Doane College was more fortunate in its founding than was Fontanelle. It had a better financial backing. Mr. Thomas Doane, a native of Massachusetts, and at the time chief engineer of the Burlington & Missouri river railroad in Nebraska, became interested in the establishment of an educational institution in the state.
Dr. Willard Scott, at the time pastor of St. Mary's Avenue Church in Omaha, gave an address at the fifteenth anniversary exercises of Doane College and presented a graphic picture of the preliminary work attending the planting of Crete Academy:
"Our attention is now directed to Plattsmouth. The Burlington & Missouri river railroad company in Nebraska was operating its construction from that place and pressing westward. At the Brooks House we are asked into a room in the winter of 1870-71. It is small; so small that when the necessary articles of furniture are placed, there is room only for two large easy chairs and a fur robe, kept rolled up and strapped ready for use at short notice, in a nook between the bureau and the table. Here evening by evening--and long evenings they seemed to the lady seated upon the fur robe--sit in the easy chairs two gentlemen, a civil engineer and a preacher, the pastor of the First Congregational Church at Plattsmouth. The theme is a college and the idea seems to the lady on the fur robe as 'impossible as establishing one in the moon.' 'Can we secure the land? Where is the best place for it?' Crete is proposed 'as being beautifully situated upon the Big Blue.'
"Before February 20 Mr. Alley had located there, entering, it is said, upon a load of lumber, and had contracted with Mr. George W. Bridges for $100 per year for two years to start an academy.
"Articles of incorporation for the Crete Academy were adopted May 22, 1871. June 30 the president and secretary were authorized to execute a note to Mr. Thomas Doane for the amount of $2,000, borrowed for building purposes, and Rev. Frederic Alley was requested to act as principal of the academy for the coming year."1
The story of the founding of Crete Academy is also told by Professor Show:
"After the associational action of 1869 and 1870 great interest prevailed among the Congregational churches as to the educational problem. Many minds were busy upon it. During the winter of 1870-71, the matter was much discussed by two men destined to play conspicuous parts in the founding of the future college Rev. Frederic Alley, pastor of the Congregational Church at Plattsmouth, and Thomas Doane, chief engineer of the Burlington & Missouri river railroad in Nebraska, then in the process of construction. As the result of their deliberations they selected Crete as the most desirable location, and decided to open the way for a college by locating an academy. In the spring of 1871 Mr. Alley moved to Crete, organized a church, and devoted himself, with the constant aid of Mr. Doane and others, to the establishment of Crete Academy. The erection of a building was begun at once, lumber being hauled twenty miles by team. On the 12th of June the cornerstone was laid, the General Association coming down en masse from Lincoln, where it was in session, to witness the ceremony. The building was dedicated November 5, 1871."2
Rev. F. Alley was elected principal for the first year and with him were associated Miss Mary W. Merrill, Miss Kesterton, and Miss Bridges. It was a prosperous year for the school, a good preparatory year for the college about to be organized.
Among those who had much to do with locating the college and pushing forward its interests were George S. Harris, a deacon in First Church, Lincoln, and Rev. Charles Little, the first pastor of the First Church, Lincoln. Through their efforts as well as those of Mr. Doane the railroad company was led to offer very liberal inducements to the proposed college. President Perry relates this incident in connection with the railroad grant
"An indescribable charm invests the story that Mr. Edward McIntyre of Seward tells of the way in which the prime movers in the college enterprise were encouraged to ask the railroad company for the large grant of 600 acres. These men in earnest deliberation had purposed to limit their petition to eighty acres, but one of them, Rev. Charles Little, at length, with a peculiar light in his eye, says, 'Why not ask for the whole 600 acres? The Scriptures say, Ask and ye shall receive.' Thereupon these college builders had a large accession of faith, and they asked and received.
"That their faith was rewarded was due in no small measure to the railroad land commissioner, Mr. George S. Harris, who was a large-hearted, broad-minded man who took great interest in all educational and religious work in the new state."3
The larger faith won, and the 600 acres were received.
It was in June, 1872, that by vote of the State Association the new Congregational college was located in Crete. The academy was made a preparatory school to the college,