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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Crowfield Academy

by Michael Hill, 2006

Crowfield Academy, a classical school in what is today Iredell County, was operated by Presbyterians from about 1760 to 1788. Although the school trained many prominent men, records pertaining to its operation are scattered and thin. The first published mention appears in W. H. Foote's 1846 history: "Dr. [James] McRee, in his manuscripts, tells us that there was a flourishing classical school in the bounds of Centre [Presbyterian Church] at a very early period, and after continuing about twenty years was broken up by the invasion." E. F. Rockwell, who taught at Davidson College, provided a fuller account of Crowfield in 1858 and suggested 1760 as the year of the school's opening. The American Revolution apparently interrupted studies at Crowfield, but in 1787 Charles Caldwell moved from nearby Clio's Nursery, a similar school, to reestablish it. Shortly thereafter the academy closed.

Writers have cited Crowfield as the germ out of which Davidson College grew and noted its influence on the University of North Carolina through providing early education to many of its first teachers and students. R. D. W. Connor made such claims in an address to the Daughters of the American Revolution upon the occasion of the placement of a plaque commemorating the school in 1931. Commonly cited as graduates of Crowfield are such important figures in North Carolina history as Samuel McCorkle, James Hall, Adlai Osborne, Ephraim Brevard, Andrew King, William Houston, and Charles Harris. Some sources indicate that David Caldwell taught at Crowfield briefly before moving in 1767 to Guilford County to open his own school. Others count future president of the University of North Carolina David Kerr among the instructors. E. F. Rockwell placed the site of Crowfield at an "old field" near the home of Alexander Osborne in southern Iredell County.


Homer M. Keever, Iredell: Piedmont County (1976).

E. F. Rockwell, "The First Classical School in Western North Carolina," North Carolina Journal of Education 1 (July 1858).

Additional Resources:

Looking back at Crowfield Academy, by: O.C. Stonestreet, Statesville Record & Landmark, published: August 17, 2008:

Clio's Nursery, NC Historical Marker M-23:

Finding Aid of the Sloan-Osborne Ciphering Book, c. 1753; 1778-1779; 1782, North Carolina State Archives:

Origin - location: