Bowling Green Academy

Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church



Your Board took the responsibility of aiding in the support of teachers in the school at Bowling Green, Ky., to the extent of $100, trusting the appropriation will meet with your approval. The Board is seriously impressed that greater encouragement and assistance should be given to our colored brethren, believing that there is nothing which promises more in promoting true evangelism among them than the education of their ministers. The subject is submitted for your careful consideration.

[Source: "Annual Report of the Board of Missions," in the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1886, page 57]


During the year $300 have been paid by your Board on salaries of teachers in the school at Bowling Green, Ky., $93.71 of the amount having been contributed specially for that purpose. This has been done strictly in the line of missionary work and under the conviction that helping our brethren of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (colored) to educate their young preachers is the best service that can be rendered in promoting true evangelism among the race.

This work is heartily commended as deserving far nobler support, even to the extent of thousands of dollars annually.

A. A. Rowland, M.D., our worthy colleague for many years, resigned, and Isaac H. Orr, Esq., has been elected to fill the vacancy. Brother Orr is Secretary of the Board, and editor of the Missionary Record in place of Rev. W. H. Black, appointed Auditor.

[Source: "Annual Report of the Board of Mission," in the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1887, pages 47-48]


On being advised that the property had been freed from debt and deeded to the Trustees of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Board of Missions assumed to the institution the relation authorized by the last General Assembly, and has appropriated during the year for payment of salaries of teachers, the sum of $560. The President of the Board visited the school, and inspected not only the property, but the internal workings of the school, and was quite favorably impressed. The grounds are well located. The building is a two-story brick, containing eight rooms, including two in the basement. An additional structure for a chapel, with lodging-rooms above, will be needed in the near future, even by the opening of the next session. According to the report submitted by the President, H. A. Gibson, the number of matriculates during the year was 50; males, 29; females, 21; theological students, 5; 32 of the students are professors of religion, and 15 are teachers, availing themselves of instruction in this school in order to greater proficiency. It is believed that our Church, in the line of its mission work, can not better promote the welfare of the colored race than by generously aiding our brethren of the same name and faith in preparing their young people for gospel ministers and for teachers.

[Source: "Annual Report of the Board of Missions, "in the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1888, page 54]


The Board has been assisting the school at Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the colored Cumberland Presbyterians to the amount of $600 per annum. The report from the Principal of the school speaks for itself of the work the school is doing and of its needs. The report is herewith submitted, and the Board asks the General Assembly to take such action as it may deem best in reference to the suggestions and requests therein contained.


To the Board of Missions of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church:

I submit to you the following report for the school year beginning October, 1888, and closing May, 1889. And in so doing I return to God thanks for the blessings which he sent us through your Board without which we could not have run the school three months in the year. In this the Lord has guided you, and I am confident that if you will only follow up the good begun work with your prayers and financial assistance, you will in the near future reap a bountiful harvest. As a Church we are making slow progress. Our great need is an educated ministry.

You have a missionary work among us, but it is not to send men to preach the gospel to our people, for none can preach to the Negro so effectively as the Negro himself. Your missionary work is an educational one. In the beginning of the year we cut off the primary department of the school, which reduced our enrollment considerably. Notwithstanding this, our enrollment this year is six more than it was last, and the school the best that we have ever had. We have an excellent class of young men and women, who are destined to do much good for the school, the Church, and the race to which they belong. We have enrolled this year fifty-six pupils. Of these thirty-three are Christians and belong to Churches. Thirty are preparing for teachers, fifteen of whom are now teaching in the county schools during the summer months. There are three licentiates and two aspirants, who are making rapid progress. I have heard from nine others who expect to be in school next year. Four of these and one who has been in four years, will be prepared to enter the Theological department proper. And if I were sure of an enlargement of the building, I think I could get several more. There are three in the Scientific department this year, and ten will be graduated from the Normal department, all of whom will enter the Scientific department next fall. The main building and the grounds are in very good condition. The property cost $3,000. Since the committee wound up its business in paying for the improving the property, I have had some work done which was absolutely necessary, at a cost of $165. This is yet to be paid for, and I must ask the Board to make me this additional appropriation. Before the school can make very much more progress we will be compelled to have more room; we ought to have an L built 50 by 70 feet, two stories high. This would give us all the room we would need for years, and the school would then receive its share of patronage from the young men and women who are seeking the best advantages for an education. The brick work of such a building would cost about $500. The wood work would cost about twice as much. The colored Church is not able to make these improvements. We have had three teachers this year, Mr. Dodson and wife, and myself. Mr. Dodson gets $40 and Mrs. Dodson $20 per month. This has left for my services $15 per month of the amount which you have allowed us monthly. I hope the Board will see its way to recommend to the General Assembly to take some steps to enlarge our building by fall, thereby putting us on the road to success. I think, too, that this school ought to be under a Board of Directors, a part of them from each General Assembly, and that this Board should take full control of the work. There is now too much responsibility on me. I have carried it until I have broken down under it.

Another source of annoyance and worry is the uncertainty of getting means to pay teachers and to meet the little debts that I am compelled to make sometimes in order to take care of the property, such as the $165 spoken of in this report.

Now if the school was under a Board of Directors, as I said, I would be freed from all this and could put my whole time in the theological work and to building up the scholarship.

Respectfully yours,             H. A. GIBSON
April 22, 1889

[Source: "Annual Report of the Board of Mission," in the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1889, pages 62-63]


On Thursday, October 6, Bowling Green Academy, the institution in operation here under the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Colored, of Kentucky, was honored by a visit from Rev. W. J. Darby, D.D., Educational Secretary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (white). Dr. Darby's visit was attended with much interest as he is in a position effectively to place the needs of this institution before our more fortunate brethren. In expectation of the visitor, the school, consisting of eighty-four pupils, had assembled in the room used for chapel worship. Recitations and singing were rendered by the school, after which, Rev.E. B. Kuntz, pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of this city (white), introduced the visitor. Dr. Darby spoke in a very interesting manner of the relations between the two races now living in common citizenship in this country and of their opportunities for mutual help. He said that thoughtful men of both races recognize that the negro does not desire and is not clamoring for social equality and that all charges to that effect are without foundation in fact and are being made by politicians for political purposes. By illustrations taken from his own experiences previous to the Civil War, Dr. Darby showed his life-long interest in the negro and his welfare. The address was in all points sane and helpful to the school and to the visitors, patrons of the school, who were present.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, October 27, 1904, page 543]



At the request of President R. L. Hyde this article is written in order to bring the institution more prominently before the church.

This school was brought into existence in 1902 by the Synod of Kentucky of the Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church. By a unanimous vote Bowling Green, Ky., was selected as the location, and Rev. R. L. Hyde, a graduate of the Am and M. College, Normal, Ala., was chosen the first president.

In the fall of the same year the school opened in the lecture room of the Cumberland Presbyterian church (colored), with one pupil and one teacher. The treasury contained $2.18. But fait and prayer were present as mighty factors.

From the printed page we quote as follows:

"During the first year the school enrolled fifty-seven students. Larger quarters were rented and two more teachers were employed. Thus equipped, the school was enabled to do a larger work, and the second year saw an enrollment of one hundred and thirty students, and the third year one hundred and thirty students, and the teaching force has increased from one to five. Up to this year (1905), the school has been in rented quarters, which have been altogether inadequate and inconvenient. But this year marks an epoch in the academy's existence, for by the wise plans and energetic labors of the president, R. L. Hyde, and treasurer, Elder Wm. Nelson, and Dr. E. J. Simpson and other members of the board, who have the school upon their hearts, we have purchased property worth about $5,000, and almost paid for it. It is due to say that to this end the Board of Education of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (white) contributed $1,100 to this cause. The property consists of a fine corner lot on lower State street, 198x110 feet, and a two-story, nine-room brick building. This is a splendid, well-built and well-preserved house, with large, commodious rooms.

"The board feels especially thankful to the white and colored people of Bowling Green, who lent their financial assistance in the sum of over $500 toward making this institution a permanency.

"The object of this school is threefold (1) education in general of all negro children, especially in Kentucky, who desire the advantage of a first-class institution at reasonable rates; (2) education along special lines which shall fit our young men to fill more efficiently the pulpits of our churches; (3) to develop the negro youth into good Christian citizens by educating the head, heart and hand."

Those of us who know this school and its management and teachers are convinced that a strong and earnest effort is being made to fulfill the object of the institution. The president, who is also the pastor of the church, and the teachers are making a tremendous sacrifice to make this school a success. Moreover, they are tying to teach the negro his place and to train him to fill it wisely and honorably. Such a school is a positive need, and will help to solve a vexing problem. At its head are wise, clean Christian men who have set before them high ideals, and who are laboring hard to bring their race, in spite of discouraging conditions, to a state of usefulness and clean Christian citizenship. Profanity, betting, gambling, the use of intoxicants and of tobacco are forbidden. Cleanliness of room and person, good order and fidelity to duty are strictly required.

The attendance of boarding pupils has increased so that the present building is inadequate, and applications have to be refused. As in all other institutions, one of the great present needs is money and added buildings. Liberal-hearted men of means would make no mistake by giving to this school a large tract of land properly equipped for agricultural and mechanical purposes.

The following letter from President W. H. Council, of the Agricultural and Mechanical College, Normal, Ala., indicates the worth of Rev. R. L. Hyde, who is at the head of the Bowling Green Academy:

"To the Friends of Negro Education:
"Eighteen years ago the bearer, R. L. Hyde, came to the A. and M. College, of Alabama, then located at Huntsville, Ala., a poor, unfortunate boy, to work his way through school. He remained here six years, working in garden, farm, shops and everywhere else he could be useful. In all of these lines of work and in all things during this entire time, he was useful, honorable and in all respects a worthy young man, giving entire satisfaction in his conduct, general deportment and work, having the confidence and respect of all teachers and students--an upright, industrious, Christian leader among the students."

Such a character has won for him success in building up his school at Bowling Green, Ky., and such character cannot fail to bring to his support the help of Christian men of both races and all denominations. The warmest liberal support in the hands of such a man will guarantee the uplift of the negro race and indeed the advancement of the whole world."

Let those who are interested in this kind of work investigate the merits of the aforesaid school, and then give to the same such substantial assistance as will make it one of the leading institutions of this land for the education of the negro.
      Bowling Green, Ky.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, May 24, 1906, page 628]


One of the most pleasant and eventful days in the history of the Bowling Green Academy, the colored Cumberland Presbyterian school at Bowling Green, Ky., was spent Tuesday, April 2.

At nine a.m., the students and friends of the Academy assembled in the chapel where an excellent program was rendered.

Devotional exercises were conducted by Rev. W. J. Darby, D.D., of Evansville, Ind., after which the Rev. Mr. Givens, of Providence, Ky., interested the audience by a recital of the school's history from its establishment. He spoke of the vicissitudes and struggles that had been endured by those interested in the work, and of the progress the school has made, having started with but one pupil. Dr. Darby then introduced Dr. H. T. McClelland, of Pittsburgh, Pa., who is Field Secretary of the Freedman's Board of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. McClelland is full of wit and an able speaker, and teachers and pupils were much encouraged by his remarks.

The visitors witnessed the class-room work of the students in the afternoon, before attending the meeting of the Board of Education, which was held at 3 p.m.

The object of this meeting was to discuss the possibilities of securing more property for the school. The outlook for this is indeed bright, and we predict for the Academy a very bright future, and hope to see it in a few years a college creditable to the city and state.

At 7 p.m., an educational mass meeting was held in the College Street Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Interesting addresses were made by Drs. Darby, McClelland, Grider, and Hon. C. U. McElroy. Dr. Darby stated that the object of the visit to Bowling Green was to increase the facilities of the Academy.

Mr. McElroy complimented the school upon its standing in the community, saying that it was worthy of any aid that might be given.

Dr. McClelland expressed himself as much encouraged with all he had seen and heard during the day. The Jubilee Chorus rendered some of its excellent music, which was enjoyed by all. The president of the school, Rev. R. L. Hyde, interested the audience with some very appropriate remarks, after which closed one of the most interesting days the students and friends of the Bowling Green Academy have ever witnessed.

The Academy will be heard from in the future. Its growth is certain.
            AN ATTENDANT.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, April 11, 1907, page 480]

1928 Graduating Class

Please Send Additions/Corrections to the Archives

Updated February 20, 2014