Bible Mission School and Orphanage

Historical Marker #1927 in Clinton County remembers Bible Mission School and Orphanage, a Methodist academy that operated from 1891 to 1905.

Methodist minister John Samson Keen was born in 1848 into a religious family in Wayne County, Kentucky. As a young man, he received the calling to become a preacher. By age twenty, Keen was riding a large circuit, serving several congregations in south-central Kentucky.

Keen married Anna H. Hindman in 1874. The union produced two boys, which only seemed to increase Keen's passion for the ministry. A few years later he received another calling to start a Christian-based school. In 1891, an appropriate site was located in Clinton County and the Bible Mission School opened with about as many teachers as students. Soon, however, Keen's hard work in promoting the school paid off.

During its first five years, Bible Mission School expanded rapidly, adding buildings and teachers to fill the rising number of students, who came from all over the United States. By the 1896-97 school year, however, the school's census stood at nine teachers and 187 students. The school took on the additional responsibly of serving as an orphanage during these years. Around 1900, Keen turned the management of the school over to W. H. Evans and became a minister in Texas. The school's slow decline continued under Evans, who sustained the school and orphanage until about 1904, when Evans also left for Texas. Shortly thereafter, most the school's buildings were dismantled and the lumber sold.

Noted students at the Bible Mission School included A. B. Mackey, president of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee; T. W. Willingham, president of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois; and Rev. Robert Johnson, whose son, Keen Johnson, was named for the Bible Mission School's founder and became Kentucky's forty-fifth governor.