Cherry Grove School: A Piece Of Benton County's History

Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist

Hello, Readers. To those who saw our big, fluffy snowflakes Sunday afternoon, weren't they pretty? Congratulations, NewsTribune, on your first year of publication! Also, hats off to you, Jason Tippitt, on your "Tradition: Pros and Cons" in the March 10 issue. I enjoyed it every much.

Cherry Grove School

Cherry Grove School was in Benton County, located about 10 miles from Camden, Tennessee, on Harmon's Creek Road.

It is unknown how the school arrived by the name Cherry Grove. Two guesses have been made. One, it might have been named for an earlier settler by the name Cherry. Another, it was built in a wild cherry grove. The first probably is the correct one. Anyway, we who loved the little school were satisfied either way

The first schoolhouse built was about a quarter-mile across the creek from the rock one that is standing today, March 10, 1999.

The first building was built before 1899, as I have a picture of it made in 1899 with the teacher and 26 children. I have a picture of 1921, then pictures from 1935 until 1941.

The new frame building was built in 1914 at the site of the rock building that now stands. The frame building faced the Flatwoods Road with the back to Beaverdam Road. On August 17, 1939, this frame building burned.

During the 1939-40 school year the children went to other schools: Eva, Farrar's, and Harmon's Creek.

The 1940-41 school year found Cherry Grove School open again with a rock building. It faced the forks of Beaverdam and Flatwoods Roads, going to Harmon's Creek. This was a happy year for us to be coming home.

Ernie Melton owned first a frame store, then a rock store on one side of the school. Arlie Melton lived on the other side of the school, and this is where we got our water: it was drawn out of the well by the bigger boys and poured into a bucket with one dipper, from which we all drank. Later we went to our own individual folding tin cups.

The boys' privy was out back, close to a small creek. The girls; was across the Beaverdam Road in the school. Christmas found us children along with the adults, all excited with exchanging gifts, a program by the children, and plenty of good food. Then everyone had a lively time with firecrackers, kersone ball throwing, and anvil shooting. During the school years, we had box suppers.

At the end of the 1957-57 school year, Cherry Grove School closed its door to consolidate with larger schools.

Now our little rock Cherry Grove School stands sad and empty. No little footsteps, no laughter, no tears and skinned knees, and no teachers asking, "Do you have you lessons for today?" The teachers were good and played a great part for forming our early education for the future.

On June 19, 1988, the school was full of laughter. We the children, now adults, were back to talk of old times and make a good and happy trip down Memory Lane. This reunion was for the years 1934-44. The reunion was called to order by "Miss Alice" (Mrs. Alice Cagle) ringing her famous bell, Miss Alene (Mrs. Alene Handerlight) had roll call. Twenty-seven schoolmates attended, with 61 people gathered in all.

Thought For The Week

Little things can bring so much happiness: a smile from a stranger, a caring touch, a friend's unexpected phone call, the laughter of children, I could just go on and on.

Cherry Grove School

This picture was made in the 1940-41 school year, the first year the school was held inthe rock building. In the picture are, front row, left to right, George Franklin Belyew, BettyeSue Holland, Roy Jean Corbitt, Christopher Pafford, Katherine Melton, Ardie Lee Mills, and Reba Brewer. Second row, left to right, Spenser (Junior) Mills, May Bates, Foster Melton, Linnie B. Brewer, Leslie Holland, Mary Jo Phifer, Clara Nell Melton, and teacher Sam Melton. Third row, left to right, Carnell Corbitt, Frances Holland, Allen Holland, Ruby Brewer, E.J. Berry, Fay Bates, Sylvia Mae Jackson, Imogene Melton, and Wilda Jean Holland. Back row, left to right, Mae Bates, Virginia Holland, Ruby Mills, Geraldine Bates, Mable Mills and Dorthey Corbitt.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

Return to Newspaper Column Index
Return to Benton County Genealogy page


Server space for the TNGenWeb Project is provided through the generosity of US Internet.

The TNGenWeb Project makes no claims or estimates of the validity of the information submitted and reminds you that each new piece of information must be researched and proved, or disproved by the weight of evidence.

You are welcome to copy information found on the Benton County TNGenWeb site for personal use, and share information with other researchers or genealogical organizations, but this information may not be sold or used in a commercial project without expressed permission. All material submitted by individuals for inclusion in this site remains their property.

Copyright 1998 - 2002