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History of Liberty Hill School

As told by Florence Boswell Reed

I really know little about the early history of Liberty Hill. Mama and Papa (George and Clara Boswell) must have moved to the community in 1909, or 1910. I, Florence Boswell was the first child of theirs born in Liberty Hill, in February 1910. Imogene, the oldest child, was born April 1903, I don’t think she ever went to the other school.

I do not remember the old school building. It was a long straight building just north of the tabernacle and cistern. When they had two teachers with the smaller children was in the South of the building and the Principal and the older children in the North end. I think there was a stage and restroom across the North end of the building. If there was more than one door, I don’t remember it.

I have that faint remembrances of the old building. I remember that was where I first saw Gladys Barnes Fewall. Gladys had just married Harold Fewell, and I still think she is about the prettiest thing I have ever seen.        

For many years there were few, if any renters in Liberty Hill district. Ed Tonahill had a large tract of land with three rent houses on it; however, they were usually occupied by his married daughters or sons.               

The Ike Worley family, the Joe Mathews and the Fewells lived to the south of the school; Sam Wards, Hub Bonners, George Boswells, Joe Beals, Jeff Thompsons, the Nellis family, Johnny Simpsons, and Enoch Hays. Mr. Otha Callaway and Seab Smith family lived to the north of the school.

Mrs. Sullivan lived to the south of the George Boswells, she was a renter, and I think she lived on the Rose place. Ben Goodlets and “Grandma” Worley live to the far west of the school. No Worleys went to school when I did. Mr. Tom Worley and his brothers may have gone to Liberty Hill when they were young. I don’t know if the school was there then; however.

The only teacher in the old school building that I remember was Edgar Scruggs. I remember him because Papa often remarked what a good teacher he was. He was Claude Scruggs’ older brother. Mattie Goodlet may have taught there, I’m not sure.

The first year that I went to school must have been 1917. That was the first term in the new school house Bell Beal was the Principal and Myrich Read was the assistant. I believe that Dorris Tarver and Zelena Overton taught in 1918. Malcolm Smith and Faye Truitt in 1919, Lillian Marshain in 1920, Mrs. Maud Calloway, we called her “Miss Maude” in 1921 and Mrs.Gathens in 1923.  

Nila Smith was my last teacher in Liberty Hill, that was in 1923.

The school house served the community as a church and community center. It had a piano and we had Sunday school and church, when we could get a preacher. Every denomanation worshipped there. No one ever thought about what denomination one belonged to. We were all friends and neighbors.

Liberty Hill had a tabernacle and every summer we had big revivals. People came from miles around to hear the word of God preached. The biggest revivals in my day were held by the Nazarenes. Robert Matthews always led the singing for every denomination. The songs were old time gospel songs. There was straw on the ground in the tabernacle and mothers brought pallet quilts to spread down for the babies and small children to lie on. A lot of people in the early days came in wagons and buggies.    

The tabermac;e was bio;t after 1910, because I remember Papa saying that every denomination should be able to hold meetings there because, :when we built this tabernacle every one in the community that wanted a meeting. During my time there, one of the best preachers that I have ever heard in my life was a Nazarene by the name of C. K. Spell.

When the tabernacle was built there was mostly Methodist and Baptist in the community; the Beals were Church of Christ. 

Preachers that I remember well were of course: Brothers Wolf and Weller from the Baptist and Rev. Chunn from the Methodist.       

When I taught at Liberty Hill, the teachers always built their own fires and kept their own floors. The men of the community always kept the school supplied with wood. When the bell rang to take up school, each room lined up and marched in. Liberty Hill had eight grades and each teacher taught four grades each. At the end of the school year always had a big picnic on the last day of school.

I began teaching in Liberty Hill in the 1929-30 school term. I taught the year with Claudia Odom Truitt. Then from 1930 to 1938 Alva Riddle Eddleman and I taught together.

When the carpenters built the new school house they made a cement block and scratched Bell Beal’s name and the year on it. I’m pretty sure it was 1917. That block served as one leg of the heating stove in my room the nine years that I taught there. I imagine that someone around the community has the cement block today.

The land on which the school stood was given by Joe and Ester Beal, then when the school was gone the land went back to the Beal landtract.

(Liberty Hill School was near Whitney. If you ever lived near Whitney you may remember where it was. If you were looking for it today you should go to the land of Joe Boswell and where his hedge row is, is about where the school was.)

My cousins (Lucille and Wanda Tonshill) attended the Liberty Hill School, and while visiting them one time I went to one of the revivals spoken of. I vividly remember the pallets and the children lying on them. AJA Editor