The Methodist-sponsored Galloway College, later known as Willie Halsell College, opened in September 1888 in Vinita, Indian Territory (I.T.). In 1886, in Eufaula, I.T., plans for the institution were developed at a meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Church South's Indian Mission Conference, with Bishop Charles B. Galloway presiding. The Cherokee Council granted 160 acres for the school, and local citizens and merchants helped raise needed funds.
Opened as an all-male institution with W. P. Bishop as principal, the primary and secondary school held classes in the Methodist Episcopal Church until a four-story, brick-and-stone building was completed in 1889. Students paid $1.50 to $2.50 per month for tuition, depending on their grade level, and $10 per month to board at the school. Early in the school's history, William Electious "W. E." Halsell, a prominent cattleman and owner of a large ranch near Tulsa, donated funds that helped save the heavily indebted school. In July 1891 Galloway College was renamed Willie Halsell College, in honor of Halsell's young daughter Willie, who had died in 1884. In 1893 the college became coeducational and had an enrollment of 209. According to a school catalog, the curriculum was patterned after the New England schools of Exeter, New Hampshire, Andover and Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Norwich, Connecticut, possibly because a number of the presidents and teachers came from the East. In 1908, when the college was no longer financially viable, its campus was sold to Halsell for twenty-five thousand dollars, and the institution closed.
The short-lived school helped shape the careers of two famous, part-Cherokee Oklahomans, humorist Will Rogers and author John Milton Oskison. Although not known for academic achievement, young Will Rogers made the school's honor roll in 1892 and 1893. He also became lifelong friends with fellow pupil Ewing Halsell, W. E. Halsell's son. Ewing Halsell later helped establish the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore. John Milton Oskison, one of Galloway's first graduates, attended Stanford and Harvard Universities, pursued a journalism career, and wrote short stories and novels, many of which had their setting in Indian Territory.
SEE ALSO: COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES–PRIVATE.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: O. B. Campbell, Vinita, I.T.: The Story of a Frontier Town of the Cherokee Nation, 1871-1907 (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Colorgraphics, 1969). Leonard Franklin George, "The Origin, Development, Discontinuation, and Influence on Oklahoma Education of 'Old Willie Halsell College,' Craig County, Vinita, Oklahoma" (M.A. thesis, Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, 1939). Arthur Frank Wertheim and Barbara Bair, eds., The Papers of Will Rogers: The Early Years, November 1879-April 1904, Vol. 1 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).
Meghan Iman Attalla
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