Mary Allen College
Historically Black College






This school was planned some time in 1885 by the board of missions for freedmen of the Presbyterian Church. The purpose to establish a school somewhere in Texas was largely due to Mrs. Mary E. Allen, wife of the secretary of the board. She had been for some time previously seeking information concerning the condition of the colored women of Texas, and finding that a very large proportion of them were wholly illiterate and suffered all the evils incident to such a condition, she determined to try to do something for their relief and elevation, and at once brought the matter to the attention of the board.

The school was located at Crockett, and three teachers were chosen to begin work. These were Rev. John B. Smith, Mrs. A. E. Smith, his wife, and Miss Margaret P. Bolles. They arrived at Crockett January 1, 1886, and in a few days opened school in an old farm dwelling rented for the purpose. In the following April Mrs. Allen died, and in honor of her memory and interest in this special work the school was named Mary Allen Seminary. The first term closed in June of that year with an enrollment of 46 students. As the school was designed to be for the women of Texas and neighboring regions, adequate provision had to be made for the work by the erection of a suitable building for caring for all who should attend. In that year brick were made and the walls of the first three stories of the main building were put up, and the building, 107 feet long and four stories high, was completed in time for the opening of school in November, 1887. The enrollment in 1886-87 was 88. In 1887-88, the first year in the new building, the enrollment was 152, and the year following 167. The ground upon which the seminary is built consists of 10 acres, donated by the citizens of Crockett. A year or two later Mr. James Synder, of Illinois, gave the seminary 260 acres adjoining the ground upon which the seminary is built. In 1889 a large donation of money was made by Hon. James McMillan, of Michigan, by means of which McMillan Hall was erected. This is a brick building, 90 by 45 feet, four stories high, with basement for dining hall, kitchen, pantry, etc. This greatly increased the capacity of the seminary, and in 1890-91 the enrollment was 266. This number, however, was found to be too great for the room at command and interfered with the best work for the students, and so large a number has never been accepted since. Rev. John B. Smith, A. M., D. D., has continued president from the opening of the college.

In addition to the brick buildings above mentioned, there are frame buildings for three large recitation rooms and a sewing room, a large laundry and bath building, and other necessary buildings. The grounds and buildings are valued at $45,000.

The money for the erection and equipment of this school was donated principally in small sums, the gifts resulting from the self-denial of those interested in the work of the church for the freedmen.


Sketch from History of Education in Texas
by John J. Lane - 1903