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Volume 6 Relation of U.B/EUB Virginia Conferences to Shenandoah University Dec. 26, 2013

It is impossible to trace the history of the early years of the School in any great detail. We have
only the briefest information about the first 6 years of the institution’s existence. Of the actual
beginning we know only this: “a group of young men, eleven in number, sought the help of Rev. A. P.
Funkhouser in some special studies from February 12 to June 11, 1875” [1925 Yearbook, p. 47].

Abram Paul Funkhouser was born December 10, 1853, near Dayton, Va. His
parents were Samuel and Elizabeth Paul Funkhouser. He was educated in private
schools and at the age of 16 was granted License to Preach the Gospel in the U.B.
Church. He served some small churches for a few years and then attended Lebanon
Valley College for 2 years. When he returned to Virginia, he was assigned to the
Dayton Circuit. [The picture at the right appeared in the 1898 Yearbook.]

The town of Dayton was a rural village noted for its healthfulness, beauty, and
fertility of soil. It was proud of is reputation of no saloons or “other low places of

There is perhaps no village in the Shenandoah Valley so enticing as Dayton. Surrounded by
rich harvest fields, it gathers enterprise and energy from their wealth. Dayton is a home for
U.B. people. Quite a number in the recent past have located here. Others will do likewise as
the years go by… The enterprise here is remarkable. New buildings, improvements, etc., are
omens of the spirit of the people.2

The studies that were followed at the School were probably the general high school subjects of
later days—English, literature, geography, mathematics, etc., with a special emphasis on Bible study and
public speaking. A request was made to continue these studies the following year, and Rev. Funkhouser
then planned a “systematic course of studies.” He “hoped that what he had started would become a
regular high school for the town, but circumstances did not favor such a school for the town at that time,
and the work was maintained as an individual enterprise” [1925 Yearbook, p. 47].

Professor Jay Newton Fries was born December 3, 1850, in Frederick County,
Va., to George S. and Mary Jane Boyd Fries. He attended Lebanon Valley College for
3 years and was graduated from Otterbein University with the Bachelor of Arts
Degree in 1876. The picture at the right is from [Mellot p. 67]. After graduation he
moved to Dayton, where he probably intended to open a school of his own, as
evidenced by the following excerpt from a letter written by Rev. W. O. Fries in 1895:

…when Professor J. N. Fries, at the old Railroad Union Camp Meeting in
August 1876, induced father and mother to consider the school which he
proposed to open in the following month in Dayton, Va.3

Before either school opened, Rev. Funkhouser and Prof. Fries joined forces with Fries as
Principal and Funkhouser as Associate. “These two men were admirably adapted to work together, as
Rev. Funkhouser was an able man in planning and promoting, while Prof. Fries was a born teacher who
enjoyed the routine of the classroom.4

In the school year 1876-77, the School was known simply as Dayton “High School,” a name
suggesting work beyond that available in the public schools.

2 The Religious Telescope, June 30, 1886, p. 402. 2
3 The People’s Educational Monthly, 1895.
4 L. Widmyer, “Life of Prof. J. N. Fries.”

Miller, et al., on History of S.C., 1875-1950
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