Missouri Wesleyan College
Missouri Wesleyan College has always been a void for me. After marriage, I was in Cameron numerous times, and I knew a few people who had attended the school, but except for the gatepost and bell, all else was gone. My return to photograph in 2010 was just a bit unnerving, as I was suddenly surrounded by pickups filled with young men. The first day of high school football practice, as it turned out. The Cameron Public Library has a collection of the Owl. The library staff also helped me locate the remaining campus building.
Missouri Wesleyan College, located in the small town of Cameron, MO, northeast of Kansas City, was founded as Cameron Institute by eight local businessmen in 1883. It took the Missouri Wesleyan College name in 1887 when it was taken over by the Methodist Church. In 1916 it survived a major fire, and by 1919 it received accreditation by North Central. In 1923 it became one of the first colleges to operate a radio station. But after losing accreditation in 1926, Missouri Wesleyan dropped to two- year status in 1929. The Great Depression caused the school to close its doors a year later. School records went to Baker College in Baldwin City, KS.
Missouri Wesleyan was a small school. The 1920 Owl shows a student body of 101 in the college and 43 more in the academy, taught by a faculty of 23. Almost all of the students were from Cameron or the surrounding area. Additionally, the college attracted more than 200 “unclassified” students. These were piano, voice and expression students, students taking commercial courses, art school students and those in the domestic science courses.
Much of student life emanated from the four literary societies—Ruthean and Aesthesian for women; Adelphian and Excelsior for men. Most students were also members of one of the religious associations—YWCA, YMCA or Ministerial Association. Not surprisingly, Missouri Wesleyan College was strong in music with both men’s and women’s glee clubs, a band and an orchestra.
Bricks and Mortar
The main building, called Liberal Arts Building, was described as “new” in a 1907 advertisement. It boasted of steam heat, electric lights, both chemical and physical laboratories, a spacious gymnasium, a library and reading rooms. After the school closed, this building was used for a number of years by Cameron High School, until it burned. Its bell was saved.
The campus is still part of the high school athletic grounds--as I discovered.
This apartment building is the only Missouri Wesleyan College building remaining.
Team name: Owls
Colors: Green and White
Missouri Wesleyan appeared on the football schedule of the University of Missouri in both 1922 and 1924. The Owls were one of the strong schools of the Missouri College Athletic Union, winning the MCAU championships in 1914, 1917, 1919, 1925 and 1927. Both the 1919 and 1927 teams were undefeated. Strongest rivalry games were those with William Jewell, the Baptist school at Liberty.
Playing a schedule of in-state opponents, the 1919 Owls gave up only one touchdown in nine games. They defeated Chillicothe Business College, the Trenton Elks, Central Missouri State, Westminster, Missouri Valley, Missouri Teachers (now Truman State), Central College, Tarkio, Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State), and William Jewell. Only Southwest Missouri scored against MWC in a 14-7 loss.
The undefeated 1919 football team. (Owl, courtesy of the Cameron Public Library)
Missouri Wesleyan also sponsored teams in basketball, baseball, and track. For a period 1919-1923 they also fielded women’s basketball teams, playing an intercollegiate schedule