Rucker Seminary (Rucker), 1890-1926

RUCKER SEMINARY 1890-c 1926 was located about seven miles south of Murfreesboro on Rucker Road which runs east off the Murfreesboro-Shelbyville Highway. The school was on the north side of the road just east of the railroad and the intersection of the present Rucker-Christiana Road.

In a deed dated July 10, 1890, W. M. Rucker and wife Mattie and W. C. Harrison, for a consideration of $100, sold two acres of land for RUCKER SEMINARY. By a deed dated March 9, 1895, Welcome Mankin, president of the Board of Trustees, A. J. Smith, J. B. Fox, J. A. Vincent, J. E. Halliburton, Aaron Todd, B. B. Batey, and W. P. Prater, sold the two acres to the Directors of the 28th School District, B. F. Rankin, G. W. Wilkinson, and W. P. Prater, for $600, the debt which the school owed to the Farmer’s Building and Loan Association. Directors in 1899 were H. W. McKaig, J. C. Nelson, and B. F. Rankin, clerk.

An 1894 brochure gives this description of the building: “The building is located on beautiful grounds a few hundred yards from the village and comprises a large chapel, furnished with excellent desks; two recitation rooms, besides music and art rooms.” As enrollment decreased, a back room was boarded up. Then, in 1909-1910, the building was torn down and another erected with two rooms side by side. One room had a door to the front of the building; the second, a door to the back which opened to a porch running the full length of the back of the building. The building was heated by a pot-bellied stove.

Only one room was ever used as a classroom; the other became a playroom.

Known principals were Robert Armstrong Taylor, 1894; S. A. Youree, about 1899 and 1900, who moved to Louisiana; J. D. Jacobs, 1897-1898, and his assistant Mary Bell Jacobs; Miss C. M. Kelly, assistant principal in 1894; Dooley Gobelet about 1913.

Teachers included Frances Batey Huddleston, 1900, Florence Batey Williams, Mary Halliburton Miller, Carrie McCullough, Lela Mai Cook Halliburton, Lillie Lindsey, Mary McNeil Snell, Birdie Knox McKee, and Mattie Ida Hoover O’Brien.

According to the brochure, grades 1-6 were offered with both sexes admitted. Board per month was eight dollars with an additional fee for each grade. The fee for five months for five months for the fifth grade was fifteen dollars per term.

The 1894 brochure further commented: “We think students should be taught that pride of character is a ‘priceless jewel,’ and that their own self-respect demands that they should act as ladies and Gentlemen.”

According to the 1897-98 report card, subjects taught were Analysis, Grammar, Reading, English Literature, Geometry, History of Tennessee, Rhetoric, Geography, Algebra, Physiology, Arithmetic, Physics, Geology of Tennessee, History of U.S., Spelling, Book-Keeping, Language Lessons.

Grades were: 70 failure, 80 bad, 85 passable, 90 good, 95 very good, and
100 perfect.

In later years, Mary Price Snell remembers being in a play which she played the niece of Dooley Gobelet, her teacher. Every time she said, “Dear Uncle,” she broke into laughter and interrupted the play.

RUCKER closed in 1926 because of lack of students. Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey Burchett bought the property, tore down the school, and used the materials to build a house. They moved into it in the spring of 1930. Mai Rigsby Burchett still owns home in 1985.

There remain from RUCKER SEMINARY a coal house and big maple trees which Frances Huddleston, teacher, and Bill Reynolds, student, planted.

SOURCES Deed Book 31, p. 484; Book 36, p. 277. Report Card of Donald Hoover, dated 1897-98, owned by Sarah Hoover Haynes. Interviews, Jan. 10, 1982, with Mai Rigsby Burchett, student in the 1913 picture; Oct. 1, 1981, with Sarah Hoover Haynes and Mary Lou Hendrickson Hoover, mother of Donald Hoover, student 1897-1899; April 1981, with A. E. Lowe, student in
first building; May 1982, with Robert W. Baskin, student in the second building; June 5, 1985, with Mary Price Snell, student during the time when the old building was torn down and another built. She is also in the 1913 picture.

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