yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

The Old Scotts Hill College as I Remember it 60 Years Later

by Prof. Caleb Perry Patterson of the University of Texas

The great service that the college rendered was that it filled a gap in our educational system at that time. There were no public high schools back then except in urban communities and no avenues for preparing to enter college except private preparatory schools. There were no state normal schools for the preparation of teachers. In addition to offering these services, the college gave higher training itself and conferred college degrees.

This training was of a very high grade, especially in mathematics which was Prof. Tucker's specialty. I doubt that there was another mathematician in the state of his ability at the time.

The college was deficient in library and laboratory facilities. But this weakness was also characteristic of the best state institutions of that day. As a whole, the Scotts Hill College gave adequate preparation for teaching in primary and secondary schools and for entrance to old line colleges. It also gave thorough training for intelligent and useful living.

I received three years credit at the University of Nashville for the work I did in the old college. Both the Southern Normal University and Vanderbilt University accepted this credit when I transferred from the University of Nashville after it was closed by the Peabody Board of Trust for the founding of Peabody College. This amounted to a high degree of recognition of the grade of work of Scotts Hill College by these two institutions. This made my transfer to the old traditional colleges very easy.

I completed both the A.B. and M.A. degrees at Vanderbilt in one year and taught English Literature at the same time.

While Prof. Tucker's untimely death was an irreparable loss to the community of Scotts Hill and resulted in the closing of the college, the establishment of public high schools by the counties and normal schools and junior colleges by the state, made it impossible for private institutions charging tuition fees to compete with the free public institutions with better faculties and equipment. Even highly endowed private schools with annual tuition charges from $1000 to $1500, are having a hard time now competing with state schools.

The student body of the Scotts Hill College was composed of ambitious young men and women who were determined to make the most of their time and money. There were no societies or sports to detract from the pursuit of academic achievement. The curriculum of the college was not packed with a lot of nonsense and courses of doubtful value as is the case with our present school system.

In other words, our old college made it possible for the earnest student to make great progress in the achievement of a practical and substantial education in the shortest possible time and at the very lowest cost. It created a great opportunity for the poor boy and girl. The college rendered a wonderful service to the surrounding country.

 - from Gordon H. Turner, Sr., The History of Scotts Hill, Tennessee (Carter Printing Company, Southaven, Mississippi, 1977).

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