University of San Augustine

By: Nancy Young

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1995

The University of San Augustine was founded by the people of San Augustine and chartered on June 5, 1837. After the charter was approved, the trustees of the school received a grant of four leagues of land but quickly sold one league to raise funds for the purchase of a two-story building. The school had planned to recruit students from Louisiana and Mississippi as well as Texas, but for the first two years of its existence the school rented its facilities to J. M. Rankin, a Presbyterian, who used the building to run an academy. In 1842 Marcus A. Montrose became president and the school began to function in its own right. Nominally a state school, the university operated under the influence of the Presbyterian Church. A Presbytery of Eastern Texas was organized at San Augustine in 1843 to assist the school. This relationship fostered animosity in the community, which had a sizable Methodist population. Attendance figures reached a high of 150 students but plummeted to fifty in 1845. Montrose took responsibility for the instruction of older students, who then worked with the younger ones. The University of San Augustine included a grammar school for children under twelve, a female department, and a college that provided three levels of instruction. The school, under Montrose's leadership, embarked in an aggressive advertising campaign to secure students, which embittered factions within the community. After Montrose's departure Oran M. Roberts became the president of the board of trustees, which was reorganized to represent a wide range of religious backgrounds. The University of San Augustine's presidents were Montrose, who served from 1842 to 1845, and James Russell, who served from 1845 to 1847. The university closed in 1847, without awarding a single degree, as a result of sectarianism, a rival college, opposing newspapers, theological intolerance, and the shooting of the president. The buildings were taken over by the University of Eastern Texas.

George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod. 1962). Frederick Eby, The Development of Education in Texas (New York: Macmillan, 1925). Dan Ferguson, "The Antecedents of Austin College," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 53 (January 1950). William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936).
  • Education
  • Defunct Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian
Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas

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

Nancy Young, “University of San Augustine,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995