Highland County Virginia - Schools & Professions
As to this week's look back at Highland County, Virginia schoolhouse, that is unknown. But the earliest teacher of whom we know about was William Steuart. Steuart taught regularly from the time of his arrival about 1755, and appeared to have been well educated, especially in mathematics.
The commissioners for these districts were Andrew J. Jones, Andrew H. Byrd, John Graham, charles Steuart, Jared Armstrong of W., Henry Seybert, Emmanuel Arbogast, John Bird, Benjamin B. Campbell, David H. Bird, William W. Fleming and David Stephenson. Each commissioner was bonded in the sum of $2,000.
The schoolhouse of 1850 at Valley Center was described as a log-and-daub cabin fourteen by sixteen feet in size. The space left vacant by a log from the sidewall was covered with greased paper fastened to stays and occasionally repaired. No light could enter the room except through the door. Heat was afforded by a fireplace and occasionally the flames would take hold of the jamb. The school topics was wholly in the three R's and geography, even with the limited range there was no uniformity in the books. Head tickers were given for proficiency in spelling. After WEbster's blueback speller and reader was outgrown, anything else was used as a reader. One boy even brought a copy of Daniel Boone. Pike's Arithmetic was the law and gospel in mathematics.
There was a school near Doe Hill of an earlier date as it was described by the late James W. Blagg as having backless puncheon seats. On each side of the room was a writing board supported by pegs inserted in auger holes. The ink was of copperas and maple bark. There were some slates but no blackboard. The books were Walker's Dictionary, Dilworth's Speller, the English Reader, and Pike's Arithmetic. In 1840, geography was introduced and a few pupils studied grammar. There was only one recess and that was at noon. Most of the studying was said aloud. The tuition was one dollar month to each pupil, and during this three months the teacher sometimes "boarded around." The qualifications of many of the teachers appeared to have been better than the schoolhouses. The teachers severe discipline was upheld by the parents, yet the unsatisfactory instructor could be discharged.
Among the earlier teachers were James McNulty, William C. Holcomb, Jacob Bird, David H. Bird, James Slaven, William Lowery, Mitchell Meadows, william S. Thompson, John Bradshaw, Patrick Maloy, Joel Hidy, John A. Hidy, William Life, James Ervine, George Dameron and S. C. Lindsay.
Some teaching was done by Presbyterian and Methodist ministers. Another effort in the direction of better schooling was the Highland Academy at Monterey, authorized in 1850, with a capital stock of not over $15,000. The trustees named in the Act of Assembly were W. W. Fleming, Adam Stephenson, Jr., Dr. G. N. Kinney, W. c. Jones, and Jacob Hiner. The Doe Hill Academy was established about 1872 by W. R. McNeer, and comprised a two-storied schoolroom and a boarding hall. Its doors were open a number of years and it educated many young people. STill another and much later effort was an academy under Presbyterian auspices near Hightown. After doing good work for several years, the building was closed. The high schools of Monterey and Crabbottom afford broader local facilities then the outh of Highland have either afforded.
The only newspaper Highland county has ever possessed before 1911 was established at the county seat in 1877 by Witz and Jordan and called The Highland Recorder. Witz and Jordan came to Highland from Franklin, West Virginia, with the presses and type of their defunct "Pendleton News." It passed through nine changes of ownership.
It was the rise of the "Whig" party in the 1830's, Highland was Democratic. During the third years prior to the great war, the new party had a very strong following. The reconstruction period had the effect of bringing the greater mass of the Southern whites into the Democratic party. Accordingly there were few Republicans in Highland prior to the Readjuster movement of 1880. The subsidence of the Readjuster party as a distinct organization left a large share of its followers wear of the Blue Ridge in the Republican ranks. Since then the two great political parties had been rather evenly represented in Highland, although in local elections Democratic candidates were more frequently chosen.
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