McKenzie College (Texas)

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This is about the historical college in Clarksville, Texas, USA. For the college in Nova Scotia, Canada, see McKenzie College (Nova Scotia). For the defunct colleges in Tennessee, USA, see McKenzie College (Tennessee) and McTyeire College.
McKenzie College
Dormitories at McKenzie College
Active 1841–1868
Type Private
Religious affiliation Methodist
Location Clarksville, Texas, USA
Campus Rural
421 acres

McKenzie College, also called McKenzie's College, was a private college located on the plantation of Reverend John W. P. McKenzie in Clarksville, Texas, USA. Starting in 1841, the school grew from 16 students educated in a log cabin to over 300 students occupying four large buildings in 1854.[1] It was the largest institution of higher education in Texas during the 1850s and 1860s.


Suffering from poor health, Reverend John W. P. McKenzie retired from missionary work in 1841 and moved to a 421-acre (1.70 km2) plantation in Clarksville, Texas. He began offering classes for local boys in his home, which he named Itinerant's Retreat.[2] As the school grew, a separate log cabin was built. Most of the first students were receiving primary and secondary education, although the school awarded its first bachelor's degree in 1844. By 1845, the school was divided into three departments: preparatory, collegiate, and female. Four buildings were built in 1853 to accommodate the school's rapid growth.[3]

Student life[edit]

The college was home to two literary societies, the Philologian Society and Dialectic Society.[4]


  1. ^ "McKenzie College". Handbook of Texas. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  2. ^ "McKenzie, John Witherspoon Pettigrew". Handbook of Texas. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  3. ^ Jones, William B. (2006). To Survive and Excel: The Story of Southwestern University, 1840-2000. ISBN 0-9670912-4-1. 
  4. ^ "McKenzie College". Retrieved 2009-11-03.