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WPA Interviews

Chronological Events





Narrator: Mrs. Mamie Eldredge, 75, of Hamilton

In the early seventies and late sixties, schools here in Hamilton were held in a little brown frame school house of two rooms on the lots where now stands the Methodist parsonage. In later years, a part of it was moved to the site of the present South Side School and became known as the "Little Brown School", even after it was painted white. In its first location, the teachers were Miss Sarah (Dot) Morrow, lower teacher, and Mrs. Place, the other room.

Other grades in the school were in the Whitely Building (or the old Windmill) opposite what is now the City Park, directly east and across Highway 10. After going a while to the first mentioned school, I went to the Whitely or Windmill building, with the following teachers - Mr. Chadeon, Henry Gee, and Miss Clara Van Slyke (afterwards Mrs. Daley, mother of Dr. Lyle Daley).

Later on for a short time school was held in a two story frame building on the east side of South Main about where the barber shop and shoe shop now stand. The upper rooms were two - the front one was a school room, the back was where the Hamilton paper was printed. Leander Theodore Hill was the teacher.

Then came the occupying of the new brick school building on the north side with Prof. D.M. Ferguson as principal, and Miss Fouk as assistant. She taught one month and married; then came Miss Ella Griffin who was the assistant for several years. Prof. Ferguson taught nine consecutive years 1873-82 and his age was about 41 when he left. He left here to go to Gallatin where he received $720.00 a year.

The upper floor of this grand building was one large room with a recitation and entrance at the north end. The lower floor had two rooms with two entrance halls at each end. These housed the intermediate and primary departments. C.S. Shellabarger was the intermediate and Miss Anna Smith primary teacher.

Classes were divided in the upper room into A,B,C,D,E Classes. The E class sat upstairs but recited downstairs. School duties were carried on by system. The 1-2-3 signals meant, rise, go to the recitation seats, be seated, and the dismissal from class was by the same signal. Classes were seated in the room according to merit in scholarship; those having highest grades had the back seats.

Monitors were appointed for different duties: Water monitors passed the water around at stated intervals; pen and pencil monitors and copy book monitors distributed these articles before a writing lesson and collected them giving them to Prof. Ferguson.

Prof. Ferguson was so anxious to help his pupils learn that he offered a Latin class. Several boys and girls wanted the course; so he not being able to get it in the program, taught it after supper. Many a night we went over to the north side to get our Latin lessons, till some of us finished the first book and the Latin reader.

(That was the last chance that Hamilton High School pupils had at Latin till Prof. Gentry came 1891 as superintendent - Interviewer's note.)

Interview October 1933.

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