Red, Rebecca Jane Kilgore Stuart (1827–1886)

By: Michelle Farthing

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 3, 2019

Rebecca Stuart Red, pioneer teacher and school administrator, was born on October 2, 1827, in West Middletown, Pennsylvania, one of seven children of William and Mary (Cummins) Stuart. She attended the Steubenville Seminary in Ohio and graduated in 1849 with a teaching degree. After teaching in Kentucky, she moved with her sister and brother-in-law to Texas in December 1852. The following February they opened Live Oak Female Seminary at Gay Hill, with Rebecca and Rev. James Weston Miller, her brother-in-law, sharing administrative responsibilities. She taught there and served as principal from 1853 until December 1875 and is thought to have been the first woman with a college degree to manage a college and teach college-level courses in Texas. She married Dr. George Clark Red on January 10, 1854, at Gay Hill. She bore five children, but one did not survive infancy. Except for a brief period during the Civil War years, she continued to teach at the seminary and serve as principal while rearing her family.

In 1875 Dr. Red retired because of ill health and moved his family to Austin. Not wishing to interrupt Rebecca's teaching career, he built her a school in East Austin. The Stuart Female Seminary opened in January 1876. Mrs. Red taught English and history and conducted a Presbyterian Sunday School in the building. She remained principal until her death. The building was eventually given to the Presbyterian Church and became Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. All four of Mrs. Red's children, William S.,Samuel C.,Lel, and Harriet, taught at some time at the Stuart Seminary. Her eldest daughter, Lel, succeeded her as principal. Rebecca Red died on May 24, 1886, after a lingering illness and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. She was the first woman teacher to be nationally honored by the Texas branch of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, an honorary organization of women in education.

Visit the Texas Women Project's standalone website

The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.

Visit Website

Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, January 1939. Robert F. Miller, A Family of Millers and Stewarts (St. Louis, 1909). Mabelle Purcell, Two Texas Female Seminaries (Wichita Falls, Texas: University Press, 1951). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Education
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Women

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

Michelle Farthing, “Red, Rebecca Jane Kilgore Stuart,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 3, 2019

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: