City Directories and History: The Lewisville Female Academy’s building remains standing in 2016….and is the home of the Wylie and Gaston families. The Lewisville Academy was long considered a fine educational institute for young ladies of the region. Once belonged to Dr. William Wylie of Richburg.
“Lewisville, an area in the heart of Chester County, was named for the Lewis family, a family that was prominent in the area more than one hundred years ago. The name Lewisville became associated not only with a geographical area but also was used in naming area schools. One of the first schools was the Lewisville Female Seminary which began in the 1840s and operated until the mid-1850s. The pastor of Union Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Richburg took an active part in the school, and one of the trustees prior to the Civil War was William Knox, one of my ancestors.” (Information from: The Bulletin – A publication of the Chester District Genealogical Society)
Another early school in the area was “Lewisville Female Seminary”. It was located in the house currently occupied by Jimmy Gaston, 1 mile west of 1-77 on SC Hwy. 9. Mack Gaston, son of Jimmy, provided me with copies of early advertising brochures used by the school. The brochure stated that the school would start in 1856 and cast $100 per annum. A letter dated 1854, soliciting recruiting helps and was signed by Amanda Slade Johnson Wylie (Dr. Wm. Wylie’s first wife) and dated 1 October 1864, indicated that the school was already in operation. Part of her pitch was that “only 1 girl had died at the school and that was because she ate too many green nuts”. Another letter listed course fees: Junior – $6; Senior – $ 9; Pestalozzian Dept. – $4; Wax Work – $8; Music, Piano, or Guitar – $18; Fancy Needlework – $8; Boarding – $37. The Pastor of Union ARP Church was listed as “Visitor.” Mr. James Boyd Magill, Col. Beacham, James Drennan, and John Cherry were listed as Trustees. According to Mack Gaston, he believes the school closed in 1859 and never built the additional buildings needed to accommodate more than a few students. (Information from: The Bulletin – A publication of the Chester District Genealogical Society)
“Lewisville Female Academy was a prominent school with high educational standards. It was situated about ten miles from Chester. In 1844, the school building was erected, which has since been dismantled. The home of Mrs. William W. Gaston, Junior served as the girls dormitory.
The Reverend Laughlin McDonald was listed in the school catalogues as the president, and Mrs. Amanda Wylie, wife of Dr. William Wylie, as principal. However, Mrs. Wylie was the real head of the school, and often spoken of as “Mrs. Wylie’s Academy.” The early trustees were: John Cherry, Dr. A. P. Wylie, James A. Lewis, James Drennan, James Magill, William Knox, William A. Rosborough and Colonel L.A. Beckham. When Mrs. Wylie died in 1854, the academy closed.
Another entry states: “This school was conducted by Mrs. Amanda Johnson Wylie, wife of Dr. William Wylie, a great uncle of Mrs. William Wylie Gaston, the present owners. Mrs. Gaston was Susan Hicklin, daughter of Jason C. Strait and Sallie Strait Hicklin before her marriage to William W. Gaston on August 30, 1893. Mrs. Wylie was principal, assisted by Mrs. Lewis of Columbia Institute, Tennessee and Miss Kellogg of Castleton Female Seminary, Vt. The trustees; Col. L.A. Beckham. James B. McGill, Gibbs, William A. Roseborough, William Knox, and Dr. A. P. Wylie.
The scholastic year was divided into two sections of five months each, commencing on the 5th day of January and the 21st day of July.”
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
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