To say there isn’t much going on around the home place would be an understatement. Reading of friends exciting happenings in places such as Utah, Colorado, and Oregon give me a bad case of the mullygrubs.
I don’t have a Facebook account, but while browsing the wife’s one day, I realized something. I found that there are lots and lots of pages dedicated to history. Pages dedicated to specific sites, towns, counties, etc.
I sometimes browse those pages, reading of times gone by, and looking at pictures of places I remember hearing of in my childhood.
Today, I was browsing some posts on a Natchez page, and a name caught my eye. New Salem. That was the name of the little country church I attended as a child. I knew there had been a school there in the past, but that was all. Following the next paragraph, you will find two pieces of local history I stumbled upon.
I find it remarkable the things our forefathers did for the education of their children. The first article was a report done by the WPA in the 1930’s. The article contains the name of my Great Grandfather, and the person quoted with the report was his daughter, my great aunt.
The second one is a newspaper article from 1908. Can you imagine, over eighty dollars for a cake? In 1908! The two ladies must have been some beauties. And on the debate, If I understand it correctly, the works of man beat out nature when it comes to attractiveness. I’m not sure about that.
Excuse the transcription. That’s the way it copied.
“ The schools which proceeded the present school system of District 4 were viz., New Salem, Kenolia, Wrights and Ramah. New Salem probably led the others in success and we will follow it as an example.
The school was organized about 1878 at the place where New Salem Church is
now located or about three-fourths of a mile north of highway from McCall. The
first instructor of the school was Mr. T. J. Scott. They had only four months of
school taught in the summer months, but from this it gave the people of the
community an inspiration to build and maintain a better school system for their
children and in 1902 the first graded school of this district was organized.
This school was organized by J. F. Porter, M. M. Ballard, Dave Wright, Jim
Wilson, Zack Wilson, A. J. Arnold, T. S. Byrd, John Byrd, Leo Wilson, and James
and David Chapman. The leading purpose was to have a more lengthy term. This school
was taught in the winter months and ran from six to sometimes seven months. Not
only the immediate community was interested in this type of school, but people
from all over the county heard of the great work done in the school and brought
their children and placed them in the homes in the community to let them receive
instruction from the efficient teachers.
The first principal of this school was Mr. John Bruick, a Franklin
county product. He was succeeded by Mr. Albert Godbold from Lincoln County.
Godbold was followed by a Mr. Futch from Kentucky. His health forced him to give
up his work and Hon. R. E. Bennett, now of Meadville, finished his work. He was
succeeded by Mr. Moxley from Kentucky. Then came I. K. Floyd from Kentucky and he
was followed by B. M. Russell from Lawrence County.
The building was of woodwork. At first it was just a three room building, but
the people soon saw that it would not accommodate the mass of pupils so they built
an addition of two more classrooms and a music room separate from the classrooms.
They taught through the tenth grade in a crude way. They kept no permanent
record of work done by students, but gave examinations at the end of each session
to determine if pupils were qualified to enter another grade.”
REF: Sarah Chapman, McCall, MS
News Article From the Franklin Advocate – April 2, 1908 – Cake Brought $83.40
The writer attended a box supper at New Salem High School on the 13th, the
first of the kind ever gotten up here. It was arranged by Prof. B. M. Russell and
his efficient assistants in the school, Misses Iva Coleman and Ethyl Flowers.
First on the program was a lively debate on the subject “Resolved, that the works
of nature are more attractive than the arts of man,” the judges deciding in favor
of the negative.
A handsome cake was then put up to be voted to the prettiest girl at 10
cents a vote. After a few scattering votes, the contest settled down between Miss
Minnie Cupit of Lucien, a student of the school and Miss Iva Coleman of Jefferson
County, one of the teachers. The voting was pretty lively, fifty votes frequently going in at one time,
and when the interest began to lag, the beautiful contestants were placed on the
stage. Beauty! Truly, the writer has no language to describe it as they sat there
side by side, but their pure girlish beauty around the voters on each side and the
votes were polled until each had 407, and it was agreed to divide the cake equally
between them. After counting all the votes, it was found that the cake brought
the neat sum of $83.40. Then came the sales. About forty boxes had been prepared,
which were auctioned off to the highest bidder, bring from twenty five cents to
one dollar, making a total of $11.65.
The money thus raised is for the school, the total sum being $95.05.
Everyone had a pleasant time, a flood of beautiful moonlight to light the
homeward way. New Salem is one of the best schools in this county, and is
gradually moving on up the grade.
By: J. H. Cotton
Have you heard of box suppers? They were still taking place when I was in elementary school.
Over a hundred years later, a failing education system appears to be the norm in most places. I wonder what our forefathers knew; that we have forgotten…..jc