The other day driving down Raleigh Elam Road, we saw the foundation and the drinking fountain for Sylvan Heights School. I honestly couldn’t believe that I had driven down this road and sat at the intersection of Goshen, and never noticed the old foundation or fountain before. In that moment, it reminded me of how important this project is, and I need to get back to it. A lot of hours goes into each interview, mostly in transcribing, that I have to dedicate to each one. I plan to restart this project and post as many as I can as time allows. It might be slow, but hopefully Ill be able to get some stories recorded and posted here. Written personal stories, essays of family history, and pictures are always more than welcome and very much appreciated.
Sylvan Heights School has an interesting history, and was an important part of our community for many, many years. Originally, there was a one-room school house located behind the Fly General Store near the creek, built around 1885 (commissioned by William M. Fly and W.W. Page, and R.S. Elam). Fly School had weatherboarding and shutters on the outside, however, the school was closed around 1909 when it was moved to Raleigh Elam hill. This new school was first called Elam School named after Raleigh Elam in 1910 when he donated land for the school, then renamed to Roach School in 1916 after John Roach the property owner, and lastly changed the name to Sylvan Heights in 1928 by Bessie Evans Ladd. Bessie named it Sylvan Heights for Sylvan meaning wooded and Heights because the school was located on a hill. This one room school house had no electricity, no plumbing, no water and no toilets. Tom Anglin cut wood for the wood-burning stove the first year for free but after the first year received $1.00 per rick and continued to supply firewood for the school’s stove for the next several years. Ethel Evans Roach painted and hung the new school sign. When the school had plays and other events at night, Lizzie Ashworth Anglin would bring her aladdin lamp and light the room for the night’s activities.
Sylvan Heights had 8 grades. At various times over the years, competitions for the best “box lunches” were held. Those that bid the highest got to eat with the lovely lady who made the meal. Cake walk competitions were also held at the school, those who were the smoothest and most graceful, while walking with a cake balanced on their head and lasted the longest, won. Homer Vestal and Jessie Hight were known for winning the cake walk competitions. Glen Brown was the auctioneer.
In 1938, the old school was torn down and a new 3 room school house was built. Hensley and his brother Frank Parham were the carpenters for the new school. One room was used as the cafeteria. A well was dug, and a hand pump was installed with a long concrete drinking fountain trough with 4 faucets attached (see picture).
During Christmas vacation in the year 1946-47, Sylvan Heights burned down. The students finished the school year at Water Valley with graduation at the nearby Goshen Methodist Church. A new school was built and opened in the fall of 1948. Doris Beard Wakefield taught at Sylvan Heights from 1948 -1953 when the school was consolidated with Santa Fe School.
The following is a list of teachers who taught at Sylvan Heights: Fannie Lee Walker, Josey Galloway, Mary Alice Whiteside, Axie Cathy, Annie Porter Delk, Dora Holmes, Mattie Lou Walters Hutcheson, Jewell Elam Hancock, Ruth Hughes, Nannie Bishop Gordon, Robenia Flanigan Joyce, Maicuith Harris Napier, Maude Sowell, Fannie Mae Hogan (Principal), Theresa Mullins Tripp, Berneda Hutcheson Mathews (Principal), Leona Lynn Young (Principal), Sadie Chaney Gidcomb, W.E. Locke (Principal), Rosa Lee Fly Atkinson (Principal), Elinor Gardner, Myrtle Dale Hutcheson, Edward Fox (Principal), Sue Dell Moss, W. Allen Walters (Principal), Mrs. John D. Fitzgerald, Mrs. M.M. Allen, Ester Culberson Thompson, Jewell Hill Griggs, Ruby Berry Church, Ryder Fox Warf, and Doris Beard Wakefield.