MATTIE VINZANT TO COLLEGE, 1892

February 8, 2004 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

In September, 1892, Mattie Vinzant of Lake City packed her bags and headed for Hillman College in Clinton, Mississippi, to study French, Music, and Physical Culture. When she arrived, here were some of the rules, requirements, and costs she found at the all-female Baptist college where ten of the 20 Trustees were preachers.

UNUSUAL COURSES: Along with regular academic courses, the school offered penmanship, orthography (spelling), map study, mental arithmetic, Biblical Antiquities, Cicero's Orations, spherical trigonometry, and telegraphy.

DRESS CODE: Students will wear no jewelry except a modest breast pin. Winter clothing will be made only of calico or wool; summer clothing only of gingham or muslin. All dresses must be modest, plain, simple and inexpensive. “Give the words ‘plain' and ‘modest' their most literal meaning."

CODE OF CONDUCT: Young ladies are at all times to practice ‘wholesome restraint.' Those who dislike wholesome restraint--'enjoying the free associations of society'--are not desirable acquisitions here as students. For them our institution extends no welcome and makes no provisions.

GENERAL RULES: It is to be understood that when parents send their daughters to school, they send them there to learn. Along with daily assignments, each student will have a minimum two hours nightly homework ‘done under the watchful eye of a teacher.' Students must introduce any visitors to the college president. Everyone is required to attend Sabbath School and Divine services on the Sabbath. Students themselves are not permitted to make purchases at any stores; this will be done by the teachers. Reading of novels is forbidden. Parents will not send ‘eatables' to students; sufficient excellent food will be served in the school dining hall.

MAIL: Students may correspond only with their parents, and any suspicious correspondence may be inspected by the college president. All incoming student mail must be sent in care of the college president. Any correspondence with an unmarried gentleman is forbidden.

ERRANT STUDENTS: Every effort will be made to appeal to an errant student's conscience. Appropriate Holy Scriptures and earnest prayer will be used to try to return the errant student to the fold. However, when a student becomes hopelessly indolent (‘disinclined to study and learn') they will be removed from the college.

COSTS: A monthly cost of $11 will cover room, food, fuel, bed and bedding. Students will provide their own candles and candleholder. The tuition ranges in cost from $20-$50 yearly, depending on the course of study.

LIBRARIES: Students will have access to the general library and the President's Library. The Lesbian Society Library is available to all the society's members. (Note: I hope someone will call me to explain what the Lesbian Society was. I have seen that reference in several old college catalogs. I am sure it had a different connotation in 1892 than it does today.)

Some people today might think these Hillman College rules of 1892 were oppressively strict but Mattie Vinzant didn't think so. To her, they were standard rules of that day. She loved Hillman College. She felt that she got a high quality education there and graduated as a polished, well-educated, Christian young lady.

By the way, Mississippi College is also located in Clinton. Columbia High School graduates Dale Hewett (CHS 1966) and Ronnie Mangle (CHS 1965) both attended college there and were outstanding student athletes. Do we have other local citizens who attended either Hillman College or Mississippi College? Give me a call.

SKIPPING AROUND

Mary Brown Butler's (CHS 1935) philosophy of life: “Be yourself, tell the truth, and trust the Lord."...Special congratulations to Brittany Strickland for winning the county wide spelling bee. I am honored to say her father, Rex Morris Strickland, is named after me...Thanks to Jeanne Rehberg for identifying two people in last week's ‘mystery photo' as her relatives Hoyt Leslie and Cyril Leslie...Thanks to LCCC Public Information Director Sonja Yarborough for donating a 1910 photo of Columbia College to our School Museum....and thanks to Public Defender Dennis Roberts, Faye Bowling-Warren, Mike Null and all officials of the upcoming Olustee Battle Festival and Re-enactment for naming me their Parade Marshal. I am honored, humble, and grateful for this great privilege. square

H. Morris Williams is a local historian and long-time Columbia County resident.

www.hmorriswilliams.com