Preserving County History

Posted 3/3/19

Around 1982, Joe Staggs, Bob Lee, and myself were trustees of Oakman Elementary School. We were in search of a new principal after the untimely death of Leo Guthrie who was a former principal. The …

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Preserving County History

Posted

Around 1982, Joe Staggs, Bob Lee, and myself were trustees of Oakman Elementary School. We were in search of a new principal after the untimely death of Leo Guthrie who was a former principal. The board gave us a name of a principal at a rural school in the county who had applied for the job. Upon interviewing him, and his expressing a desire for a higher paying job so as to have a better retirement income upon his impending retirement in a couple of years, we relayed to the board that we wanted someone who was interested in the school, not retirement. The name of Ruth Teaford (later Baker) was then given to us. I was familiar with Ruth as she was a writer for the Daily Mountain Eagle and I enjoyed her articles. After interviewing her, we decided that she was the person for the job and recommended to the board that she be our new principal. She then became our principal.

Ruth was the ultimate county historian at the time. Martha Pennington, Dave Akins, Bruce Myers and others had preceded her in preserving the history of Walker County, but Ruth was a very capable replacement. Her weekly column titled HOME FOLKS preserved a volume of Walker County History and is reference quite often by those seeking history of the county.

On 11-27-04 I was interested in hearing the foremost current preserver of county history. I did not know the man but had heard a lot about him. I bought one of his books which he signed “To Wheeler Pounds. I hope you enjoy this book and share it with someone. Best Wishes, Pat Morrison 11-27-04". The book is the Postcard history Series, Walker County ALABAMA. Pat is now the “go to” person for local history. He has an unbelievable collection of items from Walker County's past in the museum which he has established in a building at his home.

The above was prefaced because I am in their debt for the following information which I will relate in this week's column. Pat provided me with three different lists of old schools which he had in his historical files. One was as follows: COMPLIMENTS OF MOSS-McCORMACK COAL COMPANY CARBON HILL, ALABAMA. Under this advertisement was listed the names of the county schools at that time. Following the listing of 67 county schools was this announcement “The Walker County High School   Presents. “Peaches of Pair-O-Dice” at Carbon Hill High School Auditorium tonight, March 20th (year not given). Admission 50c  Children 25c. The second item is a partial list of schools that is printed with advertisement by Kelly Furniture Company - Furniture and home furnishings - CASH OR CREDIT - Carbon Hill- - Alabama;  WAKEFIELD DEPARTMENT STORE  “Carbon Hill's Only Department Store  - We Sell Everything;  J.M. Hayes & Co. Jasper, Alabama; and  also ,“Our Motto “BETTER SERVICE” M. S. Hamner Barber  Shop. It is not clear what the four business were advertising other than to list the 33 Walker County schools on the printing.  

The third list Pat made available to me is a more complete list of schools which was taken from one of Ruth Baker's HOME FOLKS columns (date not given) which list 126 or more county schools. The following names are taken directly from that column with credit given to her efforts to collect them, and thanks to Pat for preserving them to be easily obtained. To preserve space, the names will be listed in sentence style. The are listed in alphabetical order.

WHITE SCHOOLS 1932-33 Aldridge, Andrews (Beech Grove), Argo, Baltimore, Bankhead, Banks, Benoit, Big Ridge, Blackwater, Boldo, Broun, Cheatham, Clayton, Coal Valley, Corinth, Corona, Curry, Dawson, Dilworth, Dixie, Dora, Drummond, Eldridge, Empire, Enon, Gamble Mines, Goodsprings, Gorgas, High Hill, Hillard, Holly Grove, Hunter's Chapel, Indian Head, Iron Mountain, Jaggar, Kansas, Kilgore, Knight, Lewis, Liberty Hill, Lovell, Lupton, Macedonia, Mammoth, Manchester, Manchester Mines, Mount Hope, Mount Zion, Nauvoo, Nauvoo Rural, New Prospect, Nix, Oak Grove, Oakman, Odom (Friendship), Old Sludge, Owens, Palmer, Parrish, Payne, Peterson (Patton Hill), Phillips, Pleasentfield, Pleasent Hill, Pocahontas, Poley, Prospect, Redmill, Reynolds (Fairview), Riceton, Rock Springs, Rose Hill, Saragossa,  Scottsville, Sides, Sipsey, Slate Creek, South Lamar, Spring Hill, Sulpher Springs, Sumiton, Sunrise, Thach, Townley, Tubbs, Tutwiler, Union Chapel, West Corona, Wheeler, Willis Chapel, Wyman, Zion. (94). I will also add the name of Price Springs with a name change to Bethel.  There may be others that a reader might add to this list.  If so, let me know as I would like to have this as complete as possible.   

BLACK SCHOOLS  1932-33  Aldridge, Argo, Bankhead, Blackwater, Coal Valley, Cordova, Corona, Dora, Empire, Flat Creek, Gorgas, Manchester, Oakman, Parrish, Sipsey, Sumiton. Townley, Walker County Training School, Wyatt, (19).

After 1933 BLACK SCHOOLS ADDED OR CHANGED. Augusta Nell Crayton, Barney, Dunbar (Carbon Hill), Frisco, West Jasper, Terrel S. Boyd. (Walker County Training School was changed to Layton H. Davis High School).

After 1933 WHITE SCHOOLS ADDED OR CHANGED Brazealle, Cordova (Bankhead), Cordova Elementary, Dora Elementary, Dovertown, Farmstead, King, Martin, Nauvoo Jr. High, S.J Hembrick, Valley Jr. High, Walker County High School (Now changed to Jasper High School).  

The record number of schools were recorded in the fall of 1934 with 105 white schools and 20 black schools. As stated in the column last week, local schools were needed due to the lack of adequate transportation, and the need for employers to provide adequate means for the education for the children of their employees. Many of the schools were housed in one or two rooms, with the building also used for church services.

I would like to learn as much about each of these schools as possible. I would also like to be able to place their location on a Walker County map. After the column last week I have already had contact with a number of people who informed me of different schools of which they have knowledge. It is an interesting, informative, and educational study of our past history of Walker County. I hope to be to assist in the preservation of as much of this history as possible.

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