December 27, 1916, delegates from Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas met at Philadelphia FWB Church near Pattonsburg, Missouri, and organized the Co-operative General Association of Free Will Baptists.
They voted to establish a denominational school, and John H Wolfe, Pawnee City, Nebraska, was elected president. Wolfe’s personal library later became the basis for the historical collection at Welch College.
A group of Tecumseh, Oklahoma, businessmen met with Wolfe and proposed to buy the Indianola Business College property (pictured below) just east of Tecumseh. Then they would give the property and $1,000 cash to Free Will Baptists for a college.
By 1927, Wolfe selected five women and four men, including himself, to teach history, languages, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, literature, as well as theology, apologetics, missions and doctrine.
Mr. and Mrs. William Fuller, Elk Creek, Nebraska, gave $500 as an endowment to the college. Thus the Fuller Professorship of Systematic Theology was established.
Tecumseh offered a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Christian Letters and the Bachelor of Letters, as well as high school diplomas. At one time it had 14 full-time teachers. The library boasted 3,000 books. The record is silent on the number enrolled.
The college had property, buildings, library and a faculty, but no consistent operating funds. Finances became a discouraging struggle. In 1927 after 10 years of service, the college burned to the ground.
About the Writer: Mary Wisehart served as chairman of the Free Will Baptist Historical Commission