Woodlawn Academy (Versailles), 1888-1917

WOODLAWN ACADEMY 1888-c 1917 was more commonly known as GARRETTS or GARRETT SCHOOL. It was located two miles south of the Versailles store in Civil District 10, School District 37, and was on the west side of Versailles Road between the intersections of the Leb and Link Roads. Thomas Washington Garrett, whose tract of land is indicated on the 1878 Beers Map, signed a deed on October 12, 1888, to School Directors J. P. Smotherman, W. J. Canton, and E. Smotherman for one-half acre of land for as long as there was a school.

VERSAILLES SCHOOL, the first known school in the community, had recently burned, and it is thought that Thomas Garrett decided to furnish another school so that his children would not have to go to CONCORD SCHOOL, some three miles away.

Thomas Garrett gave the lumber which neighbors used to erect the one-room building which had one door at the front, three windows on each side, and one window at the back. Inside, to the left and the right of the entrance were hooks on the wall for coats. At the far end was the platform for the teacher’s desk. The double desks were the finest that could be found.

In the upper right hand corners were holes for glass ink wells with hinged metal covers. Grooves across the back held the wooden pen staffs with removable pen points.

Among the teachers were Alice Garrett Poplin, born 1870, and a daughter of Thomas Washington Garrett; John Lee Poplin, who married Alice in 1896; Lizzie Garrett Dyer, born March 3, 1867, a daughter of Thomas; Willie Newby from Fosterville, who boarded with the Garretts in 1890; Marietta Pinkerton in 1907; Jo Ella Kinihro in 1908; Olive Martin McBride, who boarded with them about 1911; and Bess Maxwell, who boarded in 1917; Eula Lamb, Lillard Martin, Sallie Sutton, Monroe Crick, Susie Steaqall, Lena Crick, and Tommy Irvin.

Among the students were Richard Jackson Garrett, son of Thomas Washington; Herbert Garrett, grandson of Thomas, who attended 1911-1917; Holt Garrett, grandson of Thomas; Eula Lamb’s sisters and brothers Clara, Mary, and Blanton Williams; Susie, Willie, Ivie, and Fannie Canton; Mammie Heath, who married Herbert Garrett; Ben Heath, father of Mammie; Willie, Ernest, Paul, and Pauline Heath, sisters and brothers of Mamrnie; Terry Martin; Bell Smotherman, who married Holt Garrett; Raymond, Wilson, and Clarence Smotherman, the brothers of Bell; Willie
and Grady Rowland; Bee Carlton and ______ Simmons, who was the first wife of Bee Carlton.

Mary Rowland Smotherman, b. 1890, attended this school until she was twelve years of age. Her teacher was Monroe Crick. In 1983, she still kept in touch with her classmates, Lalar Sudberry Jones, Bertha Lamb, and Mamie Haynes Wheelhouse.

Holt Garrett remembers studying Lippincott’s Physiology, Books I, II, and III, reading, arithmetic, penmanship with arm movement, and especially the dictionary for spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of words. Advanced students studied algebra, geometry, physics, and rhetoric.

Friday afternoons were often devoted to rhetoric and recitations. Herbert Garrett remembers one of his original creations entitled, “Thinking now of What I Thunk, I Think I Thunk a Lie.”

An oil painting of WOODLAWN ACADEMY by Lavernia Smotherman Davidson hangs in the living room of Herbert Garrett in Murfreesboro. The story behind the picture is this: Herbert Garrett, grandson of the founder, Thomas Washington Garrett, was, according to his own appraisal, a mischievous boy. One day he wanted to look out of the window. Holding a book and pretending to be reading, he got up from his desk and edged over to the opening. The painting shows him thus. The teacher, seeing him, said, “Herbert, get out of that window.” Herbert did. He jumped out. Herbert did not go home until the other students were dismissed. As fate would have it, his parents soon knew of his misdemeanor. The teacher, Bess
Maxwell, boarded at their home.

After WOODLAWN ACADEMY closed, the property was returned to the Garrett family.

When Herbert Garrett married, he partitioned the build into three rooms and lived in it for twenty-two years.

The school, empty but in good condition, stands in its original location in 1985. Holt Garrett lives on the old home place of two hundred and ten acres.

SOURCES: Deed Book 31, p. 393. R. Fred Nance and John W. Nance, camps., The History of Versailles, the Tenth District and Its People RCHS, 1983 . Margaret Slater, “The Involvement of the State of Tennessee in the Design and Construction of One-Room District Schoolhouses”1983. This was a paper for History 668 at MTSU. Interviews, April 1983, with Herbert Garrett, b. Oct. 23, 19O3 October 1984, with Holt Garrett; July 12, 1983, with Mary Rowland Smotherman, b. 1890; Feb. 26, 1984, with *Marietta Pinkerton Alford, b. 1888.

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