Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Cedar Point School Remembered

Cedar Point School 1901. There were 66 pupils and only three are living. Left to right beginning at the top: Jim McConnell, Rush Quillen; Row (2)- Fannie Hamilton, Wilmer Whited, Cecil Fleenor, Ruth Hamilton, Kemp White, Gorden Quillen, Bill Dean, Tom Smith; Row (3)-Bessie Hilton, Lizzie Dean, Janie Francisco, Dota Fugate, Addie Smith, Maggie Gilmer, Dora Redwine, Easter Fugate, Bertha Francisco, Mary Hilton, Lula Whited, Pearl Francisco, Hattie Whited, Ora Hilton, Nora Smith, Patsy Smith, Ida Whited, Anne Smith, Lakie Hamilton, Myrtle Francisco, Una Quillen, Lena Lawson, Flora Minton; Row (5)-Hugh Moore, Alec Hamilton, Darnis Fletcher, Roy Francisco, Jim Hilton, John Smith, Carrie Quillen, Carson Redwine, Charlie D. Fugate, Charlie Fletcher, John Hamilton, Silas Fugate, Clarence Hilton, Bill McConnell, John H. Redwine, Edger Fleenor; Row (6)-Frank Hilton, Flem Redwine, Alfred Hamilton, Hugh Francisco, D.S. Hamilton, Ben Francisco, "Old Golden," Nathaniel Fleenor, Maggie Francisco, Alfie Fleenor, Lillian Fugate, Gladys Godsey, Ruth Quillen, Lula Minton.

By Ann Goode Cooper

     As one travels north from Gate City, Virginia up Highway 71; toward Nickelsville, Virginia they soon come to a road sign No. 613 which leads to the right up ( Big Moccasin Creek. The black topped road leads past rolling hills of farmland set beneath Clinch Mountain; and Moccasin Creek rumbles and rolls restlessly toward the Holston River. One seems to let their memory wonder back in time to Cedar Point School and yesteryear.

     Each year there was a purple haze over Clinch Mountain and a seemingly sadness in the sunshine. This was a clue to the departure of summer and the beginning of fall. Here and there the leaves were beginning to change colors and little vagrant breeze began to blow a nip of chit up Big Moccasin. Near the edge of the mountain squirrels busy scurrying from one tree to another as they gathered their winter supply of nuts. All of this was a warning that school was beginning to start.

     The first Cedar Point School was built in the early 1800's and was located in the bend of Moccasin Creek where Pat McConnell's Mill Dam is now located. The little school was made from logs and was much smaller than the new Cedar Point School. The school had outgrown the pupil load and the building was in bad need of repair. The last school term taught at the Old Cedar Point School was in 1916, and the teachers that taught there were Carrie Quillen, who taught in 1901 when the picture was taken of the school and the pupils. The other teachers were Charlie Perry and Elsie Fuller Woods.

     Each morning George Francisco would leave home early to pick up chestnuts. He would take them to Darnis Fletcher's store and sell them for 5 cents a pint. With the 5 cents George would buy Cracker Jacks to take with him to school. This was a big treat for the day.

     Liza McConnell lived near the old school and she had a gang of chickens. The old rooster would crow all day long and each day at lunch the boys would chase the rooster, catch him, and sail him out across the dam. The rooster set would fly to the other side, but the next day he would have made his way back to the school and begin crowing again. On the third day of school the rooster did not make it across to the other side of the dam when he was thrown, therefore; he drowned in the mill dam. This was the first "whipping" that Kern Francisco ever received. Elsie Fuller was the teacher.

     Every child walked to school regardless of the weather conditions. In order for Fern Francisco to get to school he would walk around the big bluff which was a shorter distance. The older boys liked to scare him, and one day as he was walking home barefoot, the boys caught him, held him by the feet upside down over the bluff saying, "Pray like your Grandpa and we'll turn you loose." This nearly scared Kern to death, so every day after school was out he would run towards home as fast as he could go so the older boys couldn't catch him.

     Work began on the New Cedar Point School in early 1916. All the labor was furnished free by the community. This included the timber, stone and money which was donated by the people. Garfield Wood did the carpentry work and Elbert Baker laid the stone work for the school. Upon completion of all the work the building was donated to the Scott County School Board so they would furnish the seats for the newly built two room school. The desks which were furnished by the school board were two seat desks with a small hole in the top of the desk to set a bottle of ink. There were seldom two students who had to share a desk as there were to set a bottle of ink. There were seldom two students who had to share a desk as there were enough to go around for each child to have their own individual desk.

     The school was one of the most modern and well built schools of its day. There were large glass windows all around the school with smaller windows above them. This let in lots of needed light for the children to study by.

     The land was donated by two landowners, Henry Fletcher gave part of the land and Fletcher Gillenwater gave the rest. There was an excellent foundation and concrete steps at the front with an arched entrance and double doors with glass above them. There was a cloak room on each side, one for each room.

     One of the rooms, located near the east, was for the smaller children. This room housed grades one through four and the big room housed grades five through seven.

     The school was designed so the partition between the rooms could be lifted with weights and the rooms could become one making more room for the school socials. It was a well designed school and the only one in the county where lifts were used in such a way.

     Each year the school would have socials which included ice cream suppers, box suppers and entertainment. These socials cost a small amount of money which went toward the upkeep of the school. When they would have entertainment, Edgar Hickam would charge 10 cents admission for his performances.

     The new Cedar Point School was ready to receive children in the fall of 1917. There must have been much excitement and enthusiasm from each child as they arrived at the new school. Children poured out of the valleys, hollers and hills on their way to the house of learning. Many came barefoot while others sported new shoes; but regardless of the way they came, they came for the same purpose of receiving their education.

     The two room school made it easier for the teachers because there were fewer children in each class and the teacher could devote more time to each child.

     In order to prepare for the day two children were chosen to go to the spring and bring a bucket of water. The spring was located on Henry Fletcher's farm and the children made two trips a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each child had his or her drinking cup, but for many children a sheet of folded tablet paper served as a cup and for others they used the bought tin drinking cup which folded up for easy carrying. Many children did not have their own cup and they chose to drink from the dipper. They not only shard the same dipper, but they shared the same germs left on the dipper.

     At twelve noon the school was dismissed for an hour for eating and playing. Dinner was carried to school in baskets and half gallon syrup buckets. The children could be seen all around the school sitting on rocks, enjoying their dinner which often have consisted of biscuits, sausage, ham, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, apple butter, peach butter, stack cakes, sweet cakes, little dried fried apple pies, apples and fried eggs. The children experienced a feast as they ate, talked and many times shared their food with each other. Everyone hurried to finish their lunch so they could play awhile before going back to their classes.

    The fall days were long and lazy leaving much time to play. They played baseball, marbles, jump rope, hoopy hide, swith ,and tag. Everyone was carefree and play time was much fun; but it was not long before the school bell would toll and each child knew to drop whatever game they were playing and line up to go inside and study for the rest of the evening.

     The crisp autumn air began to get cooler and the fall rains began to set in across Clinch Mountain; each night the mercury fell lower. The good weather came to a sudden end and after that everyone knew that winter had arrived. This meant the boys had to go into the mountains and get firewood. They would need kindling to build the fire and coal which was furnished by the county to keep the fire going. There was a potbellied stove in each room to keep the children warm. The wind would whistle outside as the big potbellied stove inside glowed red and hissed out its ring of warmth. All the frostbitten noses and toes were made warm by the big stove. The cold wind would scratch and claw at the glass window, and the air would fill with snow.

     School would take up at 9:00 a. m. and let out at 3:00 p. m. The children did not like school as well in winter as they did in the fall because it was too cold to get out and play, but there was one thing they looked forward to and that was Christmas. Each child looked forward to the treats of oranges, apples and stick candy. This was a big thing to look forward to and it made everyone feel special.

     In the spring the air was filled with birds and geese, they would fly overhead by the countless hundreds. The warm breezes blew softly and the school days would fly by. Every spring there would be cattle and sheep drives up Big Moccasin. The teachers would dismiss their classes to let the children watch the drive. Many cattle would be taken to Stuart's home at Elk Garden to graze on nice pastures of bluegrass. Elk Garden was located north east of Lebanon. On other days the cattle and sheep were driven to Gate City to be shipped in box cars.

     Many students passed through Cedar Point School and their lives were touched by many teachers. Many of the teachers had to board away from home and they were boarded in the homes of Henry Fletcher, Lewis Francisco, Ben Francisco and W. M. Francisco. Most of the teachers have long since passed away but those who taught there were: Robert Dean, Gladys Godsey, Charlie Gibson, Carrie Quillen Meade, Faye Tittsworth Warren, David Kilgore, Edward Bragg, Carrie Adel McConnell, Emmerson Gillenwater, Clara Gillenwater McConnell, Bess Gillenwater Wilhelm, Hanna Mae Hartsock, Leta Francisco, Lula Foster Fletcher, Lola Frazier Horne, Vera Francisco Gray, Alene Daugherty Gillenwater, Edna McConnell Phillips, Sylvia Hilton Sproles, Elmer Wood, Robert Fugate, John Darker, Claude McConnell, Sam Culbertson, Nell Boyd Smith, Fred McConnell, Elizabeth Fugate and Charlotta Hillman.

     Cedar Point School still stands erect, weather beaten, and worn as a memory to those who once graced her premises. Her rooms have long silenced and all that's left is a memory; but no matter how far away one may travel or how many miles away from Cedar Point School one may go, there will always be an old fashioned road that will lead you back to your childhood and Cedar Point School...

 

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