North Carolina Education - Vance County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1881

Vance County

Henderson

The Bingham School has the distinction of being the first military school in the state of North Carolina. Once located in what became Vance County near Williamsborough (then in Granville County), the academy sometimes has been confused with the nationally famous Bingham School. Both were private classical institutions that educated many elite North Carolinians in the 19th century.

Capt. D. H. Bingham founded his Bingham School, formed to offer military training, in 1826. The institution was created to satisfy the need for more accessible education for aspiring military officers. A contemporary North Carolina newspaper, The Star, recorded, “The want of such an institution in the Southern States must be apparent to all, when the difficulty of obtaining admission into the Academy at West Point, from the number of its Students being restricted, and the distance . . . are taken into consideration.”

The military and science academy opened in January of 1827 and, according to the Raleigh Register, offered courses that included history, English, Latin, astronomy, geometry, as well as military law, navigation, artillery engineering and tactics. Bingham acted as the school’s superintendent and the head instructor was Capt. Partridge, an officer who had served with the French Army. The institution’s presence in Williamsborough was short-lived, as it was moved to Littleton in 1829. By the end of that year it moved again to Oxford, back in Granville County.

The Star would grow more critical of the Bingham School over time. The paper criticized the academy in its February 17, 1831 edition, determining that it was unfit to provide appropriate and classical education to its youth. “The Oxford Academy is unquestionably destitute of all those opportunities and advantages indispensable to afford a good education. As regards resources, it is not worth one single cent beyond the proceeds of the Cadets. It has no libraries, scarcely any apparatus and not sufficient buildings for the comfortable accommodation of a large number of persons.”

The paper went on to imply that the connection to the qualified Captain Partridge was nominal at best. “He perhaps makes a flying visit to Oxford once a year, and the Cadets are scarcely warmed by a solitary ray from this sun of science.” The Star also described the four main instructors as unfit to educate the students, as three were too young to be good leaders for students. It was rationalized they did not have enough life experience to truly educate as mentors to other younger men.

Bingham announced the academy’s move to Raleigh in the Raleigh Register in 1831. However, in 1833, Bingham himself left the school and the state, being offered an engineering position on the Dale Town, Woodville & Greensborough Rail Road in Alabama. The military school was taken over by Col. Carter Jones who taught light infantry tactics and cavalry movements. Three years later he moved the school to Wilmington where it operated briefly.

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

On March 7, 1887, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Kittrell Industrial Normal School, a school for colored males, in the village of Kittrell in Vance County. Thirty-two (32) trustees were named in the Act. This Act was amended on January 30, 1889; see below. In 1901, it was renamed to Kittrell College. Closed in 1931. Re-opened in 1934 until 1948. Operated as a high school 1953-1965 and as a college 1953-1975. Closed permanently in 1975.
On January 30, 1889, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the earlier Act of March 7, 1887 (above) concerning the Kittrell Industrial Normal School in the village of Kittrell in Vance County. Thirty-two (32) trustees were named in this Act, and the name was given as Kittrell Normal and Industrial Institute. The school was authorized assets up to $500,000; land up to 100 acres to be tax exempt. This Act was again amended on March 1, 1897; see below.
In the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the scholastic years of 1889 and 1890, it was reported that there were four (4) private schools for white children and one (1) private school for colored children in Vance County. The private schools for white children were:

Private School

Town/Village

Principal

No. of Students

Townesville School

Townesville

Rev. Carr Moore

25

Middleburg School

Middleburg

Miss Mamie Kimball

21

Henderson Male Academy

Henderson

M.V. Savage

30 males

Henderson Female Academy

Henderson

Mrs. Horner & Mrs. Parham

35 females
The singular private school for colored children was:

Private School

Town/Village

Principal

No. of Students

Kittrell Normal & Industrial School

Kittrell

John R. Hawkins

140
On March 9, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the qualified voters in the town of Henderson in Vance County to decide whether to levy a special tax to fund a graded school in the town of Henderson.
On February 20, 1897, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the qualifed voters in the town of Henderson in Vance County to decide whether to levy a special tax to fund a system of graded schools in the town of Henderson. Five (5) trustees were named for the white school and five (5) trustees were named for the colored school.
On March 1, 1897, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the earlier Act of January 30, 1889 (above) concerning the Kittrell Industrial Normal School in the village of Kittrell in Vance County. The name was changed to Kittrell Institute.
 
 


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