A box of old pictures, journals, diaries, programs and catalogs found
last summer by Colonel Wesley P. Smith, president of Lyman Ward
Military Academy, instantly provided not only In pictures, but words as well a graphic and somewhat complete history of the Academy from its inception I until the present.
For example, from the box came a small pamphlet entitled "Prospectus" which is dated 1901 and is the earliest dated piece of literature in the 2,000 or so pieces. A sub-title shows the pamphlet to be a publication of "The Southern Industrial Institute, Camp Hill, Alabama."
The apparent author of the work is Rev. Lyman Ward, B.S., listed only as president.
In a section of the pamphlet entitled "General Information," one finds this first statement: "The Southern Industrial Institute was opened September
21, 1898, and was chartered by the General Assembly of Alabama, February 8, 1901. It is entirely undenominational, and is for the training of white youth-both boys and girls-in all useful industries, and in primary and academic courses. It is not a State school, but is governed by a private corporation, consisting of seventeen members, representing different sects, and is supported through the benefactions of public-spirited citizens from all parts of the country."
The mentioned trustees included men from Camp Hill, Ariosto, Alabama; Montgomery; Dudleyville, Ala.; and Presley, Ala. In addition there is listed a trustee from Chicago; a Rev. S. H. Roblin, D. D. of Boston; a Mr. H. D. Ewing, Esq., of New York City; and a Mr. M. M. Teague, Esq., of Mountville, S. C.
The academic courses Dr. Ward mentioned were taught in 1901 by a Rev. Frank Oscar Hellier, Ph.D., who was in charge of Greek and the Sciences; and presumably his wife, Jane Connell Hellier, Ph.D., who taught Latin and English. Other instructors included one other in English; one in mathematics and two women instructors in the primary department. W. T. Langley of Camp Hill was in charge of farming operations.
Today, Lyman Ward Military Academy, the name it assumed in 1955, is, of course, a college preparatory high school offering military for male students only. And, of course, changes in history since 1901 have caused changes in the purposes of the school. From the 1901 pamphlet: "Our Purpose: To help deserving young men and women to help themselves. The school aims to do just two things-provide a course of study and provide a way for any boy or girl to pursue such course of study.
This will give the student a self-reliance that nothing else will. This is not a school of technology, nor is it a school of liberal arts. It is a school that undertakes to make it possible for earnest, industrious youth to win an education and learn some useful trade, with the outlay of but little money. The most that is necessary is the willing heart and obedient hand.
Too many, far too many, of our youth are denied the privileges of even the elements of an English education for the want of means. Without giving them money directly, but by the skillful use of the industrial system, this school seeks to help at all times (rural) youth of slender means."
Few rural southern youth of the time had access to any type of formal classroom education beyond primary or elementary levels. So, one can see that Dr. Ward's establishment of a Southern Industrial Institute (or private high school) was quite a rarity. And one of his most pressing problems was the enrollment of youth because of a lack of money. According to other records contained in the files, much of the cost of operation for the school was covered by outstanding contributions and gifts of northern philanthropists who either were personal friends of
Dr. Ward (He was born, raised and educated in the Boston area) or were contacted by slow mails and many frequent visits by him. His journal and diary entries reflect many trips to the East in attempts to solicit financial help for his southern school.
However, Dr. Ward believed that the individual student attending his school should make some attempt to help himself financially. From "Prospectus": "Expenses: Tuition is twenty dollars a year. Each student is required to pay five dollars to the Treasurer as an entrance fee. The remaining fifteen dollars must be paid at the end of each quarter. Board is eight dollars per month. This includes fuel and lights. Books may be had from the school agent for cash. The charge for the year ranges from five to ten dollars. No book accounts are kept."
Following is this paragraph: "Students without means, at the convenience of the faculty, may work at certain productive industries, thereby earning enough to partially pay term bills. Students, by great thrift and economy,
have been able to earn nearly enough to defray the whole year's expenses. Wages are five and six cents per hour, and in rare cases the student may earn more... Farming, sawmilling and carpentering are among the industries in operation. A laundry is to be opened this year (1901)."
Apparently Dr. Ward opened the school on land which be already owned or, at least, was able to buy. "The school is situated just out of the village of Camp Hill, on a beautiful plantation of four hundred acres of land.
There are no superior schools (high schools) in the vicinity, and the large outlying rural districts make a school of this sort an advantage, and almost a necessity."
In 1901 there were only three buildings on the campus-Dr. and Mrs.
Ward's ante-bellum residence, where some of the students boarded; a much smaller farmhouse called "The Shack" where twelve male students lived; and a large acaden1ic and general purpose building called "College Hall," which students built entirely of wood cut fron1 the can1pus woods and sawed in the campus sawmill. The building, which burned in 1925, occupied the area where Ross Hall now sits. The Ward residence, razed in the 1950's because of cost of upkeep, was dubbed quite early as "The Haunted House" by students of the time. No doubt current feelings by cadets of ghosts on the LWMA campus had its earlier origins in this myth.