(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following account of the Peniel Community and Texas Holiness University is
written my Mrs. Ouida Worthington, 4202 Cordell St.)
In November, 1893, Rev. E. C. DeJernette, feeling the call of God to become a holiness
evangelist, and to establish a holiness camp meeting in North Texas, asked a location at the hands of the
North Texas conference of the M. E. Church South. [Methodist Episcopal Church South]
It was not long when he bought fifty three acres out of a hundred acre tract of beautiful woodland,
upon which the Greenville Holiness Camp Ground was established.
Brother Cordell B. A. and his wife Ethel bought forty-two acres north of the camp ground in 1898
twenty of which they donated for a college campus. The remainder was laid off into residence logs [sic,
most likely should read ‘lots] to be sold and the money from the sail of them a above the purchase price
was donated to assist in the erection of the necessary college buildings.
Three months after the purchase of the land (April 1899) the leaders of the Holiness movement
met in Greenville, Texas and committed themselves to the enterprise of a Holiness University. Rev. A.M.
Hills from Oberline, Ohio, was elected to the presidency and was authorized to select a faculty.
The first building was designed primarily for a girls dormitory, fronting one hundred feet on
Morrison Street and sixty feet on Caradine Street.
It was in 1901 that Dr. D. S. Arnold and family came from Chicago to take charge of the
conservatory of Music. Dr. Arnold had studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, studying voice, piano,
pipe organ, violin, and orchestral. His family is pictured above.
Dr. Arnold said “Of all the civilizing and refining influences at work, it is universally
acknowledged that none is so powerful and so appreciated as music in its various forms.
The third building was built of brick in the center of the 20-acre college campus. It was a building
with two stories with a belfry on the northeast corner of the building. The bell was rung for class periods,
Sunday School and church services.
President A.M. Hills studied at Oberlin College. He also attended Yale University after which he
was called to be a professor of theology at Asbury College in Kentycky.
The Texas Holiness University was a chartered institution controlled by a board of trustees. It was
a non-sectarian, non-denominational school.
Later a boys dormitory was built on the north side of the campus. The University taught a well
rounded course of studies that would have been taought in any other university.
Peniel was fast becoming a town. A Mayor was elected along with six councilmen. Everyone
who moved to Peniel came for the purpose of improving their minds and their souls. Many ministers
moved here with their families and bought their homes.
There was a public school built in the west part of Peniel and an orphans home on Adams Street
that included two buildings, one for the girls and one for the boys.
In the business area east of the railroad was a meat market, photographers office, a printing press
which published a weekly newspaper, a post office, and two grocery stores.
West of the railroad was an attractive station for people to sut down and wait for the street car to
come so they could go to Greenville.
In 1901 the community was assigned a post office under the name “Holiness.” In 1902 the name
of the post office and the town was changed to Peniel.
The name of the University was changed to Peniel University and during this time the Holiness
Denomination formed a merger with the church of the Nazerine.
At this point denominational schools found it difficult to operate and in 1917 the name was
changed to Peniel College and the session of 1919-1920 was the last at Peniel.
The Peniel community continued to operate at an incorporated town until citizens voted to
dissolve and join the city of Greenville.
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