Moothart Business College
The Farmington Times included a regular column of “Business College Notes.” as well as advertisements like the one at right.
George Washington Moothart came to DeSoto, Missouri in 1899 and opened a commercial college that focused on typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping. Operating under a belief that colleges should be where students were, by 1904 he had opened colleges at Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff, the beginning of a
chain of colleges in towns throughout Southeast Missouri—including Caruthersville, Bonne Terre, Kennett, Dexter, Festus, and Bismarck. In 1905 he moved to Farmington, where that college became the flagship campus for the system. The Farmington college had 90 students, apparently the largest of the chain.
The program was one year, and students were guaranteed a position after completion. To make classes more accessible for students, Moothart added a summer school in 1906 and also offered night classes.
Ads in 1907 show that Moothart had begun to add “kindred subjects” to the curriculum, including business arithmetic, commercial law, English grammar, spelling, penmanship, letter writing, advertising and telegraphy. In 1908 Moothart colleges offered classes in the “common branches” of learning. In 1913 ads began to offer special rates for seventh and eighth grade students.
In 1906 a College Society was formed, which put on an “interesting program.” Beginning in 1907 the school held a public party from time to time, involving contests in typing, cyphering, and spelling, and concluding with a box supper. In 1911 the Cape Girardeau campus organized a brass band to provide musical programs. In 1914 newspapers reported that fifteen male students had signed a pledge to abstain from tobacco and alcohol.
Moothart advertised aggressively but at the same time warned towns that wanted a branch of his college they had to support it. By 1913 he began selling off the branches to focus on the Farmington school. With L. F. Kinder as partner, he enlarged that school’s offerings and changed its name to Ozark Business University. Moothart himself was elected to the Missouri Legislature in 1916. A year later he moved to Miami, Oklahoma and began to operate a Moothart Business College there. Under different ownership, Ozark Business College continued in Farmington until 1927.
Bricks and Mortar
In 1906 the Farmington branch moved into “modern up-to-date” quarters in the new Farmers’ Bank building at 16-18 Columbia Street. This was a tan brick Romanesque style building with electric lights and steam heat, located near the courthouse square. The school occupied a large lower room and a suite of upstairs offices. Farmers’ Bank Building was home to the college until 1915, when the school underwent both a name change and a move across the street to the Opera House at 102 W. Columbia. There it occupied the entire second floor in rooms with 16-foot ceilings. Both buildings are now on the National Register as part of the Courthouse Square Historic District.
Google image of 16-18 Columbia. The lower floor now contains law offices and a women's clothing/boutique shop.
The 1906 Moothart College football team. Image courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.
School colors: Purple and Gold
In 1906 the Times reported that a football team had been organized. A later meeting was called “to discuss ways and means.” A student body of fewer than a hundred students in a one-year program would itself provide monumental problems of ways and means. Scheduling was another. The 1906 team played three games—a 22-0 victory over a team from Granite City, IL, a scoreless draw with St. Louis McKinley High School, and a disputed 5-0 loss to St. Charles Military Academy. A year later, though the team was billed as being large (between 160 and 170 pounds) with “some of the fastest men in Missouri,” it also managed only three games—a 5-0 win over the Cape Normals (now Southeast Missouri State) and a Christmas morning 17-0 win over the Federals, against a 6-0 loss to Jackson Military Academy. The 1908 team played two games each against town teams from Doe Run and Bonne Terre, winning all four games.