History of the Restoration Movement


AddRan Christian College
Early Roots Of Texas Christian University
Ft. Worth/Thorp Spring/Waco/Ft. Worth, Texas

Founded By Joseph, Addison & Randolph Clark

Little Known Facts

According to Randolph's book, AddRan College was named by Addison in memory of his son AddRan. Addison believed, "This would be an inspiration to labor to make the name stand for something worthy," wrote Randolph. AddRan died at age three of diphtheria in Fort Worth about 1872. A marble slab in the Pioneer Rest Cemetery at Fort Worth is inscribed "AddRan."

-Source: 2000 HOOD COUNTY TEXAS GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY; Hood County Texas Genealogical Society; From Reminiscences; Written by Randolph Clark; ~ Book Review by Virginia Hale ~

Add-Ran And Its Heirs

Firm Foundation Editor's Note: "Here is presented the text of a speech made by Don H. Morris at the Ex-Students Reunion marking the 100th anniversary of the first Christian school in Texas, July 21, 1973 at Thorp Spring. We believe it to be one of the greatest historic documents of the church west of the Mississippi. For this reason, footnotes are included for the more serious student. It is an accurate, documented of the digression that swept Texas and its effects upon Christian education and upon the church. This information should be preserved."

One hundred years ago, four or five hundred yards northeast of this spot—up on the hill—Add-Ran College came into being. It was Monday, September 1, 1873. [Joseph Lynn Clark, Thank God We Made It! (Austin: University or Texas Press, 1969), p. 339.]

The opening of the school had been announced to the citizens of the area. Thirteen students came on that first day.[Ibid.] Randolph Clark, the man in charge, was gratified with the attendance of students and their parents.

The second month of school saw an increase in students, and by the close of the term the enrollment had reached seventy-five. [Ibid.]

Randolph Clark was twenty-nine years old. [Ibid. p.209] He had moved with his family to Thorp Spring in August, leaving his older brother, Addison (nearly thirty-one), [Ibid., p.207] and his father, Joseph Addison Clark, in Fort Worth, where the two brothers had conducted (as the father had encouraged them) a school called The Male and Female Seminary. [Ibid., pp. 310ff]

In the pioneer village of Thorp Spring, beginning that September morning 1873, many things were to happen that affected the Restoration Movement in the Southwest. One crisis here contributed much, even, to the division in the church. And Texas Christian University grew out of Add-Ran.

Let it be remembered that for years after that beginning in 1873, Add-Ran College was operated much like our own Christian colleges today—like Abilene Christian College, and Oklahoma Christian College—are. The beliefs of the officials and the faculty of Add-Ran were the same, and the policies and practices were much the same as ours today. Joseph Addison Clark, the pioneer preacher, educator, and businessman, and his wife, Esther DeSpain Clark, had taught their sons Addison and Randolph well. They had sent them and others of their children from Cleburne, where, they Jived, to then far-away Bonham to attend an earlier Christian school-Carlton College, which opened in 1867. [Clark, p.249]

Add-Ran and Carlton College were antedated in Texas by three other small, more-or-less-local Christian schools. Two of them were Mt. Enterprise College at Mt. Enterprise, Texas (1850-1858), and Midway School at Midway (1855- ).[Carter E. Boren, Religion On The Texas Frontler (San Antonio: The Naylor Co., 1968), p, 243.] At Tarrant, in Hopkins County, Miss Mary E. Fanning ran a Christian school for girls (called The Female Academy) as early as 1860. [THE CLARKESVILLE STANDARD, May 19, 1860]

Perhaps these were not colleges as we call them, but they were Christian schools. So the pioneers of the church in Texas, as well as elsewhere, believed in education and in Christian education.

Bethany College in West Virginia, started and presided over by Alexander Campbell, was a kind of mother school to these in Texas. Even before Bethany, Bacon College in Kentucky, where Walter Scott taught, was one of our Christian schools. So the Clarks at Thorp Spring already had a pattern to go by. And for many years they followed that pattern.

Why did Add-Ran come to Thorp Spring in 1873? From 1869 to 1873 Addison and Randolph Clark, the brothers, owned and conducted the Male and Female Seminary in Fort Worth, as mentioned earlier. And Addison operated it by himself for a year, 1873-74. [Clark, p.338]

In 1855, however, Pleasant Thorp had settled in this place where we are now, a new community [Ibid., p.327] three miles from the little town of Granbury, which was settled in 1854. [Ibid., p.326] Mr. Thorp bought property here, and his name and a spring of strong sulphur water on his land gave the little village the name of Thorp Spring.

Mr. Thorp believed that an academy or college would be a valuable asset to the little town and would probably add to the value of his property. He erected a sturdy 2 1/2 story stone house for his proposed school. [Ibid., p.331] He had to have someone to operate the school. So one day early in the summer of 1873 an agent of Mr. Thorp rode into Fort Worth and made inquiry for the Clark brothers. He found only Randolph, as Addison was out preaching and promoting their Fort Worth school. Addison was soliciting patronage on the basis that the next session of their seminary would begin in September of that year. [Ibid., p.332]

After the conversation between Mr. Thorp's agent and Randolph Clark, Randolph called his father into the conference. Addison's exact whereabouts were unknown, and he was not expected home for several weeks. [Ibid.] So Randolph and his other decided that Randolph should go to Thorp Spring to meet Mr. Thorp and discuss with him the sale or the lease of the building. After a second visit to Thorp Spring—this time—by Randolph and his father—and after Addison's return home, it was decided that Addison would remain in Fort Worth a year to operate the seminary as announced and that the father would remain in Fort Worth to help with the family business. [Ibid., p.338]

It was decided that Randolph and his young family would move to Thorp Spring and start the new school in the Thorp building, which had been purchased for $9,000. [Ibid.] Addison and the father followed. Randolph to Thorp Spring a year later. After all, Fort Worth was on a boom and had in it many of the evils of a frontier boom town.

With the entire family united in the new venture at Thorp Spring, their ambitions were high. The new school would be built into a college for both boys and girls. And at Randolph's suggestion it was named, according to the new charter, Add-Ran Male and Female College, in memory of the firstborn in Addison's family, Addran Clark. This little boy—a hope of the entire family—and died in 1872 at the tender age of three years.

As I have stated, Add-Ran College was conducted much as our Christian colleges today. It began as little more than an elementary school or academy. It is interesting to note that some of our present-day Christian colleges, as ACC, David Lipscomb, and Harding, started the same way.

A self-perpetuating board of trustees was provided by the charter. The board served as advisors to Addison and Randolph Clark, who owned the property and the school. Addison Clark was president and Randolph was vice president. Joseph Addison Clark, the father, was listed on the letterhead as proprietor—actually business manager. [Ibid., pp.345, 347]

In the fall of 1877 It-he school was moved from the Thorp Spring building to a new building owned by the Clarks. [Ibid., pp.347, 302.] This new building was the west unit of the old Thorp Spring Christian College Ad Building. Other units were added later. A girls' dormitory was erected in 1887. [Clark, p.406.] Also in 1887 a long, narrow building of twelve rooms was built for the boys. The boys soon called it the Sheep Shed.

Enrollment reached 201 in 1876-77, [Ibid., p.349] when 85 of the students dame from counties other than Hood. The largest enrollment was 445 in 1893. [Ibid., p.391] The school-now called Add-Ran College-offered. four years of college work, as announced in the catalog, in keeping with the disciplines of similar institutions of the time. [Ibid., p.403] The primary and preparatory programs continued to be part of the overall program of the college." [Ibid., p.413]

The Bible was taught in a department headed by President Addison Clark. [Ibid., p.399] Chapel was required of all students and was also attended by the faculty, who sat on the platform. Chapel was at 7:45 in the morning. The college bell was rung to start the day at five o'clock. It was rung at seven in the evening to indicate the cessation of other activities and the beginning of the study period. It was rung again at nine o’clock when study might cease, and 'again at ten for lights out. [Ibid., p.361] Charlie, a Negro man who grew up with the Thorp family, rang the bell and tapped it on the hour for the change of classes. He made the fires and cleaned the building. He and his wife, Kate, who came to Thorp Spring with the Randolph Clarks, thus contributed to the ongoing and influence of the school. [Ibid., p.364]

There were two swimming holes near the college, on Stroud Creek—the Klebit for boys, and another a1bout a mile away for girls. [Ibid., p.361]

One of the important events of the year was a three-day outing for the entire school, which was held about twenty miles away, on the Paluxy River. Two other holidays were promised—Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, but it was urged: Parents will please not encourage or expect their children home on Christmas nor any time before the close of the session." [Ibid., p.410.]

The growth of the college and its expansion, physically and academically, brought financial responsibilities greater than one family could bear. [Ibid., p.427.] Addison and Randolph Clark and their wives, their father and mother—the entire family—had put their lives and their personal fortunes into the school. The three Clark men, at a meeting of the new Texas Christian Missionary Society in Fort Worth in June 1889, [Ibid., p.426.] proposed to surrender ownership of the college to the church. A new charter and board of trustees were secured; [Ibid., p.427.] and on April 26, 1890, Addison and Randolph Clark transferred, by deed, the land and buildings at Thorp Spring to the new board. [Ibid.]  The property was appraised at $43,000, [Ibid.]  with an indebtedness of $5,000. The Clarks also gave to the new organization 640 acres of grazing land in West Texas and a 160-acre farm in Kaufman County—this to take care of the indebtedness. The new board decided to change the name to Add-Ran Christian University." [Ibid.]

Add-Ran, at Thorp Spring, under the Clarks, had a tremendous influence over Texas, still a new state. Former students soon, were in influential positions throughout Texas and beyond—ministers, teachers, lawyers, men of business, homebuilders. My own father, who was a student at Add-Ran, often talked with me about Addison and Randolph Clark and their influence upon society, He felt that they represented real greatness in citizenship.

But there were problems other than financial. Doctrinal differences were arising in the brotherhood. There were liberals and conservatives, and at the college it was evident that Joseph Addison Clark, the father—ever strong in his convictions—did not always agree with his sons on questions concerning the church and the school.

One question that caused much discussion in the brotherhood related to organization. As early as 1879, A. J. Bush [Boren, Religion On The Texas Frontier, p. 165.] suggested for Texas some permanent form of cooperation among the churches for missionary work. State societies had been organized in Indiana, Kentucky, and other states. [Ibid., p.168.] The American Christian Missionary Society had been formed in 1849. [Ibid.] Some (liberals) proposed the societies as a means toward organized efficiency. [Ibid.] Others (conservatives) believed that the New Testament example of church organization—that no bigger than the local congregation—was the type of church organization to be followed by New Testament Christians. Joseph Addison Clark and others held to the latter view. [J.A. Clark, “Then And Now,” Gospel Advocate (October 26, 1893). p. 687]  Dark years of controversy followed Bush's suggestion, until the Texas Christian Missionary Society was organized in Austin in 1886. [Boren, p.167.] Other organizations which the more conservative believed were not provided for in the New Testament plan were the Christian Woman's Board of Missions (1891), [Ibid., p.197.]  a Joint Board for City Missions (proposed in 1906), [Ibid., p.206.]  and a Committee of Bible School Workers (1884). [Ibid.] It might be noted here that colleges are often blamed by brethren for spawning departures from the faith. In Texas, at least, the record shows that a cross section of preachers and other members, not the college leaders, made the first digression, at Austin. Organization led digression and consequent division in Texas.

But perhaps the introduction of the instrument into worship dramatizes more than anything else the digression and resulting division. The organ was introduced by communities and congregations, not statewide as in the case of organizations. This was natural. The instrument was introduced first in congregations in Dallas, San Marcos, Waco and Palestine. [Colby D. Hall, Texas Disciples (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1953), p.149.] So, as with the establishment of the missionary society, members away from the college led out in this digression.

But the place at which the introduction of the organ received most attention was, without doubt, Thorp Spring, Add-Ran College. The occasion was a gospel meeting in February 1894. [Joseph Lynn Clark, p.435.] The speaker was B. B. Sanders, [Ibid., p.433.] and the song director, E. M. Douthitt. [Ibid., p.435.] These two often worked as a team and were known to use the instrument in worship. Before the meeting began, there was much discussion—on and off the campus of Add-Ran—- about whether the organ would be used. As the meeting began, a crisis at Add-Ran was developing. It proved to affect the church throughout the state.

On February 20, 1894, the climax was reached. Before the service began, Joseph Addison Clark—the father and pioneer—and his wife took seats at the front of the auditorium. Their son Addison Clark, the president, arose to begin the service. Joseph Addison arose, walked toward the pulpit, took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to his son. It was a petition. The petition was signed by elder Clark and more than a hundred others, who asked that the organ not be used, on the ground that it was not authorized in the New Testament. Addison read the petition, conferred briefly with his brother Randolph, and then announced that he had promised the students that the organ could be used in the meeting and that he could not go back on his word. He turned to the organist and said, "Play on, Miss Bertha." [Joseph Lynn Clark, p.435.]

As the organ and singing started, Joseph Addison arose with his wife and led the opposition out of the auditorium. He was a greybearded man, 78 years old, with a cane. [Ibid., p.497.] About 140 people, according to Randolph's son Joseph Lynn, followed the elderly Clark out of the building. Many in the remaining congregation wept. [Ibid., p.436.] My father, who was a student that year, was present, and he told me many times about Uncle Joe Clark—how he appealed to the audience not to use the organ and how he led the group out of the auditorium.

Joseph Lynn Clark, who was director of social sciences at Sam Houston State College, says in his book Thank God We Made It!:

. . . the organ episode . . . at "Thorp Spring had far-reaching effects . . . the reverberations of the conflict were felt throughout the state and beyond its borders. Involving, as it did, the Brotherhood’s school, whose patrons were scattered throughout the region, news of the affair spread rapidly to the churches, raising local tensions, crystallizing personal opinions, and splitting congregations. [Ibid., p.439.]

He writes further:

It has been truthfully said, "the organ split the church." The division became definite, the Conservatives fanning throughout the South what became known as the Church of Christ; the Progressives assuming the name of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). And so it is today. [Ibid., p.440.]

In 1893 Joseph Addison Olark, my father's hero of the organ episode at Add-Ran, said in his article in the Gospel Advocate:

Now they have created an officer, . . . called the pastor, . . . they have societies, foreign and domestic, . . . Now an organ and other things are thrust into the churches . . .

Are we in possession of any new advantages that are worth the union, peace, harmony, and good will that has been broken up? [Issue of October 26, 1893, p. 697.]

Some facts since 1894 help us answer that question.

One cost was at Add-Ran itself. In the fall of 1893 [Joseph Lynn Clark, p.391.] —-just before the organ episode in February 1894, the enrollment had reached an all-time high of 445. In the following year, it dropped to 294, the lowest in 16 years.

The great cost, of course, was division in Clark as the breaking up of "the union, the church, just described by Joseph Addison peace, harmony, and good will." This division counteracted much of the work of the church pioneers in the state—like Joseph Addison Clark, Carroll Kendrick, and C. M. Wilmeth, and it counteracted much of the prior work of Addison and Randolph Clark themselves. Many of those whom they had taught and many congregations they had helped to build did not go along with them in their new position.

Just at this time some leaders of the congregation in Waco, along with businessmen there, became interested in moving Add-Ran to that city of some 20,000. [Texas Almanac, 1926, pp.68-71, gives the population of Waco in 1910 as 26,425.] Certain inducements offered by Waco if the move would be made before 1896 were agreed to.

For one thing, the promoters pledged to provide transportation for the faculty, students, und other personnel from Thorp Spring to Waco. [Joseph Lynn Clark, pp. 444f.]  And so on Christmas Day 1895 about 100 individuals, including the faculty and a portion of the student body, alighted from the train at the MK&T depot in Waco and marched in a parade through the business section of the city. [Ibid., p.445.]  Randolph and his family had decided to remain in Thorp Spring. [Ibid.]

In 1902 the name of the school was changed to Texas Christian University. [Ibid., p.449.] Then in 1910, after a fire at Waco, the school was moved to Fort Worth. [Ibid., p.448.] That city supported it well. Disciples and others have given to it in large amounts, and Texas Christian University has become a strong and nationally known educational institution.

In the meantime, Randolph and Addison Clark continued to preach and teach. Randolph and R. F. Holloway leased the Thorp Spring property, and from 1896 to 1898 ran an academy named Jarvis Institute. [Ibid., p.446.] From 1898 to 1901 Randolph headed Randolph College at Lancaster. [Ibid., pp.449-451.] Beginning in 1905 Addison and Randolph were joined in another venture at Thorp Spring, supported again by J.J. Jarvis, and the school was called Add-Ran-Jarvis College. [Ibid., pp. 453ff.] Their father, James Addison Clark, after the organ episode had remained in Thorp Spring, loyal to his convictions. It was here that he died and was buried in 1901. [Ibid., p.498.] Some members of his family kept the faith with him. His son Joe was an elder in the church at Stamford, Texas, until his death in 1940. [Joseph Lynn Clark, pp. 498, 500. And telephone interview with Mrs. Ona High.] In 1910, members of the church of Christ organized Thorp Spring Christian College. Dr. T. H. Dabney of Granbury and Dr. T. A. Miller of Corsicana, both ex-students of Add-Ran, took the lead, with other great men, in supporting the new school. [M. Norvel Young, History of Colleges Established and Controlled by Members of the Churches or Christ (Old Paths Book Club, 1949), pp. 73f.] The old Add-Ran property was purchased for $6,000, the indebtedness against it. Dr. Dabney and his brother Ed drove by buggy to Weatherford and borrowed funds from a church member to insure the purchase. [Personal interview with A. E. Hufstedler of Abilene, June 17, 1973, who was present. Also article by Dr. T.H. Dabney, "Thorp Spring College Property," Gospel Advocate (January 20, 1910), p. 84).] With others, Dr. Dabney called a meeting, which was held in the college auditorium that spring and attended by 75 preachers and church leaders from over the state. It began about 10 o'clock in the morning and was led into the night. Sufficient funds were pledged and given to cover the amount needed. At 10 o'clock Joe Warlick, the preacher and debater, arose and suggested that, inasmuch as their business had been taken care of and the trains both ways from Granbury did not leave until about 12 o'clock, the entire group remain to worship and hear a sermon by L.P. Mansfield. Brother Mansfield preached on "The Armor of the Lord." [Telephone Interview with Mrs. Susan Dabney Cogdell, daughter of Dr. Dabney, July 3, 1973.] Thus in the spirit of 1873, the meeting was closed, and Thorp Spring Christian College began. The first session opened that September.

Esteemed presidents who served the new junior college that so many of us love were R. C. Bell, C. R. Nichol, W. F. Ledlow, and A. R. Holton. Wonderfully devoted Christian teachers like Miss Jewell Watson, Batsell Baxter, Brother Bell, Minnie Ruth Hammond, Mattie Ella Cravens, and George A. Klingman taught here. You and I had the precious privilege of being their students.

When the unhappy division was taking place over the state 1885-1900, the two resulting groups—the Disciples and the Churches of Christ—were about equal in numbers. This was acknowledged by J. T. Toof, in an article in the Christian Standard of July 13, 1899, but he claimed:

. . . the strength of the brotherhood in Texas today, as respects scholarship, wealth, social influence, and zeal, is thrown on the side of our missionary forces . . . ["The State Conventions in Texas," Christian Standard (July 13, 1889), p. 455.]

Perhaps, with the exception of zeal, these claims were true. The missionary society-organ group did have the school; they had the money and the social influence; and in many cases they had the church buildings, which they had taken.

But what has happened since that ill-fated day here at Thorp Spring in 1894? What about those good people at Thorp Spring and over the state who helped build Add-Ran but who did not go along with the administration?

Those courageous, loyal men and women who, with the older Clark, stayed with the New Testament as we believe it, and those of us who have followed them, while perhaps not as active and aggressive as we should have been, have not been entirely idle. We have moved into our cities, where there are now strong centers of New Testament Christians, as in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. We have grown so that there is now a congregation in nearly every community in the Southwest and one or more in the smaller cities. We have built three senior colleges—Abilene, Lubbock, and Oklahoma Christian, and our good junior college —Southwestern at Terrell. The evidence is that each of the senior colleges is contributing more leaders and teachers to the churches of Christ than TCU is to the Disciples. What is more important is that since 1906, when the United States Census first recognized the two groups, those who have followed the conservative way in Texas have outstripped those who called themselves Progressive, both in congregations and in numbers of people. At the present time we have in Texas more than four times as many congregations as that denomination that now refers to itself as Disciples. [The Christian Courier, 85 (June 1973), p. 4, And the mailing list of congregations of Churches of Christ, Abilene Christian College central files, June 1973.]

God's plan will work better than any other that even good men might institute.

So, while some followed the Clark brothers and others who believed as they did, we of churches of Christ today are the real heirs of the first years of Add-Ran and of the gospel taught in the first Texas churches. This is true because today we continue in the slogan first used by Texas pioneers and the Campbells before them: "We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent."

This principle has been followed by the Thorp Spring church from the beginning in 1873 until now. And we believe that this is the true pattern for church organization, for purity in worship, and for all things religious. To use this pattern is more important than excelling in numbers or affluence. We look to the New Testament as the guide in restoring the Lord's church, and we pray that he may bless us as we attempt to follow it.

-Don H. Morris, Firm Foundation, 1973, October 9, 1973, page 8-11.

Directions To Thorp Spring College

Heading East From Dallas, Texas on I-20 enter Fort Worth and go to Exit 429A, Hwy 377 S. toward Granbury. Continue on Hwy. 377 into Granbury and head toward the city square. In the square you will turn right on N. Travis. When you cross the RR tracks it will become Thorpe Springs Rd.; About 3 or 4 miles you will enter Thorp Spring. In Thorp Spring you will turn left on Lipan. Turn left on Caraway or the next block, Calhoun. Thorp Spring College was located in this block. The ruins face Thorp. Note the old campus is just across from the Thorp Springs Church of Christ.


Add-Ran Christian University
Chartered 1890
Board Of Directors
J.M. Jarvis, President
R. Clark, Secretary
Charles Carlton
J.F. Smith
E.T. Smith
W.H. Demmun
A.G. Dabney
G.M. Bounton
J.N. Votaw
T.W. Wythe
Alfred Irby
H.M. Baney
A. Clark


Add-Ran College
Founded By
J.A. Clark
A. Clark, President
R. Clark, Vice President
1873
Laid By Granbury Lodge
A.F. & A.M. No.392


Thorp Spring Christian College
Board Of Regents
Dr. T.H. Dabney
J.T. Stricklin
Dr. T.A. Miller
J.L. Rutherford
W.C. Lanford
M.H. Moore
J.H. Dunn
Will Tolbert
T.F. Jasper
E.M. Dabney
J.E. Chiles
J.D. Shipman


Here J.A. Clark
And His Two Sons,
Addison And Randolph
Began A Private School
Chartered In 1873 Under The
Name Of Add-Ran Christian
College - Removed To Waco On
December 25, 1895 - Reestablished
At Fort Worth In 1908 As Texas
Christian University

-Erected By The State Of Texas In 1936

Joseph Addison Clark

Addison Clark

Randolph Clark

Addran Clark

Play On Miss Bertha

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