History of the Original Hampton School
In 1854, the settlement of Hampton was known as "Bear Creek." Its first school, Oak Grove Academy, a one room log cabin, near the spring, in the Pool Woods, was located on a plot of ground deeded by William S. Fears. The appointed trustees were: B.B. Ransome, Samuel P. Campbell, John Smith and Thomas G. Barnett.
The next school for which we have any record, was taught on the first floor of the two-story building, known as the Pine Grove Masonic Lodge. This school was located where the home of A.D. Henderson now stands. Judge Wilson Mitcham, grandfather of A.B. and Frank Mitcham, was the teacher. The year: 1873.
James Billingsley, pastor of Berea Christian Church, taught a school in the church. This was not satisfactory, so the patrons built a one-room house across the road from the church. This was in 1884. The equipment for this school consisted of home-made chairs, benches and tables. The blackboard stood on two legs propped against the wall. Farmers, whose children attended school, hauled in wood for the fire; the boys cut it up. There were six months of school: January, February, March, July, August and September. Water was obtained from a well at a nearby house.
A two-room brick building, with a wide hall between the rooms, was built in 1885. It stood where the recent school building was. The bricks were made nearby by C.C. Chinn, who also built the building. Fireplaces were used to heat the two rooms. A well on the west side furnished water. The faculty consisted of two teachers, and a music teacher. Mr. J.W. Denton was the principal, and he was very progressive for the times. Pupils came from the neighboring towns, to sit at the feed of this learned man. Tuition was from $4 to $8 per month, according to the class one was in. All books were bought by the parents. Elocution was stressed by the school. This building burned in 1904.
In 1905, a four-room brick structure, with an auditorium upstairs, and a room on either side, used for expression and music, was built. There were three teachers on the faculty at this time. Mr. Arnold, the principal, was assisted by Miss. Mignon Lunquist and Mrs. Emma M. Moore. A large music class was taught by Miss Annie Nolan. Mrs. Hannah conducted a band, with nearly every child in school, playing an instrument.
1912 found the school having "growing pains." The Child Labor Law went into effect, and Hampton had the largest census it ever had, 1,013. To meet this increase in attendance, a wing, consisting of two rooms, was built on the west side of the school. A home for the principal was also on the school grounds.
The consolidation of Fairview and Pleasant Hill, with Oakland, took place in 1922. The high school pupils of those schools attended Hampton School. This increase in attendance made necessary the addition of a four-room wooden building, near the brick building. The first school bus, driven by Harvey Ponder, made two trips mornings and afternoons, over dirt roads, to transport these high school pupils to Hampton. May's school consolidated with Hampton this year also. The eleventh grade was added under the leadership of Mrs. Lucy P. Richard, principal.
The school rapidly grew in number in the next few years. The needs of the schools were many, and there were no school funds. In 1915, there had been an organization known as the "Civic League." Mr. E.E. Treadwell, principal, and others of the community, thought the organization of the P.T.A. would serve useful purpose. So, in 1925, the Civic League was changed to the P.T.A. It was fully organized in 1928, by Mrs. Melba Mitcham and Mrs. Essie Cain, with Mrs. Kate D. Fields as president.
The four-room wooden structure that had been built in 1922, burned in 1930. This was replaced by a four-room brick building, that contained the first four grades. Under the untiring efforts of Mr. L.H. Davis, a gymnasium was built in 1932, at the cost of $2500.
The principal's home burned in 1937. Also, Liberty Hill consolidated with Hampton this year. The Liberty Hill, two-room wooden building, was moved to the Hampton school grounds, where the fifth and sixth grades were taught. This was placed on the grounds, approximately where the principal's home had been. Oakland consolidated in 1938. Some children from this school came to Hampton, and others went to McDonough.
The lunchroom was added to the gymnasium building, under the principalship of Mr. E.W. Foy, in 1940. The P.T.A. equipped it, and supplied the necessary money to supplement the government money. Mrs. Jewell North (2nd grade teacher) had charge of its operation.
Work on sanitary facilities began in 1949. This work was under the supervision of Mr. C.C. Glenn. Men of the community contributed time, labor and money. Gas heaters were also installed.
A survey of our school in 1951 showed the buildings to be inadequate, outdated, outgrown, overcrowded and unsanitary. An election for County bonds, was called in March 1952. The election was held the 8th of April. This won by a wide majority and the old building was torn down.
The building of the new plant began in the summer of 1954. Also, Hampton High School consolidated with Henry County High School this year.
On April 15, 1955, the Hampton Elementary School moved into their new building. The chore of moving from old buildings into the new one, was done with the greatest ease, due to the excellent pre-planning of the principal, Mr. J.W. Owens.
When the old High School building was torn down, my Daddy and Mother got the cornerstone from it, which I now have.
- Jane Mitcham Williams
September 18, 1993
(This historical account was given at the Homecoming of the Classes of '41, '42, '43 and '44, held at Hampton United Methodist Church on September 18, 1993)