HENRY COLLEGE. The origins of Henry College, in Campbell, Hunt County, can be traced to the founding of Campbell High School in 1881. Enrollment at the high school quickly surpassed 200 and had reached 275 by 1885–86. This success prompted a decision to use the school building for a college. Henry College was named for its founders, Henry T. Bridges and Henry Easton, and opened in 1892. Bridges provided most of the money to finance the institution, including $15,000 for the construction of an administration building.
The goal of the college was to provide a first-class college education for poor boys and girls in Hunt and nearby counties. The school emphasized the classics, music, art, math, and foreign languages. Students could work towards a B.A., B.S., or "Master of Pedagogy" degree. Enrollment increased steadily for five years; in 1896–97 it was 220. An incident in 1896, however, cast a shadow over the school. A rivalry developed between Bridges and William L. Mayo, head of East Texas Normal College (now East Texas State University) in Commerce. Mayo objected to Henry College's advertising in East Texas Normal's newspaper and enticing students from Commerce. His public condemnation angered Bridges, who rode to Mayo's home and demanded that his competitor sign a public statement of apology. Mayo refused, whereupon Bridges fired two shots at him. Both shots missed. Bridges then threw his gun to the ground, jumped from his carriage, and began to horsewhip Mayo. Both men were arrested and released on bond. When Bridges returned to Campbell, the community condemned his actions and refused to support his school. In 1897 a fire destroyed the administration building. Subsequently, enrollment declined, funds decreased, and the college closed in 1901. Two years later, under new ownership, Emerson College opened at the same place.
Ethel Cassles, A History of Hunt County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1935). W. Walworth Harrison, History of Greenville and Hunt County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1976).