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The Presidency of E.E. Bramlette

By Frank Chamberlain

Dr. Edgar Elliot Bramlette was selected to succeed W.H. Bruce as the second president of John Tarleton College. Bramlette served in this capacity for the next six years and presided over the initial improvements and additions to the campus.

Dr. Bramlette was one of the more educated people to assume the presidency of Tarleton. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University and taught classical languages at the University of Texas. Later, he became the first person to receive his Master of Arts degree from UT. In addition, he served in the United States Consulate in Germany where he studied at Leipzing University. Bramlette was teaching languages at Texas A&M and serving as superintendent of Fort Worth schools at the time of his hiring at Tarleton.

Upon his arrival, Dr. Bramlette faced the same problems of his predecessor. The college was still in dire need of classroom space and improved physical facilities. In 1901, enough money was raised to allow the addition of a third floor to the original Campus Hall. This eased the overcrowding problems a bit and also provided room for the creation of a school library.

Although the college now possessed the physical space for a library, it could not afford to actually purchase reading materials. Therefore, Bramlette organized a “literary reception” in which Stephenville citizens were asked to donate books to the library. The townspeople responded generously and provided the initial stock of nearly 600 books through such banquets. Louisa Linn Bramlette, the president’s wife, played a key role in soliciting these donations through her activity in the Stephenville 20th Century Club.

Bramlette also presided over the construction of the Marston Science Hall in 1902. This badly needed facility was among the first buildings to be added to the campus. Edgar L. Marston donated the bricks that composed the structure. Mr. Marston owned the Texas and Pacific Coal Company and the Thurber Brick Company. The new science building was stocked with chemicals and equipped with modern scientific paraphernalia.

The college’s first printing press was acquired during the Bramlette administration. The John Tarleton Literary Society for men and the Winnie Davis Literary Society for women cooperated to produce the first literary journal on campus. This publication was entitled The John Tarleton and first appeared on a monthly basis. The name was changed to the Tarletonite in 1904 and it began to be published weekly. The final incarnation of this newspaper was established in 1919, when the current title, The JTAC, was adopted.

Tarleton also became involved in athletics during this time with the establishment of an Athletic Association in 1901. The school featured intramural football, baseball, and track during those initial years. Competition with other schools did not occur regularly until 1904, when Tarleton joined the West Texas College League. This same year, the college was able to purchase two acres of adjacent land in order to house the athletic field. This men’s athletic program was almost entirely financed by local businesses and citizens. The player’s uniforms, equipment, and operating expenses were paid by private donations. There were no official criteria to determine eligibility of a potential athlete. The players’ simply had to show up and be able to perform well at their sport. Women’s athletics did not formally exist at this time. However, the school did provide their female population with exercises in basketball, tennis, and dumbbell training.

Bramlette resigned his position in 1906, becoming a teacher at Texarkana and Huntsville schools. He later became very involved with programs for the visually impaired. In 1911, he became the superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind. Twelve years later, he was hired as superintendent of the American Publishing Company for the Blind in Louisville , Kentucky. Bramlette was serving in this capacity until his death in 1929.