This is a transcription of a pamphlet compiled by Rosa Gray Hamilton for the Pantego High School in 1949. Ms. Hamilton was music teacher there for many years. The transcription format is copyrighted 2001 by Terria W. Baynor.
History of Pantego School
1874 – 1949
75th Anniversary Edition
Pantego, North Carolina
ROSA GRAY HAMILTON
I wish to express my thanks to the following persons for their generous assistance in helping me compile this information. Without their invaluable aid it would not have been completed. To Mrs. Fred Latham, Mrs. G. W. Boston, Mrs. Temperance Wilkinson, Mrs. Ella Thompson, Mrs. Harriet B. Harris, Mrs. Esther Davenport, Miss Ruth Credle, P. H. Johnson, D. W. Lupton, Earl Casey and the others who delved into their memories and reminisced about school and community happenings. To Dan M. Paul and Mrs. W. W. Phillips for their newspaper clippings and catalogues of the school. To Gladys Whitley Lollis who helped secure and preserve the old records from which part of this comes. To the principal, Mr. G. H. Baker, for extending me the use of reports and materials filed in the office. To the typing classes who helped put the material in readable form. To Edward Lupton who typed the final copy and to Mrs. Mildred C. Paul who assisted in the actual printing.
Secretary’s book of the Pantego Male and Femaile Academy---1875. (A record of its first stockholders and trustees).
Secretary’s book of the Betterment Association and of the Academy Aid Society.
Clippings from the newspaper---1909, 1910.
Catalogues fo the school years 1912-13; 1913-14.
Record books of F. Parker---1920’s.
Programs and invitations, 1887 to present date from school scrapbook.
HISTORY OF PANTEGO HIGH SCHOOL
The section of land known as Pantego originally comprised three hundred acres. It was bought by Phineas and Rothius Latham from the Lord’s Proprietors in 1774-1775 at a price of sixty pounds in English money, or the present equivalent of about three hundred dollars. The land lay on the north bank of Pantego Creek and was given the name Pantego, a name derived from an Indian tribe once indigenous to the territory.
After a period, Phineas and Rothius Latham sold this land to Thomas and Daniel Latham. Lather, Thomas sold his tract in small pieces to different people. The site of the old school building is one of the tracts of land that Daniel Latham sold.
In order to provide some means of education, the people chiefly farmers, finally organized and built somewhere near the present residence of Mrs. Thompson, a large store, called the Grange Store. Their capital was invested in a stock of goods and the income thus derived was used toward building a school.
The second story of the Grange Store was known as the Grange Hall. Festivals were held in this hall, and the proceeds went also for the building of the school house. The most popular amusement at the festivals then, as now, was dancing. Tournaments also were run, followed by the crowning of the festival queen and the tournament dance.
Finally, in 1874, the Pantego Educational Association was formed with Geo. D. Old, Pres.; W. J. Crumpler, Secretary.; and Walter Clark, Treasurer. These, along with Jordan Wilkinson, H. L. Davis, E. S. Ratcliffe, P. H. Johnson, Dr. W. J. Bullock, M. J. Whitley, J. T. Adams, Noah Bell, W. B. Windley and R. H. Shavender, all of whom were Trustees, constituted the Board of Directors. This group of men, together with about ten others, were the stockholders of the association. They bought shares at $10.00 per share---enough to make a capital of approximately $600.00.
The Building Committee agreed that the dimensions of the Academy should be 45 feet long, 30 feet wide, two stories, with a pitch of 11 feet below and 10 feet above.
The Trustees elected E. G. Conyers of Toisnot, NC, as principal, but they thought his price of $800.00 per year too high. So, Henderson Snell of Scuppernong was employed. There were twenty seven paid tuitions the first semester. These increased as the years went by.
In 1877, November 10th, the Association received a deed from Walter Clark and wife, Augusta E., for one acre of land on which the Academy was built and that same year “in accordance with law, John G. Blount, superior court clerk and probate judge of Beaufort County, ordered a meeting of the stockholders of the Pantego Educational Association for the purpose of incorporating the association.”
In 1878 the building was painted by one William Low for $1.15 a day and board. M. J. Phillips and W. J. Crumpler were to make a sample desk for $2.00. These desks were later purchased in lots of one dozen as the money became available.
In 1879 a group of young ladies raised enough money to purchase a bell and the principal was authorized to obtain one weighing one hundred pounds. Dr. Snell was still principal, with Miss Martha Whitley as his assistant. Her salary was $10.00 per month, and tuition for her three sisters without charge. The principal’s salary was $40.00 per month. The following year, music was taught for $12.50 per session. Miss Ebbie B. Wilkinson was employed during the afternoon as teacher for $7.00 per month. Dr. Snell advertised the school in the “North Carolina Prep” and sent out circulars. At the close of school, the commencement exercises were to be “a public exhibition with a prominent speaker.”
1882 brought a new professor, J. B. Gilfillon, with Mr. Wingate of Wake Forest as a teacher. The price for beginners was reduced from 7 cents to 6 cents per day. The school year was 180 days in length. During the year, Miss Kate Reynolds was added to the faculty. The Board was dissatisfied with their textbooks so this year, they changed to: Reid’s and Kellog’s Grammar, Sandford’s Arithmetic, and Maury’s Geography.
Then, Mr. Wingate took over as principal, followed by H. L. Williams of Gatesville, with Miss Mary Ann Wilkinson employed in January, 1884 as assistant. Mr. C. N. A. Younce followed as professor and Miss Martha Whitley agreed to return as assistant for $20.00 per month until the number of students reached 40, then she was to receive $25.00.
During 1885, the Academy saw one of its larges financial years---cash received was $1109.38; paid out $1108.03; amount left in the treasury $1.35. Many were the times when the Trustees had to make up enough to pay off the indebtedness. Mr. Younce and Miss Whitley were asked to take the school on their own, with the building and equipment rent free. They accepted.
In order to give additional room, the stairway and partition were changed in 1886. The following year the upper room was changed into a public hall and rented. Once it was rented to the Reform Club of Pantego at 50 cents per month. About this time Prof. Hamblin took charge. During these years Miss Jennie A. Simmons was the teacher of music.
A committee was asked to audit the school property in 1888 and their report follows: “Cistern in pretty good condition, a few of the surface picks being broken up and cemented; 7 window lights excepting being defaced and 5 ink wells removed with one ink well lid lost.” Miss Simmons rented the Academy for school purposes and a Miss Meta Chestnut taught at the school in 1889 on her own.
In order to pay a big debt against the school, the building was leased to S. L. Johnson in 1890, but the lease was later amended when Walter Clark, the school’s dear friend, took up the lease in order to save the school.
From 1892 to 1900, school history is almost negligible. One Mr. Wyche taught a term, and so did the Rev. Everett Hocutt, a Methodist minister. From then on to the 1900’s the fame of the institution dwindled to naught. In the winter months, older children went elsewhere to school---to Chowan to Smithfield and Bingham. In the summer, in the old free school building, (the store of Albin Jones), Mill Ella Bowen, (Mrs. W. H. Shavender), taught school. In these hectic times one Mr. Holton assisted by Miss Dora Bishop taught two years at the Academy.
By the latter part of 1900, the school had gone down until the people saw that something had to be done if Pantego was to regain its old-time educational prestige. Yet, it fell to outside heroism to rescue the little educational institution. In 1901, Dennis Davis, able Disciple preacher, assisted by the learned Miss Annie Joyner and one Henderson Mizelle, took charge of the school. These Three took it on their own responsibility, for there were no funds with which to pay them. And it was in that year that Pantego had its first nine months term. Most of the work fell to Mr. Mizelle, since most of Mr. Davis’s time was occupied by his pastoral duties. However, Miss Joyner was capable and when not teaching music classes, she assisted Mr. Mizelle in teaching reading, writing and rhetoric.
In 1902, funds to run the school were still lacking, but Henderson Mizelle came back, this time as principal. The new assistant was Miss Lena Windley, gentle, kind, beloved, possessing remarkable genius for teaching. Dr. E. S. Credle, acting as treasurer of the school, took charge of collecting the funds, and the school during that year reached a higher standard than ever before. Besides teaching primary grades, Miss Windley taught Latin, algebra and penmanship. This team of teachers had two very successful years. It was during 1902 that the belfry was built.
In 1905 and 1906 the school again header for the wall, but was saved by the coming together of Dr. Credle, C. P. Aycock and other citizens, who hired Kelly Mason of Bath to take the school. He was assisted by Miss Betty Judkin of Pantego, and under this team the school again prospered. It is well in passing to pay tribute to these two teachers. Mr. Mason, a very young man, was a gentleman of the old school and town. And, it is safe to say, that no teacher who came and went in old Pantego Academy ever left a finer, keener impression on juvenile minds than did Miss Betty Judkin, last of th Academy’s teachers. Many of her students who live today, can recall vividly the joyous sway with which she ruled in love and kindness.
Until 1907 the school building was owned by individuals. In that year, the eloquent sincerity of Aycock found its way to this remote vastness, and Pantego Academy was bought by the county. With the cooperation of the community, the school was transformed into a rural high school, with L. E. Bennett, of Crawford, West Virginia its first principal. And a new era in the history of Pantego and its school was ushered in.
In the spring of 1907, Kelly Mason and Betty Judkin completed the last term of the old subscription school. The following fall, Mrs. L. W. Paul began a subscription school at her home, the Phineas Latham homestead, oldest place in town. This school lasted only two weeks, during which time plans for the founding of the new high school were completed. The Academy had again been remodeled to give more room. It was due to the able administration and untiring energy of Mr. Bennett during the four years of his incumbency, that the high school took root and began to flourish.
In the year 1910 a bond issue was voted by the school district and the addition to the Academy was built. It was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1910, and in that year the high school had its first assistant, Miss Annie L. Tyer of Bath.
On October 15, 1909, at the instigation of John H. Small, the Woman’s Betterment Association was formed. Prior to this there was an organization of women known as the Academy Aid Society. During the years that followed the organization of the Betterment Association, with its twelve charter members, practically all the incidental expenses of the school as to purchase of desks, blackboards, and so forth, were borne by the association. It was due chiefly to the active interest of the members that such a strong interest in the school throughout the district was welded into unity. And by the backing power of this unity, the school took permanent root and has continued to flourish and grow. It was in 1924 that the Woman’s Betterment Association held a contest, The War of Roses, and raised $1,255.54. With this amount, pianos were purchased for the school; and later, seats for the auditorium as well as scenery and a velvet curtain for the stage were bought.
In spite of the fact that Mr. Bennett was told, “You needn’t try to introduce agriculture in the school here; it has been tried and didn’t succeed,” he and Miss Effie Jarvis introduced a course in 1910. In conjunction with this course a garden was proposed. After a plot of ground was secured Mr. Pink Clark had it plowed, Mr. Aycock had it harrowed and fenced. Then each child was assigned a certain section. So industriously did the 50 children work that by the close of school the garden was in almost perfect condition. The children cultivated and watched with earnest solicitude all the flowers and vegetables. Their patient labor and attention brought forth such good results, that by the first of June the vegetables were in the very best of condition, and there were not fewer than twelve or fifteen different kinds of flowers already in bloom. Then the school closed and everyone supposed that during the vacation months the garden would be neglected. But not so---all through the summer months the children returned to care for their flowers. As a result of the growing interest in the garden, an agricultural fair was held with about 200 entries. These included samples of cooking and sewing, specimen of farm products grown by the boys and mechanical work, all of which attested the ingenuity and skill of the boys and girls. People came from far and near to see the work and one gentleman who attended the Raleigh fair said many things exhibited here would compare very favorable with things there.
This interest in gardening lead to the organization of the School Boy’s Farm Life Club in 1910 with Raleigh Topping as president. Willie Gurkin as vice president and Zeno Ratcliffe as secretary. Other clubs open to high school students were the Hesperian, Delphian, Cornelian and Alethian Literary Societies. The Hesperian and Alethian continued throughout the years until sometime in the early thirties.
Mr. Bennett’s administration lasted four years, until the spring of 1911 when the first class was graduated with three members. During this time the museum was started with various students and patrons donating rare books and pieces, such as plates, candlesticks, spinning equipment. Misses Ruth Credle, Nita Hamilton, Jennie Simmons, J. P. Clark, Thomas Green, George Respess, and Donald Adams were some who made contributions.
In 1911 Mr. A. W. Davenport of Creswell became principal. He taught for four years, assisted variously by Miss Tyer, L. J. Brookshire of Asheville and Miss Zalia Lane of Hertford.
In 1914, F. Parker of Loretto, Virginia ascended the high school throne. His reign may be likened to that of Victoria of England. It had been longer than that of any preceding monarch, more stable, more prosperous and successful, and marked by least dissension. Under his able and diplomatic direction, the school had nearly doubled its enrollment and the plant was increased in 1917 by the building of a large dormitory, and in 1925 by the addition of a new $25000.00 brick building. Under Mr. Parker’s direction, new departments of chemistry, domestic science, agriculture and farm life were added. The faculty personnel had been increased until a naming of each teacher would be a mere cataloging of names. There were approximately 40 boarding students.
Scarcely anyone likes to be reminded of World War I, but the historian would be remiss to pass over the period without mention of Pantego’s part. With a census population of 335, Pantego sent into the conflict 27 of her sons, two of whom gave their lives: John Judkin and Charley Lilley, both alumni of the school.
In September, 1924, three county trucks were added to the school equipment and these began bringing pupils from Ransomville, Winsteadville and Terra Ceia. In September, 1925, the Pungo truck was added.
In 1926, the library was reorganized under the direction of Mr. Maxwell and put on a standard cataloging basis.
During these years, the school took its share of county and state honors. In the state-wide triangular debates held under the direction of the University of North Carolina, the school won both debates over its opponents and sent its debaters to Chapel Hill to participate in the contest for the Aycock Memorial Cup in 1924, 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1930---thus winning the series five times during the six years. In the Live-At-Home Essay contest held throughout the state, Wilmer Hodges of the Junior Class was declared by the county judges to be the winner from the County Schools of Beaufort County, and his paper was sent to the State Contest in Raleigh. He won second place in the state. Ferrel Harris of the Senior Class received honorable mention in the state-wide contest in high school mathematics sponsored by the University of North Carolina. Dan M. Paul was elected president of the student body at State College, and after graduation he was Alumni Secretary for several years. At U.N.C., John Wilkinson won honors in the varsity debates and has continued to win honors during the recent years; for in 1945 he won in an essay contest sponsored by Scribner’s Magazine. In 1931, another of the high school students, Eddie Voliva, won third place in the American State Essay Contest.
Up until this time, the school board had consisted of Dr. E.S. Credle, Chairman: C. P. Aycock, secretary, and T. H. Whitley, treasurer. These men served long and well. In 1828, however, D. W. Lupton replaced T. H. Whitley and has served continuously on the school board since that time. For the past thirteen years, Mr. Lupton has served in the capacity of Chairman.
The new year of 1929 brought sadness to the hearts of the school children and patrons, for Mr. Parker passed away and left the school without a leader. But shortly, Mr. E. W. Joyner came, and in his quiet and easy manner carried on. In October of that same year, the Woman’s Betterment Society observed its 20th anniversary. It was shortly after this society was changed to the Parent-Teachers Association which has continued in the same manner---“for the betterment of the school.” In all the years of its functioning it has helped back any project the school wished to try—with financial as well as moral support. It became a standard association in 1937.
Mr. E. W. Joyner remained as head of the school through the spring of 1935. Then, in the fall of that year, Mr. C. S. Hinson took over and stayed for two years. During this time a lunchroom was operated by the home economic girls in an upstairs room of the high school building. The class of 1936 inaugurated three new ideas which have become traditional: Using caps and gowns for graduation, visiting Washington, D. C. during the senior year, and using two mascots, a boy and girl.
In the fall of 1937, one of the school’s own sons, John A. Winfield, came to direct its course for several years. One of the first things to occur was the condemning of the “Old Academy” for use as a grammar grade building. Along with 125 citizens, D. W. Lupton, Chairman of the local board, and Rev. Johnson, local minister, petitioned the county Board for a new building. Through these efforts a new building was added to the rear of the present brick one. This building included rooms for the grammar grades, a home economics department, an agriculture classroom and shop. The government assisted in this, by granting W.P.A. labor. At this time, a front entrance was fixed to the old part of the building and a principal’s office was built downstairs.
The W.P.A. allotted aid to the school libraries and Miss Rosa Gray Hamilton served as librarian for several years. During this time the library was improved through the purchase of new tables and chairs. Also, the books were classified according to the Dewey decimal classification card catalogue system, and the files were added.
A school paper which was named “Ye Olde Academie” was published for the first time in 1937. The name of this publication has been altered, due to the fact that in 1947 the student body published its first yearbook under this name. This year, 1949, it has been given a permanent name; that of “The Pow-Wow” since this is an Indian section. “The Pow-Wow” is now published by the Journalistic Club.
Along with all the other improvements the school auditorium came in for its share. It was rebuilt, the stage enlarged, a new velvet curtain and backdrops purchased. The lunchroom was moved to the boys side of the old dormitory. The girls dormitory was used for a home for the teachers.
The land across from the depot was bought for an athletic field, but “laid out” until 1946 when the help of the town baseball team made it possible to make the land usable.
In 1936 the bus routes were changed, the Ransomville buses going to Belhaven and the Free Union ones to Pantego. These routes have remained the same, with nine buses bringing children from the Pungo, Pike Road, Yeatesville, Free Union, Terra Ceia and the Long Acre Sections.
After Mr. Winfield left, C. B. Martin of Jamesville came. During the years of his guidance, there came also many more improvements. The new auditorium seats were added and also the drapes for the windows. The elementary school rooms were supplied with new equipment such as bookcases and cabinets. The libraries were divided and the high school section received new bookcases, magazine racks, etc. The home economics department furnished its bedroom and dining room. The Halloween Carnival was begun, which has become an annual affair and which is always a source of pleasure to the youngsters and a source of much needed finances for the P.T.A. The physical-ed program was instituted, with each grade participating in order to build stronger and healthier bodies and to teach sportsmanship as well. This has always been an athletic-minded school, and for years has had a boy’s baseball and basketball team, as well as a girl’s basketball team. For several years the girl’s team declined, but has been revived during the last two years, the 1947 team being particularly outstanding.
Since the desire of the school is for a well-rounded education, it has endorsed extra-curricular activities. It can boast of a Glee Club, F.H.A. Clubs, 4-H Clubs, Journalistic Club and a Beta Club. In 1940, the 4-H Club was voted best in the county and won the Achievement Banner for that year. It also won first place in the program given before the annual meeting of the F.C.X. The Banner was won again the following year. In 1942, the 4-H Booth won first place at the County Fair. The home economics girls booth on “Personal Grooming” won first place and the agriculture boys booth on “Defense Begins at Home” won second place. The Beta Club was organized in 1943 for those students with a high scholastic average, and now has thirteen members. When the annual Tulip Festivals were being held, Pantego School did its part, as well as in the Field Day Program which was concurrent with the parade, the queens and the skits. As each new drive for funds was inaugurated, the school took its place in line and so has participated in the March of Dimes, Junior Red Cross, and the Christmas Seals Program.
During the war years, the school took part in each registration held, instituted a defense program to conserve wasted materials, to buy stamps and bonds, and to take part in all wartime activities. The school sent 300 of its boys and girls into every branch of the armed services and into all parts of the world. Five failed to return. In connection with the School at War Program, the school contributed thousands of pounds of scrap metal, rubber and paper. Several cartons of clothing were sent overseas. The home economics classes made clothes for the Red Cross, sent packages, letters and cards to the boys in service. Enough stamps and bonds were bought to pay for two jeeps, seven field ambulances, a liason plane, a weasel, bomb trailer and other necessary supplies and equipment, so the citations state. Books were sent to the Victory Book Campaign and the school won first place in the scrapbook contest held in the county under the School at War Program. Our principal was called to arms and again we had to look for a leader.
The school helped to publish “Dear Boys”---a mimeographed paper edited for about four years by the combined efforts of the Towns of Belhaven and Pantego for the boys and girls from both communities who were in service. By the close of the war, it had a mailing list of over 500.
Mr. N. R. Vincent was our new principal in 1944. The “Old Academy” building was remodeled inside to serve as a lunchroom and was put on a federal-aid basis. The county gave the school a few typewriters and commerce was added to the curriculum. The boys dormitory was sold and moved away for a private dwelling. During this time, due to the scarcity of agriculture teachers, the department remained closed for about four years.
To uphold the prestige of the school, its younger sons and daughters continued to share honors. From 1946 through 1948, poems written by Arnie Bell Ange, Ruth Waters, Cora Myers, and Johanna Snyder have won recognition and were printed in the Anthology of High School Poetry. Lucille Windley won the Rotary Club medal given in their essay contest on World Peace in 1947. The following year, this medal was won by Cora Myers for her essay on the United Nations. Brinson Paul and Lucille Windley won the county-wide speaking contest on North Carolina’s No. 1 Need for Good Health. Frances Ann Ratcliffe was chosen 4-H County Health Queen and Callie Marie Kinard took first honors in dress revues in the county and state, representing the state in Michigan. Minerva Waters and Frances Ann Ratcliffe were presented first and third awards in the State Ornithological Essay Contest.
Now, Mr. G. H. Baker is in charge of the old school with its 18 teachers, approximately 500 students, commercial department with 40 students, 9 buses, a well-equipped lunchroom serving 300 students daily, as well as other numerous modern facilities and activities.
Pantego School has welcomed many of its sons and daughters back as teachers in its years of progress: Miss Ruth Credle, Gladys Whitley, Eunice Smith, Sallie Keech, Mildred Johnson, Mary Ferrell, Lillian Carowan, Temperance Aycock, Esther Aycock, Mary E. Eborn, Heber and Joe Windley, Dewey Topping, Rena Shavender. It has graduated between 600 and 700 students and hopes to welcome many of these alumni in 1949 when it observes the 75th anniversary. During all these years, it has stiven for one objective---“that of educating as thoroughly as possible, as far as it goes.” It gives its students a good, practical education which will meet their needs in ordinary life or prepare them of college. The school has been the nucleus around which the interest of the people has centered. They are proud of the school as a institution and rightfully so, for the spirit of Pantego School emanates through all the country around. May it always be so!