Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology
The Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology was sponsored by the Pentecostal Holiness Church and operated by college president Dan W. Evans from 1927 to 1932 at Monte Ne (Benton County), in buildings formerly part of William “Coin” Harvey’s Monte Ne resort.
Dan Webster Evans (July 21, 1885–September 19, 1963) was born and raised in Boone County and married Rexie Gilbert (May 13, 1892–September 29, 1976) there in 1910; they had six children. His religious upbringing is unknown, but from 1914 to 1915, he and his wife were faculty members at the Pentecostal Holiness School in Stratford,Oklahoma. Pentecostalism grew out of the American Holiness movement during the late nineteenth century, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church, one division of that movement, was established in 1898. The Evanses also ran the Wagoner Literary Bible School (1915–1916), and they may have taught at other Pentecostal schools near Wagoner and Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
The Evans family moved back to Arkansas by 1927. In September of that year, Evans purchased the Monte Ne resort’s two large log hotels—Oklahoma Row and Missouri Row—as well as an outdoor pavilion, a cottage, and some fifteen acres of land for $20,000 to be used as classrooms and dorms for his co-ed vocational school, the Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology. Industrial colleges, now usually called technical or trade schools, taught agriculture and the “mechanic arts.”
The purchase was reportedly financed, at least in part, by what the Rogers Daily News called several “oil capitalists of Oklahoma.” Expectations were for 150 children to begin attending immediately and fifty more by three months later, due to overcrowding at other Pentecostal schools. About twenty teachers were hired, mostly from Oklahoma.
Missouri Row served as the boys’ dorm, while Oklahoma Row housed the girls’ dorm, dining hall, and the Evans family residence in the three-story tower. The school included all grades through high school as well as a school of theology. It operated on a no-tuition plan, whereby each student paid for schooling by working around campus. For example, students made repairs to the Oklahoma Row roof, which was damaged by an April 1928 storm. Students also played a part in Monte Ne life; for example, they provided music and readings for the dedication of “Coin” Harvey’s amphitheater in August 1928.
The school, however, was soon in financial trouble. In December 1928, a suit was brought against Evans by Mae Leake (who was to marry Harvey in April 1929) and other Oklahoma mortgage holders to foreclose on the college. That suit was apparently settled favorably enough that the school continued until April 1932. At that time, Mrs. S. G. Baker of Seminole,Oklahoma, who owned a second mortgage on the property, took possession of the college and ordered the Evanses to vacate.
Along with the school’s financial difficulties, it seems that residents of nearby Rogers (Benton County) were not happy with the school either, as petitions were circulated that urged “the organization which for the past two years or more has operated the property be discontinued as we feel that it is detrimental to said property and is of no value either as a school, industrial or commercial enterprise.” In July 1932, the property was sold to J. D. Campbell of Seminole, Oklahoma, for $4,000. The property was later reopened as a summer resort managed by Earl Wayne and Joe Graham of Monte Ne.
Dan Evans and his family apparently remained in Benton County. His residence was listed as Rogers in his 1951 book, The Revelation Message, published by the Pentecostal Holiness church in Georgia. Both Evans and his wife are buried in the Oakley Chapel Cemetery in Rogers.
For additional information:
Dan W. Evans Collection. International Pentecostal Holiness Church Archives and Research Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
“Monte Ne Club House Sale to Oklahomans as Vocational School.” Rogers Democrat, September 15, 1927, p. 1.
“Monte Ne Club is Sold Friday.” Rogers Democrat, July 21, 1932, p. 1.
Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology Collection, International Pentecostal Holiness Church Archives and Research Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
“Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology Opens at Monte Ne Sept. 28th.” Rogers Democrat, September 22, 1927, p. 1.
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
Last Updated: 09/01/2022