St. Joseph’s College and Military Academy
Richard Joseph Bollig’s History of Catholic Education in Kansas, 1836-1932 has a history of St. Joseph’s College to that point. E-Yearbooks has five On Parade yearbooks from when the school had a junior college component. The school logo (right) comes from that source. Hays Free Press covered some school activities. The school ad (below) is from that newspaper. Thomas More Prep-Marian, inheritor of the campus and history, has a website containing history.
Hays Catholic College was founded in 1908 by the Capuchin Fathers, opening with 59 students taught by a faculty of three. Its goal was to “offer to our boys and young men a thorough classical and commercial education.” The plan was that of a European college—a four-year high school and a two-year junior college. Students had to be at least 12 years of age with an eighth-grade diploma or equivalent examination. The two years of junior college prepared students to enter medical or law schools.
The classical curriculum—with emphasis on languages, history, mathematics and sciences—was designed to train and cultivate the mind. Bollig shows that seven boys entered the classical course that first year. Twenty-one entered the commercial course, with seven more entering on a trial basis. Fifteen students were “consigned” to the grammar department.
After St. Joseph’s became a boarding school in 1910, enrollment increased to 86 in 1911 and 116 in 1921. The high school program was accredited in 1921, but, according to Bollig, the junior college could not be accredited because of low numbers. In 1915 there were still only 52 students in the collegiate program. The entire school was accredited in 1937.
Almost from the start Hays Catholic College developed a strong musical program with a school band; musical and instrumental groups were able to perform a musicale in 1913.
After moving to the new campus in 1931, St. Josephs added military discipline to the curriculum and received an ROTC unit in 1935. The name was changed to St. Joseph’s College and Military Academy. The college was able to “plod along” until 1952, and the military department was dropped during the Vietnam War. In 1970 St. Joseph’s merged with St. Francis Seminary to become Thomas More Prep. This then merged with the Marian High, to become the co-educational Thomas More Prep-Marian in 1981.
Bricks and Mortar
The first building, housing both the college and the parochial school, was completed in 1908. Located on 13th Street, it was a three-story stone building over a basement. By 1910 the top floor became a dormitory for residential students, and the basement was converted into a dining facility. Since 1931 the 13th Street building has been used for parish offices. It was placed on the National Register in 2008
A new building, “modern in every way,” was completed in 1931 on a campus west of town. The Tudor Gothic structure features a 200-foot front with two wings each 200 feet deep. The building contains libraries, music rooms, a chapel-oratory, a gymnasium, an auditorium, and dormitory rooms.
After housing St. Joseph College, St. Joseph Military Academy, and Thomas More Prep High School, it still serves today as home for Thomas More Prep-Marian School.
The 1908 Building. Google image.
Team name: Saints
School Colors: Blue and White
It is likely that in the early years, teams representing Hays Catholic College contained both collegiate and prep students. College Football Data Warehouse shows a game in 1912 against Hays Normal School—a 13-0 loss. The 1917 team was called “champions of the West” without a loss until it fell to the Abilene town team 13-7. The Free Press shows games in 1922 against town teams from Morland and Plainville.
Baseball apparently was the major sport. The Free Press noted games against Hays Normal school in 1915. In 1925 a brother battery of catcher Ernest and pitcher Adley Lorbeer were signed from St. Joseph’s by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both had minor league careers.
St. Joseph’s Military Academy fielded very strong high school teams.