Milton Press Gazette

Dec 14, 1951


Mrs. Anna Deen-Crist

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 from school.

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 were in.

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 riding.

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 Crist.
Third Row, Indis Tinsley, Andrew Tinsley, Mrs. Crist, Gilbert Jones and Flores Tinsley.

*Missing phrase supplied by Michele Crist LaForgia, great-granddaughter of Anna Deen Crist.





Then and Now


Logging Industry

The Big Freeze


Hurricane of 1906

Crist Reunion



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