Bethel College had its origin in the efforts of venerable fathers, the leading spirits of Bethel Association. At its annual meeting in 1849, a resolution favoring higher education was introduced as the conclusion of an able report on that subject, by Rev. Samuel Baker, D.D. At the meeting in 1850, in Russellville, it was determined to establish the Bethel High School in Russellville. A Board of Trustees was appointed, of which Judge E. M. Ewing was President and Rev. J. M. Pendleton Secretary. By the voluntary efforts of Mr. Nimrod Long nearly $8,000 was raised in addition to $3,000 already subscribed. In March, 1851, forty acres of land were purchased for $3,300. The High School building was completed at a cost, including necessary apparatus and outfit, of $15,000 and in January, 1854, was formally opened, the Rev. B. T. Blewitt having been elected Principal.
In 1856 Bethel High School was chartered as Bethel College, with Dr. Blewitt as President. Through the Longs, Nortons and Ewings the college was endowed.
From the summer of 1861 till September, 1863, the college suspended its exercises on account of the impending crisis in politics. The building was used in 1862 as a hospital for the Confederate forces. In 1863 the college was reorganized under Rev. Geo. Hunt, as President. He was succeeded by Prof. J. W. Rust in 1864. In 1868 Prof. Noah K. Davis succeeded to the presidency and enlarged the course of study, President Davis being called to the University Of Virginia in 1873, Prof. Leslie Waggner took the management as Chairman of the Faculty. He was afterward elected president. Prof. Fuqua succeeded Dr. Waggner as Chairman of the Faculty in 1883. Prof. Ryland was elected Chairman on Prof. Fuqua's resigning the office and was later made President. At the last annual meeting of the trustees Dr. E. S. Alderman was elected President. It would be difficult to do justice to the memory of the many eminent men who have been members of the faculty.
[From The Baptist Argus, June 30, 1898, p. 1. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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