Sometimes back The Vagabond came across a pamphlet written by the Gadsden Women’s Club called A Little Book About Gadsden, which tells about the early periods of the Gadsden area. For the last few weeks we have been reporting on this old pamphlet. It continues….
“The common school is the greatest discovery ever made by man.”
“In the home of Gabriel Hughes was started the first school of which we have any knowledge. Here his children and their young friends learned the three R’s under the instruction of one J.D McMichael, a man of unknown background who always remained a mystery. He also served as a Sunday School teacher and became Gadsden’s ﬁrst postmaster.
“From Georgia, in 1852, came Professor John Slack, an honor graduate in law, with his wife, Susan Edwards Slack. They started a school in a house at the foot of Chestnut Street, moving later to what is now known as Slack Street. They were assisted by Mrs. Fry, an English woman who had been educated in Paris.
“In a poorly lighted frame building with two big rooms heated by large fireplaces, the youth of early Gadsden sat on long benches and learned reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, geography, astronomy, French, Greek and Latin.
“In the beginning, tuition was paid in work, food, quilting and sewing, but later a small fee was charged. The boys cut logs for the fire and drew from a well water that was drunk from a common gourd dipper. Emma Sansom attended this school.
“In 1865, Dr. Heath established an academy on Locust Street between Court and Fifth streets.
“An amusing story survives concerning the school of Dr. Perdue, which General Sibert attended. It was founded in 1872 and conducted on Turrentine Avenue. According to the story, Mrs. Perdue gave a “candy pulling” for the pupils.
She dished it out sparingly until she saw the candy would not run short, when she became more liberal. The boys composed the following jingle to describe the incident:
“Old Lady Perdue, Gave a candy stew. Those that came soon Got it in a spoon. Those that came late Got it in a plate.
“Important private schools included Miss Carrie Turrentine’s well-remembered Noccalula Seminary on Turrentine Avenue and schools taught by Miss Fannie Fullenwider on Eighth Street, Miss Fannie Archibald on North Sixth Street and Miss Eliza Heath (not related to Dr. Heath) on South Sixth Street.
“The first kindergarten was started by Miss Eppie Turnley about 1880, and during the [1890s] Dr. A B. Jones’s pretentious finishing school for young ladies flourished briefly in the old Bellevue Hotel on Lookout Mountain.
“Other private schools were taught by Misses Lucy Pettingill and Stella Ewing, Mrs. Ida Lowe, Miss Lizzie Matthews, Miss Emma Morrow, Messrs. Potter and Bailey, Mr. Elbert McGhee, Mrs. Bryant Miller Pogue and Mrs. Daisy Kittrell Vann. Several excellent schools were conducted by persons still living.
“About 1878, citizens, realizing the need for free schools, held a mass meeting and organized a school with Professor A.B. Goodhue as principal. A large frame building that occupied the present site of Striplin School was completed in 1880 and used for many years.
“Professor J.W. DuBose succeeded Professor Goodhue and was followed in 1889 by Professor G.G. Jones. For six years the city aldermen acted as trustees, but this plan proved unsatisfactory, and on March 2, 1895, the first Board of Education was elected by the mayor and aldermen. Always this board has included outstanding citizens, beginning with J.H. Disque as chairman and J.M. Moragne, R.B. Kyle, W.G. Brockway and A.E. Goodhue as members.
“School buildings now in use were erected as follows: Disque, 1901; Eleventh Street, 1907; Striplin, 1910; North Gadsden, 1910; Etowah Avenue, 1910; Gadsden High, 1923; Oak Park, 1923; South Gadsden (Black), 1923; East Gadsden, 1926; Elliott (Alabama City), 1926; Henry Street, 1929; Emma Sansom (Alabama City), 1929; Gulf Steel, 1936; Dwight, 1936; Car-ver (Black), 1936; West Gadsden (Black), 1936.
“St. James Catholic School, on Chestnut between Sixth and Seventh streets, was founded in 1913. The Benedictine Sisters came from Cullman to teach in this school and in the early days much attention was given to musical training. It is now under the direction of the Missionary Servants of the Most Ble-ssed Trinity.
“The Alabama School of Trades in East Gadsden was founded in 1925 and is supported by state funds. It is a trade-preparatory school and does not prepare students for college or the engineering professions.
“The Johnson Kindergarten and private grammar school and the Taylor Kindergarten are assets in the educational life of Gadsden.
“In 1929, the P.T.A. of Striplin School and the Eleventh Street School P.T.A. became affiliated with the National Congress of Parents and Teachers through the Alabama Branch of the Association. At present, local congress units are at Striplin, Eleventh Street, East Gadsden, North Gadsden, Henry Street, Etowah Avenue, Gulf Steel, Elliott, Oak Park and Dwight Schools.”
“In 1931, a City Council of Parent-Teacher Associations was organized. In this same year, the council was hostess to the district conference.
In the spring of 1933, the state convention of the Alabama Congress was held in Gadsden. In 1938, the city council again entertained the district meeting. Representatives from eight counties attended.”