I opened school in October with fourteen regular pupils. Several more started
but dropped out. The fourteen came the full time. The school house was a
small frame building about 18’ by 20’, with home made desks
and seats, blackboard, chart, table and chair for the teacher, stove, water
bucket and dipper. The water was carried from the home of a patron about
three hundred yards. I began school at 8 a.m., dismissed at 4 p.m., gave
fifteen minutes recess in the morn and one hour at noon. My classes ranged
from chart to eighth grade, although the schools were not graded. The ages
ranged from six years to seventeen. The board was arranged by dividing the
numbers of days by the number of regular pupils and staying with each patron
according to the number of pupils he had in school. I closed this school
in January a few days before the great show that fell in February.
Mr. McDaniel gave me the Mount Carmel School to teach the
fall of 1899. The school was five months at forty dollars per month, the
most I had been offered in Santa Rosa County. Wednesday, before I was to
start teaching Mount Carmel, Mrs. John Hobbs and Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Robinson
came to Uncle Charlie’s home. They told me Mr. McDaniel had promised
them a school and would I teach it. I told them I was to start teaching
Mount Carmel the following Monday. Then they asked would I teach their school
if Mr. McDaniel would let me change. I agreed and they left at once to go
to Mr. McDaniel. He agreed to the change and they started the school at
once. I was to receive thirty dollars per month and my board for five months.
I boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery Allen about one and one fourth miles
The school house was a frame building about 18’ by 20’
built on an elevation among pine saplings several hundred yards from Robinson
bridge on Pond Creek. It was equipped with home made desks and seats, blackboard,
chart, table and chair for the teacher, water bucket and dipper. The school
building was started at once and I opened school before the doors and windows
I had over thirty pupils, part of whom came four miles. They
ranged in age from six to eighteen, and subjects from chart to eighth grade,
although the school is not graded.*
The text books were old. The geography did not have a relief
map. One day as I had the questions on the board for my small geography
(fifth grade now). Mr. McDaniel visited us. He looked at the questions and
asked me if I thought the pupils would make anything on the examination.
I told him I knew they would as I had drilled them. The question was: Draw
a map of the U. S., place the principal mountains, rivers, and chief cities;
also name the chief industries and place on the map were hey were located.
Mr. McDaniel said if they made anything on them to send the papers to him.
He said two thirds of the teachers in the county could not answer them.
I sent him the papers.
At first the pupils carried water from a spring about three
hundred yards from the school building on the creek. I walked alone of a
morn to school but several of the pupils came part of the way with me in
the afternoon. I lived the nearest to the school.
Before this school closed some of the patrons of Allentown sent me word
they wanted me to teach their school again. I accepted and began January
1, 1900 as it was Monday and Mr. McDaniel asked me to begin that day. The
program for the day was the same as the other schools. The school paid me
twenty-five dollars per month and board this school term.
That spring La Grippe broke out among the pupils. One fourteen-year-old
girl, Hugh McCraney died, on account of which we were given two weeks vacation.
One day Mr. McDaniel visited the school when I was hearing my youngest mathematic
class, consisting of Leslie Allen, aged 6, and Grady Allen, aged 7. They
were at the board adding and subtracting small numbers. When I received
my pay for that month, I received thirty dollars. The school had been raised
from twenty-five dollars to thirty dollars and board, and I received the
extra twenty-five for the five months. I was one of the three teachers on
the grading committee for the teachers’ examination in June.
In July Mrs. John Hobbs came to me and told me they wanted me to teach their
school that fall and as we were staying with Mr. Crist’s father and
mother, I accepted. We lived seven miles from the school house and went
to school in a buggy with a horse driven by mr. Crist’s young nephew,
Earle Wellman. School closed Nov. 1.
This was the period of time when the Southern states were
just emerging from the awful devastation caused by the great war between
the states. The Southern states suffered very much financially, and Florida
was one of the worst hurt. Santa Rosa County was emerging from a three and
four months school term. The teachers were very poorly prepared to teach,
as there were very few schools if any during the war. One teacher I met,
who was spoken of as a very good teacher of what she taught, told me she
had never studied fractions as she had never had the opportunity to study
them, and, of course, she could not teach far in mathematics. I think there
were many others like her, who would have made good teachers if they had
an opportunity to have gone to a good school.
There was a teacher’s school in Defuniak Springs, which
I think was the only one of its kind in Northwest Florida. There was a school
near Cantonment taught by Mr. Tate, a finely educated man, which graduated
its pupils. I think this was the beginning of the great agriculture school
at Tate near Cantonment, Escambia County, Fla.
There was no transportation of pupils except what parents
gave their own children. Many pupils had to walk three, four and sometimes
more miles to school. As the schools were taught so late and began so early,
some of the pupils would get home after sunset and then have their chores
to do. They would have to get up and do their morning chores and start for
school before sunrise on account of the distance to the school. Nevertheless
they did that and were glad to have the opportunity to learn. They are among
our finest men and women today.
Instead of the schools having three trustees as they do today,
they had one supervisor. I think his authority was limited. The County Superintendent
and County Schoolboard had the major authority. I suppose the schools of
the other counties were governed the same way, although there were no unified
laws at that time.
Each county held its own teacher’s examination in the county seat.
The questions were sent from Tallahassee to the County Superintendent who
held the examination. The papers were graded by three teachers of the county.
No names were on the papers, just a number or letter that prevented cheating.
Water buckets and dippers were in every room, where now there
are drinking fountains. All the lights were kerosene lamps. Many people
read by light made by pine knots burning in fire places. Pine knots or lightwood
(as it was called) was from fallen decayed pine trees. They were where the
limb joined the trunk of the tree and were full of resin and turpentine
and made very bright lights.
There were few roads and they were worked by the men of the
community. Most of the roads were mere bridle paths. The chief conveyance
or modes of travel were ox-carts, one or two horse small wagons, and horseback
Continued Next Week
The picture accompanying this article was too blurred to reproduce, but the
text under the picture reads:
Pictured above, at the old Mulat School [blurred] are, front row, left, Madie
Harp, Roy Harp, Mertin Robinson, Hollie Harp, Earleen Crist; and Edward Tinsley.
Second row, Sorrel child, Mars Tinsley, Bobby Jones, J. E. Robinson, La Rae
Third Row, Indis Tinsley, Andrew Tinsley, Mrs. Crist, Gilbert Jones and Flores
*Missing phrase supplied by Michele
Crist LaForgia, great-granddaughter of Anna Deen Crist.