First School Taught in Log Cabin
The first school in Quitman County was taught on the banks of Coldwater River in a log cabin, the home of the teacher, Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Phillips. The teacher, a young widow with three children, came from Sardis to engage in teaching as a means of support for herself and children. She would get up very early and prepare her dinner, then meet the children in the “front room” at eight o’clock for readin’, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic! She was also a good seamstress and “took in” sewing, which she did while the children studied their lessons. Hours for school were from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon during which time there was a recess period at ten o’clock. Sam and Henry, older children of L. Marks, a notable in Quitman County’s history, went to this log cabin school, and it might be added that it was entirely through the efforts of Mr. Marks that this school was founded. In progress during the overflows of 1882 and 1883, it was thought expedient to domicile the school in the basement of Tom Hill’s house. There was no system about the location of these early schools; wherever a few children could be assembled, and a person with a teacher’s license could be found, these two elements were brought together for the mutual benefit of themselves and the community.1
Later, the teacher was married to Joe Blackmon, second sheriff of the county, and their abode was taken up at New Belen, the county site.
We refer to this school as Belen School, No. 1, because of the first one here was taught in a little shanty in the Partee Grove, just across Cassidy Bayou from the courthouse. A bridge made it accessible to children on the opposite side. Among the first teachers were Miss Carrie Hood and Miss Allie Barnes. During this time, about 1885-86, F. M. Hamblet, a young lawyer, was elected as county superintendent of education. Miss Hood later married Dr. McCurdy from Georgia, and Miss Barnes was married to Oscar Carr, a prominent citizen from Coahoma County. Miss Barnes was a close relative of Governor Alcorn, whose residence was “Eagle’s Nest” near the border line between Quitman and Coahoma Counties. Miss Hood was a sister-in-law of Captain C. W. Partee, veteran of the Civil War, and wealthy land owner of Quitman County.2
Miss Jennie Simpson taught the first school on Shine Turner’s place, conducting classes in the shade of a large catalpa tree on the banks of the Coldwater River. It would have been a good setting for a study of entomology, for there were worms and bugs crawling up and down the old tree constantly. When it got cold, “Miss Jennie,” as she was called affectionately by old settlers, moved her work into the double log house which was the home of her father, Captain Simpson. Her fair-haired, attractive young sister was later married to Dr. F.M. Brougher, faithful friend to the people of this county; Miss Jennie was afterward married to the owner of the place. After many years of usefulness in a civic and religious way to the county, she died in the mountains of Kentucky, where she had gone as a Presbyterian missionary. She contracted pneumonia, which her strength was not sufficient to combat. “Mr. Shine,” a member of the beloved Turner family, is survived by a daughter, Mrs. John Allen, Sr., of Lambert, and a son, George Turner, a prominent citizen of Tallahatchie County. The school is extinct now, as the children in this part of the county go to Crowder and Lambert.3
In 1889, when Billy Turner brought his young bride, formerly Lelia Cox, of Enid, Tallahatchie County, to Quitman County, they lived on the bank of Cassidy Bayou, half-way between the two settlements known as Riverside and New Belen. Mrs. Turner graduated from the old Union Female College at Oxford, but she did not give up her chosen profession, that of teaching, because of her marriage. When she had an opportunity to confer with the young superintendent of education, F. M. Hamblet, she was given permission to teach two children, Ada and Walter Sharp, tenants on the Turner farm, at a salary of $40 per month; afterwards the school grew to have ten or fifteen pupils, but held its original location through 1896 when it was taught by a girl of seventeen, Blanche Phillips, just home from Union Female College at Oxford. She, afterwards, married M. E. Denton, brilliant young lawyer and graduate of the University of Mississippi.4
First School in Lambert
In a little one-room shack, which now stands in Miss Abby Jane Little’s back yard, Miss Kate Orr taught the first school with seven pupils. In a year or so, the Quitman County Development Company was formed, and one of the first things done by the company was to build the old Christian Church that burned a few years ago. A room in the back of the church was used for a school-room, and Miss Puryear from Lauderdale County, Tennessee, was appointed as teacher. In the meantime, several families had moved in, and from these, there were about fifteen or twenty pupils. During this time the Development Company built the first real school building back of where the Baptist church now stands, and Rev. J. L. Smart was the teacher.
Soon, the community out-grew the little one-room school, and started plans for a better location on which to erect a brick building. Upon completion, Rev. Smart and four other teachers, including the music instructor, were retained. This was in 1922.5
Marks High School
It seems that the intervening years between the old and present day schools were few; in fact, the two periods are so closely interwoven that it is hard to separate the systems into a definite class of this or that kind. Suffice it to say, the present day schools are outgrowths of the early ones, and are monumental to those of the:
“Readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick.”
type, and exemplification of the adage, “big oaks from little acorns grow.”
For instance, from the small beginning of being taught in the humble home of the teacher on the banks of Coldwater River, the Marks High School is now a two-story brick building, which cost $70,000, with equipment valued at $2,800 and with transportation facilities consisting of one $1,500 county bus, two privately owned buses, and one privately owned car.
Grades taught are elementary, junior high, and senior high. Special courses offered are, home science, commercial course, music, and expression; extra-curricula activities consist of the pep squad, Generalistic Club, senior and junior Girl Reserves, Glee Club, Music Club, Boy Scouts, boys and girls 4-H Club, Dramatic Club, junior Red Cross, and a good band. Twelve well qualified and well-paid teachers are employed, and many extra-curricula subjects aforementioned are encouraged and coached. Five hundred and eighty pupils attend.
The effect of this school, beginning in its infancy and coming up to the present day, can hardly be estimated, but from its walls have gone several outstanding people in different fields of endeavor: Harry Downs, who received an appointment to Annapolis and came out with a brilliant record, is now (1937) a meteorologist with the Government, stationed in Iowa. Fern Dorris Cox, bacteriologist in the Baptist Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, had her first lessons in the Marks school. Lomax Lamb who won a scholarship to Yale, started to school in Marks; he is a member of the Yale Debating Team and the Yale Band and was recipient of the coveted award as staff editor of the daily paper there.
Kathryn Jamison, who has attained significant honors at Delta State Teachers College, Cleveland, started to school in Marks also, and is the daughter of Mrs. Kathryn Jamison, former teacher in the Marks school.
Virginia Denton, daughter of Judge and Mrs. M. E. Denton has achieved success in the Social Welfare field. An A. B. degree from the University of Mississippi, and the M. A. degree from the University of North Carolina, with work toward a Doctorate and a course in the New York School of Social Work, have fitted her to hold her present (1937) responsible position, that of Assistant Director for Child Welfare Services, State Board of Charities and Public Welfare in the State of North Carolina.
During the time between the “cabin” period of the school and 1908 when a brick building was erected, the Methodist church was used for a school; at this time Miss Annie Abernathy was the teacher, followed by F. M. Bizzell, 1909-10. In 1910-11-12, a Mr. Tomlinson was superintendent, and Joseph Johnson, in 1912-13. Each of the last two mentioned teachers was assisted ably by his wife.6
T. N. Gore, of Marks, lawyer and member of the State Legislature held the place of Superintendent of the Marks School for two terms, 1914-16; J. S. Everett succeeded him for a two-year period, ending in 1918; and H. B. Walker, superintendent in 1918-19 was succeeded by C. P. Smith, who held the place for the next five terms. Beginning in 1925, Joe P. McCain taught for three terms; Superintendent T. N. Touchstone succeeded McCain, since which time he has served in this capacity.
Great improvements have been made on the building, which is of brick and large enough to accommodate over 500 students.7 Through the WPA, a field house is being built on the football field; it will provide for two dressing rooms, forty by fourteen–one for the local team and one for the visiting team. The bleachers and fence will have two coats of green paint; there will also be shower facilities for both teams. The project will amount to about $1,400 with the local school paying from $300 to $400.
Lambert High School
Taking up the partly-told story of Lambert High School in the early part of this chapter: The town grew, and soon there was need for a larger building; subsequently, bonds were sold, and a building was erected which is the pride of Lambert. Mr. Smart, beloved teacher of the previous order, held over for a time in the new quarters; the building now standing is the old one remodeled and valued at $60,000 with equipment and library worth $2,525 and $750 respectively. Four county buses and one privately owned car transport the children to and from school.
Special courses in home economics, public school music, expression, shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping are taught here; extra-curricula activities consist of a Dramatic Club, 4-H Clubs, Pep Squad, and playground activities; football, baseball and basketball are prominent.
The Lambert Parent Teacher’s Association holds meetings once a month, and faculty meetings are held twice monthly, or on special call.
Superintendents of the early regime were: F. M. Hamblet, probably the first; Captain T. M. Williams, Dr. J. B. Stone, while J. U. Abernathy, Frank M. Bizzell, Joe A. Burris, Mrs. Lulu O. Prater, and Mrs. Lula Mae Jones have served as county superintendents since the public schools were organized in 1908. Dr. J. U. Abernathy served one term and received a salary of $100 per annum; he was instrumental in establishing the first public schools of the county, which were twenty-two in number. He assisted in raising the salaries of the teachers from twenty and forty dollars, to fifty and one hundred dollars per month; he also placed better equipment in the schools. During the latter part of Bizzell’s term of office about the year 1922, the patrons of the Sabino and Whitening school districts asked that the territory thus embraced be consolidated with Belen. The request was granted by the Board, and the old courthouse at Belen was used for a school building. Most of the school buildings were equipped with libraries, music rooms, and sanitation during the administration of Mr. Bizzell, who served as superintendent of education for three terms–1912-1924–the longest term held by any superintendent before or since his time, at a salary of $1,964 per annum. In 1918, during his term, the Marks School was declared a separate school district.
Joe A. Burris served as county superintendent of education, during the years 1924-28, receiving $1,964 per annum; Mrs. Lulu O. Prater was county superintendent during the years 1928-36, receiving a salary of $2,400 per annum. Elsewhere in this history is an account of a gesture of appreciation of Mrs. Prater by the negroes of the county.
Mrs. Lula Mae Jones, present superintendent of education, has been in office twelve months. Prior to this time, she taught in the county schools for seven years–three in Marks and four in Crowder. The last year at Crowder she was appointed as superintendent of the school.8
In spite of the fact that the schools of Mississippi have passed through a wavering crisis, due to lack of funds, the schools of Quitman County run their full terms of eight and nine months. There has been no decrease in teachers’ salaries, which average from eighty-five to ninety-seven dollars and fifty cents per month to regular teachers, and from $200 to $300 per month for superintendents; according to place, size of school, separate school district, sixteenth section, etc.
How Schools are Financed
The superintendent’s records of 1935-36 show that the common schools are financed from the following sources: State Treasury Equalizing Fund–$35,732.32; Per Capita Fund–$34,569.11; Chickasaw School Fund–$550.52; County Poll Tax–$3,160.65; County Tax Levy–$23,032.10; paid on superintendent’s salary–$288.42–Institute–$82.50; lumber sold–$12.96; back tax–$1,353.96; transfer–$24,410.97; refund–$301; which makes a total of $123,494.50.
District schools are financed as follows: Balance brought forward from maintenance–$12,413.82; total from district maintenance tax levies–$19,595.09; income from sixteenth section lands–$6,983.45; back tax–$732.12; vocational funds–$1,200.83; refunds–$128.01; tuition–$1,609.13; house rent –$65; lumber sold–$512.50; which makes a total of $43,239.95. The non-revenue receipts show: Borrowed money–$1,714.50 and interests accounts in school district is $6,630.27. The amount collected on bond and interest tax levies in fund–$12.50 refund; $111.58 transfer; $708.73 back tax–$1,500 sale of building; $436.32 interest on loan totaling $18,728.26.8
Belen Consolidated School
Belen Consolidated School building, valued at $10,000 and replacing the old county courthouse that was destroyed by a storm, has only been in use three and one-half years. Most of the material from the courthouse was used in constructing the present building, therefore, only a small amount of money was necessarily taken from the common school funds for that purpose, the labor being furnished through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The school equipment and library is valued at about $700. Two privately owned cars and one county bus are necessary for the transportation of the children to and from this school; extra curricula activities consist of 4-H clubs, WPA dramatics, and playground activities, basketball, and tennis. The work is elementary, and three teachers are employed, with C. H. Lewis as principal.
In 1906 the Belen school was taught first by Miss Ethel Drane, niece of Mrs. Jessie Covington. This was when the present quiet village of Belen was in its hey-day and when the county court, with all its appending activities was carried on here. After the county seat was transferred to Marks in 1911, the old courthouse was used for Belen school; four teachers, including the principal, were employed. School continued here until the spring of 1933, when a storm demolished the building and, in its stead, a brick school-house was built.9
The First School Board
Since the first School Board of Quitman County, consisting of T. J. Williams, Beat 1; W. T. Downs, Beat 2; J. T. Turner, Beat 3; S. R. Miller, Beat 4; J. A. Shields, Beat 5; was formed, there has been a steady process of organizing, locating and merging of schools bespeaking advancement in a big way.
On May 9, 1908, they met in the Belen courthouse for the definite purpose of establishing public schools in the county. Twenty-two whites were organized on June 1, 1908, and located at Sledge, Darling, Belen, Hinchcliff, Marks, Vance, Lambert, Crowder, Birdie, Castleberry, Parnell, River Bridge, Lost Lake, Ox-Bow, McArthur, Turner, Water Oak, Barmer, Adams, Chancy, and Jennings. Pittman, Hibler, and Crossland schools were combined in 1911; Miller and Shotwell were consolidated as given the name of “Whitening.” In 1921 Whitening school was consolidated with Belen; in 1916 Hibbler and Parnell were consolidated, and named Griffin School. F. M. Bizzell was superintendent at that time, and all the white schools opened for fall term on October 1.
In 1909, the OxBow School was discontinued, and Jones School was organized; it consolidated with Belen school in 1916; in 1913 a portion of the pupils from Pittman School were transferred to Belen, and through a petition of the patrons in 1915, the school was consolidated with Belen. By request of the patrons in the vicinity, Lost Lake School was changed to Sabino Public School about 1913; Miss Sallie Ingram was the first teacher in Lost Lake School; Miss Annie Abernathy taught at the Sabino School in its early beginning. Like most of the first school buildings, it was a one-room frame construction, but now it is a two-story frame building, with six rooms and a large upstairs auditorium. It is valued at $1,000, while a fair estimate of the library and other equipment would be $500. Two teachers are employed, the work being elementary; special courses in music, physical culture are offered, and there are lively 4-H and Junior Red Cross Clubs.2
The County school boards of Quitman and Panola counties organized a school on the line at Crowder in 1919. The following have been superintendents of it: Gertrude Anderson, 1919-1920; E. L. McNair, 1922-23; Mary Mack, 1924-25; M. O. Burford, 1925-26; D. L. Rice, 1927-30; J. W. Whitwell, 1930-32; J. E. Cox, 1933-34; Mrs. Lula Mae Jones, 1934-35; Mrs. M. D. Wall, 1935-36; E. E. Dodd, 1936-37.
The schools in a one-story brick building, has a office, auditorium, class rooms, home science room, and gymnasium. At the beginning of the school there were only forty-five pupils; at the present time there is an enrollment of 242.8
Hinchcliff and Turner Schools
Mrs. Virgil Cooper Sims, daughter of John and Mary Cooper, taught the first school in Hinchcliff and was also the first postmaster. She and her husband, A. B. Sims, were the first settlers of Hinchcliff. Mrs. Sims is now dead and Mr. Sims is living in the state of Arkansas.
Though J. A. Smith taught school in the Hinchcliff vicinity in 1907-08, the present school was located in 1908 in the southwest quarter of section 11, township 28, range 1, west; Mrs. Bessie Abernathy taught in 1908-09; for the last three years Mrs. Minnie E. Turner has taught the Hinchcliff school; at present it is a small two-room frame building. In 1906, Miss Annie E. Byran taught the Turner School with six pupils attending; in 1907 it was taught by Miss Minnie B. Jackson, but was subsequently discontinued. In 1913, a petition requesting that the Turner School be re-established was not granted; however, transportation facilities were provided by the county to send the pupils to Marks School.1
Other Schools in the County
McNiel School, organized in 1923, was combined in 1933 with the territory comprising the Sledge Consolidated School, Tibbs Common School and Holly Grove School, to form a consolidated school district. Both the Sledge and Darling school buildings are brick constructions each having about eleven rooms and a large auditorium. Recently, the school at Sledge has rented a house across the street, to accommodate the primary grades; each school has eight teachers and a superintendent. The present superintendents are Dan T. Keel of Darling and R. H. Posey of Sledge; Darling school has 192 pupils, and Sledge has 300. [Picture of Darling School] Sledge School consists of a brick building valued at $35,000 and an additional building of two large rooms, valued at $2,000, the latter accommodating the first and second grades. The equipment consists of a janitor’s house, valued at $500; garage, lunch room, and dressing room, valued at $2,000. Three county buses valued at $1,500 each, and a privately owned car transport the children to and from school. Special courses are: music, physical culture, and typing; extra curricular activities are: home-room clubs, Hi-Y, dramatic, scout, and 4-H clubs. Related activities include faculty meetings, and Parent Teachers Association, and cafeteria.10
In 1919, Quitman and Tallahachie counties organized the Vance Line School, a grammar school with two teachers–Mrs. S. S. Gore and Miss Sallie Gore. The frame building is located in Tallahatchie County, but the teachers are paid in Quitman County. This still remains a grammar school.
In 1920, the county school board and the county superintendent of education met at the courthouse for the purpose of consolidating Boisclair, Rowan, Miller, and Belleview (one-teacher schools). This school was given the name “Walnut Consolidated High School,” and a new frame building was erected. Eight class rooms, music rooms, home economics room, library, auditorium, and gymnasium are included in the plan. (This is the only school in the county with a Smith-Hughes teacher.) The first teachers were Mr. and Mrs. E. L. McNair and Miss Catherine Rowan. Outstanding pupils who began their education in the primary grades at Walnut are: Alma Weeks, graduate at Delta State Teacher’s College and now coach in Prentiss High School. Oliver Manning, talented son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Manning, received his early and High School education in the Walnut school. Graduating in 1937, he was awarded a scholarship in the School of Music of Louisiana State University, where he is making a name for himself in his chosen field–professional musician.
On April 26, 1920, the board consolidated Sledge and Castleberry into one school district, and became known as Sledge Consolidated School District; Falcon School was consolidated with Darling; in 1923, Birdie was consolidated with Darling.
Consolidated schools have become popular over the county because the largest number of white school students live in the country, and because the money allotment can be spent to better advantage in equipment and in securing better-trained teachers; children are transported to and from school in buses, which is a great convenience and a protection from cold rainy weather. Pupils attending Lambert and Walnut Consolidated high schools have the advantages of courses in vocational education under Smith-Hughes teachers. Through the study of home economics in Lambert, Walnut, Darling and Marks High Schools, the girls learn to make simple clothing, and to plan, cook, and serve well-balanced meals.2
Private Schools, Kindergartens
In 1914, friends of Mrs. P. H. Lowrey persuaded her to start a kindergarten that their children might, early, have the advantage of her training; among the pupils were Virginia, Dorothy, and Ruth Denton; Nathan House, Pauline* and Julius Marks; Dixie Fay and Lane Cox. Later, Lucile Talbert, of Winona, and Catherine Reedy, of Hattiesburg, experts in this respective work, were engaged to teach kindergarten and kindred subjects in the Marks High School; the work has been continued since. Mrs. Lucile Lowrey, nee Talbert, now conducts a kindergarten in her home in Marks, and Miss Freida Claussen, graduate of D.S.T.C. taught kindergarten in her home in 1932-33, and pupils were enrolled from Lambert and Marks. Mrs. Ross Ingram, E. R. A. Recreation leader at Lambert, organized a kindergarten class in her home in 1934.1
The WPA is now supporting adult schools for both the white and colored people. Mrs. Lucile Lowrey, of Marks, county supervisor of the WPA Adult Education classes, is assisted by Mrs. Vera Hays, Edna Stephenson, Linna Rivers, all of Marks; Venus Greggs, Lyon, Rural route; Ida Mason, of Darling; and Ruth Terry. There are 457 white people in the county learning budgeting, gardening, care of children, and other domestic courses from these teachers, who receive a salary of $42 a month, each.11
Never before has so much consideration and attention been given to its needs. No longer do we employ teachers with only a high school education, but they must have college degrees, and must also attend summer schools.
Teachers now have two sets of duties: that of the class-room and that of a citizen, in which capacity he or she is called upon to co-operate in community development. Nothing pertaining to the child’s welfare is foreign to the teacher, and it is almost true that the problem of the home-life of the child is placed on the teacher; living conditions of our teachers have changed also. We find in the larger towns what is known as Teachers’ Homes or pleasant boarding places, while several years ago they were compelled to live in very unsatisfactory places, and were expected to help with the home work.1
Early Schools for Negroes
Good public schools for negroes are now in operation all over the county. In general, the negroes have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded them to better themselves by education, and there is a sincere desire for self-improvement among them; early schools for negroes were organized without any law, other than local ordinances, and were rightly named common schools, which meant the bringing together of all ages and grades under one teacher.
From the scholastic term, beginning with 1906 through 1911, the number of negro teachers in this county ranged from about fifteen to twenty-one, and the schools had an average attendance of about forty-five. From 1912 to 1915, there were about twenty-two colored schools organized in the county; in 1916, Darling School for negroes was established; in 1917, by petition, a school was located at Shady Grove Church, on the LeFlore plantation; in 1919, Crowder Line Public School, Birdie School, and Holly Grove School for negroes were established. During this time the Marks, Buck Bayou, and Wallace Schools were recorded as separate school districts.
Between 1920 and 1922, the following negro schools were established: Burrel Bayou, Posey Mound, Pate, Chancey, Shady Grove, Cedar Grove, Whitening, Bear Lake, Hinchcliff, Pleasant Ridge, and St. James. From 1919 to 1928, the number of schools ranged from thirty-seven to fifty-two; number of teachers being from thirty-seven to seventy-three; average attendance of pupils was sixty.
Negro Schools of Today
There are now seven town colored schools and forty-one rural schools, namely: Squirrel Lake, Shady Grove No. 1, Red Lake, Arkadelphia, Avant, Belleview, Butler, Cooke, Crofford, Denton, Elliott, Friendship, Gleason Grove, Hawkins, Pleasant Ridge, Thomas, Yandell, Woodland, Whitening, Weeks, Union Grove, Turner, St. James, Shady Grove No. 2, Scott, Holly Grove, Jennings, Kelly, Lips, Lombardy, Macedonia, McPherson, McNeil, Miller, Neal’s Chapel, O’Possum, Pingle, and Posey Mound.
In present day schools which number from forty-nine to fifty-one, there are sixty to seventy-eight teachers, and an average attendance of about seventy-five to each school. Only one of the schools, which is located in Marks, teaches through the ninth grade. However, the school at Lambert plans to add one year of high school work there.
Some of the colored principals of the schools in the county are at present: Marks, Sam Tate; Lambert, Jessie Edison Hill; Vance, Solomon Benson; Woodland, Waddell Thompson; Posey Mound, D. M. Gates; Crofford, William Fair; Falcon, Richard Cofer; Elliott, Phil Coleman.
The early course of study was enriched by the addition of grammar, geography, health, music, and art, and histories of the state. Nearly all the school buildings are of frame-work; the only one constructed of brick is in Marks. Negro schools have been improved, partly from public funds and partly with money furnished from outside sources, such as the fund established by Julius Rosenwald, a wealthy Chicago Merchant.
Jeannes Supervisor of Public-Schools
The main support of these schools now is derived from a regular and intermittent revenue, derived from state and local taxation.
For the first time in this county a Jeannes Supervisor of colored schools has been appointed, and the negro teachers are required to keep registers and monthly reports. The aim of this Jeannes worker is to stress sanitation in the schools; all negro schools are equipped with sanitary conveniences, as are the one and two-teacher white schools.
Three negro teachers Lona Ewing, Marks; Warner Benson, Marks; and Fannie Mae Lloyd, Compress and Lambert, conduct classes with an enrollment of two hundred. The negro school at Marks, taught in a one-story brick building, is equipped with charts, maps, electric gong system, bulletin boards, scenic roller curtain, and reference material; patrons have made donations to the library fund, and plans have been made to raise money to begin a library.
Work from the first to the tenth grade is given, with music, art, public speaking, and handicraft as special courses; extra activities are Dramatics, Glee and Honor Clubs; playground activities include basketball and softball; related activities consist of faculty meetings and Parent-Teacher Association.
A one-thousand dollar project, that of reinforcing the foundation and roof of the building and the construction of a coal house, has just been completed by the WPA.
The negro Junior High School at Lambert is a frame building, which cost about $10,000, the money being supplied by the Rosenwald Foundation. The school is equipped with black-boards, heaters, and desks; the study course ranged from grammar to junior high, with physical culture and voice as special courses. Extra curricular activities are: First aid, disciplinary control, Debating and Dramatic clubs; faculty and parent-teacher meetings are held weekly.1
Negro teachers of Quitman County, in their regular monthly meeting on December 21, 1936, in the Courthouse at Marks, presented Mrs. Lula O. Prater, county superintendent of education, with a chest of sterling silver consisting of six knives, six forks, and six spoons; a beautiful meat platter accompanied the silver service.
The gift was presented by Professor R. W. Thompson, with the following remarks:
“I am pleased beyond the power of my expression for this very signal honor you have conferred upon me to act as spokesman for the colored teachers of Quitman County in presenting this Trophy to this, our worthy, congenial and efficient superintendent.
“I am pleased to represent the constituents of the Colored Teachers’ Association of Quitman County upon this occasion, because of the fact that you are exemplifying the Spirit of Christ, according to the teachings of the Holy Writ. He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
“I am pleased to represent this class of our group, whose sense of honor is so acute, and whose regards for high ideals and fair play are so lofty, until there is no place to be found in their ranks for that class who gives vent to the passions of superstition and prejudice.
“I must congratulate you for your lofty and unselfish aims; also, for the occasion of your united efforts to make this occasion a reality.
“By your candor you have added another page in the Negro history of sublimity.
“This trophy that I am presenting to you is a beautiful thing; but it has a beauty much deeper than that, which appeals to the naked eye.
“It is, indeed, a symbol; it is an outward sign of an inward gratitude.
“This trophy I am presenting you is only a feeble token of evidence of our high esteem for your fair and impartial dealing, as well as for the much appreciated genuine sympathy you not only expressed but demonstrated for a people less fortunate than yourself.
“We, also, present this trophy for the purpose of helping to perpetuate the memory of the eight long, but pleasant and agreeable years we enjoyed under your supervision.
“We hope that you will accept it, not for its intrinsic value alone, but in the same spirit and for the same purpose we are presenting it.
“Our love for your generosity is not to be measured by dollars and cents, but by the amalgamation of our prayers for your happiness and prosperity in whatever field of labor you may hereafter enter.
“Regardless as to what clime or region in which you may hereafter take up your habitation, be it remembered that you have erected a monument to your own memory.
“The most enduring monuments are not chiseled in marble, neither molded in bronze. When a person erects a monument to his own memory, he may live to see the beauty of his own handiwork and share in the glory and joy it gives others.
“The monument you have erected is in the hearts of the negro teachers of Quitman County and is enduring as Time.
“Because of your fidelity and sterling principles you have demonstrated for right and righteousness, not only will the Negro Teachers, but their posterity will ever sing praises to your name.12
Law for the Encouragement of Learning
(An Act to incorporate the Mississippi Society for the aquirement and dissemination of useful knowledge–passed November 8, 1903.)
WHEREAS, certain persons lately associated themselves in the territory, for the laudable purposes of cultivating harmony, and of acquiring and disseminating useful information in natural science, and primarily agriculture; and WHEREAS, the members of that society have presented a petition to the Legislature, setting forth the nature and views of this institution, and praying that the same may be incorporated by Law: therefore,
SEC. 1. Be it enacted by the Legislative Council and House of Representatives of the Mississippi Territory, and in general Assembly convened, That Issac Briggs, Wm. C. C. Claiborne, Wm. Dunbar, John Henderson, John Girault, Lewis Kerr, Joseph Briggs, David Lattimore, Joseph Macrery, Jesse Greenfield, Ferdinand L. Claiborne, Benjamin Farar, Israel E. Trask, Philander Smith, Adam Tooly, Samuel Briggs, Jr., Hove Browse Trist, John Ellis, and William Connor, members of the said society, and such other persons as shall from time to time hereafter become members of the same, according to the constitution and laws there of, as the same may have already been, and shall hereafter be ordained or enacted, shall be, and are hereby constituted and declared to be one body corporate and politic, in fact and name, by the title of “the Mississippi Society for the acquirement and dissemination of useful knowledge,” and by that name, they and their successors, aforesaid, shall have perpetual succession. They shall have a common seal, which they may change and altar at their pleasure. That by the same name, they and their successors aforesaid shall be persons capable in law, to purchase, take, receive, hold, and enjoy to the use of them and their successors all manner of real estate, fee simple, or lesser interest in real estate; and the same to lease, release, sell, lien, and convey, at their pleasure; and all manner of goods, chattels, and personal estate, in like manner, to purchase, receive, and enjoy; at their pleasure, sell, or otherwise dispose of. That by the same name, they and their successors aforesaid, shall be persons capable and liable in law of suing and being sued, and pleading and being impleaded, and in all manner of actions, suits and controversies of law, equity or otherwise; as far as corporations, from their nature may be so capable and liable, according to the usual course of law.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the said society shall be in all things governed by such constitutions, by-laws, rules and resolutions as may have already been and shall have hereafter be ordained, enacted, made, or passed for that purpose, in and by the said society. Provided, that such constitution, by-laws, rules and resolutions be not repugnant to the constitution of the United States, or the ordinance of laws of this territory, or of such state as may hereafter be erected; wherein the said society shall be.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That this shall be, and be deemed, public act; and notice shall be taken thereof as such, in all courts of justice and elsewhere; and it shall and may be given in evidence on trial of any issue, or otherwise, in any cause, without being specially pleaded.13
1 County Historian, Mrs. Blanchard Ingram, Lambert, Mississippi
2 Mrs. Blanche Denton, Jackson, Mississippi
3 Mrs. John Allen, Lambert, Mississippi
4 Mrs. Lelia Turner, Marks, Mississippi
5 Mrs. Philey McArthur, Marks, Mississippi
6 Mrs. Mary Blackmon, Marks, Mississippi
7 County Superintendent’s Office
8 Records of County Superintendent of Education
9 Mrs. Jessie Covington, Belen, Mississippi
10 Mr. Ruffin Fyfe, Sledge, Mississippi
11 Mrs. Lucile Lowrey, Marks, Mississippi
12 Copies from Quitman County Democrat, December, 1936
13 Mississippi Statutes, 1807
Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated, 1936-38, Chapter III, pages 141-167.
Other Photos courtsey of Marks the Good Old Days on Facebook.
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