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Independence Academy

General Entry

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.

Eugene W. Baker, To Light the Ways of Time: An Illustrated History of Baylor University, 1845–1986 (Waco: Baylor University Press, 1987). Truman Harrison Etheridge, Education in the Republic of Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1942). Arthur A. Grusendorf, The Social and Philosophical Determinants of Education in Washington County, Texas, from 1835 to 1937 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1938). Carl Bassett Wilson, History of Baptist Educational Efforts in Texas, 1829–1900 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1934).


  • Education
  • Defunct Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Independence Academy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 12, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: