Last time, we talked about the county poor farm and Poor House school, located in the Big A community of Patrick County. This week, we will learn about the school that consolidated four other local schools in the Big A section of the county.
The following information about the Big A School is from a history written by Miss Vergie Thompson in 1955, “In 1921, a central school was built in the midst of four one-room schools. The school building was a large frame structure, having four classrooms and a huge hall on the first floor and an auditorium on the second floor. The school was located on the Patrick County Poor House Farm and given the name of “Big A,” of the farm known as the “Big A” ball ground. The four little one-room schools, Hunter, Rough, High Point, and Poor House were closed and all pupils transferred to “Big A” in 1921. “Big A” was operated as a Junior High School for four years, offering two years of high school work, in addition to the seven elementary grades. Population decreased in the community until the year it was finally closed, and pupils were transferred to other schools. The last year, there was one teacher and less than twenty pupils. Miss Zula Hanby was the last teacher at “Big A.” Miss Hanby is at this time, 1955, the senior member of the Patrick County School System, having a record of teaching forty years in the county. Since the consolidation of “Big A,” she has been a member of the faculty of Hardin Reynolds Memorial School.”
Jane O. Martin donated this wonderful photo and names of the 1923-1924 “Big A” School to the Patrick County Historical Society and Museum.
Students shown from Top-left to right: Callie Smith, Julia Stowe, Lottie Hudson, Carl Smith, Delia Shelton, Lucille Hanby, and Vergie Hazelwood.
Second row: John Martin, Pearl Blackard, Gracie Newman, Hazel Nowlin (at post), Gracie Gilbert, Eunice Shelton, Moir Hazelwood, Eva Sheppard, Sibbie Newman, Weaver Nowlin, Gladys Mabe, Gladys Blackard, Columbus Gregory, Fannie Biggs, Ola Newman, and Eddie Newman.
Third Row-Starting at Post: Essie Newman, Jean Blackard, Beatrice Jones, Bill Fulcher, Allie Stowe, and Joe Blackard.
Fourth Row-Starting at Far End: John Fulcher, Bertha Stowe, Coy Newman, Charlie Sheppard (Teacher and Principal), Ethel Ayers (Teacher), Ralph Gregory, Delsie Smith, Effie Stowe, Frank Nowlin, Alice Blackard, Gracie Biggs, Coreta Blackard, Pearlie Gilbert, Audrey Law, and Russell Clark.
Fifth Row: Shubble Blackard, Elva Blackard, Lessie Gregory, Paul Shelton, Banie Newman, Pattie Nowlin, Helen Belton, Eva Blackard, Kathleen Gregory, Sadie Hazelwood, Zula Hanby (Teacher), and Alma Ayers (Teacher).
Sixth Row: Zelva Newman, Daisy Gregory, Ada Fulcher, Edith Shelton, Kathleen Newman, Ethel Biggs, Elsie Gilbert, Ruby Stowe, Mae Stowe, Coreta Handy, Nellie Smith, Frances Fulcher, Bennie Critz Nowlin, Christine Law, Viola Miles, and Corris Hazelwood.
Seventh Row: Ernest Fulcher, Guy Mabe, Willie Clark, Roger Nowlin, Moir Clark, Wilbur Gilbert, H.A. Nowlin, Horace Blackard, Lester Fulcher, Jackson Blackard, Richard Fulcher, Roy Jones, Louie Nowlin, Oscar Biggs, John Hubby Lawson, Claude Newman, Davis Stowe, and Willie Miles.
Seated on Ground: A Nowlin boy not old enough to attend school, Bennett Newman, Arthur Hazelwood, and Curtis Hazelwood. Pupils not present when picture was taken: Cosby Blackard, Pearlie Gray, Lester Gray, Jean Newman, and Una Newman.
Growing up in the “Big A” section of the county, I always heard that the ball field, ball team, and school was named for Aaron Blackard (Big A, little a). If anyone has heard of a different reason for the name, I would love to know.
Woody may be reached at email@example.com