Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
ST. DE CHANTAL ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION. Greene county has long stood among the foremost of the one hundred and fourteen divisions of the Missouri commonwealth in point of education, her many and high-grade schools being known throughout the Middle West. Indeed, the city of Springfield has been frequently alluded to as the "Athens of the Ozarks" and the "Athens of the Southwest," the latter term embracing a vast section of the American Union. Of our praiseworthy institutions of learning, that of St. de Chantal Academy, although among the newest of the county, occupies a prominent position in the list.
There is no doubt but that the location of an institution of learning has a great influence in its success. The immediate environment has much to do with its prestige and general results. Young minds are plastic and if students are placed in pleasant surroundings their progress will unquestionably be more rapid, and they will take more interest in their work. It would be difficult to find an institution of learning throughout the nation more fortunately situated in respect to its topographical environment than that of St. de Chantal Academy at "Elfindale," which is beautifully situated on the highest plateau of the Ozark Mountains, and lies just outside of the city limits of Springfield. An inspiring panorama of hill, valley, forest and field may be had over a vast stretch of interesting country from these heights. Its pure air and clear spring water supply, its unrivaled climate and beauty of scenery at all seasons, make it an ideal site for an educational home. The naturally magnificent grounds of one hundred acres, softened and beautified by the aid of man's art into blending land and waterscapes, give a refining harmonious environment and invite to outdoor exercise and nature study.
Both the academy proper and chapel buildings are models of elegant modern architecture, substantial, imposing, serviceable, and in every way suitable for school purposes. The former is four stories in height, of fine gray Carthage stone and the latter is three stories high and built of glazed brick with numerous artistic windows. Near by is a spacious and well-kept greenhouse, where flowers and shrubs of many varieties are grown. The elegant manor-house abounds in spacious halls and cheerful rooms, all of which are furnished with the latest conveniences of light, heat and ventilation to insure health and comfort.
"Elfindale" 'has been well named, for one does not need much poetic fancy, when wandering over its delightful grounds, with its arched stone gateway and its graceful and stately forest trees, to picture elfs of the infant world gamboling among these fairy-like bowers surrounding the little crystal lake a short distance from the academy, a bit of water which the Indians would doubtless have named "the smile of the Great Spirit" had they seen it, for it was their custom to give fitting names to Nature's beauty spots. This lake, with its banks embowered with overhanging trees and vines of many varieties common to this latitude, with its little island, stone bridges, pavilion, boat-house and canoes, to say nothing of the gay water-lilies that rest on its bosom in summer, must be seen to be fully appreciated.
The Order of Visitation was founded at Annecy, Haute-Savoie, by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantel, in 1610, and was introduced into this country in 1709, at Georgetown, District of Columbia.
St. de Chantal Academy, opened in 1887 by the Sisters of the Visitation Order in one of the fine residence parts of St. Louis, was, in 1906, enabled, through the munificence of Mrs. Alice O'Day, to remove to "Elfindale," Springfield, Missouri.
'The life and work at "Elfindale' have for their single purpose the full and thorough training of its children for the mission that awaits them. To this end, the school seeks by a judicious combination of physical, mental and moral training, to develop harmoniously their entire nature, and by the refining influences of a happy Christian home to mould their character, in order thus to make them not only accomplished and edifying members of society, but also sensible and practical women.
The government of the school assumes self-respect and self-restraint on the part of the pupils; consequently the discipline is mild though firm, and the pupils are expected to conform cheerfully to the established rules and regulations. The scholastic year is divided into two sessions, beginning respectively the second Monday of September and the first day of February, but pupils are received, any time and charged from date of entrance. Difference of religion is no obstacle to the reception of pupils, provided they conform to the discipline of the school, but they must come with proper references.
The curriculum comprises primary, preparatory and academic departments An elective course of studies may be arranged for pupils whose health or time advises against the full curriculum. French, history, literature, art and music are the branches ordinarily preferred. A post-graduate course enables the pupils to continue the study of philosophy, literature, history another branches. The school's diploma and gold medal are awarded to the pupils who satisfactorily complete the full course. The school diploma is given to those who successfully complete an elective course. The school's certificate of honor will be given to those who successfully pursue the post-graduate course. In the preparatory department the pupils are thoroughly grounded in English, geography, grammar and the elements of English composition and other studies, preparatory to the academic course. In the academic course the languages, sciences, philosophies and ancient histories are taught, and running through each department Bible history and Christian doctrine.
The school of music at Elfindale, while it enjoys the great advantage of being incorporated with an academy eminent for its instruction in all branches of a liberal education, offers at the same time a complete and independent course for those who wish to devote their time especially to music. Girls of tender years, with exceptional talent for music, will find at Elfindale the best conservatory methods, combined with careful guardianship and a regular English curriculum. Conducted by Sisters whose studies under the best professors have been supplemented by many years of experience, this school is prepared to carry its students through a graded course to thorough musicianship. The course of musical instruction embraces in addition to the chief departments of voice and piano, classes in theory, harmony, history of music, chorus and sight singing, also ensemble playing. There are two departments--the academic course and the general music school. The latter is intended for those who, not having time or talent for the academic course, yet wish to add the accomplishment of music to their studies in the regular curriculum. A diploma and gold medal are awarded for the completion of the academic course for voice, piano or violin.
The art course is founded upon the methods employed in the National Leagues. It comprises perspective, modeling, drawing and painting from casts and life and history of art. The studio is furnished with all the appliances of modern art, and the pupils are regularly informed of the current events of the art world.
Before leaving St. Louis, in June, 1906, the Alumnae Association was established. The first meeting was held on October 21, 1905, when the graduates of eighteen years assembled at the academy and organized into an association, with Mrs. Alonzo C. Church, its first graduate, as president. The association was organized for the purpose of maintaining and of promoting the interests of their alma mater in every manner that may contribute to her prosperity and reputation as a leading institution of learning. Besides Mrs. Church the other officers of the alumnae are vice-presidents, Mrs. J. F. McDermott and Mrs. H. F. Woods; recording secretary, Mrs. Gerald B. O'Reilly; treasurer, Mrs. J. Dillon.
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