ROCK SPRING SCHOOL 1871-1915 was founded “a long time” before J. P. “Pet” Gordon started school in 1871 and closed at the end of the 1914-1915 school term. It was located on Rock Spring Road which runs west of the Murfreesboro-Shelbyville Highway. On March 6, 1874, James M. Holden signed a deed for one acre to school trustees of the ROCK SPRING INSTITUTE. On March 1, 1890, he signed another deed for one and 1/2 acres to the school directors. The site of the school is indicated on the 1878 Beers Map.
The school was at first a good wooden one-room building with high windows and shutters. Later a music room was added. A stove in the middle provided heat. First wood and then coal were used as fuels. The water came from the Rock Spring on the Sam McElroy farm, now the property of Daniel Mitchell. Bathroom facilities were primitive. The girls had a cave facing north; the boys had a “path in the woods.”
At first it was a one-teacher school but later there were two teachers. Some of the teachers included: “Old man” Ewell later in state government under Governor Buchanan who taught J. P. Gordon, b. 1863, and roomed with him at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Gordon; P. S. Morison, who wrote Practical Arithmetic published in 1914; Sallie Miller, who taught Alfred Gordon and was teaching again in 1902; Alfred Milton Gordon, 1898-1899, who later became a medical doctor; Ora Ball, Nanny Wilkinson, Lula Tolbert, Ephie Kirk Woodfin, a graduate of Soule College, Miss Marlin, Mr. Hall, Frank Kirk, Eula Lamb, W. Beecher Horton, Erma Powell, Miss Rucker Harris, Kate Wilburn, Mattie Wade Nuell, and Marietta Pendleton Alford, who boarded at the home of Joe Brothers *in 1914 and received thirty dollars a month salary.
John Mallard was a school director who “hired and fired the teachers.”
Grades covered were grade 1- “as high as a student could go as long as he had a book.” Graham Gordon remembered that at the end of the day he felt as though he had had all eight grades. He remembered no examination until he entered the ninth grade at CHRISTIANA.
Mr. Gordon also observed that ROCK SPRING had always been a good school for politics. His class elected as president a girl who had just been the recipient of a large box of candy.
When the ROCK SPRING SCHOOL closed in 1915, Pet Gordon furnished the horse and Van Harris, the father of Clarence Harris, drove a double-seated buggy to CHRISTIANA SCHOOL for students Alice and Annie Crowell, Lillian Gordon, Clarence Harris, Buren Harris, and Sam Harris.
Later, Squire Modrall bought the building for one hundred dollars and moved it to Midland for a house. Pat Gordon used the money plus his own contribution of ten dollars to buy a wagon in Flat Creek. Rancher Spence drove the converted wagon to carry children from Rock Spring community to CHRISTIANA. Afterwards, some of the children went to MIDLAND and ROCKVALE.
On August 20, 1921, W. B. Holden and wife deeded to W. E. Mitchell the one and one-half acres of school land.
SOURCES: Deed Book 20, p. 186; Book 32, P. 143; Book 238, p. 600. Interviews, July 10, 1982, with Graham Gordon, b. 1895, the only student in the 1902 picture who is living in 1986. He bought the school bell and the school library; Sept. 24, 1982, with Eunice Williams Holden, b. Oct. 21, 1889, d. Jan. 8, 1985 She was the wife of Hunter Holden, a student. *Marietta
Pendleton Alford, b. 1888. *Mary Lou Gordon Davidson.