Difference between revisions of "Freeman Junior College (Freeman, South Dakota, USA)"

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m (Two different sources state that Schroeder's presidency ended in 1930, not 1931, and that Unruh's began in 1930, not 1931. The original Mennonite Encyclopedia article stated that Schroeder served as president until 1931, followed by Unruh.)
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! President !! Term of Service
! President !! Term of Service
| H. A. Bachman || 1903-1904
| H. A. Bachmann || 1903-1904
| [[Thierstein, John R. (1867-1941)| John R. Thierstein]] || 1904-1908
| [[Thierstein, John R. (1867-1941)| John R. Thierstein]] || 1904-1908
| H. A. Bachman || 1908-1912
| H. A. Bachmann || 1908-1912
| Benjamin J. Kaufman || 1912-1913
| Benjamin J. Kaufman || 1912-1913

Revision as of 07:12, 13 September 2013

Freeman Junior College, a Mennonite school in Freeman, South Dakota, had its inception in the "South Dakota Mennonite College" which came into being in response to a feeling among the Russian Mennonite settlers in Dakota in the 1870s that the German language should be maintained and that there should be some Biblical instruction. This feeling came with particular force to Frederick C. Ortman during the winter of 1894-1895 while he was visiting the various Mennonite communities in Kansas, where he noted the good influence of Bethel College, particularly in training Mennonites to teach in the elementary schools.

Ortman took his burden of a Mennonite school to Elder Christian Kaufman in the winter of 1899-1900. Out of this meeting followed a series of meetings to which representatives came from the various Mennonite churches in the community. The idea of a Mennonite school became more popular with each meeting. At the fourth general meeting it was decided that since Freeman was very nearly in the center of the community the school should be built there. At the fifth meeting, held on 10 December 1900, a board of directors was elected and on the 14th of the same month a charter was obtained from the State of South Dakota.

The task of raising money was then begun. Construction on the first building, a frame structure costing $7,000, was begun in 1902. It was completed in time for school to begin in the fall of 1903. The dedication services were held on 25 October 1903. This building served for all instructional purposes until the completion of the new administration building in 1926 at a cost of more than $60,000. In the meantime two dormitories had been erected, one in 1906 at a cost of $6,000 and a second in 1915, costing $4,500. In 1923 the auditorium-gymnasium was erected at a cost of approximately $7,500. After the erection of the new administration building in 1926, two additional buildings were placed on the nine-acre campus. One was a men's dormitory built out of army barracks, with two apartments for faculty members. The other was the imposing new auditorium-gymnasium completed in 1950 at an estimated value of $125,000. It was named Pioneer Hall in honor of the settlers who first came to Dakota in 1874 from southern Russia. The men's dormitory was valued at $16,000. In addition to the nine-acre campus with its seven buildings the college in 1950 had two farms and a small endowment fund. Total fixed assets as per annual statement of 31 July 1953 were listed at $334,547.01.

When the school opened in 1903, the course of study did not comprise much more than the common school subjects, except for German. Even beginners were admitted during the first year. However, new courses were added as the school developed. In 1911 the Teacher Training Course was recognized by the State Department of Public Instruction. In 1922 the Academy was fully accredited. The following year the first year of college work was offered. By 1927 the University of South Dakota accredited the full Junior College course. In 1950 the school offered (1) a Junior College course; (2) a One- and Two-Year Teacher Training course; (3) an Academy course; (4) Bible courses; (5) special courses in Agriculture, Commerce, Farm Shop, and Home Making; (6) and work by correspondence. The Associate in Arts degree was being conferred in Bible, Teacher Training, Commerce, and Liberal Arts. In the earlier years all of the Bible classes and many of the other subjects were conducted in Ger¬man. But as the use of German declined in the homes, it was gradually less used as a language of instruction, so that by 1914 only some of the Bible courses were given in German. After that time German was only an elective modern language course.

The institution was not under the direct management of the Mennonite Church but operated under a board of trustees of nine members elected from a corporation consisting largely of members of the various Mennonite churches of South Dakota and surrounding states. Anyone who contributed $25 to the school became a member of the corporation, and each $100 contribution constituted a vote; no one, however, could ever cast more than 10 votes at a corporation meeting—five of his own and five by proxy. The name of the school has changed twice since it was incorporated—to Freeman College, and since 1939, to Freeman Junior College.

While established primarily for the benefit of the young people of the Mennonite faith, emphasizing the simple life, industry, the sanctity of the home, freedom of conscience, and Christian love as the guiding principle in all situations of life, the benefits and privileges of the college have been heartily extended to young people of other denominations. The Board of Trustees adopted the Statement of Doctrine of the General Conference Mennonites.

Hundreds of young people who have graduated from the various courses through the years have become active workers in the community life of Freeman as well as in other communities. In its first 50 years the leadership of the school changed quite frequently. The total enrollment in 1954-55 was 158, of which 46 were in college and 112 in high school. 

The Junior College closed in 1986, but the Academy continued, and is known as Freeman Academy. It offers grades 7-12.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 694 f.

Additional Information

Address: 748 South Main Street, Freeman, South Dakota 57029

Phone: 605-925-4237

Website: Freeman Academy

Presidents of Freeman Junior College

President Term of Service
H. A. Bachmann 1903-1904
John R. Thierstein 1904-1908
H. A. Bachmann 1908-1912
Benjamin J. Kaufman 1912-1913
Eddison Mosiman 1913-1917
A. J. Regier 1917-1921
P. F. Quiring 1921-1922
A. J. Regier 1922-1927
P. F. Quiring 1927-1928
P. R. Schroeder 1928-1930
John D. Unruh 1930-1935
B. P. Waltner 1935-1936
John D. Unruh 1936-1938
B. P. Waltner 1938-1939
John D. Unruh 1939-1948
Edmund J. Miller 1948-1951
Ronald von Riesen 1951-

Author(s) John D. Unruh
Sam Steiner
Date Published 2008

Cite This Article

MLA style

Unruh, John D. and Sam Steiner. "Freeman Junior College (Freeman, South Dakota, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2008. Web. 21 Sep 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Freeman_Junior_College_(Freeman,_South_Dakota,_USA)&oldid=101543.

APA style

Unruh, John D. and Sam Steiner. (2008). Freeman Junior College (Freeman, South Dakota, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 September 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Freeman_Junior_College_(Freeman,_South_Dakota,_USA)&oldid=101543.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 389-390. All rights reserved.

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