Saturday, August 8, 2009

1888 Summer Teachers' School

Since schools will soon be starting up, let's look back at a Summer Teacher Institute held in July 1888. The students compiled the letter to report on their activities. The Robertson County[Tenn.] Teachers Normal School was held on the grounds of the Cedar Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South, under the oversight of the County Superintendent, J.E. Ruffin. Photo is the Cedar Hill Methodist Church, Cedar Hill, Tenn.

Report from Cedar Hill [Tenn.] Normal School – Springfield Record, July 5, 1888

Knowing the great interest you feel in the young teachers of Robertson county, we offer you a few items from our Normal school now in session at Cedar Hill. And as all young folks like to see their name in the paper we will, in our jottings, insert the name of every member of the class.
The first two weeks of our term Prof. Hooker gave us a thorough drill in practical Arithmetic, introducing some work entirely new to some of us.
Prof. Willett gave us an exhaustive review of practical and analytical Grammar on a new method, which we like very much, and Prof. Clinard wrestled with our dull comprehension in the intricate analysis of intellectual Arithmetic.
This week Prof. Watson has critically ventilated all our pet authors and theories upon Phonic Elements, Reading and Elocution. His work has been intensely interesting both for its merit and novelty.
Prof. Empson has been laboring hard to impress upon our imaginations the graceful forms of his elegant penmanship. Miss Callie Johnson has been striving, with equal emphasis, to resurrect the little knowledge of Geography, which we obtained in our childhood days; and out Superintendent has set us to writing a History of the United States. We think of having it copyrighted and published under the firm name of Robertson County Teachers Normal School.
Our class is composed of twenty girls and five boys. A citizen of Cedar Hill said he thought the women would capture the school of Robertson County before many years, and Supt. Ruffin flattered us by rejoining, “they ought to.”
Bud Moore, Nat Kernan, Charlie Payne and John Cook are domiciled at Rev. F.G. Cobb’s. When Bro. Cobb was asked if the boys had run him from home yet, he remarked, with a wise look, “I think I will hold the fort.”
Misses Lula and Lee Atkins are boarding at Mrs. Melvin’s; Attie Rosson and Maggie Morrow at J.F. Ruffin’s; Sudie and Mattie Chambers at J.C. Ruffin’s; Lattie Holland at Mrs. Wynn’s; Lula Jones and Ida Fry at Dr. Hawkins’; Prof. and Mrs. Walton and John T. White at W.R. Featherston’s and Prof. Empson and Clarance Nave at T.J. Ayers.
Our school is opened every morning with religious service. Misses Jessie Ruffin and Mattie Ayers are our organists. Misses Minnie Henry, Kittie Connell, Walton Ryan and Mollie Clinard, come regularly from Springfield. Bud Moore is the champion athlete of the class.
Nat Kernan is the bashful boy in school. He was seen one evening throwing stones (very softly, of course) at some girls who were leisurely taking a walk down the railroad. Misses Kittie Connell and Mollie Clinard could not be convinced that they are not the tallest in the school until Prof. Willett backed up the standard. Sudie Chambers and Carrie Ruffin are the baby girls of the class.
The girls have christened Prof. Hooker “Lightening Calculator.” Prof. Walton is known as “Old Chris,” and Prof. White “Little Chris.” We are hunting a nick name for Supt. Ruffin but we shan’t talk very loud till after examination.
Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Ayers entertained Prof. and Mrs. Walton and a number of students, Thursday night. The most delightful feature of the evening was Mrs. Walton’s rendition of some find music on the piano. Bro. Reams and Mr. Ben Mallory of Adams Station, spent one day with us.
We have had quite a number of visitors. The people of Cedar Hill have manifested some interest in our work and have treated us with marked courtesy and hospitality. The most delightful entertainment of the season, was given at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bascom Batts, in honor of Misses Clardy and Carlyle, who are visiting there. We, poor, tired Normal students, were out en masse and all went away thinking our kind entertainers for turning our thoughts away from formulas and rlues event for an evening. We miss, this year, some familiar faces of last year’s class.” Virginia Cobb, Nora Richards, Gussie Owen, Addie Smith, Georgie Atkins and Nannie Atkins, Lucy Felts, Louis P. Pearson, C.P. Kernan, J.E. Empson, and others. Most of all we miss Prof. Borthick, one of our best teacher. One of them, Prof. Pearson, has died. A man whom we all admired – Miss Nannie Atkins has abandoned her profession to became a farmer.
This 1888 report mentioned Professor Louis P. Pearson. His obituary appeared in the Springfield [Tennessee] Record just two months before the school report was shared.
“On Sunday night, April 29th, gloom was cast over the entire community by the death of Professor Louis P. Pearson. No grander, nobler man ever lived. Notwithstanding he had been sorely afflicted for years, he ever maintained a cheerful and amiable disposition. He was a candidate for County Court Clerk in the race of 1886. He leaves a devoted mother and twin sister, and other loving sisters and brothers.”
Sources: Springfield Record, 5 July & 10 May 1888.
Newspapers in smaller town are likely to report personal information and relationships, which may shed new light on our research. Find new records and keep the story alive.

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