Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Schools or Not?
That was the Big Question in 1916 and Later
(A History of Education in Union County, part 3)
I began my
teaching career in the same school I entered as a
first grader when the new two-teacher Choestoe school building opened. Back in 1936, we were so proud of our new
white weather-boarded school building, a great improvement over the
old building that stood on the same spot near
When the school had first opened there
in the 1830’s, classes were held in the log church building. Then the two-room building specifically for
school was built, with an upstairs where the Lodge met in “secret”
quarters. I do not have statistics
many of the years of
I did not attend school in the old building but was a proud first grader in 1936 when the new building opened with its shiny white paint outside, its tall windows, the “lower” grades room for students in 1st through 3rd grades, and the “upper” grades room for students in grades 4th through 7th grades.
Each classroom had its own “cloak” and supply room where we hung our coats on pegs and put our lunch pails on shelves. Extra textbooks and a few school supplies were also stored in the cloak rooms. The classrooms were heated by a wood heater and patrons (including my father, J. Marion Dyer) supplied the wood for the stoves. We brought our water supply in a bucket from a spring on church property until, about my third year there, a well was dug in the schoolyard and a hand pump (which always had to be primed) was installed. We each took our own cups with our lunch pails in order to have one for water when we were thirsty.
Mrs. Mert Shuler Collins was my first grade teacher and encouraged me to read, read, read. I already knew how to read when I entered school, having learned at my mother’s and my older siblings’ knees, probably pestering them so much that they felt to teach me to read for myself would be better than to spend so much of their valuable time reading to me. My aim in first grade was to read every book in the cabinet in the corner of the classroom where extra books were housed just for the students’ pleasure. I didn’t reach my goal that year, but remember the chart with many stars that represented each book completed.
Several teachers held the
When I entered
By the school year 1949-50 when I
began as an eager first-year teacher at
Returning to the 1916 report, Mr. M.
L. Duggan, Rural School Agent for
The Blairsville Collegiate Institute
was going well in 1916 with 150 pupils enrolled in eleven grades. H. E. Nelson was principal, and taught
mathematics and English. His wife, Mrs.
H. E. Nelson, taught history, science and Latin. Miss
Addie Kate Reid taught the intermediate
grades. Miss June Candler taught primary
grades. Music teacher was Mrs. Maud
Haralson and Miss Etta Colclough taught Home Economics and also served
sort of county home economist, visiting in homes and assisting women in
methods of canning and preserving foods from their gardens and farms. The private institute had eight full months
of uninterrupted instructional time and was doing well, indeed. From 1916 through its closure at the end of
the 1929-1930 school year, it was to have fourteen more successful
operation before it became the Blairsville—and subsequently---the
In the district around Suches in 1916,
Mr. Duggan found three schools:
A look at the 1933 county school
statistics reveals that his recommendation was not accomplished to that
date. Mrs. F. F. Pruitt was listed as
teacher that year at
[Next week: Continuing the look at 1916 and later school developments.]
Jones; published August 19, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
[Ethelene Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]