Bridgewater College book cover 113019

Those interested in further study of long-defunct Daleville College were directed from here last week to the Bridgewater College library’s special collections section . Ample files and artifacts populate the Daleville collection there.

Sound advice though it may be to travel north to seek out this history, the collection has been shelved in temporary quarters pending completion of a library expansion construction project early in 2020.

Meanwhile, thanks to special collections librarian Stephanie Gardner, a digital copy of Francis Fry Wayland’s “Bridgewater College: The First 100 Years 1880-1980” is at our disposal.

Until access to primary source material in the collection is available to the public (a prior appointment with Gardner is essential to that end), we will endeavor to whet the historical appetite. The chapter titled “The Presidency of Paul Haynes Bowman 1919-1946” is the basis of this sketch.

To review a previously reported chronology, Daleville College opened in 1890 as Botetourt Normal School for primary school instruction of the Layman and Nininger families, prominent members of the local Church of the Brethren community.

The school would operate for periods of time at all 12 primary and secondary grade levels, as well as a four-year college and then two-year junior college until 1933. In that year, the institution consolidated with the larger Church of the Brethren four-year college affiliate at Bridgewater and so ended as an independent school.

The Daleville absorption was part of a larger consolidation of affiliated institutions in Virginia and elsewhere. One was a sister school in Prince William County seat Nokesville called Hebron Seminary. That school operated as a primary as well as college preparatory institution that served families primarily from Northern Virginia but also eastern portions of the state. It opened in 1909 and joined with Bridgewater in 1921.

“The affiliation of Hebron with Bridgewater was the first step in the achievement of President Bowman’s objective of closer cooperation and federation of the Church of the Brethren schools in the southeastern region of the United States,” Wayland wrote.

Hebron had been founded largely through the labors of clergyman and educator Isaac Newton Harvey Beahm (1859-1950), its first principal. Beahm had leadership experience as first principal at Daleville Normal, having been hired for that post away from the nearby Roanoke school system.

Hebron trustees concluded in 1924 that the tiny school would close because of “meager financial resources and the rising Virginia state requirements.”

That same year, Daleville consolidated with Bridgewater. The aim was to join four-year college instruction at Bridgewater and secondary and college preparatory curricula in Daleville.

Prior to that reorganization, Daleville had gone through a series of changes after opening under the direction of I.N.H. Beahm and lieutenants Joseph Beahm, Charles Arnold and Newton Eller.

The second year, 1892, the Virginia General Assembly incorporated the institution as Botetourt Normal College. The first board of trustees included Theodore Denton, John Dove, Michael Graybill, Levi Ikenberry, Benjamin Nininger and Eller.

A 1910 charter amendment authorized granting the Bachelor of Arts degree and another name change to Daleville College. Two years later, the State Board of Education accredited the school.

Requirements for status as a senior college became increasingly difficult to meet, we are told. Facing that reality, the trustees discontinued junior and senior years of study after the 1915-16 academic year.

From 1912-16, junior college served a population drawn from Church of the Brethren districts outside this state including from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. By request of the trustees, Daleville was jointly owned by the client districts.

Denton and Nininger were identified as Daleville’s “greatest benefactors” during this period.

Budget issues continued to intrude on the academic mission. Assorted factors contributed to consolidation of the Daleville and Bridgewater systems in 1924.

Advocates cited “greater economy and efficiency in operation, and would end duplication of work at Bridgewater and Daleville and end any competition between the two denominational schools.”

The idea was to fold the two-year Daleville college into Bridgewater’s four-year program and shutter the college prep Bridgewater Academy and move that function to combined operations at Daleville.

The decision resulted in “causing disappointment and sacrifice to many.” Even so, the decision “was in conformity with the judgment of Church of the Brethren leaders who felt that the church had more colleges and academies in Virginia than it needed and more than it could adequately support.”

Another motivation was to relieve Bridgewater faculty of double duty teaching at the academy, a play that would enhance chances the college would be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

A second prompt related to concerns at both Daleville and Bridgewater that a failure to separate academy from college operations would jeopardize accreditation for both by the state board.

An additional concern was the necessity for new construction at both campuses if combined academy-college operations had continued.

Thus the blended college system stayed at Bridgewater and the Botetourt school became Daleville Academy.

The academy served a student population that was 75 % from Virginia, most of them coming from (in descending order) the counties of Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke.

By 1933, trustees concluded that continued operations would be “impractical.” The end had arrived.

The historical record is in Bridgewater’s able custody. The words of the Daleville College song “The Blue and the Gold” belong to all. A few verses conclude the account here:

“Dear is the school that we all love so well,

Decked in these colors so grand,

Praises and honor of her we will tell

Fairest of all in our land .”

If you’ve been wondering about something, call “What’s on Your Mind?” at 777-6476 or send an email to Don’t forget to provide your full name (and its proper spelling if by phone) and hometown.

Get the day's top stories delivered to your inbox with our email newsletter.

Recommended for you

Load comments