The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Peabody School

By Lois S. Poff © 1986

Issue: September, 1986

My happiest school days were spent at "Peabody," a little one room school on route 681, about half of a mile past Dr. Kuiken's office in Floyd, Virginia. The school was built around 1900 and named for George Peabody, a financier of schools in the South after the Civil War. It was never open but five months of the year and closed for the winter during the World War I flu.

The teachers of the school included: Lucy Evans, Ella Evans, Maude Dobyns, Jessie Peterman, Billy Lawrence, Lena Brammer, Annie Williams, Emma Hall, Hester Lancaster, Mrs. Milton Williams, Stella Hall, and Henry Lawrence.

The teachers would have box suppers to make up money to buy things for the school. Around 1916, Miss Annie Williams had a box supper and made up enough money to buy a bell and a ceramic water cooler. The last box supper was held, around 1919. Wertie Stigleman's box brought the highest price. There was a guess cake with a thimble in it and people paid a nickel to guess. The musicians took their stringed instruments and music and dancing were enjoyed by all.

I started to school the year I was five because there was no law against it and I wanted to go. We could have gone to Mossy Dell on down the road we lived on (221) but there was no bridge across Pine Creek except a log with a board nailed on it. We just walked over the hill to Peabody. We would go different ways and one morning we were up so high that we had a bird's eye view of the town of Floyd. It looked beautiful with its church spires pointing heavenward. It was there that we saw a herd of cattle and a horse way down at the lower end of the field. Lynn Sweeney and Lane Boothe, who were about twelve, began hollering out "come on up here if you want to fight" and I just expected to see them start after us.

I thought the school was nice. It had a row of double desks with hinged seats on the left side where the girls sat. The boys sat on the right side. There was a built in shelf at the back of the room for lunches and nails under for the wraps. There was a large case of pull down wall maps, a large globe, a recitation bench, water cooler and wood stove. At the back of the teacher's desk a section of the wall had been painted black and that served as a black-board. The school house was built over a large stump which helped serve as a foundation for the building.

I learned so much that first year by just listening to other pupils. I memorized the ABC's, counting, oceans and continents. Every Friday afternoon the students chose up sides and had a spelling match. I learned sounds of letters by hearing them spell.

I used the family spelling book by World Book Company as a reading readiness book, and it was a good one too. It had all the ABC's on the front cover and I pointed to them and said them so much that I soon learned to recognize them. I did the same for the small letters on over in the book. The first grade sections in the book was partly a picture dictionary. It had columns of rhyming words and a picture above the column, of the top word. I was soon reading in the Will and Nell primer.

One day it was so cold that I wasn't allowed to go to school. After all my brothers and sisters left I moved the little chair over close to a window and read my primer through. My mother was sewing in another room and every time I got a new word that I couldn't guess by the beginning sound, I spelled it out and my mother told me what it was. My little brother sat on the floor so still and I didn't realize at the time that he was listening to me read.

Mrs. Milton Williams was the teacher that year and she had a Christmas tree. I looked forward to it for days. We were to get a treat and Santa was to be there. I had never seen him, just his picture in the Comfort Magazine. The Christmas tree was beautiful with its strands of popcorn decorations. After Santa gave out all the gifts he came over to where I was sitting by my little brother, and asked him to dance. He just jumped up and started dancing and I thought he was braver than I was. After the party was over a large boy told me that, that wasn't Santa Clause that it was just Chester Nolen.

Miss Stella Hall from Patrick County taught the year I was six and I got a prize for going to school every day. She had an Easter Egg hunt. We all got out in the road and marched up to Mr. Joe Williams' house and stood in line while the eggs were being hidden. When the bell rang we all marched back down to the school house and started hunting the eggs.

I thought Arithmetic was so hard. Everyone called the zero, "ought," a mistaken form for naught. One day when I was adding four and ought I put five for the answer. My sister told me it was wrong, that the ought wasn't anything, but it looked like something to me. I got an Arithmetic book for the first time when I was in the third grade. It had all the multiplication tables in the back and I memorized them all.

We didn't have any library books to enjoy. I would look at and read a little in those interesting Fryer's Lower and Fryer's Higher Geography books that belonged to my older brothers and sisters. They had a set of large relief maps of every continent showing all the largest rivers of the earth, a set showing all the highest mountains, and best of all, a set showing animals of the earth with the names of the animals under their pictures.

Mr. Henry Lawrence was the last teacher at the school. He would stand us all up at the front of the room for a singing class and teach us how to clap our hands a certain way. He always had a big box of stick candy on his desk to give us at Christmas time.

The three recesses a day are the best remembered of the school day. We didn't have any play ground equipment but some of the mothers were very skilled at making balls. They would wrap one-half inch wide strips of cloth around a tight wad of paper until they got it to a desired size, and then stitch all over it with strong thread. We would play ante-over with them. We would choose up sides and one side would get on one side of the school house and the others on the other side. A large boy would throw the ball over the school house and holler "ante-over." If anyone on the other side caught the ball they would all run over to our side and we would all run over to their side. Anyone they hit with the ball had to stay on their side.

Stealing Eggs was another popular game. If you got caught going to steal eggs on the other side they would put you in the "soup-pot." They only way you could get out was when someone on your side got through to the eggs and took you instead of taking an egg back.

Fox In The Morning was fun to play. One pupil would agree to be the fox and the rest of us were the geese. If the fox caught us when we were running from one base line to the other, we had to be a fox and help catch the rest of the geese.

Sometimes we would play Stealing Bases, Pretty Girl Station, Rotten Egg, Poison Circle, London Bridge and Grandma Hippy-toes. On real cold days we would play Thimble, Puss In The Corner, and Blind Man's Bluff in the school house.

We little girls liked to make brush brooms, sweep off the ground and make play-houses or walk in the woods and pick mountain tea berries.

The school closed in 1923. Pupils went to Pine Creek, New Haven, Mount Ruffner and Floyd schools.

In November 1926 the Floyd County School Board sold the school house and lot to George Evans for fifty dollars. The building was demolished when the new road was constructed.