yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Scotts Hill College Reunions

from the clipping collection of Brenda Fiddler

Scotts Hill College Alumni Convene;

Old Classmates of Defunct School Meet to Renew Acquaintances

Gordon H. Turner, Staff Correspondent [c. 1950 - clipping not dated]

Scotts Hill, Tenn. — Around 100 students are still singing praised of old Scotts Hill College which sat on the line here between Henderson and Decatur County half a century ago.

Nearly three fourths of all living alumni came back here a few days ago for such a homecoming.  Only one other such gathering ever took place.  That was in the 30s and more came this time.

They met in the new high school gymnasium on a campus a half mile from the old one.  Perry Harbert of Savannah rapped the gavel and welcomed fellow students of the gay 90’s and early 1900s’.

The alma mater existed for several years in a modest frame house and with fewer than a half dozen teachers taught everything from ABC’s through several college courses leading to three degrees.

All 1903 graduates of the “scientific course” except one, Elbert Butler of Lexington, recently deceased, were here.  Others in addition to Harbet were C. S. Austin, retired teacher of Nashville, and John Graham, Church of Christ preacher of Akron, Ohio.  These three were largely responsible for organizing the alumni meeting.

The old college had few books, only two classrooms and a chapel hall, was heated by box stoves usually burning green wood and every drop of water came from a big spring down the hill.

Our school gave a superior type of instruction because “every teacher knew and loved every student,” Austin declared.  “Besides, though some were self-educated, all were masters of their subjects and believed the world depended upon their teaching them to others.”

Graham got in a strong plug for his schoolmates reasoning that only those students enrolled who really wanted an education and were willing to work hard and sacrifice to get it.

Others who spoke included E. D. Deere, Lexington;  Green Rushing, Jackson;  Judge Wes Mayberry, Waynesboro;  George C. McClearen, Hohenwald;  the Rev. Will Tuten, Florence, Ala.;  Bill Barnett, Chattanooga;  Mrs. Jess Presley, St. Louis, Mo.;  and Mrs. Lena Tucker Strawn, daughter of B. A. Tucker, the founder and president of the college, Caruthersville, Mo.

[more did not type]

Origin of Town Revealed at College Reunion:

Students of the B. A. Tucker College met for a day’s reunion in the cafeteria of Scotts Hill High School May 25.

Lexington Progress
June 7, 1957

The morning hours were spent in renewing old acquaintances and honoring the dead.  A large and appropriate bouquet was in evidence for the many that have passed.  A sumptuous dinner was spread and enjoyed by all, thanks to H. V. Raines, the principal of the high school, for so many accommodations.

The afternoon was spent in happy reminiscences of that faraway misty past.  Many new things came up in the afternoon about the history of the school and even the town.  One interesting thing was how the town got its name.

It was named for an honest merchant by the name of Scott, who found a $50 bill, which he presumed a traveling salesman had lost, and which he kept until the man returned that autumn.  The salesman was so pleased with the honesty of the merchant and so glad to get his money back that he had the town named Scotts Hill.

The school ran from 1894 to 1904 and gave three degrees, BBS, B.S., and B.A., and had an average of about nine to graduate each year. But many hundreds attended who never got a degree, but nevertheless made good in life.

It was unanimously agreed the next meeting will be held on the fourth Saturday in May 1958. This will be the 54th year since the school closed following the death of the founder.

Due to the exigencies of life the attendance (35 to 50) was not as large as it was the year before, but this was no more than expected.  The most distant [more did not type]

Graduates, Former Tucker Pupils Pay Tribute to College Founder:

Lexington Progress
June 2, 1960

Scotts Hill—A man whose teaching ability and moral influences mold this section years ago was lauded Saturday at the reunion of former students and graduates of the old B. A. Tucker College here. The late B. A. Tucker, who died at the age of 41, was described as a man whose influence is felt today and as a man who “touched millions of people”

by J. E. Bonner

Scott’s Hill. Tenn.—The story of the old Scott’s Hill College was retold by hundreds of students and teachers gathered from a score of states for an all-day reunion Friday in this little West Tennessee village home of the once famous school.

Like a meteor across the sky, the B. A. Tucker College, as some called it, blazed brightly for a brief period, but unlike the blazing star it light has remained through the years and has influenced the nation and the world for good.

Strange to say, the fame of this school sprang largely from just one man, B. A. Tucker, its founder who with a handful of co-workers each taught several hundred students ranging in age from 4 to 40, and coming from several states.  The “college” was chartered, a small tuition was charged those who could pay, and the courses ran from the ABCs through college degrees.  Nearly all known literary subjects were taught.

Strange to say, this school achieved an unsurpassed reputation for efficient work, with never more than a four-room frame building, and using wood stoves for heating, and old double desks and homemade benches for seating.  There were but few books, and no laboratory apparatus for the science courses.  The only water the old school ever had was brought in buckets from a spring some distance away, and served all students from the same dippers.  At one time three teachers, including the college president, were teaching more than 300 students in classes from primer through three standard college courses leading to several degrees.

Though this famous old school flourished for not more than 13 years, from the early 90s and waning soon after Tucker’s death in 1903, the town has had a good local public school since.  It is my birthplace and home town, and I came back for the reunion to help perfect the first alumni organization, and to address this year’s 22-member high school graduating class at night.

No man has ever held through the years a firmer hold on his students than B. A. Tucker.  A poor backwoods boy from the one-room log Rainey School in deep rural Decatur County, he was one of the world’s few super-teachers.  Self educated largely, he did attend for a year Huntingdon, Tennessee’s also once famous National Normal University where he received a degree and was told by its head that he already knew more than the faculty combined and to go out and teach.

Through the help of businessmen, Woodward Holmes and Henry Austin, Tucker began teaching in a two-room frame house here in 1890.  Catalogues were issued, the college was chartered, and within a short time, students were coming from several states.  The old graduates from farmers to big merchants, navy officials to college deans and diplomats and engineers and inventors to doctors and lawyers, declare that few if any such schools ever existed before.

Then in April 1903, Tucker became suddenly ill.  Town physicians, T. Rogers, the south’s dean of country doctors, now of Decaturville, and the late W. B. Keeton pronounced it “cramp colic.”  The 40-year-old master teacher, almost dying, told them that it should be possible with a knife to cut in and remove the cause, but the constantly attending and praying medical men didn’t then know how.  A few days later the great leader of youth was dead of appendicitis.

This homecoming was a big day here.  The marble shaft erected in Tucker’s memory was recently moved to the new high school campus, center of the day’s activities.  After talks by Perry Murphy of Saltillo and P. M. Harbet of Savannah, student 50 years ago, the monument was “re-unveiled” by Ben Tucker of Memphis and Mrs. Doss Tuten of Decaturville before hundreds of former students.  Many had witnessed the first unveiling 44 years ago on the old campus.  Mrs. Tuten and Ben Tucker are the oldest and youngest children, respectively of the school’s founder.

After a meeting of former students, Murphy was elected president of the newly formed alumni association pledged to meet here each year.  Odell Buck, attorney of Lexington, Tenn., was named vice-president.  Mrs. R. L. Wylie, wife of the village doctor of the class of 1902, was named secretary-treasurer.  Dr. Wylie also attended the old college and has served parts of four counties in this area for over 40 years.

Graduates of more than half a century ago who spoke included, besides Murphy and Harbert, Will Tuten, businessman of Florence, Ala;  L. C. Austin, Memphis State College music head who retires this year with a 50-year record;  L. L. Brigance, Bible teacher at Freed-Hardeman college, Henderson, Tenn., for 42 years;  C. S. Austin, minister and retired school teacher, Mt. Pleasant, Tenn.;  E. D. Brigance, Henderson, Tenn., retired teacher and a former college dean;  Mrs. J. H. Fanning, Jackson, Tenn.;  Judge Wes Maberry, Waynesboro, Tenn., returned for the first time in 42 years;  Coy White, Decatur County farmer, who “began for his ABC’s” under Tucker 58 years ago;  and John C. Graham, a local minister who has taught and preached in a dozen states.

The present day A-grade, 400-odd pupil school here is the several generations successor to the Scott’s Hill College.  Students come from up to 12 miles away, many with remarkable and attendance records.  One-fifth of all high school students had a perfect attendance record this year.  Mabel Grice, who comes from several miles away, has never missed a day of school.

Principal Jesse B. Austin presided at the night commencement exercises.  Superintendents Ira C. Powers and Jack Stevens representing Henderson and Decatur Counties respectively, which jointly operate the schools, presented diplomas to these graduates.

[more not typed]

top · home · yesterday's · families · schools · links · what's new · memorial · about

This site was created by David Donahue and Brenda Kirk Fiddler.
This site is currently maintained by Jerry L. Butler
Copyright © 2004 - 2010, All rights reserved