Lamar County, Mississippi Genealogy and History


Pamela J. Gibbs County Coordinator

Lori Thornton,  State Coordinator
Deb Haines
, Assistant State Coordinator



WPA History of

Lamar County, Mississippi


The first school we have any record of was the little Hughes School near Baxterville, which was built in 1722 by James Baxter and Charlie Byrd. It was a crude hewed log room with split logs for seats without backs, no glass windows, just shutters. There was a spring nearby which furnished water and a gourd was used for a dipper. The first teacher was named Hughes. The second teacher was a Mr. Ricky who taught from an arithmetic made by hand; this arithmetic is still in the Baxter family and is an antique worth seeing. They were offered a large sum of money for this book but refused to sell.

        The Baxters and Byrds had a large family and they comprised the school of 30 pupils. Each family having 15 children each. These tow men paid the teacher a small salary and gave him board. The children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, three months in the year.

        Joe and Jim Baxter, Charles Strahan, George Dearman, Nath Courtney, Charley and Jim Byrd, all prominent farmers in this county received their early education in this school. As more people settled in this community they felt the need of a larger school. They made a large room of lumber and employed another teacher. It continued to grow until the year 1910 when they consolidated with the little village of Baxterville and built a large wooden school house and employed five teachers. They carried ten grades and taught seven months in the year.

        The first school in Lumberton , Mississippi was a little one room log house which was called the Old Elli Dearman Homestead, which stood where our present Depot stands in a little grove, the present home of Fleet Hathorne. The Dearmans, Landrums, Burdetts, Tunnisons, Clarks are some of the earlier settlers who went to this school. This was in 1884 or 1886. Mrs. Scoot, a relative of J. J. White was the teacher in this school. Professor Webb and Miss Lula Banks were the next teachers and they taught in the Baptist Church.

        Three years later the Camp and Hinton Lumber Company felt the need of a larger and more commodious school for their employees' children, to this same company built a two story frame building at their expense on the site where our present school building now stands. A dormitory was built and Professor Summers of Columbia was elected as Superintendent of the school for three years with a salary of $1,000 per year. A large percentage of the patronage which had been his at Columbia followed him here.

        Boarding students from almost every section of this vast southern territory came here because of the educational advantage this school furnished. The trustees soon placed Professor H. C. Yawn as co-principal to Professor Summers.

        Some of the first students of this school were W. F. Bond, H. K. Rouse, J. E. and Ruben McNair, Joe Baxter, Webb and Elec Ladner, Ellis and John Landrum, Nathaniel Baxter, Tax Standford, W. W. Waltman, Bob Hinton, Lela Polk, Dayle Hinton, Nolas Ladner, Maud Evers, Herbert Camp, and many others. This school was destroyed by fire and to meet the demands of the public it soon became necessary to erect a brick building at a cost of $9,000, this was done in 1900. Many prominent business and professional men who now live in South Mississippi claim this school, Lumberton High School, as their Alma Mater and from this school radiated an influence to prepare men and women for the transition from pioneer days to our present form of civilization. All along, during the history of this school the Trustees have labored earnestly to secure the very best talent for teachers and a consequence the popularity of the school has grown from year to year and its glory has been maintained to the present time.

        Talawah School was a little one teacher school just one mile south of Talawah. It was organized by Gillum Bounds, Daniel and Samuel Slade. The teacher was paid by these men; free board was given him. The building was of rough hewn logs, one room. He taught the three subjects; reading, writing and arithmetic. Uncle Sam Slade states that he received his first education in this school.

        There was also, just on the line of Lamar and Forest County, a little school called the Dearman School. This school was organized and maintained by the Dearmans. In the year 1913, this school consolidated with that of Talawah. A new school building was erected on the 16th section. The school was named for ex-Senator H. C. Yawn as he was very active in establishing the school.

        Five teachers were employed, 11 grades taught. Many boys and girls have grown up and gone from this school properly equipped for their special duties, due to having attended Yawn School.

        About the year 1894 or 1895 the Purvis High School and Commercial College was started at Purvis. The school was established by public subscription to furnish high school opportunities to the community and to give the young men and women business training. It was organized by a group of men. A tuition of $3.00 per month was charged.


Hughes School
Talawah School
Dearman School
Clear Branch
Coulter's Creek
Pleasant Hill
Slab Town
Tick Creek
Arnold Line School
Coal Town
Bay Creek


Purvis School
Lumberton School
Sumrall School
Olah School
Rocky Branch School
Greenville School
Corinth School
Okahola School
Sandy Run School
Victory School
Hickory School
Oak Grove School
Yawn School
Progress School


        In 1904 Lamar County was created out of the Second Judicial District of Marion County and a part of Pearl River County. T. W. Davis was appointed the first County Superintendent of Education of Lamar County by Governor James K. Vardaman. He was elected to that position by the people of the county one month later and re-elected in 1907 and served in that capacity until January 1, 1912. His salary began at $25.00 per month and later was raised to $65.00 per month. Many improvements were made in the public schools of the county. They reached a higher standard of efficiency, more and better buildings were erected, a curriculum prepared and adopted, outlining work to be done in each grade during each session. Mr. Davis has given deep thought to educational problems of the county and responsible for the creating of the County Agriculture High Schools in Mississippi. He suggested the plan to superintendent J. N. Powers. The idea was taken up by the leaders in the educational field and at the 1908 session of the Mississippi State Legislature a bill was drawn embodying his idea of a County Agriculture High School and its enactment by the Legislature marked an area in educational progress in the State. Lamar County was one of the first in the state to open Agriculture High School. The purpose of this system was to give the best possible training to the children of the people. The school buildings located at Purvis consists of an administration building, auditorium, and gymnasium, boys and girls dormitories. Home Science and Manual Training Buildings.

        A. Q. Broadus was elected superintendent of education of Lamar County in the year 1912 by vote to succeed T. W. Davis. Mr. Broadus served in this capacity from the year of 1912 to 1920 at a salary of $1600 per year. During his administration consolidation of schools began in the county. Corinth School was the first to consolidate, this was in 1914. A large wood building was erected with good equipment and sanitary toilets. Five teachers were employed the first year. In 1915 Victory Consolidated School was established, a large wood building was erected and substantial equipment installed.. In 1916 Yawn, Pine Grove and Baxterville School were created; good sized buildings of wood were erected with substantial equipment. In 1919 Oloh, Rocky Branch, and Providence Schools were created, wood buildings erected and good equipment installed.

        During Mr. Broadus' administration the Purvis Training School for Negroes was established, a good wood building constructed.

        In the year of 1920 T. L. Williamson was elected to succeed A. Q. Broadus as Superintendent of Education. He served in this capacity from the year 1920 to 1932 at a salary of $200 per month. During his administration a better school program was put on, and the beginning of a brick building in the county. In 1922 Okohola Consolidated School was created and this was the first brick building in the Rural Districts of the county. Originally the building cost $12,000. In this same year a brick building was created at Baxterville, cost $15,000. Two brick buildings were erected at Hickory Grove School at a cost of $26,000. In 1922 Greenville School was consolidated and brick building was erected at a cost of $7,000. In 1923 Sandy Run Separate School District erected a brick building and teachers home by bond issue at a cost of $12,000. In this same year a brick building was erected at Baxterville, cost $15,000. Two brick buildings were erected at Victory at a cost of $8,000. In 1924 Oak Grove School was consolidated and a brick building erected there at a cost of $16,000. Teachers home were erected at Yawn, Hickory Grove, Rocky Branch, and Hickory Grove. Two new brick buildings were built at Sumrall. The new Gym building cost $36,000. The total plant is now valued at $60,000.

        During Mr. Williamsons administration new buildings were erected for the following colored schools with the aid of the Rosenwald Fund. Also good equipment was installed.

Wells School, Lumberton, Miss.
Lamar Training School, Lumberton, Miss.
Mt. Vernon, beat 4
Sumrall Colored School, Sumrall
Watts School, Beat 5

        In the year 1932 E. A. Foshee was elected Superintendent of Education, serving until the year of 1936. He was then re-elected for another four years term to serve until January 1, 1940, at a salary of $2,000 per year.

        When Mr. Foshee first came into office the Depression was being very much felt. There was very little money to operate the schools in the county. One of his first steps was to consolidate the majority of the rural high schools in the county into city consolidated schools-- these being Lumberton, Purvis and Sumrall. The following schools in the rural area had been transferring their high school students to Purvis, to the Lamar County Agriculture High School: Providence, Pine Grove, Yawn, Corinth, Progress, Clear Branch, and Okohola. In the summer of 1932 Mr. Foshee with the county school board consolidated all of these schools into the Lamar County Agriculture High School and designated the school as the Purvis Special Consolidated School as it now stands. In 1933 a consolidated school for Negroes was built on the Lamar and Marion County line, called the Lamarian School.

        Lamar County Schools are financed by:
(1)A poll tax on all persons over 21 years of age. This fund is retained in the county as a common school fund.
(2)A county wide ad-valorum tax by school district levy.
(3)16th Section Land.
(4)State Per Capita Fund.
(5)State Equalization Fund
(6)Smith Hughes Fund (from the federal government).
(7)Rosenwald Fund for the Negro schools.

        There are nineteen rural elementary schools in Lamar County. Three city consolidated schools located at Lumberton, Purvis and Sumrall. Two Rural consolidated high schools. There is one Seventh Day Adventist School located at Talowah, Lamar County and one Catholic School located at Seneca, Lamar County.

        There are seven colored schools in the county.

        Adult Education through the continuation of old "Moonlight" Schools -- none.

        Through extension courses--The State Department of Education and the Mississippi Education Association have inaugurated a five year study course on the "Improvement of Instruction", Lamar County teachers are giving a lot of their time and effort to the study course, although they stand high in training, they are anxious to take advantage of every opportunity to improve themselves in every possible way.

        Lamar County has six WPA teachers, paid by the Federal Government. T. V. Anderson of the Oak Grove Community is County Supervisor of Adult Education. The purpose of the WPA Schools is to train the illiterate. In each school different subjects are taught. Following is a list of Lamar County WPA teachers: Mr. J. B. Foshee, Purvis, Miss.; Mr. Tolida Ladner, Lumberton; Mrs. B. M. Myers, Sumrall; Mrs. Eula Collins, Oloh; T. V. Anderson, Oak Grove and Arnold Line; Jerome Carlysle, Sumrall, Colored.

        The following schools have a good live Parent Teachers Association: Purvis, Sumrall, Oak Grove and Victory.

        The special consolidated schools have faculty meetings every two weeks, county faculty meetings every six weeks.

        Cafeterias are beginning to open by WPA.

        The teachers staff of Lamar County is composed of 107 white teachers and 14 colored teachers.

        During the old "boarding around" era when the teacher stayed a week in each home or boarded in the home of some of the patrons and walked three or four miles to school twice a day. The teachers could teach provided they could pass the teachers examination and were paid a very small salary. They kept strictly to the books. Now the school provides a teachers home for the teachers and the children are taught by doing. Teachers are now required to have two years college work unless they were in the School System prior to the School Law passed in 1933.


        By transportation of all small rural schools into consolidated schools there is a good consolidated school in every community in the county, and with the network of good gravel roads Lamar County's system of transportation has been developed to such an extent that every child that is not in walking distance of school is provided a good way of transportation. A fleet of 47 trucks covering a distance of 554 miles each morning and evening and carrying 2000 school children. The contractors are good and capable men who are all the time on the lookout for the safety of the children. They have flags on their trucks, have stop signs, and have brakes tested every two weeks, stop at railroad crossings. According to a survey that was recently made figures show that the average cost of transportation per pupil per month is $1.35 in Lamar County. During the depression the school people of the county have made great sacrifices in order to uphold the high standard of our school system.

        Through Agriculture High School Movement. The Agricultural system in high school is one of the finest and greatest subjects taught. As Agriculture is the chief industry of Lamar County the boys and girls must be prepared to cope with this industry. They are taught how to manage a farm, how to select good soils, how to plan and plant crops that will be an income, how to select stock, poultry, etc. for the farm.

        Through Home Economics Instruction. By teaching Home Economics in Lamar County Schools the girls of today learn how to manage a home, design and make clothing, to prepare wholesome food, how to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for the family, the selection and care of poultry and better gardening.


BAXTERVILLE CONSOLIDATED: Located in Beat 3 at Baxterville on Columbia Road. Brick building cost $15,000. Modern equipment, WPA Library, children transported by standard buses.

CORINTH CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: Located in Beat 1 seven miles west of Purvis on Baxterville Road. Large wood building, cost $2300, modern equipment, no library, transportation standard buses.

CLEAR BRANCH SCHOOL: Four miles east of Purvis in Beat 1, small frame building, cost $500, rough equipment, no library, transportation standard buses.

GREENVILLE CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located in Beat 3 on Baxterville Road, brick building, cost $15,000. Modern equipment, WPA library, transportation standard buses.

HICKORY GROVE CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located in northern part of Beat 5, brick building, modern equipment, no library, modern buses for transporting children. Cost $26,000.

ILLEGIBLE: located in the town of Lumberton in beat 2, brick building, modern equipment, good library, transportation standard buses. Cost $65,000. Special courses taught music, illegible. Extra curricular activities include Boy Scouts, Girl Reserves, Basketball, Football, Baseball, Seesaw and Swing on school grounds. Disciplinary control is left up to the principal.

MIDWAY SCHOOL: located on Highway 49 in beat 4, brick building cost $8,000. Discontinued--consolidated with Oloh and Oak Grove.

OKOHOLA CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: Located in beat 5 in Oloh, 12 miles west of Purvis on Columbia Road. Building of Brick, cost $12,000, modern equipment, WPA library, children transported by standard buses. Elementary grades are taught. Basketball.

PURVIS SPECIAL CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located in Beat 1 in the town of Purvis, brick buildings, cost $82,000. All modern equipment, good library, children are transported by standard buses. Senior High. Home Economics, manual training, music, short-hand, typing and bookkeeping, physical culture. Hi Yi, Girl Reserves, Playground activities, Baseball, Football, Basketball.

PURVIS GRADED SCHOOL: located in the town of Purvis, brick building now under construction, WPA project.

PINE GROVE CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located six miles west of Purvis in Beat 1. Brick Building, cost $1,950, modern equipment, no library. Children are transported by standard buses. Elementary grades are taught. Basketball.

PROGRESS CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located two miles west of Purvis in beat 1, brick building, cost $7,000. Modern equipment, no library, children are transported by standard buses. Elementary School. Basket ball.

PROVIDENCE SCHOOL: located five miles north of Lumberton on West Purvis and Lumberton Road, beat 2, wood building, modern equipment, no library, children transported by standard buses. Cost $3,000. Elementary School, basketball.

ROCKY BRANCH CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located 12 miles southwest of Sumrall on Columbia Road in Beat 5. Brick Building. Cost $4,000. Modern equipment, no library, children transported by standard buses. Elementary school, basketball.

SUMRALL CONSOLIDATED CITY SCHOOL: located in Beat 5 in town of Sumrall. Cost $60,000. Modern equipment, good library, children transported by standard buses.

        At this point at least one page is missing, and possibly two. The next page begins with Oak Grove Consolidated High School, and on that page information about schools already listed is repeated. I left the repetitious part out of this transcription.

OAK GROVE CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located in Beat 4 on Highway 49, brick building, cost $16,000. Modern equipment, WPA library, children transported by standard buses.

OLOH CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located in Beat 5 at Oloh, 12 miles west of Purvis on Columbia Road. Brick buildings cost $12,000, modern equipment, WPA library, children transported on standard buses. Elementary Grades taught.

SANDY RUN SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, located at Richburg, Beat 4, brick building, cost $12,000. Modern Equipment, no library, transportation by standard buses. Elementary School. Basketball.


LAMAR TRAINING SCHOOL: located in Beat 2, Lumberton Big Quarters. Large wood building, modern equipment, no library, cost $12,000. Junior High, Music, Basketball.

LAMARION CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL: located on the line of Lamar and Marion Counties, brick building, modern equipment, no library. Transportation modern buses. Junior High. Basketball.

MT. VERNON: located in Beat 4 on Highway 11, ten miles south of Hattiesburg, wood building, good equipment, no library. Cost $1200. Children in walking distance.

PURVIS TRAINING SCHOOL: located in Beat 1, Purvis quarters. Wood building, good equipment, no library, cost $1600. Elementary School.

SUMRALL COLORED SCHOOL: located in Beat 5 Sumrall Quarters, wood building, modern equipment, no library, Junior High.

WELLS TOWN SCHOOL: located in Wells Quarters, Beat 2, Lumberton. Wood building, modern equipment, no library, cost $800. Elementary School. Basketball.

TATUM'S CAMP: school built by the mill owner, moves with the camp.


MRS. MARION CALHOUN'S SCHOOL OF TAP DANCING: in her home in Purvis, Miss. Gives lessons twice per week.

W. P. A. Table of Contents             Churches


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  by Pamela J. Gibbs except where otherwise noted.


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