EDUCATION In the past weeks I have written about religion as I remember it while growing up and now how it appears to have changed. Beginning today I will switch topics and look at the changes …
In the past weeks I have written about religion as I remember it while growing up and now how it appears to have changed. Beginning today I will switch topics and look at the changes as I have observed them in the field of education. In doing this, as I did in religion regarding churches, I would like to give some history of the schools in Walker County, especially the ones that have come and gone. I recently had a discussion with Levi Sides regarding schools that once held classes that have since closed. We agreed that it would make an interesting study to gather and preserve as much history of these old schools as possible.
Knowing that Pat Morrison had done some studies in this area, I contacted him to see if we might be able to do research in this field of history. Pat informed me that he has the names of over 120 schools that were once in the county. He said that he would provide me with this list and we can go from there. I have mentioned this to several elderly individuals and it seems that each has a memory of a different school which they attended, or had family that were students there. Different mining operations built school building for the children of their workers and closed them when the coal was depleted and the mines closed. Other communities, not associated with mining companies, built their own school building to educate their young.
My Dad, born in 1914, got very little schooling, but he related that he first attended school in Dora, the elementary schoolwas located, after turning right toward the old Dora downtown, coming from Cordova over Benoit Mountain, was on the left before going through the railroad tunnel. He also attended the old Indian Head School, located where the Cordova health care building stands now, which was associated with the Indian Head cotton mill. Mother started her education attending the school at Big Ridge which was associated with the Big Ridge mining company. The school building was located very near the new Parrish-Cordova road, on the left before topping the hill before reaching the Carver Road (which was not there at that time.).
The old Tubbs school house was located on Tubbs Hill on the Kings Mill Road. It was in the field north of Tubbs Church Of Christ, a little north of the recently constructed communication tower. The Sulpher Springs school was located at McCollum in the field now used to store equipment, on the left hand side of highway 69 before the turn south toward Oakman. It was there that my Aunt Effie Key taught for many years. Her husband, Luther Key, my grandmother's brother (Jimmie Alexander's grandfather), was blinded as a young man in an accident and made brooms as a source of income. He was a gifted singer and my Dad would use him to conduct singings in his gospel meetings. He was also a good piano player. After turning south toward Oakman from McCollum and crossing lost Creek, Near the exit of the Pleasant Grove road on the right, the Scott School road exits to the left. I know very little about this school but would like to learn more.
There were schools in Days Gap, now Oakman, and a school and college in Corona. Going south, crossing the tracks at Marietta and climbing Wolf Creek hill, a right turn will lead past the old Bethel school building which is still standing. The exhibit now at the Bankhead House is very informative regarding the history of these old towns. My Dad conducted gospel meeting in some of the old school buildings, including the Bethel School and Fairview located in South Walker County, not far from the Tuscaloosa County line.
Considering that there were not always school buses to provide transport around the time of the last century, there needed to be a school building within walking distance for the student to attend. Many were one or two rooms and the teachers would teach multiple grade levels. Some building doubled as schools and church buildings. Throughout time as transportation became more assailable, many of the building were torn down or moved. Wilburn Ray Lollar related to me that he remembered the old school building at Providence which was on the top of the hill near the Baptist Church . After the school closed he said that the building was torn down and the lumber salvaged. He said that there was some very good lumber that went in the building of the schoolhouse. If I remember correctly, the old elementary school at Gorgas was moved by the Carver family to a plot on the Cordova-Gorgas road south of the Corinth Church of Christ.
There is much more to be said about these old schools and I welcome anyone to contact me with knowledge which might be helpful in comprising a history of the old Walker County Schools. One individual said that he was attending the old Owen School when it burned, and I will get more information from him. He was living in the Calumet community the time.
Now for a brief update. In past columns I asked if anyone knew of the fate of the benches that was built by Claude Studdard for the Parrish Church of Christ for the building replacing the one that burned. Well Morris, I may have a lead as to where some of them went, if not, some like them. Roger Minor who grew up attending the Parrish congregation at that time, and presently an Elder there, informed me that he went into the Parrish City Hall recently and noticed that the benches are home made and much like the ones he remembered to have been in the old church building. He surmised that if they did not come out of the old church building, they were made by the same person. You may want to check that out.