Berea College Facts
Kentucky and Appalachian History
National and World History
Other strange and interesting facts


Back to top of page


1855--Cassius Marcellus Clay(left), son of prominent slave-owner Greene Clay, was a powerful abolitionist throughout Kentucky, gave ten acres of land to Rev. John G. Fee (photo, right) to start a Christian, anti-slavery community in Madison County.


1859--Fee sets up one-room school in Berea.
This one-room school built by John G. Fee and his supporters in 1855 was the beginning of what was to become Berea College. Within a few months he wrote in a letter "we...eventually look to a college--giving an education to all colors, classes, cheap and thorough."

1866-- Berea founders establish Berea Literary Institute (Berea College in 1867).
1867--Normal School is set up for training teachers.

1869--E. Henry Fairchild becomes first president of Berea College.When he became president, Berea was a school of 300 students, half of whom were black. Students of both sexes ranged from primary to college level. During the next 20 years, Fairchild strengthened Berea's original educational aims while also fitting Berea to the needs of the area, making teacher training a priority. As enrollment grew, he improved Berea's campus with four permanent buildings. He was also the head of the town's government before there was a mayor, working to help the community grow along with the college.

Photo: Mountain Day c.1885
In 1875 the Berea faculty voted to initiate a yearly hike up Indian Fort Mountain, now called Mountain Day. This college holiday from classes and work has taken place every fall since then. Activities have varied in 120 years, but always include morning hikes to the East and west Pinnacles and a noon meal on the mountain.

1878--Berea population about 200.


Back to top of page
1867--C&O first railroad in Appalachia, built across part of West Virginia.
1872--First mail order house - Montgomery Ward.
1875--First Kentucky Derby run at Louisville.



Back to top of page
1861--1865 Civil War.
1863--Emancipation Proclamation frees all slaves in rebel states (does not apply to border states such as Kentucky).
1865--Freedman's Bureau founded for Black Education (later provided funds to Berea College).



Back to top of page
1869--Vacuum cleaner invented by I.W. McGaffey.
1874--Susan B. Anthony arrested for voting.
1875--Chewing gum is invented.



Go to next Section: 1880-1900.
Go back to Time Pieces Home.