augustus Hill GARLAND (1832TN-1899DC) (governor following BAXTER, later United States Senator then United States Attorney General). College again closing her door to education, with Dr. Weldon Edwards WRIGHT (1814VA-1883AR), 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 issued. Baxter spent the night at Saint Johns’ but his weight broke bed of student future Judge Robert Barnett WILSON when he laid down for the night. Martial Law was declared the next day when BAXTER was removed from Saint Johns’ 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 Major-General James F FAGAN, leader of BROOK’s military forces in Little Rock with Major-General Robert C NEWTON in charge of BAXTER’s military forces.

It is said that her door remained closed for awhile after the main building burnt sometime following April 15th 1874, so pictured with caption, to wit:

“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 photograph is same as: Saint Johns’. However, based upon my research with its unanswered questions and no documentation, ~ I wonder (?) if the writer’s memory may have failed regarding the fires of 1890 and did NOT occur in 1874 as reported in the 1919 centennial story. If NOT, then I would believe it was the 1872 frame built replacement building that succumbed to fire in 1874.

Be this a result of The BROOKS-BAXTER War or not is questionable, because my review of the month long battle did NOT reveal such an occurrence in what appears to be a confused mess, to wit:

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, ie:

“January 17, 1879 to January 17,1890”.

I have seen 1890 date several times elsewhere. Maybe a number of devastating fires may have occurred at Saint Johns’, not bad as at the Deaf school fire of 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 Saint 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 Mrs Gray’s 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 if the 1874 fire occurred in that time frame. (If only I could be in Little Rock)


“Old St. John’s College, destroyed by fire in 1874” – Arkansas Gazette 1919

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 (1871) created Arkansas Industrial University at Fayetteville, Washington county, Arkansas.

In 1875 she reportedly had three instructors and only fifty-five students.

Following success of the law school started 1873, a medical school was proposed by eight physicians in 1879 to be part of St Johns’ College, however due to declining revenues and reduced support of Masonic Lodges, it instead became a part of Arkansas Industrial University, since 1899 University of Arkansas, because of the efforts of Dr. Philo O. HOOPER, head of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and General Daniel Harvey HILL (1821SC-1889NC), university president. The new Medical Department was first located at 113 west 2nd street in Little Rock’s 1873 built Sperindio Hotel for its first thirty some years, becoming an independent part of the university, now known as University of Arkansas of Medical Sciences.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Other factors which are claimed contributing to demise of St Johns’ College:

~ 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.”


~ 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) who later, as 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 the BROOKS-BAXTER War, the questionable devastating fire, with Colonel GRAY moving on to Arkansas Industrial University, first public institution of higher learning under its first permanent president, Gen Albert Webb BISHOP (1832NY-1901NY), — which later, following his December 1905 death, in 1906, the then University of Arkansas, built and dedicated “GRAY HALL” to honor Colonel GRAY for his life of educating and his numerous other life’s achievements. 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 (1822VA-1887AR), followed GRAY but,

~ ~ 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 and,

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

Colonel William C PARHAM (left in 1875 for The Arkansas Female College, Little Rock, 1875-1877), reportedly was in charge at Saint Johns’ while Colonel Gray was away, so may (?) have served as head of Saint Johns’ until he left, if not, 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 Saint Johns’ College following GRAY leaving for Arkansas Industrial University in fall 1874, with – – – Major Richard H PARHAM (1833VA-1919AR), Saint Johns’ College professor since October 1869, may have become her last president under the Masonic Lodges. 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 in 1868.
Arkansas Education Association


Major Richard H. Parham

Major PARHAM later 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 and in 1910 census, son of John Middleton CLAYTON (1840PA-1889AR, a nephew to his namesake, Powell CLAYTON (1833PA-1914DC). PARHAM, from around 1878, served the Little Rock’s public schools (click on PARHAM) till about World War One.

Little Rock honored him by naming Parham school, built 1909 closed seventy years later in 1979, nearly 100 years following his last classes at Saint Johns’ College, when I-630 highway construction did away with it. Memories are retained in a school museum.


Parham Elementary

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

Action was filed by the Freemasons of Arkansas regarding the U S Government use of the lands and buildings of Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas, tus December 7, 1911 was referred to the United States Senate Committee on Claims and ordered printed.


One finds considerable difference in Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas’ 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 Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas

Mr Browning apparently found the school was contracted out starting 1878 till 1882 of which I found no hint of. I submitted my final draft to the editor of Encyclopedia of Arkansas for their free use, so acknowledged in their 20 March 2007 letter, and it appears much of my information was used.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

CREDITS and Additional Information:

ARKANSAS’ Civil War Board and more;

~ a)- 1st Regt Ark Inf:

~ b)- 2nd Batt Ark Inf:

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

~ d)- 3rd Ark Cav Reg:

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
15, 1936.

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: Saint Johns’ College of Arkansas

GRAY, Oliver Crosby & Virginia LaFayette (Davis), forty some odd family letters from 1857 to 1886 (most unpublished and held by Davis descendants, some at Bentley Historical Library of the 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, 1922, (pages 570 & 571)

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)- John Baker THOMPSON’s biography: pages 98 to 108,

~ b)- William Naylor BRONAUGH’s biography: pages 158 to 163.

KENNARD, M Shelby, MASONARY IN ARKANSAS, 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 Arkansas.

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; NICHOLS, Cheryl Griffith : 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, etc)


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

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

View Wikipedia.

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

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