From the Logan Democrat of Logan, WV, in a story titled “Schools and School Houses of Logan” and dated September 14, 1916, comes this bit of history about early education in Logan County, courtesy of G.T. Swain:
The hardest proposition encountered by the author in the preparation of this book was securing the following information relative to the early schools of Logan. We interviewed numbers of the older inhabitants, but owing to their faulty memories we were unable to obtain anything accurate. Nor were the county school officials able to give us any information regarding the schools of the early period. In making mention of this fact to Professor W.W. Hall of Stollings, who is District Superintendent of the free schools in Logan district, he graciously offered to secure as much information as he could from an old lady by the name of Sarah Dingess, who lives near his home. Thus, when we thought that we had exhausted every effort along this line, we were surprised and doubly appreciative of the efforts of Professor Hall, who secured for us the data from which the following article was compiled:
When the first settlers of Logan left the civilization of the East and came to the fertile Guyan Valley to carve homes for themselves and their children out of the forest, they brought with them a desire for schools for their offspring. One of the first pioneers of this valley, Peter Dingess, very early in the last century, erected a pole cabin upon the ruins of the Indian village on the Big Island, for a school house. That was the first school house erected within the limits of Logan county. In that house the children of The Islands (the first name of Logan) were taught “readin’, writin’ and spankin’.” After they ceased to use that house for school purposes, the people annoyed Mr. Dingess so much, wanting to live in the building, that he had his son, John, go out at night and burn it down. Thus the first school house for the children of Logan disappeared.
After the cabin on the Big Island ceased to be used for a school house, Lewis B. Lawson erected a round log house near the mouth of Dingess Run, where W.V. Vance now resides, for a school building. In that house George Bryant taught the children of Lawnsville (the name of Logan at that time) for a number of terms. A Mrs. Graves from Tennessee, wife of a Methodist circuit rider, also taught several terms there. Her work was of high order as a few of the older citizens yet attest.
A short time after Mr. Lawson built his school house at Dingess Run his brother, James, erected a school house on his land at the forks of Island Creek in the Old Fork Field, where J.W. Fisher now resides. The Rev. Totten, a famous and popular Southern Methodist circuit rider, taught the urchins of Aracoma (the name of Logan at that time) for several terms in the early ’50s of the last century.
After the passage of the Free School Act by the General Assembly of Virginia in 1846, the people of Aracoma and Dingess Run erected a boxed building for a school house by the Big Rock in the narrows above Bill Ellis’ hollow. The county paid the tuition of poor children in that school. Rev. Totten taught for several years in that house. He was teaching there when the Civil War began, when he discontinued his school, joined the Logan Wild Cats, marched away to Dixie, and never returned. Each of the last three named houses was washed away in the great flood in the year 1861.
When the Civil War was over and the soldiers had returned to their homes, they immediately set about to erect a school house. They built a hewn log house on the lower side of Bill Ellis’ hollow. That was the first free school building erected within the present limits of the city of Logan. In that house one-armed Jim Sidebottom wielded the rod and taught the three R’s. He was strict and a good teacher in his day. That house served as an institution of learning till in 1883 the Board of Education bought about an acre on the hill where the brick school houses now stand from Hickman White. A few years later additional land was bought of John B. Floyd in order to get a haul road from Coal street opposite the residence of Joe Perry’s to the school building. The old frame building was erected on the hill in 1883, and it furnished ample room for the children for more than two decades.
After the completion of the Guyan railroad to Logan the phenomenal growth of the city began. The growth of its educational facilities has kept pace with its material progress. In 1907 a brick building of four more rooms was added. Then they thought they would never need any more room. In 1911 they built a two story frame school house. In 1914 the magnificent new High school building was erected. Today, nineteen teachers are employed in the city, and within the next few years several more teachers must be employed, while the buildings are already taxed to their capacity.
In the year 1911 the Board of Education employed W.W. Hall as district supervisor. He asked for the establishment of a high school, and the citizens strongly endorsed his recommendation. The high school was established and Mr. Hall went at his own expense to the state university at Morgantown to find a principal for the high school. He secured F.O. Woerner, and the school was organized in 1911, on August 28. The next year Miss Maude Smartwood of Cleveland, Ohio, was added to the high school teaching force. In 1913 J.A. McCauley died from typhoid fever before the school closed, and George EM. Ford was employed to finish the term. In 1914 the school offered for the first time a standard four-year high school course and was classified by the state authorities as a first class high school. Today it is regarded as one of the best high schools in the state. It has more than one hundred pupils enrolled and employs seven regular high school teachers. It has a better equipped domestic science department than any other high school in West Virginia. When the high school was organized in 1911, there were only seven pupils in eighth grade in the city school. These seven were taken and pitched bodily into the high school. Of that first class, Fred Kellerman, Leland Hall, Roscoe Hinchman, Leon Smith, Kate and Beatrice Taylor continued in school until they were graduated June 2, 1915.
The first common school diploma examination ever held in Logan county was conducted by Supt. Hall as the close of his first year’s work at the head of the Logan District schools. He also conducted the first common school graduation exercises ever held in the county, in the old Southern Methodist church, on May 28, 1912.
Logan is indeed proud of her schools, and the efforts made by the faculty and school officials toward the training and educational development of young America meets with the hearty approval and commendation of all citizens.
Those in charge of the county schools are: Lon E. Browning, county superintendent; W.W. Hall, Logan district supervisor; the Logan district board of education is composed of J.L. Curry, president; and J.L. Chambers and L.G. Burns, commissioners. Chas. Avis is secretary of the board.
The faculty consists of F.O. Woerner, Principal of the Logan High School and instructor in mathematics; Joel Lee Jones, languages; Minnie Cobb, science; Isabella Wilson, cooking and sewing; Maud Ryder, commercial subjects; Jennie Mitchell, history and civics, and Mrs. R.E. Petty, music.
Lucile Bradshaw, English, literature, and mathematics; Florence Hughes, geography, history, and physiology, of the sixth and seventh grades departmental.
The following are the teachers in the grades: G.O. Nelson, Principal; Athelyn Hatfield, Pearl Staats, Brooke McComas, Lillian Halstead, Elma Allen, Lettie Halstead, Pearl Hundley, Kittie Virginia Cleavinger and Bertha Allen.