Central Wesleyan College Archives
Manuscript Collection C3
Central Wesleyan College
Central Wesleyan College had its roots in the German and English College of Quincy, Illinois, founded in 1854. This college endeavored to train ministers for the German Methodist Episcopal Church and to educate young people of German heritage in that language. The English portion of the Quincy college ceased in 1863, and in the summer of 1864, a convention of German Methodists decided to establish a new institution with two purposes:
- to provide a home for orphans of the Civil War and
- to supply a "higher educational institute for the youth of the German Church in the West."
Nine hundred thirty-two acres were purchased on May 19, 1864, at Warrenton, Missouri, for the institution, which was named the Western Orphan Asylum and Educational Institute. It opened on October 3, 1864. In 1869, the name was changed to Central Wesleyan College and Orphan Asylum to reflect a
broadening in the studies offered.
Central Wesleyan Orphan Home
The two parts of the institution were legally separated in 1884, becoming Central Wesleyan College and Central Wesleyan Orphan Home. (Central Wesleyan Orphan Home closed in 1939; the children were transferred to the Methodist Children's Home in St. Louis. The Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis is the repository of the CWOH records).
Central Wesleyan College Building
The institution flourished and developed a campus with a number of buildings. The theological seminary was an especially strong part of the course of study. However, over the years the college endured many hardships from fires, a tornado, the anti-German attitudes prevalent during World War I, and financial problems.
The College Church
In 1909 the German College of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, merged with the Warrenton school under the name Central Wesleyan College and German Theological Seminary. The college continued
to operate under the auspices of the German Methodist Conference until 1925, when the German conferences merged with the English-speaking conferences. In 1932 Central Wesleyan "inherited" the records of the defunct Ozark Wesleyan College of Carthage, Missouri.
After offering a baccalaureate degree for much of its existence, Central Wesleyan became a junior college in 1930. Increasing financial troubles and the loss of membership in the Missouri College Union finally combined to overwhelm the struggling college, and it failed to open in the fall of 1941.
The school remained closed thereafter, and the property, buildings, and contents were sold to the highest bidder in 1946. In 1947 Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Truman State University) at Kirksville purchased the library of Central Wesleyan from the new owner, who was liquidating the property. Northeast at the same time agreed to take custody of and preserve the Archives and student records. The former is housed in Special Collections and the latter are under the care of the Registrar. Since that time, Truman has received additional materials from Iowa Wesleyan University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Central Methodist University, as well as individual donors.
Scope of the Collection
The Central Wesleyan College Collection, 24 linear feet of documents and ledgers, contains correspondence; business, legal, and financial records; institutional histories of Central Wesleyan College and Orphan Asylum and merging institutions, Mt. Pleasant German College and Ozark Wesleyan College; student organizations' records; and college publications. Some of the documents are in German. Early materials, before 1910, are sparse. The collection contains few materials pertaining to the campus buildings and the daily operations of the school. The collection does contain many business and financial records of the school, publications of the school, student organizations' records, and St. Louis German Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church materials.
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