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. . . . Henry Bellamann:
The Columbia, SC, Years at Chicora College
by Harry Bayne, Ph.D.
(Associate Professor of English, Brewton-Parker College, Mt. Vernon, GA)
Chicora College opened in 1893 in Greenville as a special ministry of the First Presbyterian Church of that city. The Bellamanns came there to teach in September 1907, within a few days of their marriage in Carthage, Mississippi. The Chicora campus was located on the Reedy River in downtown Greenville, within view of Furman University. In 1915 the Presbyterian synod voted to move Chicora to Columbia. It was housed in the Hampton-Preston mansion on Blanding Street. The Bellamanns resided at 1522 Blanding St. Over a period of ten years they accomodated such noted guests as Carl Sandburg, Julia Peterkin, Amy Lowell, and Charles Ives. Henry Bellamann left Chicora in 1924 to head the Juilliard Foundation, and Katherine stayed on one year before she, too, moved to New York. A casualty of the Depression, Chicora closed its doors in 1930. Several members of its faculty joined the faculty of Queens College in Charlotte, and until the mid-1940s that insitution was known as "Queens-Chicora College." Chicora was a "rival" of Columbia College, a Methodist institution.
In his final year at Chicora, Bellamann was tapped by R. Charlton Wright, editor of The Columbia Record, to edit its fine arts section on Sundays. (In those days both The State and The Record published Sunday editions.) Bellamann accepted the offer, serving The Record from 1923 until 1929. In the latter year, Wright lost his job at The Record, and Bellamann resigned in protest. Almost immediately The State requested Bellamann's services in a similar position, and he seized the opportunity. His literary editorship at The State ended in 1932, for reasons I have been unable to learn. In 1934 he resumed his column "The Literary Highway" in The Charlotte Observer but finally abandoned that weekly undertaking in 1937 (some of his last columns in The Observer were authored by someone else). Needless to say, all of his columns after 1924 were written in New York and mailed in; he never failed to close a column without providing his NYC address.
To the best of my knowledge, he last visited Columbia in 1930; he came to attend some alumnae functions as Chicora was shutting down. I have no doubt that he was very fond of the city and its cultural life. He was a "regular" at Gittman's Book Store on Main Street, where he met every week for coffee with Columbia's intellectual community (mostly USC professors such as Yates Snowden). It was through his distinguised work at Chicora that he attracted the attention of Juilliard's administration, and enabled him to move to New York, where he made invaluable contacts in the publishing world. Eventually he gave up music altogether. When he failed to interest Collier's and Harpers's magazines in running his literary column, he channeled all his energies into novel writing and ultimately earned a fortune of about $500,000.
One other curiosity: Bellamann never earned a college degree. His Who's Who biography records his attending Westminster College in his hometown, Fulton, Missouri, from 1896 to 1898, and the University of Denver, 1898-1900. Those details are fabrications. He graduated from Fulton High School at age 17 in 1899 and then attended Westminster for two semesters (fall 1900 and spring 1901). Subsequently he studied piano at the University of Denver's music conservatory, but he never was enrolled as a student. Returning to Fulton ca.1904, he took classes in music at William Woods University but was not actually a university student. Nevertheless, he landed several teaching posts in the South, and now-defunct Grayson College in Whitewright, Texas, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1906, where he and Katherine had taught for only a year. A few months before Juilliard hired him (I have discovered) he wrote to the University of South Carolina, requesting that USC confer on him an honorary Master of Arts degree. I think he had a fear of being found educationally deficient at Juilliard and believed that an M.A. from South Carolina would redeem him. The faculty voted not to award the degree.
Dr. Bayne does not have e-mail at the present time, but if you would like to write to him, just e-mail me, and I'll see that he gets your message.
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