William Wolfe, Stories of Guernsey County. pp. 436-440.
(Housed in the Findley Room of the Cambridge, OH library.)

Old Academies

Purpose of the Academy.— Before 1853 there were no public high schools in Ohio. The only schools supported by the public were the "common schools." Reading, writing and arithmetic were taught and, if the teacher possessed sufficient knowledge to teach them, such subjects as geography and grammar.

Before 1850 the state chartered forty-five colleges. Today a young person passes directly from the public high school into the college without the necessity of a preparatory course; before the high school was established there was a big gap between what the public school offered and what the college required for entrance.

While comparatively few young people ever entered a higher institution of learning, those who did were required to qualify by taking special work or "preparing for college." Some teachers in the common schools, having attended college themselves, gave private instruction to those who wished to prepare. Here and there private schools were opened, in which the necessary higher subjects were taught.

One such private school was conducted in Cambridge in 1825 by William Sedgwick. He advertised that he had ten years' experience and could assure the public that he was fully prepared to teach all the useful branches of an English education correctly, and with as much speed as the nature of the branches and the capacity of the pupils would permit. He announced that he had procured books, globes and maps and would teach geography and astronomy.

But the greater number of those who prepared for college attended the academy, sometimes called seminary or institute, which stood between the common school and the college. This institution took the place of the high school of today. Unlike the high school, though, its services were not free; those who attended paid tuition, and as academies were not within reach of all homes, many paid board, too.

Academies in Guernsey County.—These academies, while sometimes private, were usually organized by some religious denomination. Charters were necessary in order that their work might be given recognition. Between 1803 and 1850, articles of incorporation were issued to 171 such institutions by the Ohio legislature. There were three of these in Guernsey county, as follows: Philomathean Institute at Antrim, incorporated in 1837; Cambridge Academy, incorporated in 1838; and Miller Academy at Washington, incorporated in 1849. The school at Antrim was a few years later chartered as a college. [Madison College]

Cambridge Academy was located on North Seventh street, just off Wheeling avenue. It was incorporated with a capital stock of $5,000, divided into 500 shares of ten dollars each. The board of trustees was composed of eight members. Rev. James McGill was the executive head of the school and William T. Ellis was the teacher. The school year was divided into two sessions of twenty-two weeks each. The tuition cost was eight dollars a session.

Miller Academy at Washington was organized along the same plan as Cambridge Academy. It offered the same work on practically the same terms. The main purpose of each was to prepare young people for college.

Academies Give Way to High Schools.—A law was enacted in 1853 that permitted boards of education to establish high schools by a vote of the people. There was objection to them at first, but this gradually disappeared. The high schools were not only free, but they were better, in many ways, than the old academies. As the number of high schools increased the number of academies decreased. Academies served a purpose at one time, but they are not necessary today.

Madison College

Madison college was located in Antrim. For twenty years it was a famous seat of learning, at which many men of Guernsey and surrounding counties, who were prominent in business and the various professions, received their education. It was the only college ever chartered for this county.

Founded by Dr. Findley.—In 1835 a resident of Antrim by the name of Dr. Samuel Findley, seeing the need of higher education for the young people of the community than that provided in the little log schoolhouses, decided to open a private school and teach the higher branches to those who might wish to study them. Eight young men of the vicinity were enrolled, and a room. in his cabin home was fitted out for recitation purposes.


The school was a success; the people of Antrim encouraged the project and resolved to provide a suitable building for an academy at which young people might prepare for college or pursue studies beyond those offered in the common schools. On March 16, 1837, the Philomathean Literary Institute was chartered by the legislature of Ohio, to be located at Antrim, Guernsey county. According to the papers of incorporation, the annual income was not to exceed ten thousand dollars. The number of students increased rapidly; there was a demand for college as well as preparatory work, so on March 16, 1839, by another act of the legislature, the name was changed to Madison College.

So eager were the people of Madison township for such an institution to be established there that they contributed money, material and work, many of them beyond their means, in order that a college building might be erected. It was a two-story brick structure with two rooms on the first floor and one large room, used as an assembly hall, on the second. Dr. Samuel Findley was the first president, and Milton Green, M. D., the first secretary. In 1846, Rev. Samuel Mehaffey. became president, and following him in succession were A. D. Clark; D.D., Rev. W. Doal, Rev. Thomas Palmer and Rev. Samuel Findley, Jr., son of the founder.

The institution prospered. In 1842 it was advertised that the fall term would open on the first Monday in November, and the tuition rates would be ten dollars a session. While intended at first as a school for young men only, both sexes were now admitted and the college was outgrowing its quarters.

Board Was Cheap.—The college catalogue of 1854 described Antrim as a healthy locality, and a moral, religious and enterprising community. Students could obtain board at $1.50 a week; by clubbing, at forty to sixty cents a week, including room rent. Although the college was under denominational control, students were permitted to attend church on the Sabbath wherever their parents desired them to worship, there being churches of several denominations in the town.

Faculty in 1854.—Composing the faculty of Madison College in 1854 were Rev. Samuel Findley, Jr., A M., president and professor of mental science-and Greek; Robert W. McFarland, A.M., professor of mathematics and natural science; Rev. Samuel Findley, Sr., D.D., professor of moral science and Hebrew literature; R. G. Stephenson, M.D., professor of anatomy, physiology and hygiene; William F. Templeton, A.B., professor of Latin and English literature; James Hagerty, tutor in languages and English literature; Miss Adelphia A. Powers, principal of the seminary; Miss Marie E. Crosby, associate principal of the seminary; Miss Nancy Wallace, teacher in painting and drawing. Among the references were R. B. Moore, Esq., Cambridge; A.. D. Lord., M.D., Columbus; Hon. John A. Bingham, Cadiz; Joseph Ray, M.D., Cincinnati; and Thomas Brown, Esq., Cleveland. Joseph Ray, M.D., was the author of the Ray's series of arithmetics.

In the, college were three literary societies, two of them composed of young gentlemen, and the other of the young ladies. In the student body were young men and women from many places in Ohio. Students from Illinois, Iowa and Pennsylvania were enrolled there.

Curriculum.—The college, curriculum was mainly classical, as a majority of the, young men students were being trained for the ministry. In addition to a preparatory course the following collegiate course was required for graduation:

Freshman Class—
Horace, Memorabilia, Homer's Illiad, Algebra, Plane and Spherical Trigonometry, Roman History.
Sophomore Class—
Livy, Cicero de Amictia de Senectute, Thucydides, Conic Sections, Mensuration, Surveying and Navigation, Analytical Geometry, Greek History.
Junior Class—
Tacitus's Germania and Agricola, Cicero de Oratore, Demosthenes de Corona, Prometheus and Antigone, Natural Philosophy, Mental Philosophy, Logic, Geology.
Senior Class—
Review of Latin and Greek, Evidences of Christianity, Natural Theology, Rhetoric, Political Economy, Moral Science, Analogy, Chemistry, Elements of Criticism.
Why the College Was Closed.—During the administration of Dr. Samuel Findley, Jr., a movement was started for a new college building. This necessitated the raising of such a large amount of money that there was much objection to it. However, the building was erected in spite of the opposition. Rev. H. Wilson succeeded Dr. Findley as president, then came Rev. William Lorimer who was the last.

They had built beyond their means and could not meet their financial obligations. The exciting times just preceding the Civil War detracted from the interest in the school. When the war opened, the college closed, and was never reestablished.