Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Brief History of Hereford College (3)

In January 1906, after just one semester at the helm, C. Q. Barton added his name to the growing list of former presidents of Panhandle Christian College. He was replaced mid-year by the next new president, A. C. Elliot.

Why so much turnover? Naturally, ambitious and talented men welcomed the opportunity to become a college president. But in the words of historian Fred Stoker, "after experiencing the financial pressures, debts, and small enrollments in [a] frontier town," not to mention a demoralized, underpaid staff and no endowment, it became easy to accept a job offer somewhere else.[1]

So it was that in quick succession, Elliot was succeeded by T. R. Day, who was followed by E. M. Haile, T. E. Shirley's son-in-law, and finally Douglas A. Shirley, a nephew of the great benefactor. Apparently, nearing the end of the school's existence, T. E. Shirley could recruit presidents only from within his family.

During those last few years of the college, in the spring of 1910 and 1911, First Christian Church in Hereford hosted rallies meant to shore up the financial base of the school. But real contributions never began to match financial pledges, and Hereford College ceased to exist after its May 1911 commencement.

In his evaluation of the school, Stoker mentioned the ways in which it brought benefit to the region. Specifically, he observed that in 1910 the rate of illiteracy in Deaf Smith County was 1.6 percent, an incredibly low number in a pioneer town. Many residents of Hereford loved having a Christian college for the moral tone as well as the intellectual values it brought. It was a dream we wish could have lasted much longer.[2]

Notes

[1] W. M. (Fred) Stoker, History of Hereford College (Canyon, TX: West Texas State University, 1971), 17.

[2] Ibid., 18-30.

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