SCIENCE HILL ACADEMY OF LEARNING c1870-1887, used both as a school and as a church, was built on a hill on Franklin Hall’s farm on the north side of the Woodbury Road. The building replaced a log church which had been located farther from the stage road and had burned. The new site would later become the site of the old Science Hill Church. The names SCIENCE HILL ACADEMY, P. M. Puryear, and F. D. Hall are on the 1878 Beers Map in District 19.
In 1870 Portious Moore Puryear became principal and remained principal for seventeen years. He was assisted by two or three other teachers including Ben Nelson, Miss Willie Goodloe, and Henry Barton.
Students “came from far and near.” They boarded at homes in the community. A local student was Dr. J. D. Hall. Ada Gum, b. 1871, started school when she was five years old.
A graduate of Princeton, Puryear developed a very broad curriculum. As the school enrollment increased, he added to the program of basic reading, writing, and arithmetic , courses in science, Greek, Latin, trigonometry,
history, calculus, and English. It was from the emphasis on science that the school became known as SCIENCE HILL ACADEMY.
In 1880, this church-school building burned and was replaced by a larger two-story building which would serve as school, church, and lodge hall. Although SCIENCE HILL ACADEMY became “one of the largest and most out
standing schools in the eastern part of Rutherford County, it was equally known as a church.”
As other Kittrell and Readyville schools developed in the area, SCIENCE HILL ACADEMY ceased to be a school “but continued to grow as a church.”
Portius Moore Puryear was born in Oxford, N. C., on November 26, 1839. In 1861 he moved to Walker County, Georgia. He served in the army under Stonewall Jackson and was with General Robert E. Lee’s regiment at the
surrender at Appomattox. In 1867 he married Margaret Gum and moved to the Kittrell community. He became a magistrate from the 19th District in 1876. He died November 3, 1891.
A son, Edgar Puryear, twenty-seven years old, was fatally shot by John Harrell on January 15, 1896. The two men were prospective teachers at OAKLANDS. An argument ensued at the Dilton store after L. D. Harrell, a
school director, made known his preference for Edgar Puryear. Mr. Puryear was buried in the Abernathy cemetery at Kittrell. John Harrell died of typhoid fever before he was tried.
SOURCES: *Mary Hall, “Kittrell and Loafers Rest,” a paper in the files of the Rutherford County Historical Society. *Rebecca L. Smith, History of Dilton RCHS, Pub. no. 9, Summer 1977. *Gene Sloan, “Back before the War,” The Daily News Journal Accent, April 17, 1977. Kittrell School Faculty and Students, “History of Kittrell,” a paper in the files of the school. Interview, Feb. 1986, with Margaret Brevard, daughter of Ada Gum.