Moved by the need for a college in East Texas, a group of earnest Baptists met in Palestine, Texas, March, 1899. They formed a permanent organization known as, "The East Texas Educational Society." The following officers were elected: A. W. Ewing, president; D. L. Scarborough and R. B. Longmire, vice presidents; C. A. Lawler, secretary; and W. J. Foscue, treasurer. They realized East Texas must educate its youth if it rose to the heights of its possibilities. With this in mind they proceeded in their plans to establish an institution which would provide academic and cultural training under religious influence. Jacksonville became their choice for the location of the college.
The East Texas Educational Society applied for a charter for Jacksonville College on June 10, 1899. The procedure was executed by A.P. Schofield, W. J. Foscue, R.B. Longmire and J. M. Newburn, then acting in the capacity of a corporation.
The charter was approved and signed by the Secretary of State of Texas, July 26, 1899, and was renewed in 1957.
On July 20, 1899, a building site consisting of 18 acres was bought for Jacksonville College. The trustees gave a contract for a three-story brick building in May, 1899. This building was not completed for the opening session of 1899-1900. The upper story of the Templeton building on South Bolton Street was rented and school opened in September with an enrollment of 34 students and before the end of the opening session, the enrollment increased to 85 students. Before the Christmas holidays the three- story brick building was completed and classes were moved to that location. Since that date all activities of the college have been at the present site.
In the original organization the college was organized on the senior college level, awarding the Bachelor of Arts Degree to its graduates. The college functioned as a senior college until 1918, when it was reorganized on the junior college level. The college has continued to function on the junior college level since 1918, awarding its graduates the Associate in Arts degree and the Associate in Science degree.
The Jacksonville College Academy was organized in 1918-1919. Its purpose was to offer a four-year course measuring up to the standards of high school work. The academy became affiliated with the State Department of Education in 1919. It maintained affiliation with the State Department until discontinued in 1958.
The Junior College course of study was organized in 1918-1919. It conformed to that offered by standard colleges and universities in their first and second year requirements. In 1923 affiliation was established with the State Department of Education.
In 1923 the original charter was amended to provide that Articles 7, 8, and 9 be changed to allow the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas to become the owner of Jacksonville College. Since that date the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas has owned and operated the college. In July of 2002 the college also became affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.
The college is located in a city of some 12,000 inhabitants, nestled in the beautiful, rolling hills of East Texas. The city boasts several industries, a prosperous farming region, friendly people, a fine system of public schools, another junior college, a national seminary and many fine churches.
The student body, the strong faculty, the campus spirit, and the location all combine to make Jacksonville College an ideal place for any student who seeks a sound education which keeps Christ preeminent.