In the settlement and growth of Franklin County very little attention was paid to education until villages with their academies became established. No adequate system of free schools existed prior to the late Civil War. The first effort to establish an academy within the county was made in the General Assembly of the State by an act passed November 22, 1809 establishing Carrick Academy. Wm. Metcalfe, James Hunt, James Cunningham, Richard Callaway, Christopher Bullard, and Geo. Taylor were constituted a body politic and corporate by the name of the Trustees of the Carrick Academy of the county of Franklin. The academy was established on the present site of the Winchester Normal but when it was first organized and by whom first taught cannot be stated. Prof. Witter conducted the school for some years prior to 1827 or 1828 when the school building was consumed by fire. In 1829 the trustees contracted with Wallis Estill to erect a new building which cost $629. They then employed Prof. Robert Witter a son of the former professor to teach the school. In 1855 a brick building (which forms a part of the present building) was erected at a cost of about $5,000. And in 1865 it was leased to the Bishop and Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Tennessee for ninety-nine years. A school was opened under the auspices of said church and continued about two years when the lease was surrendered back to the trustees who gave it. The war coming on, the academy was neglected for a series of years and in 1871 Prof. R. A. Clark took charge of it and in 1873 he was joined by Prof. J. M. Bledsoe and together they conducted the school until 1878. Carrick Academy was for males only.

Referring to early times it is found that among the very early teachers were Jonathan Burford whom it is thought taught the first school in Winchester in a log cabin near the Davidson Spring; and Rev. Andrew S. Morrison who taught in a cabin on the south side of Little Mountain. Abram Shook and M. K. Jackson were also among the early teachers. The Locust Hill Female Seminary two miles southeast of Salem was a flourishing school for many years before the late war. There was also an academy at Salem which is now used by the free school. The Acme Academy at Cowan was chartered in 1882. It has an average of seventy pupils. The Sherwood Academy was chartered in 1881 and is doing a good work in that new and romantic village.

The Winchester Female Academy was founded by Rev. W. A. Scott of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The building was erected in 1835 and the school opened in December of the same year. Rev. Scott and his wife were the first teachers. They continued about three years and were succeeded by Rev. T. C. Anderson two years. He was followed by Rev. Biddle who taught until his death which occurred about 1856. About this time the name of the academy was changed to that of The Robert Donnell Institute and the faculty changed frequently thereafter. Profs. Syler and Crisman taught at different periods and after the war Rev. McKinzie taught and was followed by Prof. A. M. Burney. In the early sessions of this academy there were from 80 to 120 pupils in attendance and the number afterward increased to about 160 and finally decreased so that the school had to be closed for want of patronage. The building is now used by the free school.

The Winchester Normal for both sexes was chartered in May 1878. Capt. B. Dufield, J. L. Baugh, W. W. Garner, G. G. Phillips, T. J. Gaines, John Simmons, James H. Davis, John Kaserman and H. G. Hampton were constituted a body politic and corporate under the name of "The Winchester Normal." At the organization Capt. Dufield was elected president of the board of trustees and Prof. J. W. Terrill was chosen president of the faculty and teacher of logic, mental, and moral philosophy, etc.; Prof. R. A. Clark as teacher of mathematics, astronomy, etc.; and Prof. J. M. Bledsoe as teacher of Greek, Latin, etc. In May 1878 the trustees of Carrick Academy by authority of the county court leased to the trustees of the Winchester Normal the buildings and premises of the former academy for a period of fifteen years; and in December 1881 a lease was made for fifty years more to commence at the expiration of the first lease. This school was opened in September 1878 with 220 students including 160 free-school pupils leaving only 60 who paid tuition. The free school pupils were taken out at the end of the first year. The Normal has met with excellent success and it is deservedly popular. From 60 paying students of the first year the number has increased to 417 which were in attendance during the last year. Prof. Bledsoe retired from the faculty in 1881 and at present the faculty consists of President James W. Terrill, Prof. R. A. Clark, Miss Matt Estill, Miss Maud Terrill, Mrs. Colie Terrill, Miss Lillis Bledsoe, and Miss Fannie Stewart.

The history of the Mary Sharp College has been ably written and published in The Illustrated Baptist from which is quoted a few extracts. This college located at Winchester "was founded in 1850 for the purpose of giving to the daughters of the South a more thorough and practical education than could be obtained in any school for girls North or South." Two of the men most active and efficient in securing a departure from the custom of superficially educating girls were Rev. J. R. Graves, the well-known Baptist divine, now of Memphis but then of Nashville and Col. A. S. Colyar now a distinguished member of the bar at Nashville but at that time a citizen of Winchester.

In the latter part of 1849 the services of Z. C. Graves of Kingsville, Ohio, were secured. He was widely known as a most successful educator and brought with him the entire faculty of the institution he left; Prof. W. P. Marks for the chair of mathematics, his wife, Mrs. Graves for Latin and belles-lettres and his sister Mrs. Marks for the preparatory department. The professor of music was Johann Svensen of the Conservatory of Music at Stockholm in Sweden. Two years after, Prof. Marks was succeeded by a brother of Mrs. Graves, Prof. G. D. Spencer. Save the music department the teachers were all of one family and a most harmonious and efficient band they were. Prof. Spencer taught until his death in 1864.

In January 1850 school was commenced in a commodious private dwelling which was purchased for a boarding house for the embryo college the families of the faculty living in the same house. The pupils were at first less than twenty and the teachers five. At the close of the year the students were more than a hundred and the school was removed to the service and basement rooms of the Baptist Church where it continued to be taught for two years whence at the beginning of 1854 it removed to its permanent quarters in the main building of the present college edifice. A thorough course of study was prepared in which mathematics had a prominent place, English brandies, also the Latin and Greek languages with an extended and thorough drill in logic and metaphysics. The study of the Greek language was unknown at that time in any institution for girls.

The name of the college was at first the "Tennessee and Alabama Female Institute" but when the charter was procured it was changed to Mary Sharp College to perpetuate the memory of the estimable lady who had made the largest donation for this first real "woman's college" in this or any other land, Mrs. Mary Sharp, the childless widow of an extensive planter in the vicinity of Winchester. The college edifice consists of a main building three stories high, 80x40 feet with two wings each 24x40 feet two stories high and a laboratory 34x18 feet at the rear the whole making twenty-five rooms for teaching purposes.

The prosperity of the Mary Sharp College has been unexampled. Commencing with less than twenty pupils in ten years it had a patronage of 320 from eleven different States. The war left nothing but the bare walls of the college edifice standing. The expense of repairs fell heavily on President Graves who paid it out of his own pocket. In 1865 pupils began to return and although other prominent institutions of learning have sprung up in the immediate vicinity this college has made rapid progress and stands at the head of female colleges and is able to prove that it is the pioneer college established for the higher education of woman. That is it is the first college founded in America for women where Latin and Greek are a sine qua non for graduation. At the last commencement 1886, the Mary Sharp College graduated a class of nineteen students. Over 5000 young ladies (students) have attended this college since its commencement. The college is now in a flourishing condition and has the following able faculty: Z. C. Graves LL. D., president; A. T. Barrett LL. D., Prof. J. M. Bledsoe, Prof. C. F. Utermoehlen, Prof. E. M. Gardner, Miss Florence Griffin A. M., Miss Mary Taylor, Miss Nannie Henderson A. B., Mrs. K. C. Barrett, Mrs. J. M. Bledsoe A. B., Miss Nannie Huff, Mrs. A. C. Graves A. M., A. T. Barrett secretary. During the thirty-six years existence of this college. Dr. Graves the founder thereof has been its constant president.

Gen. Leonidas Polk (founder of the University of the South) a native of Tennessee but late bishop of Louisiana first conceived the idea of concentrating the interests of the Southern dioceses of the Protestant Episcopal Church upon one great school of learning. In 1856 he issued an address to the bishops of the Southern States proposing to establish a university upon a scale that would reach the demands of the highest Christian education. Receiving the proposal with favor the bishops of the South and Southwest with delegates assembled for the first time on Lookout Mountain on July 4, 1857 and decided to establish the proposed university. After many places were scientifically examined Sewanee, Tennessee was chosen on account of its healthfulness and delightful and picturesque scenery as the site of the university. A charter was soon afterward procured from the State of Tennessee granting the fullest power and a domain of 10,000 acres of land was secured for the university.

An endowment of nearly $500,000 was obtained and the corner-stone laid with great ceremony. Offices and buildings were erected when the late civil war broke out and put a stop to all further operations. At the close of the war little remained except the university domain. A movement was inaugurated in 1866 to revive the work. Funds were generously contributed in England and in September 1868 the trustees were enabled to put the university in operation upon a moderate scale. The prosperity of the institution from its opening until 1874 was on the rapid increase. At the latter date its numbers fell rapidly in consequence of the financial depression throughout the country from which it did not recover until about 1880. Since then it has grown rapidly. The following is a list of the public buildings of the university with cost of construction annexed: St. Luke's Hall $45,000; Hodgson Library $12,000; Thompson Hall $12,000; St. Augustine Chapel and Quadrangle $70,000; Temporary building 1866 $15,000. The school opened in September 1866 with fifteen pupils and closed its recent term June 30, 1886 with 281 pupils. The faculty consists of Rev. Telfair Hodgson D. D., Dean, and Revs. George T. Wilmer D. D., W. P. DuBose S. T. D., Thomas F. Gailor M. A. S. T. B., Sylvester Clark, F. A. Shoup D. D., and gentlemen, Gen. E. Kirby Smith, F. M. Page M. A., Greenough White M. A., B. L. Wiggins M. A., W. A. Guerry M. A., J. W. S. Arnold M. D., and Dr. Albert Schafter as professors; Rt. Rev. John N. Galleher D. D., Bishop of Louisiana and Rt. Rev. J. F. Young D. D., Bishop of Florida, as lecturers; J. W. Weber instructor in book-keeping and Robert W. Dowdy, second lieutenant Seventeenth Infantry United States Army, commandant of cadets and instructor in military science. Sewanee the site of the university is on the elevated plateau of that name, a spur of the Cumberland Mountains. Its elevation above the level of the sea is about 2000 feet and about 1000 feet above the surrounding country and its climate is unsurpassed. There are many elegant residences and Sewanee and University Place combined contains about 1000 inhabitants.

Under the present free-school system the educational interests of the county have reached the following statistics to wit: Scholastic population, white males 2,626; white females 2,346; colored males 690; colored females 530. Grand total 6,192 of which 4,100 attended school in 1885. The number of free schools are as follows: White 62; colored 9. During the last school year there were 38 white male and 28 white female and 9 colored male and 3 colored female teachers employed at an average compensation of $30 per month. The length of the school year was four months. About $17,000 are annually expended in the county for the support of the free schools.

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886

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