Grange Hall School
I inherited this photo of my grandfather, Robin Earl Bowie (1912-1991) and his brother Lucian Bowie and classmates at the Grange Hall School in Robertson County, Tennessee. It’s probably from around 1918-1920 or so if Robin was born in 1912. All the rest of the students and teachers are unidentified, so perhaps you can help with the rest. This is the Mt. Sharon and Palestine community.
The pile of wood debris in front of them looks like the school must have had the wooden roof shingles torn off and the door to the school appears to be on the far left edge of the picture.
When researching my Clinard family deeds, I ran across the deed for the land being set aside for this school in 1874. It is in the Robertson County Archives in Deed Book 19, pg 95. It reads:
May 27th, 1874
F. J. Carter to Wash Clinard & others
For the promotion of education and the dissemination of learning among the white population of my vicinity. I, F. J. Carter of the County of Robertson and the State of Tennessee, do hereby grant unto Wash Clinard, John T. McAfee, David H. Parker, W. J. Benton, and Chas D. Woodson as a body of Trustees, and their successors in office composing a board of trustees, the following lot or parcel of land lying and being in Civil District No. 16 of said County, and bounded as follows, viz, Beginning at J. C. Crawford’s North West corner in Mrs. Sarah Anderson’s South boundary line, running thence West, with said line 12 2/3 poles to a stake in the said line, thence South 12 2/3 poles to a stake, thence East 12 2/3 poles to a stake, thence North to the Beginning 12 2/3 poles. Containing one acre be the same more or less. To have and to hold the same upon which there is now being erected a house for the use of White Schools, Good Templar’s Hall, and Grange No 590 and I hereby bind myself, my heirs and assigned to forever warrant and defend the title to said Land, to said Trustees, and their successor’s forever. Now should it in the course of events happen that this property should fail to be used either for white schools, Good Templars, or Grange for the space of 5 years in succession, then the said property is to revert to the donor. In witness thereof, I have this 27th day of May, 1874 set my hand and affixed my seal.
F. J. Carter
(witnesses) W.B. Hoff, S. Clinard
~ ~ ~
My great-grandparents, John Willie “Jack” and Jessie Clinard Bowie lived off Betts Road in the Robertson County 16th District, just a mile or so from Old Hwy 431. My great uncle, James Boyd Bowie, younger brother to Robin and Lucian Bowie in the photo, remembered attending Grange Hall until the third grade. He described it as being located about where the “Mulch & More” business is today in front of the BP Douglas Market gas station between the old and new 431.
I found more information in the “History & Recollections, Palestine United Methodist Church 1857-2007” about Grange Hall at the Robertson County Library. I think there is also a copy at the Robertson County Archives.
“Since church and education was such an important part of our ancestor’s lives, both church and schools had to be built in close proximity to the homes of the people. The current Old 431 Highway was known as Whites Creek Pike and for many years it was a dirt road. Churches and schools were built close to this highway. the children walked to Palestine Church, Valley Grove School and Grange Hall. When the latter two schools consolidated into Sharon School, they rode on a flatbed truck. However, the children who lived on Palestine Road walked to the church to catch the truck….”
Margaret Walker’s “History of Robertson County Schools, 1789-1989”, compiled by Doris Moss Hill and Marjorie Shores Pike and printed in 2002 gives more information about Grange Hall and other community schools. There is a copy at the Robertson County Library.
“The early people realized the need for education. Schools were first held in the homes. Later schools were supported by subscription and tuition. School was held at Palestine Church with Dr. Gamble as teacher. Among the pupils were W. W. Porter, Welborne Porter, Shelly Binkley and Charlie Cobbs.
Joe Carter, grandfather of Travis Clinard, gave the land for Grange Hall. The Grangers, an organization of farmers, donated a sum of money for the building and reserved a room for their meeting place. Grange Hall was located on a hill with a pond nearby on the East side of the highway near the curve on the now Old Highway 431 which was referred to as “Uncle Sam’s Curve”. The curve got its name when Roy Haun built his mailbox as a statue of Uncle Same USA in the 1950s.
Louise Clinard Winters attended Grange Hall as well as Hazel Fryer Boyte Jones. Hazel remembers the day the stove pipe fell, cut and covered Crockett Frey with soot. She also remembers that the students went skating on the pond. It is recalled that Turner Frey and Edna Mae Fryer began their courting days at Grange Hall School.”
I was curious who the other students and teachers might have been so looked at the 1920 census. Here are a few pages of neighbors in the community.
Would love to see other photos of the old schools and churches. Share if you’ve got some!