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Washita County, Oklahoma


The Reformed (Dutch) Church had a parish house in Cordell, toward which Miss Helen Gould gave the first four hundred dollars.

The Reformed Church in America has emphasized higher education, throughout its history; and, soon after the beginning of the work in Oklahoma it was felt wise to establish an academy.

In 1904 the cities of Cordell and Arapaho offered twenty acres of land and five thousand dollars in money if the academy should be located in either place. The Board of Education of the Reformed Church appointed commissioners chose Cordell as the location for the academy. Friends and churches contributed almost $17,000 toward the academy. The official name was "Cordell Academy of the Reformed Church in America." The school building was the "Charles Nash Harder Memorial."

The corner stone of the academy was laid in February, 1906. On September 12 of this year the school was opened, under the direction of the Board of Education of the Reformed Church. Sixty-five were enrolled the first year.

The teaching force for the year was: Myron B. Keator, A. B., Principal, graduate of New York University and New York Law School; Harold C. Amos, Assistant Principal, New York State Normal School; Laura B. Hilger, Preceptress, Texas State Normal School; Pamela Bullock, Salina Normal University; Valonia Corley, Western Conservatory of Music; and the Rev. Cornelius H. Spaan, A. B., Hope College, and Princeton University.

A local Board of Trustees was formed, composed of Superintendent of Missions Walter C. Roe, the Principal of the Academy, the two pastors of the Reformed Churches of Cordell and Arapaho, and three laymen, two of whom must be members of the Reformed Church in America. The laymen were John I. Lee, C. T. Murrell, and Dr. J. R. Mansell.

The tuition was six dollars a quarter, thus placing the advantages offered within the reach of the poorest.

B. B. Andrews, M. D., Ph. D., of Cordell, presented the academy with a fine Natural History Collection.

In 1907-8 the school enrollment reached 74.

In 1908 Principal Keator resigned, and was succeeded by the Rev. Jacob Poppen, Ph. D. At this time the school had six instructors beside the Principal.

The faculty and students of this young academy were so enterprising that they had a school paper.

Alfred Cherry was the first graduate of the institution, in 1907. He continued his studies in Yale University, from which he graduated. Mrs. A. R. Ash, now of Cordell, was the second graduate of the academy, in 1908. The same year there was one business graduate. Miss Helen Gould gave a Bible to each graduate of the academy. Owen Frederick Renegar gradated from Cordell Academy.

In 1910 the Classis of Oklahoma took the academy under its care, the Board of Education still continuing substantial financial support.

For five years the school did excellent work with its students, who numbered from 50 to 75 per year. In 1910, however, the Board of Domestic Missions came to the conclusion that, a lack of members of this denomination moving into the new state; and other denominations in Oklahoma were ministering well to the population; the Reformed Church should retire from Oklahoma.

In 1911 the Board of Education reported "our Board voted to close Cordell Academy at the end of the present school year, May 31st., and to sell the property."

After the resignation of Dr. Poppen as Principal, Rev. C. H. Spaan succeeded him for one year, 1910-11. This was the last year of the academy's existence, under Reformed Church supervision.

In the year 1911-12 the school work was continued on a cooperative basis with the Southern Presbyterian Church, which did not prove to be satisfactory. The Board sold the property to the City of Cordell.

During 1940s an Alumni Association of graduates of Cordell Academy was formed at a reception in the Wells-Roberts Hotel, Oklahoma City,-a gathering in honor of Harold C. Amos, first Assistant Principal, home on furlough from Tokio, Japan, where he was Principal of the American School. The President of the Association is Maurice Foster, Oklahoma City, and the Secretary Mrs. A. R. Ash, Cordell.


  1. Harper, Richard H. "The Missionary Work Of The Reformed (Dutch) Church In America, In Oklahoma." Chronicles of Oklahoma June 1941. 21 Aug 2003 <http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v019/v019p170.html>.

  2. Thoburn, Joseph B., A Standard History of Oklahoma, An Authentic Narrative of its Development, 5 v. (Chicago, New York: The American Historical Society, 1916). 21 Aug 2003 OKGenWeb Bios <http://www.okgenweb.net/books/thoburn/>

Contributed by Marti Graham, August 2003. Information posted as courtesy to researchers. The contributor is not related to nor researching any of the families mentioned.


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