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ROCK HILL INSTITUTE. Rock Hill Institute, at Minden, southeastern Rusk County, was one of the last pioneer schools still operating in East Texas. It was founded in March 1880 by G. I. Watkins, and may have been authorized by the State of Texas to confer degrees even before the University of Texas. Rock Hill Institute was named for the rock hill, that rises above the town of Minden, on which it was built. After Reconstruction, residents of Minden met in a thicket near the town to plan a school. The school was to be located on a plot of four acres in the T. Howeth survey, which was owned by a Mr. Zuber and donated by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rettig; Mrs Rettig's maiden name was Zuber. The townspeople of Minden employed Professor Watkins at a salary of seventy-five dollars a month as principal. The school's expenses were originally supported by public subscription, but later a general school-tax plan was proposed by Dr. Dan Deason. Watkins, who died in 1932, was for many years the guiding light of the school. He was followed by W. C. Shaw, who served for twenty years. Shaw was also superintendent of the New London School in 1937 at the time of the New London School Explosion. Early trustees of Rock Hill Institute were Joe A. H. Welch, W. D. Arnold, Bob Smith, and Paul Rettig. No tuition was charged Minden residents or boys preparing for the ministry. The school was open to girls as well as to boys. Enrollment at Rock Hill grew from about fifty to about 100, and the original building was enlarged several times. At one time the school had a library and a string orchestra. In 1919 the institute's buildings became part of the Minden Independent School District, which was established that year. The old main building burned in October 1927.


Garland Roscoe Farmer, The Realm of Rusk County (Henderson, Texas: Henderson Times, 1951). Dorman H. Winfrey, A History of Rusk County (Waco: Texian, 1961).

Megan Biesele


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

Megan Biesele, "ROCK HILL INSTITUTE," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.