Forgotten Trails: School history retold

Published 6:14 am Wednesday, August 15, 2007

By Staff
This is a continuation of the material by Ethel Hoomes and is continued from last week.
Since the time Escambia County was made a county, the people have been interested in education. This is proven by the fact that no educational measure submitted to the voters of Escambia County has ever been defeated.
For a number of years it has been the aim of the citizens of Escambia County to have a high school within reach of every child, and to date five accredited high schools have been located in different parts of the county. They are the Escambia County High School in Atmore, T.R. Miller High School in Brewton, McCullough in the extreme west end, Flomaton in the southern part of the county and W.S. Neal in East Brewton, which is the central part. There are three accredited junior high schools, namely Damascus, Wallace and Huxford. The extended transportation system of the county now reaches practically every community.
In 1931 the county employed 135 white teacher, 40 bus drivers, and 33 colored teachers. In line with the other phases of educational advancement, the county has an elementary supervisor, Miss Elsie Schurter and a child welfare worker, Mrs. Aurelius Hagood, who is associated with the schools.
Mr. O.C. Weaver, the present County Superintendent of Education, was born in Monterery, Ala. in 1885 and received his education in the schools of Monterey and at the Southern University at Greensboro, from which he graduated with an A.B. degree in 1909. After completing his education, Mr. Weaver taught in the Camden schools eight years, before being made superintendent of that school, a position, which he held for six years. In 1927 he came to Brewton as County Superintendent of Education, the position, which he still holds. He is a member of the Methodist Church.
T.R. Miller High School, now a part of the public school in Brewton, was formerly a private school for boys and girls, known as Brewton Collegiate Institute. It was established in 1887, burned in 1894 and when it was rebuilt it became a public school.
Downing-Shofner Institute for Girls is located within one and one-half miles of Brewton. The idea of the institution dedicated to the education and instruction of girls of limited means was the dream of the founder of this school. It was to be a Christian home in which the physical, moral and mental natures of the girls could be trained into strong and healthy womanhood. The founder, J.M. Shofner, a Methodist preacher, was a man of high ideals, a man who saw the need of such an institution and who determined that it should be erected and dedicated to advancing the knowledge of girls. The school was chartered in 1906, and was a small long building. Answering a most decided need in that section, the D.S.I. received the acclaim of the local people from the start. People from other states as well as from Brewton and Alabama helped support the organization.
As pupils increased every year, it was necessary for the school to add to its facilities. Pauline Taylor Hall, Martha Gielow Hall and Wiggins Hall were built in order to care for the housing and instruction of the girls. Since those buildings were completed, a home for the president has been built.
Starting with the fifth grade the D.S.I. teaches all of the high school courses and up until the last two years, it included the first two years of college in its studies. The curriculum is very complete. In addition to the regular courses, voice, piano, expression, bookkeeping, shorthand, and typewriting are offered. Special courses of industrial features are offered, especially sewing, needlework and cooking.
Due to the fact that the school's primary object was to furnish education to the girls of limited means, the tuition is exceptionally low. In many instances scholarships are given by various citizens to worthy girls. Other gifts and donations are often received.”
This is the end of this particular section of the Hoomes material.
I hope that you have enjoyed this section of material that I've shared with you. I plan to share more interesting stories with you in the future from our past.
If you have a story idea, or something you'd like to see printed here, give me a call at 867-4876 or drop me a line by email at I'd love to hear from you and hear your stories about the people and places around our area.
Happy hunting!

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