FROM DAYS PAST A look back at Longview and its school system
This article is written as a tribute to all the alumni of the Longview Schools who would have gathered for their 61st annual reunion held in October.
The reunion was cancelled this year due to health reasons. Tom and Miriam Cook have served as President and Secretary-Treasurer for many years and have organized and kept the Longview School Reunion active.
The stories and memories of long ago at The Longview Schools have spread throughout the United States because students attended the boarding school from outside the state.
From Starkville, meandering a little more than eight miles down an old rock road called the “Old Longview Road” took you directly to the heart of Longview, a booming town.
In 1850, Roderick Green and Dossey A. Outlaw erected a manufacturing plant, which consisted of a sawmill, grist and flourmill and a tannery.
It was unique in that it used the first steam engine in the county. This novelty was a great advertisement.
Farmers no longer had to make the long trip to Noxubee River to have their wheat ground. In 1863, Grierson’s Yankee raiders burned the plant.
Judge Carroll said, “Starkville enjoyed legal and business importance in 1860 but Starkville was smaller than Longview.”
Longview also had a jail, bank, post office and three churches — Longview United Methodist Church, Longview Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church of Longview.
Also, there was a large planer mill that had the reputation and “sign” erected in Longview as the “Crosstie Capital of the World.”
In fact, the only telephone in Longview for years was at the mill and any emergency telephone messages were delivered or made from the mill.
Then, the long tin building that still exists in Longview was a box factory during WWII. The building belongs to the Buckner family here in Starkville.
After the war, it was a skating rink. Longview has a lot of interesting history but it is now a community of “yesteryear.”
Genevieve Wallace Swartzberg, a native of Longview, kindly provided the unpublished information she compiled on the Longview schools beginning in 1887 and presented at the 60th reunion which is provided herein as well as much of this information. It is a journey of love from the very first schools and teachers to the closing of the schools.
The Oktibbeha County Agricultural High School was located at the thriving little town of Longview, on the Aberdeen branch of the Illinois Central Railroad, eight miles southwest of Starkville, and on the Starkville and Jackson highway.
With the countywide program of good roads, all points were easily accessible and many new industries were being introduced into the county that indicated Oktibbeha’s leadership in prosperity. The advantages of Starkville at the time were that A. and M College, Columbus, MSCW, West Point and Macon were easily accessible over good gravel roads as well as by railroads.
Most of the students arrived at the Boarding School in Longview by train. Travel by train was about the only means in those days except by buggy. Genevieve Swartzberg said, “my mother and her brothers who attended the Boarding School traveled from Sturgis to Longview by train--the only transportation available.”
The chief aim of the school was to prepare the boys and girls for the duties and responsibilities of manhood and womanhood on the farms of Oktibbeha County. However, many graduates had a desire to continue their training at the colleges and universities. Thus, there was a corps of teachers, course of study, equipment, schedule and everything necessary to maintain affiliation with the colleges.
Courses offered were: English, arithmetic, agriculture, ancient history, spelling, hygiene, Latin, plane geometry, modern history and American history. Music courses were also offered and a small library was available for reference material.
As for social life, the catalog stated: “There will be regulations against the boys and girls associating with each other at will, except as they are thrown together in the classes and in the presence of teachers. During free hours on Saturday nights, the students gathered in the dining room for dancing or attended a picture show in the auditorium. On the application form, the pupils had to agree to refrain from the use of profane language, cigarettes, gambling and intoxicating drinks while connected with this institution.”
Genevieve Wallace Swartzberg Remembers...
Genevieve presented this history at the 60th reunion of the school on October 3, 2009. She was a student of Last Class at Longview School, Class of 1948 (9th Grade)
The Longview Schools have a very interesting history. Very little is known about the first school in Longview recorded as early as July 1887. The first known number of students and teachers was in 1895 with 34 students. The one teacher taught until 1899 at a salary of $35 for a 6-week term. In 1903-04 the teacher’s salary was $240 for the entire school year and the number of students increased to 61. The total value of the school building, furniture & property was estimated to be $120. In 1908 the legislature passed the Smith Hughes law providing for the establishment of Agricultural High Schools.
In 1911 Oktibbeha County took advantage of this opportunity and established one of these schools. Mr. A. M. Blocker served as the first principal. At that time Longview was a booming village. In order to help build the school buildings, Longview floated bonds in the sum of $5,000. The Longview Agricultural High School was built in 1912 as a boarding school on a farm of 26 acres and consisted of a high school building and 2 dormitories—1 for girls (26 rooms) and 1 for boys (20 rooms). The buildings were steam heated and water provided from a dug deep well. The students all gathered in the spacious dining room located in the girls dorm and the meals were prepared by the girls and the boys did all of the farm chores. On the farm the boys raised vegetables, chickens, and hogs (all of this was used as a food source). The school principal supervised the student labor on the farm.
The Longview Agricultural High School was a boarding school and students came to Longview from far and near for their education. To be eligible to attend the high school, students must have finished the 7th grade or passed an examination. There was very little tuition - $7.50 a month; some students went to school for free and worked for their tuition. Three hours per week were required of the boys and all over that they could earn 10 cents per hour for all the work performed.
Each day at the school began with a song service, Bible scripture reading and prayer. The faculty and students were required to attend. Sunday School and church services which were held each Sunday in the two churches, Methodist and Baptist, in town. Students were required to attend these services and could choose which one they wanted to attend
By 1924-25 school year, student enrollment increased to 139, not counting the non-boarding students and grammar school children who all went to school on the first floor of the same building. This 2-story building was fast becoming unsatisfactory in many ways, so in 1926 a new brick building was erected for the grammar school children. A bond was issued for $15,000 for this purpose.
In 1928 Longview owed a debt of $10,000 and was anxious to do more improving to the school. The old 2-story building was torn down and rebuilt into a 1-story building. All from Bradley was transported to Longview bringing in more students. Mr. J. H. Seale was principal of the new grammar school in 1930 and remained through 1933 with 7 teachers and 200 students. Teachers earned $50 per month. In 1933 the boarding school was discontinued.
T. A. Patterson, principal, resigned in the middle of 1934-35 school year and was succeeded by Victor Reed. There were 12 teachers in both schools with a salary of $65 a month. Craig Springs and Adaton were now sending their children to Longview, which increased the enrollment to 300. Mr. Reed guided and led the school until 1939.
During Mr. Reed’s tenure as superintendent, new buildings erected were: dormitory for the teachers (which still stands), a Home Economics and Agricultural Building (which is the building we are in tonight) and a gymnasium and were built from the old boarding school dorms. The WPA workers provided a lot of work.
Mr. Lem Stallings came as superintendent in 1939-40 school year. The schools still proceeded in their good work but were suffering a decrease in number of students. Things went from bad to worse.
In July 1942, the Oktibbeha Agricultural High School was no longer a fact. It was discontinued because of lack of funds but the public school was still in progress. I found no recording of this but World War II had begun this year and many of the boys were drafted into the military, which was probably one cause of decline in enrollment.
In 1943 the trustees were forced to release Craig Springs to Sturgis and Adaton to Starkville. Longview struggled along with a steady decrease in number of students for 3 years (1946-48) under J. O. Epps as superintendent. The number of teachers had been cut to 9.
The final blow came to the Longview High School in April 1948. A letter was received from the High School Accrediting Committee that the high school had been dropped to the non-accredited list to be effective at the close of the 1948-49 session. In May 1948 Longview High School made arrangements with Starkville High School for all Longview High School students to attend there.
The Longview Grammar School continued the following fall in 1948 with 4 teachers and Mrs. Eugenia Thompson served as the principal. There were about 120 students. In 1951 another teacher was dropped because of decrease in number of students which dropped to 90.
In 1957 was the last year of the Longview Grammar School and all students were to attend Starkville Public Schools.
The Longview School Alumni Association was organized in 1949 in Bluford Moor’s office who was the Oktibbeha County Superintendent of Education. The first school reunion was held in 1950 in the Longview gymnasium. In 1951 they began holding the reunion in the Longview Grammar School auditorium. The grammar school building was torn down in 1960.
In 1961 the reunion was held for the first time in the Longview Community Center with a dish dinner. The Longview School Alumni Association has met here since that date with this one being the 60th School Reunion.
The Longview School Alumni Association has been held throughout the years with the Longview Homemakers Club providing the meal charging a minimal for the plate to help provide funds for their club. Later years the meal has been catered.
During the years of the School reunion, some of the activities included:
• A school bell was awarded to the class with the most attendees
• A memorial to the deceased classmates
• Teachers were recognized and honored
• Many types of programs: (some of which were provided by former classmates)
• A womanless wedding
• Singing contests
• A Hee Haw performance
• Other types of plays and performances
• Singing performances by visiting groups
• In 1975 the Memphis TV channel 13 “Eyewitness News Team” was invited by Bluford Moor to attend the Longview School Reunion. They did so and filmed the entire evening and it was later shown to the Mid-South public.
• In a reference book from which I obtained some of this information, there was an advertisement for each of these businesses but no year was given. However, as a child I was told that Longview was a booming town at one time. The businesses listed were: C C Seitz – General Merchandise; Dr. G. J. Mansell – Physician and Surgeon; L. F. Saunders – Notary Public; Dr. M. P. Journey – Physician and Surgeon (office was located in the Pearson Bldg.); W. H. N. Seitz – Ginnery and Corn Mill; W. H. McCan – Merchant; C. R. Sanders – General Merchandise (highest price paid for RR ties and country produce); J. B. Richardson – General Merchant; G. B. Pearson – Barber; A. C. Jurney – General Merchandise (headquarters for school supplies); F. W. Shropshire – General Repair Shop (buggies, wagons, mowing machines, etc.); G. W. Davis & Son – All kinds of repair work; and J. C. Lewis – General Merchandise (Hardware a specialty with Sherman & Williams paints, stoves, plows, sewing machines and many other items).
• And so, that leaves us with today – 2009 and the 60th Longview School Alumni Association Reunion. We all have seen happy times with our friends and classmates, memories of those who are deceased and no longer a part of this group, and memories of those who are no longer able to attend for various reasons. But most of all, we have lived and enjoyed God’s many blessings of “days gone by” at Longview. May God continue to bless each of us.
Dot Wallace Hall Remembers...
I grew up with the school except for the time we moved to Brooksville. I have many fond memories of so many good times there, as well as, all things I learned basic to life such as cooking and sewing. Basketball games were a big thing and our basketball team even did some traveling. I loved watching Charles Henry play – that was a real treat for me! We had about 17 in my class of 1946. The school served a great purpose and several of my family members also attended. I am so glad you are doing the article. It will be like a shot of adrenaline to the many alumni and citizens of Longview who still remember the grand times we shared there.
Charles Henry Hall Remembers...
The school had an agriculture building and classroom for the boys and a kitchen and classroom for the girls. We were separated, but still in the same building. I remember riding my horse through the Ag building and almost getting in trouble that time. The teachers always made me sit on the front row. Once, our class was cooking Brunswick stew and everyone had to bring something. I threw in some cayenne pepper and made sure the principal got a nice helping of it and boy did he!!! Our teacher was Mrs. Massey. She would wear three or four dresses at a time and take one off if she got hot. Once, we all packed in her car and she let me drive to the fire tower for us to climb – I had never driven before! I have so many fond memories. I could go on and on.