Friday, February 12, 2010

General Perry’s Kentucky Contributions

By Nancy Hitt

During the second week of July, 2009 the Glen Dale Center, previously known as the Kentucky Baptist Children’s Home, moved from its historic location in Glendale, Kentucky, to a new facility in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, bringing to an end a long connection to the contributions of CSA Brigadier General William Flank Perry in Glendale.

According to a booklet entitled, “Glendale, Colorful Town has Rich History”, published in 1993, the folks of Glendale in 1865 decided to start a school. Several local families made donations of money and land. On February 11, 1867, a charter was issued under the name of Lynnland Female Institute. The school opened in September of the same year and a Baptist minister headed the school for the following two years. He was succeeded by General William F. Perry of Alabama, a Confederate Brigadier General. Perry was a well-educated gentleman and was greatly loved by his pupils. He oversaw a flourishing Glendale school where Latin, Greek, higher mathematics, modern languages and other subjects were offered.

In 1870 General Perry wrote to General Robert E. Lee, president of Washington College in Virginia (now Washington and Lee University) and asked General Lee to send the school a qualified teacher. In September, 20 year old John Peyton Hobson arrived at Lynnland with a letter of recommendation from General Lee.

General Perry and Major Peter Eppes Harris purchased Lynnland on June 29, 1871. They paid $17,000 for the school which attracted students from other states as well as Kentucky and was one of the well-known institutions of its kind in Kentucky.

A few years later Perry and Harris converted the school into Lynnland Military Institution. However this was not a success, and the school closed in 1879.

Lynnland went through several changes over the following years and was sold to the Baptist Education Society of Kentucky on July 17, 1907. At this time the son of General Perry, Professor George Brown Perry, returned to Glendale for one year and taught at the school he had attended as a child. On June 23, 1915, Lynnland was sold to the trustees of the Kentucky Baptist Children’s Home for use as an orphanage.

Now that the Kentucky Baptist Children’s Home (Glen Dale Center) has been relocated to Elizabethtown, ending the connection to the Confederacy, the future of this historic property - which contains about 500 acres - is uncertain.

William Flank Perry was born in Jackson County, Georgia, on March 12, 1823. His family moved to Alabama and he taught in country schools in Talladega County from 1848 to 1853. He studied law during this period and was admitted to the bar in 1854, but he never set up a practice. Twice he was elected State Superintendent of Education, but resigned in 1858 to become President of East Alabama Female College at Tuskegee.

Perry enlisted as a private in the Confederate forces a year after the War began. He rose through the ranks to become a colonel after the Battle of Antietam. At Little Round Top he took a leading part with the 44th Alabama Infantry and participated in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. On February 21, 1865, he was promoted to Brigadier General and remained with his troops until they were paroled at Appomattox, Virginia.

For two years after the war General Perry attempted to farm in Alabama, but he was drawn back into the field of education by the call from the folks in Glendale,Kentucky.

After the military school closed, General Perry made a name for himself in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He became a long-term professor of English and Philosophy at Ogden College which is now a part of Western Kentucky State University. It is now known as the Ogden College of Science and Engineering.

When General Perry died in Bowling Green on December 18, 1901, he was buried at the Fairview Cemetery. He is the only Confederate General buried in that city. His Ogden College students placed a marker at his grave which is inscribed with a testament to General Perry’s service in the Confederate military and how it translated into his becoming a beloved professor.

General Perry and his wife, Ellen Douglas Brown Perry, had one son and six daughters. His son George Brown Perry was born July 16, 1854 at Talladega, Alabama. George Perry attended the Lynnland Military Institute. He married a schoolmate, Rebekah Sprigg. Although it was a military school, donors were allowed to send their daughters to the school and they studied in a different department at the school.

George and Rebekah lived for a time in Pewee Valley, Kentucky, and were employed at the newly founded Kentucky College. Rebekah Perry died in Franklin,Kentucky, about 1912. George Perry died at the age of 82 in Waurika, Oklahoma, in February, 1936.

The new Glen Dale Center is located on Commerce Drive in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. It was previously located at 2125 Gilead Church Road, Glendale, Kentucky 42740.

There are several brick buildings and a church standing empty on the beautiful Glendale site, but none of the structures appear to date back to the time General Perry spent there. Glendale may be known for the Whistle Stop Restaurant and its antique shops, but there is much more importance and history connected here, thanks to General Perry and those community members with the foresight to establish Lynnland. 


Lawrence Hornback said...

I was fortunate enough to spend 10 years at this beautiful institution. Much of who I am was taught to me there by some very loving people. The current state of this historic and important landmark is deplorable. I only wish I had the money tp purchase the property and restore it so that it may continue to serve the community!

Jose' J. Dunn, Captain,USAF Retired said...

Glendale is more than mortar and bricks. For hundreds of us orphans it was the first time we began to grow as human beings. Before GlenDale, people tried to hurt and/or neglect us. Once in GlenDale we all began to grow and experience life's many opportunities because, GlenDale gave us more than food, clothes, a roof over our heads and an education as-good-as or better than community children we went to school with. GlenDale staff and community caring people gave us orphan's an idea of how we were as good as anyone else and had the power to be anything we were willing to work for. I wish I could thank everyone who shared their lives to better our lives. GlenDale was made-up of love and dedication to an idea of each individual is responsible for their fellow man. So, let the money changers in the market sell off GlenDale to make more money for their greedy pockets (God and I know who they are). They can never take away the lessons we orphans learned from living there are the love we have for each other. God bless The many people who made up GlenDale throughout time and forgive the takers who have worked so hard to destroy it and what it stood for.

Rondal Childress said...

I went to Glendale along with my two brothers in 1970 and was there for two years. I was not an orphan but as my mother had passed away and father couldn't take care of us we were in no condition to try and survive on our own. Glendale Children's Home became more than a home but a sanctuary of survival from the outside world. While at Glendale we became a family of young children and teenage adults being taken care of by House Mothers who took of their time to ensure we were disciplined and learned the difference of right and wrong. Our Director, Brother Ralph McConnell was a friend to all the kids there and spent many long hours ensuring we had all we needed to survive. All the children there learned the meaning of chores, some working the farm and some working within the confines of the different cottages to make life better. There are some erroneous reports out there of abuse and that may have happened before or after I left but while I was there I lived a good life enjoying the friendship and camaraderie of being a part of a family all striving for one thing, to make our lives better. Now the home has been closed down due to whatever reason and sold to the highest bidder. In my opinion the State did this not only for Political reasons but for the fortune of others. Glendale Children's Home was not a jail with fences and gates but a home. Now the state has opened Sunrise services where the Director wants all services under one roof. I can understand this to a certain extent however, I have been to the one in Elizabethtown and there is a big steel fence surrounding the entire compound. All I can say is you may as well to put the children in jail. The only difference is they do have descent living quarters. For those who have forgotten Glendale and what it did for thousands of children from 1915 until it closed in 2009 shame on you. I have been to the site several times and am completely ashamed of the way the buildings look now. They are old, weather beaten and run down. The owner whom I have talked with has offered to sell the property but it would take a lot of money to restore the buildings. On my last note if I had the money I WOULD buy the property and restore every building there but that would take more than a lot of people see in a lifetime, although the state could restore this property as an historic site but the want to spend their money on Special Interest projects rather that something that is of value.