Mansfield Male and Female College

By: Ralph H. Walker

Type: General Entry

Published: April 1, 1995

Updated: August 11, 2020

Mansfield Male and Female College, in Mansfield, was founded in 1870 by John C. Collier, a college president and Presbyterian minister. The site was donated by cofounder Julian Feild. The state legislature incorporated the college on May 2, 1871, and empowered it to confer degrees in arts and sciences. Classes met in two small buildings when the first session opened in 1870. A two-story frame building from Fort Belknap, dismantled and rebuilt on the college site, was used for classes, church services, and lodging. The cornerstone for a second two-story building was laid on June 24, 1875. In 1877 Collier built a two-story brick and frame house on the west side of the school grounds for his family. Five small rooms on the second floor served as dormitory rooms for the female teachers and students. The house still stands and was designated a state historic landmark in 1984.

With instruction from the primary grades through the postsecondary level, the college was the first real school in Mansfield. It had progressed under Professor Collier's presidency to "the first place among the institutions of learning in the State" within its first eight years. Collier chose the faculty with care and by 1878 had assembled outstanding teachers, including Smith Ragsdale as professor of mathematics. Collier himself was professor of languages and literature. Several students of the college became prominent in public life, including John H. Stephens and Oscar W. Gillespie, who both served in the United States Congress. In the 1880s the state and various religious denominations entered the education field in competition with the independent schools. The college ceased to exist in 1887, and the main building burned in 1889. The property was deeded by Collier to the board of trustees and subsequently to A. J. Dukes. In 1890 the school site was deeded to the trustees of the Mansfield Public Free School; it is now a part of the Mansfield Independent School District and is still used for school purposes.

T. G. Davis, "History of Mansfield Education," in The Tiger Annual (Mansfield, Texas: Mansfield High School, 1929).

  • Education
  • Defunct Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian

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

Ralph H. Walker, “Mansfield Male and Female College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 02, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995
August 11, 2020