Chapter 18 "Education"

Chapter 18


READIN' an 'ritin' an' 'rithmetic-taught to the tune of a -- hickory stick . . . "

The lyrics of this familiar old song provide a good description of early education in Alamance County. The "Three Rs" and the "little red schoolhouse" played a major part in the development of the county, and many of the later leaders of North Carolina and other states received their first schooling in the little one-room school buildings that were scattered throughout Alamance.

"When I was a boy a little over forty years ago," wrote Senator R. W. Scott in 1912, "I attended my first school in a log house with one window, one door, and a log cut out of the side to give light by which to see how to read and write, and slab benches without backs to sit on . . . "*

A history of these schools which were first founded here by the early Pennsylvania settlers, in connection with their churches, is given in Chapter three; it was not until the first half of the eighteenth century that the present school system originated.

It has been said that there were only three good schools in the entire State before 1800, and that one of these was Dr. David Caldwell's school in Guilford County.

In 1829, Dr. Joseph Caldwell, a noted educator, declared that North Carolina was three centuries behind in public education and improvements. The hatred of taxation, the sparse population, the primitive methods of communication, the presence of slavery and the educational destitution of the masses made it difficult to interest the people in education.

* Beecher, Science and Change.



Ten years later, in 1839, the State Legislature passed the first public or common school laws, and Orange County voted in favor of establishing free schools. When the first Alamance County court convened at Providence Church in 1849, the commissioners levied a fifty-nine cent poll tax for county contingencies and an eight-cent poll tax for the common schools.

However, the common schools were not too highly regarded at first, and parents who could afford it sent their children to one of the popular academies of the time. These academies were private schools, frequently boarding schools, which offered courses in English grammar, mathematics, Greek and Latin, penmanship, geography, history, philosophy, and other subjects. Often they were located several miles from a town in order that the students would not be tempted by the evil influences of taverns and politics.

The rules of the Hillsborough Academy in 1818 provided that:

"1. Each Scholar must be present at morning and evening Worship ....

"2. No profane, abusive or indecent language shall be permitted ....

"3 The use of ardent Spirits is strictly forbidden, unless as a medicine ....

"4 No Scholar shall be permitted to lounge about any Store or Tavern, or the public streets, nor play therein.

"5 Every Student is required to pay strict regard to the Lord's Day attending regularly public worship, refraining from ordinary studies, and every kind of amusement, as riding, walking, visiting, and the like ."*

The academies prepared students for entrance to the University in a manner similar to the preparatory schools of the present day.

Union Academy, 1839

" Under the above title, the subscriber will commence the second session of this school, in the western part of Orange County, on the 15th January.




"He has obtained several good Boarding Houses in the neighborhood, at which any number of young gentlemen can find accommodations for six dollars per month. The Subscriber will board a few himself, at this price; exclusive of lights, of course.

"The price for tuition, as heretofore:

"Classical Department, per session


"English Department, per session

$ 7.50

"The whole under the supervision of the subscriber

Dec. 12

John R. Holt"*

Among the other academies of Orange and Alamance County which were advertised in the Raleigh Register and Hillsboro Recorder were Hawfield Academy, 1808; Mt. Repose School under Wm. Bingham, 1818; Union School, 1818; Bethlehem Schools, 1829; Mount Pleasant Academy, 1837; Union Academy, 1839; the Hillsboro Academy, 1818; and the Hillsboro Female Seminary, 1830.

Although Union School, one mile south of Wood's Ferry on Haw River, advertised courses for girls, there does not seem to have been an exclusively female seminary nearer to Alamance than the one in Hillsboro. Young ladies received, in addition to the training given to boys, instruction in such courses as sewing and sampler, lace-work, fillagree, artificial and scrap-work, waxwork, drawing and music.

Prior to the Civil War, the schools of Alamance were poorly equipped, and many of the teachers were inadequately trained for the tasks which they undertook. Because there were few textbooks in that day, students were frequently required to memorize a vast number of facts and dates, without regarding the more extensive phase of learning, such as literature.

The following description of the educational conditions in Alamance in 1857 was given to the State Superintendent of Schools by the county chairman:

"Alamance, N. C., November 27, 1857"

Rev. C. H. Wiley

"Dear Sir;-I came home last night from a tour of visiting

*Conn, N. C. Schools and Academies.



our school districts and houses . . . . I have visited about one-half the school houses, and find them in better condition than I expected, and have been treated with courteous attention by all. I purchased a set of school books and paid for them, one set for each district, and left them with each committee, with a catalogue, in order that the parents of the children might know the prices, and where they may be had.

"I have taken care to select one of the most public spirited of each committee to act as foreman; those having the largest family of children to attend the school, and enjoin it on them to sec that the school houses are kept in good comfortable repair ....

"I have measured the demensions of the houses and the land attached and taken deeds, and classed the houses in 5 grades, No. 1,2, 3,4, 5; as yet I have had but one of No. I, worth $175; No. 2 from $140-100; No. 3, from $75 to 100; No. 4, from $50-75; and one No. 5, worth only $25. So far the school houses and land average about $100 each. The number in the county is 48. The houses are generally sufficiently large in extent and size . . .

"Yours Respectfully,

John Trollinger."*

In July, 1858, another step forward was made when "a teachers' institute was held in the court house at Graham . . . conducted by Professor W. H. Dougherty, who had been associated with Horace Mann at Antioch College, Ohio." In 1860, Professor Dougherty gave a two-day course of instructions on normal methods of teaching at a second teachers institute.

When the war began in 1861, there were only forty-nine schools, 1,073 school children, and thirty-four teachers in Alamance. The average team was about three and one-half to four months per year, and teachers received a salary of approximately $22.50 per month. A decade earlier there had been almost twice as many pupils, a four to seven months term, and twenty teachers in thirty-nine schools.

* Beecher, Investigation of Local Resources.



Several new private schools appeared in the years preceding the War. Dr. Alexander Wilson, an Irishman and former teacher at the Raleigh Academy, came to this county in 1852, purchased a small tract of land at a place called Burnt Shop, which he renamed Melville, and opened a small private school.

"Select Classical School

"The next session of the subscriber's School will commence the 7th of July next.

"The class which goes to College leaves room for a few boys.

"Alex Wilson

Melville, Alamance County."*

Dr. Wilson, assisted by his sons, Robert and Alexander, Jr., taught in an unpainted, three-room building, which became known as one of the best schools in the South. Local students paid $50 and those who came from a distance, $100 for a ten months' term. The school was discontinued after Dr. Wilson's death in 1867.

Other contemporary schools of this period included a female academy located four miles west of the Bingham school and seven miles south of Dr. Wilson's school, which offered a full English course and music curriculum and a six months' term. The Alamance Female Academy was started near Mebane depot by Rev. A. G. Hughes in 1856; in addition there were in the county a Rock Spring Academy, Watsonville Female Seminary, Cedar Grove Academy, Bethel Schoolhouse, Pleasant Hill Academy, and a number of other schools.


The Christian Church established the first school in what is today the town of Graham about 1792. A log building with a brick floor, it stood a mile north of the present court house and was first taught by Daniel C. Turrentine.

Others who taught at Providence between 1792 and 1842 included James Mulholland, Able, John and Benjamin Rainey; Joe Thomas; Jonathan Freeland; Jerry Whidbee; Jonathan




Worth (later Governor of North Carolina); W. F. Bason; C. E. Faucette; John Faucette; John Mebane; Leonard Prather; John Steel Turrentine; Samuel Turrentine: and William H. Turrentine.


The Rev. John R. Holt came to this school to teach in 1842, but after a few terms he moved to Chatham County, where he operated a private school until about 1852; and about 1849, the Providence school was closed.

Shortly after Alamance was separated from Orange County, the Christian Churches of North Carolina and Virginia began to raise funds to construct a larger school at Graham, and the result was the Graham Institute which was completed about 1852. The "Institute" was a private school which stood two blocks south-west of the court house. Reverend John R. Holt and Albert Anderson took charge of instruction there, but a short time later they turned the school over to Archable Ray.

During the latter 1850's, the school was reorganized, and for a short time, W. H. Dougherty served as principal; Joe King



taught Greek, Miss Carrie Comer taught music, and Professor Dougherty's two daughters served as assistant teachers.

Professor Dougherty was not too successful in the management of the school, and just before the War Between the States the records show that two men by the names of Brem and Bray were in charge of the Institute.

H. J. B. Clark of New Bern purchased the school building in September, 1863, for the sum of $4,200, and during the War and for a short time afterwards, he operated a tobacco factory at this location. The building was sold to the Harden family, on whose property it was located, in 1871, and they, in turn, sold it in December of that year to the late Dr. William S. Long, Sr.

Dr. Long and his brother, Reverend Daniel A. Long, taught the school together until 1874, when the latter Mr. Long was elected president of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and left his brother to manage the school alone. In the years which followed, Dr. Long was assisted by such notable educators as Dr. W. W. Staley, Judge B. F. Long, Judge A. L. Coble, David Bell, Professor Henry Jerome Stockard, Miss lone Parker, Professor S. A. Hollaman, Dr. J. U. Newman and others.

Dr. Long changed the name of the school to Graham High School, although it had no connection with the later high school at Graham, and in 1882, the name was changed to Graham Normal College.

While the Christian Church had been instrumental in raising funds to build this school, it exercised no control over the school management until 1886, when the Church formally leased the property from Dr. Long. In 1889, following months of deliberation, it was decided to move the "College" operations to a larger tract of land, and the Church purchased some property west of Burlington at a small railroad settlement known as Mill Point. The College was renamed "Elon" after the Hebrew word meaning "oak" or "Great strength." Its history from this point will be traced later in this chapter.

Meanwhile, the buildings at Graham continued to serve for school purposes until they were destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1892. A few months before the fire, the suggestion had been made



that a newly-established state agricultural college might be located at Graham, but the proposed college was built at Raleigh instead and became the present State College.

There were a number of other schools at Graham, in addition to the old Institute, one of which was a public elementary school located on Pine Street, one block southeast of the court house. This school was operated for two months each year until the seventies, for three months during the eighties, and from three to five months until 1903.

The Presbyterians maintained a good school, for which the following advertisement appeared in the Alamance Gleaner in January, 1877:

"English and classical school. Next session begins January 29, 1877. Tuition, $1, $2, $3 a month according to advancement. Board in town $9 to $10 per month. "Rev. A. Currie."

A secondary school was in operation until the coming of the "graded schools" in 1903. In September, 1896, the Gleaner stated, "Two more schools have opened in Graham. Mrs. James B. Kerr's school for little girls and Miss Lucy Hocutt's school for little boys and girls. Graham now has four schools."

In 1896, a thirty-six by sixty foot frame building which had been constructed in 1891, was moved to the present site of the public schools, where a tract of land was purchased from L. Banks Holt. The next step toward the modern school was reported by the Gleaner in May, 1896:

"In response to a call, a meeting was held at the courthouse on Monday night to discuss plans for improving the school facilities of the town. Rev. P. H. Fleming was called to the chair ....

"At an adjournment meeting the report of the chairman was adopted.

"1. That the school interests of the town should be consolidated.

"2. That the school shall be taught at the public school (if no better can be had).

"3. That the school shall begin the 17th of August and continue nine and one-half months.



"4. That the tuition shall be for preparatory (up to the fourth reader) $1.50 per month, intermediate (to the extent of the public school branches) $2 per month. When more than one pupil attends from the family, a deduction of 10 per cent is made for two, 15 per cent for three, etc.

"That the private schools continue until February I or thereabouts.

"That then the public school shall begin and all pupils of the district shall be allowed to attend free of charge so long as they study the public school branches. After they go beyond these branches, each pupil shall be required to pay more than two dollars per month.

We elect W. P. White superintendent of schools and cordially commend him to the earnest support of schools in Graham and vicinity."

The spirit of this move was excellent, but no money was levied to support the school, and in 1902, "W. P. White and Madge Little closed five months of school and will continue the school as a pay school."

Superintendent White resigned in 1903 and was succeeded by Superintendent C. E. McIver. In that same year, the citizens of Graham voted in favor of graded schools and levied a tax of thirty cents on every $100 property valuation for the support of the schools. The older part of the present school building on North Main Street was constructed during that year.

In 1905, this school had eight teachers, 350 pupils and nine grades, with J. B. Robertson as superintendent. The citizens of the town voted for a $10,000 bond issue to pay for the construction of the school building and it was certain at least that the school would continue.


In 1852, when there were but few families within the present boundaries of Burlington, pupils attended a two-month term of public school annually in a log building beyond Elmira. The school room was eighteen feet square with a fireplace at one end. The seats were made of split logs and provided no support for the back. Slates were used for all written work except penmanship, for



which paper and quill pens were used. Spelling and arithmetic were stressed. Discipline was stern. The teachers at this school received a meager wage of forty dollars for the two months term.

An official of the North Carolina Railroad, in describing conditions at Burlington (Company Shops) in 1864, wrote "We still need .... school-houses and churches. Much complaint exists among those who . . . live here that their children are growing up in ignorance and sin."

During the 1880s a school was in operation at Brown's Chapel (now marked by the old cemetery) in what is the present Brook-wood Extension suburbs. Henry Jerome Stockard taught a free school not far from the present Maple Avenue school, and Daniel Worth taught a private school in the vicinity of the present Lutheran Church.

The Railroad Company erected a large, two-story frame building on the site of today's Fisher Street School, and this served the double purpose of a community church and school house. Classes were taught on the ground floor, and religious services were held upstairs. Known as the Union Church, this building was the first house of worship-as well as the first school-in the village that became Burlington.

Later the public schools used this building for classroom space from time to time, but in 1934, the original building was sold to the highest bidder and torn down to make room for a club house.

During the Reconstruction period and the operation of the Freedman's Bureau, Company Shops were selected as a center from which to remove the blight of illiteracy, and so two enterprising and aggressive spinsters from the North appeared on the scene to conduct for a short time a school at the present crossing of Davis and Church Streets, just in front of today's Congregational Christian Church. Later Mr. James McAdams and others taught in this building.

Several private schools were in operation from 1885 until 1895, among which should be mentioned the Weathersby school of which Mrs. Lucy Wilson Weathersby was principal, located in the old Pete Sellars barroom and tavern near May Hosiery Mills.



Lawrence Holt conducted a private school in a small building on Webb Avenue; Jeremiah W. Holt, Christian Church minister, and later, Frank P. Fonville, kept school in Union Church. Henry Lay Murphy conducted for several years a school known as Murphy's Military Academy also in the old church building,

"Little Trinity," a boarding and day school, was established by the Durham District of the Methodist Conference in the last decade of the nineteenth century, on the grounds where the Broad Street High School now functions. The name of this school was soon changed to the Burlington Academy with Wilbur Ormand as its headmaster, and Mrs. Weathersby, who had closed her own school, as one of the teachers. The Academy included all grades up through the junior college level.

The Burlington school committee in 1896 bought a house and a plot of land on Maple Avenue from the Railroad Company for $250, and there established a free public school. Later the committee sold this land and moved the building to the Broad Street school site.

When 110 citizens petitioned for an election on graded schools in July, 1901, the Burlington Board of Aldermen laid the idea before the people, and the election was carried by a three to one majority.

At that time, the State and County provided $1.60 per pupil, and the Burlington officials placed a thirty cents school tax on $100 property valuation in addition. Two additional buildings were erected on Broad Street, and Frank H. Curtiss was hired at a salary of $1,200 per year as superintendent. The graded schools opened in September, 1901, with a staff of eight women for the white school. One man taught the colored school near the negro cemetery.

Teachers were paid $25.00 to $30.00 per month, according to the decision of the superintendent, and the school board insisted that the various religious denominations of the town be represented on the teaching staff.

The Burlington Academy with its equipment was purchased for $2500, but in order to have eight classrooms it was necessary to move the East Burlington school near Maple Avenue to the Broad



Street school grounds. The public school of West Burlington was removed to a lot near the negro cemetery for use as a colored school.

The highest grade taught the first year was the eighth, and the graduating class consisted of Misses Rose Lee Patterson, Lillie Dale Patterson and Cora Lee Anderson.

Ten teachers were employed the second year and salaries were slightly increased. By 1907 the schools had a nine months term with twelve grades, but this was cut back to eleven grades in 1909. The school census of 1908 showed 1,265 white and 96 negro potential pupils, though no accurate records were kept on actual enrollment and attendance.

G. C. Singletary became superintendent in 1910, and salaries were increased to as high as $75.00 for teachers of the tenth and eleventh grades. There were no separate school principals at this date, but in 1913 when Dr. P. H. Fleming became superintendent a high school principal was appointed at a salary of $90.00 per month.

The central unit of the present Broad Street High School building was constructed in 1916 at a cost of approximately $40,000, which had been voted for this purpose in a bond issue the previous year. This plant was three stories high and contained a large second-floor auditorium to accommodate a student body which had reached almost 1,000.

A home economics department was established at that time and became a popular addition to the regular curriculum.

A. K. King served as superintendent just prior to 1918, when he resigned to enter the armed forces; he was succeeded by C. C. Haworth, who was to hold the position until 1932.

When an increase of the tax rate from thirty to fifty cents was advocated in 1920, it was found that a new charter would be necessary, and so, in 1921, the tax was voted and the graded schools became the Burlington City Schools.

By this time the housing situation had become acute. The old Union Church, an old knitting mill, and a store building were being used for classes. A $150,000 bond issue carried in 1923, which permitted the construction of identical buildings the fol-



lowing year on Maple Avenue and Fisher Street each consisting of ten classrooms, offices and a cafeteria. But these additions were soon overcrowded as well, and a second bond issue was necessary. The sum of $195,000 was voted in January, 1930, with which the eleven room Hillcrest Avenue school was erected, auditorium-gymnasiums built at Fisher Street and Maple Avenue, and a new auditorium-gymnasium built for Broad Street School. A new school was also erected for negroes.

The Alamance Training School for Negroes was combined in 1923 with the one negro school in Burlington, and a department of vocational agriculture was established there.

The superintendent reported 1,620 pupils enrolled in the schools in 1922. A Parent-Teacher Association was organized in 1919. Salaries had increased to range of $1,084 to $2,550 annually for teachers and $3,200 for the high school.

When H. M. Roland became superintendent in 1932, the depression was already being felt, and the pressure of minimum school budgets and eight-month terms followed. Through various Federal grants, however, money was secured for adding eight class rooms and a home economics department to Hillcrest School, and for additional space at the Glenhope and Fairground Schools. These latter two schools, with the Elmira and Glen Raven schools, were transferred from the county to the city system in the summer of 1934. Hillcrest became a junior high school with the addition of grades through the ninth.

In 1937, the school term was again increased to nine months. Since 1936 four new departments, commercial, physical education, distributive education and diversified occupational training, have been a part of the school system, and the schools have also supported public school music, glee clubs, bands and dramatic groups.

Today the Burlington City Schools comprise one of the ten largest city school units in North Carolina. The modern teacher-aid facilities here include classroom radios, motion picture projectors and sound films, music appreciation materials, large school libraries and other equipment. A book rental system instituted fifteen years ago provides text books for high school students.



Under the administration of Dr. L. E. Spikes who became superintendent of the city schools in 1936, extensive renovations and additions have been completed. The voters have approved a

Broad Street High School, Home Economics Building, Burlington.

two million dollar bond issue which will finance the erection of a new high school building within the near future.

The conditions of the city schools in 1949 is revealed in the following statistical survey from the office of Dr. Spikes:

Number of Schools 10


Burlington High School

Hillcrest Avenue School

Maple Avenue School

Fisher Street School

Elmira School

Glenhope School

Fairground School

Glen Raven School




This is an architect's view of the proposed new Burlington high school plant. Construction cost will exceed one million dollars.

Colored - Sellars -Gunn

Della Plane

Number of Teachers 172


State allotted-High School-

including vocational


Local-High School


State allotted-Elementary




Local-3 Supervisors-1 Visiting Teacher




State allotted-High School-

including vocational


State allotted-Elementary



 Enrollment as of January 11, 1949







Burlington High School






Fisher Street




Glen Raven


Hillcrest Avenue


Maple Avenue





Della Plane




Burlington High School (White)


Sellars-Gunn High School (Colored)



Following the War Between the States, a new school system was set up and a number of new academies and private schools made their appearance in various sections of this county.

With aid from the Society of Friends in the North, citizens of the Snow Camp community founded the Sylvan Academy near Cane Creek Meeting House in 1866. Before it was finally turned over to the county in 1903, this school became one of the largest in the State, with an average enrollment of 175 to 200 students.

Another well-known school in that part of the county was the Oak Dale Academy, which was founded in 1876 and which boasted both music and military departments. The building was destroyed by fire in 1895.

John W. Gilliam founded his Gilliam's Academy three miles from Altamahaw in 1879 and remained its principal throughout the forty years of the school. He taught, in addition to the conventional academy subjects, commercial typing and shorthand, music and expression. His pupils came from twelve states.



Some of the other leading schools in the latter half of the past century were Friendship Academy, eight miles southwest of Graham; Stainback's School in the Cross Roads section; Nicholson's in the Eureka community; Salem Academy at Cedar Cliff; Yadkin Academy for Negroes at Mebane; Miss Forest's School, Mebane; Union Academy at Union Ridge; Swepsonville Academy; Pleasant Lodge Male Academy; and the Bingham Academy at Mebane.

The most famous of these schools was the Bingham Academy, some of the buildings of which are standing today just east of the corporate limits of the Town of Mebane. The school was originally begun at Wilmington in 1793 by the Reverend William Bingham, an Irish Presbyterian minister and famous educator. The school was moved to Pittsboro a few years later, then to Mount Repose, ten miles northwest of Hillsboro, later to Hillsboro itself, and finally to the oak grove on the outskirts of Mebane.

William J. Bingham, the son of the deceased Reverend Mr. Bingham, assumed control of the school in 1825, and was still the headmaster when the Academy was moved to Mebane twenty years later. A thorough teacher and a rigid disciplinarian, Mr. Bingham taught the lower classes and his sons, William Bingham III and Robert, taught the advanced work.

When the War began in 1861, the Bingham School introduced military training as a part of its program, and the Academy teachers were granted commissions by the State. In 1865, William J. Bingham died and his son, Major William Bingham, became the school's principal. Major Bingham was noted as a fine speaker and as a writer of Latin and English textbooks. He served only a few years as headmaster of the Academy, being succeeded by his brother, Robert, in 1873.

During Major Robert Bingham's twenty-five years' administration, the school reached its highest peak of fame, and students were enrolled from thirty-three states and from Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Siam and various European countries. The Academy activities were transferred to Asheville in 1891, although the Mebane school continued for a time under Henry Bingham as a Presbyterian Church school, and later under Preston Lewis Gray.



The original log buildings at Mebane were replaced by frame structures costing $9,000 in 1873, and again rebuilt after a fire in 1882. Following a third fire in 1890, it was decided to move the school to Asheville.

In 1877 and 1878, the average school term at Bingham's was nine weeks, and teachers received $23.26 per month in salary.

Reverend W. W. Staley was named county superintendent of Public instruction in 1881, and in 1883 he was succeeded by Reverend W. S. Long, Sr.

As early as 1885 attempts were made to consolidate some of the smaller schools, and the Sylvan school was said to have been the first consolidated school in North Carolina. The buildings of the old Sylvan Academy were turned over in 1903 to the county school committee, who enlarged them, added new teachers, and in the fall of 1908, organized a high school there. A citizen of the community left the school $30,000 in 1912, and when more space was needed, a large local school tax was voted.

The Sylvan school also had the first "school bus" in this county, a horse-drawn covered wagon which the board of education purchased to carry pupils to classes. The pupils paid ten cents a day for their ride to and from school.

Subjects taught in the high schools in 1907-1908 included English, grammar, composition and rhetoric, English literature, advanced arithmetic, algebra, English history, ancient history, American history, North Carolina history, Latin and physical geography. By 1912, foreign languages and science had been added.

Interest in education continued to grow, and in 1917-18 the high school enrollment in the county was 137 students; by 1923 this number had increased to 651.

Prior to 1933 the Graham, Haw River and Mebane school districts operated as special charter districts, each having its own board of education more or less independent of the County Board of Education. But the Legislature of 1933 repealed all acts creating special charter districts, and these schools became units of the county system. No territory or extra pupils were added to the Graham or Haw River schools, although the former Woodlawn



school area north of Mebane and the Hebron school area south of Mebane were added to the Mebane School district.

Elon School was consolidated in 1931 by the addition of the Highland and Shallow Ford School districts; and the Altamahaw-Ossippee District, formed in 1922, now embodies the former Altamahaw, Ossippee, Isley, Oakwood, Maywood, Gilliam's Academy, and a part of the Stoney Creek Districts. The Pleasant Grove District, also created in 1922, consists of several former schools, Mahan, Sidney, Squires, Kings, Hickory Grove, Union Ridge, McCray, and a part of Stoney Creek. In addition, the Glencoe and Midway elementary schools are part of the Pleasant Grove District.

Alexander Wilson High School was established in 1922, and about 1936, Hawfields, Meadow Creek, Shady Grove, Swepsonville, Bethany, Eureka and Climax elementary schools were consolidated at the high school site.

The Eli Whitney District was originally created as a high school in 1922, and the school was taught for the first two years in a renovated cotton gin which gave it its name. Concord, Green Hill, Center, Mandale, Spring and part of Bethel elementary schools were brought there in 1931. The Saxapahaw Elementary school is in the Eli Whitney District and was combined in 1931 with New Union and Mountain View Schools.

The Sylvan School is the oldest high school in rural Alamance, having been established in 1912. It is the only high school in the county which is partially operated with a trust fund. One of the earliest districts in the State to authorize a special tax for supplementing the county and state funds, Sylvan was consolidated between 1927 and 1931 with Pleasant Hill, Oakwood, a part of Oakdale, and a part of Bethel.

In 1927 the E. M. Holt School District was established by the consolidation of Friendship, Belmont, Glencoe, Shoffner, New Hope, Eldermont, Cross Roads, and part of Oakdale School.

No high school education was provided for Negro rural children before 1928, but during that year the County Board of Education built the Pleasant Grove Negro School and provided for the first two years of high school instruction. In 1931 a four-



School transportation in the pre-gasoline era. The county's first school bus, above, carried students to Sylvan School around 1912.

Alexander Wilson School



The Hub High School, Altamahaw-Ossipee.

Mebane School



year high school was established in Graham and a four-year high school was established at Pleasant Grove. These two high schools provide secondary instruction for all Negro children in rural Alamance.

The following tables, prepared by County Superintendent of Schools M. E. Yount, show the present condition of the county school system.


White Race:
























Pleasant Grove






* 420


















Haw River








Alexander Wilson








Eli Whitney






** 365














E. M. Holt










* A number of pupils attending Glencoe School are included.

** A number of pupils attending Saxapahaw School are included.



Negro Race:
















Pleasant Grove






Union Grove






















Green Level




Woods Chapel








Morrows Grove








Rock Creek






* Includes a number of pupils attending the Elon, Mebane, Melville, and Woods Chapel

Haw River School.




Nearly a hundred years before Elon College was founded, the Christian Church organized a school at the old Providence Meeting House in Graham, and during the sixty years in which the school operated many of the early Christian Church ministers preached and taught there. In 1838, Reverend Daniel W. Kerr founded the Junto Academy near the present Mt. Zion Christian Church, and in 1852, Reverend John R. Holt, a pastor of the Church, helped organize the Graham Institute.

Elon College, a denominational school of the Congregational Christian Church, is located five miles northwest of Burlington. The view above shows the main campus, surrounding the college administration building.


The history of these first Christian schools is traced in an earlier section of this chapter.

The Southern Christian Convention met at Providence Church on September 13, 1888, and authorized the establishment of a standard four-year college for the training of ministers and church leaders. Two years before, the Church had leased Dr. William S. Long's "college" at Graham, and it was decided to move this school to a larger site to serve as the center of the new four-year Christian college.



W. H. Trollinger of Haw River gave the church twenty-five acres of land at a small railroad settlement west of Burlington known as Mill Point, and other interested citizens donated another twenty-five acres and $4,000 in cash for the construction of the college at this site.

The location was approved in December, 1888, and a large oak grove was chosen for the school campus. Professor P. J. Kernodle suggested that the college be named "Elon" in honor of the famous Hebrew village of massive oaks in Palestine. Construction of the first buildings began in April, 1889, and the doors were first opened on September 14, 1890.

Dr. William Samuel Long, first president of Elon College, was born near Graham on October 22, 1839, the son of Jacob Long, a farmer, and Mrs. Jane Stuart Stockard Long, the daughter of Colonel John Stockard.

In 1861, Dr. Long and Miss Elizabeth Faucette were married, and at the close of the War, the young teacher and minister opened a female seminary at Graham which developed into the Graham Institute. Trinity College at Durham conferred an honorary degree of Master of Arts on him in 1872, and in 1890 he received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Union Christian College in Indiana.

During his years of public service, Dr. Long was superintendent of the county schools, president of the Southern Christian Convention, and one of the outstanding teachers and preachers of Alamance County.

Eighty-eight students were enrolled in the first session of Elon College, which in 1890 consisted of one class building. Captain James Williamson built a house just across the railroad south of the campus, and this served as a boarding place for women students until the women's dormitory was completed in 1891.

West dormitory and the power house were completed in 1904, and heating and water systems were installed. Nine other buildings were erected on the campus and six buildings off campus for the use of faculty members or as dormitories.

Fire swept through the administration building on January



Another view of the Elon College campus.

18, 1923, completely destroying it, and soon thereafter a building program was started which resulted in five new buildings.

Throughout its scholastic history, Elon has specialized in religious training, and prior to the recent war more than fifty per cent of Elon graduates went into the teaching profession; many of them now teach in Alamance County schools. Though a church institution, Elon is not sectarian, and its students represent all faiths. Like most small colleges, it has experienced financial problems, but the $768,000 debt created by the building program that was begun in 1923 was paid off in January, 1943.

Dr. Leon Edgar Smith became president of Elon in 1932, and under his administration a number of new buildings have been constructed in or near the campus and work has begun on a new college gymnasium. The enrollment of Elon College increased substantially following World War II.

The present enrollment of the College is 729, of which 378 are veterans, 351 non veterans, and 151 women students, representing communities throughout North Carolina and other states and several foreign countries.



There was a fire-and old John brought the fire wagon on the run. Such fire fighting equipment was employed by Burlington's first volunteer company.

One of Alamance County's first automobiles and the first gasoline pump in the county are shown in the above photograph of the old Alamance Garage in Burlington.


Chapter 5

Chapter 10

Chapter 15

Chapter 21

Chapter 1

Chapter 6

Chapter 11

Chapter 16


Chapter 2

Chapter 7

Chapter 12

Chapter 17

Book Index

Chapter 3

Chapter 8

Chapter 13

Chapter 19

Chapter 4

Chapter 9

Chapter 14

Chapter 20