Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
(History of Education in Union County - Part 5)
on the history of education in
Imagine the challenge of seven grades and sometimes seventy or more students managed by one teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. In those years, the classroom was tightly disciplined and those who attended school had a desire to learn. Students could accelerate as they listened to lessons of the grades above them. All was not gloom and doom in the poorly furnished, inadequately lighted and ill-equipped classrooms of the country schools. Most of the students wanted an education. If they were disciplined by the teacher for an infraction of the rules, they likewise received discipline and reprimands from their parents. Parental support was a strong positive as mountain citizens wanted a better life for their children than they themselves had received.
In 1916 the educational inspector, Mr. M. L. Duggan, began a section of his report headed “A Problem of Consolidation. Study the Map.” Under this segment he listed six schools:
Track Rock had Miss Ida Self as
teacher with six grades and 54 enrolled.
By his calculation in distance, it was two and one-half miles
School two was New Liberty with J. W.
Twiggs as teacher, with six grades and 40 enrolled.
The building was of heavy hewed logs,
weather-boarded with good poplar lumber, ceiled with walnut lumber, and
small windows which let in only a small amount of light.
The benches were not good. It was
located one and one-half miles from
The third school in this listing of six was Pine Top. Allen Dyer was teacher with forty-four pupils in seven grades. It had a blackboard and sandbox, but like the other buildings it was poorly lighted. The church members kept the building in good repair and benches were comfortable.
The fourth school, Old Liberty, had
Herschel A. Dyer as teacher and principal with Watson B. Dyer as
teacher. These two teachers had an
enrollment of seventy-two. Old
Mr. Duggan recommended consolidation
in other school groupings, even though the mileage was greater for some
what he noted for the six schools listed in the Choestoe District. He commented:
“It is hardly probable that these six schools can well be
into one, but very likely two properly located would be accessible for
patrons. County school officials and
citizens should give earnest consideration to consolidation.” The only place Mr. Duggan mentioned the
By 1933, some of the six schools listed in this grouping had been combined. Town Creek Consolidated had been formed from Old and New Liberty, Pine Top and some of the patrons from Track Rock. (Later, however, Pine Top seems to have been reinstated as a one-room school.)
Track Rock was still functional in
1933, with Ethel Wimpey and Ethel Collins as teachers, and sixty
enrolled. A little later, Herschel A. Dyer
as principal and teacher at Track Rock with Irene Penland as associate
and 105 enrolled.
A personal account is noted from the
memoirs of Charles Roscoe Collins, first principal of the
It was in the height of the Great Depression, but under the supervision of the then county school superintendent, Mr. C. R. Waldroup, from 1928 through 1932 the building with four classrooms and a small office was planned and built. Sawed lumber was used in the construction. The building was one in which the community took great pride.
Mr. Collins was in
To get from his father’s home to the
school, it was a three-mile walk, one way, six miles per day. C. R. gladly made the walk daily.
His teaching staff consisted of himself as
principal and lead teacher, Ms. Bonnie Collins (Lance), Ms. Sarah
Ms. Pauline Davis. The schools that had
been combined to form Town Creek were Old and New Liberty, Pine Top, a
of Track Rock, and
The teachers’ contracts were for a
salary of $52.50 per month for a six-month term. This
was for the first-class teacher
certification license. However, there
was no money in county coffers to pay teachers, so they met their
month after month, without pay. Just
before Christmas in 1932, Mr. Collins received $10.
He rode to
hard times. Much of the country was
standing in long soup-lines to prevent starvation.
At least the teachers and pupils had food
grown on the farms in
Mr. Collins recalled that he walked
over 1500 miles while he served as principal and teacher at Town Creek. He went early to build fires in all four
classrooms every cold morning. He
commented, “The school served a great purpose.
Many fine boys and girls finished seventh grade at
When the next major consolidation was completed in Union County Schools in the 1950s, two school sites were delineated: Blairsville and Woody Gap. All the country schools were closed and busing made it possible for students to attend the centralized schools. Multiple improvements and advancements in buildings, equipment and resources have resulted in state-of-the-art facilities. Students who proceed from Union County Schools to colleges and technical schools hold their ranks among the best.
As a graduate of a two-teacher country
school (Choestoe) and of
by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published
September 9, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.
permission. All rights reserved.
Jones is a retired educator,
freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA
Updated September 8, 2008