North Carolina Education - Orange County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1752

Orange County

Hillsborough
In 1766, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter XV - to rename Childsburg to Hillsborough and that the trustees shall set aside "lots as shall or may be thought necessary, to be reserved by the directors of the said town and their successors, for erecting thereon a church and school."
In 1779, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter XXIX - naming and authorizing trustees to build and manage a Seminary or Academy in the neighborhood of Hillsborough to be named Science Hall.
In 1784, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter XLI - that due to circumstances (the American Revolution) many of the trustees for Science Hall are no longer alive or in the state, then new trustees are appointed and the previous Act is hereby repealed. The legislature authorized the old Episcopal Church in Hillsborough to be repaired/rebuilt for use as a church by all denominations on alternating Sundays, and to be used during the week as a new school.
In 1789, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter XX - to establish a University within the State. Trustees were named and authorized to elect a President, a Secretary, and a Trearurer. They were then authorized to select the permanent location for said University.
In 1789, the North Carolina General Assembly also passed an Act - Chapter XXI - authorizing several methods by which the State Treasurer could raise funds to help pay for the buildings and staff for the new University of North Carolina.
 
 

Hillsborough Academy is a name shared by a number of schools in the town of Hillsborough. The first school, never having thrived, operated in an old Anglican Church from 1785 until 1790. The second was established in Hillsborough by 1801. The trustees in 1801 included Walter Alves, William Kirkland, William Whitted, William Cain, and Duncan Cameron. The academy, led by Reverend Andrew Flinn and “a proper assistant,” offered the classics, English, reading, writing, mathematics, geography, bookkeeping, “and the plainer branches of mathematics.” Reverend William Bingham (1754-1826), a native of Ireland who was educated in Scotland, became principal in 1813, but departed by 1815 in order to establish his own school. Known as Mount Repose, Bingham’s school was about 10 miles from Hillsborough in what is now Alamance County.

The second Hillsborough Academy was named the official preparatory school for the University of North Carolina in 1819, the university having withdrawn its own such offerings. It was co-educational until 1824, when the Hillsborough Female Academy was incorporated. Hillsborough Academy’s longest serving principal was William J. Bingham (1802-1866), son of the Reverend and former principal. Bingham held the post from 1827 until 1844, at which time he, like his father before, left to open a school at the Oaks, northwest of Chapel Hill. In 1834, the academy’s trustees praised Bingham as a man “whose well known reputation as a classical scholar and peculiar tact of imparting instruction, has given reputation to this School, which is second to none in the southern States.”

In 1845, the Caldwell Institute absorbed the struggling Hillsborough Academy, moving to the campus to escape a typhoid fever epidemic in Greensboro. The institute prospered for a time, but it too closed in 1850. The following year, Hillsborough Academy was revived by Benjamin R. Huske and Ralph Henry Graves. The school operated until 1858. The facilities were used by the nascent Hillsborough Military Academy from 1859 until 1860 while its campus was constructed.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

 
 
 

The Reverend William Bingham (1754-1826), a native of Ireland who was educated in Scotland, became principal of the Hillsborough Academy in 1813, but departed by 1815 in order to establish his own school. Bingham wished to raise his children in the country. Known as Mount Repose, Bingham’s school was about ten miles northwest of Hillsborough in Orange County at the time, and in what is now Alamance Coounty. At Mount Repose, the thirty-five to forty male pupils lived and studied in log cabins. The school’s classic curriculum and reputation for academic excellence drew students from as far away as Louisiana.

When Reverend Bingham died in 1826, his son, William James Bingham (1802-1866), finished out the year as principal at Mount Repose and then closed the school in order to take the helm of the Hillsborough Academy. He remained there until 1844 when, like his father before, he left to open a school at Oaks, west of Chapel Hill.

The Bingham family, including Reverend William Bingham, William James Bingham, and his sons William and Robert Bingham, was an important force in education in North Carolina for over one hundred years. The various schools with which the Binghams were associated were often called Bingham School, making it appear that one campus was moved from place to place over the years.

In chronological order, the schools were: 1) Hillsborough Academy, located in Hillsborough, served by the Reverend William Bingham, 1813 to about 1815; 2) Mount Repose, operated by Reverend William Bingham, ca. 1815 to 1827 (his son William James Bingham served a partial final year); 3) Hillsborough Academy, served by William James Bingham, 1827-1844; 4) Mount Repose, located in Alamance County, served by the Reverend William Bingham, 1815-1826, and by William James Bingham to close out 1826 school year; and 5) W. J. Bingham’s Select School or Oaks (later Bingham School), initially opened at Oaks, in western Orange County.

The latter operated at Oaks until William Bingham (1835-1873), William James Bingham’s son, took over as principal, incorporated it as Bingham School, and moved the campus to Mebaneville (present-day Mebane) in 1864. When his brother William died in 1873, Robert Bingham became principal of the Bingham School. He moved the campus to Asheville, in Buncombe County, in 1891, where it remained, closing the year after Robert’s death in 1927.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click here to read and to view their sources.

Classical academy est. at Oaks in 1844 by Wm. J. Bingham. Added military focus, moved to Mebane, 1864. Campus was here.

William James Bingham was born in Chapel Hill in 1802, while his father Reverend William Bingham taught briefly at the University of North Carolina. The elder Bingham went on to serve as principal at Hillsborough Academy from 1813 until about 1815, when he left in order to establish his own school. Known as Mount Repose, Bingham’s school was about 10 miles from Hillsborough in what is now Alamance Coounty. When Reverend Bingham died in 1826, William James finished out the year as principal at Mount Repose and then closed the school in order to take the helm of Hillsborough Academy. He remained there until 1844 when, like his father before, he left to open a school at Oaks, northwest of Chapel Hill, near present-day Carrboro.

An 1844 Hillsborough Recorder advertisement for the new school at Oaks, stated Bingham’s “leading motive is to educate his own sons in the country; and his selection has been made with special reference to this object.” He built a brick school building with a brick-columned piazza near his farmhouse. An entirely private academy, Bingham advertised his venture as “Select Classical and Mathematical School” and later as “W. J. Bingham’s Select School.” Although his school may have been known informally as the Bingham School, that name was not adopted until 1864.

For his academy, Bingham accepted boys from ten to fourteen years old. Enrollment at the Oaks campus ranged from thirty to sixty pupils, with applications usually far exceeding the number of available seats. The school’s reputation as a classical academy attracted students from elite families who were willing to pay the annual tuition of $80, a fee that placed Oaks among the most expensive preparatory schools in the country. Willam James Bingham’s sons William and Robert joined their father as teachers at the Oaks and by 1857 it became known as “W. J. Bingham and Sons Select School.” The elder Bingham taught the preliminary courses with his sons taking care of the advanced levels.

During the American Civil War, the health of the younger William prevented him from serving in the regular army, though he eventually rose to militia colonel. Robert enlisted in early 1862, leaving William and his father, in declining health, to run the Oaks. William assumed daily operation of the school by 1864, and in December moved the campus to Mebaneville, closer to the railroad for easier access to supplies and travel for students. When William incorporated his Bingham School in 1864 it became a “military and classical academy.”

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

Boys' military academy operated by William & Robert Bingham. Moved here from Oaks, 1865. Moved to Asheville, 1891.

Never robust, William Bingham died in 1873 at age thirty-seven. Robert Bingham took over the school, guiding it for the next fifty-four years, through three devastating fires, internal strife regarding administration, and a long-distance move. Robert moved the Bingham School campus to Asheville in 1891, leaving William’s widow to operate an academy that she named The William Bingham School. The Bingham School prospered in Asheville, closing the year after Robert Bingham’s death in 1927.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

 

Joseph Dunn Hughes (1785-1844), a farmer with a limited education, lived near the Cedar Grove community in northern Orange County. Wishing to create advantages for the young people thereabouts (among them his own fourteen children), he personally taught them the rudiments. One of his sons, Samuel Wellwood Hughes, also took lessons at the Bingham Academy in nearby Hillsborough, furthering his education at Hampden Sydney College in Virginia. In 1845, he opened his own classical school for boys and taught there until his death in 1884.

Samuel Wellwood Hughes modeled his school on the Bingham School plan. An advertisement in a Hillsborough newspaper in 1855 made clear the terms of the school: courses in Latin and Greek could be had for $20, and tuition in English would run $12.50. The session would begin on January 7th and board for the full session of twenty-one weeks would run $40. The number of pupils was generally around thirty-five to forty. Students included many from the most prominent families of North Carolina among them George T. Winston, Patrick H. Winston, William T. Dortch, and D. I. Craig. Others came from as far away at Texas and Iowa. Two teachers were employed, Samuel Hughes and one other. The school ceased with Hughes’s death caused by a series of strokes. Students are said to have gathered around their teacher’s bedside for their lessons after he was first stricken.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

 
 
 
 


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