MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TENNESSEE
Southside Community has played an important
part in the educational development in Montgomery County since it was first
settled. It has kept pace with state educational progress and sent leaders
to assist in it. Its schools have served as models and have been called
"the mother of vocational training for its students. "
Collinsville, Tennessee, later known as Southside, Tennessee, was settled by a family by the name of Collins. As other people settled there, there was an appeal for a school. A log schoolhouse was built on the land, now owned by Mrs. H. M. Workman. This building was also used for religious purposes until a church could be built.
According to a letter written June 4, 1876, from Mrs. Betty Batson Lyle to her sister, Mrs. Kitty Batson Corban, who lived at Corbandale, Tennessee, free school in Collinsville, later known as Southside, began on June 3, 1876. Mrs. Lyle wrote, "Our free school commenced yesterday with over 40 scholars and about 20 more to come in still. Eskew Batson is the teacher and I guess he will have his hands full." The children came to school only several months out of the year.
As more people settled in this community, there was a need for a larger school. In book 24, page 122, as registered in the Register's Office in the Montgomery County Court House, "August 27, 1889 R. W. Workman and wife, Arbina -- 5 A. for $40.00 cash for public school." A log building was built in 1890 by Emmett and Lawrence McGee, contractors. P. L. Harned came to Southside in 1890 to become principal of the small elementary school.
Soon the enrollment increased and the following year plans began to be made to establish a preparatory school, which was similar to our present-day high schools. A new building for the elementary department was erected at this same location nearer the road.
P. L. Harned decided that he needed more training for the career he wished to follow. He took a leave of absence in 1893 and closed the school for a part of a term while he finished the work required for a degree at The University of Tennessee.
In the meantime, the people of the community supported the movement to establish a preparatory school and some bought stock in order to build the school. A new building was erected and a curriculum was adopted which provided higher education for the students who came from local homes and those who came from communities nearby and boarded in the small town.
The Southside Preparatory School was established about 1891 upon which interest focused. A man was there to take the lead, who later became a Tennessee Pioneer in education. This man was P. L. Harned, often called "Professor." He later became Commissioner of Education for the State of Tennessee. Mr. Harned married one of his teachers, Miss Myra McKay. They worked side by side in developing the school. They took girls in their home to board so they could attend the school. Professor W. I. Harper and his wife, Lila Lyle, took boys in their home to board so they could attend school.
Soon the County recognized Mr. Harned's ability to organize and lead. The people sought him for Superintendent, a position he held with distinguished service. For two years after his election in 190l, he served as Southside Principal, carrying on double duty with that position and the office of Superintendent, for which he was paid a very small salary.
When Mr. Harned left Southside, Professor W. I. Harper, who had taught with him there, and Will McKee became principals of the school, which continued to flourish.
The officers saw the need for a new building. The stockholders supplied the money and the school was incorporated with a charter as the Southside Preparatory School.
On July 30, 1907, as recorded in book 41, page 402, in the Register's Office -- "H. C. Lyle and wife, Minnie Lyle, and E. A. Hudgins and wife, Rosa, sold the land for the Southside Preparatory School, consisting of 10-9/10 A. for $272.00. 9/20 A. was Lyle land but H. C. Lyle and wife gave the road to the school, which was 16-1/2 feet wide."
The new building was large and commodious and well suited to the purpose for which it was planned. The building had a concrete basement, full size of the building, which was divided into rooms to be used for kitchen, dining room, and storage. The first floor was used for classrooms and the upper floor was divided into rooms for the young ladies' dormitory. The building was heated with a furnace, which gave uniform heat, which made it more beautiful as well as comfortable.
The school was furnished with the latest furniture. No pains had been spared to make this building one of convenience and comfort.
The two principals published a catalog, which looked like a school souvenir, the year the building opened. T. M. Flannary had succeeded Mr. McKee and he served with W. I. Harper, who was with the school for many years. These two learned men demonstrated their ability to use the subjects, rhetoric and composition, which they included in the curriculum, as they phrased their words to describe reasons why young men and women should attend their school. A catalog that was published for the school year of 1907-08 is now in the hands of Ms. Martha Harris, daughter of Sandy B. Harris, who attended Southside Preparatory School.
The courses of study in the primary and intermediate departments were conducted according to the Montgomery County System, supplemented by the teacher's own originality.
The courses of study in the Preparatory School included Mathematics, Intermediate Arithmetic, Geography, History of Tennessee, Language Lessons, Composition, Spelling, Penmanship, Study of English Classics, Algebra, Latin, U. S. History, Physiology, English History, Beginner's Greek, Plane and Solid Geometry, Anabasis, Medieval and Modern History, Geology, Physics, Biology, and Ancient History. For home reading the assignment ranged from Uncle Remus to Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Irving, Dickens, Kipling, Tennyson, Fish, Thackery, and Macaulay's Essay on Milton.
Two literary societies offered argumentative debating opportunities and a chance for the book lover to air his opinions. One was named "Workman Literary Society," for the Workman family. The other was called the "Atkins Literary Society," named for a boarding student.
The school offered a cultural advantage with a music room where piano, guitar, voice, and music were taught. It also provided for physical development with a large athletic field.
When it came to discipline the principals let it be known they first believed in patience and persuasion, but stricter methods could be used if necessary.
The school was accredited and students could go from its halls into the best colleges including The University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University without an entrance examination.
When the Southside Preparatory School moved to the new location, the Southside Elementary School continued to operate in the old buildings.
Having no reserve fund or private wealth to depend upon, the school was compelled to pay bills from tuition fees. Room and board could be obtained for from $7.00 to $10.00 a month. Tuition ranged from $2.00 to $4.00 per month, according to grade. All resident pupils who studied branches above the free school studies were charged at the rate of $1.00 each. An incidental fee of $1.00 per year was charged.
On June 25, 1918, the Southside Preparatory School property was sold by G. M. Hunter, Ed E. Rye, H. A. Nesbitt, and S. E. Neblett for $2500, to be paid one half cash by the Board of Education of Montgomery County, and one-half by the people of District 16 of Montgomery County, as recorded in the Register's Book 59, page 30.
After the Southside Preparatory School passed, the County Board of Education took over the Southside school property and established a two-year high school there. The elementary school was also moved to the same location. Several years later the third year of high school was added. In the fall of 1925, the fourth year of high school was added, making Southside high School a four-year high school.
During the summer of 1932, the citizens of Southside donated materials, money, and labor to erect a gymnasium for the high school.
While the Southside High School habitually produced good basketball and baseball teams, it was the 1936 male basketball team, coached by T. C. Hinton that won top honors in the Regional Cage Tournament held at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The team captured the Championship Crown of the Middle Tennessee Grand Division. There was no State tournament at that time.
When the Southside High School closed in 1940, having merged with Montgomery Central, there were approximately 75 Students and four teachers. While the curriculum was limited, it included four years of English, four years of Social Studies, Agriculture, two years of Home Economics, French, Latin, and four years of Mathematics. Biology and Chemistry were also offered.
Most of the high school building was razed, but the gymnasium was kept for the elementary school use. In the 1940's, three new classrooms were erected on the site of the old high school building. Part of the old building was renovated for an auditorium, which was one of the best in the County at the time, and was an addition to the classrooms. Two restrooms were built at each end of the lobby of the school. The school was heated by steam heat, which was a great improvement over coal stoves in each room.
The school progressed until the fall of 1965, when the students were transferred to Montgomery Central Elementary School due to a drop in attendance. The loss of a school in Southside hurt, but the community has continued to grow and prosper. We, the citizens of Southside, continue to support the Clarksville- Montgomery County Board of Education in its endeavor to educate the youth in this County. We still believe that the greatest investment one can make is in the education of our youth.
Submitted by Sandra Stacey and Mr. Winters.
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