Historical Marker #1945 at Kirksey in Calloway County commemorates the history of Calloway Normal College, a teachers' school that operated from 1899 to 1913. The term "normal" was popularly used in the nineteenth and early twentieth century to refer to a school dedicated to educating teachers.
Calloway Normal College was established in the late 1890s by county native Rainy T. Wells, an educator, attorney, and state politician. Wells hired several teachers the inaugural year and began educating the area's young people that fall. The student body came largely from Calloway and surrounding counties. Those students who did not live nearby boarded with local residents while they completed their studies.
After a few years of service with the school, Wells resigned to become an attorney in Murray. He was then elected to the Kentucky General Assembly. Professor Burch Atkins replaced Wells to oversee the school's operation. In 1913, Calloway Normal College closed and the building was used to house the new two-year Kirksey High School.
Although Wells had left education for law and politics, he remained committed to education. As a politician he used his influence to create a State Normal School Commission, which helped establish normal schools at Murray and Morehead. Wells went on to serve as president of Murray State Normal School and Teachers College from 1926 to 1932. He died in 1958.
Murray State has undergone a number of name changes since its founding in 1922. Today, Murray State University is a state-supported four-year public university with more than ten thousand students majoring in 155 bachelor’s programs and 63 master's and specialist programs.