yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Lexington, Tennessee July 3-7, 1985

from the collection of Janice Beal


We have looked forward to this occasion with great anticipation, because we knew it would be one of interest and pleasure. We appreciate your response to this effort and the part that you have played in making this "dream realized."

You have come from the four corners of this country and the spaces between to rekindle old friendships, old memories, and in a sense to seek the security of the days past. We welcome you because we feel that you have brought with you good will and your coming is to perpetuate the legacy and rich heritage of Montgomery High School.

We further welcome you here because of the contributions that you have made and are making to the world, and we want it to be known that we are all one big happy family, fighting for a common cause and it all began here in a small town of Henderson County, Lexington, Tennessee, our great roots, Montgomery High School.

It matters not that the building is gone and what remains may not serve as a reminder of our golden years through her rooms, her halls and her walkways. What does matter is the spirit and honor of our Alma Mater that lives in our hearts.

We shall look back on this occasion with pleasure, and it will be a cherished memory and the love and friendship that shall be rekindled will be a monument to our roots that ages cannot destroy nor time erase.


We devote this memento with great honor and affection, to former instructors, students, and parents, and to all those who have labored in the educational process, embracing it with immeasurable esteem.

We particularly wish to acknowledge the effort and time extended by each participant, granting that without diem this feat would not have been accomplished.
We are sincerely appreciative toward all the ones whose perpetual efforts, and assiduous devotion culminated reunion to its prolific yield.

Gracie Ann Parker Timberlake

Lexington, Tennessee

by Gracie Timberlake and A.L. Robinson

Throughout history societies have sought to educate their people to produce goods and services, to respond effectively and creatively to their world and to satisfy their curiosity and aesthetic impulses. First, we will deal with this question: How did Montgomery contribute to the education of its students?

The purpose was to prepare the Negro Youth to find his/her place in society to become a benefactor in society. To prepare them to maintain a livelihood, and to educate the hands, heart, head and health. The administration of Montgomery committed themselves to educate children from many backgrounds. There were students who came from near and far to attend Montgomery. The faculty regarded children as persons, not as problems. They never turned their backs on anyone. The faculty has always recognized the educational value of intellectual exploration and of concrete experimentation.

Montgomery was able to offer boys and girls advantages that few other High Schools of the State could offer, for that reason, the school was fortunate in being able to draw on both City and County Boards of Education, which afforded revenue to secure the best equipment, adequate building and a sufficient number of the best teachers that can be found anywhere to carry on a live and constructed program.

There were several rural schools around the county:  Coopers Grove, Kizer, Timerlake, Dry, Luray, Holly Springs, Pritchard, Joyner Grove, Park Meal and Pleasant Hill.

The school (.Montgomery) operated for quite sometime near the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church under the name of Lexington Colored School. Some of the pioneers of the early school were Prof. G.W. Beal, Prof. JH. Edwards, Odessa Hurt Wadley, and Daisy Edwards. Prof. J.H. Edwards served as principal of this school.

In the year of 1923, a new site was secured and through the help of the Rosenwald Fund and public subscriptions, the school was moved to its present location. Prof. J.A. Vincent served as its first principal with Mrs. Susie Newsom, his assistant. During these days, school was dismissed during the month of February.

In 1927, Prof. A.E. Gray, the next principal, was given permission to organize a high school. At this time, the name was changed to Montgomery High School. It was supported by the City Board of Education of Lexington, Tennessee. Teachers salaries were paid by both City and County Boards of Education.

Aid on Teachers' salaries and equipment was furnished by the General Education, Rosenwald, Slater and George Reid Funds.

With a continuous increase in the enrollment, it became necessary to construct a second building, as well as to increase the teaching staff. Thus, in 1928, a two room building was erected. Even this proved inadequate in meet the needs; therefore two more rooms were added in 1930. In 1934, the institution sent out its first graduation class.

The school was located within the corporate limits of Lexington. If was located on an ideal site of three or more acres which was a beautiful campus, including and Athletic Field and playground. Asphalt and gravel streets ran directly to the campus.

The erection of the dormitory was upheld due to financial depression. Under the leadership of Prof. C.C. Bond and others associated, there was a completion of a modern dormitory. Also, a teachers' home was added in 1940. Before the completion of the dormitory, provisions were to take care of all those that came in the homes of respectable families. Room costs ranged from .75 to $1.00 per week.

In the school year of 1932-1933, there were bigger and better things along the lines of athletics. For the first time in the history of Mongtomery, there was a football team in action. Montgomery was able to offer to everyone the best there was in the forms of Physical Education. Both teams of Montgomery were very successful during the year of 1932-1933. There was more fight and a greater determination to be champions of Tennessee. In the spring of 1935, a gymnasium was started.

On July 17, 1935, Prof. C.C. Bond began his teaching at Montgomery. He succeeded Prof. Gray as principal. The faculty then consisted of seven members, with a total enrollment of one-hundred and sixty-seven students, thirty-seven of which were high school students.

The continued growth of the school caused the buildings to become congested, making it quite apparent that larger and better equipped accommodations were needed. In the year of 1944, under the dynamic leadership of the principal, the faculty, students, and friends of the institution began raising funds for the construction of a new building. The campaign instituted in 1944 came to a successful close in April of 1945, when the sum of more than $5,000 was turned over to the building committee.

In 1945, the City and County Boards of Education committed themselves to the proposition of building a school which meet the needs of Negro Youth of our community. Due to the shortage of materials, immediately following the war, as well as the exorbitant cost of the materials that could have been purchased, construction was delayed. It was in November of 1948, with a total amount of $165,000 appropriated, that work actually began.
The year 1950 was the first that the activities of the institution were housed in its new building. A beautiful brick structure with all new equipment and modern conveniences was completed at an approximate cost of $170,000. On the main floor was the principal's office, the county jeanes teacher's office, classrooms, the library, a library work room, a spacious corridor which extends the full length of the building, two latrines for boys, two latrines for girls, one for lady teachers, and an auditorium which has a seating capacity of 550. The completely equipped Home Economics Department was located in the basement, as well as the ultra-modern school cafeteria.

On November 15, 1956, Prof. A.L. Robinson succeeded Prof. C.C. Bond, who resigned here to accept a position of a high school in Chattanooga. Before taking over as principal of Montgomery High School, Prof. Robinson taught agriculture, science and coached the boys basketball team. Under the great leadership of Prof. Robinson, a new addition was added on the school, which consisted of a Homer Economics Department and several classrooms. Great works continued on under the leadership of Prof. AL. Robinson. He saw that each boy and girl got the best education possible. This great school, Montgomery High School, will always be remembered by all the great leaders it had under its roof.

As years passed, Montgomery continued to offer more and better things to students. Montgomery was the best cleaned and kept-up school in the county. Montgomery provided a good atmosphere for learning. There was a lot of determination among the principals, teachers, students, and parents of M.H.S.

Our principal, Prof. A.L. Robinson, served until the school phased out in 1967, as a center of public school education, because of a new change, desegregation. Also, closed was Park Meal School. The students at Park Meal were to attend Bargerton and Beaver School. Montgomery had about 170 pupils in high school who would attend Lexington High. There were about 370 in the elementary department who would attend one of the county consolidated schools or Lexington City. The Board had acted in compliance with desegregation orders which call for integration of faculties on the ratio of Negro students attending that particular school.
The first class to graduate from Montgomery was the class of 1934, and the last class was the class of 1967.

For many years, Montgomery was considered one of the better schools in the state. At the time of closing, the plant and equipment had a valuation of about $1.5 million dollars.
But the memories of our past lives on when we see our former students and graduates occupying creative and productive places in the society of today's world.

Remember the great words from one of our principals, Prof. A.L. Robinson, "There's no secret to success other than, Work, Work, and More Work."


Prof. J A Vincent*
Prof. A.E. Gray*
Prof. C.C. Bond
Prof. A.L. Robinson

Faculty Members of Montgomery High School

Including Teachers Who Taught in the County

Alderson, Leroy
Atkins, Thelma
Beal, George T.
Beal, George W. *County
Beal, Janice
Beasley, Juanita
Beasley, S.W.
Bond, Mildred
Boswell, R.D.*
Boyd, J.L.
Bromlett, Betty
Buck, Jean T.
Coffee, Rosie M., County
Cooke, James A.
Cooke, Thelma *
Crockett, Ruby Sue
Dangerfield, Constance
Douglass, Virginia, County
Edwards, Daisy*
Edwards, J.H.*
Gray, L.K.*
Hardy, Augusta Allen
Hardy, Honora
Hays, Mattie
Henry, Achie
Hillyard, Willie B. White
Hudson, Georia, County
Ivy, Floyd,* County
Ivy, Myrtle
Jones, Shirley Phelps
Kennedy, Eula M.*

King, Joseph
King, Josephine
Miller, N.B.*
Mitchell, Grace
Neal, Rexie M., County
Newsom, Susie*
Officer, Thelma Baker
Parker, Odell
Pearson, James H.
Pearson, Ollie
Priddy, Laveria Flowers
Reed, Johnnie
Robinson, Bland
Robinson, Romana
Small, Louise, County
Stone, Mary F., Supervisor
Taylor, Frances McGuire
Thoma, Juantia, County
Vaughn, Patricia
Wadley, Mary J.
Wadley, Odessa Hurt*
Watkins, Belinda
Werthing, John
White, Nettie M.*
Wiley, Lewis
Williams, Mae Ruth
Williams, Margie, County
Wilson, Opal*
Woods, Mary E.*
Young, Marie, County

[Note: Asterisk is undefined but probably denotes people who are deceased.--David]


Wednesday, July 3, 1985
Registration, 7:30 p.m.
"Ice Breaker Party" for Alumni-Spouse/Guest and Alumni Faculty-Spouse/Guest
Lexington Civic Center
— A great opportunity to get re-acquainted —

Thursday, July 4, 1985
Homecoming Picnic, 2 p.m.
"Food, Fun, Frolics"
Montgomery High School Campus

Friday, July 5, 1985
Montgomery High Homecoming Dance, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Lexington National Guard Armory, Airways Drive, Lexington, Tennessee
Music by Majestics of Jackson, Tennessee

Saturday, July 6, 1985
Montgomery Homecoming Banquet, 7:00 p.m.
Lexington High School Cafeteria

Sunday, July 7, 1985
Worship Service, 11:00 a.m.
St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Lexington, Tennessee
An opportunity for you to get together with classmates, friends, and family.

List of Alumni (1985)

As this gala event comes to a close, and each of us go our separate way, lets not forget that our roots are anchored deep in our heritage here at Montgomery High School.
Less we forget, "It is not the gale but the set of the sails that determines the way we go."
Montgomery has served as our sails from 1927 thru 1967, a 40 year span that will always be a part of our lives.
As we part, good luck, good fortune and good health.

Dixie M. Henry

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