19th-century seminary educated hundreds in Perryville

Published 6:15 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

Perryville Seminary was established in 1850 and incorporated with collegiate powers of the state under the control of Kentucky Presbytery of Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

The college was located on two acres of land on Danville Road, east of Perryville. A portion of the building still stands.

The seminary was at first an all-boys school in Perryville. It was open to women in 1854, with classes separated by gender.

Email newsletter signup

Cost for attending was 50 cents per term. The cost had risen to $16 per term in 1861.

The Seminary began with 11 students and by 1857, the enrollment had grown to 220. The same year, 128 men and 92 women graduated.

Benjamin Crow, president; S.P. Burton, secretary; and William B. Godbey were trustees of the college.

The name was changed in 1861 to Harmonia College. Classes included English and classical courses; students could earn bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees.

The Rev. W.B. Godbey, a Methodist minister, was named principal that year.

While the school had occupied only an ordinary position since it began, conditions changed by 1877, due to the energy of the Rev. O.P. Galloway, and his accomplished and efficient assistants, Mrs. S.E. Galloway and Anna Rupley.

The patronage of the school was liberal, and while a strong moral influence was brought to bear in its government, it was not under the supervision of any religious denomination, according to an article in The Kentucky Advocate archives.

At the end of the year in 1877, 71 students were in attendance.

Examination of classes continued for three days. Afterwards, the results of the tests spoke in terms of highest praise of the efficiency of the pupils and was celebrated with an ice cream festival on the college campus.

The day continued as the pupils marched to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church where they had an entertaining exhibition to the crowded audience. It was one of the largest attendances for the event.

A music program followed featuring the West End String Band, and a talk by the Rev. R.H. Caldwell, who lectured about “Success in Life Dependent Upon Character.”

The program proceeded with a selection of essays, declamations, recitations and dramatic and historic representations, tableaux, and dialogues by students, including Susie Stevens, Sarah Cook, Mattie Prewitt, Nannie Latimer, Julia Wheat, Alice Montgomery, Addie Gilliam, Sallie Figg, W.T. Tewmey, J. Rupley and William R. Wade.

Property sold

Professor Galloway purchased the college property in September 1886 from W.L. Caldwell and William Scomp. He planned to repair the buildings and said classes would begin in February.

He went to Prairie, Illinois, to preach and returned in October to begin classes.

Galloway died in December 1886.

The college closed in the late 19th Century.

Used as hospital

After the Battle of Perryville, the college building was taken over by surgeons and used as a hospital.

In the 1870s, a student named Young, who lived out of town, drove his landlord’s daughters to school in Perryville and was murdered in the school building.

Tom Penny, who was jealous over Young’s relationship with the two girls, went to the school, “raised the window in the room where Young was asleep and struck an axe in his head.”

The attack enraged many local residents, who later grabbed Penny, threw a rope around his neck, and lynched him outside of town.

Information in this article was taken from The Advocate archives and “Perryville Community History of Northwestern Boyle County, Kentucky, 1776-2000.”