The Church And The Consolidated Country School


The author was a Methodist minister who began the school at Rose Bud. This article was submitted by his daughter, Pauline Hoyle, who says it was written in 1920. Ms. Hoyle is a member of the White County Historical Society, which published this material in its 2001 edition of White County Heritage.


ince I was reared in the open hill country of Arkansas where there were very meager school and church advantages, my early training was very limited and defective. This was realized more fully while I was a student in Hendrix College. Seeing the needs and opportunity for real service in the open country, I was impressed to offer myself on leaving college for rural church work, believing that if the public schools would consolidate in the country, the church work could be made more effective.

            My opportunity came for real service in December of 1917 when the conference sent me to the Rose Bud circuit where there were three Methodist churches in one township. Rose Bud is in White County, Arkansas, 14 miles from a railroad. Although there were less than a dozen people living here who had ever had any high school training, they were ready for a high school. They only needed someone to inspire them to action, to vocalize their sentiment, and be a medium of expression for their ideals.

       On the fifth Sunday in March, 1918, a resident Baptist preacher and I held a meeting in each of the Methodist churches in the township to present the need for better schools, and the opportunity for improvement through school consolidation.

       When I had fully understood the psychological and economical conditions of the people, I outlined a two-year program of procedure. And on the fifth Sunday in March, 1918, taking with me a resident Baptist preacher, meetings were held in each of the Methodist churches in the township to discuss the needs and opportunity for a better public school by consolidation of three districts. In a few days the county superintendent and rural school agent for the state came to assist us. Then on April 27, 1918, the consolidation of three school districts which owned property valued at $1,000 became a reality. In this consolidated district were located one Baptist church and three Methodist churches.

         The next important step was to secure a man who could properly direct such a school. For four years Rose Bud had sought to secure Mr. T.M. Norwood, but they failed to interest him until they had consolidated three districts. The Methodist pastor had to agree to remain one more year before Mr. Norwood would come. Then on November 18, 1918, the first high school in this part of the county became a reality and enrolled 276 pupils in the 10 grades. The plant includes 40 acres of land, a modern school building with five class rooms, home economics and laboratory rooms, a modern auditorium, teacherage, agricultural building and a barn for those to use who come in wagons, buggies and on horseback. The total cost was $18,500, $3,000 being donated in labor by the patrons of the school. The Methodist pastor gave the most of his thought and time to this project for two years. One of the banks of the county seat financed the plant, taking time warrants for security. There are eight teachers in this school teaching not only 10 grades but also home economics, agriculture and music.

The results achieved by consolidation have gone beyond the fondest expectations of all concerned. By consolidation we have four departments which we could not have had in the separate districts, namely a two-year high school, agriculture, home economics and music.

Interest has been created in more modern homes, better community roads, conservation of the soil, home ownership and community pride has been stimulated. Several excellent families have moved here while the migration to the towns of the leaders has become history. Many of the boys and girls who had seemingly graduated have reentered school and will soon finish their high school education. The social life, manners and ideals have made rapid improvement, for in addition to the regular class work the school has athletics, group games, social meetings, community fair, debating clubs and contests of different kinds with other large country schools. These have given inspiration and taught cooperation.

More prejudice and jealousy have been destroyed than could have been preached or prayed out in 10 years. As an example of cooperation, it was noticed while we were building a community road to the school that a farmer, a doctor, a teacher, the Baptist preacher and the Methodist preacher were all working together to pull a stump out of the hill. The people have voted not only the limit of taxes but also when the school had been running a year, they pledged in money and notes $8,500 extra for the school.

The young people being together during the week desire to be together on Sunday, so nearly all of them attend the church nearest the public school and several of the young people as well as the middle age people have moved their church membership to the more central church. Others will follow, for it is inevitable. The church music is developing where we can soon use the hymnal in our church worship, and the young people are becoming more capable Sunday School workers and can now take the teacher training course of the church, whereas before they had this school they could not. It takes better prepared sermons, more efficient Sunday School teachers and better physical equipment to keep pace with the public school’s work. But the public school has helped to prepare the people until they want department worship and separate classrooms for the Sunday School, and they are just waiting on financial conditions to build these necessary conveniences.

Our young people are getting a better start in the race of life than the older people did in this community and will be of more service to both the state and the church.  

If I had not planned to remain here more than one year, I would not have undertaken such a slow and large program, but I decided to stay until I helped the people to work out something definite and substantial regardless of the cost to myself. It has been expensive but worth a hundred times more than it has cost anyone.