My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HOMETOWN TUESDAY - Eminence College, Henry County, Kentucky

My great-grandfather John Martin O'Donnell, attended Eminence College in Henry County, Kentucky. Martin was born in Jericho, Kentucky, a small town also in Henry County, on November 7, 1865. His parents were immigrants from Ireland - Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1883). Martin was the youngest child of seven, and their only son. From 1881  to 1885 Martin attended Eminence College. On June 3, 1885, "Having Completed the Required Course of Study of this College and Commended Himself to Us by his Excellent Deportment and his Literary and Scientific Attainments" the faculty and trustees presented "John O'Donnell" a Bachelor of Science Degree.
An old taped-together photocopy of John Martin O'Donnell's Degree
June 3, 1885
He used that degree in his career as a civil engineer with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad throughout his life. It was because of his employment with the railroad that he left his family and moved to Birmingham, Alabama. Here he met his future wife Mary "Mamye" Huber (1873-1913), a fellow Kentuckian, and it was here that they had their four children - my grandfather John Huber (1905-1964), Charles Patrick (1906-1987), Edward Joseph Kennedy (1908-1989) and Barbara Lena (1909-1986). It was also in Birmingham that his wife Mamye developed tuberculosis and died, leaving Martin to care for their four small children, ages 7, 6, 5 and 3. [Read "WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY - John Martin "Pop" O'Donnell & his 3 boys" August 11, 2011 for more information on what happened]

You might say that if he hadn't earned his degrees from Eminence College he wouldn't have had the education needed for his job as a civil engineer with the L&N Railroad. And without the job, he would have had no reason to leave his father and sisters and move to Birmingham - he wouldn't have met his wife, they wouldn't have had their children, and I would not be here typing on my laptop to share this information with my family.

Eminence College
A few Male Department Courses of Study
from 1869 Catalogue
"Eminence College was located in Eminence, Henry County, Kentucky and began as a high school. In 1855 the citizens of Eminence organized a stock company to raise funds to build the high school, which opened in September 1857. The school soon became overextended, and in 1858 the facilities were sold to another stock company headed by the Rev. W.S. Giltner, a member of the Christian Church. As the major stockholder, Giltner became president of Eminence College. The college was one of the first coeducational schools in the state. Programs were offered in Latin, Greek, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

Lacking an endowment, Eminence College had to rely on the business acumen of its stockholders, particularly Giltner, for its survival. Under his leadership the school created a commercial department in 1880 and a normal school to train teachers in 1885. In spite of these advances, enrollment, which had seldom been greater than two hundred, began to decline. In 1893 Giltner retired. Unable to find an administrator of  Giltner's ability, the college soon fell into debt and closed in 1895." [From The Kentucky Encyclopedia, 1992; page 293]

According to the school's brochure "Eminence College is situated in Henry County, Kentucky, near the L. C. and L. R. R., forty miles from Louisville, twenty-five miles from Frankfort, and one mile from the Eminence Station, immediately on the turnpike road from Shelbyville. Its situation is all that could be desired for an institution of learning. It stands aloof from the contaminating influences of town or city. These influences, exerted over young and ardent minds, too often more than counterbalance any advantages derived from scholastic training. The situation of the College in the country, in the midst of an intelligent and moral community, saves the students from those allurements and excitements which divert the mind from study, and lead to the formation of vicious habits." [1869 Catalogue, back cover]

The young women who attended the college had strict rules and quite high expectations, something female students attending college now would "LOL" at the mere idea that such requirements ever existed. Here are a few examples:
  • "As fine apparel fosters pride and engenders envy we earnestly request parents to provide for their children only plain substantial clothing. As the health cannot be too carefully guarded, thick shoes and woolen stockings must be furnished for winter. Boarders must not borrow or lend wearing apparel."
  • "We earnestly request parents or guardians not to furnish their children or wards with 'pocket money'. It engenders prodigality, and affords them the means of contracting vicious habits."
  • "No young lady will be allowed to make any purchases without permission from the President."
  • "All correspondence and letters will pass through the hands of the President. Boarders will not be allowed to correspond with anyone except members of their own family. Any pupil guilty of conducting a clandestine correspondence, or aiding another in it, will be promptly dismissed from the school."
  • "As visiting interferes with study, distracts attention, and weakens discipline, none will be allowed unless expressly requested by parents or guardians."
The "Collegiate Male Department" had no such rules on their dress or behavior. But it wasn't as if the school expected the young men to naturally behave. One solution they had to help with the male student's behavior - "The young gentlemen can obtain good boarding in private homes at reasonable rates. The farmers living near the college will also take boarders.  It doubtless promotes morality not to congregate young men in too large numbers under one roof." [All examples taken from "Catalogue of the officers and students of Eminence College, for the session ending June 11, 1869"]
Tuition in 1869
One of the advantages of Eminence College that is stressed in its literature is the fact that it is a "mixed school":
"By this it is not meant that boys and girls form one department; on the contrary each department is distinct, and will remain so. Yet the entire school is brought together in the Chapel every morning for the purpose of prayer, the reading of a chapter in the Bible, and for such remarks as the President of the Institution may think proper to make on Biblical history, general literature, or any subject connected with the intellectual or moral improvements of the pupils.
A weekly report of the deportment and progress of each pupil is made in the presence of the entire school. Thus the presence of the one sex exercises a salutory influence upon the other.... Brothers and sisters can be educated under the same roof, so that the ties of natural affection are not weakened, as is the case when they are educated under separate institutions." [from 1869 Catalogue, pages 15-16]

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    My great-grandmother, Maggie McGhee, attended Eminence College as well. Where did you obtain your information? I find it very interesting!

    Thank you, Maggie