The Blackmore School, 1863-1864

The BLACKMORE SCHOOL fall of 1863-1864 was a private school at Jefferson. The true name of the school, if there was a name, is unknown.

The school was held in a rented house. Bettie Ridley Blackmore was the teacher. In February 1864, Mr. McLean was hired to assist her for a month until the close of the first term.

The school opened late in 1863 with thirteen pupils. By November there were twenty-five. Students mentioned as superior students were Tommy, Lucy, and Fanny R.

In January the number had increased to thirty-five when larger boys, who had not been in school for several years, entered until it was time to do the spring plowing.

Among other classes, an alphabet class was taught. Music lessons were given at night.

The school closed when Mrs. Blackmore became ill and died in November 1964.

Bettie Ridley Blackmore was the daughter of Chancellor Bromfield Lewis Ridley and Rebeccah Crosswaite Ridley and the wife of George Blackmore, who was serving in the Confederate Army.

Her “Journal,” kept from 1863 to almost the time of her death in 1864, was published in The Tennessee Historical Quarterly, March 1953, Vol.12 no 1. Mrs. Blackmore had taught previously as indicated by the words “begin teaching again.”

At the time of the “Journal” the country home of her parents, “Fair Mont,” had been burned.

F. E. Henderson, who lived at Whitehall at the intersection of the present U.s. 70 and J.S. Young Road and who was a student at Mrs. Blackmore’s school, kept a diary in 1864. These are excerpts: “Feb. 9th. Commenced studying algebra. April 21st. Mrs. Blackmore went to Nashville., Tommy Johns and I taught school. May 9th. Miss Tea Allen commenced teaching school. May 23rth Mrs. Blackmore sick. Tommie and I taught school. May 24th. Tommie and I still teaching. Went over to get Mr. Bell to get him to teach, but he would not. June 17th. We had company at school to hear us read our compositions June 20th. Took a piece of music called ‘Prize Banner Polk.’ Nov. 12th. Mrs. Blackmore died at eleven o’clock Saturday night.”

SOURCES: Jim and Betty Matheny, “Diary of F. E. Henderson 1864” RCHS, Winter 1978, pp. 1-30. *Gene Sloan, “Jefferson Probably Had County’s First School,” The Daily News Journal Accent, Sept. 4, 1977, p. 7.

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