Many Montgomery County schools had their beginning in a church.

White Oak Hill School Sept. 6th 1912 
White Oak Hill School was better known as the Union Hill School. The doors opened in 1902. Consolidated with Sulphur Springs school after 1917. The teacher is Ena Bates. The school was northeast of Sulphur Springs near the new lake. This location is west of the Gaston and Black Springs communities. Photo courtesy of Eunice McCammon. Her mother attended this school. Union Hill was located between the Albert James home and the Robert Carter home. 

Front Row
Jodie Jamerson
Minnie Ferguson
Blanch Roberts
Polk Roberts
Robert Carter
Lena Jamerson


Second Row
Ruth Foster
Winnie Cato
Charley Ferguson
Luther Dooley
Mattie Dooley
Dovie Ferguson
Elmer Ferguson
Adley Suggs
Minnie Foster
Back Row
Sytha Dooley
May Carter
Dennis Ferguson
Delia Jamerson
Violia Foster
Nora Jamerson
Albert Foster

 

Get out your old class photos and write the names on the back today.

County Board of Education 1921-1922            County Superintendent             
Caddo School pupils 1915            Cedar Glades School         Story School  
Oden 1970's pupils                                                              Oden H.S. seniors  

The early schools in Montgomery County were three month subscription schools, private schools, in various church buildings where the teacher was paid directly by the parents or guardians of children sent to school. Many pupils paid for tuition with produce.  In January 1846 three school commissioners were appointed, Isaac Denton, Granville Whittington and John Shipp.  Each school district would elect a male board of trustees and these men hired the teacher.  The teacher would board with a family in the area. Between 1854-1856 the State paid $215.28 to the county fund for education.  A  public school system, free school system, for children five to twelve years, was supported in part by state tax revenues through an act of the state legislature in 1867 and each man over twenty-one was taxed $1 to help pay for the three month school term.  In 1870 in the county there was 709 pupils all of whom were white.  By June 30 1888 there were fifty-nine common schools opened three months of the year with 27 male teachers, 2 female teachers, 792 white male pupils, 637 white females, 30 colored males, and 22 colored females.  Average monthly salaries paid to male first grade teachers $38.37; second grade males $33.30, females $25.00; third grade males, $33.31 and females $24.15.  By 1900 enrollment had reached 2,391 and the average length of the school term was sixty days.  There were 69 schools having property valued at $6,935 and employing fifty one teachers.  During, 1939-40 term there were 2,607 pupils enrolled of whom 22 were colored. Of the enumerated population of school age 86.4% were enrolled. Salary for a female teacher was $50/month in 1920 and by 1925 $45. In 1997-1998 average monthly salary $2,350 for the Oden School District.

Reference: Inventory of the County Archives of Montgomery County, AR prepared by the Arkansas Historical Records Survey, April 1942, WPA

Where to find school info:

"A third of the teachers today have family roots in the county. They choose a higher quality of life over higher salaries"  1989 K.S. Pine Ridge.

Montgomery County Schools 1995

General info

Caddo Hills Mount Ida Oden
Sq. miles within boundary of the school district 322 332 179

Average daily attendance 1997-1998

557 543 260
Total population in I.S.D. 1995 3,159 3,882 1,429
Total children 5 -17 yrs in I.S.D. 1995 602 604 261
No. children 5-17 yrs related to head of household below poverty 1995 204 207 90

In 1922 there was eighty three school districts in the county with Mr. T.A. Humble as county school superintendent. Consolidation commenced c. 1928 down to nineteen school districts initially and when completed over a fifteen year span there was four School Districts with a free high school in each district. Improved roadways and busing helped during the consolidation and the depression:
Mount Ida    # 20
Norman         #28
Oden             #43
Caddo Gap    # 50
In fall of 1971 Norman School District # 28 and Caddo Gap # 50 consolidated to form the new Caddo Hills School District # 28.

2005: The eighty-three school districts of 1922 have now become three: Caddo Hills, Mount Ida, and Ouachita River.

Tri-Lakes, Pages 66 on 13 Dec. 2007
Mount Ida High School is located in Montgomery County, AR. They have a total of 293 students and 25 classroom teachers. Mount Ida High School offers grades 7 through 12.
Mount Ida football coach Mike White lead the team to the state championship. He took over the program in 2005. He initiated some goals for the team. The first was to win a conference championship outright for the first time in 15 years, which they did. By the 2007 season, the goal had changed to winning a state championship, and once again, he and his team delivered. The Mount Ida Lions emerged as not only the 2007 2A state champion, but as the only team in the state of Arkansas to finish the season without a loss. The 15-0 record is by far the best in school history, and in the small town of Mount Ida, you cannot go more than a few hundred feet without seeing a sign supporting the team or declaring the Lions� dominance over the rest of the state. Despite having a population of 981, the support for Mount Ida at War Memorial Stadium Saturday was overwhelming. �Most of the community and the county was there,� superintendent Benny Weston said. �In a small community, something like this brings people together.� Everybody just banded together. People came from towns around us. On game day, Mount Ida had turned into a ghost town. Nearly every shop in town had shut down early on the day before to make the trip to Little Rock for the early game. Cars and windows of businesses were all decorated for the occasion. People who had never cared about football before Saturday suddenly found themselves rabid Lions fans. Most places didn�t even open on Saturday. At the high school, the state championship trophy was displayed prominently in the school office, not behind glass in a locked case, but available for all to see and touch. Every student and faculty member was still buzzing two days after Mount Ida�s historic win, and the Lions were all anyone could talk about. Mount Ida�s quarterback was Taylor Elder. Josh Baker lined up for the kick that would provide the Lions with their first football championship, there was no one on Mount Ida�s side that had a doubt about the outcome. Josh Baker, the game's MVP, came on to boot a 22-yard field goal to give the Lions a 17-16 lead against the Bearden Bears, and the Class 2A state championship with 5 seconds remaining. White said. "We didn't kick a lot of field goals this year, but from 45 yards in, Josh Baker is pretty automatic. No one was happier, White said, than his former high school coach, Preston Stidman. The man for whom Mount Ida named its football field was still beaming as he walked off the turf at War Memorial Stadium.


Montgomery County Schools

"There was a school about every three or four miles along the major dirt roads so the children would not have so far to go in bad weather."   Aug. 1999 J.E. Mt. Ida.

Montgomery County School 1. Name unknown    Montgomery County School 2. Name unknown    Montgomery County School 3. Name unknown    Montgomery County unknown school 4. The three links of chain is the symbol for the Odd Fellows.  F. L. T. stand for Friendship, Love and Truth. The collars are not white, but colored and the black embroidered collar denotes an official in the lodge.    Montgomery County folks. These five photographs and the Story School are courtesy of Beverly Reed.  Her parents attended the Story School. Beverly wrote: "I don't know who they are, but maybe someone will. They came from a box of pictures that once belonged to my grandmother, Sarah Ann Stroud Southard (husband, Joseph William Southard). I believe that they must be from Montgomery County."

Key: area = topographic map area not school district. Color code is the school district the school was consolidated with. Mount Ida # 20,  Oden #43, Norman & Caddo Gap #28 Garland Co. since 1917

Montgomery County, Arkansas School Districts - a few numbers were reused
  1. Buckville 1. Murphy
  2. Cedar Glades  2. Mountain View
  3. Gaston
  4. Story
  5. Gibbs
  6. Oakwood
  7. Sims 
  8. Crystal Springs
  9. Alamo
  10. Hill
  11. Huddleston School
  12. Brushy
  13. Sardis
  14. Perrin
  15. Red Bird  15. Haley's (colored)
  16. Little Fir
  17. Washita
  18. Pleasant Hill -Red Ridge
  19. Rocky Valley
  20. Mount Ida
  21. Sweet Home
  22. Hickory Grove 
  23. Union Hill
  24. Caney
  25. Sulphur Springs
  26. Oak Grove - Logan
  27. Mountain Home
  28. Norman
29. Manfred
30. Hopper
31. Fancy Hill
32.
Owley
33. Lucky - Shady Grove
34.
Lone Star
35. Elnora
36. Mount Zion
37. Waters
38. _____
39. Hurricane Grove - Chapman
40. Liberty - Chapel 
41.
Red Haw
42. Oak Grove
43. Oden
44. Slatington - Head
45.Campbell - Oak Grove
46. Beulah - Welch
47. Five Mile

48. Rock Spring - Albert
49. Black Springs
50. Caddo Gap
51.
White Plains
52. Bear
53. Avant
54. Central
55. County Line
56. Fields
57. ______
58. Pisgah
59. Scott
60. Ault 60. Pleasant Valley
61. Joplin
62. _____
63. Little Georgia (colored)
64. Independence
65. Friendship 65. Hog Jaw -Thorny
66. Grenade
67. Mountain Valley
68. Shady Grove
69. Tackett 
70. Liberty
71. Barnett - Happy Home
72. Piney Grove
73. Mimosa
74.  ______
75. Big Fir
76. Chambers - Crystal Hill
77. Blue Bell
78. Woodville
79. McKelroy (Who'd-a-though-it)
80. Bonner
81. Manfred (Colored
)
82. Nicholson
83. Richwood

Looking for School District Number:

Cedar Bluff
Fiddler Valley
Grandview (opened 1952-53)
Imelda
Jones
Oklahoma
Old Bethel
Waco
Yellow Jacket 

The names listed in italics represent the school district directors, for each school district in 1923.
 President and secretary (in that order) and their residence. 

Alamo
area Bonnerdale common School District #9
J.J. Moore      M.L. Kinsey Womble

Albert area Athens Variant Name: Rock Spring School District #48
 C.B. Lowery    Horae Lultree    Albert

Ault School District #60

Avant School District #53 Variant Name: Sixteen Section School

Barnett area Polk Creek Mountain Variant Name: Grubb Beasley School or Happy Home Common School District #71 R.W. Porter    W.R. Porter     Albert

Bear School District #52

Big Fir area Reed Mountain Common School District #75  H.J. Scott    Grovis O. Snow

Black Springs area Norman Common School District #49. Black Springs Elementary area Norman School District #49. Three rooms in the building, but only two teachers. Miss Zena Alexander and Miss Mildred (Watson) as they were called were the last teachers of the school before it closed. Both were married. 1934 class photo
I.L. Awtry    WT Drake Black Springs 

Blue Bell area Reed Mountain Common School District #77 C.T. Cass    E.L. Powell    Mt Ida

Bonner area Amity Common School District #80    D.T. Grant    W.F. Echols    Lucky

Brushy area Brushy Creek Mountain School District #12 W.G. Willhite    B.F. Brewer    Oden

Buckville School District #1 Now under Lake Ouachita.

Caddo Gap area Caddo Gap. Special School District #50  The old Caddo Gap school no longer remains. "There has been a lot of interest lately on replacing the senior walk at the old Caddo Gap School. Most of the original walks were destroyed during the demolition of the old school house. A plan has been developed to replace the walks on the old school property just north of the Indian Statue in Caddo Gap" Montgomery County News July 8 1999.  Julia Biggers, was a teacher.     
L.A. Davis    S.G. O'Neal    Caddo Gap 1930-31 school photos 

Caddo Hills Elementary area Norman.   J. L. Harvey was superintendent of Caddo School in 1890. 1915 school photo  

Caddo Hills High area Norman 

13 September 2007 "Approximately 70 percent of the land in Montgomery County, Arkansas is federal forest land," added Donald Henley, superintendent of the Caddo Hill School District in Norman, Arkansas. "The $1 million our county receives each year makes up a significant portion of our school budget. We have also used the monies to work with the Forest Service to maintain some of the forest recreation areas in the county. This has allowed us to keep these recreation areas open and available to thousands of Americans."

Caddo Valley Academy area Norman. Many a promising scholars were doomed to just an eighth grade education as there was no high school in the Caddo Gap - Norman area.  Dr. John T. Barr realized the Presbyterian ministry needed to go beyond preaching, so he asked his Womble congregation and Presbytery for support for this project and Dr. Stueart who wanted a good education for his children encouraged local assistance.  The Womble School District was penniless as a school built in 1909 had burnt down in 1910 and the one rebuilt was damaged by fire in 1915 so the CVA, a Presbyterian home mission school, opened in 1921 using the public school building. The Hillside Hotel was purchased and turned into the girls dormitory and the church manse was also purchased and into the boys dormitory. The state took over the CVA in 1930 and the school became the Norman High School.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette 13 February 2005
In 1959, the Presbyterian Church in Arkansas realized that change was afoot in social services to children. The church combined the boards of the Vera Lloyd Home with the Caddo Valley Academy in Norman, which is in Montgomery County. Ultimately, a new church body arose from this merger, the Presbyterian Family and Child Services Program. Out of this emerged a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed teenagers. In 1972 the original Williamson Hall became an emergency shelter for children who were referred by the State Department of Human Services.

Caney area Pine Ridge Common School District #24: The Montgomery County Herald Jun 8. 1894 Mt. Ida, Arkansas. Mr. Alf Whittington has secured a school in Caney Township for a term of four months, commencing fourth Monday in July.
W. W. Smith was superintendent of Caney Valley in 1886, L. W. Herring in 1887, W. W. Smith in 1888, L. W. Herring in 1889, W. W. Smith in 1890,1891 and 1894, S. Z. Moran in 1895 and 1896, George Spears in 1899. H. Maddox    N. Simpson    Huddleston

In the 1920s children assisted with the spring planting and fall harvest on the farms so attended school in July and August and for about five months beginning in November through winter. The older pupils later attended high school at Oden, twelve miles east. Caney Creek Elementary was a two room building with approximately 50 to 80 students and two teachers. There were spelling bees and arithmetic contests. Clyde Foster and his wife were the teachers there in the 1920s.One of the teachers Each classroom had its own woodburning stove and water bucket. Neighborhood men cut the green wood supply and all the young boys wanted a chance to go to the woods to hunt for pine starting wood, usually this lasted the entire day. Same with going to the spring to fill the water bucket. "Summer was hot. After a 15 -20 minutes recess we would fan ourselves with our tablets or whatever." Teachers and pupils had to put up with many foul odors in the schoolhouse. Checking traps on the way to school necessitated having to send some boys home. Carney had a basketball team and played against Norman, Black Springs and Cherry Hill. Baseball against Opal. Social functions were held Friday afternoons and at Thanksgiving and Christmas and all entire community would turn out for the plays. O.M.   Today only the foundations remain just off the Opal-Oden Road and grown up with shrubs and trees. 

Cedar Bluff area Norman. Cedar Bluff is on the bluff of the Caddo River, right at the big curve on Highway 8 as you come into Norman from Black Springs. No buildings remain.  There is a water tower close to the site.  There is a big rock bluff there kids used to go swimming.  It was a great swimming hole, "the rocks" as the kids called it, and they used the rocks for a diving board. 

Cedar Glades School District #2   4-14-1902: 1/4 acre of land was conveyed to School District 2 for school purposes by C. S. Boon and M. E. Boon. Photos 1930s.

Central area Sims Special School District #54   In the Pencil Bluff area five miles east of Oden. A white, one-roomed school house with double front doors with decorative windows above. A belfry on the roof had lattice-work and held a cast iron bell. The rope extended dome through a hole on the ceiling just inside the front door.  In 1919 Oak Grove # 42 and Grenade #66 consolidated to be only Central School #54.  In the 1920s 65-70 pupils attended with one teacher for all eight grades. Teachers included: Mr Westfall, J.N. Fair, Alvin Fair, Vernon Miller, Miss Odessa Holt, Miss Trixie Lee, Frank Kilby and Joe Simpson. Central consolidated with Oden April 19, 1946. The building down Abernathy Rd has been remodeled several times and has been a  private home, Bill Ballentine's house, since 1951. The merry-go-round that was at Oden came from Central. It was a large wooden merry-go-round painted green about 14' in diameter supported in the middle by the central staff that rose to a height about 8' above the ground. Metal bars from the top of the hub extended to the outside edge supported the large structure and multiple 4' long benches facing out. The children had a great time on this apparatus, turning it fast with it swinging around and side to side and trying to fling off the children. Often the children would jump off at the maximum height and see how after out they could land. The teachers never told them to sit down and as far as we know no one got hurt. It was dismantled about the 1980-1981 school year.  You can find partial pictures of it in the annuals. C.C. Ballintine    C.W. Fair    Oden

County Line area Glenwood Variant Name: Kennedy School District #55

Crystal Hill area Oden Variant Name: Huddleston Special School District #11 W.D. King    J.R. Bates    Huddleston

Crystal Hill  Variant Name: Chambers School District #76 The building still stands about 6 miles east of Sims on the right. The Crystal Hill Pentecostal Church east of Sims on Hwy 88, built in 1908 but remodeled
 R.N. Dillard    P.O. Chambers    Gibbs

Crystal Springs Special School District #8 Newly established in 1884.W.E. Rainwater     W.W. Kiser  

Elnora area Reed Mountain Common School District #35 Van Smith    J.R. Hayes    Silver. The school was located on the left of the side road that leads to Twin creek Recreational Area about � mile s. of the lake. The building was use for church and school was located on the west side of the road going north.

Fancy Hill area Langley. Common School District #31 Variant Name: Greasy Cove. Latitude: 342215N  Longitude: 0934552W A one room school. Anna May Rowell taught here for two years starting in the winter 1930-31. Bordered with Ruben Porter and wife and each weekend she would return to the area by horseback. From Black Springs it is over the mountain, Fodder Stack, in the Greasy Cove area. E.L. Ledbetter    A.F. Wood  Cogburn   Hopper

Fiddler Valley area Sims

Fields area Glenwood Common School District #56 O.A. Huggins    K.M. Horn    Glenwood

Five Mile area Glenwood School District #47

Friendship area Pine Ridge School District #65

Gap area Caddo Gap Variant Name: Hill Special School  District #10 (Colored) H.C. Carter     F.G. Hill    Caddo Gap

Gaston area Oden School District #3

Gibbs area Sims Variant Name: Rocky Common School District # 5 T.J. Rankins    Charley Hatton    GThe old Rocky school house. ibbs    4/11
This photo, of the old Rocky school house at Rocky/Gibbs, courtesy of Doug Anderson, was
taken in October of 1981. The building is no longer standing today. Information about this school can be found on page 509 of the Montgomery County : Our Heritage  volume 1.

Grandview area Amity. Variant Name: New Beulah School. Elevation: 642' opened 1952-53.

Grenade area Brushy Creek Mountain School District #66. Ilene Carrier Scott attended 1st grade at Grenade School in 1922.  There was one teacher for the entire school, a Mr. Bates. Consoldiated and the children went to Central School.

Haley's (Colored) School area Fannie School District #15. Created in 1917 when the county boundary was changed. Little Georgia School District 63 for colored children ended up in Garland Co. by 300 - 400 feet so a new school district "Haley" was created for those left in Montgomery Co. J.T. Healy    Bert Brown    Buckville

Hickory Grove  Variant Name: Chalybeate Common School District #22. Now under Lake Ouachita. J.C. McElroy    J.V. McElroy    Buckville

Hog Jaw School   area Oden   Variant Name: Thorney Grove Common School District #65. Martha Willhite Carrier went to school at Hog Jaw.  The children marched in each morning.  The girls sat on one side of the building--the boys on the other side.   George and Annie Willhite were teachers. Cordelia Willhite and her brothers also attended Hog Jaw School in the early 1900s along with their cousins. Cordelia (1898 -1994) only attended school for three years as she had to stay at home and look after an ill close relative. Cordie was also sickly. She could read and write good enough to pay the bills and write many letters to her grandchildren and was a fine banjo player. Fryar's, Singleton's, Forbes, Goss, and Abernathy's also attended Hog Jaw.  Nancy Bell Singleton attended school here through to eight grade. Her teacher was Mattie Davidson. The children would attend Oden School to continue their education to twelve grade.
 H.K. Singleton    I.P. Fryar    Oden

Hopper School area Lodi Variant Name: Parks Special School District #30 J.G. Hopper    W.J. Tweddle    Hopper

Hurricane Grove area Reed Mountain Variant Name: Chapman Common School District #39
 J.L. McKinney    T.W. Standridge    Mt Ida

Imelda
area Bonnerdale

Independence area Oden Special School District #64 H.L. Brown   L.F. Shirley    Oden

Jones area Brushy Creek Mountain. Jones, Fiddler Valley and Pleasant Valley schools were all in is known as the Muddy Creek Wildlife Management District. There was one school on Muddy Creek Rd, four miles, at a "Y".

Joplin area McGraw Mountain Common School District #61 The school property was near the Joplin Cemetery. The school closed in 1941. A.C. Clearly    W.N. Smith    Silver

Liberty area Brushy Creek Mountain Special School District #70 Head one mile north of Oden, take road to right, cross Brushy Creek.  Road is no longer maintained. There is a road named Liberty Rd - its comes off the road between White Town and Brushy.     J.M Derment    Joe M. Johnson    Oden

Liberty area Caddo Gap. Variant Name: Chapel District #40 J.W. Furr    A.C. Hess    Womble

Little Fir area McGraw Mountain Common School District #16 aka The Daves School and Community
 
Joe Tolbert    L.G. Goodner    Fir

Little Georgia School District #63

Logan area Glenwood. Variant Name: Oak Grove School District #26

Lone Star area Mount Ida Common School District #34 J.E. Barker    R.F. Ferguson    Mt Ida

Manfred area Norman Common School District #29  G,M, Gladden    W.R. Harbour    Caddo Gap

Manfred Colored School area Norman School District #81

Mauldin area Mount Ida School District #25. 
Special School District # 25 L.D. Williams    S.E. Ward    Mauldin 

McKelroy School District #79  Variant Name: 'Who'd a thought it!' and Don'ttchutetchet means Don't you tetch (touch) it! There is also a Whodathoit Drive about six miles east of Sims on Hwy 88, one drive way west of Crystal Hill Church which use to be an old school.

Mimosa area Mount Ida Common School District #73     Rosenthal    J. Stawn    Mt Ida

Mount Ida Baptist Academy Students bordered in the community.

Mount Ida Elementary Variant Name: Ben Craven Elementary area Mount Ida


Mrs Mobley's class went on a visit to the Mt Ida courthouse.

Mount Ida Junior Senior High area Mount Ida.Special School District #20  The first high school in the county as established in Mount Ida in 1887 by Professor W.G. Fail, who, with one assistant taught all grades in a one-room building.   Brakefiled     M. Herndon

Mt. Ida Normal School John L. McConnell and Chas. A. McConnell instructors. John L. McConnell - County Examiner, Montgomery ARK May 15, 1894. The Mount Ida Academy was built about 1920 of sandstone and was sponsored by the Southern Baptist Headquarters.  Many of the students were billeted out to local families. One of the teachers were Clyde McClain. The pupils had to pay for board and tuition. The state took over running the academy in 1929-30 renaming it the Mount Ida High School. 1942

Everett Black, Mount Ida High School, senior, 1937.

Mount Zion area Caddo Gap Common School District #36  S. Sims    William Grebliuk    Womble

Mountain Home area Caddo Gap School District #27. F. Nelson was superintendent of Mountain Home School in 1888, W. H. Caldwell in 1889 and T. J. Millaps in 1894, J A. Tackett in 1895, G. A. Driggers in 1899. W.E. Flat    N.S. Roberts

Mountain Valley area Mount Ida Common School District #67 JH Lybrand    J. Ellidener Mt Ida

Mountain View area Glenwood Special School District #2 
Perry Nelson    S.E. McLean    GO Kennedy    LE Deuce     AC Farmer


Murphy area Oden Special School District #1 
Pres. JF Black  Sec. DS Reeces   Directors:  HE Rodden    WR Warren    TL Crump Redbird 5-21-24

Nicholson area Caddo Gap Variant Name: Forest Hills School District #82

Norman High: The Montgomery County Herald Mount Ida, Arkansas Thursday September 21 1939. The seniors of Norman High School met Sept. 18 and elected as their class officers for this year as follows:
President: Pete Hart
Vice President : Daniel Spires
Secretary: Addelyne Parkerson
Treasurer: Herbert Barentine
Reporter: Edna Bryant
Social Committee: Cecil Gill, James Wall, Majorie Fisher and Willa Marie Dalton
In 1941 Ode Maddox became the school principal for Norman and also drove a school bus.
Special (Lig) School District No. 28 H.W. Biggs    Y.D. Bates    Womble

Oak Grove area Oden School District #42. In the Pencil Bluff area. Consolidated 1919 with the children going to Central School.

Oak Grove area Bonnerdale  Variant Name: Logan.  Common School District # 26.
 M.D. McKnight    J.S. Logan    A.J. Anderson    Caddo Gap

Oak Grove area Mount Ida Variant Name: Campbell Common School District #45
K. Armstrong    A.C. Weeks    Bonnerdale

Oakwood  area Fannie School District # 6 The school was located just north of the Hwy. 298, just west of the present day Montgomery /Garland Co. line east of Story. Near a cemetery. 1909  & 1910 pupils Lodge
 J.C. Cearky    V.I. Kingsy    Oakwood

Ode Maddox Elementary and Oden High  area Oden Special School District #43
: Oden School District was organized in 1928-29 when the area schools consolidated and today children travel by buses from Pine Ridge, Caney, Hog Jaw, Brushy, Sims and areas in-between. Oden High School and Ode Maddox Elementary schools are located on the hill in Oden. Ode Maddox received his elementary schooling at Caney and later a graduate from Oden in March 1932, salutatorian of the class of eleven students.  He belonged to the school's agriculture club and music program. Played basketball but not baseball. G.E. Hedrick was coach. Ode took the county teachers examination and received a teacher's license. The test was quite extensive and covered all subjects. He served as a teacher starting in the fall of 1934 when Major T.A. Humble was Superintendent of Oden Schools. He was paid in teacher's warrents. The school district was four years in arrears on warrants. Taught fourth grade for 3-4 years and moved up to seventh. Taught geometry and coached basketball. Ode became Superintendent for the Oden School District 1944-1975. Joe Simpson, superintendent of Oden schools, with his family moved into John Johnson's house in Sept.1939. The average combined enrollment for the schools is still about two hundred-fifty pupils all on the same campus. There is usually one classroom for each grade. 1988-89 administration: Superintendent: Claude Berry. Board members: Travis Dollar, Annette Hays (first female member), Chester Miller, Billy Lewis, Billy Wingfield and Leon Stovall.  Pupils at Oden, 1970s. The Senior Walk. Today the school remains the focus of the Oden community. Ilene Carrier Scott went to school at Oden from 1923-1927.  She had three teachers. One was Miss Carrie. S.N. Hickey    I.C. Chapman    Oden

Mr Ode Lee Maddox of Oden, loved politics and the State Legislature. The former member of the House of Representatives, died on Thursday March 2, 2001. He was 88. A lifelong resident of Oden, Montgomery County and a Democrat served 40 years in the Arkansas General Assembly, before he fell victim to term limits in 1997. Representative Maddox served worth distinction as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1957 through 1998 and was known in the legislature as a champion of education. He was on the House Education Committee.  He also worked for forty two years for the Oden School District which included thirty one years as superintendent. "He was a great friend to education." His wife is Mrs Ruby Lackey Maddox. Funeral services were Monday at 3 pm at the Oden School cafeteria. The church was not large enough to handle the large crowd. Ruby died in Mena 10 September 2008, at the age of 94. She had a large funeral in Mena but had a viewing in Oden and was buried in Mena beside Ode. They were a wonderful couple. They joined the Oden first Baptist Church in 1944.

Oden was a small school district so was forced to consolidate in 2005. Now the Oden schools are in the Ouachita River

Basketball Champions State of Arkansas
Coach Ode Maddox
Othel Standridge
Dallas Simpson
Elgie Goss
Sonny Stanley
Kenneth Stovall
Bill Don Lawrence
Floyd McKinsey
Edward Abernathy
Thurman White

Oklahoma  area Norman

Old Bethel  area Caddo Gap

Owley School c. 1923. Owley  area Mount Ida. Common School District #32. The school was the church which still stands in year 2000 but reduced in size. A similar photo c. 1923 Owley School pupils is featured in Montgomery County Our Heritage Vol. 1, page 507, and the children are identified. Note the hands in the front row.  Photo courtesy of Bettie Dowler. William Dewitt Scott is on the second row, fourth from the right.  His brother, Floyd Devoe Scott is on the fourth row, second from the right.
Lonnie Warneke  (1909-1976) is the tall boy back row (fourth row) on the left of the other tall boy Calvin Vines. Lon is buried at Owley Cemetery across the road from the church which is used occasionally for funerals. Frank Robbins    O.S. Wiedner    Mt Ida

Perrin  area Polk Creek Mountain School District #14    W.J. Cogburn    Jole Cogburn

Pine Ridge  area Pine Ridge Variant Name: Waters Special School District #37
N.B. Bates    J.R. Huddleston    T.H. Wilhite    Waters

Piney Grove area Reed Mountain School District # 72

Pisgah  area Amity Common School District #58. R. Tallant  was superintendent of Mt. Pisgah School in 1887
 E.L. Tidwell    Floyd Wright  Glenwood

Pleasant Hill  area Fannie Variant Name: Red Ridge School District #18 M.S. Lamb    R.W. Qualls    Story

Pleasant Valley Baptist Church School area Norman

Pleasant Valley  area Sims #60 Class photo at the bottom of this page.

Red Bird  area Oden School District #15  C.F. Black    H.W. Black    Redbird

Red Haw  area Story Variant Name: Prairie Grove School District #41
 
J.S. Wilson    J.J. Duncan    Oakwood

Richwood  area Pine Ridge School District #83  W.N. New    J.O. Hughes    Huddleston

Rocky Hollow  area Polk Creek Mountain

Rocky Valley  area Mount Ida School District #19    J.T. Scott    T.C. Scott    Mt Ida

Sardis  area Norman School District #13     Petit    J.S. Brunch    Black Springs

School (Colored) District #63 Variant Name: Little Georgia

Scott  area Polk Creek Mountain Variant Name: Wehunt School or Box Common School District # 59
 G.C. Von Marsh    Seuders Swindle

Shady Grove  area Bonnerdale Variant Name: Lucky School Common District #33. J.D. Justin    F.W. Dollar    Bonnerdale

Shady Grove  area Reed Mountain Common School District #68 Lee Scott    J.W. Standridge     Mt Ida photo 

Sims schoolhouse Nov. 2000Sims  area Sims School District #7. Today families in the area have the choice of sending their children by school bus to Mt. Ida or Oden schools. Most choose Mt. Ida. As you drive through Sims there is an old boarded up board building, on the left if heading west toward Story, that is all what is left of the old Sims school. The other half of the building was moved away from the site to be used by a farmer. There use to be a brick wall and steps to the left, the entrance to the school and the field out the back was the playing field. The location of one of the earliest schools in Sims was on property formerly owned Woodrow Whisenhunt, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Tim Montgomery.   B.F. Tabor    L.R. West    Sims
Rocky School House 1938


Slatington  area Polk Creek Variant Name: Mountain Head School and Head School District #44
 W.R. Lively    J.L. Cox Slatington

Story  area Story: Special School District # 4 In 1927 the school board employed Miss Malinda and Martha Abee to teach the summer term.  photo     J.M. Reed    J.W. Stachey    Story

Sulphur Springs  area Pine Ridge. School District #25 The Sulphur Springs school began in 1901 and the building was used as both a school and a church with the Sulphur Springs Missionary Baptist Church paying the taxes. Consolidated with the Norman in 1921 but school was held there at least until 1941. Ruby Wehunt Shannon was a former teacher. School started here on Monday Sept 11 1939 with Arvell Hughes as principal and Mrs Jeff Carpenter as teacher. The school had two rooms, but only one room was used for a classroom in the later years.  They had cake walks and pie suppers to raise money for books and supplies for the school. The Kiser girls Iva and Frieda attended the school. Their house was the closest house to the school. There were two boys and two girls in the Kiser family.

When Oak Grove was closed and the name changed to Sulphur Springs, the number 25 was given to Mauldin, and Sulphur Springs retained the number 8.  This was in the jurisdiction of the Norman School District #28.  That number, 28, was also retained when the new Caddo Hills School was opened, which merged Norman and Caddo Gap.  

1939 Sulphur Springs School

Front Row: Boyce Bates, Floyd Carter
Second Row: Connie Cagle, Faye Carter, Tessie Ramsey, Margie Kiser
Third Row: Jerry Putman, Glen Carpenter, Joffery Bates, Ramona Fountain, Mary Dell Ramsey, Alley Cagle Back Row: Mrs. Lora Carpenter, Mildred Cagle, Pete Ramsey, Donald Meredith, Billy Loyd Edwards, Louise Edwards, R. B. Carter. The names were written on the back by Edsel Kiser. Photo courtesy of Eunice McCammon.
Posted 24 May 2002.

Eunice wrote in March 2009
I grew up in this community, and this picture belonged to either my mother or to Edsel Kiser. Although these people are older than I, I knew most of them. Some of my older siblings attended that school, and my sister taught there the last two years it was open. Edsel did a lot of research, and I feel sure he has all the names right. Also, Margie is my cousin, and I think I saw a copy of it at her house.

Boyce Gene Bates <Nephue@Juno.com> wrote in Feb. 2009
What do you like best about Montgomery County? The lakes and rivers
I grew up in Huddleston and Sulphur Springs and attended grade school at Sulphur and attended high @ Norman graduating in the 1948-1949. Had a great childhood working hard but had so much fun. I still think the people and the area is the best in the world. My wife can't hardly stand the chiggers and the seed ticks, but thinks it's almost as pretty as Oregon.

Boyce wrote: I have that picture and all those kids were my class mates. I rode a bus was first driven by Henry Manning and lived as my neighbor later was driven by Perry Reynolds. Best I can remember school started @8 am till 3:30 pm w/2 recesses. The schoolhouse had two rooms. Teachers were Linsie Alderage, Perry Black, Lorene Hughes, Ruthie May Sherman, Dorthy Edwards, Lora Carpenter she was in the picture I'm squatted down in the front w/Floyd Carter. We heated the building with a big pot bellyed stove fired with coal. We had a big curbed well for water. Toilets were in the back in the woods. Boys one way the girls the other. Most kids had a pint jar of milk before lunchboxes we had 4 or 8 lb. lard buckets to put lunches in usually it consisted of big biscuits with sausage and gravy. My mom would bake large buns like the ones we have for hamburgers today. Oh I almost forgot the big sweet potatoes. Some kids carried them in their hip pockets, sit on 'em all day and had lunch w/em. We played lots of games @ recess. Lots of fun. I think school was from September till May about the middle I think. It was great but yet very stick, tho. If a kid didn't follow the rules he was sent through a belt line about 6 on each side consisting of his peers or got sent to the principle in the upper grade room for a paddling.
_______________________________________

Florence Whitehouse attended the two room Sulphur Spring school for three years along with her brother starting in 1930. They would help 'Mamma' to straighten out the house before they started their 2� mile walk to school carrying their books in their arms and their one gallon syrup bucket with scrambled eggs and biscuits for lunch. Another day probably an hard boiled egg, a glass of pinto beans left over from the night before and maybe an onion. Well water was available to drink. Always barefooted in the summer. School started at 9am with the usual morning and afternoon recess and lunch hour when they would play jump rope, baseball, tag, or basketball. Their text books include a speller, history, geography and a reader and they had to take along their own paper and pencils. There was also summer school for review.  Other children attending included Ilene Beck, Dorothy Edwards, Frieda Kiser -same class as Florence, and Edsel Kiser in an upper class. One room was used to teach the first through third grade and the other fourth through eighth with three to six pupils in each class.  There was one long homemade bench in each room and all in one class would sit on this one bench. Mr Audris was a third and fourth grade teacher at Sulphur Springs. The pot belly stove heated the room when necessary. School was out a 4pm  and after getting home there was field work, cows to milk (just for the household) and wood to cut. The older pupils in the community attended high school probably at Norman.

Sweet Home  area Reed Mountain Common School District #21    P.L. Hughbanks    S.J. McCullar    Mt Ida

Tackett  area Bonnerdale Common School District #69 E.L. Killingsworth    Willie Kinsey     Bonnerdale

Union Hill  area Oden District #23. aka White Oak Hill School.

Union Hill  area Fannie Common School District # 23 About four miles north east of Story. Probably the last log schoolhouse in the county. Lillie McLane taught there in 1909. (She had a photo of the schoolhouse.)  It did not have a door to close for windows holes cut out on either side and only long seats. No desks.
H.H. Holmes    H.J. Phillips    Story


Waco  area Norman

Washita  area Story Special School District #17 J.D. Blair    Robert Watkins    Washita

Welch  area Amity Variant Name: Beulah School District #46 (?Mount Tabor School)
 John Alhen    L.O. Hamilton    Glenwood

White Plains School District #51 White Plains had only one building for church and school. White Plains school students began going to Buckville about 1926. They used a covered truck for a bus. Some finished nineth grade at Buckville then stayed away from home with friends in Hot Springs and finished High School.

Woodville  area Reed Mountain Variant Name: Murphy Common School District #78  T.W. Campbell    W.C. Murphy

Yellow Jacket  area Norman  (was one word then and called yellerjacket by the locals) Yellow Jacket was located on the old Teague farm, now the Ponder place, about one mile out the old Mt. Ida road, near the creek.  Old timers, some school records and a GPS device confirmed the location.
No buildings remain, and as far as we know no pictures of students or schools remain.  Dr. John T. Barr held church (Presbyterian) in the old Yellow Jacket school house for several years after a new school was built on the hill in Norman.  Dr. Barr came to Norman in 1911.  Yellow Jacket school was probably closed by 1913, when the second school on the hill was constructed.  The first was lost to a fire.


Seed Tick School , Pike County, AR.  Image and names courtesy of Sheila Barnson.

Sick Tick School, Pike County 1912 -1913
What was the other name for the school?

Teacher: Horce Nathaniel (Nat) Lauerence. Left to Right
Front Row: William Gregory,  John Hester Whisenhunt, Bonnie Turner, Jewell Turner, Carlos Smith
Second row: John Smith, Luther Clyde Turner, Verner Turner, Vista Lindsey, Ora Cummings, Marvin Cummings, Millard Whisenhunt, Willie Turner
Third row: Thomas Smith, Pat Campbell, Robert Whisenhunt, Annie Whisenhunt, Alma Lindsey, Gertrude Campbell, Allie Whisenhunt
Back row: Annie Lee Gregory, Nettie Cummings, Bessis Smith, Leon Lindsey, Mary Francis Whisenhunt, Belle Smith, Maggie Campbell, Etta Cummings

Teacher Certification Requirements

"Even though school teachers didn't have college degrees like they do today, they had a big advantage in teaching kids. The big advantage was a long hickory switch in the corner of the schoolroom". R. S. Mt. Ida.

The early requirements of 1890 were met by the applicant taking an examination for a fee from the county superintendent. Normal Schools were establishments for the education of elementary school teachers and to teach techniques of teaching.  Many of the students were from farm families and from families of the lower economic levels.  Admission requirement was high school graduation or examination in common subjects, good moral character and declaration of intention to teach. Exceptions were made.  Teachers throughout Montgomery County would go to the Mt. Ida Normal School in the spring to stay up to date with trends, take refresher coursers taught by the county superintendent and retake the teacher license exams for a higher passing grade.  Third grade passing was the lowest license, two was better and a first grade license was the best. New teachers would have further training under supervision at a country school. There are probably some old First Grade Teaching Certificates lying in the bottoms of an old trunks in the county.  The Normal Schools were later phased out and Teachers Colleges became the norm. By the 1940s many of the local graduating high school pupils were heading for Henderson State Teachers College to obtain a degree and start a career teaching in the county and surrounding counties and today many still head to Arkadelphia and Henderson State University.

Old School Days

"First they got up and milked thirteen head of cattle. The brothers and sisters walked to school three miles there and three miles home. The school was heated by a stove in the middle of the room. The name of the school I have never found out because no one remembers it. My grandmother, was the oldest child, went through 3rd grade. Her mother was having one child after another, and she was needed at home to help out on the farm.  She could read very well.  She told me of a hole of water not far from the farm that had fish in it. There was a tree that had fallen across the creek.  She would sit on that tree with a twig for a rod and reel,  and a safety pin for a hook. Aunt Lockie Adams Fisher loved to fish.  They went to the same school. Maybe someone there can identify the school. Possum Kingdom area to my knowledge.  It is where Minnie Adams Caldwell, and Youman Caldwell lived and raised their family. Grandma carried her food to school in a lard bucket.  She never  mentioned what she wore to school, but their best was always kept for going to church. I know we used to attend Rock Springs church decoration day. " Courtesy of SKM Posted 10 Aug. 2000.

The Way it May Have Been

"Terms were short, salaries were low, and the teacher "boarded around" The one-roomed school was the center for instruction for the three R's, for 1st to 8th grades, as well as the meeting place for other educational, recreational and religious activities. Classes probably started 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. with an hour for lunch and morning and afternoon recess where the whole school would play ball in a field. The children started to school at age six and went for nine months out of the year. They either walked or rode horses which where probably kept in an enclosure behind the school. Lunch consisted of biscuits, eggs, ham, small "half-moon" fruit pies, corn, watermelon and milk. No outhouse. School furniture in the school house was usually homemade long benches and desks, a large blackboard on the front wall, school bell, slate tablets, Blue-Backed Speller and McGuffey's Readers. Punishment was standing in the corner or missing recess. Teachers would call students up to the front of the classroom to recite their lessons while the others studied. Upper classes would work together in arithmetic and spelling. At the end of the week the children's memorization skills were checked with spelling bees and ciphering. There were two terms winter and summer as the children were needed in the fields in spring for planting and in the autumn for picking cotton and gathering corn.

Pine Ridge

"She taughten the last term of skoole here in Pine Ridge and had a heap better cuntrol over the scholars than arry perfesser we've had fer years. She went at it right square backwards from the usual run of perfessors. Stid of snatchin em up and whalin the daylights outen em, she would talk kind to em and pint out wher they had the wrong slant on thing. Yessir they's times when words'll cut a heap deeper than a hickory limb. She peers to know jist what to say or do at the right time so's to git along with the parrents of the good scholars. She 's takend right a holdt in the sosyiety doins of the cammunity. Hit dont make no difference wher hits a box social, literary or singing bee, you can find her right smack in the middle of things jist like she had growed up with us."  'Lum and  Abner and their Friends from Pine Ridge'.

==============================

The School Boy

The school-boy of the toilsome past
Was up before the break of day;
He cared not if the clock was fast,
Nor if they threw the clock away.
And was too tired at night to "lark."

The school-boy of today does not
Sneak up on education in the dark:
He knows that he can do a lot
In daylight, for he is a "shark"
At keeping up with world events
And keeping working with modern implements.


JACK ELLIOT,
Tenth Grade, Ovalo School, TX


Both poems from a 1922-1923 Taylor Co. TX school yearbook that was in possession of a Pencil Bluff resident, Ada Clark

==============================

Be The Best You Can Be

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley-but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass;
Some highway some happier make.
If you can't be a muskie, then just be a bass,
But the liveliest bass in the lake.

We can't all be captains; we've got to be crew;
There's something for all of us here.
There's big work to do and lesser to do,
And the task we must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail;
If you can't be the sun, be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail-
Be the best of whatever you are.

 by Douglas Malloch

==============================

Pleasant Valley class photo. School Dist. # 60

Schools are History

"The Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas."  Published by Southern Publishing Company 1891. 

The first thing found on record pertaining to education in the county was the appointment, in January, 1846, by the county court of three school commissioners, being the following named gentlemen: Isaac Denton, Granville Whittington and John Shipp. There were no free schools, however, supported by taxation until the free school system was inaugurated after the close of the Civil War of 1861-65. Prior thereto a few subscription schools were taught in the settlements having enough children to compose a school. The teachers were paid directly by the parents or guardians of the children sent to school, and, consequently, the children whose parents were not able thus to pay for educational facilities, were deprived of school advantages. The following statistics, taken from the last published report of the State superintendent of public instruction, it being for the year ending, June 30, 1888, will serve to show the extent of the educational facilities of the county under the present school system: Scholastic population, white males, 1,446, females, 1,377; total, 2,823; colored males, 64, females, 79; total 143. Number of pupils taught in public schools; white, males, 792; females, 637; total, 1,429; colored, males, 30; females, 22; total, 52. Number of school districts, 59; number reporting, 31; number of teachers employed, males, 27; females, 2; total, 29; average monthly salaries paid teachers, first grade, males, $38.75; females, none employed; second grade, males, $33.20, females, $25; third grade, males, $33.31; females, $24.15.

Revenue received for the support of the common schools:
Amount on hand July 1, 1887  $4,090.81
Common school fund               $2,281.75
District tax                                    $975.60
Poll tax                                       $1,179.90
                                                    $8,554. 66

Revenue expended for the support of the common schools:
Teachers' salaries $3,731.33
Building and repairing $91.38
Treasurer's commission $89. 27
Other purposes $28 85

The official report above referred to, after giving the items expended, gives the aggregate at $3,937.83, and the balance on hand at $4,616,83; hence an error exists in the figures, either in the items or aggregates.
Total expended $3,980 83
Balance on hand $4,573 83

These statistics make it appear that only about one-half of the white and a little over one-third of the colored scholastic population were taught in the public schools. But the report is not full and does not give the whole number of children attending school. In submitting his report, in September, 1888, to the State superintendent of public instruction, Prof. W. G. Fail, county examiner, wrote as follows:

DEAR SIR�I herewith enclose my annual report for the year ending June 30, 1888.

The report is incomplete, and this is due to the fact that the directors do not recognize the importance of making full reports. The people of this county are awakening to their educational interests, and the last few years have developed such an interest in schools as to warrant the assertion that Montgomery will soon be in the front rank in point of schools and education. A majority of the districts vote a 5 mill tax, and the public school system is rapidly growing in favor.

I have no suggestion to make in regard to a change in the school law, unless it be amended so that the districts be made larger, the number of directors be reduced to one, and that one be required to attend more minutely to the duties of the office, and receive compensation for same.

Although Montgomery County can not boast of fine school-houses and numerous church spires towering heavenward, it has schools and church organizations in every settlement where there is a sufficient population to maintain them. Here and there can be found an unpretentious school-house, erected near a fine spring of living water, the building serving also the purpose of a house of worship for whatever denomination of Christians may congregate there for that purpose. The leading religious sects in the county are the Methodists, largely in the ascendancy, Baptists, both Primitive and Missionary, Christian and Church of God. Only a few church houses have been erected, the location of most of them having been mentioned in connection with the villages. In the early days religions services were held in private houses and in �the leafy grove,� and later in the school-houses and church edifices, where they still continue to be held, Although there has long been a church organization at Mount Ida, the county seat, the first edifice�a fine large frame structure�ever erected there was put up in 1888. In all thickly settled places Sunday-schools are taught in connection with the church organizations, and much good is accomplished and the cause of Christianity is advanced.

14 September 2006
"Approximately 70 percent of the land in Montgomery County, Arkansas is federal forest land," added Donald Henley, superintendent of the Caddo Hill School District in Norman, Arkansas. "The $1 million our county receives each year makes up a significant portion of our school budget. We have also used the monies to work with the Forest Service to maintain some of the forest recreation areas in the county. This has allowed us to keep these recreation areas open and available to thousands of Americans."

Email additional school history information, second hand accounts of school days, names of teachers, photographs, comments, reunion announcements, suggestions and notification of errors are welcomed! 

  Montgomery County ARGenWeb Project

'It takes a village to raise a child.'

The Value of the Rural School 
A school plays a very critical role in the life of a rural community and is vital to the health of the community. Rural co-educational schooling has come to be seen as an integral part of the way of life in country towns. Children from the farming community are able to work on the family farm after school because the longest bus trip is usually no longer than thirty minutes. Many school's share resources with the local community such as an 'open door' philosophy with use of the grounds out of school hours for shooting goals, roller bladeing, driving a remote control car etc. Often the school is used as a polling booth location during elections, community oriented functions, meetings, festivals, is the local site designated for Civil Defense in times of emergencies. School board members come from the community and many carry on to future local representation. The school is a place for skills development for parents and adults. There is a high level of teacher-parent interaction in rural schools.

The closure of a rural school can have a devastating effect on the overall community so community sustainability needs to be considered. Disappearance of social networks currently based around rural school activities, interactions and relationships lead to community fragmentation and social isolation. Community interaction and participation tends to decline as well as the ability to attract people to the area. Often the school is the major employer and its loss can effect the fragile business community. High school students fill in the 4pm to 7 pm labor gap in the local supermarket, cafe and deliveries. Loss of amenities and facilities to the local community. There is a loss of community traditions and identity. What about the uncertainty about the fate of school property after closure!

The people rather than the location made a school.

REMEMBERING ARKANSAS Teachers' college has become diversified university by Tom W. Dillard
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette 8 July 2007
In 1907, Arkansas was in desperate need of trained teachers. The state then had more than 1,000 school districts, many of them schools in name only. Many rural teachers at the turn of the 20th century had never seen a college. Anyone who could pass a qualification examination could get a license to teach. The late Dr. Bessie B. Moore of Little Rock, who gained fame as a state and national library advocate, began her teaching career in Stone County as a 16-year-old girl. State Sen. Otis T. Wingo sponsored Act 317 of 1907, which created a college "for the preparation and training of white persons, both male and female, citizens of the State and desiring to teach herein �." Acting Gov. X.O. Pindall not only signed the legislation, he also named the first board of trustees. It was a stellar group of well-connected and forward-looking men, including: B.W. Torreyson, Little Rock school superintendent; J.S. Ross, a Desha County leader; and J.L. Ponder, a prominent Walnut Ridge lawyer, as well as several state officials, including the state treasurer and the state auditor. The legislation authorizing the State Normal College stipulated that no town could be considered as the home of the new college unless it pledged at least 20 acres and at least $15,000. The board considered five proposals. Conway sweetened its bid by offering a water supply, a septic tank, electric lights, a sidewalk from downtown and a street along the north side of the campus. Conway received the nod. The Conway bid was not hurt by the "moral tone of the community," including a prohibition on alcohol sales.

Arkadelphia Methodist College later became Henderson-Brown College, but in 1929 the college was acquired by the state and became Henderson State Teachers College (now Henderson State University). Henderson, along with Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway (now the University of Central Arkansas), has produced many of the state's teachers.

Back to school!
By Tom Dillard
Publication: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
Sunday, August 8 2010 

One does not have to read as much Arkansas history as I do to realize that Arkansas was very late in getting a public school system. Although a few feeble efforts were made in the antebellum era to provide public funding for schools, it took the reformist zeal of Reconstruction Republicans to create a public school system. Unfortunately, the 1868 public school law proved to be a mere beginning and it would be another 60 years before the state had anything approaching an actual educational system. Until the 20th Century, most of the schools in rural Arkansas were one-room in size and often contained students in several grades. The county history magazines are full of accounts by octogenarians recounting the glories of the one room country school. While some of the country school teachers were quite adequate for the challenges of teaching a roomful of students ranging from 6 to 21, many were certainly not up to the task. Perhaps the earliest description of a one-room school was that of Albert Pike, the frontier renaissance man who got his start in Territorial Arkansas teaching "subscription schools." In the American Monthly Magazine for January, 1836, Pike told of securing 21 paying "scholars" at a three month subscription school in rural Pope County. "My school-house," Pike wrote, "was a small log house, with a fireplace . . . no floor-no boarding or weather boarding-a hole for a window, and one for a door." After two months Pike was struck with malaria-"[I was] taken possession of by fever and ague . . . and ended my school-keeping in this mortal life." Pike next faced the predicament of securing payment for his teaching-which was to be paid in both cash and pigs. He collected only $3, speculating that "how many pigs I may have at this day in Pope County, it is impossible for me to tell." Even after a public school system was established, teachers often had problems collecting on their contract salaries. Historian Michael B. Dougan has written about the enduring practice of paying teachers in "warrants," written promises to pay which "were redeemed only when the county had collected taxes." Teachers often sold the warrants at greatly discounted rates, meaning, as Dougan wrote, "for more than a century, the official salary given teachers, which usually ranked among the last three states in the nation, did not correspond at all to the amount they actually received." Only in the modern era have we expected schools to be in session for most of the year. In 1909, the Jefferson County school superintendent reported that the average school term was four months and four days. No school outside Pine Bluff was "dong any high school work of any kind." As late as 1957 some Arkansas school districts were still following the decades old practice of breaking the school year into two sessions. In a nod to the importance of child labor on the farm, school did not begin until the crops were "laid by" in July, and classes were discontinued in the fall when cotton picking season arrived.

Despite all these challenges, many Arkansas students excelled. Interviews in Baxter County with Depression-era teachers depict an amazingly rewarding effort. One male teacher recalled that during his first year of teaching, "I had one boy 25 years old in the sixth grade." The long-retired teacher recalled telling the student "you're older than I am," to which the student replied "I want to learn about fractions." The teacher recalled that "he didn't give me any trouble." Black teachers performed miracles, especially in the years following the Civil War when a whole educational system had to be created to accommodate the 111,000 former slaves who were seeking schooling for themselves or their children. One of the truly great accomplishments of Arkansas history was the fact that literacy among black Arkansans rose from near zero in 1865 to 60 percent in 1900. And, this feat was accomplished without federal assistance, and sometimes in the face of active opposition from the dominant white educational system. 


Glenwood '65