MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TENNESSEE
White Chapel School
Prepared by Miss Pattie Marshall
White Chapel School was in the Rossview
Community, District 1, Montgomery County, on a plot of ground donated for
a church and school by Mr. Joel Fort in 1851. The first building, a one-room
log one, was put up by the men of the neighborhood under the leadership
of Mr. George Wimberly. It served as a classroom on weekdays and as a Union
Church on Sundays.
We have no record of how many denominations held services there but are sure that Baptists, Methodists and Episcopalians did. A church was erected near the school building in 1866.
About 1869, the log building was remodeled, and in 1879 it was torn down and a frame one was built by the people of the community. This one faced west, and a vestibule with two doors and a window extended across the front of the building.
In 1904, after Willoughby School was consolidated with White Chapel, the schoolhouse was again made over. The entry hall was replaced by a schoolroom, and a vestibule which served as a cloakroom and a storage place for lunch boxes was added. The building was painted gray with red trim. The county paid three hundred dollars of the cost of this change. Dr. John W. Ross (uncle of Doctors John and Ted Ross) paid the rest, and the men of the community hauled the lumber and other building materials.
After the opening of school, a well was bored near the schoolhouse. The water contained minerals, which made it unpalatable, and so it was never used very much. Some times the children brought drinking water from their homes in bottles or Mason jars, but usually the older boys would bring it from a neighbor's cistern.
From the spring of 1913 until the fall of 1926, the house was not used as a school. During the First World War, the women of the community met there to sew for the Red Cross, using chairs and other furnishings brought from their homes. After the war, the Country Women's Club was organized under the leadership of Mrs. Hicks Polk, and the building was used as a meeting place for it. The members brought chairs and other furniture from their homes. These were painted white. Attractive curtains were hung at the windows of the original schoolroom, and the room, which was added in 1904, was furnished as a kitchen. During this period, the county had a new roof put on the building, and the Northern Bank had the outside painted white. The county and community made other improvements when White Chapel was re-opened as a one-teacher school in 1926, and still others when it again became a two-teacher school.
In 1908, the men of the community built a music room near the large hickory tree south of the school house so that a music teacher could give private lessons to pupils between their other classes. Mrs. Emily Marshall had her piano moved into this room and a number of girls took lessons from her before the school was closed in 1913. The building was moved to Kirkwood in 1914.
When White Chapel was re-opened in 1926, a stable with a car shed and four stalls was built by the patrons, and the county had other out-buildings constructed and a cistern dug; and in 1930 the building was painted inside and out, and two new windows were added in the larger room. New steps were built in 1933 and the windows were repaired.
White Chapel was a "pay" school until the public school system was established in Montgomery County, and even after the school began receiving county funds the patrons supplemented this amount in order to have better teachers and a longer school term.
After the public school system was established, each civil district had a school director. A partial list of those who held that office in District One includes Mr. John Bellamy, Mr. Henry Morgan, Mr. M. C. Johnson, Mr. Clarence Dunn, Mr. Finis Ewing, and Mr. Polk Ewing.
The first teacher at White Chapel was Mr. Robert Caldwell, who afterward became a judge. Two others who taught before the Civil War were Mr. Andrew Caldwell and Mr. Thomas Trigg. During the Civil War, one of the teachers was a Mrs. Plummer. Miss Charity Grizzard, who later married Mr. Henry Morgan, taught for several years immediately after the war.
The following list included all, or nearly all, of the teachers who followed Miss Charity, although probably not all are named in chronological order: Miss Mary Battle, Mr. J. C. Marshall, Mr. L. D. Hill, Mr. Henley, Mr. Trimble, Mr. Brents, Mr. J. G. Rollow, Miss Esma Bourne, Miss Emily Fry, Miss Emma Killebrew, Mr. Jack McMurry, Miss Lizzie Battle, Miss Lena Brawner, Miss Eula Bourne, Miss Lizzie Paine, Miss Margaret Powers, Miss Sue M. Powers, Mr. and Mrs. William L. Lawrence, Mrs. Addie 0. Cheatham, Miss Barbara Ross, Miss Elizabeth Lee Miller, Miss Mary Marshall, Miss Martha Jane Richardson, Miss Marion Ross, Mr. William Willoughby, Mr. William Bowen, Miss Sallie Chenault, Miss Bess Scott, Miss Kate Nunn, Miss Ruth Brunson, Mrs. Hunter Childs, Miss Susie McCarty, Miss Elizabeth Bellamy, Miss Sarah Rollow, Miss Pattie Marshall.
Some of these teachers served at two different periods, and at times when White Chapel was a two-teacher school, of course one of the teachers served as principal and one as assistant.
The large graduating class of 1911 took so many pupils from the school that there were not enough left to keep two teachers. It continued as a one-teacher institution for two years longer, and then Willoughby School, which at that time was nearer the center of the scholastic population of the neighborhood, was re-opened, and White Chapel was closed. White Chapel was opened again in 1926, and both schools operated during the 1926-27 school year. The following year they were consolidated at White Chapel.
Under the leadership of Mrs. Hunter Childs, the first teacher to serve after White Chapel, was re-opened in 1926. The first Conservation Day in the county was held there in 1927. There was another in 1929.
Long before a Parent-Teacher Association was organized, the patrons of White Chapel used to hold meetings when anything of importance to the school had to be decided. A School Improvement Association was organized in 1910. The patrons met several times to clean up the school grounds and set out trees before this movement died out.
The patrons of Willoughby School had formed an organization, which had been of great help to the school. This was divided into two Parent Teacher Associations when White Chapel was re-opened in 1926, and these were united when, for the second time, the two schools were consolidated. Besides helping with many improvements on building and playground, the association awarded prizes to the boys and girls making the highest general averages each year, hired a janitor to start fires in time for the rooms to be warm when children and teachers arrived on winter mornings, purchased Victrola records suitable for teaching musical appreciation, and joined the Rossview Ladies Aid in sponsoring a beautiful community tree every Christmas Eve.
Mrs. Jack Killebrew was the first president of the association. Those following her were Mrs. Will Crouch, Mrs. Hicks Polk, Mrs. Clay Lewis, Mrs. Irvin Castleberry, Mrs. J. D. Beaumont, and Mrs. J. P. Marshall.
Several White Chapel girls joined the Four H Club while Miss Marvel Bass was County Home Demonstration Agent, and did outstanding work in cooking and sewing. Nancy Ruth Beaumont, Meta Killebrew, Edna Earle Castleberry and Emily Dee Marshall won many prizes in both county and state fairs, and all members acquired skills that led to their success as homemakers. The boys' Four H. also gave valuable training to a number of pupils.
When the histories of all the county schools were compiled by the Eighth Grades in 1930, Mrs. Nannie Beaumont, one of the children who started to White Chapel when it opened in 1851, was still living. She was of great help to Bob Beaumont, Pearl Hancock and Mabel Williams, the graduating class of that year, for she remembered the name of the first teacher and many other facts which no one else could give them. Bob Beaumont, her great-nephew, was the member of the class who interviewed her.
Others to whom they were indebted for information were Mrs. Mattie K. Jones, of Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, Mr. A. B. Killebrew of Clarksville, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling Bellamy, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Killebrew, and Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Rollow, all of Rossview.
We know of four former pupils whose careers were in the field of medicine: Dr. Buckner Killebrew, who practiced for a number of years in Mobile, Alabama before he was killed in automobile accident there; Doctors John and Ted Ross, both of whom came back to their home county after years of practice in distant places, and Dr. Edward Marshall of the U.S. Marine Service, who was Medical Director of the Port of New York when he retired. While they are not M. D.'s, two White Chapel girls, after years of training, do work which is clearly related to that of doctors. Nancy Ellen Dority is a physical therapist and Ann Marshall Rees a medical illustrator.
At least nine White Chapel boys served in the armed forces in the First World War, and one, Major Bowman Ewing in the Spanish-American one. First World War veterans, some of whom are still living (1970) include Harry Anderson, Emanuel Binkley, Neal Cobb, Frank Hallums, Thurman Hancock, Horace D. and James D. Marshall, Douglas Rollow, Sr., and perhaps others who had moved from the community before the war began. Jesse Bellamy rema1ned in the army after the war and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
An even greater number of young men and women who had attended White Chapel served their country in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, and Cadet Nurses Corps during the Second World War. One of them, Lt. Col. Thurman Hancock, a veteran of both wars, was for a number of years head of the Army Air Force Training Center at Maxwell Field, Alabama. Another, Douglas Rollow, Jr., who piloted one of the first planes to go out to meet the Japs in the battle of Midway Island, is the son of Douglas Rollow, Sr. an officer during the First World War; and Tommy Hallums, a medic, nephew of Frank Hallums, was decorated for going out under fire to rescue wounded soldiers.
If there had been a White Chapel service flag, it would have had gold stars for Ensign Frank Dowlen of the Marine Flying Corps, who was killed in the South Pacific area, and Joe Killebrew, pilot of a B-29 bomber, which did not return from an attack on Japan. George McMurry, also an army pilot took part in many battles in the South Pacific without being wounded, but lost his life when his plane caught fire during maneuvers in Florida after the war.
Many former White Chapel students have been teachers, and a number of these are still serving in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges, or are taking training for that work. One of these, Bryan Dority, gave up his musical career to take the long course of training for priesthood in the Catholic Church. At the time of his ordination he chose the name of Father Hippolytus. He is now French instructor at St. John's College, a Catholic institution, in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Perhaps other White Chapel graduates have been and still are ministers of the Gospel, and at least one, Irvin Thomas Castleberry, has served as superintendent of the large Sunday School in the St. Bethlehem Methodist Church.
After the schools of the district were consolidated at Kirkwood, Mr. A. B. Killebrew bought the old school house and offered it to the members of the little church to use as a clubhouse or to sell for the benefit of the church. They decided that it would be better for him to sell it and use the money for needed repairs on the church. Mrs. George Burruss bought it to use as a tenant house and had it moved across the fence, which separated her property from the White Chapel grounds. Several families lived in it before it burned one Sunday morning while nobody was at home.
Although the building has gone up in smoke, the influence of the old school will live as long as any of its former pupils do, and perhaps even longer unless modern children do not care to listen to Grandpa and Grandma's reminiscences about "the good old days."
Submitted by Sandra Stacey and Mr. Sam Winters.
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