Smyrna Fitting School, 1896-1908

SMYRNA FITTING SCHOOL or SMYRNA COLLEGE 1896-1908 was on the present Dudley Street off College Street and near the present Senior Citizens Center.

On October 13, 1896, W.B. Jarratt and wife Fannie P. signed a deed to the Board of Directors for Smyrna High School Company, W.K. Patterson, B.B.. Gracy, Samuel E. Hager, W.D. Neely, Thomas Dickerson, and John F. Tucker,
for five acres of land for a private school, a preparatory school on the elementary level for both boys and girls.

The school was modeled on the educational methods of Webb School in Bell Buckle.

The frame building was unusual in shape in that four classrooms extended from a central auditorium with a bell tower. James Robbins, the first headmaster, installed the large cast iron bell to call the students to classes and to assemblies.

Mr. Sawney Webb helped to establish this school on condition that he choose the headmaster. He recommended James Robbins, who had graduated from Vanderbilt in 1892. Professor Robbins was at Smyrna for two or three years before he went elsewhere to teach. He later taught at
Vanderbilt for nearly fifty years. He was succeeded by W.H. Bates, who not only acted as headmaster but who, with his wife, organized a lending library for the children of the town. Professors Stem, Smithson, and Edwin F. Hoover, Sr., followed.

This was a three or four teacher school. All teachers had been former students at Webb. Hal Robbins and Eva Clary were teachers in 1896.

Five dollars per month was paid for tuition. Emphasis was placed on fundamentals, the classics, and disciplined study.

Students identified in an 1896 picture are: John Wright, Ida Bell Gregory, Jonnie Holloway, Beulah Hughey, Will Neely, Lewis Davis, Jack Neely, Mae Gregory, M.B. McDonald, Daisy Jarrett, Anna Ella Aldrich, Sarnrnie Nelson,
Willie B. Jarratt, Fannie B. Mathews, Media Davis, Nannie Ward, Hal Edmondson, Mary Edmondson, Julia Weakley, Everett Tucker, Marion Mabry, Curg King, Mamie Weakley, Dudley Jarrett, Will V. Smith, Maggie Nelson, Silas Tucker, Roy Gooch, Mirna Hibbett, Joe Fox, Charlie Ransom, Jeff Hooberry, Jack Brown, Presley Allen, Bob Reed, and Jetton Patterson.

SMYRNA FITTING SCHOOL ceased to be a school when the County School Board acquired the property. On May 30, 1908, W.K. Patterson, Sr., B.B. Gracy, S.E. Hager, John F. Tucker, J.S. Gooch, H.D. Jarratt, and T.W. Dickinson deeded the five acres of school property to Board Members B.M. Rucker, W.H. Gregory, Tom Richardson, J.P. Leathers, and – White.

The school became SMYRNA HIGH SCHOOL and the nucleus of the “Old Rock School.”

SOURCES: Deed Book 49, PP. 392, 394. “Fertile Smyrna Lands Attracted Pioneers,” The Daily News Journal, April 6, 1952, p. 73. *Gene Sloan, “Exploring Early Smyrna Schools,” The Daily News Journal Accent, Nov. 20, Hoover, Pp. 190, 298-300.

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