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EAST TEXAS BAPTIST INSTITUTE
EAST TEXAS BAPTIST INSTITUTE. East Texas Baptist Institute, at Rusk, was chartered on July 18, 1895, and opened in a three-story brick building on September 2, 1895, with seven teachers, 142 pupils, and a debt of $9,000. The institution had been discussed at the 1892 meeting of the Cherokee Baptist Association, but a provisional board was not formed until January 24, 1894. The association accepted the property donated by Mrs. Georgia Anna Bonner at its meeting in October 1894. J. H. Richardson was appointed the first president and J. H. Thorn the first business manager. Richardson resigned in 1897 due to illness and was succeeded by E. H. Wells, who served as president for the remainder of the school term and was succeeded by J. V. Vermillion. A disagreement arose between the Cherokee Association and the fourteen-member board of trustees in 1898 over action by the board to organize as an independent entity. The association named a new board and requested the previous board to return all titles to the association. At its meeting in 1899, the association failed to resolve the issue, with the result that East Texas Baptist Institute became a part of the Texas Baptist Correlated System and a new school, Jacksonville College, was organized by the Eastern Texas Educational Society.
Subsequently, East Texas Baptist Institute became Rusk Academy and in 1918 Rusk Junior College. When a new Cherokee Association of Baptist Churches organized on November 8, 1915, it supported the college as "the Baptist School for Southeast Texas." Between 1915 and 1928 the enrollment never exceeded 300, and deficits continued to accumulate. A succession of presidents was unable to rescue the failing institution. In 1927 the Baptist General Convention of Texas attempted to salvage the college by challenging the city of Rusk to raise $25,000 and offering to refinance the college debt and subsidize the office of the president for three years. The effort was to no avail, and in April 1928 President L. J. Mims announced to the executive board of the Baptist General Convention that Rusk Junior College would close at the end of the school term because of insurmountable debts.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Annual of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 1927, 1928. Baptist Standard, April 12, 26, 1928. James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923).
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Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.