Peirce City Baptist College
Pierce City, Missouri
Travel and E-Travel
In 2014 I stopped in the Pierce City Public Library to look for information about the college. The library response: Pierce City had a college? The State Historical Society of Missouri provided a scan of the 1899 catalog. The school ad (right) is from the Indian Chieftain of Vinita, Indian Territory.
Peirce City Baptist College (original spelling) was sponsored by three area Baptist Associations: Shoal Creek, Lawrence County and Spring River. The school opened in October 1880. Its goal was to provide “a broad, thorough collegiate education with Christian Influences.” In early years the college did “the work of a first class academy.” The Lawrence Chieftain listed programs as Academic, College Prep, Normal, and Primary. By 1899 the school offered a four-year course of study leading to a B.A. degree and a three-year B.S. degree program. The school still offered an academic course as preparation for “college or public life” and a preparatory school to fit students for the academic course. There were vocal and instrumental music courses.
The 1890 Report of Public Schools lists total enrollment as 172; that of 1896 as 131. The Baptist Yearbook shows only 60 students in 1903.
Peirce City Baptist College was a “uniformed” school. Male students were members of the Cadet Corps, so all wore the grey military-style uniform on a daily basis. Female students wore an Oxford gown on public occasions.
Student activities included a band and a glee club. The Purple and Gold Society was the school’s literary organization. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat shows a 1901 debate with Southwest Baptist College.
P.C.B.C apparently closed around 1904. In its final year it had a “co-ed president,” Miss Ora E. Bond.
Bricks and Mortar
The cornerstone for College Building was laid in September 1879, and the building was not completed until 1881. The structure was three–story brick with a mansard roof and fifty-foot bell tower. The lower two floors contained the chapel, recitation rooms, and a study hall—also used for girls’ physical culture classes. The upper floor was the president’s residence and "opportunity for about twenty boarders." The entire building was built with an eye toward 300 students. It was the center of “a fine campus covered with beautiful shade trees upon an elevation overlooking the city.” The image (right) of College Building amid the shade trees is from A History of the Baptists in Missouri.
In 1896 the school raised funds to add steam heat for the building. The 1899 catalog notes that the building had electric lights and phone service.
After the college closed, trustees sold the building to the Pierce City school district—located next door. It served as high school building and later as middle school before being razed.
The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (left) shows the extent of the campus.
School Colors: These were likely Purple and Gold
Students at Pierce City College formed a football team in 1900 and played two games that fall. On November 10, the team defeated Joplin High School. Being “several hands taller and as many wider,” Pierce City won 17-0. A week later they traveled down to the University of Arkansas, losing 10-0. The 1901 team was much busier. A follow up game at Arkansas resulted in a 5-0 victory. In addition, Pierce City defeated Warrensburg State Normal School 18-6 and Cherokee Male Seminary of Tahlequah 18-0. The lone defeat was to Missouri School of Mines 6-0. Newspapers also show games against teams from Neosho and Carthage. The 1902 team once again defeated Arkansas 24-3 in a game at Pierce City and once again lost to the Missouri Miners 5-0. According to the Springfield News-Leader, the two losses to Springfield Normal School shown in 1902 should be credited to a high school team, the Pierce City Academies, rather than the “crack” Pierce City college team.
In December 1902 President E. W. Dow found football to be “detrimental to the best interests of the college,” and so ended the program.
A May 23, 1901 note in the Cassville Republican shows that Charles Gee had won six of thirteen events in the P.C.C. Field Day—including wins in both the standing and running half hammond..