The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Wesley College

Brian Hart General

Toon College, predecessor of Wesley College, was founded in Terrell in 1897 by W. B. Toon, a graduate of Vanderbilt University. In 1902 local citizens raised $30,000 to support the school and renamed it Terrell University School. The campus had an administration building and two dormitories on thirteen acres of land. By September 1904 the institution was closed. In November 1904 the board of directors offered the facilities to the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, then meeting in Bonham. On April 15, 1905, a deed was drawn up turning the school and most of its property over to the church. The institution was renamed North Texas Training School, and its curriculum included coursework in all grades through high school. On June 24, 1905, the school's name was changed to North Texas University School. Preparatory work was offered in languages, history, mathematics, English, and music. In 1909 the school was reorganized as a high school and junior college and named Wesley College in honor of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Wesley College remained on the campus established by Toon until the close of the 1910–11 academic year. Enrollment in the coeducational facility totaled 210 students during the 1909–10 term and 150 students the following year. Courses were offered in mathematics, languages, English, the sciences, art, music, and business. Although associated with and partially supported by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Wesley College was not a training school for ministers, but "a high-grade literary school" aimed at preparing students for entrance into the state's universities. Financial problems resulted in the school's closing in June 1911. Methodists in Greenville persuaded the Greenville Development Company to offer a campus site and cash to attract the school, and in May 1912 the board of trustees accepted. Wesley College opened in Greenville on September 17, 1912, with sixty students. The college offered six years of education beginning at the elementary level and proceeding through two years of college-level study. It operated until 1938. During these years it maintained an enrollment of approximately 500 students and employed about fifteen instructors. By 1926 the college owned a seventy-five-acre demonstration farm and a library of 3,000 volumes. During the years of the Great Depression the school did not receive adequate funding from the church but still granted free tuition to the children of Methodist ministers and those preparing to enter the ministry or the missionary service; poor business ability of several of the school's presidents combined other financial problems to undermine Wesley College. The institution was closed permanently after the 1937–38 term.

John Horace Houser, The History of Wesley College (M.Ed. thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1939). Mabel Covington Keller, History of Kaufman County, Texas (M.A. thesis, North Texas State College, 1950). William Franklin Ledlow, History of Protestant Education in Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1926).


  • Education
  • Defunct Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Methodist

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

Brian Hart, “Wesley College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 29, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.