Early Leaders of Walker County

Posted 3/24/19

In recent columns I have written about early schools in Walker County and intend to continue to do so. Today, however, I would like to shed a little history on the early men who served as …

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Early Leaders of Walker County

Posted

In recent columns I have written about early schools in Walker County and intend to continue to do so. Today, however, I would like to shed a little history on the early men who served as superintendents of county schools. I will be getting my information from different sources, one purported to be taken from an early copy of the Mountain Eagle. The importance of quality leadership has been instrumental in making the Walker County School System qualified to give our young a sound education to prepare them to be successful in their lifetime endeavors. I will give a brief sketch of some of our superintendents. Starting with the first.

(1) David Manasco (1857-1860-61), the son of General John and Vicie (Odom) Manasco. He attended school taught by a Mr. (one source shows Mrs.) Burns at Holly Grove. There is not much information regarding his education work. He married Elizabeth R. Deweese and they had ten children.

(2) Francis Marion Langerd (1861-1865), the son of David Langerd. He was born at Holly Grove, Alabama on December 1, 1831 and died at Nauvoo, Alabama, April 9, 1879. He was educated in Walker County principally under Professor Guin and Professor De Berney who was a justice of the peace and at the time of his death a notary Public.

(3) Dr. James LaFayette Gilder (1868-1870), coming from an old Georgia family. He was born in Georgia in 1829, growing up near LaFayette in Chambers County. He attended the Graffending Institute near Tuskegee and graduated from medical college in Atlanta. He served during the difficult years of reconstruction after the Civil War when there could not be any construction work of any kind in the south which made it hard for him to be effective in his efforts. An interesting account of his administration was that he rode horseback all the way from Eldridge to Montgomery to get money to pay the teachers.

(4) James Carter Scott (March 1871-March 1877), born in Jasper, April 6, 1846. He attended elementary schools in Walker County, the Academy in Jasper, and Boonville Academy in Mississippi. At the time he served as superintendent there were 48 white schools and two for colored with about 1800 white and no more than 20 or 30 black students. The teachers pay was from $25 to $40 monthly. Two years into his term (1873) the lack of money forced the closing of all but one (Jasper) county school.

(5) James Wiley Shepherd (1877-1884), born December 24,1850 at Corona. In 1877 he married Evatatia Palmer. He was educated in Walker County.

(6) George Washington McDade (1884-1885), born December 20, 1838 near Carbon Hill. His father was a school-master who taught him, and he likewise taught for a number of years in Walker County. The schools were three months, and during the long winter evenings he studied by the light of a blazing pine fire and he learned the multiplication table between the plow handles. He learned to write by his father's instructions.                                                                                                                           

(7)Joseph Sylvester Jetton (one source spells it Jettor) (1886-1888), born at Charlotte, N.C. In 1830. He attended school at present day Cordova beginning his teaching career in 1854.

(8) Lycurgus Alexander Morris (1888-1892), born at Oakman on February 1, 1850 and died in 1915. He attended and taught school in Walker County.

(9) Thomas Jackson Amiss (August 6, 1894- August 1, 1898), born during the latter part of the Civil War at Rappahonnock County, Virginia. He attended school in Virginia, attending public and private schools in Rappahanock and Page Counties, teaching there before coming to Walker County, where he taught at Boldo.

(10) Riley Daniel Argo (1898-1904) born in Walker County on March 9, 1869 and attended Walker County schools. In 1900 he married May Belle Sovell. He taught five or six years in public schools of Walker County. Despite the large number of rural schools at that time, and limited transportation during his term, he visited each school in Walker County at least once a year. The outstanding events of his administration were the voting of the one mill tax and the re-redistricting of the county.

(11) Theodore J. Lamar (1904-1913), the first college graduate to hold the office of Superintendent in Walker County. He was a graduate of Auburn, coming to Walker County about 1892 where he was principal of Jasper Male and Female Academy for a time before founding the Lamar Training School for men.

(12) Albert Sidney Scott (1913-1917), born at Saragossa March 16, 1881. He attended school at Saragossa, high school in Jasper, and also studied at Peabody Institute in Nashville. He was principal at Carbon Hill for three years. He was the first superintendent to have a paid assistant in his office, the two gave as much time to supervision as time and circumstances permitted. During the four years that he was in office there were a number there were a number of comfortable one and two-room schools built, but lack of funds prevented bis fulfillment of a dream to establish a rural high school in each of the quarter divisions of the county. The largest school erected during his term was Parrish Grammar School. The three mill county school tax was approved during his term.

(13) Thomas Jefferson York (1917-1920), born July 15, 1874 near Empire, Alabama. He attended Walker County Schools and served as a member of the Walker  County Board of Education from 1903 to 1911. The most significant work of his administration was the working out a uniform salary schedule for teachers which was, in theory, based on training grade of certificate held and length of service and experience.  He made an effort to give due recognition to any teacher who achieved marked success and teachers were encouraged to remain in the same school for two or more terms.

(14) J. Alexander Moore (1920-1933), serving as president of AEA. In his tenure as superintendent he worked untiringly for better schools in Walker County.

Limited space prohibits the listing of more recent superintendents. I will mention a few: Jasper S. Brown (1933-1934), A.S. Scott (1934-1939), Paul Roy Brown (1939-1947), Amos I Waldrop (1947-1955), Raymond E. Faught (1955-ending 100 years of education in Alabama. 

Contact Wheeler Pounds at 3424 Kings Mill Rd, Oakman, AL 35579, or at wheelerpounds@gmail.com.