Although Milam Male and Female Institute was not chartered until August 1856, the school had been in existence under different names for several years before. In December 1851 the Texas legislature granted a charter for an institution to be called Milam Masonic Female Institute in Boston, Bowie County. The trustees of the school were to be the master and wardens of Boston Lodge Number 69. The early history of the school remains largely a mystery, but by 1853 the institution was apparently in operation with William B. Featherston as principal. In 1855 the name was changed to Milam Masonic Institute, and the school was expanded to include both male and female departments. Male and female students attended separate classes and were "allowed under no conditions to speak to each other." The next August a group of Bowie County residents, including Featherston, applied for and received a charter for Milam Male and Female Institute with themselves as trustees. A majority of the trustees were Baptists, and the school apparently received some support from the Red River Baptist Association. The trustees also apparently hoped to see their school become an officially sponsored institution of the Baptist Association of Eastern Texas. Although the institute had changed names and trustees, its principal, Featherston, considered the new school a continuation of the older Masonic institutes. Since 1854 the Milam school had advertised regularly in the Clarksville Standard, and the 1858 advertisement stated that "The school has now been in successful operation, under the present principal for five years, and may be considered permanent." This was the last mention of the school in the Standard. In 1860 the Baptist Association of Eastern Texas selected trustees and made plans to open a school in Tyler to be called Texas Baptist College. William B. Featherston was one of two men chosen as teachers for the new school. Milam Male and Female Institute had apparently closed by this time.
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Carl Bassett Wilson, History of Baptist Educational Efforts in Texas, 1829–1900 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1934).
Defunct Elementary and Secondary Schools
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Cecil Harper, Jr.,
“Milam Male and Female Institute,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
May 1, 1995