The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 533
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JOHN D. OSBURN
THE HISTORY Of McKenzie College, near Clarksville, Red
River County, is in many ways a classic example of higher
education in nineteenth century America. The school was
a private institution; it developed around a great educator; and,
like so many others, it did not outlast its founder. Yet McKenzie
College was something more than this. It was, as Frederick Eby
has observed, "the most prosperous and vigorous institution in
the southwest, if not west of the Mississippi River, during the
period up to the Civil War."2
A study of the life of John Witherspoon Pettigrew McKenzie,
founder of McKenzie College, is an interesting story itself, but it
lies outside the scope of this inquiry. Suffice it to say that he was
born in North Carolina in 18o6,s and educated at some institution
to a fairly competent level, but probably not at the University
of Georgia (then called Franklin College), which McKenzie fam-
ily tradition suggests.4 After serving a year as principal of Geor-
iThe writer is indebted to B. E. Masters' treatment of McKenzie College for this
concept; Basil Earl Masters, A History of Early Education in Northeast Texas
(Master's thesis, University of Texas, 1929), 48. See also Frederick Eby, The Devel-
opment of Education in Texas (New York, 1925), 142. Masters' thesis treats various
early schools in Northeast Texas, notably McKenzie College. Fortunately for Masters
and his readers, a number of ex-students of the college were still alive in the 192o's
and were able to provide invaluable information.
2Eby, Development of Education in Texas, 132.
sJohn H. McLean, Reminiscences of Rev. Jno. H. McLean, A.M., D.D. (Nash-
ville, n.d.) , 41.
4Katheryn Maddrey, "Getting Educated in Early-Day Texas," Dallas Morning
News, May 16, 1926. This article contains information taken from an interview
between Miss Maddrey and Mrs. Smith Ragsdale, daughter of J. W. P. McKenzie,
and a graduate and instructor of McKenzie College. Little can be learned about
McKenzie's educational background. He did not attend Franklin College.--Walter
N. Danner, Registrar, to J. D. O., September go, 1955 (MS., in possession of John
D. Osburn, Clarksville, Texas). Inquiries made to a number of colleges located in
the southeastern United States which have existed since the early 1800oo's have
yielded no information. McKenzie's family tradition connects him with Franklin
College during the presidency of Moses Waddel (1819-1829). Although McKenzie
did not study under Waddel during these years, it is the writer's conjecture that
McKenzie may have been a student previously at Waddel's celebrated academy at
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/661/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.