Scott County Historical
Scott County, Virginia
Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles
Story Of Midway School
I was passing through the Midway section of our county one day
and as I passed the Kyle smith home-place on my way to Nickelsville, I
was wondering if the old Midway School house was still standing.
Driving slowly, I saw the old building looking clean and white
and beautiful among the cool, shady trees and was glad it had not been
torn down as so many others have in the county.
Yes, the Midway school house still stands – empty, silent,
forlorn. The large
weather-boarded two story structure, half hidden from view among the
stately trees, seems to reflect the glories of the past when it was the
center of attraction for the community and surrounding areas.
In Midway, as in other communities, all activities were carried
on at the school, and people had pride and respect for their teachers,
principal and school.
I sat at length reflecting on the past of my own school, and
realized it was the same in each community, especially in Midway.
In times past everything was so lively with crowded halls, noisy
children playing all around the house , people going to and fro.
Somehow I just wanted to know more about the history of the
school and in order to do that I talked with people who had lived there
and others who had taught there or who were familiar with history of the
county. Those I talked to
were Etta Dougherty, Clara Hackney, Stuart Daugherty and Roy Wolfe, Sr.
Following are some things I found out.
The land for the school was given by Henry D. Daugherty, later
owned by his son R. L. Daugherty and now by his grandson Stuart
It is located between Gate City and Nickelsville and between
Dekalb and Johnson Districts, hence the Midway School.
The Midway Community was formed when the Midway School was first
built in 1915. At this time
school funds were set upon a district level which made it almost
impossible for each district to construct and support a high school.
The citizens of both Johnson and Dekalb Districts met and decided
to construct a building near the line between these two districts which
gave it the name of Midway since it was to serve the two districts.
The school was built mostly by donations from the citizens of the
two districts as the aggressive people of the community recognized the
need of a school in this section.
Mr. A. B. Smith who was trustee of schools in this section
together with John Dougherty, Sr., O. I. Salyer, W. L. Hillman and H. W.
Dougherty, Sr. were instrumental in the development of this project.
Around the first of the year this committee was formed and met
with the Supt. Of Schools, W. D. Smith and agreement was reached to
start construction at once. The
building was completed in time for school in the fall of 1915.
The materials for this building were hauled from what is know as
Waycross on the south side of Clinch Mountain in Wagons drawn by horses.
It took two days to haul each load.
The first faculty of Midway consisted of Professor W. R. Wolfe,
Principal; R. T. Dean, Lena Wood and C. F. Blair, Sr.
There were only 125 pupils in the first school.
Enrollment continued to increase and more teachers added as time
In October 1923 fire completely destroyed the building and
churches were used to finish the school year.
Supt. W. D. Smith visited the scene soon after the fire and
stated: “Out of the ashes of the old school will rise a new and better
By October 1924 a new building was completed. Before the fire, 1920 another building of auditorium and two
classrooms were constructed. A
few years later there were 375 pupils and a faculty of 13 teachers.
Grover Stapleton and Felix Stapleton his brother were carpenters
to construct the building.
County funds were not plentiful, so people gave money free labor,
or hauled material to help complete the building.
The building had high windows, the corner rooms having 10 windows
to the room.
Blackboards were black at first but later they changed to green.
There was on big bell that could be heard all over the community
but later changed to electric bells.
The desk were solid tops with folding seats. Usually two students sat in the same seat especially when
The auditorium had a slanting floor so all could see the stage
well, and it seated 350 to 500 people.
There were no lunch rooms at first so children brought their
lunches in buckets, pokes, or wrapped in pages from Sears Roebuck
catalogues. Many lunches
were bread and milk, (eaten on the way to the ball field) biscuits of
sausage, ham, eggs, jam or apple butter.
Some times a sweet potato or fruit was added.
Most of the trees were maple.
On Arbor Day Roy Daugherty would give a prize of $2.00 to the
pupil bring the prettiest tree to set out.
That way a nice selection of trees were secured to beautify the
grounds. Lots of beautiful
trees were cut down when the highway went through by the school.
Cars and any means of transportation were scarce in those days so
R. L. Daugherty and A. B. Smith boarded the teachers.
There were not many places of amusement in those days so when a
program of any type was held at the school like debating, recitations,
plays, declamations and the like, the house was packed and jammed.
Commencement lasted three days, one for grades, one for speaking
and one for graduation.
At first water was a big problem in the school, but later a well
was dug, an electric pump installed and drinking fountains put inside
The first principal of the school was professor
Will Wolfe, followed by Mr. Henry Starnes, G. Milton Elan, Millard
Starnes, Emmert McGahey, Barty Wolfe, C. B. Warren, Leland Blair, A. S.
Noblin, G. D. Groves, Kyle Smith, Emerson Gillenwater, Charles Orr, Hugh
Kyle Wolfe, Robert Jennings and Oran L. Blackburn, Jr.
About this time the high schools were consolidated and the
students went to Gate City or Twin Springs.
Then Ruby Brooks was head teacher for about three years.
Some of the teachers who taught there were over the years were
Lena Wood, Carmen Semones, Nina Daugherty Cox, Robert T. Dean, Ina
Addington, Nannie Williams, Roy Daugherty, Etta Dougherty, Leland Blair,
Kyle Smith, Elsie Lake McConnell Blair, Wanda Turner Smith, Lou Ella
Addington Hilton, Brantly Williams, Tinafair Stallard Hayes, Alfa
Stallard Vermillion, Lucian Dougherty, Naomi Nickels, Viola McConnell,
Italy Gray Moneymaker, Lola Dezarn Robinette,
Violetta Gray, Clara Salyer Hackney, Georgia McConnell Addington,
Georgia Dean Miller, Lois Brickey, C. F. Blair, Hannah McConnell
Brummett and probably others.
Many teachers taught there for a short period of time but the
list would be too long to name them all.
Many, many students who attended Midway made outstanding
teachers, secured good positions and became some of the best citizens of
Two students attending here who were outstanding in their fields
were Luther Addington and Dr. Fred McConnell.
Mr. Addington was a great historian and wrote many books, was
principal at Wise High School for a number of years and was famous as an
Dr. Fred McConnell became one of the country’s finest doctors
and had almost more patients than he could care for.
Two outstanding baseball pitchers were from Midway school.
Lawton Wampler and Oren Henry.
Mr. Wampler went to the Appalachian League and Mr. Henry to the
minor league in Charlotte, N. C.
Mr. Roy Wolfe, Sr. said that R. T. Dean, a great teacher, made
more impression on him than any teacher he ever had. That by word and example he gave them lessons that were not
in the book to inspire his pupils to greater things in life.
He was a natural born teacher.
I ask Stuart Dougherty about the building becoming a community
center and hd said “I don’t think so.
We tried it once and it didn’t work out.”
It is now used as a storage house.
Personally, I would like to see it come alive again – with all
the people around and scattered all over the country, to come back to
the old building for a big reunion or get-to-gether to reminisce and
talk over the good old days and enjoy the beauty of the country side.