North Carolina Free Will Baptists began a school in 1898, on Lee Street in Ayden, North Carolina. Its official name was Free Will Baptist Theological Seminary. Ayden Seminary, as it came to be known, was an elementary and high school with a ministerial course of study.
J.E.B. Davis was the first principal. Later in 1898 Dr. Thomas E. Peden came from Sciotoville, Ohio to teach Bible and be principal. He served until 1910.
Ayden Seminary continued classes until 1925, when officials determined that the institution must offer college courses in order to exist.
After the school purchased land in west Ayden, officials decided it needed a new name. They received 90 suggestions. Finally, all names were eliminated except two: Voletta and Eureka.
Eureka was chosen, and September 6. 1926, Eureka College opened, offering two years of college work and continuing the high school program.
In 1905 the school had 133 students. In 1911, it boasted the largest auditorium in the area. The college discontinued high school courses in 1926. The library had 1,500 volumes in 1927. The May 30, 1928, Commencement program included a drama, Pollyanna by C.C. Cushing.
In 1929 Eureka College closed its doors. The college building burned to the ground on November 4, 1931. Ayden Seminary and Eureka College had served Free Will Baptists for over 30 years.
About the Writer: Mary Wisehart served as chairman of the Free Will Baptist Historical Commission
Read A History of Ayden College and Eureka College by Dr. Michael R. Pelt.