Ozark Wesleyan College
My visit to Carthage in 2010 was memorable because I came down with an allergy-caused pink eye and had to go to the emergency room. But bless the Powers Museum librarian. I dropped in unannounced while she was trying to get the museum’s big Grant and Lee displays ready. She graciously made room for me, laid out materials, and answered questions.
Ozark Wesleyan College was founded in 1925 from the merger of three Methodist Colleges—Marionville College of Marionville, MO; Carleton College of Farmington, MO; and Arkansas Conference College of Siloam Springs, AR. Ozark Wesleyan College opened in a new campus built in the middle of Carthage.
The 1926 Ashlar, the student yearbook, shows that Ozark Wesleyan College had three divisions. The liberal arts college offered traditional collegiate majors in languages, sciences, mathematics, and social studies. The conservatory of fine arts offered programs in both vocal and instrumental music and expression. Out of these programs came the school’s concert glee clubs and debate teams. The academy was a first-class high school. In its second year in Carthage, OWC enrolled 180 students—97 were in the liberal arts college, 42 were in the conservatory of fine arts, and 41 were academy students. The presence of nine juniors shows that OWC was moving toward four-year status. Most students were from the Carthage area.
Student life involved literary societies for both men and women—The Philomatheans, the Johnson Club, Rho Alpha and Beta Zeta. Being a Methodist school, OWC had strong YMCA and YWCA chapters, a Life Service Society, and a Wesleyan Ministerial Alliance.
Despite its promise, financial support for the college was never strong in Carthage. In 1932 the Methodist Conference closed OWC and transferred its records to Central Wesleyan College at Warrenton, MO.
Bricks and Mortar
Ozark Wesleyan College moved into a new building at Carthage. The three-story main building was constructed of Carthage limestone. During the 1930’s it was used as a women’s dormitory by the National Youth Administration. In 1944 the buildings were taken over by a Roman Catholic women’s college known as Our Lady of the Ozarks College. That name is still carved above the entrance. Today the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix , a Vietnam-American Roman Catholic order, occupies the campus. The campus grounds have been designated Our Lady of Peace Garden and host Marian Days each August.
Main Building in 2010
Team name: Lions
Colors: Royal Blue and Old Gold
Ozark Wesleyan College played varsity in both football and basketball. For the first time OWC also fielded a women’s basketball team that played three games in 1925-26. The men’s team won six of twelve games that year. The 1926 Ashlar also shows intramural sports of bowling and tennis. The above enrollment numbers show that Ozark Wesleyan would not have had many male students from which to create a team. The photo of the 1925 team has only thirteen players. As a result, most of the 1925 opponents were two-year schools. The exceptions were Missouri Military Academy, a high school, and Southwest Missouri Teachers College, and Bacone Indian University, both four-year schools.
The 1925 Lions posted a 4-5 record with victories coming over Fort Scott (KS) JC, Missouri Military Academy, Northeast Oklahoma JC, and Southwest Baptist (MO) JC. Losses were to Southwest Missouri Teachers, Bacone (OK) Indians, Parsons (KS) JC, University of Arkansas Freshmen, and Northeast Oklahoma.
1928 Ozark Wesleyan College basketball Lions compiled an 7-7 record with two wins each over the University of Arkansas Freshmen and Draughon’s Business College of Springfield. Team Members display their stripes. (Ashlar, Courtesy of Powers Museum)