The history of the Scarritt Collegiate Institute in Neosho

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NEOSHO, MO – Crowder College has been educating students in Neosho for nearly 60 years, but it wasn’t the first institution of higher education in town.

“Probably very few people realize there was ever a college here.” Says Larry James, Neosho Historian.

That’s 201 North Jefferson, in Neosho.

The main campus of what would become Scarritt Collegiate Institute.

“A lot of places in the entire country developed small colleges, and so it was started here at Neosho at originally what was Neosho Collegiate Institute.” James says.

It first opened in 1878, referred to as a college, but closer to a high school curriculum, which weren’t common at the time.

“That was probably quite limited. For we may have had courses with English, math, social studies.” James says.

The first session boasted 42 students with tuition ranging from $8.00 to $18.00.

Financial issues would lead to a shutdown after a few years.

In 1887, Dr. Nathan Scarritt donated $5,000 toward re-opening, leading to the new name of Scarritt Collegiate Institute.

It would last another 16 years, boasting some well known connections like a famous writer and actor.

“Will Rogers was notorious for creating issues and every school he went. Too many pranks and too many things going on with Will Rogers and so he got kicked out of the school.” James says.

Also Captain Harvey Clark, the namesake of Camp Clark in Nevada.

The Neosho school district would later buy the campus at 201 North Jefferson as the site for the high school until building the current school campus.

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