Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

Culver Military Academy Culver Educational Foundation 1894-1899  



A friend had suggested that the area would be ideal for a summer camp in April of 1894, of this Mr. Culver said:

    "In all these thirty years since I have known the lake a hobby of mine has been to start a school. It has been one of my 'castles in the air.' The hobby first took definite shape in 1888. I saw in my mind's eye where the school wo uld have to be, and I began to prepare ground for its location. For a number of years I was in correspondence with teachers everywhere, trying to get a suitable person to take charge of the school. I could find no one who saw promise in my plan. I then went to California, and upon my return, in March 1894, I found a letter awaiting me from an Indianapolis friend, who suggested that a summer school be located on my grounds, and that Dr. J. R. McKenzie, of the Ohio military academy, near Cincinnati, be selected as the head of the school. I agreed to this, and in April 1894, set aside the forty acres on the north shore of the lake for school purposes, and put up some additional buildings, The success of the summer school I consider assured, and I propose now to have the academy a permanent institution. The buildings are of a temporary character. I propose to have buildings of brick and stone, that will be as fine as the buildings belonging to any educational institution in the state."

He then in turn started upon his dream of founding a permanent school on the property - converting the hotel into an multi purpose building and the tabernacle into a gym and setting aside 40 acres for the Culver Academy on Aubeenaubee Bay. The name in the plans for the school and been Culver Military Institute but by the time the catalogs were printed and out the name was just Culver Academy but by Thanksgiving of that year the "Military" had crept back in to the name and the school was referred to as Culver Military Academy - from then on.

1894 - May 4 John Heyward McKenzie [PDF] arrived on the north shore of Lake Maxinkuckee on May 4, 1894, to sign an agreement with H. H.. Culver as Principal of Culver Academy. By Bob Hartman this agreement was:
    "to; maintain a school . . . with a competent corps of teachers, (and) pay all expenses connected with the maintenance of the school . . ." The founder agreed to "put said buildings in condition for permanent occupancy," and; "if found necessary,"; add a gymnasium. With those simple rubrics, McKenzie set up headquarters in the old Chautauqua assembly building's, Culver Park Hotel and prepared to lead the newly formed Culver Military Institute. After expenses connected with the maintenance and operation of the school had been paid, "any surplus would be divided equally between the two parties of the contract", according to the agreement.

Thus first head of the Culver Academy was an Episcopal priest - John Heywood McKenzie.


Founded in July 1894 as Culver Academy by Henry H. Culver it originally was 40 acres, with 3 buildings.

And thus was opened, with sixteen boys under Dr. McKenzie, in July, 1894-, the first summer session of the Culver academy

The regular nine months' session opened on September 24 1894 and classes started on 25 September 1894 with 32 cadets [another source says 45] in attendance. It opened under Dr. McKenzie and two assistants; also with Mr. Culver and Dr. McKenzie acting as the regents or governing body. Its purpose was - - For the purpose of thoroughly preparing young men for the best colleges, scientific schools and business of America.

All went quietly until February 24, 1895, when at noon the frame hotel which had been used as temporary barracks, suddenly took fire and was burned to the ground.

Bob Hartman writes this about it:
    Less than five months after the Academy opened, a late afternoon fire broke out in the hotel and by dusk on Feb. 4, the structure had been destroyed. There were no injuries, but the just completed mid-year exams, grades, and personal possessions were destroyed. Jubilant cadets, anticipating an extended vacation from their academic responsibilities, were quickly disappointed when local residences, the Culver 's summer home, and a nearby farmhouse were put into service as dormitories. Classroom space was provided in several auxiliary buildings and the tabernacle was reconfigured to serve as the dining hall.

    Mr. Culver was a man of dauntless courage, and often said that he had never failed in anything he had undertaken, and even before the embers from this building had ceased to glow; he was on the spot with architects, measuring the ground and planning for an elaborate fireproof barracks. The material to be used was to be brick, steel, stone, and iron, with no wood work except the floors, window frames and doors, and the floors were to be laid on a bed of concrete nine inches thick, so that it wo uld be impossible for the building to be injured by fire.

    H. H. Culver had hired architect Albert Knell, and while both men were enroute to Culver by train they laid out the basic design for Main Barrack. They envisioned a three-story structure of "brick, stone, steel, and iron". It took seven months to construct and fine tune between the two men. The cornerstone for Main Barracks was laid May 16th and the build was ready to be occupied on September 24th.

In the biography on Milo Reno Cline in the History of Marshall County Indiana Sesquicentennial 1836 - 1986 (Taylor Publishing Co., 1986, Publication #357 of 1422) Marshall County Historical Society pg. 125 it is stated:
    "He helped build the first building for the Culver Military Academy, that building being constructed on the site of a former tabernacle in 1894. He became a friend of the Culver family, especially Edward Culver ."

and in the same book on pgs. 73-4 under the Barnes family is found this:

    In 1894, the year Culver Military Academy was founded by Henry Harrison Culver , a contract was awarded to John E. Barnes of Logansport to construct a brick barracks, the first permanent building on the campus. The cornerstone for this building is dated May 16, 1895. It had an Engine Annex that contained a power plant. It produced the heat and generated electricity for the campus. Coal being was required to run the plant, a rail spur ran through the heart of the campus directly to the rear of Main Barrack, till 1911 when the Mess Hall was constructed.

    John E. Barnes, in order to have a place to live while building this barracks, purchased the Arlington Hotel annex. He continued to build for the Academy and with his wife Elizabeth Jane Bates Barnes, maintained this home at what is now 704 West Shore Drive.

    A son, James I. Barnes, in the meantime joined his father in the construction business. As the father grew older, this son, James, took over the business and continued the construction of many buildings built at the Academy in subsequent years....
But by Thanksgiving of this year Military had been incorporated into the school name.

found in the Logansport pharos of 28 dec 1894:
    WELL PLEASED WITH COLLEGE.

    The Culver Mitary Academy a Popular Institution.

    The young men who are attending the Culver Military Academy at Lake Maxinkuckoe are very much pleased with that institution.

    They are now at home enjoying the holiday vacation .

    The parents of the young to are very much gratified with the progress made by the boys.

    The course of instruction includes manual training - - the development of the body as well as the mind.

    The school is certain to be a success.

    Maxinkuckee is admirably adapted to a school of this kind. The natural beauty of the place and the opportunities for quiet investigation make it a desirable place in which to educate young men.

    The principal of the academy is a man who has had much experience as an instructor in such schools.

Here is an ad from the 1895 Marmont Herald


1895 - The 6th of June, John Heyward McKenzie tenured his resignation; after a year of disputes and turmoil over operations of the school with H. H. Culver . The Culver Military Academy opened in 24 September of 1895 under the leadership of West Point graduate Maj. Clinton Tebbets

as Superintendent and Commandant but his tenure was less than 14 months handing in his resignation just before Col. Alexander Fleet [pdf file] arrived with his cadets to Culver. Nothing much can be found recorded of Maj. Tebbets his time at Culver .

When the Main Barrack opened in Sept. of 1895 and it replaced the first CMA building, the Culver Park Hotel, which had burnt in February 1895. It's construction time of eight months was remarkable feat.


Bob Hartman's description of Main Barrack as it was then is:
    It contained a chapel, mess hall, classrooms, library, and quarters for about ninety cadets. Its construction was described as "brick, stone, steel and iron, with concrete nine inches thick, so that it is impossible to be injured by fire." It was centrally heated by coal-fired boilers which also generated steam to the "Dynamo Room" to power electric generators.


Central Main Barrack and its Engine Annex which housed coal-fired boilers to produce steam to heat the barrack and drive electric generators] was erected these buildings were designed by architect, Albert Knell of Baker and Knell [of St. Louis].

This "Dynamo Room" or "Engine Annex" contained a power plant that produced heat and generated electricity for the campus.


The fuel of course was coal being shipped in by railroad - thus a rail spur ran through the heart of the campus directly to the rear of Main Barrack


This unsightly railroad track and the coal dump remained on the main campus until after the Mess Hall was built in 1911 and new power plant (now the Music and Arts Building ) was constructed in 1912

This is an ad for the Academy in the 1896 Culver Herald


1896 - Jul 3 - Mr. H. H. Culver has arrived and will at once commence to make extensive improvements at the park. The building formerly known a s the chapel, will be transformed into a magnificent dwelling house, and will be occupied by Major Tebbetts and family. A new order of things will be inaugurated at the Academy the ensuing year. One of Mr. Culver's sons will have complete control of the business end of the concern, which will give the major more time to look after the affairs of the school.

The school re-opened September 16, 1896, with twenty-nine boys, under Maj. Tebbetts and three assistants, and was progressing quietly when an event occurred which at once changed the current of affairs at the academy, and caused them to flow in a channel quite different from the course of the two previous years.

On 26 September 1896 the Missouri Military Academy boys was ravaged by fire that month - Sensing the opportunity to save Culver Military Academy H. H. Culver sent a telegram - "You have the boys, I have the buildings. Let's get together." - giving Fleet the opportunity to bring his students, and faculty to Indiana. H. H. Culver had proposed an acceptable deal resulting in Fleet's acceptance and H. H. Culver telegrammed back: "Veni, Vidi, Vici. The Academy is at your disposal. When will your party start? Answer quick." Culver hired a private train for Fleet, his staff and the cadets to bring them from Mexico, Missouri to Culver .

found in the Culver City Herald of 2 Oct 1896:
    CADETS WILL GO TO INDIANA.

    New Home for the Students Burned Out at Mexico, Mo.

    The Missouri Millitary Academy, which burned at Mexico, Mo., last week, will resume work in the Culver Military Academy, Culver City, Ind.

    Mr. Culver , the founder of Culver Academy, is a wealthy citizen of St. Louis aud president of the St. Louis Wrought Iron Range Company.

    He will pay the railroad fare of the cadets to St. Louis and will send them by a special car to Culver Academy Monday, Oct. 5.

    Col. Fleet will be superintendent of the newlv consolidated academies and will take his old faculty with him.

    Culver Academy is absolutely fireproof and is situated on one of the most beautiful lakes in northern lndiana.

    The injured cadets are recovering. - - Chicago Herald.

0n the evening of October 5th Head master Col. Alexander F. Fleet arrived along with the 72 cadets and five faculty members among who were Hugh Greiner and Hugh Glasswork; from there they went to the lake pier boarded the steamboats Peerless I and Aubeenaubee for the short trip to the Academy.


Col. Alexander Frederick Fleet, Culver superintendent from 1896 to 1910, was born in King and Queen County, Va., in 1843. He joined the Confederate army in 1861, serving as a lieutenant and aide-de-camp to Gen. Henry Wise. He was present at Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

1896 - October 9th - Friday - Culver Herald:
    A ROYAL RECEPTION.

    SPECIAL TRAIN ARRIVES WITH CADETS MONDAY.

    Col. Fleet and His Sixty-One Boys Met at the Depot by a Large Concourse of People.

    All day Monday the citizens of Culver City were in a flurry of excitement over the fact that a special train would arrive at five o'clock p. m., having on board Col. Fleet and a large number of cadets, who will at once become members of the Culver Military Academy

    This important event transpired owing to the fact that the Missouri Military Academy, situated at Mexico, Mo., burned recently and thereby at once left the Colonel and about 100 cadets, as it were, homeless.

    Mr. Culver, with his usual business sagacity, at once saw that here was a chance for perpetuating forever the name of Culver Military Academy, if he could secure this eminent military man and profound scholar, who had for years conducted the Missouri school, at the head of the Culver school, it would place the academy among the best.

    Once the idea conceived, Mr. Culver let no "grass grow under his feet" till the great work was consummated. Consequently, he not only secured Mr. Fleet, but also about seventy five cadets, who followed their beloved commander and instructor to his new field of labor, where he and his boys can defy the fire fiend beneath the roof of an absolute fireproof building.

    When the train arrived, at the hour mentioned, the citizens of Culver City, the band and the cadets of the academy were at the depot, bent upon giving the new arrivals a royal reception.

    The steamers Aubbeenaubbee, Peerless, aud Lloyd McSheehy were moored at the dock, and when the train pulled in the band played a welcoming piece, bombs were exploded, the cadets shouted and the boats whistled, and for a few moments it seemed as though the very Inhabitants of the lower regions were let loose.

    We do not think any fault can be found on account of lack of enthusiasm and noise over the glorious event. So enthusiastic were, the citizens of Culver City, that all business houses were closed and two or three hours of genuine jollification was participated in by all.

    Col Fleet is a manly looking man, and by appearance, is especially adapted for the task of directing the footsteps of a lot of wild boys into the path of true manhood, and instill into them the principles, that honor and integrity constitute the man, no matter what condition in life he occupies.

    Mr Culver deserves the highest encomiums of the citizens of the surrounding country and of this city, as the Culver Military Academy is destined to be a great advertising card for this place, which will res ult in building up the interests of tbe lake as a resort, all of which will be a permanent aud lasting benefit to the community.

    In conclusion we say, hurrah for Mr. Culver and may his shadow never grow less.


1896 - Dec 11 -
    Culver ACADEMY. REMARKABLE GROWTH OF THE NEW SCHOOL.

    The New Annex Building Nearing Completion - - The School One o f the Best in the Land - -

    The Beautif ul Location Makes It an Ideal Place for Cadets.

    The buildings of the Culver Military Academy located on the north bank of the beautif ul Lake Maxenkuckee are undergoing some improvements which will enchance the value as well as add to the appearance and pop ularity of the school. This school has already gained considerable renown in the educational field and it will without any doubt iu the near future take rank among the first institutions of the land.

    There cannot be a spot found within the whole topography of the United States that is more beautif ul or better adapted to the needs and wants of such an institution. It can be made a veritable students paradise, and no place can be found where the natural features of the land are better fitted for an institution of that kind. Being situated within sight of the clear waters of the beautif ul lake, upon whose bosom the fine steamers plow their furrows and the white sails of the snug yachts spread out to the breeze, presents a sight that one can find nowhere else in the land. Here is where the students can ind ulge in all those manly sports that tend to develop a perfect body. Here is where he will find pure unad ul terated air as it comes over the crest of the lake. These advantages are becoming known, which is being shown by the increase in attendance this college has received within the last year. The attendance is becoming so large that it was found necessary to build an addition to the main building. Accordingly, Mr. Culver , the generous founder of the school, let a contract to Mr. Barnes, of Logansport, to erect an addition, which is to be a three-story brick structure, 36x86 feet.

    The new building is located about fifty feet from the main building, but will be lighted and heated from the same source. Contractor Barnes has about twenty-five men at work now upon the building and says he expects to have it completed by the first of January and have it all ready for use. Mr. Culver is expected to arrive almost ant daty from his home in St. Louis to prefect other arrangements in regard to other improvements that he contemplates making. The various lagoons and canals will be filled up, as the space will be needed, and in their place will soon be found other improvements which will be more valuable and at the same time attractive

    Many visitors call at the academv and all are struck with the location of the school. We are glad to learn that Mr. Culver will improve the grounds still more. It is an institution of which this county may feel proud. Mr. Culver has spent a large amonnt of money in building up this academy and we hope his efforts may not go unrewarded. Plymouth Independent.

1897 - Found in - The history of the state of Indiana from the earliest explorations by the French to the present time containing an account of the principal civil, political, and military events, from 1763 to 1897 (Indianapolis B. L. Blair Co., 1897) pg. 556-7 is the following:
    The latest of ourt [-?-] education institutions, but one, that has already attraced [attracted] the attention of the whole country, is the Culver Military Academy on Lake Maxinkuckee. It was founded in 1894 by Mr. H. H. Culver , a citizen of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Culver was a wealthy and philanthropic man, whose heart was interested in the education of boys. He had a summer home on Lake Maxinkuckee, and there concluded to found his institure [institute]. The first building erected was a frame structure, which was destroyed by fire on the 4th of February, 1895. It was at once decided to erect new buildings, which wo uld be practically fire-proof, and this work was done during the spring and summer of 1895. The school at once began to flouris [flourish]. In September [September], 1895, the Missouri Military Academy, at Mexico, Missouri, was destroyed by fire. Mr. Culver at once made a proposition to its faculty to consolidate the institution with his Academy at Culver , which was accepted. This agve [gave] to the Indiana school an addition of seventy cadets at once, and necessitated the erection of another large building. The location for the Academy is one of the finest in the State, Lake Maxinkuckee has long been regarded as one of the prettiest pieces of water in the whole country, and has been for years a favorite resort in the summer for those who desired an outing. Surrounding the Academy is a beautif ul park of three hundred acres, thickly covered with maples, oaks and beeches, and free from undergrowth. These grounds are laid out with great taste and fitted in every way for the use of the students. A fine calvary parade and drill ground is one of the attractions. The Academy is conducted on military principles, and is now the largest military school in the United States, with the exception of West Point. The lake furnishes excellent boating, and as athletics form one of the features of the school, the pportunities [opportunities] for a boat crew are highly appreciated. The Academy has been handsomely endowed by Mr. Culver .

1897 - Leigh Robinson Gignilliat became commandant/supsuperintendent arrived on a snowy night of 13 January, he arrived at the Marmont Depot; there is two exellent articles by Hartman on him 'Gignilliat sets the stage' [pdf file] and Gignilliat& as in Giant! [pdf file]


West barracks was erected - accommodating forty-four cadets and two officers, and containing six section rooms, one physical laboratory and one chemical laboratory. March 1897 the Black Horse Troop was purchased.

1897 - June the 1896-1987 catalogue was first catalogue with roster of cadets theretofore published, showed 122 cadets, and a graduating class of seven.

1897 - Sunday, September 26, 1897 Henry Harrison Culver dies. The estate remained unsettled until 1902 - at that time - Emily Jane Culver received the family home on Lake Maxinkuckee , one of seven shares in the Academy [later giving it up for an increase annuity] and the earnings from property at 12th and Locust Streets in St. Louis. Edwin took over where his father left off in his vision for Culver Military Academy. Bertram took over the Wrought Range company; and eventually Edwin and Bertram forced one brother out in 1906; their sister filed suit in 1910 trying to claim mismanagement, by her efforts were foiled. In 1912 another brother died and his shares were passed on to Edwin and Bertram and the full control of the company.

1897-1898 i the academy is found to be listed as being affiliated with Univeristy of Chicago

Here is a drawing of the campus; which shows the lagoon system:

1898 Aug 26 - Extensive repairs are being made at the academy. The engine room is being enlarged, the old boilers have been thrown out and two 200 horse power boilers will take their place. Another story will be added to the engine room and kitchen, which will be used for sleeping appartments.

1898 - The cavalry school was added in 1898 and Riding hall was erected - which was finer than those built by the national government for its cavalry posts or at West Point, and probably without a superior in the world. This remarkable building, one hundred and four by two hundred and twelve feet, of brick and stone, with great steel trussed roof, of ornate architecture and incorporating every essential of the complete riding arena, was erected at a cost of $50,000.

1899 - East Barrack was erected - accommodating sixty cadets and two officers, with hospital of four rooms, two laboratories, and library. January and May of 1899 the boiler room was enlarged, two additional tub ular boilers installed, and six rooms for employees were built over the engine room, a brick stack one hundred feet high being also constructed. A powder magazine, covered gallery for formations, and new walks in the grounds were other improvements made.

1899 - Aug. 4 - The cottage which stood on the south side of Culver Park, near the lake shore, has been moved back, near the main building and will be remodeled into an office building, thus giving more room for school purposes in the main barracks - Culver Herald


As the Academy expanded the road on the North Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee - Aubeenaubee Bay changed many times over the years.

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