Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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 The Story Of Midway School

By: Charlotte Nickels

     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 Daugherty.

     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 went on.

     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 one.”

     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 crowded.

     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 school.

     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 the country.

     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 educator.

     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.

 

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