GONZALES COLLEGE. Gonzales College was chartered on February 16, 1852, by an act of the Texas legislature as a privately owned nondenominational school to be operated by the Gonzales College Association. The same act repealed the charter granted on January 30, 1841, to Guadalupe College, and transferred four leagues of land from that defunct school to Gonzales College. Sale of this land netted the college $2,150.60. Construction of a school building, at a cost of $7,200, had begun in September 1851, evidently before a charter was obtained. This original building was still standing and was used as a private residence as late as 1953. The first session opened on April 4, 1853, in the newly erected two-story stone building in Gonzales. At the first session John Freeman Hillyerqv of Georgia was president of the college and Thomas J. Pilgrim was president of the board of trustees; at that time four teachers were employed for the fifty students enrolled. Enrollment continued to increase, reaching its peak of 276 in 1859–60. The town of Gonzales aided the school by donating a music building in 1853 and a Female Seminary Building in 1855. The course of study was divided into the preparatory school and the college proper, with about 80 percent of the students enrolled in the preparatory school. The college division consisted of four years' work leading to a degree. Mathematics, Greek, Latin, and philosophy were stressed, but practical courses such as surveying and accounting were offered in the Male Department, and music and art were taught in the Female Department. Tuition ranged from $10 per five-month session in the preparatory school to $20 in the collegiate course. The Civil War greatly disrupted the growth of the college. The Male Department Building, severely damaged by a storm, was torn down and the stones used to fortify the town against an expected attack by federal gunboats. The college, beset by financial difficulties, continued to decline during Reconstruction. From about 1868 to 1872 the school was known as the Masonic and Odd Fellows College. It seems, however, that these groups were only helping to finance the school, and in 1874 they disclaimed any liability for its expenses. That year the college property was sold to the city, and the buildings eventually became a part of the public school system of Gonzales.
Frontier Times, June 1934. G. R. Lacy, A History of Gonzales College (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1936). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Donald W. Whisenhunt, The Encyclopedia of Texas Colleges and Universities (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986).