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Rutherford College

Rutherford College, North Carolina



Brevard College has placed a digital copy of the 1930 Foot Hills, the school yearbook, on Internet Archive, which also contains the catalogs.  The logo is also from Brevard College, found in the North Carolina Echo collection.



Rutherford College began as Owl Hollow School, a one-room log cabin, operated by a Methodist minister, Reverend Laban Abernethy.  His goal was “to make college education possible for young men and women who would otherwise have been denied that privilege because of limited resources.”  The school’s motto was “None Shall Ever Be Turned Away for Want of Means.”  The school taught “not a mere ‘living,’ but ‘life.’”  Owl Hollow School became Rutherford Academy in 1858 and Rutherford College around 1870.  It was named for a John Rutherford, who gave the school a 200-acre tract of land.  The school trained a number of ministers and so became known as “the “School of the Prophets.” After the death of Dr. Abernethy (1894) and his son (1900), Rutherford College was taken over by the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  For a while the Conference operated Rutherford College as a secondary school, but the fifth and sixth classes were later added, so that again it operated as a college.  In 1934 the conference merged Rutherford College with Weaver College and Brevard Institute to form Brevard College. 


The Foot Hills shows that Rutherford College was operating as a two-year college and a high school.  It had a faculty of nine, including the president and the matron.  Yearbook photos show a college of 48 freshmen and 16 sophomores with 30 Junior and Senior students in the high school.


In addition to athletics, the school sponsored two literary societies, two religious groups, three musical groups, a drama group, and two publications groups.  Most students appear to have been involved in campus activities.


The early College Building.  Credit: <>) 

Bricks and Mortar

The College building is described in early catalogs as a large two-story, T-shaped building with classrooms and an auditorium on the lower floor and dormitory rooms on the upper floor.  In 1915 a new tract of land was added to the campus, and a new classroom/administration structure was built.  It was made of brick with white columns.  A new brick dormitory called Weaver Hall was also built.   The website for the town of Rutherford College, NC says that one building was used by the Valdese General Hospital for offices, but that the last buildings were razed in 2007 to make way for hospital expansion.




      Team name:  Ramblers

      Colors: yellow/orange and Black


Rutherford’s major sport was baseball.  The Ramblers won the North Carolina State Junior College Championship in 1926-28.  The 1929 team compiled a 19-2 record in winning the Southern Junior College Championship.  Rutherford also fielded competitive basketball teams, with an 11-6 record in 1929.


College Football Data Warehouse shows Rutherford College playing from 1925 through 1935.  Typically Rutherford played a regional schedule of teams such as Catawba, Lenoir-Rhyne, Gardner-Webb, Belmont Abbey, Appalachian State, Mars Hill, Wingate, Weaver, Ashville-Biltmore, Western Carolina, and Campbell in North Carolina; Emory in Virginia, and Hiwassee in Tennessee.


In the 1928 season, Rutherford College defeated two-year programs from Gardner-Webb, Mars Hill, and Hiwassee along with Belmont Abbey and Appalachian State.  They suffered losses to the Wake Forest freshman team, to Emory & Henry and Hampton-Sydney of Virginia, to Weaver, and to Oak Ridge Military Academy.  They played Wingate to a tie.


The Foot Hills says that until the arrival of R.I. Weaver in 1924, football was played only at the high school level.  It further notes that the 1928 team missed winning the state junior college championship by only a touchdown.



Pinterest image of the 1928 Rutherford College football team.  Originally from the Historical Museum of Burke County.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as understand I those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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