The first move among West Virginia Baptists as such, to establish a school of high grade, was made at the Guyandotte Association, held at Guyandotte, Cabell county, September 3, 1871. Among the prime movers in the enterprise were Revs. B. Cade, J. C. Reece, R. W. Davis and J. T. Tabler. It was decided to locate the school at Coalsmouth, now St. Albans, on the Great kanawha river and the C. & O. railroad. Rev. B. Cade was appointed to raise the necessary funds to secure a site and erect buildings.
The Baptist Coalsmouth High School was opened in the St. Albans Town Hall, October 1, 1872, by Prof. H. W. Hovey, a resident of the town, who had been chosen assistant teacher. Rev. P. B. Reynolds, then of Richmond, Virginia, had been chosen as Principal, but had not yet arrived.
During the first year a large number of subscriptions had been secured, and in the summer of 1873 the contract was let for $10,400, to erect a first class school building. Work was begun and the foundation laid. But the financial crash of 1873, came, subscriptions were hard to collect, and the work dragged heavily.
Then it was that Mr. T. M. Shelton came to the rescue with a loan of several thousand dollars, and the building was completed in 1875. During 1875-6 an unsuccessful effort was made to secure an endowment of $50,000 for the school, and the school was much hampered in the years that followed by the debt contracted and the difficulty to secure funds for equipment and running expenses.
During these years however, Prof. Reynolds was patiently holding on, and with no little self sacrifice. There was a goodly number of students in the school, and most excellent foundation work was being done. Among those who received their educational start here, are Prof. G.B. Foster, who afterward took a full course at the West Virginia University and at Rochester, New York; was pastor of the First Baptist Church at Saratoga Springs for several years and is now a professor in a leading college in Canada; Rev. O.M. Miller, who was a pastor in Washington City for several years, but has now gone to his reward; Rev. J.L. McCutcheon, who, after taking a full course elsewhere, was an assistant pastor of a prominent church in New York City, then President of Broadus College, West Virginia, for a year or two, and is now a successful pastor in Virginia: Rev. R.B. Smith, who after taking a full course at Granville, and in Chicago, is now the very successful pastor of the Baptist Church at Parkersburg, West Virginia. Still others might be mentioned who woe not a little to the foundation work done for them in this school.
In 1878 the name of the school was changed to Shelton College in hnor of T.M. Shelton, who had done much for it, giving some seven or eight thousand dollars in all.
In 1883 a joint stock company was organized and purchased the property in order to pay off the debt.
Prof. Reynolds continued his connection with the college, except for a brief period, until 1884, when he accepted a chair in the State University. Rev. Baylus Cade then conducted the school for a while, and in 1887 the use of the property was tendered to Prof. W.G. Miller, a former student there, and who now owns a majority of the stock. He has the use of the property for taking care of it, and has been carrying on the school more as a private enterprise than otherwise. The school has not been large, but the patrons speak well of the work that has been done. The college building is beautifully located, on a high eminence, commanding an extensive and beautiful view of the Kanawha Valley in both directions. It is also centrally and conveniently located to a large stretch of populous territory, containing as yet but few schools of high grade.
The school has never yet attempted anything beyond an academic or preparatory course, though it was the original intention that should grow into a fully equipped college. The present Principal is aiming to give thorough preparatory and Normal instruction, and there is no reason why this school should not yet grow into a flourishing academy, if not eventually into a fully equipped college.
(History of Education in West Virginia, by B.S. Morgan and J.F. Cork. Published by Moses W. Donnally, Public Printer, Charleston, W.Va., 1893.) Pp.142-3.
|Shelton College closed in the early 1900s and the building was converted into a private residence.|
West Virginia Archives and History