Early History of Palmetto Schools

Photographic representation of the log cabin that once was used as a school in Palmetto A colorful early settler, Madame Joe, a German immigrant, came to the Terra Ceia area in 1843.

By 1851 she had bought from John Reese land and a partially built log cabin under the shade of six oak trees in Palmetto at the present site of the Palmetto House Bed & Breakfast on Riverside Dr. and 11th Avenue. Some of the oaks are living still.

Soon she built a larger house to the West, and converted the cabin to a store.

On Nov. 27, 1866, Madame Joe sold this property to Sarah Campbell, of Clarke County, Mississipi, about the same time that Samuel Sparks Lamb began his move from Clarke County, Mississippi.

On Feb. 3, 1868, Sarah Campbell sold the property to S. S. Lamb, who would own most of the land in the area, and is today considered the Founding Father of Palmetto

Black & White image of Samuel Sparks Lamb, the Founding Father of Palmetto

In this relatively unsettled area in the mid-to-late 1800's, children's education was left to the means of their parents.

Because there were no schools in the area at that time, Mr. Lamb, hired a tutor, named Mr. More, to teach his children at home.

As the area grew however, he eventually converted the log cabin into a schoolhouse and invited the neighbors to send their children.

-Photo of S. S. Lamb from Palmetto Historical Commission

Palmetto's First Schoolhouse

Black & White image of Palmetto's first schoolhouse Later, a frame schoolhouse was built on the southwest corner of 4th Street and 9th Avenue and J.W. Nettles became the teacher.

When Miss Frankie A. McKay from Chicago came to Palmetto in 1889, she found this schoolhouse used for public gatherings, town hall, and religious services. Mrs. M.B. Harrison was her assistant.(p. 107)

Because the school provided for children of all ages, Miss McKay divided students into two groups, and ordered and paid for books with her own money.

Palmetto Academy

Palmetto soon outgrew the frame schoolhouse on 4th street. Because "parents wanted better educational facilities," a city was born.

In minutes dated July 9, 1894 of a town council meeting, it was decided to hold an election to pass a bond issue seeking to raise $1500 to build a schoolhouse.

The election results were 33 FOR and 9 AGAINST.

Palmetto Academy was built at the northeast corner of 7th St and 10th AV., and the people of Palmetto were proud. This was the first time public funds had been used to build a school. It was a two-story, frame structure.

Postcard image of Palmetto Academy
Palmetto Academy postcard image - Palmetto Historical Commission

Schools were not graded at this time. The school day started at 8:30 AM and dismissed at 4:00 PM. A fifteen minute recess divided the morning and afternoon sessions. Boys and girls played on opposite sides of the building. The school term lasted about 5 months.

This building was moved to the present location of Palmetto Historical Park and continued to be used during the construction of the Red Brick building which replaced it.

Miss McKay continued to be the school principal, serving for four generations. (pp.107-8)

-Source - 100 Years in Palmetto - Ruth E. Abel

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