St. Mary’s College
St. Mary’s, Kansas
Mid-Continent Genealogy Center has a copy of the 1923 Dial, the St. Mary's College yearbook. Ancestry.com has a digital version of the 1929 Dial. The librarian at St. Mary’s Public Library provided a concise history of the school and the logo.
St. Mary’s College began as an Indian mission school, founded by the Jesuits. On September 9, 1848 the “log cabin” school opened to educated Indian children, but the children of white settlers also attended. In 1870 St. Mary’s received a charter from the state of Kansas to confer degrees and academic honors in all the learned professions. The new College Building burned in 1879, but the college continued, awarding the first A.B. degree in 1882. St. Mary’s received a visit from President Roosevelt in 1903.
St. Mary’s had two divisions—a junior division comprised of high school students and a senior division comprised of college student. Like most Jesuit schools, St. Mary’s had a strong liberal arts basis, believing, “It is not the object of the College to train specialists, but to develop all the mental and moral facilities of the students by means of a liberal [arts] education." Therefore, there were no elective courses. The 1929 Dial shows a faculty heavy in Greek, Latin, modern languages, logic, philosophy, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, history, sociology, and economics. Many of the students were members of one of the sodality or acolytic groups. Other organizations open to students were literary societies, debate, and drama. St Mary’s sponsored an orchestra, a band, and a glee club.
The 1923 Dial shows a college graduating class of 9, with 13 Juniors, 33 Sophomores and 56 Freshmen. The high school that year enrolled 278, for a total enrollment of just under 400.
In 1931 St. Mary’s closed the high school and college and operated until 1969 as a seminary. The campus then stood empty until 1979, when it was purchased by the Society of St. Pius, which has operated it since as a high school, still under the name St. Mary’s.
Bricks and Mortar
From the time St. Mary’s was chartered, the Fathers busily built, tore down, and rebuilt campus structures. They were not slow to add phone lines, electricity, and steam heat to the campus. At the time they converted the college to a seminary, St. Mary’s consisted of 12 buildings on 32 acres of land. The oldest building on campus dates from 1870. Called the College Building, it was first borrowed and then purchased from the order of Sacred Heart following the fire of 1879. Loyola Hall, the refectory came in 1907. The very striking Immaculata, the chapel to honor the virgin, was added in 1908. Bellarmine Hall, The Memorial Arch honoring the more than 700 St. Mary's "old boys" who served in World War I dates from 1923. One of the last additions was Bellarmine Hall, a classroom building, in 1926.
College Building. Note the row of chimneys, showing that rooms were heated by fireplaces. Image from Historical Sketch and Pictorial https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.hn5aba;view=1up;seq=25.
Team name: Knights
Colors: Blue and White
St. Mary’s fielded teams in seven varsity sports: football, basketball, baseball, boxing, track, golf, and tennis. In its final three years, St. Mary’s was a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. The most successful intercollegiate sport was baseball. The 1929 Dial notes that they were “seventeen-time Conference Champions.” Their schedule included representatives of present Division-I conferences as well as the professional Kansas City Monarchs.
St. Mary’s first played intercollegiate football in 1893 and continued through 1930, the final year of the school. In the first years St. Mary’s regularly played the University of Kansas and Kansas Agricultural College (Kansas State). Natural rivals included Washburn, Ottawa and both Emporia schools. The 1904 team was undefeated, and the 1930 team went 6-3. The 1922 team pictured below won four and lost four, defeating St. Benedicts, Ottawa, Hays State, and Washburn. Losses were to Emporia State, McPherson, Kansas Wesleyan, and Northwestern (OK) State.
The 1922 St. Mary’s College team (1923 Dial, Courtesy of Mid-Continent Genealogy Center.)