Savoy College was organized in 1876 by prof Robt. R. Halsell. For four years this institution was conducted by its founder and owner as a local school for the children of families in the small towns and settlements of the region. Then, in 1880, when Prof. Halsell’s reputation as a teacher of mathematics and English literature had spread over North Texas, he decided to enlarge its scope and made a formal application for a charter from the State of Texas.
This charter was Submitted January 22, 1880, to “R.R. Halsell, Lewis Holland, J.T. Chenoweth, James Paxton, and J.L. German. The name of the institution shall be Savoy Male and Female College.” The purpose for which the charter was formed was “to maintain and support an institution of learning for the education of males and females and to empower the faculty to cover the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, grand diplomas, certificates of proficiency and rewards of service.”
The college prospered and gained renown in North Texas and Oklahoma. “Not only the people of the town and surrounding country enjoyed the privileges of its excellent teachings,” says a historian in writing of the period of the college’s activities, “but people came from far and wide over Texas and Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to seek knowledge within its walls. It had the most complete library of any school in Texas at that time, with the exception of the State University at Austin.”
It is said that hundreds of Indian boys and girls attended Savoy College. There was no dormitory and students, including the Indians, boarded with families in the town. The Indians made friends there.
Graduates of Savoy College, and there were hundreds of them, went out from its doors to become useful citizens, many of them gaining renown in their professions. Still living today (1937) are prominent doctors, judges, lawyers, preachers, teachers, business men who credit old Savoy College with the foundation of their success in life. Several graduates became missionaries to China and other Oriental countries.
“Though its glory lives on,” one former student has written, “its active days came to a tragic end. In the vacation days of 1890 the college building burned and only a heap of ashes and debris was left to greet the eyes of those who loved it so dearly.”
After the fire, the college was not rebuilt and only its influence, as expressed in the useful lives of its graduates, remain to speak of its splendid service to Texas and the Southwest.
Prof. Halsell and his two daughters taught for a while in the new school which was built by the Savoy School District. Then he went to Durant, Oklahoma, where he died in 1924, at the age of 81 years.
For the above information acknowledgement is made to the Federal Writers’ Project and Gus W. Thomasson….
- J.B.May, The Savoy Star, vol.35, No.50, pg.11 ↩