On May 23, 1837, the inhabitants of Independence, Washington County, led by John P. Coles, presented a petition to the Congress of the Republic of Texas for the chartering of a seminary. The charter, granted on June 5, 1837, established Independence Academy as a nonsectarian, nonpolitical institution. The school was probably opened by Henry F. Gillette, who bought out Frances Trask's school (see THOMPSON, FRANCES J. S. T.). Hugh Wilson was a member of the faculty. Contemporary advertisements indicate that by May 1839, Independence Female Academy, taught by a Miss McGuffin, had more than fifty students. In 1841 Edward Fontaine was teacher and had seventy-five students, boys and girls, ranging in age from six to twenty-five, the majority engaged in primary studies. C. W. Thomas was president of the academy in 1845, the last year of its existence. That year E. W. Taylor acquired the property at a sheriff's sale and donated it to the newly chartered Baylor University.