CALHOUN'S FIRST SCHOOL WAS IN 1818 - Early Ventures Public Education


Roberts and Bell sent the above letter to invite citizens to
participate in their "Arnoldsburg Seminary" - a teacher's institute

By Bob Weaver

The first school in Calhoun County, according to oral history, was on Sixteen Ridge near Annamoriah-Big Bend. Robert Clifford taught twelve students in a cave about 1818, later known as Schoolhouse Cave.

The first school held in a building was in a log cabin in Sheridan District in 1824.

Reverend Jonathan Smith taught sessions of school at Grantsville in 1847.

Before 1860, the county had created four school districts, with the expansion of education coming to a halt during the Civil War.

The free school system very slowly came to Calhoun, with John Bennett, David Knight and Alexander Rice serving as the county's first superintendents after the war, being elected by ballot.

By 1872, the county had 20 dedicated school buildings and school being conducted in 10 "borrowed" buildings.

Professor J. R. Pell taught "a select school of 30 students at Brooksville," in 1880 and schools were coming to many parts of the county.

Grantsville Grade School was first opened in 1890, as Teacher's Institutes became popular methods of training teachers.

John H. Roberts served the first four year term as superintendent in 1894. Roberts, with Samuel Paris Bell, a Grantsville attorney and one-time editor of the Calhoun Chronicle, taught at Teacher's Institutes, including the one shown above at Arnoldsburg in 1896.

Education expanded rapidly in the county after 1900 with a record 104 schools, mostly one room.

Photo courtesy of Donna Erlewine

The Hotel Meadows in Arnoldsburg was the site of a Summer Normal School, training for teachers in 1908. later in the century it was occupied by the Hall family, a site now occupied by Houchin's Rentals.

Bruce Ferrell was the principal of the class shown above. Some of those listed on the back of the photo are, Alfonso Kingsbury, Tressa Lester, Clyde Meadows, S. M. Arnold, Jennie Miller, Lizzie Nester, Ocie Sturm, a Reip and a Keith.


See related story CALHOUN'S FAMOUS SCHOOLHOUSE CAVE - Education In 1818