The following is a history of McCall Creek-East Franklin School. Although it focuses primarily on the McCall Creek School, it also presents an excellent overview of the Franklin County Schools in general.
The work has been edited to include a paragraph on Franklin County Agricultural School.
A SHORT HISTORY
McCALL CREEK - EAST FRANKLIN SCHOOL
- B. W. Tarver
Franklin County is one of the oldest counties in Mississippi. It was established in 1809 -11 years after Mississippi was admitted as a territory in 1798 and 8 years before it became a state in 1817. Before 1809 it was a part of the Adams County territory. A large part of what is now Lincoln County was a part of Franklin County territory until 1870 when Lincoln County was formed from portions of Franklin, Copiah, Amite, Pike and Lawrence Counties.
Many early settlers were indifferent about educating their children and there were but few schoolhouses. In the early part of the 1800's many private schools were located in various parts of the county. This was when Franklin County was first settled and there were no buildings vacant in which to teach. Tutors were paid for and selected by the parents. There were only a few pupils and these were taught in the homes. One of the early private schools was located in the eastern part of Franklin County near McCall Creek. It was organized by several families who had children of school age. George Cloy came from South Carolina and taught this school from 1825 to 1835. Mr. Cloy was very strict with his students and in many cases the children were severely punished.
One form of punishment was beating with a stick. For milder punishment, pupils wore dunce caps or stood on one foot with his nose in a ring drawn on the wall. This was one of the earliest schools of the county and pupils were taught to be independent thinkers and fitted to be managers of their homes later. The people began to see the increasing need of education for their children.
On March 4, 1848 the legislature of Mississippi passed an act to establish a system of common schools but differed in the method of its support. People were too poor to consent to additional taxation. Then on July 4,1870 the legislature passed an act to regulate the supervision and maintenance of a uniform system of public education for the State of Mississippi. This is when the public school system as we know it today was created. The law provided that every county should have at least four months of school each year.
This was right after the Civil War and most people were too poor to send their children to private schools.
Before the war public schools were not popular with the well-to-do. They felt that public schools were for only the poor. Now, as a result of the Civil War, everyone was poor and all the children went to the public schools -that is, the girls and small boys did. If they lived on the farm, as most did, the older boys had to stay at home and work on the farm except in mid-winter.
It was a hard struggle to get enough money to build schools and employ good teachers. It was necessary to begin at the bottom for there were few good teachers and only the beginning of a school system. In addition provisions had to be made for the negro children after the Civil War.
The towns soon managed to have fairly comfortable school buildings and some trained teachers. But for many years the country school was a one room log house with only one teacher. Log houses had open cracks in floors and walls giving excessive sharp ventilation in the winter. The furnishings were usually a blackboard nailed to the wall, a few rough benches and a crudely made teacher's desk and in the center -when the building wasn't heated by a huge fireplace- a cheap iron heater which the boys in school took turns in supplying with wood from the nearby forest. Often there were no requirements for the teacher but a severe temper and a strong right arm.
The school day started at 8:00 o'clock and ended at noon without any recess. A favorite method of punishing was the slapping of pupils' ears and a stick hung on the wall for this special purpose. Sometimes a quill would be split and stuck over the end of an offending pupil's nose.
Arithmetic, reading, geography, writing and spelling were the main subjects taught. There was no abundance of books and a pupil spent a whole year droning over one thin reader.
After 1870 small public schools grew in number. At one time there were as many as 80 small public elementary schools in Franklin County. Among these were: (1) Ruth; (2) Union; (3) Oak Grove; (4) Almo; (5) Sand Hill; (6) McCall Creek; (7) Wright (Some called it Pine Ridge); and (8) Ramah.
Up until 1901 there were no public high schools in Franklin County. In that year Little Springs became the first chartered high school in the county. It admitted high school students from Franklin, Amite and Lincoln Counties. It was a boarding school. English, mathematics, science, and social studies were the basic high school subjects offered.
Because of the booming agricultural market, on Tuesday, September 9, 1913, Franklin County Agricultural High School was opened. It was located where cafeteria of the present Franklin County High School sits. Seventy students were the first to enroll for the 1913-1914 school year. Franklin County Agricultural High School was a boarding school and was located on 150 acres, fifty was in cultivation. Along with a male dormitory, female dormitory, dining hall, classroom facilities, a dairy and hog farm was located on the school campus. The school owned mules and other adequate tools for farming. Male students were required to enroll a minimum of two years of agricultural study. Female students were required to enroll a minimum of two years of home economics study. Students were also required to work a minimum of five hours per week on campus. The work performed was applied to the boarding costs. Any student who worked more than five hours a week was paid ten cents per hour. To be admitted to Franklin County Agricultural High School, prospective students had to present evidence of good character and willingness to learn to the principal. The cost of attending was $113.42. This fee included enrollment fees, room and board, and textbooks. There was also an extra dollar charge for music fees. Students who attended the school traveled by train and horseback from all over the county.
The Great Depression ended Franklin County Agricultural High School. Boarding and agricultural operations were stopped at the end of the 1934-1935 school year. The following school year, the name was changed to Meadville High School. The first graduating class of Meadville High School was the Class of 1936.
In the early 1920's a move was made to consolidate some of the small schools into larger ones. In 1920 the voters of the school districts of Ruth, a part of Union, a part of Oak Grove, Sand Hill, McCall, Wright and Ramah voted to consolidate with McCall Creek School. Dr. D. P. Butler took a very active role in promoting the consolidation. He furnished the land on which to build the new school building. In 1921 the school building was finished and the first full school session was taught in it in 1921-22. Only grades one through eleven were taught the first year. Grade twelve was added the second year, 1922-23. The first group of students to finish grade twelve from the newly formed school was in the spring of 1923.
During the year 1933-34 a gymnasium was built with WPA and donated labor. It was first used during the 1934-35 full year. The material used in its construction was donated by patrons and other interested parties in the community. A teacher's home was purchased from Mr. Coley C. Ratcliff in the early 1930's. In the upper 1940's Lucien school was closed and its students were transferred to McCall School. The name of the school was changed from McCall Creek School to East Franklin School.
Up until 1953 the McCall School District was an independent one. In that year the state legislature passed the minimum education act which placed all administrative operations of the entire county school system into one under the County Superintendent and the County School Board of Education. Each of the schools in the county became attendance centers. The head of each school was changed from Superintendent to Attendance Center Principal. Further consolidation was in the making and in 1962 all schools in Franklin County were consolidated into one -"Franklin County
High School and Franklin County Elementary School" -located at Meadville, Mississippi.
Over the 42 years history of the McCall Creek-East Franklin School many young men and women of the school district and community walked across the stage on graduation night to receive diplomas upon their graduation. It is impossible to name all the great-vocations taken up in life by former students of this school. Many of those who attended have passed away over the years. Many of its graduates, and some before graduation, answered the call to serve our country in war. Some never returned safely to their loved ones. They fought and died so that our country might continue to enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers fought for and died for in settling this country. Patriotism was taught at McCall Creek School -to love and defend our country even in war if necessary.
REGARDLESS OF THE PROFESSION OR OCCUPATION TAKEN UP BY EACH STUDENT WHO ATTENDED THIS SCHOOL ALL SHOULD ALWAYS HOLD THEIR HEADS UP HIGH WITHOUT SHAME AND SAY "I AM PROUD OF THE EDUCATION AND TRAINING I RECEIVED AT THE McCALL CREEK OR EAST FRANKLIN SCHOOL, FRANKLIN COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI ".