Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

A history of the Male and Female High School

By Mike Watson
First published in "An Adair County History", 2001

The cornerstone of Male & Female High was laid on 15 May 1854 by the stockholders of the Columbia College Joint Stock Company and supporters of education in the town of Columbia. The company was organized 12 February 1853 to establish what was then called the Columbia Institute.

The stockholders were: Robert T. Coffey, president, Junius Caldwell, secretary, Nathan Montgomery, treasurer, Zachariah Wheat, Timoleon Cravens, Thomas E. Bramlette, Josiah Harris, Thomas P. Akers, Edgar B. Gaither, Elijah Creel Field, Hector Owen, Clayton Miller, H.G. Atkins, Eli Wheat, S.D. Johnson, John W. Moss, William T. Price, C.J. Taylor, G.W. McBeath, Nathan Montgomery, M.B. Wheat, Samuel Brents Field, William E. Frazer, Joseph Z. Wheat, Sinclair Wheat, Willis Wheat, William E. Baker, William N. Robinson, William H. Walker, Samuel G. Suddarth, C.M. Wheat, H.W. Wilson, J.G. Taylor, C.T. Langhorne, James L. Johnston, Samuel H. Murrell, G.A. Wheat, Samuel M. Baker, Thomas Rhodes Dohoney, William Trabue, N.S. Wheeler, R.T. Coffey, Jonathan Jones, Edward T. Halsall, George Dohoney and William R. Dohoney.

Persons making contributions toward the new school included: Hugh Kelso, H.C. White, William Todd, Lysander Walker, James Murrell, Josiah Hatcher, L.K. Caldwell, Hugh K. Walker, Archibald Woods of Grayson County, Milton Dohoney, Jonathan Johnston, George B. Moss, N.B. Stone, John W. Johnston, Joseph Coffey, William C. Turk, Jesse Stone, Creel C. Yates, James R. Murrell, William O. Murrell, Willis Murrell, William D. Murrell, Thomas W. Montgomery, Mrs. Susan Dohoney, R.L. Jones, Minor Anderson, Marion McElroy, John R. Stone, Robert Eubank, William Garnett, Oscar Pile, Thomas C. Baker, Robert Lyon, Samuel Young, Melvin Smith, James T. Bramlette, William L. Bramlette, Henry Holladay, Milton Harris, Miss Ellen Field, William H. Alexander, Thomas E. Moss, Mrs. Elizabeth Emma Wheat, Ben B. White, John C. White, E.L. Dohoney, Miss Alice Morgan, Thomas J. Cownover, Isaac Cravens and Thomas Cravens.

The first class at M & F, in 1854, included the following students in the Female Department: Margaret W. Atkins, Bettie W. Russell, Nannie E. Moss, Mary E. Montgomery, Ella Montgomery, Lucilis Montgomery, Mollie Atkins, Sophia Wheat, Laura Wheat, Anna Wheat, Mary Stewart, Josephine Stewart, Sallie Stewart, Louisea Robinson, Bettie Robinson, Alice Trabue, Lucy Trabue, Mary F. Jones, Rebecca Erskine, Nannie Bridgewater, Mary Bridgewater, Mary Williams, Fanny Coffey, S.A. Wilson, Bettie Walker, Mary I. Conover, Phebe S. Conover, Eliza Conover, Ann Field, Sarah E. Miller, Elizabeth Coates, Fannie Coates, Mary L. Coates, Betty Smith, Mary Smith, Phebe Smith, Mary Jane Murrell, Lucy Miller, Sarah Garnett, Margaret Owen, Eliza McBeath, Amanda C. Jones, Corinna Peebles, Eliza Todd, Mary Walker, Nannie Lyon, Sarah Feese, L. Carter, Dollie Walker, Stapp Coffey, Mary Cabell, Bettie Cabell, Sarah Williams, Sabina Gough, Sarah Gilmer, Fanny Hatcher and Sallie A. Johnston. The female department was under the charge of Miss Alice Morgan, principal, and Miss Peebles, assistant.

The Male Department students were: F.O. Anderson, J.T. Bramlette, W.L. Bramlette, C.A. McBeath, King McBeath, J.R. Wheat, Jos. Harris, M.E. Harris, J.V. Harris, Alfred Harris, Ed Harris, Robert Peebles, Z. Holladay, M. Smith, Th. D. Montgom-ery, Ed Butler, W.H. Alexander, James M. Coates, Knox Russell, T.J. Godby, Ebenezer Dohoney, Th. Moss, Jno. R. Price, W.P. Hardin, W.W. Coffey, Adair Waggoner, Luther Jones, George Field, W.G. Field, B.L. Hardin, J.D. Thomas, Rufus Murrell, Joseph Atkins, Eugene Triplett, J.B. McBeath, Joel Smith, John Suddarth, Joseph Coffey, Scott Walker, and Th. Wilson. The male department was under the charge of B.T. Taylor and S.K. Caldwell, principals.

The school was conveyed by the joint stock company to Trustees appointed by Transylvania Presbytery. The first school under their management was opened in 1855.

The trustees were: Thomas E. Bramlette, T.T. Alexander, Timoleon Cravens, Dr. Samuel B. Field, Col. Robert Miller and Josiah Harris. Rev. John L. McKee, graduate of Centre College and Princeton Seminary, was chosen as principal. He was very popular and the school prospered under his management. He left Columbia in 1859 and later served as vice president at Centre in Danville.

M & F High would continue to operate until 1908 when the new Graded School was established. The property was deeded to the Graded School district.

The original cornerstone of the old M & F building was unearthed in the 1950s when work was being completed in preparation for the construction of a new gymnasium for the Columbia and Adair County High School. An iron box containing articles of incorporation for the Joint Stock Company, copies of the Bible, Webster's Elementary Spelling Book, Smith's Elementary Arithmetic, Morton and Griswold's Western Farmer's Almanac of 1854, and the above lists of names were continued therein.

This story was posted on 2023-03-15 15:23:49
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.

Marker designates Male & Female High School site in Columbia

2023-03-14 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
This historical marker near the top of the hill on Guardian Street in Columbia tells the story of school at this location in the later 1800s. The words read, "The Columbia College Joint Stock Company formed in 1853 to build the M & F School. It was conveyed to trustees appointed by Transylvania Presbytery and opened in 1855. The building was a Union Camp during the Civil War. Classes resumed after the war. In 1908 a public grade and high school replaced the M & F School on the same site." "

On the opposite side were these words about the rock steps under the historical marker: "Student Parking In The 1850s -- This horse-mounting block is a survivor from many that were along this road and in the field beyond. Houses built in the early 1900s now occupy former pastures where horses grazed while their riders attended the M & F School on the hill. This subscription school provided both boys and girls a quality high school education."

Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.

Male and Female High School

2023-03-15 - Columbia, KY - Photo courtesy Mike Watson.
Mike writes, "A period postcard of Male and Female--or M & F--High School, Columbia. This was the original structure from the 1850s that eventually evolved into Columbia High, and later the Junior High School after the new High School was built on Greensburg Street in the 1950s."

Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.

The Columbia Male and Female High School, ca 1855

2023-03-15 - Danville, KY - Photo from Mike Watson.
An advertisement from The Kentucky Tribune, Danville, KY, 27 July 1855.

Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.