Margaret Elizabeth Campbell, Matron Thyne Institute, Chase City, Virginia 1903 - 1908
Submitted June 1999 by Joanne Nurss, great-great niece of the subject. firstname.lastname@example.orgAll rights reserved.
Margaret Elizabeth Campbell was appointed as Matron at Thyne Institute in Chase City, Virginia on July 6, 1903 at the annual meeting of the United Presbyterian Church of North America Board of Missions to the Freedmen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (United Presbyterian Church of North America, 1904, p.172-173). She was reappointed for 9 months each year 1904-1907 at a salary of $50 per month (United Presbyterian Church of North America, 1911, pp. 49-50, 84- 86). After her appointment on July 2, 1907, there is no further record of her service (United Presbyterian Church of North America, 1911, p.122). Her duties included responsibility for the dormitories for the boarding students, Vincent Hall with 18 to 28 girls and Hunter Hall with 20 to 21 boys. She also had responsibility for the dining room in Vincent Hall and for many of the evening and weekend activities. She conducted the Literary Society on Saturday evening and Prayer Meeting on Sabbath evening and took the students to chapel on Sabbath afternoon for sermon and Sabbath school. On the last Tuesday of each month, she took them to the Temperance League, on first Friday to Farmer's Conference, and weekly she assisted with the boys' Debating Society (Campbell, 1906; Campbell, 1907). In the Report of the Secretary of the Freedmen's Missions for the year ending April 15, 1906 published in the Women's General Mission Society Magazine, the secretary reports: "At Chase City, Va., Miss M. E. Campbell has care of Vincent Hall with 18 girls and Hunter Hall with 20 boys, and has proved a careful manager. All dine together in Vincent Hall dining room, and here, too, they hold their literary society on Saturday evening, and prayer meeting every Sabbath evening, under the care of the matron." (p.539) In her 1905 report, Campbell reports that, in addition to their regular school work, domestic science, and sewing, the girls were instructed in "cooking, dish-washing, baking, sweeping, bed-making, and all of the duties pertaining to housekeeping" (Campbell, 1905, p. 444). She also describes the work of the Literary Society. "After singing and prayer, roll is called, and each member is expected to answer to his name by reporting any incorrect use of language he has heard by other members of the society during the week and any irreverent conduct during religious services" (Campbell, 1905, p. 444). She also notes that she conducted Family Worship each morning and, in the evening, she called on someone to volunteer in prayer. Her report concludes, "We feel that God is blessing the work in this part of His vineyard" (Campbell, 1905, p. 444). Another of her duties must have been to raise money and donations for the school. Her reports always included thanks to the Women's Missionary Society at various churches, including Ninth Avenue United Presbyterian in Monmouth, Illinois for gifts. She also acknowledged gifts given in memory of women, including her older sister, Elizabeth A. Campbell Henderson, who died in 1905. Among the items mentioned are carpet, pillowcases, sheets, towels, and tables purchased with a $25 donation (Campbell, 1906, p. 542). Books and clothing were frequently requested as well. When she returned to Monmouth in the summers, Margaret gave talks at churches to help raise money and solicit donations of clothes and books. In her report for 1906-1907, Matron Campbell tells about a fire that occurred in the girls' dormitory on the night of January 28th. She reports: "The fire threw 23 girls and one teacher out of a home and deprived 20 boys of a dining room. The boys very good-naturedly vacated the second floor of Hunter Hall, which was converted into a girls' dormitory, the boys being content with very cramped quarters on the first floor. The building is so constructed that the two dormitories are entirely separate. We utilized the old laundry as kitchen and dining room, serving breakfast there the morning after the fire. The boys and some of the girls worked nobly to save the building. The spirit shown by Miss Annie Wilson was especially praiseworthy, unselfishly fighting the flames, with no thought of saving her own belongings. In it all, we feel very grateful to our Heavenly Father that He spared the lives of all the students, the matron and the nine teachers who were in the building, and, notwithstanding the severe cold, the ground covered with snow, and most of them poorly clad, having lost much of their wearing apparel, no sickness followed." (Campbell, 1907, p. 470). Margaret E. Campbell Margaret Elizabeth Campbell was born in West Newton (Westmoreland County southeast of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania on November 7, 1846 the sixth of 10 children of Mungo Dick Campbell and Maryann L. Mabon Campbell. In 1856, the family went by boat to Burlington, Iowa and settled in Monmouth, Illinois where Mungo Dick Campbell ran a grain elevator and coal business. The family lived at 513 South 4th Street in Monmouth and were active members of the United Presbyterian Church, initially the Second Church and later the Ninth Avenue Church. Margaret, as well as her brothers James and Robert, attended Monmouth College in the 1860s. The College had been founded in 1856 by the United Presbyterian Church as a liberal arts college with a firm religious base (Nurss, 1993, pp. 4-5). In 1903, Margaret was President of the Women's Missionary Society at Ninth Avenue United Presbyterian Church. She also was a delegate to the Women's General Missionary Society 20th Annual Convention held in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on May 12-15, 1903. She was nearly 57 years old when she went to Virginia to work at Thyne Institute. [Editor's note: My assumption is that, as the only unmarried daughter in the family, she stayed at home to care for her parents until they died in 1894-her mother in August at age 78 and her father in October at age 85.] In considering Margaret's motivation for going to Thyne Institute, it is interesting to speculate on the influence her older brother, Robert M. Campbell, may have had on her decision to work with Black children. She had been an active correspondent with him when he served in the Union Army during the Civil War, including the period when he was a Captain in charge of a regiment of "Colored" soldiers after Emancipation. He had frequently written to Maggie about attending the black soldiers' prayer meetings and especially enjoyed their singing. He also had been involved in setting up a school for the men in camp whenever possible to teach them to read and write. He hired teachers and requested Maggie to send spelling books for his school (Nurss, 1993, pp. 45-46). Robert had enlisted in the army for patriotic reasons with peer pressure and excitement as added factors (Nurss, 1993, p. 8). Her joined the black regiment "because he felt it was his duty and responsibility to do so for both his country and for the men he would be leading...[and] because it meant a promotion to the rank of captain which resulted in higher pay, greater responsibility, and greater prestige" (Nurss, 1993, p. 42). His later diaries do not mention "his attitude toward racial equality or his men's role in the war effort" (Nurss, 1993, p. 120). For Margaret, it appears that religious reasons were the primary motivation for her work at Thyne Institute. She, and the wider church, clearly saw her role as a missionary. She writes that the greatest factor upon which the success of work with the Junior Missionary Society depends is: "the work of the Holy Spirit...We may have bright boys and girls in our society; we may have rooms suitably arranged for our meetings; we may have maps, blackboards and other desirable equipments; we may have money at our command for books, magazines and other needed supplies; we may have time for studying new methods, preparing the lessons and visiting the children in their homes, and yet we may fail. These things are all very important but unless we have received from God His first and greatest gift, His Holy Spirit, and are willing to be led by Him, it will be of no avail" (Campbell, 1905, p. 140). Following her five years at Thyne Institute, Margaret Campbell returned to Monmouth where she died October 14,1936, three weeks short of her 90th birthday. Thyne Institute The United Presbyterian Church of North America, through its Board of Missions to the Freedmen, established Knoxville College and 16 other schools in Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Board had been established by the General Assembly in 1863 and the first school was organized in Nashville, Tennessee that same year. Several of the early missions, for one reason or another, had to be closed. In 1876 a normal school, Knoxville College, was opened in Tennessee. Also in 1876, Thyne Institute was opened in Chase City, Virginia to provide education and spiritual and moral training to Negro children. Summarizing the work of the Freedmen's Missions, Witherspoon (1910) quotes a report to the board: "The problem of the Negro is one that is discussed on every hand, and his place in the social, industrial, and political scale, especially, is more and more receiving the attention of thoughtful people throughout the land. Unfortunately, a great many whose intentions are good, and who have at heart the desire to uplift this race, are directing their efforts along lines that ignore the necessity of moral and spiritual foundations" (Witherspoon, p. 216). The Rev. J. Y. Ashenhurst of Chase City, Virginia petitioned the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1876 indicating that there was a great need for a mission to the Freedmen in the area. Mr. John Thyne offered 5 acres of land with his home for use as a school. In the first year there were 73 students enrolled with an average daily attendance of 40. A Sabbath School was also organized with 78 students enrolled. Mr. Thyne also offered to build a school on the property with materials provided by the church as "a good, comfortable home for missionaries" (United Presbyterian Church of North America, 1878, pp. 475-476). The following year the work was disrupted by opposition from a "colored" Baptist preacher who sought to be employed at the mission. The work continued, however, with the "prudent and careful" work of the missionary, Mr. J. J. Ashenhurst, and with the "help of the Lord" (United Presbyterian Church of North America, 1878, p.613). Thyne Institute was the only high school for Negroes in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. The first building built on the property was a two-story building with a chapel and three classrooms. The Rev. John A. Ramsey was director from 1881-1883, followed by the Rev. J. H. Veasey who served until 1893. During that time the school added a normal department (teacher training) and a primary training school, emphasized industrial work, and built a "Girls' Industrial Home" to house girls from long distances. The initial building (originally the Thyne's home) was destroyed by fire in 1883. "The building was insured and was soon replaced by another better adapted to the needs of the work" (McGranahan, 1904, p. 65). The Rev. J. M. Moore, Ph.D., became director in 1893 (Parker, 1977). The school continued to grow under his leadership, enrolling 335 in the Sabbath School and 332 in the day school with a monthly average attendance of 185 in 1903 (Board of Freedmen's Mission, 1904, p. 36). In 1904-5, the school year was severely interrupted by smallpox. The school was closed to day students for two months and, when it reopened, many of the students were afraid to return. By 1913, the school had an enrollment of 262 with 76 boarding students. For the first time the boys dormitory was full. The instruction continued to emphasize industrial work, agriculture, and domestic science. There were seven graduates all of whom were expected to teach or to take "some higher course." The school was recognized by the State Board of Education and the graduates were granted High School Certificates. There was a need for more qualified teachers, leading to the formation of a Normal School held on the premises during the summer for Thyne Institute teachers as well as teachers from elsewhere in the state (Board of Freedmen's Missions, 1913, pp. 16-17). Thyne Institute continued its work for the education of the Negro youth and for the moral and spiritual uplifting of the entire community until 1946. Mecklenburg County purchased the property and took over full support of the school running it as a public high school for black students (Stewart, 1950). When the local public schools were integrated in 1969, the school became the Chase City Primary School (Kindergarten-grade 3) (Bracey, 1977, p. 251). In the mid-80's the original Thyne Institute buildings were replaced by a new Chase City Elementary School (Kindergarten - grade 5) continuing education on the same land donated by John Thyne. Conclusion The Mission to the Freedmen by the United Presbyterian Church of North America established Thyne Institute, and its other schools as well, for the purpose of providing for the spiritual and moral welfare of Negro children. The goal was to provide general education of a very pragmatic sort--to prepare teachers and to teach specific skills such as industrial work, agriculture, domestic science, sewing, and general housekeeping. This approach to education fit well with the model proposed by Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama. Washington was praised by Andrew Carnegie as "the modern Moses who leads his race and lifts it through education to even better and higher things." United Presbyterians were encouraged to support the work of the Freedmen's Mission noting the success of Negroes such as Booker T. Washington, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Frederick Douglass, Henry Ossian Tanner, Granville T. Woods, and Elijah T. McCoy, all educated and successful Negroes of the time (Women's General Missionary Society, 1905, pp. 40-43). Margaret Campbell appears to have felt called to participate in the work of the United Presbyterian Church's Freedmen's Mission, to develop the spiritual and moral character of the students as well as to teach homemaking skills and provide religious instruction.. References Board of Freedman's Mission. (1904). Report of Secretary of Freedmen's Missions. Women's General Missionary Society, Board of Freedmen's Mission Report, United Presbyterian Church of North America,1903-1905, vol. 18, # 12, p. 36. Board of Freedman's Mission. (1906). Report of Secretary of Freedmen's Missions for the Year Ending April 15, 1906. In Women's General Missionary Society, Board of Freedmen's Mission Report, United Presbyterian Church of North America,1905-1906, vol. 19, # 12, pp. 538-542. Board of Freedmen's Missions of the United Presbyterian Church of North America. (1913). Our Southland Missions. Pittsburgh, PA: United Presbyterian Church of North America. Bracey, Susan L. (1977). Life by the Roaring Roanoke. Clarksville, VA: Prestwould Foundation. Campbell, Margaret E. (1905). Thyne Institute. Girls' Industrial Home. In Women's General Missionary Society, United Presbyterian Church of North America, vol. 18, # 12, p. 444. Campbell, Margaret E. (1906). Thyne Institute. Vincent Hall. In Women's General Missionary Society, United Presbyterian Church of North America,1905- 1906, vol. 19, # 12, p. 542. Campbell, Margaret E. (1907). Thyne Institute. Vincent Hall. In Women's General Missionary Society, United Presbyterian Church of North America,1906- 1907, vol. 20, # 12, pp. 470-471. McGranahan, Ralph W., Ed. (1904). Historical Sketch of the Freedmen's Mission of the United Presbyterian Church in North America, 1862-1904. Knoxville, TN: Knoxville College. Nurss, Kristin L. (1993). Robert M. Campbell: Civil War Diaries. Unpublished graduate research paper. Cooperstown, NY: State University of New York at Cooperstown. Parker, Inez M. (1977). Rise & Decline of the Program of Education for Black Presbyterians of the United Presbyterian Church U. S. A., 1965-1970. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press. Stewart, Archibald K. (1950). May We Introduce... Negro Missions. Pittsburgh, PA: The Board of American Missions, United Presbyterian Church of North America. United Presbyterian Church of North America. (1878). Minutes of the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, 1874-1878, vol. 4. Pittsburgh: United Presbyterian Board of Publications. United Presbyterian Church of North America. Board of Missions to the Freedmen. (1904). Minutes, 1894-1904, vol. 3, pp. 174-175. United Presbyterian Church of North America. Board of Missions to the Freedmen. (1911). Minutes, 1904-1911, vol. 4, pp. 49-50, 84-86, 122. Witherspoon, J. W. (1910). The Christian Education of the Negro. In Hartshorn, W. N., Ed. & Penniman, George W., Assoc. Ed. (1910). An Era of Progress & Promise: 1863-1910. The Religious, Moral, & Educational Development of the American Negro Since His Emancipation. Pp. 215-216 + 227. Boston, MA: The Priscilla Publishing Co. Women's General Missionary Society (1905). A Plea for the Negro. Women's General Missionary Society, United Presbyterian Church of North America, vol. 18, pp. 40-43. Joanne R. Nurss (great-great niece) Decatur, Georgia May 1999