Chickamauga School was established in 1871 during the Reconstruction period. The Reconstruction period covers the first 12 years immediately following the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery (1865- 1877). The written history of Pilgrim Rock Baptist Church which was established in 1885, mentions that church services were held at the school until a church could be built. This confirms that a school building existed and that teaching and learning were happening prior to 1885. The first Chickamauga School building would have been a crude, unpainted structure with a wood/coal burning heater or fireplace for use during the winter months. The toilet facilities were outside. The first Chickamauga School building probably looked very similar to the first Eastdale School for colored pictured at top right of the above photo. The Eastdale School building at lower left was constructed in 1912. Originally there was one teacher who would have been a White carpetbagger (a carpetbagger was a person from the north who came south to help Blacks prepare for life as free citizens.) The first teachers of Blacks in the south were White because there were no Blacks who were prepared to teach when slavery ended. This was the case because during the slave era, it was illegal to teach a slave to read and write. As Blacks became literate, they assumed the teaching jobs in Black schools. For many years, teachers were not required to have college degrees. The only requirement was to pass a written examination. Miss Marjorie Strickland did not have a degree when she started teaching. Each summer she would enroll in classes at Tennessee A & I State University until she completed the requirements for a degree. She actually continued her education and eventually earned a Masters degree. Miss Strickland wrote in 1976 that when she started teaching, the salary range was from $20.00 to $40.00 per month for a few months. Mrs. Evelyn Harden mentioned that she did have a degree from Tennessee A & I State University when she first started teaching. She is 14 years younger than Miss Strickland and was very excited when she received her first check in the amount of $95.00 for a month’s work. There was a janitor who would clean the building and make fires before the teachers and students would arrive each day. The last janitor at the second site was Mrs. Nina Frazier. Teachers and older boys in the class would keep the fire going during the day.
Booker T. Washington School
The Booker T. Washington School was a consolidation of three schools: Turkey Foot, Magby Pond and Tyner. The new school was opened in 1924 with Mr. J. T. Swann, a former teacher at Chickamauga and Soddy Grammar Schools serving as principal. The school embraced grades 1 – 8, with grades being added as the school progressed to the 11th grade. An addition was made to the school in 1930 at which time Mr. J. L. Espey was named principal. Booker T. Washington School was the only high school in the Hamilton County School System that African-American children could attend at that time. Many of the concepts of a regular high school curriculum were being carried out when two buildings were destroyed by fire. The Booker T. Washington School was rebuilt and opened in the fall of 1935 with Mr. T.D. Upshaw, Jr. as principal. The school would now include grades 1 – 12. In addition to the usual high school courses for which students received credit from the state, there were course offerings based of the philosophy of Booker T. Washington, the man. Booker T. Washington as a leader of Blacks during his time encouraged Blacks to train for jobs that Whites would accept them for. Examples of such jobs that the Booker T. Washington School included chunks of time in the school day training for were: housemaids, cooks, farmers and construction workers. Every high school student selected one of the above mentioned areas as sort of a major and received hands-on training during grades 9 – 12. To read more about the Shepherd Community, click here to request the History of Shepherd Community 1877 – 2011.