College Springs, Iowa
I made a cold trip to College Springs in 2013. Fool that I was, I thought that I would drop by a restaurant for a cup of coffee and find out if anyone knew of any remains of Amity College. There are no restaurants, stores or even service stations in College Springs (pop. 214). So I accosted a man mowing his yard. Luckily he had once owned a building that had been used as a girl’s dormitory at the college; he also had friends. He and I crossed lawns, knocking on doors to elicit help; my guide’s brother-in-law had keys to the museum. The two showed me the old dorm and gave me a museum tour. I took photos of the South Page Community School with its historical plaque, but was not allowed to photograph the old dorm.
The State Historical Society of Iowa provided A History of Amity College by Marjorie J. Caskey and the 1910-11 Amity College catalogue.
In 1854 or 1855 Reverend B.F. Haskins and William J. Wood led a group from Galesburg, Illinois out to Iowa to search out a site for a village and a school. Classes began for 30 students in 1857 with work on a building beginning in 1859. Initially non-denominational, the school later became a Presbyterian school. In 1872 a college-level department was added to the original academy
The catalogue shows that Amity College had six divisions: a Liberal Arts College with a four-year program of study leading to a B.A., B.S., or Ph.B. degree; a Preparatory School, a Normal School, a Conservatory of Music, a School of Business, and a School of Oratory. Records from 1898-99 show 47 liberal arts students, 67 preparatory students, 21 normal students, 46 music students, 40 business students and 23 unclassified students.
Amity College had chapters of both the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. Early on, the college had chapters of two national literary societies--Philomathian and Chrestomathean. However, these were closed by the president, who instituted three new societies—Aeolian for women, Athenian for men and Ionian for both. The societies engaged in debates on a weekly basis. From these Amity had an intercollegiate debate team.
Students were not allowed to leave the town. But they regularly “borrowed” the railroad handcar kept at College Springs for jaunts to the brighter lights of Clarinda or Coin.
Amity College made national news in 1894 when its president disappeared, “thought to have been murdered by anti-prohibitionists.” Six months later he was found living in Utah.
Bricks and Mortar
After the college closed, the building was razed. Some of the bricks were used in the construction of the South Page Consolidated School in 1917. In 1932, Amity College alumni placed a plaque on that building to honor the history and tradition of the college. The Omaha World-Herald reported in 1977 that the four-faced clock just visible in the picture at right “still ticks on” from the tower of the high school (below). The plaque is to the right of the door.
Amity College Main Building in 1908. (Merrily Tunnicliff http://iagenweb.org/page/photos/colsprs/amity.html) Accessed 5-4-2018
Colors: Red and White
Team name: The Omaha World-Herald refers to the team as “Amitonians”
The catalogue notes that the school fielded baseball and tennis teams. It further noted that track had been a neglected sport. But football seems to have been the premier sport of the school. Common opponents included Tabor College and Corning Academy of Iowa, Creighton, Bellevue and Omaha Commercial College of Nebraska; and Tarkio, Kirksville Osteopathic, Northwest Teachers, and Chillicothe Business College of Missouri. The University of Missouri appeared on the Amity schedule in both 1897 and 1898, making College Springs the smallest town ever to host a game involving a major college.
1902 Amity College football team. (National Collegiate Athletic Association Official Football Guide, http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510014155349;view=1up;seq=154. Accessed 5-4-2018