Morristown Masonic Female Academy 

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Morristown Masonic Female Academy 

      In 1850, Elizabeth Ann Counts Huffmeister donated land to Professor Shadrach David Miles for building an academy for the education of females.  The school was originally called the Morristown Female Academy.  The first floor of the building was used for the school.  The second floor of the building was used by Morristown Masonic Lodge No. 231.  It is believed that the Lodge began meeting on the second floor as early as 1853 because Professor Shadrach David Miles was a charter member of Morristown Lodge No. 231.

      Ownership of the Morristown Female Academy immediately after Shadrach David Miles’ death on March 16, 1859, is unknown.  Morristown Lodge No. 231’s minutes indicate that the Lodge administered and repaired the building after the Civil War.  The Lodge appointed Dr. James Fulton, Samuel L. Huffmaster, Curtis Eames, Dr. Michael Carriger, Spencer C. Jarnigan, Dr. R.B. Owens, and James E. Thompson as Trustees of the Academy in 1866.

      William McFarland, Robert E. Barton, and Samuel L. Huffmaster were appointed by the Lodge in February 1867 to procure a title to the lot upon which the Lodge was situated and were instructed to ascertain if an extension could be made to the boundary of the lot.  They were to proceed with getting a deed for the proposed extension if one could be obtained at reasonable terms.  Any deed obtained was to be subject to ratification or rejection by the Lodge.  On April 4, 1867, they presented the Lodge with a deed for the Masonic building and Academy lot and the extension to the building lot.  After the Lodge accepted the deed, J.M. Bewley, Dr. James Fulton, and Samuel L. Huffmaster were appointed to have the deed signed and obtain a note that would grant as much time as possible for payment from the parties making the deed.   The Worshipful Master and Warders signed the note for the Lodge.

      In June 1867, the Lodge approved the action of the Trustees appointed to procure a house suitable for a Male School after they reported securing the Baptist Church for the scholastic year of 10 months and had elected Rev. Alfred W. Wilson, a member of the Lodge, as the principal of the school.  At the same time, the Lodge appointed Dr. Michael W. Carriger, William McFarland, Dr. James Fulton, Dr. R.B. Owens, Curtis Eames, Samuel L. Huffmaster, and Robert M. Barton as Trustees of the Female Academy for the ensuing year.

      On June 24, 1867, the Lodge left the Masonic Hall in full regalia and proceeded to the Bethel Church to attend the musical concert given by the young ladies of the Female Academy for the benefit of the Academy.  Earlier that month, the Lodge invited other neighboring Masonic Lodges to attend the concert.   A few months later, the Lodge agreed to loan Rev. Alfred W. Wilson the proceeds of the concert to pay for sealing of the school rooms of the Male School provided that it was returned at the end of the school session.

      In August 1867, the Lodge agreed to pay half tuition for Widow (John B.) Parker’s two smallest children at a school taught by Mr. Phillips, Mrs. (Shadrack David) Miles’ son, and Mrs. (Wiley B.) Reed’s son Charlie at the Male School, and Mrs. Parker’s little girl and Brother D.M. Porter’s little girl at the Female School.  This practice of paying the tuition for the children to the deceased Masonic brethren was continued as long as the Lodge owned the Academies.

      The Lodge agreed to pay $5.00 each at the end of the session to the Female Academy girl with the greatest proficiency and the girl having the best deportment in September 1867 in accordance with a proposal by Rev. Thomas P. Summers, a member of the Lodge.

      In May 1868, Rev. Alfred W. Wilson, Male School Principal of Morristown Male and Female Academies, sent a report to the Trustees for the school year from August 1867 through May 1868.  He reported that the Male Department was opened by him, as Principal, on the first Monday of August 1867.   During the year, one hundred and sixty-one students had been enrolled.  The application and advancement of the pupils had unusually good and the general deportment, with few exceptions, had been highly commendable.  Although there had been some cases of discipline, none required the attention of the Board of Trustees.  He noted that the heavy outlay for school furniture and fuel during the long and severe winter had been such that the incidental expenses exclusive of the seats had been greater than the contingent fees received.  He did agree to pay at least fifty dollars soon after the commencement of the next session.  Finally he invited the Lodge to attend the closing exercises in Regalia on May 23, 1868.

      In June 1868, Rev. Thomas P. Summers, Principal of the Female Department of the Morristown Male and Female Academies, sent a report to the Trustees for the school year from September 1867 through June 1868.  He reported that the Female Department was opened on September 1, 1867, with the enrollment of one hundred and ten young ladies.  The attendance and advancement of the pupils had been good.  Finally he invited the Lodge to attend the closing exercises in Regalia on June 18, 1868.   During the exercises, it was announced that one of the students had died and that there would be an intermission to permit the school, in procession, to accompany the carriage carrying her corpse to her home.  The Masonic Fraternity agreed to join in the school’s procession.

      In July 1868, the Lodge appointed William McFarland, Dr. G.T. Magee, and Dr. R.B. Owens to assist in securing boarding for the young ladies wishing to attend the next session of the Masonic Female School.  A month later they reported proposals for boarding six with Mrs. Mary Reed, six with Dr. D. Alexander Neilson, three with Mr. Sears, eight with Curtis Eames, and four with J.B. Leach.

On December 16, 1881, L.P. Speck and Trustees for Morristown Lodge No. 231 sold the Masonic Female Academy, Academy property lot, and school furniture to Rev. George H. Cox, President of the Lutheran Synod, and J.G. Schaidt for $2,000.  The purchase was made to establish a first class female school for the Lutheran Synod.  Messrs. Cox and Schaidt signed promissory notes to make annual payments of one third of the sale price each year beginning January 1, 1883.  Each note was made payable to the Worshipful Master and Wardens of Morristown Lodge No. 231, F. & A.M., or their successors in office.  The Academy property lot was bounded on the south by First North Street, on the north by Third North Street, on the east by an alley between the property of L.P. Speck and Mrs. Owen, and on the west by Jackson Street.

      In January 1883, George H. and Nannie E. Cox and J.G. and Annie L. Schaidt sold the Female Academy property lot with the brick house thereon, including all the school furniture, to W.B. Melvin for $2,000.  W.B. Melvin assumed payment of the promissory note due January 1, 1883, to Morristown Lodge No. 231 and agreed to pay the other two promissory notes to Morristown Lodge No. 231 when due.

      In June 1887, W.B. and Mary O. Melvin sold the Female Academy and its lot to G.B. McCrary, R.L. Gaut, and J.B. Holloway for $2,000.

      In July 1889, John B. Holloway sold Mrs. Orlena Miller his one third interest in the old Female Academy property purchased by G.B. McCrary, R.L. Gaut, and him from W.B. and Mary O. Melvin for $1,800.

      In June 1891, R.L. and Mary H. Gaut and J.S. and Orlena Miller sold a portion of the old Female Academy property to the Morristown Mayor and Alderman for $3,500.  The property was purchased for the purpose of locating, erecting, and maintaining a public school building.

      The Masonic Female Academy building was torn down in 1892 to make way for the Rose School building. 

Joseph Warshawsky