Wray’s School (Rockvale), 1880-1924

WRAY’S SCHOOL fl. 1880’s-1924 was located in the community of Snell. The school was first on a dirt road about one-half mile south of the old Franklin dirt road and just west of the present Coleman Hill Road. It was built in a wooded area on land owned by Thomas Jefferson Wray, Jr. On May 15, 1915, J. C. Read and wife J. A. deeded one acre of land to the County Board of Education for a new site for the school. The building was moved to the east side of Coleman Hill Road on land formerly owned by Roger Durden Snell, d. 1885, and then by his son-in-law Childress Read. The second location was just north of the house of Hodge Newton Snell. On the 1878 Beers Map, Roger Durdin Snell is incorrectly shown as H. D. Snell, Sr. also, by 1878, R. D. Snell, Jr., the son, had changed his name to Hodge Newton.

The school building was a one-room frame building with two doors at the front and three windows on each side. There was no porch.

Wray’s School, date unknown

Among the teachers in the one-teacher school were Mary Snell Young, b. 1871, who taught in 1896 and 1897 at twenty-five dollars a month, Mary King Floyd, b. 1872, Dura Cook, Grace Johnson, Blanche Hartman Phillips, Esther Couch, Elsie Read, Lera May Tilford, Florence Hartman, Ada Bethel, and Ruby Read Hargrove.

Family names of students were Wray, Snell, Ryan, Baskin, Owen, Brown, Wilson, Read, Floyd, Overall, Dyers, Coleman, Oakley, and Delbridge. Early students were T. M. Baskin, b. Feb. 23, 1887; Annie Floyd Snell, b. 1884; James R. Snell, b. 1877; possibly Reno B. Ryan, b. 1891, who is known to have attended functions at the school; Mr. “Putty” Overall, football coach at T. P. I.; and Coach “Red” Floyd. An outstanding surgeon and a nurse at the old St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, educators, county agents, owners of businesses, graduates of Tennessee College, Middle Tennessee Normal, Peabody, U. T., University of Nashville, and Vanderbilt were former students of WRAY’S SCHOOL.

In 1924 the school closed and WRAY’S students were taken to KINGWOOD SCHOOL by a school wagon drawn by two mules named Old Kate and Old Ida. Mr. David Allan Baskin was the driver.

The school was used as a Methodist Church with a preacher every fifth Sunday and a Sunday School the other four Sundays of the month. James R. Snell was the last superintendent of the Sunday School. The church continued for some time after the school closed.

The building is no longer standing. Mr. Earl Brannon owns the property on which the school was first built. Traces of the dirt road, an open space, a well, and a large oak tree mark the site as pointed out to Mr. Brannon by the grandson of T. J. Wray, Jr., the original owner.

The County School Commission on a Quitclaim Deed returned one acre of land, the second school site, to J. C. Read, Elizabeth Read, Harold Read, and R. E. Oakley. The deed was dated May 30, 1964.

SOURCES: Deed Book 154, p. 382; Book 154, p. 526. Letter, June 26, 1984, from Annie May Snell Haynes, great granddaughter of Roger Durdin Snell, granddaughter of Hodge Newton Snell, and daughter of James R. Snell. Robert W. Baskin, History of Blackman-Salem-Windrow Communities 1973. Type written. He is a son of T. M. Baskin and a great grandson of Frusannah Mandanah Wray Owens, 1831-1924, who was the daughter of T. J. Wray, Jr. Interviews, March 1, 1984, with Lina Ryan Brannon, daughter of Reno B. Ryan and wife of Earl Brannon; June 27, William H. Read, nephew of Childress Read. *Julia Snell Aiphin, great granddaughter of Roger Durdin Snell, grand daughter of Hodge Newton Snell, and daughter of James R. Snell. *Sara Young, daughter of Mary Snell Young.

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