Silverhill School: A Reflection of
Dreams, Character, and Culture,
From 1898 to 1992
by Donald J. Sweeney
Photos will display a pop-up caption
when the cursor is held over the photo
and will enlarge when clicked.
Click each endnote number to be taken to that reference,
then click your browser's back button to come back to the article.
With the lure of promise for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as stated in our Declaration of Independence, many immigrants came to America during the years 1850 to 1925. Freedom in the choice and practice of a religion may have been another consideration, especially for the Swedish immigrants. Since 1544 the Lutheran faith has been officially mandated by the King and Parliament to be the religion of the Swedish people.1 According to one source, “ …more than 1,000,000 Swedes emigrated between 1860 and 1910, most of them to the New World.”2
Many of these Swedish immigrants came to Chicago and other neighboring cities while others went further west. In the later part of the nineteenth century, the economy of the country was in a depression, which followed the Panic of 1893. Chicago was also experiencing severe problems in labor relationships, the most notable being the Haymarket riot.3
In 1896 a group of Swedish immigrant businessmen in Chicago formed a land company with the intent of starting a Swedish Colony. Original members of the land company were: Oscar Johnson, Olaf Johnson, John Linden, Nels Nelson, A. A. Norden, Charles Smith, and F. A. Swanson. Later they were joined by (among others) C. O. Carlson, and J. O. Vallentin.4 This was to be an investment and the main interest of these people was in the establishment, survival, and success of the colony.
The location of the colony would be vital in attracting the potential buyers of the land in the colony, and members of the company went south looking for the best location. After searching many areas, these European immigrants “…came to Baldwin County lured by stories about a land of rich soil, plentiful forests, bountiful seas, and a mild climate.”5 This territory, named in honor of Abraham Baldwin, a well respected and dignified legislator for the state of Georgia, was organized as a county in 1809.6
After a previous trip during which land in St. Elmo, Theodore, Battles Wharf, and Fish River was examined, “…the group returned to Baldwin County and purchased land at Silverhill…. By June of 1896, deeds and abstracts were completed and recorded, and all transactions were wholly finished.”7
The colony was to be named after the Svea Land Company and would be called Svea. In researching this name through Swedish history, it was discovered that Svealand is a region in central Sweden. “It is a region of fertile plains and wooded heights, great forests, and many lakes. The region was the original home of the Svear, or Siones, a people who gave Sweden its name (Swedish Sverige, Svea Rike, meaning Svea Kingdom), and the nucleus from which Sweden developed politically and culturally and later secured its independence. Its economy is as diversified as its scenery, ranging from agriculture and manufacturing to forestry and mining.”8
After initial preparation of the colony site, Oscar Johnson and J. Linden returned in 1897 with the first family, Mr. And Mrs. Axel T. Westerlund and their daughter, Ester Louisa. Ester Louisa would become one of Silverhill School’s dedicated teachers who would teach for 41 years. Later that same year Mrs. Oscar Johnson, their two daughters, Elvera and Agnes, and others from Chicago moved to the new colony.
“In an early summer (1898) a young visitor in the colony, Ester Anderson, a cousin to the Oscar Johnson’s from Chicago, was asked to conduct a school during the summer for the colony children. This was conducted in a very new barn with a class of some eight or ten.”9
Recognizing a need for additional land office and school facilities in the colony, “The second structure built in Silverhill was the Land Company Office (now the Library). As more families moved to the area, a school building was necessary so the Land Company Building was partitioned to provide the first school room.”10
This first school building was constructed by Oscar Johnson and friends.11
The actual construction took place during 1898, and “The following winter Mr. Johnson paid a Miss Milly Anderson to teach in the Colony Office Building (the present Library) where Church and Sunday School were already being conducted.”12 From 1898 to 1902 the teachers were paid by the Svea Land Company,13 and each family in the colony was asked to support this effort by giving five dollars toward the teacher’s salary.14
An advertisement running in the Silverhill Nyheter at this time stated, “Dr. Lambert, County Superintendent of Public Schools, made Silverhill’s school a five minute visit one day. He was well pleased with Miss Sarah Carlson’s work as teacher … Silverhill has the finest equipped school in the county. The desks are made by the Andrews Manufacturing Co. of Chicago. Silverhill can well be proud of her school.”15
“In 1902, Miss Millie Anderson became the first ‘State’ paid teacher having about 25 pupils.”16 It was also in 1902 that People’s Supply Company was built, and it was in this store that children bought pencils, paper, and books for school.
By the school year 1903-1904, it was evident that a new school building would be needed if the colony were to continue providing education for all children in the community. “Silverhill was becoming quite a farming community. Many people were building lovely modern homes, and it was very important that Silverhill build a new school building. It was to be a two room, two story building.
School was held in the Baptist Church (first church organized, but second church built) until the completion of the school. The Land Company house was just too small.”17 “It was built with free donated labor, and Svea Land Company gave the money that was necessary for lumber and materials which was $552.00.”18
Some time just prior to or during the construction of the new two story school, the first “county” paid teacher, Mr. Owen, had so many children in the Land Company Office that it was necessary to split the school day into two sessions. In the morning session he taught grades 5 through 8, and in the afternoon session he taught primer through 4th grade. Times must have been very trying for Mr. Owen because, “Each day as he crossed the creek by the turpentine still he stopped at a secret place and cut a new switch.
It seemed that with the use the switch received it would not last more than one day. In those days, neither teachers nor parents spared the rod.”19
Following the hurricane in September of 1906, Silverhill welcomed “Miss Mary Feminere (Mrs. Killebrew) and Miss Pearl Campbell (Mrs. Ned Noonan) both of Bay Minette. In the spring of 1907 they organized the ‘School Improvement Association’ (PTA) with Mrs. T.A. Johnson (the former Mrs. Axel Westerlund) as the first President.”20 The handbook given to the members of the organization (and shared with me by Mrs. Alice Johnson) proudly proclaimed, “We, the people of Silver Hill, in order to better our school conditions and promote the general welfare of education, hereby organize and establish the School Improvement Association of
“This organization continued under the name of School Improvement Association until December 1925 when it was unanimously decided to change the name to Silverhill Parent and Teachers Association.”22
From 1907 to 1920 the community began to experience the influx of Bohemian immigrants who began to settle in the farming areas southwest of the school. This influx may have given Silverhill the population base that was needed to sustain a farming community. Following the hurricane of 1906 many of the earlier settlers went back North. “It was pioneering, however, in the fullest sense of the word. There was no railroad from Bay Minette to Foley in those days. Whatever was produced had to be hauled to Marlow and then transported by boat to Mobile, or else hauled to Daphne and from there to Mobile by boat. It was, of course, impractical to load in car lots and ship to northern markets as is now done; consequently, the farmers were dependent upon the Mobile market, which at that time was not sufficient to take care of production. The result was that while the new settlers were delighted with the climate, the productiveness of the soil, the pure water, etc., what they produced brought them no revenue; and most of the settlers, having no capital to rely upon, had to seek work outside of their farms and many were compelled to return to the north to earn a living.”23 The result was
that while the new settlers were delighted with the climate, the productiveness of the soil, the pure water, etc., what they produced brought them no revenue; and most of the settlers, having no capital to rely upon, had to seek work outside of their farms and many were compelled to return to the north to earn a living.”23
The Bohemian farming settlement continued to grow, and as with the first Swedish settlers, a school was needed to serve their children. The Silverhill School was somewhat of a distance to travel, so, “They decided to have a public school house built for their children, and a meeting house to gather in. One of the farmers, Anton Kulicka, a single man, decided to sell the farmers one acre of land for one dollar. They organized and called themselves the Czech Farmers Club…. All the lumber was sawed at the Heidelberg sawmill. All the farmers put in their share of work and then some. Their first school started in late 1920, with a teacher from the state. She had eight grades. The children sat on handmade benches.”24
In 1921 “When Silverhill became ‘Fair-minded’, the first Fair (organized by the Silverhill Community and Fair Association) was held as a ‘one-day, out door Fair’ up on ‘the hill’ (the Silverhill Oscar Johnson Memorial Park).”25 With Mrs. George D. Lundberg in charge of the Education Department of the fair, each grade (primer through 9th) was offered a first and second place award of 50 cents and 25 cents for the best and most complete education exhibit. The following year it was held in the schoolhouse, up stairs and down. The building proved too small, and too dangerous for such large
crowds, so the community decided to add two more rooms to the building and that brought two more teachers to the school.”26 “They just added the same thing that they had already built. They added another and put it right next to it. And upstairs they had a big sliding door, and they could open that up, you know, and get all the kids together up there, something like an auditorium.”27
It was during the years in which this building was used that most of those interviewed went to school. The conveniences we have in the schools today were present in the school, but in a primitive form. The students and teachers used candles and lamps for lighting, wood-burning stoves for heat, manual water pumps to supply drinking water, and outside toilets for restroom facilities.
“Quite often the farmers supplied their schools with one privy but not two, which was in some ways worse than having none at all, for it offered a tempting opportunity to the larger boys to commandeer it at recess time and allow no one else to use it. In the 1884-86 survey of country schools in Illinois there were 1,740 schools that had but one outhouse, and 1,180 that had none at all.”28
The Silverhill children had nothing to fear in this regard, because two double seaters were built for the school, but their location was a concern to some children. “The toilets, they were outdoors toilets, and the thing that I remember about them more than anything else was that they were covered with wisteria, and when the wisteria bloomed, the two odors didn’t mix too well.”29
The subjects remembered by George and Tina Lyrene and Esther Smith were Reading (from McGuffy’s Readers), Arithmetic, Geography, History, and Spelling.
When the students were not studying they were at recess playing their favorite games or eating lunch, which was carried to school in painted half-gallon lard buckets. Favorite activities for the girls were tag, jacks, jump rope, and hopscotch. It seems that the boys at the school liked to play shinney.30
When interviewing a former male student, the question was asked, “Do you remember shinney?” His response: “You bet I do! We used to make our own clubs, boy and how! … The reason we called it shinney was because if you didn’t move your shins out of the way, you’d say ‘shinney on your own side,’ and you’d hit 'em…. It was played in Silverhill. Every time we had a little recess or something we’d play shinney and of course baseball too…. We had to have a little extra time for that. We made our own clubs too now…. You’d take a little oak tree and bend it over and put some weight on top of it and then build a fire under the place where the bow is. And when that fire burned it would stay there, and that would make a good shinney club…(in talking about the tin can used for a puck) … shoot it between your legs too. If you don’t move, …we’d hit your shin. That’s why it got the name, shinney…. Only if they got in the way of that target I was after. We never hurt anybody. We were careful…. We had fun.”31
The teachers in the two story had a very wide range in personalities. One “…was a disciplinarian of the top order. She could look at you and make you feel like a worm.”32 Bob linden recalled his first teacher in this way: “The first one I had was Evelyn Wilkes, and she was so sweet I could have learned the whole world if she would have stayed.”33
One of the first group efforts of the community was to continue the religious traditions that were practiced before moving to the new colony. These early members of the colony had a strong faith in God, and this faith was practiced in the schools from the days of the first school until the time of the Supreme Court ruling (and thereafter). We “always had chapel once a week and sang out of 101 Psalms…. Had Bible readings five minutes everyday…. All classes came in for chapel…. Each Friday one class would be responsible for having chapel…. The teacher read the Bible or some student read the Bible, and they always read the Lord’s Prayer.”34 One former teacher recalled always saying a morning prayer by heart and a blessing before lunch.35
The original name of the colony, Svea, never really took hold in the surrounding areas because of the long standing reference to this location which was established a good while before the Svea Land Company was founded. “…This area since the War Between the States had been known as ‘Silverhill’ because of the workmen (former slaves) having all been paid by “silver money” at a turpentine still. This turpentine still had been built on a hill east of Silverhill Creek, just to the north of what is now Oscar Johnson Memorial Park. By 1896, when the town was founded, the name Silverhill had become so well established that it stuck.”36 “The town was incorporated in 1926, with Oscar Johnson as its first Mayor.”37 The town limits were originally bounded within a square mile, but this was quickly reduced to one-fourth of a square mile.38
From 1920 to 1930 the Silverhill community continued to gain in population, and again it was evident that a new school building would be needed if all children in this school district were to attend Silverhill School. Also occurring at this time was the move toward consolidation. “Well, Bibb Graves was governor at that time, and you know he was quite a school builder. He’s the one that had most of these schools built. He was the one that consolidated a lot of schools. Like we had a school, the Bohemian Hall, down there, and they consolidated it with this school here. He said that there was too many schools, so have a good school…. He was a good governor.”39
“The student bodies of these consolidated schools were large enough to give life to the schools, make them interesting, and provide competition that was thought to be a necessary stimulant to the learning process. Here the school children’s social life could be broadened by a wider acquaintance with their peers throughout the township, their intellects could be sharpened, and, in place of having scarcely enough boys to play ‘two-cornered cat,’ they could have enough time to have organized athletics…. There will grow up a unity. Each boy, having played and studied with other boys of the entire township, will be the stronger for it.”40 With two different ethnic groups so close together and going to separate schools, consolidation couldn’t have come at a better time.
In the early decades of the 1900’s, it was evident that the structure of the Baldwin County School System was undergoing changes, and one of the men responsible was S.M. Tharp. An Article in the Clarke County Democrat during the year 1931 revealed the following about Mr. Tharp’s impact on the county school system: “Schools have been consolidated…. There are at least 40 conveyances used for (transportation of students)…. Our corps of teachers in the county compares favorably with those of any other rural county in the state…. As for the school buildings and equipment, no county in the state can boast of neater, better buildings or better equipment.”41
S.M. Tharp, a native of Whatley and Clark Counties, came to Baldwin County in the fall of 1909, as principal of the Bay Minette School. He remained as principal all except one year, then joined the service as World War I began. He later returned and was appointed County Superintendent on the resignation of Mr. J.S. Lambert. Mr. Tharp remained as "our beloved County Superintendent of Education" until his retirement in 1953.
Governor Bibb Graves in his address to the legislature on June 7, 1927 stated that additional revenue sources were needed if education was to be adequately funded. Allowing the Tunstall Revenue Bill to pass in the House as a ploy to get this bill into the Senate, he quickly had his forces at work rewriting the bill when it arrived. As originally written the bill would not have significantly increased the revenue because the tax increases were placed on luxuries, nuisances, and tobacco products. Once in the Senate, “A modified measure was enacted placing taxes on coal, iron ore, mineral, railroads, telephone, telegraph and express companies, hydroelectric power, and numerous other commodities. With the bill virtually rewritten and passed by a vote of 21 to four in the Senate, the House had little choice but to accept the Senate’s new version.”42 Passage of this bill almost doubled the funds allocated to the Rural School House Building Fund, and it was with these newly generated revenues that Silverhill was able to build a new school.
In Bay Minette on Wednesday, July 18, 1928 at 10:00 A.M., the Baldwin County School Board authorized the following contract: “Severin and Pearson were awarded the contract to erect a building of five classrooms, office, library, two toilet rooms, auditorium, and two outside toilets at Silverhill, Alabama…. All for the sum of $20,388.35, the building to be completed by January 1, 1929.”43
When all the Bohemian children began attending Silverhill School, there were no major problems other than the language difficulty experienced by the Bohemian children. In an interview with Georgia Kucera, wife of long time Silverhill Mayor Ben Kucera, she recalled: “My two boys spoke Czech language as good as anybody up to the six years. When school started…you have to read in American language. Well they say, ‘Momma, we can’t do this in Czech language, like arithmetic and that…. We got to do it so we know what and how to do it in school.’ So the language kind of faded away.”44
In my interview with Paul Anderson and our discussion of the impact this school had on the community, he replied: “Well when they consolidated, the Bohemians were going to their school, and they all got together and that helped a lot…. Oh yes, the school helped the community.”45
In the decade 1920-1930, the years were prosperous for the community economy both in town business and farming. “Produce prices were bringing in a steady income. Cattle prices were on a steady upward swing…. The 20’s
brought to Silverhill an ice cream parlor, a news and magazine stand, a new grocery and a gift shop, a restaurant, and a row of tourist cabins. In 1923 Peter Forsman built the fine shipping platform, a feed store, and an egg and poultry business.”46
In 1928 the town was certainly moving full steam ahead. Off toward the horizon the town people had visions of prosperity, but what seemed to be prosperity from that distance instead turned out to be the Titanic of business, the Depression. If the move to consolidate the schools helped the community, the routing of the railroad through Robertsdale, the Depression, and World War II more than canceled that benefit.
From 1930 to 1945 the town would begin a downward spiral in business, and yet continue to grow as a community. Other cities and towns in this region were beginning to grow industrially, and the new industries were attracting workers from all over. The impact of this trend was two fold: first, many workers in Silverhill’s community began to work outside of the town; and secondly, the growth of these industries attracted many people from neighboring states, and in relocating, many of these families found homes in Baldwin County. It was at this point that the ethnic composition of Silverhill’s community and school began to change and become more integrated.
In discussing the nature of Silverhill’s economy and community during these years, Ted Forsman recalled that it was, “a different type of economy other than farming…. Before the war there wasn’t really any industry at all. Well then by the time the war got developed, naturally you had the Navy Yards down in Pensacola. You had Brookley Field in Mobile, and a lot of these people were working there. So then they were buying places out here, and people were coming in from various other parts of the country there buying, and the old times were just fading away. It just changed over…. There was some turnover before but not a whole lot…. It was primarily Swedish and Bohemians until the late 30’s.”47
One significant impact that these changes had on the school was the decrease in local revenues to support the school. In assisting the school during these years, the community had a “Silverhill Mid-Summer Picnic: This is always a jolly and well attended event which invites and attracts visitors from all over the county. The scene of the picnic is the beautiful woodland park just east of town.”48 “Every year that was a standing thing. The 26th of June every year. It was a community get-together…. The school was the center of everything except churches, you know. Of course the churches had their groups, but the school was the center of the whole community and we all worked together.”49 “We used to eat up at the park…. It was for the benefit of the school…. Oh mercy, that was a big day, big day. And we used to have the piano up there and we had all kinds of amusements, all kinds of entertainment, games for the kids. We made ice cream and so forth…. And they would make money and it would go to the school…. That was before they had Founder’s Day. And that was when you had to buy brooms. You had to buy everthing.”50
Following World War II, “in 1945, Principal Mrs. William B. Wingard and P.T.A. chairman Mrs. Albert Phillips (Grace Norman) founded the Silverhill Founder’s Day Banquet. It began in a small modest way and has grown to be one of the biggest occasions in Baldwin County.”51
“The first dinners were served in the school auditorium, beautifully decorated like a fairyland. Each table represented a month of the year. P.T.A. ladies served as hostesses, and high school and junior high girls were serving girls. This has continued throughout the years, except that now (1971) the tables represent ‘Nationalities of the World’ instead of the months of the year.”52
In a discussion of the history of Founder’s Day, Mrs. Elsie Chandler recalled, “I used to go and beg for this. You knew the farmers. Some had chickens…. Some had beautiful cabbage, and we’d get the cabbage from them. And those who had milk or butter, whatever we could beg we did. And we cooked it at the school. We had a big wood stove and then we’d get oil burners and haul them from some people’s houses. We’d put them in the hall and cook on that you know…. You had to because you couldn’t have enough, and we’d have a lot of people…. When we had P.T.A. meetings, that’s all we had…. We had to light up that stove and cook the coffee in there. And sometimes they’d forget to bring (wood) so we’d have to go out and chop wood before you could make a fire. But it was fun…. We had to make funds…. The county didn’t give the school much you know. And as it grew, more and more children would come (and) you needed more money because you had to buy a lot of stuff. They didn’t give you things.
You had to buy it…. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun…. And we ladies, we cooked it. We cooked the stuff. We’ve done all the decorating on the table. We waited on the tables. Of course we had the (serving) girls. We had the months of the year…. And then we had a nice party and we all performed on the program. So we were it…. Well till two years ago, I’ve always
performed…. And of course you were younger, and you had a lot of energy, and you were doing it for your kids.”53
In reflection over Founder’s Day, Bob Linden stated that, “It got its name because these folks that were the founders of this community and school, and they named it Founder’s Day…to support the school…. Silverhill is the only one that’s had Founder’s Day. Nobody has been able to compete with that, and that’s a big thing. It’ll be held the 4th Saturday of February…. That is one special occasion that is really something. Nobody has been able to match it yet.”54
From 1945 to 1954 the school was making do with a kitchen from which the students would receive a lunch tray and then return to the classroom to have their meal. The community population was still in a state of flux, but the school course of study had changed very little if at all. The 1948-1949 Silverhill Yearbook revealed the following: “Grades One and Two – Beside Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Spelling, we have a color book period with a weekly exhibit. We have devotionals and singing every day and rhythm orchestra twice a week…. Our latest project is a spring flower garden in which we take turns to work. Each sixth week we give a chapel program for the entire school. At this time we invite our parents and friends to come too… The History of the Junior II Class – In the
year of 1941, twenty-first grade children enrolled in Silverhill School. Of that number only three, Robert Shore, Billie Wigstrom, and Shirley Lindell are here now. Mrs. Phillips was our teacher.”55 Teachers in the school at this time were Mrs. Louise Lundberg (grades I and II), Mrs. Genie Ora Tharp Carlson (grade III), Mrs. Lena Mae Vick (grades IV and V), Mrs. Mildred Havel (grade VI), Rev. D.N. Ekerholm (Jr. I and Jr. II), and Mrs. Sadie B. Wingard (Jr. I and Jr. II).
On the very first school celebration of Veterans Day, November 11, 1955, the school which had come so far since the days of schooling in the Svea Land Company Office began to burn in the rear of the building. With the strong breeze blowing that day, it was not long before the fire was out of control. Rapidly the fire consumed the building, all records, and practically all of the school equipment. The devastation to the facility was evident, but the community and school leaders came together that weekend determined to preserve the school. “Those kids who thought they would have an extended holiday and be out of school for a while were to be disappointed as the true spirit of the people was to shine as the best was made of a bad situation. Through the effort of the county school officials and the local people the problem was addressed. Some of those people are here today. I first remember Mr. McGowan and Dr. McVay from this time. My father, Emory Johnson, was chairman of the Silverhill school trustees and they met in our home. I know that during this time Mr. McGown, Dr. McVay, Mr. Robinson, and the local trustees drank a lot of coffee and ate plenty of Swedish pastries but they along with the people here accomplished a miracle as Monday morning school was back in session without a day being missed. First, second and third grade classes were held in the Mission Covenant Church, forth, fifth and sixth grade met in the Baptist Church and seventh and eighth grade attended classes in the Town Hall.”56
The following “…summer the County built six modern classrooms, a principal’s office, a maintenance room and restrooms, but no cafeteria and no auditorium. A temporary cafeteria in a building about three blocks away was used for almost two years, when a cafeteria was built under the leadership of P.T.A. president, Mr. Jamie Beard, and his committee. The whole community banded together to get this cafeteria built. The late Mr. John Fugard (the first) of Woodhaven Dairy and Farm drew the plans. The P.T.A. financed it by a subscription list and giving fish fries, festivals, bazaars, and such. The County did an occasional contribution.”57
The population of Silverhill was continuing to grow with new homes and children, and once again more school space was needed for classrooms. “In 1964 the state added two new classrooms.”58 The Silverhill community would continue to grow, and more school facilities would be needed as a result of the desegregation of Baldwin County schools. In 1969 the school was integrated by the Black population without incident, although there was much apprehension on both sides. This was evidenced by the fact that Mrs. Hall, the first Black teacher at the school, backed her car into her schoolyard parking space as a precaution should any type of “emergency” arise.59
Mrs. Gladys Phildius in recalling the experiences of integration said, “Now you can ask Mrs. Patrick (Mrs. Hall). She is one funny comedian, laugh and carry on. I was always good friends with her. You didn’t know Mrs. Quinney did you? …(About Mrs. Quinney) our kids were scared of them and they were scared of (Mrs. Quinney)…. April…she had this stomach ache and it kept on. And I brought the child up to my house and I talked to her. And I said, ‘Listen, she’s got a deep voice, but she’s not as bad as she sounds, and she’s not going to eat you’. I talked a long time to the kids, and you know she became the pet of that teacher…. April just loved her.”60
In referring to the busing of the Black children, Mrs. Elsie Chandler said, “I just don’t think that was the proper way…. I felt sorry for the children. It was hard on the little children. They were just taken from their own hometowns and brought up here to a strange place…. It just wasn’t right…. But this way they were forced…. But now the kids don’t think anything about it, but I imagine it was hard on our children too. But of course children will accept it easier than grown-ups.”61
By the year 1971-1972, Silverhill School included “…a principal, eight teachers, eight rooms, a principal’s office, a secretary’s office, a maintenance room, restrooms, a cafeteria, a snack bar. A storage room, covered walkways, two hallways, but no auditorium for basketball, programs, rainy days, Founder’s Day dinners, Christmas, and Spring Festivals, and so many other things.”62
From the years 1972 to 1978 the expansion of Silverhill’s “bedroom” community continued. During a special school board meeting on September 12, 1973 the members agreed to have a temporary classroom built on the campus. This building is now (1992) being used as the school library. In March 1976 plans were submitted for the construction of two new classrooms which would be used by the junior high grades, and in the school year 1978-1979,
the original Bohemian Hall used by the early Czechoslovakian children was moved onto the school campus to provide additional classroom space. “Silverhill School had a real need for more space, so we decided to sell the Little Hall to Silverhill School for one dollar. Arrangement were made to move the building to the Silverhill School campus, and today (1992) it is being used every day for various activites.”63
In 1981 a new school cafeteria was built and dedicated. In his address to those present for the dedication, Carl Johnson acknowledged much change over the history of the school. He concluded his remarks by expressing his appreciation to those responsible for the realization of yet another dream for Silverhill School. “Today we are here to dedicate the new cafeteria. Being a former student of this school, a parent with children attending this school, a resident of Silverhill and a member of the Baldwin County Board of Education, gives me an unusual opportunity. On behalf of the people of Silverhill, its students and myself, I want to say thank you to Dr. McVay and Mrs. Smith, the county school administration, former school board members Mr. Bill Donaldson, Mr. Paul Cleverdon, and Mr. John McMillan who worked on this project and to the current school board members for making this day possible.”64
The dream of Silverhill School is part of a much larger vision; however, in studying the history of the school much can be known about that greater vision and those who held it. Though it has taken a form somewhat different from that which was originally conceived, the dream held by the founders of the Svea Land Company is continuing to grow. Being part of that dream, Silverhill School is a reflection of the many cultures which have contributed to the formation and development of the community. It is also a reflection of the character of those in the community that have had a lifelong commitment to the fulfillment of that dream.
Written for Dr. Joseph W. Newman
University of South Alabama
Spring Quarter, 1992.