If you know of any schools or have more information about one, past or present, please submit them.
The following article was written by Mrs Webb about 1935 concerning the history of the schools in Cherokee County:
Despite the wonderful progress that has been made in the schools of Gaffney, it will be interesting to those of today to learn of them in the years gone by. County schools and the Primary Department conducted in connection with Limestone College constituted the schools in this teritory [sic].
The first school of any size was taught by Rev Tilman R Gaines. The two story frame building used by Mr Gaines for school purposes had been erected by Mr Carey for a wood shop. After the building was used for a school it was called Carey Hall. This school was organized in 1876.
In 1877 Professor W F McArthur return from Mississippi and became Principal of the Carey Hall School. He and his family occupied the rooms on the second floor and the lower floor was used for the school. Carey Hall stood on the corner lot of Buford and Granard streets, where Dr S B Sherard's home is now. The school was moved from the Carey Hall to the Shook House. This building was erected by Mr Shook for a store. Being a larg house, Mr McArthur and his family lived in some of the rooms and the other rooms were used for the School. Gettys Lumber Company now own and use the corner lot on Granard and Depot Street. In a few years Mr McArthur built his large two story home on the corner of Race and Petty Street. Here he moved with his family and used some of the rooms for his school. A new house has been erected on this lot and is now owned and occupied by Mr and Mrs C M Smith. Mr Smith is President of the Merchants and Planters Bank.
This was the last place for the school in a private home. Mr McArthur and Mr J M Tankersley, his brother-in-law, who came from Texas, and Professor R O Sams, who had been teaching in the Cooper-Limestone Institute, organized the Male and Female Seminary. Mr Michael Gaffney had stated that he would donate a site to the first denomination to erect a church in town. The Methodist were the recipients of the gift. When the lot was secured for school purposes, the church building was rolled across Race Street on to the corner of Race and Johnson Streets, it was divided into rooms and used for the school until the new building was ready for use. A nice two story brick building was erected on the site of the former site occupied by the Methodist church. The original part of Central School now, is the building formerly known as the Male and Female Seminary. When the new building was completed, and ready to be occupied, the school was moved into it under the Principalship of Professor W F McArthur, Professor R O Sams, Professor J M Tankersley, with the assistance of Mr James A Corry. Professor Sams had charge of the Military unit which had been added. Prof Sams had had experience in Military work during his stay in Charleston and Columbia. It was in the year 1881 that Prof Sams came to Gaffney to teach in the Cooper-Limestone Institute.
After the death of Professor Tankersley some changes were made in the school. The Military Unit was dropped, and Professor Sams went into other business. Owing to the fact that other schools were being conducted in the town, one on Logan Street and the Primary Department at the College, the enrollment had fallen off in the Seminary. In the Fall of 1897, Mr and Mrs W S Hall, who had been elected teachers in the Male and Female Seminary, came here from Chester County where they had been teaching. The Faculty that fall consisted of Professor W F McArthur, Principal, Mr W S Hall, Associate Principal, Mrs W S Hall and Miss Ora Thompson. Miss Thompson had charge of the First to Fourth Grades or Classes, Mrs Hall the Fifth to Seventh Grades or Classes, and Mr McArthur and Mr Hall the advanced Grades or Classes.
The School on Logan Street conducted in the Brick building now owned and occupied by Mr T J Cagle and his family, had been growing for several years. The first Principal was Rev F C Hickson, he was followed by Mr Dargan, who was succeeded by Professor R C Sarratt, and the last Principal was Professor W G Chambers. The Primary Department at the college claimed quite a number of children in this community too.
At this time no public funds were available for school purposes exceptthe proceeds of the three mills constitutional tax which was apportioned among the schools in proportion to the enrollment. This fund was totally inadequate to maintain free public schools for a longer term than two months, consequently resort was had to tuition fees, ranging from fifty cents a month for primary pupils to two dollars for advanced pupils.
In the Spring of 1898, Mr McArthur and Mr Hall concluded that Gaffney needed a better system of Public Schools. Mr McArthur contemplated retiring at the close of the session and devote himself to the management of his farm. Mr Hall then commenced a campaign in the interest of a system of Public Schools, then popularly called, "Graded Schools". Much opposition developed when he proposed an annual levy of two and one-half mills to support the system. Interesting communications were published in the Gaffney Ledger by Mr Hall, and by one or more of the oppornants [sic]. Several influential business men in the Community condemned the venture. A prominent educator advised in a published communication that a tax of two and one-half mills would be ruinous, and besides, "Graded Schools" were an offshoot of Yankee civilization, for which reason they should be condemned.
In spite of opposition, plans were made for organizing a public school district, and for holding an election for the purpose of submitting to the people the question of levying a special tax. Dr J F Garrett, J H Turner, and L G Byers constituted the board of trustees, and gave their active support in carrying out the plans. An election was held, and a majority of the voters cast their ballot for the tax levy. In the meanwhile Mr McArthur conveyed his interest in the Central School building and lot to Professor R O Sams. The trustees leased the building from Mr Sams for the session of 1898-1899 for forty dollars per month, and in September 1898, commenced the first session of the Gaffney Public Schools with Mr W S Halls as Superintendent, Rev F C Hickson as Principal, Mrs Edna Harris, Misses Carrie Sams, Mary Lynn and Eva Sams as teachers. A colored School was organized at Dunton Chapel, Colered [sic] Methodist Church, with Rev R C Campbell as principal. Public funds became exhausted around February 1899, and the school was continued as a "Pay School" for the remainder of the year. However, at the close of the free term approximately fifty per cent of the enrollment dropped out, parents refusing to pay tuition fees, and preferring to let their children go without "schooling" rather than pay tuition for them.
It may interest teachers now to know what salaries were paid in those early days. Mr Hall received sixty dollars per month. Mr Hickson forty or fifty and the other teachers thirty, during the free school term. Prior to that time twenty to twenty-five dollars per month was the usual salary for teachers holding second grade and first grade certificates.
During the time of the Male and Female Seminary there was organized a Literary Society. There being no public place in the town other than the School Building, The Society held the regular monthly meeetings in one of the rooms on the second floor. These meetings were looked forward to with much pleasure and enjoyment. The older citizens will recall the happy times they had attending and taking part in the programs. Also at that time there was a small but much prized Library cared for in the same room in which the club met. The Librarian would lend the books to those of the town desiring to read, and there were many who enjoyed this privilege. The ones who were so vitally interested in organizing the Library have passed to their reward: namely, Capt William Jefferies, Col J G Wardlaw, Prof R O Sams, Mr and Mrs W H Smith, Prof W F McArthur, and many others which space will not allow me to mention. When the Graded School was organized there was no space that could be used for the Library, so Mrs W H Smith offered to take the shelves and books to her home and they were put on a room on the second floor and when a Library was later organized and opened in a room in the City Hall, the shelves and the two hundred volumes were donated and removed to the City Hall, thus was laid the foundation and and the outcome of our present, much appreciated Public Library -- now the Carnegie Free Library.
At the present time there is the High School on East Frederick Street, Cherokee Avenue, West End, and Elm Street in addition to Central. One of the finest school plants to be found in the South. This includes the two brick buildings on South Granard Street erected for the Colored School. Soon there will be a demand for additional accommodations for both the white and colored schools, for as Gaffney grows so will the schools grow.
The Faculty has grown from five instructors to Sixty six and a Superintendent and the colord [sic] school from three instructors to eleven. The enrollment has grown from about two hundred twenty five to two thousand eight hundred and forty seven. This includes both white and colored pupils.
The following have been Superintendents: W S Hall, R O Sams, R C Sarratt, W C McArthur, W B West, J T Spears, William Francis, R M Ivins, J H Witherspoon, W C Taylor, and at this time W E Sawyer.
May the schools of Gaffney, "The Pearl of the Piedmont" continue to grow in the future as they have grown in the past thirty seven years.
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