History of Henry County
A Partial History of the Schools
A History of the Henry County Weekly
The following historical record of Henry County Schools and the Henry Henry Weekly was originally printed in 1921 and included with pride, in the celebration of the county's 100th birthday. These two proud symbols of development are the final intries in the booklet published for distribution to the citizens of the day.
T. J. Horton, C. S. S.
Chas M. Speer
A Partial History
of the Schools
By T. J. Horton, C. S. S.
With only a very short time to make research, I shall necessarily have to confine my records to the present Henry County and not as formerly bounded. The first school was located in McDonough, on the hill beyond the Big Spring, near the home of Judge Reagan. This was in the year 1826. A Mr. Fish was the first teacher. The building was of logs with a dirt floor and no equipment. The next teacher was a Mr. Gamble, a Presbyterian preacher. He had Misses Louise and Charlotte Rodgers to assist him. He taught in the Methodist Church then located where the residence of Adam Sloan, Sr., deceased, now stands. This was a successful school. It seems, that at this time, a brick building was erected on the hill beyond the Big Spring.
In the year 1830, Mr. Van Horton took charge of the school. Other teachers about this period were: Mr. Reed, Mr. McDaniel, Mr. Witcher, Mr. Mat Lathan, Mrs. Stokes, Aunt Kate Piper, Miss Olive Marcus, Miss Mary Ray and Miss Mattie Cox. Many of these teachers were well educated and proved to be popular educators.
In the year 1848, there were two flourishing schools in McDonough, one for boys and the other for girls. Rev. W. A. Rodgers was principal of the female school. He was highly educated and a good school man. Through his advice and influence, the trustees united both schools and made him principal of the new school. This proved quite a success. He continued as principal for several years, then resigned to accept the presidency of the Female College at Griffin. His successor was a Mr. Hatch. He was also a gifted teacher and well educated. Miss Margaret Dailey was his assistant. Mr. Ben Turner succeeded Mr. Hatch. Mr. Henry Parks followed Mr. Turner. Miss Candler, sister to Governor Candler, was his assistant. From what I could find in the records, private records, the schools under most of these teachers were classed good.
This has brought us up to the spring of 1861. Mr. Parks is the principal, but he resigns to offer his services to the cause of the Confederacy. Miss Candler finished out the term by herself. We found from a diary record, that Mr. Parks was killed in battle near Atlanta. Owing to the excitement and horrors of the war, there was no school here from 1861 till 1864. In the spring of 1864, Misses Margaret Dailey and Martha Cox opened school again and had a very good school until circumstances forced them to close again. This was about the time of the fall of Atlanta and battles near, and as a result, there were so many wounded soldiers sent there that the school house was converted into a hospital. There was no further attempt at school until after the war closed.
At the beginning of the reconstruction period, a woman from Boston was sent down and taught a year. After her, a Miss Darling was sent here, also from the north. These two teachers worked among the colored people, but it seemed that the work was not successful and the school was discontinued. The next white school was opened in the year 1867. Col. I. E. Shumate, of Virginia, a graduate of Emory and Henry College, was the teacher. He was a scholarly man and got the school work started off nicely. After his term, Rev. A. M. Campbell was elected. He was another fine teacher and well educated. It is of local interest to learn that Mr. T. C. Nolan was his assistant. The next teacher was Mr. R. L. Campbell. His school was of a high order also and I find that several around town recall the names and school work of many of these teachers. However as this was during the reconstruction period, the school houses were burned. It seems that for a period of eleven years there was no school house at all. The school was taught here and there wherever a house could be Got. The Ku Klux Klan was formed and gradually the incendiary fires ceased
Up to this time all the schools were all private schools. Each parent paid his tuition direct to the teacher. No doubt that good schools were maintained in Hampton and the other towns, at times, and especially after they were laid out and incorporated. Also, here and there in most every section of the county, some good schools were taught by conscientious teachers. We do not discredit their work for our fine business men and cultured women are their recommendations. However, for me to get a record of each school, in a short time, would be impossible and I trust that no parties or sections will take offense if his school is not mentioned. It would be a great pleasure to try to get records of all the schools and no doubt interesting to you.
About the year 1870, the public school system was introduced. This caused a great change to be made in the school work. Boards of education for each county were appointed by the grand juries, as of today. We find that in the year of 1872 a board of education was appointed in Henry County. This board appointed Mr. Q. R. Nolan, a Yale graduate, as the first county school superintendent. Mr. Nolan held this position until his death. About this time the people of McDonough decided that they must have a new school building. So, a stock company was formed, and as a result of this organization, a new building known as the McDonough Institute was built. The first teacher for the new school was Mr. John H. Featherstone. This seemed to be a successful school. I do not know how long he taught here. His assistant was Miss Tippora Harrell. After he left, it seems that there were two schools for a number of years. Miss Harrell was principal of one of the schools and Mr. O. E. Ham was principal of the other. Both of these schools did splendid work and many of their best citizens of the country give credit to these schools for the ambition and inspiration to be useful in life.
When it became necessary to repair the building, the trustees and patrons decided to float bonds for $10,000.00 and built a brick house. The present building Was erected, except the annex, which was built a few years ago. Mr. G. W. Camp was the first teacher for the new building. He had six assistants. Since that date, the school has continued to grow until it now enrolls about 400 pupils and employs eleven teachers.
In order to pay better salaries to the teachers several school districts were laid off, and these voted local school tax. In the year 1914, the people voted school tax for the entire county. Much improvement has been made in equipment and plans for building school houses since then. Our parents, and some of us in middle age, can remember the long plank seat with no back. We had to place our books on the floor. There was a wide top desk around the wall for all to write on. I cannot go into methods of teaching, but we know that some of these old teachers were conscientious and were fine instructors.
There are now 35 white Schools and 29 colored schools in the county. We have 140 white and colored teachers. The last census gave 3,005 white children and 3,210 colored children in the county of school age. Now, dear readers, be generous to us who have taken this time and work upon ourselves, and spare as much criticism as you can. We feel, more so than you, that our dates and accounts, in part, are not altogether accurate. However, it was a pleasure to help and to get such information as we could.
By T. J. Horton, C. S. S.
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History of Henry County Weekly
By Chas. M. Speer
This paper was founded in 1874 in Hampton, Ga., by Messrs. J. G. Coldwell and R. T. Harper. Hampton at this period was the only railroad town in the county. The owners of The Weekly not being newspaper men procured the services of that excellent newspaper man, Hon. James E. Brown, who made the paper, from its inception, one Of the best country weeklies in the state. It may be here stated that he put The Weekly in the hands of most of the people, and it soon became a family necessity. After a year or so, Mr. Brown purchased The Weekly. The building of a railroad to McDonough made it the logical home of the county paper, and the plant was moved to McDonough in 1883. About this time Mr. J. A. Fouche became a business partner of Mr. Brown. They continued the publication of the paper until 1885, and Mr. Fouche became proprietor of the property. . Desiring a larger field, Mr. Fouche sold The Weekly to Messrs. Charles M. Speer and Paul Turner in 1886. These gentlemen continued to publish the paper until 1891, and resold to Messrs. .J. A. Fouche and A. A. Lemon. Mr. Fouche conducted the editorial and business management of the paper until 1907. It was then leased to Mr. R. L. Johnson, who for the two succeeding years was editor and business manager. At the expiration of this term Judge Frank Reagan became lessee, editor, and business manager, which functions he continued to exercise until 1916. The lure of having an editorial say about men and measures re-enlisted Mr. J.A. Fouche in 1916, as owner of The Weekly. Then a political bee domiciled itself in his bonnet, and hatched out a clerk of the superior court and named him Fouche. The Weekly again became a negotiable asset, and Mr. Fouche sold it to the present editor, B. S. Elliott, and Mr. Wiley A. Clements. Mr. Clements his since retired from the paper, selling his interest to Mr. Elliott.
BY Chas M. Speer
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