Walker County School History

Posted 4/7/19

Since I have started writing about the early schools in Walker County I have received a volume of information regarding old schools, many of which I had no knowledge that they existed. I am in the …

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Walker County School History

Posted

Since I have started writing about the early schools in Walker County I have received a volume of information regarding old schools, many of which I had no knowledge that they existed. I am in the process of collecting information and pictures of the schools, but it will take more time than I anticipated. Today I will attempt to acknowledge as many of these contributors as possible, but space limitations will prevent me from fully including them all.

I first receive a note through the mail from a friend who lives in Arley, Beverly Barnett, who grew up in the Calumet, Bankhead Mines, area. She writes that she attended Owen School, starting there about 1954 and left in 1963. She writes that it had nine grades, one teacher to two grades, eight rooms, two grades to a room except the ninth. One for lunchroom, one library, a large water fountain that was outside with terrible tasting water, thinking it to be sulfur. Great lunches every day. No playground equipment, but lots of fun. Basketball court, baseball field-large area for young grades. Outside restrooms. She reports that she enjoyed it there but her brother hated it. He had to be watched or he would walk off grounds headed home.

I have talked with a number of people who attended Owen School which was located west of the Old Parrish road on the Owen School Road (right side from Old Parrish Road) in the old Bankhead Community. Friends, Roy and Joy Taylor have talked to me about their school days at Owen.  Roy said that he was a student there when the building burned. He has an old Owen School yearbook which he has offered to let me examine.

Norma Sue Roberts who now lives in Cordova writes with an inquiry; “Wasn't there a school on Lockhart Hill? I knew about old Peterson. I was going to start school there and they closed it down. I was born on Patton Hill and raised in Patton.”  

Perhaps a reader knows the answer to Norma Sue's question about a school being on Lockhart Hill but I show no school by that name on lists that I have of old Walker County Schools. As Lockhart Hill is near Corona, and Corona had a number of schools, perhaps some students living on Lockhart Hill attended classes at Corona. But it stands to reason that, as Lockhart Hill extends quite a distance toward Fayette County, there would have been a need for a school in the area as the walking distance would have been too long to walk to schools in Corona. The area is now so remote I question whether there would have been a population which would justify a school. Things could have been different then. The old church and cemetery that is now there would have been a likely spot for a school if one was needed.. If a reader can help us out on this, let us know. The old Peterson school, also sometimes referred to as the Patton Hill School, was located near the intersection of the Patton Hill Road where it dead-ends at highway 18, between Oakman and Corona, according to some with whom I have talked who are familiar with the school.     

I had an interesting conversation with Milton Jackson who lives in Carbon Hill. He attended the old Dunbar High School in Carbon Hill until his senior year when it integrated into Carbon Hill High School. The nursing home in Carbon Hill is located in the old Dunbar High School Building. Mr. Jackson reports that they have a Dunbar class reunion every two years which is well attended. He has accumulated quite a bit of history about the school which he said he would make available for me to see.

Lamar Wright contacted me regarding the old Providence School. He said that his wife's sister went to the old school up on the hill and he inquired as to the name of the school. He also stated that he could not locate the old road that led up the hill to the school and commented that times have changed in Providence. The name of the school was just that, Providence, and there was never a road up the hill to the school building, just steps. The old school building was torn down and used to construct dwellings. The steps now lead up to nowhere.

Al McAdams, who is employed by Pinnacle Bank, loves local history, including the history of old schools, post offices, and train stations. In my correspondence with him I mentioned that in 1967 when I first started working in the courthouse, my window under the clock on the eastern side faced the old City Hall, police, and fire department building which was then in the area where the Pinnacle Bank is now located. He stated that his Mom worked there at City Hall with HO. Barton and was late City Clerk. Her father, Albert Barrentine, was Sheriff of Walker County, and Al is now in possession of his Sheriff's badge.

Vickie Deason's name was given me as the person to contact regarding the old Mount Hope School which is located in Hay Valley and now surrounded by land that has been strip mined, but the old church building there where the school was once housed is still standing.  She contacted me before I could contact her. Vickie gave me some interesting family history about the Deason family, her father and mother-in law in particular.  I knew Foster Deason when he still was active in church work at Mount Hope and when young, I attended church services there occasionally. At that time, the school there had long been closed, transportation to schools made it no longer necessary.

There are many others that I could mention that has given me information regarding various schools, but that will wait for another day. I had intended to continue to  copy interesting incidents from Miriam Austin Locke's writings from which I ended last weeks column, Tieing Schools to Communities, (written in 1937) but space limits it. Next week I will include another interesting story from it as well as explore more  history of the old schools which educated our ancestors.

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