Eliza Jane McKissack

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Texas Normal College Conservatory of Music (1891), from the papers of Effie Faye Branche Wright (Mrs. William Williams) (1873–1954) — Denton Public Library.

Eliza Jane McKissack (née Eliza Jones Aykroyd 11 December 1828, in New Bern, North Carolina[1] – 15 January 1900, in Nashville, Tennessee) was a music teacher who, in 1890, became the founding head of music at the University of North Texas College of Music, then called Normal Conservatory of Music,[2][3] part of Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute, which was founded in 1890 as a private institution. The College of Music, today, is a comprehensive school with the largest enrollment of any institution accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.[4] It is the oldest (and first) in the world offering a degree in jazz studies. Since the 1940s, the College of Music has been among the largest in the country.[5]

McKissack's qualifications[edit]

McKissack, from Nashville, was highly recommended for the college position – as pianist and vocalist – by Bishop Charles Quintard of Tennessee, U.S. Senator Edward C. Walthall of Grenada, Mississippi, and Orville Brewer of Chicago. She had received her musical training in Boston and New York.[6]

McKissack remained at the college for two academic years: 1890–1991 and 1891–1892. Three years after leaving Denton, records show that McKissack studied at the New England Conservatory in the academic year 1895–1896. While there, she studied piano with Reinhold Faelten (1856–1949) and took courses in Hand Culture and Sight Playing. At that time, her permanent address was listed as Oxford, Mississippi.[7] Her Will (probated in Davidson County, Tennessee), provides two address: 1897 – Boscobel College, Nashville; January 1899 – Oxford, Mississippi.

Texas Normal College Conservatory of Music[edit]

The full course in Music, embracing both Voice and Piano, 44 weeks,
four lessons a week, and practice, together with two studies selected
from our literary course, for only $200, in advance. This includes 175
private lessons, full chorus drills, elocution, theory, class recitations
and two extra branches in the college.
— from the first bulletin for Texas Normal College, 1890[8]

Classes at Texas Normal College first commenced Tuesday, September 16, 1890.

Teachers at the Conservatory

  • John Moore (1867–1948) taught an ambitious array of engineering classes, but also taught voice and harmony. Upon arriving at Texas Normal College in 1890, Moore held a B.S. from one college and a B.A. from Lebanon College (National Normal University, in existence from 1855 to 1917), Lebanon, Ohio, in engineering, mathematics, and surveying. He then studied at the Universities of Leipzig and Heidelberg from 1894 to 1895, and received a PhD from Yale in 1895. His dissertation, Studies of Fatigue, was published in studies from the Yale Psychological Laboratory.[9] He then received a D.D. from Central College in Missouri. In May 1918, he became a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in Dallas.
  • Joshua Crittenden Chilton (1852–1896), the college's founding president, taught music history and theory of sound.

The 1890 catalog listed piano, organ, and voice, all offered through private lessons.

The College, during its first three years, faced a difficult economy, which included the Panic of 1893. By 1893, not one faculty member from the original group remained.

First music students of Texas Normal College[edit]

Six music students were awarded medals at the college's first commencement exercises on June 18, 1991:[10]

  • Miss Annie Carson – Proficiency in Vocal Music
  • Miss Josie Bell – Improvement in Instrumental Music
  • Madge Spalding – Improvement in Vocal Music
  • Ed Hann (Edmund Lyne Hann; 1869–1904)


Musical parents — Eliza Jane McKissack was born in New York to James P. (1810–1835[11]) and Elizabeth Aykroyd, née Bettner (d. Mar. 12, 1869).[12][13] James and Elizabeth were married on July 12, 1824, in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina.[14][15] Elizabeth, Eliza's mother, was a music teacher in Nashville.[16] Elizabeth's will was filed July 10, 1869, in Will Book 21, Page 345, Davidson County, Tennessee.

In practically every North Carolina village where there was an academy there was also a music teacher, an art teacher, and sometimes a dancing teacher. In some of these towns, such as New Bern, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Wilmington, there were music teachers independent of academy patronage. In 1823 James Aykroyd, then of New Bern, "respectfully informed the citizens of Hillsboro and its vicinity that he intended giving lessons in music there during the summer months." His terms were "for the Piano, twelve dollars a quarter, for lessons every other week; and three dollars for vocal music, two lessons every other week."[17][18]

Musical sibling — Eliza had a sister, Maria Caroline Cauthorn, née Aykroyd (b. June 20, 1831, New Bern, North Carolina;[19] d. Sep. 17, 1894). On July 21, 1869, Maria married Benjamin F. Cauthorn[20] (b. July 20, 1836, Virginia; d. June 1, 1902); both were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee (tombstone image for Maria); (tombstone image for Benjamin). Maria was a music teacher in Nashville.[21] Maria's will was filed September 1894 in Will Book 32, Page 438, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Husband — On August 10, 1854, in Pulaski, Tennessee, Eliza married Alexander Cogle McKissack (b. 30 April 1831 Roxboro, NC; d. 26 Sept 1898, Memphis, TN).[22][23][24] Alexander was an 1852 alumnus of Yale College. He died near Memphis at the home of his sister (during a visit), Jessie McKissack Peters of Van Dorn and Spring Hill repute.[25][26][27]

Alexander McKissack, a native of Pulaski, Tennessee, moved to Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1856 with his wife, Eliza. Except for his tenure in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, he resided on his plantation, 4 miles north of Holly Springs, until his death.

Child — Alexander and Eliza had only one child, a daughter, who died early.

Eliza's death — Eliza Jane McKissack died January 15, 1900, Nashville, Tennessee. The funeral service was held at Christ Church and the burial was at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee (tombstone image).[28] Her will was filed January 1900 in Will Book 35, Page 390, Davidson County, Tennessee. Lacking a surviving sibling, husband, or child, Eliza bequeathed the plantation to her sole nephew, Percy C. Cauthorn (1870–1909; tombstone image for Percy). One of the two witnesses to the Codicil of her Will was Mrs. J. C. Sheegog (née Joella C. Pegues; 1839–1938; widow to James Gowen Sheegog; 1836–1869). William Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, was the boyhood home of James Gowen Sheegog – and was built around 1840 by James' father, Robert Sheegog (1801–1860).


  1. ^ Christ Church Parish Baptism Records, New Bern, North Carolina
  2. ^ James Lloyd Rogers (1926–2006), The Story of North Texas, University of North Texas Press (c2002)
  3. ^ Pilot Point Post Mirror, Sep. 20, 1890
  4. ^ HEADS Data – Special Report, 2009–10, National Association of Schools of Music.
    Music Enrollment
    at North Texas
    2006-07 1,649
    2007-08 1,659
    2008-09 1,608
    2009-10 1,635
  5. ^ James Lloyd Rogers (1926–2006), The Story of North Texas, University of North Texas Press (2002)
  6. ^ "Texas Schools and Churches", The Weekly Gazette: Fort Worth, Texas, pg. 3, col. 3 (bottom), September 4, 1890
  7. ^ Library Archives, New England Conservatory of Music
  8. ^ James Lloyd Rogers (1926–2006), The Story of North Texas, pg. 19, University of North Texas Press (2002)
  9. ^ Doctors of philosophy of Yale University, with the titles of their dissertations, 1861–1915, published by Yale University (April 1916)
  10. ^ Texas Normal College Exercises, The Dallas Morning News, June 19, 1891
  11. ^ List of Burials (James Aykroyd), Tri-Weekly Banner (Nashville), July 8, 1835
  12. ^ Elizabeth Aykroyd was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee (tombstone image)
  13. ^ Elizabeth's brother, James S. Bettner (d. testate, 1858, Westchester County, New York), acquired a patent of land in Kendall County, Texas, the survey for which bears his name
  14. ^ Parish Register Marriage Entries: Christ Episcopal Church, New Bern, NC
  15. ^ North Carolina Marriage Records 1799–1867, North Carolina State Archives
  16. ^ 1860 US Census, Davidson County, Tennessee, pg. 402b, line 40, house number 971
  17. ^ Hillsborough Recorder (North Carolina), June 25, 1823
  18. ^ Guion Griffis Johnson (1900–1989) Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History, Chapter X, pg. 290, University of North Carolina Press (1937); electronic edition; transcribed by Apex Data Services, Inc., Melissa Meeks, and Natalia Smith; Images scanned by Andrew Leiter; First ed., Academic Affairs Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2002)
  19. ^ Christ Church Parish Baptism Records, New Bern, North Carolina
  20. ^ Marriages Recorded in Nashville, 1864–1905, online, Metro Archives, Nashville Public Library
  21. ^ George H. Rogers (compiler), Nashville Directory, Vol XVIII, Marshall & Bruce, Nashville (1882)
  22. ^ Obituary record of graduates of Yale University ... presented at the annual meeting of the alumni, pg. 615, Yale University (1900)
  23. ^ Obituary: Alexander C. McKissack The Memphis Appeal, September 29, 1898, 2:4
  24. ^ The Last Roll Call: Capt. A. C. McKissack, Confederate Veteran, No. 1, Vol. 7, pg 33 (January 1899)
  25. ^ Hubert Horton McAlexander, Strawberry Plains Audubon Center: Four Centuries of Mississippi Landscape, University Press of Mississippi (2008)
  26. ^ Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr. (1930– ), Yale's Confederates: a biographical dictionary, pps. 140-141, University of Tennessee Press (2008)
  27. ^ Catalogue of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, (1910), published by Delta Kappa Epsilon
  28. ^ Death Notice, Nashville Banner, Jan. 16, 1900 (name is misspelled: "McKissick")