The myth of North Dakota is that wherever its residents travel—Red Square, Times Square, or Trafalger Square—they are sure to meet a fellow North Dakotan. So it was with me in the parking lot at Morrisville High School where I was photographing the building. The school principal—from rival Minot State University—seeing my North Dakota license plates, joined me in a “Peace Garden State” get together.
Scarritt-Morrisville College came through a merger of Scarritt Collegiate Institute and Morrisville College, two small Methodist Episcopal Church South schools. Scarritt had opened in Neosho, Missouri, as Neosho Male and Female Seminary in 1878. A donation from Dr. Nathan Spencer Scarritt in 1887 allowed the school to remain open and gave it its new name. Morrisville College had begun in 1846 as Ebenezer School in Greene County, Missouri, and was incorporated at Morrisville in 1872.
The 1910 school catalogue describes the village of Morrisville as “no place for the amusement seeker, the idle or the vicious.” Located in “one of the most beautiful landscapes in the state,” the school was supported by a citizenry “in thorough sympathy with the ideals of Christian education in its true sense.”
Scarritt-Morrisville College provided a traditional liberal arts education for high school and college students. It contained both a sub-academy and an academy as well a college division and a special school of arts. The catalogue shows that both academy and sub-academy students studied science, mathematics, history, English, Latin and either Greek, German, or French. College students studied the same classes along with philosophy and Bible. The “special” students practiced music, art or expression. The catalogue expresses pride at the number of graduates who had gone into the ministry of the church.
The enrollment in 1910 included 47 academy and sub-academy students, 9 special students and 59 college students.
In 1924 the Methodist Episcopal Church South Conference merged Scarritt-Morrisville and Marvin College with Central College at Fayette, Missouri.
Bricks and Mortar
The Scarritt-Morrisville campus was laid out on the south side of the village of Morrisville. A campus diagram shows six buildings, the central one being College Hall. When the college left Morrisville, the campus was acquired by Morrisville Public Schools, with College Hall becoming the high school building. It was struck by lightning and burned in 1927. The high school and elementary school continue to occupy the grounds. Morrisville teachers with whom I spoke believe that the present high school was once a college building. While it certainly looks the part, it is likely that it was built in 1928 to replace College Hall.
College Hall (Courtesy of Polk County Genealogy Society)
Team name: Probably Mountaineers; that is the name of the yearbook.
Colors: Purple and Gold
Scarritt is listed as having played Springfield Normal in football in 1903. Polk County Genealogy Society has a photo of the 1900 football team though there are no records in College Football Data Warehouse of any games. Perhaps better evidence is that in 1918, Stars and Stripes notes that one of the chaplains had played football, baseball and basketball at Morrisville College in Missouri and had coached at the local high school.
The 1912 Mountaineer shows baseball and basketball teams which played college teams and teams from surrounding towns.
The 1900 Morrisville College football team (Mountaineer, Courtesy of Polk County Genealogy Society)
There were no North Dakotans in the Polk County Genealogy Society—just a group of helpful people having a good time. They had all the Scarritt-Morrisville materials ready for me and were a wealth of information besides. When we had finished photocopying, they assured me that they didn’t want the exact amount I owed; they wanted all my pocket change--just to make life difficult for their bookkeeper.