Historically Speaking: A history of schools in Heflin

By Jessica Gorman

This week, I am sharing the history of schools in Heflin taken from “History of Webster Parish Schools” compiled by Ardis Cawthon, Mrs. J. D. Brown, and Yvonne Rogers in April 1935.

“Some distance from what was to be the Heflin town site, an old log school house, commonly called ‘Scrouge Out’, was built during the Sixties. In 1874 Mr. Pearce, then the holder of the land, decided to have a school built closer by so his two daughters could be educated. With his leadership and the cooperation of the neighborhood, a one-room log school house was erected. Adolphus W. Talton came from Fellowship community to be the first teacher in the new school house, which had been christened the ‘Pearce School House’. 

The teachers’ salary at this period consisted of $2.00 a month, per student, paid by the parents at the beginning of each month. Eleven students were required before the teacher was allowed to hold classes. The course of study consisted of reading, spelling, arithmetic, geography, history, grammar, and botany. Pupils were classified according to the ‘reader’ in which they were studying. Some early teachers in the school were Anna Calhoun of Vienna, Liza Noles of Fellowship, and J. S. Bacon of Fellowship. Mr. Delaney, a teacher in the school during the early nineties left a fire in the mud fire place one evening, and the next morning when he returned, he found the building in ashes. Mr. Pearce and the community immediately built another log house on the same site.

As the years passed the community became more thickly settled, and the people in 1895, deciding that the little log school was not large enough, undertook the building of a new school house. Mr. Pearce bought the lumber. He was aided by a few people who felt that they could contribute money. The people who were not able to give money helped in the construction of the house. Mr. Claude Almand was the first teacher in the school. He was followed by Mr. Joe Reeves and a Miss Boyd. The little wooden school house was used twelve years. In 1907 a three room structure was built to replace it. Classification by grades was begun. Eight grades were taught by four teachers for seven months each year until 1918.

In 1918 two other schools, Adams and Andrew’s Chapel, both a short distance from Heflin, were combined with the Heflin School, which was at this time declared a high school. Another room was added to the old three room building and in this building the grade school was taught. The high school held its classes in the old Booth home, and in the Woodman Hall. The children were carried back and forth by means of two wagons and a Model ‘T’ truck.

The members of the first graduating class from this school received their diplomas in 1922, the exercises being held in the Heflin Baptist Church. The graduates were Guy Harkness, Gertrude Barnette, Earl Heflin, and Fred Harkness.

When school opened the next year preparations were being made for a new building. In March 1923 the grammar school and high school came into the new two story brick building, which cost $55,000. Mr. C. L. Coussons was principal at the time. He was followed by Mr. G. E. Jones. Mr. B. L. Bolen held the principalship for two years. In the fall of 1932 Mr. K. J. Miles became principal.

The average number of graduates since the completion of the building has been eight. The smallest number graduating at any time was five and the largest number fourteen.

In the year, 1930-1931, the small school library was converted into a public library when Mrs. B. L. Bolen was made librarian.

In 1934 electric lights and irons were installed in the Home Economics department.

The extra-curricular activities from time to time have been; athletics, oratorical training, Home Economics clubs, 4-H Clubs, etc.”

In an effort to compile and share more history from the communities throughout Webster Parish, we ask that if you have information, documents, or pictures to share, please contact us at the museum. It is our hope to one day have exhibits to tell the stories of each of these communities. 

This column is intended to share snippets of Webster Parish history. Please direct any questions or suggestions to dorcheatmuseum@yahoo.com or visit us at the museum. 

(Jessica Gorman is the Assistant Director and Archivist for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum in Minden and is an avid genealogist.)

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