To The
S C H O O L S
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HENDERSON COUNTY
TENNESSEE




BEAVER SCHOOL
Wildersville

By Jeanne Crews Taylor
From the Lexington Library

Beaver School is located in the Parkers Crossroads community at the intersection of Highway 22 and Interstate 40. The community began at the area where a hard battle was fought during the Civil War. A large number of Union soldiers were killed when General Bedford Forrest drove the Federals off the field.

Hiram Britt was one of the first settlers at Crossroads who came in and settled near a large spring. The oldest building stood near the crossing on the farm of Mrs. Mollie Rosser.

The first store was owned by Hiram, but later J. B. Olive owned and operated a store there as well.

There was no postoffice at Crossroads for some time. Wildersville's carrier, Willie Scott, delivered the mail for several years.

The first school was small; the daily attendance of which was about 51. Two teachers taught there. Some who taught there in early times were Jesse B. Austin, Willie Bradfield, members of the Boswell family and others.

In 1950, eight schools were consolidated to make what is known today a?. Beaver. These were: Timberlake, Roberts, Howard, Wildersville, Rock Springs, Union Cross, Long Sought, and the existing Beaver. Mr. Ashley Adams was its first principal, after which Billy Crockett, Don Martin, Granville Milan, and Mayrene Peterson were principals. Mr. Kenneth Reed is currently principal at Beaver.

Each of the schools that disbanded at consolidation had a rich heritage and love and human interest of its own. Many happy days as well as some trying times, perhaps, were spent in the small schools where children from the communities sat at the feet of dedicated teachers.

Mr. C. F. Lee tells the story about the time when he was teaching at Timberlake. They, like all rural schools at the time, had outdoor toilets. Each year, they made it a habit to move them from place to place. Each time, the hole was left behind, uncovered!

It was his first year of teaching that one day at recess a young lad came upon an open hole. It had rained the night before and the hole was full. The boy, wanting to impress his friends, remarked, "Watch me jump it!" Well, the boy's confidence was much greater than his strength because in he went! Mr. Lee says he had to take the boy home for a bath and some dry clothes.

Mr. Lee attended Long Sought School as a boy and recalls some of his own mischief at this country school. He says that Mr. Elbert Petty was his teacher and it was the practice of boys, back then, to cut a joint of cane through which they shot paper wads. "One day at recess when I was twelve," he said, "we rushed out like a herd of cattle and I had my popgun ready. I wasn't aiming at anyone, but right in front of me a boy stood with his mouth open. Guess what. The paper wad went right into his mouth. Boy, did I get it! Mr. Elbert had a big oak tree that he called the 'jail'. When we did something we shouldn't, he'd make us sit under that tree and wouldn't allow us to play for the rest of the recess. He would say we were in jail." Mr. Lee said he had been back to the area of the old school house but he couldn't locate the big oak tree.

Long Sought is a community located approximately seven miles from Wildersville. The school was named by Joe Boswell, Sr. because they had waited so long for a school. Long Sought is about three miles from Beaver School and there are few homes there now. Mr. Guy Walker, who runs the cattle barn in Lexington, owns a nice home there. Willie Rhodes ran a cotton gin, grist mill, and sawmill there at one time.

Pleasant Exchange is another community that is located about four miles from Beaver. There was once a race track where the betting on horses went on. It was rumored that Andrew Jackson, who was known for fine horses, often brought them to Pleasant Exchange for the races.

Wildersville is located approximately 12 miles north of Lexington. It was founded in 1860 and was named for Ed Wilder. Its first merchant was Priestley Parker, father of Joe P. Parker who ran a mercantile business in Wildersville. It has been said that these large stores stocked everything from ladies pretty dresses, fancy hats, overalls, and boots to farming tools.

At one time, there was a tobacco factory, grist mill, woodshop, carding factory, and sawmill at Wildersville. There were no churches at first, but soon a Baptist Church was erected and later a Methodist and Church of Christ were built.

Dr. McCollum was a prominent surgeon who had grown up in Madison County. He attended Vanderbilt Medical School and moved to Wildersville to practice. Later, Dr. Bolen practiced in the area. He also owned a drugstore. Mrs. Martha Joe Boswell Austin, whose mother was Lorene Boswell, says, "I remember my little dog, Bounce, would go to the showcase and scratch on it. Grandad Bolen would give him some candy."

In recalling her early childhood days in Wildersville, Mrs. Austin recalls, "The post office run by Mrs. Essie Britt had a small variety store in the same building. I spent many happy hours playing in her store with close friends, Billie Britt and Ivory Fesmire."

Mrs. Austin lived in Wildersville until she was 11, when her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Boswell, Jr., moved to Scotts Hill. Mr. Boswell taught agriculture there for many years. Most folks around Scotts Hill remember Mr. Joe Boswell and his wonderful sense of humor.

"I remember Wildersville as being a lively, wonderful place to live," Mrs. Austin says. She is the widow of Dr. Leon Austin, and has resided in Memphis for many years.

Like many rural communities, Wildersville's population has fallen since the trains stopped. There's not a lot there now except a few homes and some old landmarks—of course there's a lot of good memories.

Beaver School is one of Henderson County's most progressive schools. According to Mr. Reed, five buses pick up and deliver students to and from the school. Its faculty is great and most of Beaver's student's go on to finish high school and many go to college. "We're fortunate," Mr. Reed says, "to have good students and parents who back our programs." A visit to Beaver School proves he is right.

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