The 1850 census of District 9, Dekalb County,
a listing of a large group living in one dwelling with the following
explanation in the occupations column, which
I quote here, the items in [ ] being my addition:
"From the 20th line on this [page] to the 6th line on the next [page] ware Students at Oakland Institute Study being their 1st June 1850. Said Scholl was taught in 14th District but the teachers (viz) W C Ghormley and R C Saunders- the former of which is the head of the family with whom numberd had removed to the 9th District before the information was obtained hence they are numbered in the 9th District"
Surely the census taker could have improved his spelling if he had stopped to attend a few classes there. In 1850 the 9th civil district where the teacher and students were living was on the west side of the Caney Fork River, and the school was in the 14th district in Sligo on the other side of the River. They had recently moved to a place nearer to Smithville. This school was a private [boarding?] school, charging a fee to attend, that served as a college for the older students, and as a regular school for the children.
The following is a listing of that household, listing the teachers and their families along with all the school's students living there, but according to the history, there were more students enrolled:
|Name||age||sex||occupation||where born||attended school?|
|W C Ghormley||26||M||school teacher||AL|
|Elizabeth J "||22||F||TN|
|Owen D P "||8/12||M||TN|
|E J Oldfield||16||F||TN||student|
|Margaret S " [Oldfield]||15||F||TN||student|
|S S Tinsley||18||M||TN||student|
|B A Cameron||18||M||TN||student|
|W D F Barnett||22||M||TN||student|
|R F Barnett||21||M||TN||student|
|E C Rhea||22||M||TN||student|
|W T Rhea||20||M||TN||student|
|J L Boyd||25||M||TN||student|
|A S Holmes||22||M||TN||student|
|F N Allen||15||M||TN||student|
|J P Tittsworth||21||M||TN||student|
|Amanda J Webb||27||F||TN||student|
|Martha A Adcock||16||F||TN||student|
|W M Perkins||18||M||TN||student|
|John K Bayn||23||M||TN||student|
|R C Saunders||24||M||teacher||TN|
The following text is taken from A Bicentennial History of
DeKalb Co., TN, by Thomas Gray Webb, pages 292-293, with
Another teacher from the North was William C. Ghormley, born in Illinois about 1824 and the head of a school called Union Institute, which was attended by a number of DeKalb Countians. Among them was John K. Bain, who has described his experience there. After returning from the Mexican War, in November 1849 at the age of 22, John K. began school
"at a place 20 miles from home, near Falling Water Creek, called Union Institute. The teacher's name was William Gormly, a Campbellite Preacher. In February the next five-month term began ... Calvin Rhea and myself boarded at Jim Willis's, one mile from the school. Rhea was a good and smart man, so we studied hard and learned fast... At the end of the term we had an examination, also a brabecue and speaking, over 1000 people were present. Rhea and I had great speeches pretending we were candidates for the legislature, so we opposed each other, abusing each other for one half hour each. Previously I had worn only jeans clothes, but on that day I wore my claw-hammer broadcloth coat, high-heeled boots and nail-keg hat, surprising the whole school. After the speaking the girls came around and bragged on my speech and fine clothes (there were about 40 young men and 20 grown girls in the school)."
In 1850 Mr. Ghormley changed the name of the school to Oakland Institute and moved it to about a mile east of Smithville, at the big spring where the present Evins Mill Road meets Highway 70. At that time he had pupils whose ages ranged from ten years to thirty years; Mr. Ghormley himself was only twenty-six. He was assisted that year by Richard C. Sanders, and the next year by his former pupil, John K. Bain. Mr. Ghormley apparently felt that he was not making enough money teaching and preaching and is reported to have engaged in horse-trading, driving the animals south to sell them. He finally went bankrupt and left the county before the war. Actually he had a fairly high income for the time; his pupils paid about $2 a month tuition, and in 1850 his school had two teachers, forty pupils, and $700 yearly income.
... By 1860 ... Mr Ghormley's Institute was gone...
[copyright 1995 by Thomas Gray Webb, Smithville, TN]