While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Craig H. Roell

ARANAMA COLLEGE. Aranama College, at Goliad, was established in 1852 under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church as an "educational clinic" for Mexicans. This men's college, named for the eighteenth-century Indian converts of Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga Mission, resulted from the efforts of the Western Presbytery of Texas, which was organized in 1851, and particularly Rev. William C. Blair, to start a Presbyterian college within the boundaries of the presbytery. A committee, organized by the presbytery in April 1851 and chaired by Rev. Joel T. Case, who helped establish Victoria Female Academy, reported in the spring of 1852 in favor of establishing a college. Among the towns vying for the college were Lockhart, Victoria, and Goliad. The last offered as inducement the old Aranama mission and its grounds, amounting to twenty acres, plus a league of the unsold lands of the town tract and an additional $1,000 cash and 20,000 acres from the citizens of the town. Goliad was chosen because of its importance to what was called western Texas, the increased immigration of Mexicans and the proximity of Mexico, and the promise of patronage by influential local Mexican families.

The nine members of the first board of trustees were elected on March 27, 1852, and included Joel Case and J. F. Hillyer, founder of Hillyer Female College, a Baptist institution at Goliad. Aranama College, established on the Aranama mission site on the San Antonio River, opened in September 1852 with Blair as president. The Western Presbytery designated $10,000, largely the profit from the sale of the donated lands, to be used over the next five years to erect buildings and a library and to purchase "school apparatus." The school, by its state charter granted on January 25, 1854, was to be "purely literary and scientific." It was open to students of all denominations, whose "moral and religious improvements" were also a goal.

The preparatory department was the first department to function. In 1857 it offered English grammar, orthography, composition, elocution, geography, bookkeeping, elementary and higher mathematics, surveying, Latin, and Greek. Tuition ranged from three to four dollars a month. The college also sponsored the literary contests of the Adelphian Literary Society, which debated in 1859 over the question, "Should the United States re-open the African Slave Trade?"

The college was reorganized in 1860 with the hiring of new faculty members. Its three departments were the four-year college proper, whose graduates received the A.B. degree; the scientific department, designed to prepare students for business; and the preparatory department, maintained to prepare students for college. Tuition was fixed at fifty dollars a term for the college and scientific department, and twenty-five dollars for the preparatory department. Board with respectable families was also available. By 1860 about 100 students were enrolled.

Although financial problems burdened the college throughout most of its existence, it remained open until the Civil War, when the entire student body enlisted in the Confederate Army. The school building, a three-story stone structure with thirty rooms, was used by both Southern and Northern armies as a headquarters during the war. After the war the Western Presbytery was unable to keep the college in operation. Because the school's lands were given conditionally, the presbytery, following a request from local citizens, donated the land and college to the state in February 1871 on the condition that a penitentiary be located at Goliad. In August the presbytery attempted to lease the college to the state for use as a free school. The attempt apparently failed, since by April 1872 the Western Presbytery no longer laid claim to Aranama College, and the trustees had lost a suit to recover the property during the administration of Governor Edmund J. Davis. The college building was destroyed in the great storm of 1886 (see HURRICANES).


Goliad County Historical Commission, The History and Heritage of Goliad County, ed. Jakie L. Pruett and Everett B. Cole (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983). Eugene Allen Perrin, The History of Education in Goliad County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1933). William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Craig H. Roell, "ARANAMA COLLEGE," accessed July 15, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kba13.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on October 5, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...