Stephen F. Austin State University

The Rise and Fall of Tyler Commercial College Part II (June 2014)

By Marvin Mayer

In last month's article, we traced the school's growth from its inception at the beginning of the 20th century to its eventual demise in 1955. In this article, I'll make brief mention of the curricula, the substance of next month's article, but my focus this month will be on the school's faculty.

What made the school so successful? Certainly, the curriculum had a lot to do with it, but so did the faculty. I was unable to learn much more than the names of the turn-of-the-century teaching corps, but the following paragraphs were found in an article by Morris S. Burton published in the Chronicles of Smith County, Volume 10, #2:

"By the late 1890s, a demand for trained school teachers caused two brothers, C. L. and Lockett Adair, to move the remnants of their Whitesboro Teachers Normal College from Grayson County to Tyler, where Tyler College was incorporated and commenced operations. Joining the Adair brothers were Henry Edward Byrne and Frank A. Glenn in an incorporation with Byrne elected President."

"Byrne was the author of a new method of shorthand and thus he headed a separate department of Tyler College designated as the Business College. This special assignment was in addition to his duties as President of the College. Other faculty members (in 1903) were W. G. Taylor, Bookkeeper, Kate Frierson as College Secretary, G. S. Gaston as Principal of the Accounting Department, Miss Sadler as Head Typewriting Teacher, C. M. Prater and Mrs. R. T. Denbo were Shorthand Teachers, and R. T. Denbo was special Penmanship Teacher."[1] America's Largest Business Training University, Morris S. Burton, Vol 10, No. 2, Pg 33.

Additional faculty members[2] were handpicked for their knowledge and teaching abilities. By the 1920s, the following individuals had been added to the school's faculty: [2] Archives, Smith County Historical Society.

Dr. James G. Ulmer, formerly Dean at the Yale School of Education with a M.A. Degree. At Tyler Commercial College, Dr. Ulmer was instructor of practical psychology and business ethics.

J. W. Glenn, Dean of Bookkeeping, Accounting and Finance.

Mrs. Jewell Spinks, General Supervisor, formerly instructor of office training department and subsequently supervisor of the stenographic department.

M. L. Lilly, head of typewriting department.

Roy L. Hobby, formerly in charge of General Motors Accounting, Business Administration, and Motor Accounting departments.

J. A. Tolbert, Bookkeeping Instructor, bank and mercantile machine bookkeeping department.

Roy L. Hawthorn, head of telegraphy department. Mr. Hawthorn is instructor in General Western Union, Railway Telegraphy, and Radio Construction and Repair. He held licenses in Electrical Maintenance, Radio Theory, and is experienced as a Railway Agent.

Miss Annette Berman, Instructor in Business English, Arithmetic, and Spelling. She held a B.A. degree from the University of Texas.

Clyde Foster, Instructor in Penmanship and Cotton Classing. Prior to joining TCC faculty, he was instructor of Cotton Classing at the Textile Department, A & M College of Texas.

And the fact that Mr. Byrne, creator of the shorthand system bearing his name, headed Tyler Commercial College's team of shorthand instructors.

Later on, Miss Nellie Burris joined the faculty as the instructor in the Gregg method of shorthand. She boasted a diploma and teacher's certificate from the Gregg Shorthand School in Chicago.

Teachers of this quality brought national recognition to Texas Commercial College. They also introduced teaching aids and visual education procedures years ahead of other institutions. With such educational "drawing cards," small wonder this business school achieved the level of success it attained. We will learn more of the school's successes and its contribution to Tyler and the Tyler economy in future parts of this series.