Ransom School boasts distinguished alumni

February 19, 1978, Gene Sloan, Rutherford County Archivist for the The Daily News Journal

Perhaps no small private elementary school in Murfreesboro can claim more distinguished alumni than Ransom School, which was conducted from 1916 (ed. 1907) till 1930 at 717 North Academy Street (Murfreesboro).

Miss Eliza Ransom operated the school with the assistance of her sister, Miss Belle Ransom. It was largely a neighborhood subscription school with a monthly tuition fee of $8. some of the students had a tuition paid in produce or services.

There were never more than 12 students in the school – yet the men who were boyhood pupils – recall the high quality of thorough teaching coupled with strict yet kindly discipline and a strong ethical and moral code.

Georg Parrish, who did the equivalent of seven years work at the school stated recently, “If it had not been for Miss Eliza and her sister, I don’t believe I would have received a formal education. She was willing to accept me as a student and C.B. Arnette helped me due to my physical condition.”

George, along with C.B. and many others usually ‘skipped’ the third grade after finishing the first and second. Very alert pupils sometimes moved from the sixth grade to the eight grade grade at Critchlow School.

“Since all the classes were taught in the same room, we took advantage of all the teaching. It was a rare experience,” Parrish said.

The school room, according to some of the former pupils, was a long frame building attached to the brick residence. Others think the classroom was in the brick building with a smaller room on the west side in which Miss Belle Ransom conducted the arithmetic classes. All agree that the pupils used and outdoor privy, located in a cane brake behind the school, although there was a bathroom in the residence.

“We had the best spelling you can imagine,” C.B. Arnette said. “We were assigned three pages of Webster’s Dictionary each day and used the trapping method.”

The school was in session from 8AM till 3PM each day. “But for many the day went till 4PM. If one has to be punished he stayed in and memorized poetry – I learned a lot of good verse”, Arnette laconically remarked.

If a pupil was tardy all those present rose and sang: “A diller, a dollar, a 10 o’clock scholar; What makes you come so soon? now you come at noon”.

The success of “Miss Liza’s” pupils has been most remarkable. Dr. Robert Miles perfected the heart surgery technique performed on President Gerald Ford. Dr. James Cason, a nationally known scientist and his brother Dr. John Cason were former students. Del Fuston, a Chattanooga attorney, Reve. James A. Ransom, Chip Ransom, Robert Overall, Bill Overall, Bobby Burnett, Dr. Bart White, John Nelson, Bobby Wilson, Houston McBride, James Butler, J.R. Henry, Burnett Moore, Alvin Moore, Matt Murfree, Judge Whitney Steagall, Bob Miles, C.B. Arnette and George Parrish are among the others.

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