Walter Hill Academy (aka Walter Hill School), 1870-1924

Walter Hill Academy, 1989

WALTER HILL ACADEMY 1870-1924, now referred to as the OLD WALTER HILL SCHOOL, was on the Lebanon Road and about one-eighth mile north of Stone’s River. The land was given by Dr. T. C. Black. Both the site of the school and the name T. C. Black are on the 1878 Beers Map.

The school was first operated as a special school district under the direction of three school commissioners. On the Board of Directors were: R. Randolph, S. W. Huddleston, and Dr. N. E. Neely.

The school was housed in the upper story of a two-story Modern Woodman of America Lodge Hall which had been built in 1852. School had been conducted in the same building prior to the Civil War and had ceased operations during the war when the building was used as a Federal hospital. Nothing is known about the earlier school and its faculty.

Walter Hill Academy, 1913

The building was weatherboarded, painted white, and had a small front porch. The two rooms on the upper floor were used for the classes. In about 1917 the Lodge room downstairs was converted into a classroom for the primary children with a music room and a stage also on the ground floor. The two classrooms upstairs were then used for the middle and the upper grades that eventually went through the tenth grade.

Principals were: J. S. Batey, Robert Bass, Neslie V. Underwood, B. R. Kennedy, and W. 0. Cramer. J. M. Irwin of Wartrace served from 1898-1907. He was followed by Henry Ellison Walker Jones from West Tennessee, 1907-1909;
J. E. Brandon, 1909-1913 and 1914-1918; Mary Lee Halliburton Miller, l913-l9l4; and Flint Speer, 1918-1921. J. E. McCrary was elected in 1921.

1922 Walter Hill Academy

Known teachers were: Allie Cranor, Nanny Flooper Allen, music, Miss Leon Paty of Bell Buckle, Erline Matthews Irwin, teacher and then music teacher, Maggie Dill of Lascassas, Amanda Miller Edmondson, Ellen Brown Mullins,
Charlie Tolbert, Leiamer Tarpley Robinson, Bessie Rushing Beachboard of Bell Buckle, music, Virginia Tarpley, music, Pauline Medlin High, music, Aline Youree, Mrs. Flint, Mrs. J. E. McCrary, Allie Bennett, Sue Becton, and Pauline Dement Warkman Guest.

In 1890, County Superintendent James P. Nelson said, “We have some of the best schools in the state in our county . . . Walter Hill High School . . . .”

A four-page promotional piece prepared by W. O. Cranor in 1898 has this information: The school building is neat and attractive and situated on an elevated plot, convenient to all.

Tenth Grade at Walter Hill Academy in 1923

It is in a beautiful valley, noted for its healthfulness, prosperity, and superior social influences. Morally, it cannot be surpassed . . . four churches being convenient.

“The course of study will embrace, in addition to all branches taught in the public school, English literature, General History, Zoology, Botany, Civil Government, Astronomy, Psychology, Ethics, Logic, Latin, Greek, Trigonometry, Surveying, and Analytical Geometry.” The Literary Society provided opportunity for “more thorough development . . . and learning the qualities of free government.”

Tuition ranged from five dollars for grades one and two to fifteen dollars for grades seven and up. Board was available in private homes at seven and eight dollars per month with washing fifty cents per month extra.

By 1924, J. E. Brandon had become County Superintendent following Neal Elrod. WALTER HILL HIGH SCHOOL was erected in 1924 at its present site about one mile north of Stones River and on the west side of the Lebanon Road. Four teachers and the students were transferred from the old WALTER HILL ACADEMY to the new school.

The Rutherford County Board of Education sold the old school house and two acres of land at auction to John W. Pearcy and wife Alamaeda. The deed was signed August 20, 1928. John Pearcy built a brick house on the site.

SOURCES: Deed Book 72, p. 631. Tennessee Dept. of Public Instruction. Annual Report 1890 Nashville: Marshall and Bruce, 1891, p. 160. Darlene Henderson Gray, “Walter Hill Graduates Look at Their History,” The Daily News Journal Accent, Sept. 22, 1985. “Walter Hill High School in ‘70,” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 18. *Gene Sloan, “Give a Dollar or One Big Fat Hen,” The Daily News Journal Accent, May 1, 1977. Interviews, May 24, 1984, with Morgan Green, student under Mary Lee Halliburton and Amanda Miller; July 17, 1984, with Lorene Singleton West, student; July 1984, with Earline Vaughn Lester, student. *Edna Short Drake who has an invitation issued by F. R. Bass to closing exercises in the Chapel on December 21 and 22, 1897. *Sarah Young.

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