Monday, January 12, 2009
Male and Female Schools in Attala County During the Mid-1800s
Today, while doing some research on churches, cemeteries, and people who lived in Attala County between 1850 and 1860, I found some information that I found fascinating. During this time in history when our educational system and our economy are both struggling, I thought it might be interesting to share this information with my readers.
Before I proceed, it is important to point out that public education was not available to everyone during this particular time and in this place. By the mid-1800s, Attala County had become a place where many affluent, well-informed, and publicly-involved people lived, and there is no doubt that education of their children was of the utmost importance to Attala Countians. In fact, the Masonic Lodges in Attala County operated separate schools for males and for females as early as 1850. Although the school for females had an elementary department, the only "higher education" courses offered to its students were in music and "fancy needlework."
In 1855, however, Rev. A. W. Chambless and his brother, William E. Chambless, opened the new Kosciusko Female Institute, located on the lot now occupied by the Mid-Mississippi Library. The new school promised to offer a more extensive list of courses for their female students and advertised these monthly rates for tuition:
Primary Department - $2.00
Higher English - $3.00
Ancient Languages - $2.00
Modern Languages - $2.00
Music - piano or guitar - $5.00
Ornamental Needlework - $2.00
Drawing and Painting - $2.00
Painting in Oil - $5.00
Wax Work - $2.00 per lesson
Young men, local and from outside the immediate area, were schooled at the Male Academy, where the trustees were John Fausett, G. W. Harlow, Ozias Lewis, J. W. Scarborough, and E. M. Wells. Elementary courses available to male students were reading, writing, arithmetic, and grammar, at $10 per session. Advanced courses were taught in arithmetic, geography, grammar, philosophy, history, botany, and chemistry, at a price of $15 per session. Advanced studies in algebra, astronomy, trigonometry, Latin and Greek were available at $30 per session. Certainly, this was an impressive offering of courses for male students.
Interestingly, although not surprisingly for this time period, neither school had a dormitory, and students boarded in private homes in town. For me and for other researchers, this is an important point to keep in mind when reviewing census records, since students may have been enumerated in Attala County when their legitimate residences were in other counties.
Reference: "Kosciusko - Attala History" - published by the Attala Historical Society