Adlai Stevenson Croom
1892-1985

Biographical Sketch On The Life Of A.S. Croom

          Adlai Stevenson Croom was born February 20, 1892, at Oxford, Arkansas (first known as Croom's Mill, Arkansas, before there was a post office). He was the son of Wiley and Sarah Jane (Pearson) Croom. He received his primary and secondary education in the local schools of Arkansas. Later he attended Freed-Hardeman College at Henderson, Tennessee. Following his work at Freed-Hardeman, he attended the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, where he received his Bachelor's Degree. While there he studied Hebrew and Greek at the Baptist Theological Seminary. Following his work at Louisville, he went to Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, where he received a Masters Degree in Mathematics. While at Harvard he sang in the Harvard Glee Club.

          On June 28, 1922, Adlai Stevenson Croom married Miss Margaret Price Harris of Blackwater, Missouri. To this union two boys and one girl were born. The boys were named John Adley and William Sterling, both of whom were attorneys at law. The girl was named Sarah Ann Croom Morris.

          Croom began preaching in the early 1900's in Arkansas. He always did secular work while preaching locally or in meetings. States in which he preached were Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Washington.

          Croom had a strong interest in Christian education. In 1919 a group of dedicated Christian men at Morrilton, Arkansas, organized a Board for the development of a Christian college. They raised money, did construction and made plans to open a Junior College there in the Fall of 1922. Croom was invited to be president of the new college.

          He accepted the invitation and operated the college for two years, keeping its financial statements in the black. In the early months of 1924 he learned that Harper College at Harper, Kansas, was in financial difficulties and threatened with foreclosure. Looking forward to the possibilities of a senior college, Croom went to Harper, Kansas, and negotiated with J. N. Armstrong, L. C. Sears, B. F. Rhodes, S. A. Bell, George Kieffer, Ray Thompson and Mrs. Florence Cathcart, all of whom accepted his invitation to come and join the faculty of the Arkansas Christian College which with this strength in faculty would immediately become a senior college. Croom also agreed to raise $25,000 for the purpose of paying off the debts at Harper College. He succeeded in raising the $25,000 and the group of faculty members from Harper moved to Morrilton in the Summer of 1924.

          Croom also proposed to the board of the Arkansas Christian College that the name of the institution be changed to "Harding College" as it opened its third year as a senior college. He also recommended that J. N. Armstrong be named as president, A. S. Croom as vice president, and L. C. Sears as dean. These recommendations were approved by the Arkansas Board and the doors of the institution were opened in the fall of 1924 as a senior institution under the new name of "Harding College."

          In 1929 the college changed its name to "Harding Christian College." In 1934 the name was officially changed back to "Harding College," at the time the institution moved to Searcy, Arkansas, where it has continued from that date.

          Great men have served Harding as presidents, men of devotion, men of vision, men of consecration. It is fitting that a listing of these men be made and remembered for their great work in continually moving Harding forward to greater triumphs:

1922-1924 - A. S. Croom**
1924-1936 - Dr. J. N. Armstrong
1936-1965 - Dr. George S. Benson
1965-1987 - Dr. Clifton L. Ganus
1987- - Dr. David Burks

          Much credit is due A. S. Croom for his vision, for his successful operation of Arkansas Christian College for two years, for his vision in seizing upon most of the faculty of Harper College in order to move the Arkansas Christian College up to senior college status.

          In addition to his work in the founding of Harding College, Croom served and worked with other colleges. He taught in Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas. He served as the last president of Cordell Christian College in Cordell, Oklahoma. In 1947 he took an active part in getting Oklahoma Christian College started.

          For many years he wrote articles for many Christian papers such as the Gospel Advocate, Christian Chronicle, Gospel Light, and others. He authored several books, namely, "Christian and War" (1946), "Early History of Harding College" (1954), "Man's Salvation by God's Grace" (1973), and others.

          Adlai Stevenson Croom died February 16, 1985, at Searcy, Arkansas. He was survived by his wife, Margaret Price, one son, John Adley, and one daughter, Sarah (Croom) Hatch.

          Funeral service was conducted by Jimmy Allen at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas. Burial was in the Oak Grove Cemetery at Searcy, Arkansas.

—In Memoriam, Gussie Lambert, c.1988, pages 61-63

**According to the Harding University Website, A.S. Croom never served as president of Harding, but was only vice-president under J.N. Armstrong. According to family members, and his grave marker he was Harding's 1st president. This is perhaps explained because the Harding College name was not introduced until 1924, two years after Croom had served as president of what the school was known before, Arkansas Christian College, in Morrilton, Arkansas. However, Croom's foresight and vision must not be overlooked concerning the future of what would become Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas.

Directions To The Grave Of A.S. Croom

A.S. Croom is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Searcy, Arkansas. Oak Grove is the oldest cemetery in Searcy and is located in the north central part, near downtown. If looking at a map, the location is on E. Moore. If traveling from Main Street turn north on N. Horton and it will dead end into E. Moore with the cemetery straight ahead. If entering the west entrance of the cemetery. As you travel down, look to the left of the road and note hearse entrances to the section. Go to the third hearse entrance and stop the car. Begin looking to the left for the grave about midway between the road and the cemetery's edge. See Cemetery Map Here!

GPS Coordinates
N35º 15' 252" x WO 91º 43' 938"
35.254200,-91.732300
Facing East

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