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HENDERSON COUNTY
TENNESSEE




Russells Cross Roads School

Bottom Row: Cletus Wallace, LaVonne Russell, Lynn Priddy, Odell Little, Hermus Hubbard, Elton Russell, Dennis Horner, Ollie Stanfill, R.D. Buck, Wayne Priddy, Ervin Russell, W.T. Waller, Pink Sergurson, Charles Russell, Howard NcNatt, Edward Taylor, Von Wilkins, Thomas Russell, Clyde Russell
Row 2: Grady Russell, Orlandas Harrigan, J.D. Russell, Katherine Jones, Flossie Page, Kathleen Taylor, Dorothy Harris, Mary Adcock, Helen Hubbard, Sadie Daws, Eurata Russell, Agnes Milam, Rosa Harston, J.C. Blanton, Carmon Little, Nelson Lawler, Virgil Little, Guy Russell, Ralph Russell.
Row 3: Laurence Russell, Martha Blanton, Margaret Russell, Elizabeth Milam, Dorothy Sumner, Mable England, Katherine Wilkins, Annie Lee Smith, Frances Russell, Alma Hubbard, Corine Russell, Verdell Blanton, Wilma Sue Waller, Ethel Sumler, Exie Adcock, Clara Hinson, Louise Hubbard, Monteray Dodd, Ader Blanton, Lora Mae Whittle, Ruth Gilliam, Virdie Little, Ruth Harris
Row 4: Earl Beasley, Johnny Greenway, Carl Russell, Lois Adcock, Jewel Buck, Lela Gant, Baxter Fields, Delia Hinson, Edward Taylor, Eva Hubbard, Harry Hill, Rena Gilliam, Everett Russell, Dorothy Pope, Robert Blanton, Flora Pope, Max Fields, Stell Hinson, Robert Taylor, Willard Serguson, Hollie Stanfill
Row 5: Verdell Hinson, Bill Daws, Ola Mae Russell, Clarence Dodds, Lillian Little, Everett Adcock, Ophelia Adcock, Lee Little, Katherine Thomas, Otis Russell, Exie Lawler, Opal Hubbard, Robert Putnam, Ruth Thomas, Earl Little, Eutra Russell
Row 6: Marshall Gilliam, Inez Sumler, Lennie Blanton, Zella Holmes (teacher), Ruby Wallace (teacher), Irby K. Pope (Principal), Pearl Finley (teacher) Fray Hinson, Louise Waller, Rex Pope


All of my life I remember hearing wonderful stories about school days at Russell's Crossroads in Henderson County from my mother, Ola Russell Johnson. As we drove from Henderson, in Chester County to Juno to visit relatives, she would remember and relive those happy childhood days - and in more recent years tell these stories to my children, Julie Anne and Mark Russell Harris.

In this story and one printed earlier, I am attempting to recapture the history and the memory of this school which has disappeared from this land except in the hearts and lives of its pupils. I hope that its influence will continue to live in succeeding generations.

In 1923 a new school was built at Russell's Crossroads for grades 1-8. Irby K. Pope was its first principal and served until the spring of 1926. He was hired by Otis Holmes, Superintendent of Henderson County Schools at a salary of $100 a month based on a 5 month session - one of the highest salaries paid a teacher at the time. The school grew rapidly and two more grades were added that next year and Russell's Crossroads became a high school. From 1924 to 1926, it was the second largest school in the county, next to Lexington City School, having 155 students.

The five teachers teaching there were; Pearl Johnson Finley, Ruby Wallace Garner, Zella Holmes, Berta Ray (music) and Mr. Pope. Subjects taught in the high school were; algebra, civics, agriculture, Latin, French, spelling, grammar, music and history. In the high school and upper grades a spelling bee and arithmetic match were held in each room on Friday afternoon. Children came from Unity, Ollies Grove, Luray, Crossroads, White Fern, Crucifer and Beech Bluff. Mr. Pope lived at Crucifer and a group of students would meet him at the store there each morning and ride in his "school bus", a covered wagon, and then he would pick up children all along the way. Jim Russell also drove a covered wagon loaded with children. Others walked, rode in buggies, wagons and on horses and quartered their animals during the day in the Old Tabernacle Building which stood nearby.

A few years later Obie Hubbard drove a wagon to transport the children. On January 4, 1939, at about 3 p.m., a tornado passed through the Luray area and hit the school wagon loaded with children. The school had been warned of its approach and had dismissed early. The tornado took the bed off the wagon wheels and lifted it in the air - level with the utility poles and then slid the children out the back. Ranell Ross suffered a broken collarbone and Mr. Hubbard was injured seriously, but thankfully the other children only suffered bruises and the injured recovered. No one would drive the school wagon after that experience so the children had to find their own way. Later a bus picked them up whenever the road allowed it. B.D. Anderson was the first bus driver.

>The school building had four large classrooms, a music room and a cloak room. A curtain divided two of the rooms and it was pulled back for chapel programs. The children would assemble in the front of the school each morning, weather permitting, before 8 o'clock and march into the building for chapel, in two lines, boys on one side and girls on the other. Chapel consisted of Bible reading, prayer and singing. They would then go to their classrooms where they studied until 4 o'clock with a one hour break for lunch and play and a 30 minute recess in the morning and afternoon. Occasionally the school would put on a dramatic production, a play such as "Clay's the Thing", "Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party" and others. Admission was charged and the proceeds were used to buy library books and other supplies needed by the school. There was no organized parent teacher organization, but Mr. Pope would call a meeting of the parents whenever a need arose, and the parents could always be depended on to help. The school was the hub of the community.

Recently Mother and I visited with Irby K. Opoe and his wife Bertha, in their home on Natchez Trace Drive. Mr. Pope, a very spry, interesting and versatile 89 year old gentleman, remember many stories of school days at Russell's Crossroads. In 1924, he remembers when one of his pupils, Homer Dodds, (10 year old son of Dick Dods) died and the whole school marched to just outside Luray to pay their respects to his family. He wrote this poem at that time in his memory.

In our poor and feeble way,
we have come our last tribute to pay;
To a little one of our number,
Who now lives in peaceful slumber.

We do not know how to do
to show our sympathy to you
And express our sorrow and regret
That he is not with us yet

Let it be as it may
We shall never forget the day;
When he was with us in our play
And said his speech about "the hay."

With sorrow and sadness our hearts do burn
As we think of him and to school return
At an hour not later than eleven
But we hope to meet him in Heaven.

Discipline was meted out in different ways and whenever necessary as a result of a prank or misbehavior. Robert Putnam still remembers once when Mr. Pope had to go out of the room on business and returned sooner than he expected - just as he threw a powder puff at one of the girls. Mr. Pope looked at him very seriously and sternly said for all to hear, "He threw but he threw at the wrong time." Not a sound was made by anyone for everyone knew that Robert was caught red handed. Mr. Pope says he tried to make the punishment "something you'd always remember", such as write off spelling, "set a copy" or write a lesson several times. He also believes that teacher then didn't have as great a problem with discipline because a child knew that if he got a spanking at school, his parents would support the teacher and give him another one when he got home.

Upon leaving, I asked Mr. Pope if he had any advice for teachers and parents of today and he very wisely said, "No, times have changed too much." But in 1924 he composed another poem for the girls at Crossroads School which can still be useful for us today.

On this beautiful winter day
To the girls of Cross Roads I wish to say
If you want friends you may
Secure them in this way.

The first think you should do
To your parents you must be true
And when they say to work
Your duty you must not shirk

The second thing just be sweet
When unpleasant things you meet
These you can better treat
With not your tongue, but your feet

J.B. Smith became principal in the fall of 1926 and R.E. Powers, Superintendent. The school also began to meet for an eight month session. In 1927 Roy McPeake was principal during the two month summer session and Varnell Taylor, principal during the winter session which began the last of October and continued for six months. The principal taught the 9th and 10th grades; Mary Nelle (Serguson) Outlaws, the 6th, 7th and 8th; Madge (Roberts) Johnson, the 3rd, 4th and 5th; and Zella Holmes, the 1st and 2nd.

Mary Nelle Outlaw taught at Russell's Crossroads 26 years, from 1927 - 1932 and again 1938 - 1959. She taught there until school closed. She remembers working there with many good teachers such as; Paxton Montgomery, Ruth (Thomas) Arendall, Katherine Thomas, Maxine Taylor, Oberlon Bolen, Willie D. Parham, Jewel Pope, Ada McPeake and Aubrey Lipscomb. In 1938, she earned $50 per month and walked to school.

The high school continued until about 1933 but began to lose students and was soon discontinued due to a change in livelihood of many of its area residents. The principal occupation was farming and the principal crop was cotton. The majority of the farmers were "sharecroppers" - not owning their own land, but farming it for a share of the profit. The federal government began the "Conservation Reserve Program" which paid the landowner "not" to grow cotton, as a result the sharecropper had to relocate to find another livelihood. The school dropped down to a two teacher school and then about 1948 became a one teacher school. It continued until the spring of 1959 when Westover School was built to consolidate all the community schools.

Mrs. Outlaw remembers in 1950 when Russell's Crossroads had the distinction of having a 27 years old GI veteran in the third grade. He had returned from service and wanted to finish his education. He completed the elementary level and graduated from the 8th grade in two years. Then went on to high school and finished there in two more years. Today she remembers him with pride for he manages a large supermarket. Ramell Allen began the first hot lunch program in about 1938 at Russell's Crossroads. She was paid $1.50 per week and her salary and lunch room expenses came from student fees. Then in 1940, the federal government began to fund the lunch program and she was paid 33 cents per hour. Her labors included; planting and cultivating a garden for the school; gathering vegetables and fruits, such as blackberries and canning the produce. Chet Hamlett provided a rent free garden. Mrs. Outlaw remembers one year when Mrs. Allen picked and canned 125 qts. of blackberries for the lunch program.

In 1946, the Commodity Program began and Verdell (Hinson) Evans was the lunchroom supervisor and cook. She continued faithfully until 1959 when she moved to Westover, along with Mrs. Outlaw who taught the fourth grade in the new school. Mrs. Marion "Granny" Hubbard who died in 1942 at the age of 94, attended Russell's Crossroads. -- the article continued but was not with the article I found.

Written by Sylvia Johnson Harris, Henderson TN. News article accompanied by the photo probably published in the Lexington Progress. No date.

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