Ladies and gentlemen, while we were taking a stroll around the town in 1935 last time, I stumbled upon a newspaper from Oct. 6, 1935 – some 87 years ago. It contained an article that took up an entire page (Page 40 of a 68-page edition) that caught my eye.

The piece was penned by Marjorie Reed and contained six photos in that Dayton newspaper that was entitled, “There’s history in those Highland County hills” and encouraged readers “to include the delightful little city of Hillsboro in one of your Sunday afternoon drives.”

So, who is/was Marjorie Reed? Good question. She wrote a rather elegant article on Highland County history in that newspaper edition, but a little bit of digging led me to believe it didn’t appear she was a regular writer. Apparently, the name Marjorie was more common back then, as Find a Grave has many listings for Marjorie Reed who could have possibly written the piece. If you enjoy this type of history sleuthing and can figure out who this particular Marjorie Reed was, please let me know.

I won’t detail everything Marjorie had to say about Highland County back in 1935, but what she wrote on early education I found rather interesting – and maybe you might, as well.

She wrote, “Those interested in education established a school in which enrollment was made by private subscription. Later there were public schools. … In the early year of the 19th century, Hillsborough expanded educationally far ahead of the times. A few of its citizens, realizing the worth of higher education, rejoiced in the establishment of ‘The Hillsborough Academy,’ whose doors were opened to boys only. The Rev. Joseph McDowell Mathews, a Kentucky minister, founded the institution, serving as its director later was the famous educator, Isaac Sams. He prepared men for college or positions ‘out in the world.’ Frederic Fuller succeeded Mr. Sams and carried on the work until 1853, when the board of education of Hillsborough applied to the trustees of the academy for use of their buildings. Union schools occupied them until 1858, when they were destroyed by fire caused by piling wood around the stove at night.

“It was in 1839 that Hillsboro took a long step forward. Then, under the direction of the Rev. Mathews, higher education was offered to young women through the establishment of ‘The Oakland Female Seminary.’

“So unusual at that early date was it for a community to be interested in higher education for young women, and so excellent the instruction, that ‘The Oakland Female Seminary’ attracted many pupils from different states.”

Marjorie didn’t mention this, but the Oakland Female Seminary was originally located at the Y intersection of the Marshall and Chillicothe roads on which stood the old Presbyterian Church. It continued under the management of the Rev. Mathews until the trustees of the Hillsboro Female College, who had formed a corporation in 1855 and built a new modern college between Main and West Walnut at Oak Street, elected him president of its literary collegiate departments. The new facility was 50 by 90 feet, three stories high, with an L-shape, 40 by 75 feet, two stories high.

Now, we’ll get back to Margorie and detail the eight laws of the boarding house of the Oakland Female Seminary, but let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a board member of the Highland District Hospital Foundation, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at [email protected]