| It's a shame
that Patroon didn’t last. But in a way, it may have been best. Its
stern, no-nonsense college would have never survived in modern times.
Patroon’s Patroon College, remembered today only as a forest
intersection in southeastern Shelby
County, had one of the shortest academic careers in East
Texas (less than four years), but it made a profound impression
on its students.
College officials set down a stiff set of rules and expected their
pupils to obey.
Consider holidays: “We promise none of the following: Thanksgiving,
Christmas, New Year’s Day, Arbor Day, San Jacinto Day. We shall continue
our regular school work during Christmas Week, and we trust our patrons
will not send for their children to go home during this time. A few
days out of school, and especially during Christmas,
will have the tendency to demoralize students and make them lose an
interest in their studies.”
There was some consultation. Prices were cheap. Students could attend
the college for as little as four dollars a month.
was founded in 1893 by the Disciples of Christ on a hill overlooking
Patroon, a peaceful farming community. But it was gone by 1897,
the victim of denominational friction and a lack of money.
settlement of Patroon, located on the banks of Patroon Creek
seventeen miles southeast of Center,
reaches back to the 1820s when Dutch settlers from the West Indies
settled in what is now New York State, calling the area the New
They supposedly gave the community its name, but another version
is that the settlement was named for the Patroon Indians.
The Indians supposedly were known as the Nurschturbie tribe, but
became known as the Nurschocogean Indians when they lived on the
Mississippi River. There are believed to be at least ten different
spellings of the name.
The Patroon community was likely founded just before the Civil War.
One of the community’s earliest settlers was James Harrison, a native
of New Jersey who came to Texas in
1823 and settled on Patroon Creek.
A post office was established in 1868 at Patroon with William Duffee
as the postmaster. In 1884 Patroon had a population of twenty. During
the 1890s, however, the farm population in the area increased, and
sawmills were established to utilize the abundant timber of the
By 1896 the
community had a hotel, a sawmill, a grist mill, a cotton gin, several
stores, three churches, and Patroon College. At that time the town’s
population was estimated at 150.
of Patroon College in the l890s by D.A. Leak and R.H. Bonham was
considered one of the most ambitious efforts in Shelby
County. The institution had 300 pupils at one time.
By 1914 Patroon’s population was around 250 but received a surge
in its growth with the operation of Pickering Lumber Company at
nearby Haslam in the l920s and 1930s.
Bob Bowman's East Texas
5, 2010 Column
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
Copyright Bob Bowman
County map showing Patroon (SE of Center)
From Texas state map #10749
Texas General Land Office
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