Rockvale School, 1874-1910

1910 – Rockvale School – Photo credit Esther Crick and Ruth S. Tucker

The first known ROCKVALE SCHOOL -c 1874 was a subscription school held in a two-story frame building believed to have been near the old telephone office. School quarters were on the lower floor; the upper floor was the Masonic Hall. Records of a school in the area date back to 1874 and are kept in the present ROCKVALE SCHOOL.

The school was destroyed by fire and was replaced by a building across from the present Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

ROCKVALE SCHOOL 1874-1910 was a subscription school on the west side of State Road 99 and across from the present Cumberland Presbyterian Church. On February 11, 1874, Kinion Canton signed a deed to School Directors Thomas H. Canton and R. W. Farnis and to Trustees J. M. Smith, L. L. Whitehead, J. M. Baugh, and J. N. Canton for one and one-fourth acres of
land for a “white school and a place of worship for all religions.” The site is on the Beers Map of 1878.

In 1891, County Superintendent James P. Nelson said, “We have some of the best schools in the state in our county:

Rockvale High School:

The school house was originally a one-room, frame building for one teacher. In the 1900’s, this school was a two-teacher institution with upper classmen as assistants. The building had a front gable and two front doors which were sheltered by a canopy roof. There were three windows on each side. A fireplace between the two rooms, front and back, was used for heat.

Known principals and teachers were: Robert L. Hayes, principal in 1896, John Woodf in, Sr., Miss Tommy Reynolds, Mr. George Craynor, Rev. J. M. Robinson, a Presbyterian preacher, Ella Henry, Alice Fain, Mr. M. W. Charles, Jinnie Hooper, Lockie Webb, Fannie Robinson, Cora Bain, and Jennie Love. Among the last teachers were Arzo Batts and Francis Batey.

Frank M. Carlton, B. Frank Christopher, and Frank Hale Jackson were members of the Board of Education for the school for several years.

Robert L. Hayes was a guitar player and sponsored programs at the school. A school program printed on December 23, 1896, listed 26 numbers including “Minstrel Monstrosities” by the Hayes Brothers. There were prize contests, the awarding of gold medals, a variety of “dialogues,” and a sermon. Among those on the program were Evie Joe and Nannie Lee Christopher; Josie, Samuel, Minnie, and Kate Rowland; Bessie and Sallie
Stem; Annie May and Fannie Bell Hendnix; Frank Hale Jackson, Beulah Carlton, Susie Stegall, and Ernest Fleming. Fannie Bell Hendrix Cheek was the mother of Mrs. Buford Ellington.

In 1910, the CONCORD and the ROCKVALE SCHOOLS were consolidated and a new school house, the ROCKVALE CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL was built on the present ROCKVALE SCHOOL campus.

On September 3, 1910, the Rutherford County Board of Education signed a deed to Bettie Canton for one and 1/4 acre of land, the old school property.

The school building became a home for Jeff Covington, who drove a school wagon, and later for Blake Giles. The building was abandoned but is still standing in 1985.

SOURCES: Deed Book 20, P. 21; Book 53, p. 87. Tennessee. Department of Public Instruction. Annual Report 1890 Nashville: Marshall and Bruce, 1891, p. 160. R. Fred Nance and John W. Nance, camps., The History of Versailles, the Tenth District and Its People RCHS, 1983 . *N. D. Overall, Manual and Course of Study for the Public Schools 1896, p. 23, contributed by *Bealer Smotherman. “Rockvale School Founding ‘Hazy’” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 16. *Gene Sloan, “A Little Nonsense,” The Daily News Journal Accent, March 20, 1977. Interviews, Sept 29, 1982, with Herbert Garrett, b. Oct. 23, 1903, and son of Ethel Smotherman Garrett, a student under John Woodfin; Feb. 13, 1984, with Holt Garrett, b. Feb. 8, 1901, and son of Ethel Smotherman Garrett. *Vera Covington.

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