The California Military Academy, reportedly the West Coast’s first military school, opened January 9th, 1865, and was founded and led by Rev. David McClure. 1 The 1870 census refers to it as McClure's Military Academy and lists 5 teachers in addition to McClure, as well as 86 students. Some photos label it the Oakland Military Academy.
The first location was on Ninth Street near Franklin. In 1867, the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Prospect Avenue (now 29th Street) was purchased for a larger school, and various buildings were constructed to house the school. The school moved to its new location in 1868. 6
In 1873, the school buildings except the main house burned to the ground. 3, 6 While new buildings were being constructed, UC President Gilman let the school use buildings on the recently vacated UC campus in Oakland. Sheriff Harry Morse's son was tried for setting the fire, 4 but found not guilty by the jury. 5
1873 was not a good year for the school. After the fire in September, in November the instructors quit en masse. 7 It makes one wonder if the fire had been started by a disgruntled instructor.
McClure's son (Major) Stewart McClure was a military instructor there in 1874. According to an advertisement from 1887, the school offered "thorough preparation for college or business life" and at the time, Col. W. H. O'Brien was the Principal.
Few non-Oakland Wiki junkies today realize that prior to the coming of the hospitals (now all borged into “Summit”), the Pill Hill area was full of martial training grounds (CMA was the first, but not the only military academy there)—an area more dedicated to ending lives than saving them, as it were. Given that this school began after the end of the Civil War, it seems likely that most of the boys and young men who were sent here never saw any combat and their parents just sent their energetic sons to this and other military academies in the area to give them a good education combined with firm discipline. 6 However, they did train with actual firearms and were drilled in military marching and maneuvers.
Links and References
- Tenth Annual Catalogue of the California Military Academy, Oakland, CA for the Year Ending May 26, 1874. Oakland: California Military Academy.
- California Military Academy, Oakland, Cal. Oakland: California Military Academy.
- A directory of the city of Oakland and the town of Alameda for the year ending 1874. Oakland: Henry G. Langley, 1874.
- Society of California Pioneers
- Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division
- McClure's Military School Burned Sacramento Daily Union September 22, 1873
- Trial of Sheriff Morse's Son Sacramento Daily Union January 22, 1874
- Son of Sheriff Morse Proved Not Guilty Sacramento Daily Union January 23, 1875
- California Military Academy Mariposa Gazette June 30, 1877
- Trouble at the Military Academy Sacramento Daily Union November 1, 1873