History of Taylor County Schools

The history of many Taylor County Schools, as well as photographs, are included in the 1996 Taylor Tracer series. Any additional information is WELCOME!!
GA Archives Virtual Vault
Shows historic photos (African-American and White schools". On side column check: Historic Schools Photograph Collection.
At top of page "Advanced Search" type in Taylor. You'll be delighted with what has been preserved.

Butler Female College This school in Taylor County, Georgia opened in 1873 and closed in the 1920's. The school was first called Johnston Institute and then changed and incorporated in 1875 under the name Butler Female College and Male Institute. They published a catalogue each year listing the names of students. I have a copy of the 1881-1882 class and the 1911, plus information from the Butler Herald. Butler Female College and Male Institute
Butler School [Senior Class 1943 Jan. 2015]
Central (photo students and teacher 1925-1926 identified;1933-34;1950June 2013]
Clayton Academy
Coleman Institute - Reynolds
Five Points [4 May 1861 deed William J.F.Mitchell to James J. Mitchell $2,000 24th Dis LL150 202.5 acres reserving 2 acres on which the Academy now stands]
Glovers Harmony
Hobbs - 1862
Jinks Academy - 1904 Teacher Miss Minnie Pettis
Mauk {Mar 2013. School photo]
Panther Creek
Pine Burr
Pine Grove
Pine Knot
Planters Academy at Carsonville
[Taylor Tracer July 2014. Class of 1936-1937][Class of 1932 July 2013]
Rhodes Academy
Rupert [Taylor Tracer April 2014 Short History.Photo of School]
Taylor's Mill [School Honor Roll Oct 2014]
Turner's Chapel
Willis Academy
Wesley [Taylor Tracer Sept 2013. History and photos]
Whitewater [1877 Feb 20. Prof W.A. Dixon of Garden Valley, Macon Co, will open a school at Whitewater Academy on Monday March 5th. 19 students]

Small "country" schools
(Butler Herald, Tuesday, Sept 26, 1911) [Reprint Sept 2005 Taylor Tracer]
At a very important meeting of the county board of Education held in the office of commissioner, A.S. Wallace, last Tuesday, one of the most interesting matters disposed of was contracting with teachers for the various schools of the county.
Below we are pleased to give a list of the rural schools of the county and by whom to be taught for the ensuing five months beginning not later than the fourth Monday in October, but may begin as early as the second Monday of the same month.
The schools and names of teachers are as follows:

(Butler Herald, Thursday, Oct 3, 1912)
Schools will begin on the fourth Monday in October. County Superintendent, Prof. A.S. WALLACE provided the following list:

By 1956 all the smaller "country" elementary school like Crossroads, Central, Mauk, Wesley, Turner's Chapel, Crowell, Taylor Mill, Rupert -- had been consolidated into either Butler or Reynolds High School.

Small schools not on above list:

Schoolday Remembrances

Visit this page for some amusing anecdotes of school life.


Butler Herald- Sept. 16, 1915
The board of trustees of Harmony school which is composed of Messrs. S. E.Cox, W. H. Theus and C. D. McInvale met on Sept. 2nd and unanimously elected Miss Lila Davis, of Ideal, teacher of that school. The term will begin the last of October.


My Dad, W.T. Hamilton started to Howard school abt. 1910. His first teacher was a Miss Sealy. After she married and left, Miss Mattie Julia Van Landingham became his teacher, until he moved away in 1917. Miss Mattie Julia married Hugh Perkins.
William F. Hamilton wham@oconee.com


Rupert School in 1907 included teachers Tellie and Sallie V. Rustin. Students in the "school closing" day picture included students: Tom Cochran, Hallie Rogers, Monroe Hill, Lula Wisham, Clara Hill, Mintie Hill, Albert Cooper, Annie Eubanks, Jewel Cochran, Lura and Lorena Cochran, Collier Wisham, Minnie Cooper, Pearl Whatley, and Maggie Cooper.

Photo (1945) of "new" Rupert School included: Max Tom Hardie, Roy Rogers, Floyd Brewer, Ann Williamson, Arie Ann McLaughlin, Adrian Downs, Boyette Turner, Jimmy Harvery, Jeanelle Downs, Carlene Bell, Joyce McChargue, Louise Wisham, Marie Rogers, Thomas Carpenter, Robert David Cooper, Agnes Blakely, Barbara McCorkle, Lillie Mae Williamson, Betty Jane Cooper, Neva Wisham, Nita Rogers, Gene Hill, Lisa Hardie, Sonya Riddick, Eva Wisham, Robert Brewer, Jimmy Downs, Bobby Green, James Hinton, Hoyce Cromer, Sammy Locke, Jessie Harris, Wynelle Blakely, Bobby Barrow, Robert Harris, Mozelle Rogers, Leroy Sawyer, Lula Mae Carpenter and teachers, Mrs. Lucille Callahan and Mrs. Ethel Harvey. Mrs. Max Hardie was principal.

Pilkinton School
Pilkinton School near the Pilkinton Mill on Rambullet Creek just west of Highway 19, 7 mi s. of Butler in the early 1900's. The teacher was Carrie Parks and among the pupils attending the one room school were: Maude, Sally Mattie, A.V., Clyde, Ouida and Jim Brewer; Perk, Maude and Amanda Harris; Edna Pearl Hurst, Mattie Mae, Viola, Chester and Vesta Waters; Ella, Ava and Evie Lou Blakely; Lewis, Rupert and Ira Pilkinton and the three daughters of Mr and Mrs. Bryant Cooper.
Wesley School --1918
(Butler Herald, Thursday, April 4, 1918) Wesley School closed here Friday after a successful term taught by Misses Mattie J. Vanlandingham and Wynelle Pope. A good program was arranged for the occasion, each child doing his part well. The exercises were well attended and enjoyed by all the people of this community as well as from elsewhere. Each of the girls carried something they had made such as cooking, needlework, etc. It was a pleasure to see what progress our school has made within the past year. County School Superintendent Wallace was present and gave a good talk which was very much enjoyed. Those completing the seventh grade and receiving state certificates: Misses JESSE HEATH, INA ROYAL, GLADYS HAYWOOD, MAUD AMOS and MR. WALTER SUGGS.
Miss Bessie McGuffin, Miss Bessie Childs and Mrs. Ruth Williams Martin were the teachers with Miss Ida Childs serving as the principal. Some years earlier J.A. Heath deeded land to the community for a school located between the Wesley Church and the Terrell Robbins home. The first school building had been across from the church. In later years W. Herman Elliston became principal and the school was consolidated with the Central School in 1943 after which the building was torn down and no evidence of the old school is there today. H.A. Sealey served as one of the trustees for many years.
"Old Field Schools" and the W.B. Johnston Institute which opened in 1870 were the very first school. In 1875 these evolved into Butler Male Institute & Female College which changed to Butler Male and Female College in 1888. By 1922 this had become Butler High School.

Alumni 1909-1949

Sources: A Supplement to The Taylor County News and The Butler Herald 100 years. Celebrating 200 years of history of America. Published: 1977.
History of Reynolds, Georgia. Reynolds Woman's Club Bicentennial Edition. (1976) Article in the Butler Herald, Nov 20, 1924. Condensed History of Reynolds School by R.A. Hinton

"The first school house was a small two room building located on South Winston Street. It was heated by an open fireplace and water was obtained from a well in the school yard. The school was ungraded and there was no means of regulating school attendance. Pupils entered school and quit school at any period of the term, purely at the will of the child or the parent. There was no balance to advancement and one pupil might have studies in what would now be several grades--all at the same time."

"This building was succeeded by a two story frame building located on the north end of the block where the present school stands. [1977] It was called the Professor George Dwight School. The first floor of the building was used for classrooms and the upper story served as a dormitory for boys from neighboring towns. According to an 1890 issue of The Columbus Enquirer the Reynolds school had an average attendance of sixty pupils at that time.

In the early 1900's the state legislature passed the "McMichael Bill'. This provided for the laying off of each county into "School Districts" and authorizing each school district the right to call an election for the purpose of voting on a tax not to exceed 5 mills upon the property within its boundaries, the funds this raised to be used solely for the purpose of maintenance of its own school.

Reynolds was one of the first to act under this law. At the same time, the voters elected J.H. Whatley, C.B. Marshall and R.A. Hinton to be the first Board of Trustees (a requirement of the new law).

As a result of this action, a new school building was stated on the site where the present building now stands. [1977] In that same year (1904) a prominent citizen, Henry Theodore Coleman died and in his will bequeathed to the Reynolds School the sum of $5,000 and an additional $5,000 for educational purposes in the county. The town was in debt for its school building and funds that were needed for school maintenance were being used to pay the debt on the building. The bequest, therefore, came at a most opportune time. And the new school when it was erected in 1904 was called "Coleman Institute in honor of and gratitude toward the donor, Mr. H.T. Coleman. Mr. Coleman was the adopted son of Dr. Alfred and Dorinda Elizabeth Coleman.

Coleman Institute was a larger two story wooden building. The auditorium was located on the upper floor and the main floor consisted of four large rooms bisected both ways by halls. There was a cloakroom in each class. Each room had at least two grades.

Outdoor privies were used for years but restrooms were added later. The drinking fountain, located in the back yard, was a single pipe with the faucet turned upside down.

There was a bell in the belfry and there is a story of a near disaster when the bell once fell.

The newly elected Board of Trustees immediately organized and began their plans for a modern and efficient and progressive graded school. Its first superintendent was Mr. Roth, whose services did not prove satisfactory and he was succeeded by Mr. J.W. Bloodworth, now a prominent lawyer of Houston County [1977], the first real Superintendent of the School and with his assistance and experience fixed upon a definite curriculum for each grade. Mr. Bloodworth held his position of Superintendent for 3 years and within that short period, the school became an "Accredited High School"

Our present very efficient superintendent [1977] Mr. E.H. Joiner, not then 21 years of age was chosen as principal, while the other positions were filled by able teacher.

In the Coleman Institute 1909 catalog the school boasted of being 'one of the best equipped secondary schools in Georgia'. Many pages in the catalog were devoted to rules and regulations. Although Reynolds population was on 1200, plans were being made to construct a 50 room dormitory to provide housing for out-of-town students. The roster in 1909-1910 showed 163 pupils. The first class to graduate was in the spring of 1909 and all five graduates went on to college: Agnes SEAY, Elam GRIFFITH, Marie BARROW, Wales INGRAM, Clara MUSSELWHITE.

One of Reynold's most admired teacher, Miss Mattie Emma Hartley, later Mrs. Otis Ogburn, taught 1st and 2nd grades with 55 children in her classroom during the1914-1916 term. She remembers the potbellied stove because the grate was constantly falling in the ashes.

Coleman Institute burned in the spring of 1916, just 6 weeks before it was to close for the summer. The local board was willing to suspend school, but Miss Ruth Morse, spokesman for the teachers, told the board that they were there to teach and intimated that they would expect to be paid. So arrangements were made for the children in grades 7-11 to to to the church just outside of town called Little Vine (New Hope). The younger pupils went to school in a dwelling on the west side of town nicknamed 'Pierce Institute' because a Pierce family had lived there. Each student brought his own chair.

A bond issue was proposed of $20,000 and carried, despite the opposition of some who thought the sum much too large to invest in a school house'. By September, a large wooden building had been erected of cheap materials as a makeshift school. Because the building was uncomfortable, inadequate and resembled a barn, it was called the 'Cow Barn'. Located approximately where the present Fickling Gym [1977] is standing, classes were held in this structure for about two years.

In 1918, the two story brick building was completed and the name of 'Coleman Institute' was dropped -- no one seems to know why -- and the school became Reynolds High School.

That fall a flu epidemic caused the school to close, but it was reopened in time to complete the school year. In the early 1920 smallpox epidemic school stayed open, but a vaccine was mandatory.

School Lunch
Students were allowed an hour for lunch and either walked home or brought theirs wrapped in newspaper or a paper bag. Lunch items included biscuits ...with sausage, ham, or syrup; baked sweet potatoes and gingerbread.
School Excellence expected

Principal Joiner is well remembered for his high expectations. Chapel was held every Friday morning. Students had to give memory verses and answer questions when called upon! His pet subject was Spelling and Reynolds High usually won the Spelling Bees held between county schools. Curriculum requirements were: 4 yrs of math, English/literature, history; 3 yrs of Science, Latin; or 2 yrs Latin and 2 Yrs French. Many going away to college were able to skip Freshman courses in math and English they were so well prepared.

Scholarship Tests

Emory University offered a scholarship to the MALE High School Senior with the highest score on a Test they sent to the school. Mr. Joiner thought all should take the test, so had the girls use "male names"...but when the two highest scorers were girls, he had to confess!

Mrs. John MIMS, drama teacher, and Mrs. PENDERGAST, music directed outstanding student performances each year.

Reynolds students took such pride in their school that an Alumni Association was active and met annually, intiating new gradutes in May each year. Students from all the classes returned from great distances.

1956 era
Up through about 1956 RHS had all twelve grades in one building and was fed by two other elementary schools--one in Crowell and the other in Potterville. The school system couldn't afford to build a basketball gym so William Fickling built one for the school.

July 1965, the decision was made to consolidate with Butler High School. This was greatly opposed by some Taylor families who elected to send their children to the neighboring Peach County School.

Integration came in January, 1970. Mrs. Jewel N. McDougald, an outstanding black educator, served as principal for many years. The elementary school in Reynolds were integrated by race but were segregated by sex in those beginning years.

Alma Mater
From the halls of Reynolds High School We come class by class See her loyal sons and daughters They can't be surpassed. Alma Mater, thee we'll honor As the years go by. Ever give thee praise and glory Hail dear Reynolds High.

For more remembrances of school days, don't miss Bruce Goddard's Page under "Peachland Journal"...Pictures have a way of changing you.

Alumni 1909-1949-- Dedication of REFLECTIONS to Superintendent Eugene Harris Joiner
Lookup for REYNOLDS graduating classes beginning with Class of 1909 - 1965.
Lookup for BUTLER graduating classes beginning with Class of 1909 - 1965.

Crossroads School

One of the early schools of Taylor County. Used in more recent times for family reunions and special occasion receptions. Need more history. Photo by
Gerald Joiner who is very interested in this history. gerjoi@cox.net

Glovers School- Clayton Academy

Nancy Byrd donated the land for in exchange for having a log home built. That is the site of what later became known as Glover School.

From the "History of Reynolds, Georgia" Compiled by Reynolds Woman's Club, Bicentennial Edition, pg 27. "... had it's beginning on May 12, 1832 when four men and five women constituted themselves into a Primitive Doctrine Baptist Church. This church was located about eight miles Northwest of Reynolds (note: Reynolds wasn't formed until 1852) at Ariel in Crawford County which at that time included part of what is now Taylor County."

Taylor County, Georgia      Deed Book H-1  Page 252

Regarding Lot number 203  January 12, 1868
Recorded  October 18, 1886

>From Nancy Byrd to C. M. Lucas, David Beeland And C. R. Wiggins.

This indenture made and entered into this the twelfth day of January in the year
of our lord eighteen hundred and sixty eight, between nancy byrd of the one part
and C.M.. Lucas, David Beeland and C.R.. Wiggins Trustees of the County Academy
known as Clayton Academy and situated on the northeast corner of the south half
of lot of land no. two hundred and three aggreeably to original survey of the
other part all of the state and county aforesaid.  Witness that for and in
consideration of the aforesaid Trustee building or causing to be built a house
on lot of same no. two hundred and three within two hundred yards of the south
line of said lot and within two hundred yards of the marsh ground on the largest
branch running through the aforesaid lot of land number two hundred and three on
the west side of such branch dimensions as follows: log house cealed (sic.) with
boards 16 by 18 __?__ down one window, two doors, plank floor covered with
boards nailed on, stick and dirt chimney.  Do hereby grant bargain sell and
convey when the above obligation is completed with all that tract or parcel of
land, part of lot number two hundred and three.  Agreeable to original survey
lying and being in the north east corner of south half of aforesaid lot of land
containing four acres, known as the meeting house lot which the said Nancy byrd
does here by bargain sell and convey unto the said Trustees and their successors
in office all that tract of parcel of land and the __?__ then unto belonging
forever in fee simple to have and to hold as a place for a County Academy and
public worship.  Said Nancy Byrd doth give warrant and defend the right and
title for herself her heirs and assigns to the Trustees and their successors in
office forever.  In witness where of I have here unto set my hand and seal the
day and year above written.  Signed sealed and delivered.

						(her mark)

						Nancy  X Byrd
						Recorded Oct 18, 1886
						J. B. Flower, Clk
in the presence of V. Montgomery
		David Beeland  JP

The cemetery is in the Northeast corner of the south half of LL 203 and Crowell
Church Road wasn't authorized to be laid out until 4 July 1872 in a special
session of the Court of Ordinary.

The following in the same area.
Ariel Baptist Church
Clayton Academy
Byrd-Glover Cemetery
Glover School House

Deed Book I, pg 75-76 Mollie E. Rhodes (sister of J.W.) and J.W. Rhodes give to the Board of Education land for a school. Two acres NE corner LL#145 13th District. South of Butler, lot runs down the road (Hgw 3) 140 yards then 70 West. June 20, 1908.

It was told that John gave the land so his daughters would have teaching jobs! Newspaper listings of teachers for 1911 showed Miss Fowler; 1912 Miss Vera Bartlett. Vera Bartlett (d/o Charles Barlett and Lena Rhodes) John's niece.

John was married to Frances Greene Caldwell, who was the daughter of Judge Yelverton Caldwell and his 1st wife, Sarah Warren. Frances' great-grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier who came to Greene County from Maryland.

John was the son of Absalom, a Baptist minister and the tax collector for 25 years. Absalom was also Taylor County's first school superintendent. (When Beth Collins first went to the courthouse and met Mrs. Childs, telling her she was working on my family tree, Mrs. Childs told me to first go out and read the historical marker outside the courthouse).

Absalom was married to Eliza Williamson who was a charter member of Corbett Methodist Church. She evidently never changed her membership and probably explains why John never joined a church.

Absalom was the son of Eliakim and Elizabeth Henderson Rhodes. Eliakim was a land speculator and has deeds in many counties.

Wainwright School

The Taylor Tracer Feb 1998 (Reprint)
The Butler Herald
Feb 22, 1898
The school house known as the Wainright School House, situated a few miles northeast of town near Fickling's Mill, was destroyed by fire late Sunday evening the 13th inst, supposed to have been the work of an incendiary. Miss Bessie Fickling had a very good school here. All the books, etc. let in the house were burned. The house was a good one and built several years ago by Dr. Neisler. Arrangements have been made and the citizens of the neighborhood we learn will soon have the house rebuilt at the old site.

Planter' Academy-Carsonville

Location: LL 131 24th District. Carsonville. Became part of Taylor Co in 1854. Legislature gave part of eastern Talbot County to Taylor County.
April 6, 1842 conveyed one acre LL131 24th Dist Robert Carson formally donated land for the Planters' Academy that had been in operation for 8 years. Trustees: Richard R. Rucker, John Carson, Howell Short, John Emerson; Wm P Edwards and Nathaniel Raines . Located next to Carsonville Methodist Church. Henry Mangham was an early teacher from its beginning for about 20 years.
Carson, R to Planters Academy 165 Deed Book C
Source: Mangham, Dana M. Oh For a Touch of the Vanished Hand. Discovering a Southern Family and the Civil War. Southern Historical Press, 2000.

Willis Academy

The first school at Crowell Church had already been established when Henry Crowell on March 10, 1831 wrote the official deed of gift of 10 acres on the West side of Flint River Indian Agency Reserve Lot No 2 : "it being a part of said Lot containing ten acres & one Road" to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church . This deed specifically mentions "a school upon said premises where the school house now stands & the use of the well by said school for the time present or at any other time." The Trustees at the time were: Benjamin Weatherby, William Northern, Septimus Weatherby, Joseph McGee and Reuben B. Davis.
This deed is on-line in Family Search for Crawford County Deed Bk A pg. 643. Transcribed deed: http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/crawford/deeds/crowell218ndd.txt

Willis Academy was probably established under this name around 1884. The building was located across the road from Crowells Methodist Church.

Joab Willis was a farmer and large land owner in that area. His wife, Christian, was a member of Crowell Methodist Church although he was not. However, Mr. Willis played a large role financially in its construction, and therefore the Academy was named for him.

The Butler Herald, March 27, 1885
"Joab Willis who took such a prominent part in its erection. The school is taught by Rev. I.F. Griffith and bids 'ere [before] long to be one of the best schools in the county. " March 27, 1885
NOTE: I.F. Griffith in 1880 is 29 Ignatius Few M.G. & Teaching school

Butler Herald
Vol 12 #3 22 Nov 1887
A Sad Death. Mr. Joab Willis breathes his last at Carither's Hotel. Left his home in the northeast portion of this county for Butler last Saturday. Started home and was thrown from buggy. In the excitement of the fall, his doctor thinks he was stricken with paralysis and was found unconscious. He was unable to speak to the moment of death. He was between 75 to 80 years of age. Never married. Prosperous farmer and wealthy owning property in Crawford, Taylor and Macon counties to the amount of $8,000 and $10,000. Left no will. No near relative. Interred in the cemetery in Butler. C.J. Thornton, Esq of columbus has been appointed temporary administrator.
A later Butler Herald paper:"CJ Thornton refused to accept administratorship, probably W.H. Fickling to be appointed Nov 29 1887". Mr. Willis is buried in Butler Memorial Cemetery.

Butler Herald May 19, 1891
Willis Academy there are enrolled the names of thirty or more pupils, when there ought to be 75. There are over 200 school children in Panhandle. Perhaps thirty are enjoying the benefits of a free education. Willis Academy is presided over by one of the best teachers in the county. May 19, 1891

May 5, 1891. Miss Cora Singleton, who has charge of the school at Willis Academy is attending the State School Convention at Brunswick. Miss Bessie Singleton, an accomplished young lady has charge of the school during her sister's absence.

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