Reborn and Still Kicking

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Thirty-One

Hello, everyone. My name is Oak Grove. I am a two room school building in the Sharps Chapel area of Union County.

For the past two weeks my “scribe” Ronnie Mincey has written articles about me, detailing pertinent points of my history for school terms 1932-1933 and 1934-1935. His main source for information has been the old registers on file at the Union County Board of Education’s Central Office, my “diaries”.

I have reminisced about teachers H. E. Anderson, Duetta Anderson, Belvia Anderson, Maggie Stiner Walker, Mary Irwin, and Nelson Chesney. Another teacher who taught in my first building was Lelia(?) Whited (1934-1936).

As I mentioned previously, the registers date my original construction as 1895. An untold number of students and teachers taught and attended school in my first building prior to 1932 when the earliest registers for my school are on file at the Union County Board of Education Central Office.

The earliest registers on file record the condition of my building as in definite need of improvement. After 41 years of service, my first building was replaced with a brand new Oak Grove School in 1936.

The first register on file after my “rebirth” containing a “Teachers’ Annual Property Report” (To Be Made Out by the Principal Only) was for school year 1937-1938. It was completed by Teaching Principal O. F. Cook, who taught at Oak Grove in both my first and second buildings and certainly appreciated the improvement in educational conditions that the new building provided.

The 1937-1938 register did not require as much detail as this same report did in prior years. My new building was described as a frame structure heated by an ordinary stove. Three rooms are listed; rooms one and two each had 720 square feet, and the third room had 280 square feet, total 1,720 square feet.

The new building had “window board” ventilation and contained 24 single and 22 double patent desks. Water was provided by a sanitary well on the three-acre grounds valued at $300. Mr. Cook listed the value of my playground equipment as $25, while the building and “heating plant” were valued at $1,000.

At the beginning of the 1937-1938 school year, Mr. Cook recorded no usable books in the school library; one set was added during the school year at a cost of $65. Interestingly, Mr. Cook’s report stated there were no books at the end of the school year, though one hundred books were secured from state traveling libraries during the school year.

Mr. Cook’s register for 1937-1938 listed the following Daily Program of Work:

8:00 to 8:15 Chapel
8:15 to 9:30 English
9:30 to 10:00 English 8th
10:00 to 10:15 Recess
10:15 to 11:15 English 7, 6, & 5
11:15 to 12:00 Reading 8, 7, 6, & 5
12:00 to 1:00 Noon
1:00 to 1:30 7 + 8 Combined, 5 + 6 Combined
1:30 to 2:30 Geography (7 + 8 Combined, 6th)
2:30 to 2:45 Recess
2:45 to 3:00 Geography 5th
3:00 to 3:40 History 8th, 7th & 6th alternated)
3:00 to 4:00 Spelling

A note followed this schedule: “Practically all written work. This Program was not followed strictly as there was alternations in Health, History and Music.”

Mr. Cook’s “Record of the Year’s Work” is somewhat difficult to follow, though it includes the words “complete” or “completed” sixteen times. Obviously the curriculum in those days was dictated by the textbook, and the goal for the year seems to have been to complete each book for each subject in each grade. The “Record of Year’s Work” mentions “Arithmetic” and “Civics”, though the subjects are not listed in the “Daily Program of Work”.

In his “Teacher’s Record”, Mr. Cook described himself as an unmarried white male born on October 9, 1907 who was a permanent resident of Sharps Chapel. He listed his certification as “Permanent”, “Four Year” and his “Examination” as “Four Year”. He was both an elementary and high school graduate, with 122 college credits from the University of Tennessee and 12 college credits earned in the summer of 1934 from “S.T.C. Johnson City” (Dr. Mincey assumes this means “State Teachers College” located in Johnson City, Tennessee). Mr. Cook reported that he was “specifically prepared to teach . . . upper elementary”. In 1937-1938, Mr. Cook was serving Oak Grove as both the fourth through eighth grade teacher and principal of a “2-Teacher School”. Mr. Cook had six years prior experience earned in four different locations. Listing his number of dependents as “one” (Dr. Mincey assumes this would have been himself), the “length of term expected” was eight months with a monthly salary of $83.

A great number of teachers would serve parts of their careers at Oak Grove. The registers on file include the following teachers and the years taught:

Lelia Whited (1934-1936) O. F. Cook (1935-1938)
Lou Baker (1936-1940; 1942-1943) Lewis L. Bridges (1938-1941)
Vera Anderson (1940-1941) Billie Bailey Myers (1941-1942)
Edna Malone (1941-1942) Ruby Baker (1942-1943; 1957-1959)
Gwendolyn L. Lynch (1943-1944) Sarah Williams (1943-1944)
Glen Seals (1944-1945) Thomas Cole (1944-1946)
Ella Jean Davis (1945-1946) Anita Malone (1941-1942)
Mae Woods (1946-1948) Leon Dyke (1946-1947)
Georgina Moore (1948-1950) Emerson Ellison (1949-1950)
Maxine Clawson (1950-1951) Vera Stiner (1950-1956; 1963-1965)
Betty Sharp ((1951-1953) Allena Heath [Sharp] (1953-1956)
Esther Lou Shoffner (1956-1957) Alma Jean Kivett (1956-1957; 1961-1962)
Jo Anne Ellison (1957-1958) Louisa Riley (1958-1960)
Clyde Ellison (1959-1961) Wilma Lou Cole [Tolliver] (1960-1965)
Davis Wright (1962-1963)

Many of these teachers served Union County in other capacities. Additional information and pictures of teachers who served Oak Grove may be found in The Last Echo: A Pictorial History of Horace Maynard High School, Maynardville, Tennessee (Including Historical Data to 1997), compiled and edited by Kathleen George Graves and Lois Campbell Hartsell and in Bonnie Heiskell Peters’ book Union County Schoolday Memories: A Pictorial History of Union County Elementary Schools from the Mid-1800s to the 1960s (published in 1999).

There were at one time many one- and two-room small schools spread throughout Union County. Over the years, one by one we all closed, our teachers and students “consolidated” into the larger brick and cinder block schools. My last year of service as a public school was 1964-1965. The last teachers to teach at Oak Grove were Wilma Lou Cole Tolliver and Vera Stiner. Beginning in the fall of 1965, all students and teachers from Oak Grove were moved with those from Union, Big Sinks and Rush Strong schools into the brand new Sharps Chapel Elementary School which still serves the Sharps Chapel community today.

I served the Sharps Chapel area as a school in my first building for forty-one years and in my second for twenty-nine years. For many years my second building remained virtually unused. Through the efforts of Preservation Union County and untold hours of work and labor donated by many individuals too numerous to list here, my second building has been renovated and was dedicated to the public on September 30, 2017. Presently, one of the two former classrooms serves as the Sharps Chapel Book Station.

So, that’s my story. I’m 123 years old, on the first renovation of my second building, still serving the Sharps Chapel community. I have been so fortunate to have so many people who have loved, cared for and preserved me. So many of my brother and sister two room schools either no longer exist or are in a sad state of repair. But whether we live or die, old schools always live on in the memories of those who learned and worked there.

Please feel free to come and see me, and check out the Sharps Chapel Book Station. I love to entertain company and remind the public of the glories of the happy school days gone by.

So long for now. Next week, Dr. Mincey will be on his own again and will share a tail of fright and wonder.

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Need A Ride To Church

Fellowship Christian Church located at 746 Tazewell Pike Luttrell TN 37779 will pickup anyone in the local area needing a ride to church. Call Sam at 865-607-3741 to schedule a ride.

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Sunday School 10:00 AM
Sunday Worship Service 11:00 A.M
Sunday Evening Service 6:30 P.M
Wednesday Service 7:00 P.M

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Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

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A celebration of life service is being planned for a later date. Trinity Funeral Home, LLC, Maynardville, has the honor to serve the family of Nathan Davis. 865-992-5002 www.trinityfuneralhome.net

Edward Robert Collette

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Ed was born September 19, 1964. Ed graduated the University of Florida with a degree in Environmental Engineering. He was elected and served as international president of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He loved the ocean and spent a better part of his life on the beaches in Florida. His hobbies included fishing, scuba diving, body building, hunting and wood working.

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He was a longtime member and deacon of Smithwood Baptist Church.
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Barbara E. Acuff

Barbara E. (Hunter) Acuff-age 88 of Corryton passed away Monday, January 14, 2019 at North Knoxville Medical Center. She was a member of Clear Branch Baptist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Bill Acuff, parents, Clarence and Mossie (Wallace) Hunter; sisters, Geniva and Roy Burnett; Elise and Ken Beeler, Wanda and Don Beeler, Lois and Heral Kitts, Joyce Williams, brothers, Author, Earl, Ralph and Paul Hunter.

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