By Finis Sims 1986
This account has to do with the life and times in Currituck from 1910 to about 1930, when I married and moved away. I hereby acknowledge the assistance given by Idell Scott Green and Lura Young Taylor with certain dates and other specifics. 1910 the place was already being referred to as "Currie", which to me is unfortunate. Tradition has it that the earliest settlers to the area were originaly from Currituck, North Carolina (Not "Currie Tuck"). Currituck, N. C. is situtated in Currituk County, on Currituck Sound. I believe these newcomers would have been appalled had they known that their beloved Currituck would suffer such perversion.
Oh, I know the story that Mr. J. T. Dillon, evidently the first postmaster, changed the name to Currie "because the community had outgrown the tuck", wherever that was. I believe the earliest settlers would never have thought of such a thing. Having endured the perils of wilderness and streams to get here; and feeling like pilgrims in a "foreign land" they could think of no better name for the place than that of the place whence they came. I say "Fooey on Mr. Dillon"; I think he was a little lazy.
My family moved to Currietuck just prior to my sixth birthday and the appearance of Halley’s Comet. My first school was *Davidson School, which I suppose was within the bounds of Currietuck after they let the tuck out. It was a one-room structure housing eight grades. Miss Lottie Hunt was the teacher. She was a no-nonsense lady who did not fail to apply the rod when appropriate. She nearly scared me to death one day when she flogged a big girl named "Vee" for giving her a little back talk. The first real lesson I learned there was that when she assigned homework she meant, "Get it".
Davidson School survived two more years and was absorbed by Good Hope School, situated in the very heart of Currietuck. The store, which had ceased to be a postoffice, was just across the road from the school ground. Mrs. Green informs me that following Mr. Dillion, Mr. Will Judy was the proprietor for a few years. Colman Draper operated the store when I entered school at Good Hope. He was succeeded by Gus Hensley, and he by Harry Isbell. The store building burned in 1936 was rebuilt by Mr. Isbell and leased for two years to Pickett Thomas, who employed J. T. Davidson to operate it for awhile. Later Palmer Sims and wife, Lorene acquired the property and operated the store until their retirement, at which time they closed the store.
Now back to Good Hope School. It was a three room structure, but there four teachers, so Mrs. Taylor informs me. As a third-grader in 1912 I seem not to have been aware of that arrangement. Two teachers instructing classes in same room at the same time! Seems a bit odd, but stranger things have occurred. Neither do I recall the particulars relative to the remodeling of the old building, nor the subsequent change in the name of the school to that of "Union Academy"—a name change I have always appreciated. It is always with pride that I have been able to inform those who ask that I attended Union Academy during most of my elementary and high school years.
My teacher in the third grade was Miss Irma Applewhite and Mr. Byrd Hall was principal. I do not recall who the other teachers were, but I believe that one of them was Miss Rodgie Owens, for she was my teacher in fourth grade arithmetic. I shall long remember my struggle to learn the multiplication tables—forward, backward, and inside out. She probably didn’t weigh 100 pounds, but no giant awed me more.
Later on I learned that Mr. Hall was a no-nonsense fellow, too. People used to say he was hired to restore order and to run something other than a courtin’ school. The boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other. The "courtin" didn’t cease however. Notes were exchanged, usually through a third person, and were replied to the next day or late the same afternoon. Failure to receive an answer within a reasonable length of time signified that the courtship was over, and the jilted party, after a period of heartbreak, found another heartthrob. Many lasting relationships did develop, however; and where death did not intervene, golden anniversaries are being celebrated.
The Class of 1912 of Good Hope School
The boundaries of Currietuck are not clearly defined. They appear to be as follows: The north fork of the Forked Deer River on the south; Mud Creek on the west; The Dyer-Yorkville Road on the north; and an ill-defined line from Davidson’s Sawmill to the site of Vincent Springs Camp Ground on the east. Lovesick swans were generally unwelcome beyond these limits. The coming of the T-model Ford seems to have broken down these more or less natural barriers between communities; and by common consent, young gentlemen deemed it safe to invade once-hostile territories like Hooten, Walnut Grove, Beech Grove, and Bells Chapel.
Dyer was a little off-limits for us country boys, or so we believed; therefore we didn’t often try to stake out any claims there. I think we believed, erroneously or not, that city girls preferred city slickers. It was reported that the Dyer Station boys carried on sort of vendetta against the boys from Wilson’s Wood Yard.
Life was not boring in Currituck, though. We worked hard during the week raising cotton and corn, but on the week-ends there were places to go and things to do: a party, ice cream supper, or a baseball game in somebody’s cow pasture. The parties sometimes turned out to be square dances, but some parents who thought it to be a bit sinful frowned on dancing.
Baseball on Sunday afternoon was O. K. if done without too much "Yelling and hollering". Teams were selected by choosing sides on the spot. The equipment was hand-made, even the balls and bats. Some of us had gloves; some didn’t but that didn’t matter. We had fun anyway. The rules by which we played were what the big boys said they were. We had heard of rulebooks, but never saw one. It was the same way at school. There were no coaches, no managers, and no organized teams. The players paid for whatever equipment we had who "chipped in" to buy a baseball, a bat, and a catcher’s mitt and mask. Basketball and football were already catching on in the city schools, but in Currituck baseball was THE GAME.
What did the girls do? Very little in the way of athletics. They either watched or cheered the boys playing baseball, or walked arm in arm about the campus. Apparently it was not considered lady-like for girls to participate in athletics.
A deep-well pump provided water at school. With the spigot turned up and a volunteer to do the pumping a satisfactory fountain appeared. Toilet facilities were outside structures and, by modern standards, could only be described as AWFUL. But since that was what we had at home, nobody complained.
In the first three decades of this century Baptist and Methodist predominated in Currituck, and perhaps still do. Histories of Clear Creek Baptist and Good Hope Methodist are, I believe, are being prepared for Homecoming ’86. Some of the families who were nucleus of Clear Creek Church were, as I recall, those of Oscar T. Fletcher, Ermon Davidson, Hollis James, Thius Crouse, and Harvy Duck. Of course there were others. I realize the danger in naming names, for there are always other families meriting recognition.
Families of the Methodist Church easy to recall were those of Joe and Ernest Hall, John and Burrell Fisher, Mrs. Pitt, Sam Sims, Julius Nee, Sam Davidson, and of course others of equal significance.
Vincent Springs Camp Ground should be mentioned. It was not a church in the usual sense. As indicated, it was a campground to which a number of families, mostly Methodist, prepared each summer for a ten-day revival. The meeting place was a large tabernacle—a roof suspended on sturdy post. Sawdust covered the ground underneath. About one half of the pews were seats with backs; the rest were bench-like structures without backs. Within a shady grove nearby a number of "cabins" housed the families who were the nucleus of the organization. Food was provided in a dining room at the north end of the grove. Water was obtained from a spring across the road.
Noted preachers from as far away as Oklahoma were recruited. Among them were the Iricks and the immortal Bud Robinson. They attracted hugh crowds. Their messages were soul stirring, emphasizing the importance of a "second definite work of grace" and a clean life, characteristic of the Nazarenes. The Tabernacle burned in 1932; was rebuilt in 1933, but was abandoned two years later. Why? Well, good institutions sometimes run their course; but, like good people who die, they leave a salutary influence.
In Currituck, neighborliness was the norm. If the head of a family was ill at planting time, neighbors came with plows and teams and planted his crop. If he died they lovingly "laid him out" then called the undertaker. The elderly were cared for in the homes of their children. There was no nursing homes, no Social Security or Medicaid. "Retirement" was a word seldom used. Like McArthur’s old soldiers, they "just faded away". For those of us whose occupations took us far afield, the remembrance we share is that people cared in Currituck. They still care.
*Davidson School-- This is a new story for me, but upon investigation I found that the school was located on a rise some where on the farm of Mr. Tom Davidson. This farm location is on the Dyersburg and Trenton Road, bound on the west by Nee Road on the east by Stockton Road, on the south by Dyersburg and Trenton Road. Mr. and Mrs. Pike Sims purchased this farm many years ago, soon after their marriage. They lived in the old school building for a time while their home on the highway was being built. It was a one room building with two chimneys, evidently a fairly good size building. Upon completion of their new home the old building was demolished. Thanks to Mrs. Laverne Sims for passing this information on.
Union Academy School was known as Good Hope School in its beginning. It would be interesting to read the names of all the teachers that have taught there. I suppose no one knows of them all. I have searched and inquired around with people older than myself and the following list I have come up with: Byrd Hall, Gladys Vincent Hall, Bernice McCaslin, Neva Green, Ruby Jones, Hollis Fletcher, Clara Fletcher, Lura Young, Edith Holt, Paul Green, Jesse Duck, Edgar Duck, David Halliburton, Rachel Boswell, Mattie Lou Younger, Geraldine Horner, Lee Hall, Charles Mize, Mary D. McIlwaine, Vonnie Hall, Finis Sims.
A special thanks to all those who have helped in getting these names together. TO YOU I SAY THANKS. If some one knows of others who need to be on the list, please contact me,
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Halliburton and Asa McCaslin have furnished pictures. In the picture of the school student body, I am sure no one living today is able to identify anyone but if you have this same picture in your collection see if anyone is identified. If so please contact me. .
When I started trying to get thoughts together to write some thing about Union Academy I was very limited as to what I could write. Mr. Sims’ account of "Remembering Currituck" said it all far better than I could ever do. Mr. Sims is no longer with us, wish I could have asked his permission to use it, but he left no family. In preserving this account for the generations to come we give all credit to him. Thanks Mr. Sims for a job well done.
submitted by Charles McCollum