There's no place just like this place

Mrs. Gail Pigg and The Pigg Schoolhouse

Built in 1884, the Pigg Schoolhouse, located in Santa Fe, is rich in history. Owners, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pigg have restored in the schoolhouse and furnished it as if still in use in the late 1800’s. Passionate about its history, Mrs. Gail Pigg tells stories of the Pigg Schoolhouse along with stories growing up in the Fly and Watervalley communities. Here are some of her stories.

The Pigg Schoolhouse was built in 1884, and it sit up there on Pigg Schoolhouse Road about a 1/4 mile down on the hill. My husband, Charles (Pigg), and I used to go up there and visit it on Sundays because his dad went to school in here. I found his dad’s initials carved on the front and the back of the building plus some more little boys’ initials too. They say that’s what they usually done was carve their initials on the front of the schoolhouse. And here are the initials (Mrs. Pigg points to the initials of Charles Pigg’s father). Charles tried to buy it from John Robert Skellington, who owned it, and he said no he didn’t want to sell. He said he was going to do something with the schoolhouse some day. It kept on and on.

It didn’t have a floor, the roof was gone, and no windows. The windows had been broken out. We couldn’t find the front door, and Mr. Skellington put a petition up inside the schoolhouse. I could not believe this, but my great Aunt lived in this building, John Robert tells me, for about 4 years. We was raised over at Water Valley, and she use to come over here and take care of sick folks and stay with them. When they got better she would go home. John Robert’s youngest brother came up there one Sunday when we were visiting the schoolhouse. He said “Charles, do you still want this building?” and Charles said “yes, but its not worth paying anything for it because all we can salvage was the outside”.

There is a blackboard that goes all the way around. You see, we saved every piece of that. We piled it out here in the field, and I would go out there everyday and find the blackboards. I found all of it. It didn’t have a ceiling, and it didn’t have a roof. It once had floors. The cows used to run through it. We have some of the original rocks that the school house set on. We saved the old square nails.

Thats Mr. Coleman and Ms. Essie Pigg (pointing to a picture inside the schoolhouse), they got married. They were married seventy something years before they passed away. They were 14 and 15 when they got married. We started putting pictures up of the kids that went to school in here, and as far as I can go back is 1904. I can’t find anymore pictures.

We ran out of boards, and John Robert had an old house back on another farm and he told us to go up there and get some boards. We had to finish it off with black up there because we couldn’t find any more good ones just salvage. The outside walls are all the original and the blackboard. Marlin Arnold donated the windows to us, John Robert gave us the front door there and the stove over there. There are 3 pieces of the glass stove that was up there in the schoolhouse. Its the same brand as that one right there that Charles found. I know they didn’t have a drum oven; thats some of Charles’ doings. You could put food in there and heat it.

McGuffy’s Reader. Somebody brought us this edition of McGuffy’s Readers. A lady that went to school in here brought us this little program. She kept it all those years. She is still living.

I love this little building. Sometimes when I am mowing grass, and I get hot and want something to drink. I just come in here and think about the little kids running through here with their knickers on. Mr. DeBoise come and presented us with the Tennessee Seal there which we are proud of it.

When the kids went to school here they had to put water in a bucket. So I put a bucket out here with this wood box. The kids here were all neighbors. They could walk or ride a pony to school.

John Roberts said that most of the teenage boys would leave school in the afternoon. One or two of them would come early in the morning and get the fire started. He said if you went by where the schoolhouse originally was that there would be a big pile of corn cobs. He said most of them brought corn to school in their little lunch pales. Charles bought these chairs on the side of the road; the Board of Education was having a sale. Tony Sewell, who owns Oates and Nickels Funeral Home in Columbia, he brought us those 3 chairs right there. But those two came out of Theta Elementary School, and Charles bought that one down at Lewisburg one day at a yard sale. The double desk.

There was nothing left in the building when we got it. I used to try to find the old door knob. It used to be an old white porcelain knob, and I imagine people went up there and got some things you know. I don’t know what was in the schoolhouse before we bought it. Charles used to say he would give anything to restore this building. I didn’t think we would ever get it done. He got this construction group down at Mount Pleasant and they came and put the floor down, stood the walls up, and put the roof on. All you could see was the ground. Some of us finished the inside. Charles, Arnold, and I helped on some.

The subjects they had at the Pigg Schoolhouse were Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, English, Grammar, Geography, Temperance, Physiology, History oF Tennessee, and United States History. She (Charles’ Aunt) got this certificate for graduating from here in this building. They had 6 grades. I bet the teacher had some kids facing this way (pointing to the different walls), that way, and that way depending on what they were studying.

This was supposed to be picture day at school (pointing to a picture hanging in the schoolhouse). Notice a lot of the students are barefooted. Pretty much everybody. Isn’t this picture cute though with the hair up on their heads, black ribbon around their necks.

John Robert told me that it was sitting closer to the road than where it was sitting when we moved it. His dad took a pair of mules and hitched it to the building and pulled it back so it wouldn’t be so close to the road.

The Pigg Schoolhouse Museum

The Pigg Schoolhouse Museum


Charles and I married in ’58 and we bought this place in ’61. This is his home place. The house that we live in, he was born there. Our farm has been in the farming operation for over 100 years. Charles’ great, great grandfather purchased this farm for $400. He and his wife, and 3 children are buried over there in the trees, and their tomb rocks are still standing.

I love going over there (to Fly) and talking to Wilson (Wilson Fly owner of the Fly General Store). My granddaddy and grandmother (Mr. and Mrs. D.A. Groves) moved in over there from Hickman County. We used to go over the every Sunday (to Fly to visit grandparents). Mama Groves would have that table just full of food, and we would go over there about every Sunday. I had an Aunt that lived in the house next to the Fly General Store. Aunt Ruby when she lived down there it was a house with two rooms downstairs and an upstairs. It just had 3 rooms in it. I don’t know if they built around Aunt Ruby’s house or if they tore it down and rebuilt. I don’t know. I remember Papa Groves (D.A. Groves) used to go to Nashville, and he would come back with barrels of dishes. I asked Wilson (Fly) if there were any dishes leftover from Papa Groves. And he says “no”. He used to sell a lot of dishes and sugar. Sold a lot of sugar. Dried goods, whatever little general stores sell. He had a drum down there over his stove. I can remember Momma Groves (Mrs. D. A. Groves) would fix him a plate, and if he was waiting on customers she would stick his plate of food in there and it would stay warm until he could eat it.

I don’t know what years he owned the store (Papa Groves). He sold the store to B.G. Fly, Wilson’s father. Well Papa Groves got to gettin’ in bad health, and Momma didn’t want to stay there and run the store. So they sold it and moved to town. Papa Groves had a stroke. Momma Groves lived on until she was 87 when she passed away. They bought a house in Columbia. There wasn’t but 6 grandchildren.

We would all sit out there on the front porch (of the Fly General Store) and Papa would tell us little tales. There used to be a train that came through there (the Middle Tennessee Railroad). My mother rode the train to go to school in Franklin because they didn’t have a high school over here. But she was in the first graduating class over here in Santa Fe. She used to tell us about being on that train and it would run off the track. Sometimes she would have to stay over with the somebody at night because they couldn’t get it back on the track. She graduated in the 1930’s. Papa Groves owned the store when the train came through Fly.

Aunt Ruby told me this little tale that when the train was coming through there. There was this guy; I don’t know what he done or anything. They contacted my grandfather and told him that when the train came through there to get this guy off the train. Aunt Ruby said they put him in a corn crib, and they kept him in there all night until the law officers could come and get him the next morning. Now thats what she told me.

We used to swim up there in that creek (Fly). The little church up there, the little Nazarene Church (Fly), I never will forget, I was in Children’s Day up there. Papa Groves wanted me to be in Children’s Day. I was in that one time. We had a little program where everyone memorized a little speech or something. Lots of kids. I always wished we could have bought that old house up there (the house across the street from the Fly General Store), but of course Charles wanted to live here. There have been several families that have lived in that house up there. Charlie Hood and Theo lived in there, Gene Fly (Wilson’s brother) and his wife lived in there, and I don’t know how many more couples. There used to be a little building out there. When you go out the kitchen, you go there in the yard and there was a building out there. There was a concrete trough out there. There was water that run in there all the time. Papa Groves would milk, and he would put his cans of milk in that concrete building to keep it cool until the milk truck come. It was in this trough there at the side of the house, and it was spring water that run in there constantly.

Where Papa Groves use to live (across the street from the Fly General Store); he would walk up through there. There was a rock fence up through there. Rocks built up this high. There was an old barn sittin’ back in there. Papa Groves use to go back in there and milk. He would milk back there in that barn. It was just kind of an open barn. He had mules. He kept a pair of mule up there. I don’t remember who all lived in that house. I know Charlie and Theo Hood lived there, and I knew there was another couple, and it might have been rented out at sometime. Papa Groves’ mother died in the house. I don’t know why I remember this. After she died, they couldn’t find Papa Groves. He walked out of the house. I remember we walked up through there and he was sittin’ up there on that rock fence. Just sitting there. You’d walk on up there and there was a barn.

Now, there was little spring house up close to the house (Papa Groves’ house across the street from the Fly General Store). It was cute as it could be. It was a concrete slab and it was built up, and water would run in there all the time. Run in and run out. It was like a little spring house where they would take their cans of milk and set it in that water out there. Mama Groves‘ kitchen in that old house was huge. It was a big kitchen. I think some of the owners came in and took some of it and made a bathroom. Its been remodeled I don’t know how many times. The upstairs never was finished when Mama and Papa lived over there. Aunt Ruby told me, mother never told me this, said that mother loved animals and she caught a red baby fox one time and she took it up stairs and didn’t tell anyone about it. Mother got to smellin’ something and mother kept that baby fox up there under the bed. She finally had to get rid of it. Aunt Ruby could really tell you a lot of things that went on over there if she was still living. She had a wonderful mind. She and my grandparents are buried out there on Hwy 7 going toward Dickson at the Groves Cemetery. Its located on Brown Hollow Road, and the cemetery is right there on the left. Past the Trace. Mama and Papa Groves are buried down there, Donald and Wesley, and Aunt Ruby. Its a nice cemetery down there. I loved Aunt Ruby.

My maiden name was Rountree. My Granddaddy ran that store that Emmy lives in now over there in Water Valley. Right there at the bridge (the Bed and Breakfast in Water Valley). He ran that store for a long, long time then Mr. Frank Dodson bought it from him and started running it. Yeah, got a lot of memories over there. My granddaddy sold similar things as Papa Groves. Canned goods, overalls, clothes, nails, and horseshoes. I remember more about Mr. Frank Dodson who bought it from my grandfather running it more than my grandfather. Because my grandfather died in 1943, and I was young.

I went to school in Water Valley through the 6th grade and then I started over here in the 7th (Santa Fe). Charles and I knew each other ever since I started over here in the 7th grade.

Mr. Gip Hood ran the store over there in Santa Fe. I worked in the post office, it used to be just two little rooms. There was an outhouse. They have pushed that building down now (the old post office). Mr. Gip, we always called him Mr. Gip, he had a general store. Now he use to take a stick of bologna and take an old butcher knife and just cut you a hunk of bologna off . When I worked at the post office and he would to go Columbia and buy groceries and he’d say to me “do you mind watchin’ my store?”, which I wasn’t supposed to. But I didn’t think any postal workers would be out checking. You know I really enjoyed running that little old store. It was fun. Pump gas, there was gas pumps out there. He sold ice cream, drinks, bread, and canned goods. It was located over there in that sharp curve (town square of Santa Fe).

I wanted a bicycle one year for Christmas. I begged which I shouldn’t have because my daddy just farmed and he didn’t make a lot of money but we had enough to eat, clothes, and things like that. On Fridays, Mr. Frank Dodson would go to Nashville and pick up his stock. Whatever he was going to sell. So he packed the truck up one day, and when he came back I there watching him unload. There was this red and white JC Higgins bicycle on that truck, and I thought “I would give anything if I could have that bicycle”. Christmas morning that bicycle was under the Christmas tree and I have still got that bicycle, and I am 74 years old. I was around 11 or 12 when I got that bicycle. I thought I was something with that bicycle.

We have enjoyed the schoolhouse.

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