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Jacinto Male Academy
One of the Leading Schools

The Jacinto Male Academy was an institution well patronized by the people of Tishomingo County. Located at the County seat, in the geographical center of the County, and easy of access, in addition to the boarding pupils, a large number of day scholars received the benefits of its splendid discipline and advanced curriculum. Following will be found the minutes of the meeting of the president and board of trustees, preparatory to the opening of the school session, 1856-57.

“At the meeting of the president and board of trustees of the Jacinto Male Academy, held in the town of Jacinto on the 23rd day of August 1856, there were present John F. Arnold, president; and A. Reynolds, A. L. Beaty, and Wright W. Bonds, trustees. Upon motion, W. W. Bonds was appointed secretary. E. W. Carmack was appointed to examine Prof. McNeal, and after said examination was over, the board being satisfied, it was ordered that McNeal have the use of the Jacinto Academy for five months from the 25th day of August. There being no future business, the board adjourned.”

The terms of this school were: Five-month sessions of orthography, orthoepy, arithmetic, and writing was $8; English, grammar, geography, philosophy, etc., was $12; algebra and the rudiments of Latin and Greek was $15; and an incidental fee of $1 was also assessed.

Some facts about the progress of education at the historical Jacinto Male Academy are as follows:

“Roll on, roll on, roll on little doggie, roll on.” These chimes filled the air as two history-seeking collegiate rode their 1938 Plymouth through the narrow winding rock road leading to the Old Tishomingo County seat. The place and facts they were seeking wee located at Jacinto, now in Alcorn County.

“Well, when will we ever get there?” cried one of the number. “Imagine – hey! Let’s stop here and ask for information!”

Knock! Knock! The sounds on the door of the old farm house brought chickens fluttering from the drive and a little dog trotting up to the boys.

“Good morning, young man,” greeted a century-worn old man appearing at the door.

“Uh – ur – we’re looking for Jacinto. Can you tell us about where we are? We’re seeking facts about the school system as far back as we can find.”

“Well – I don’t know – but come right in. Maybe I can help you some. Get back, Trixie.”

A few minutes later the old man called to his wife, “Rosella, I’m going up town with these boys – we’ll be back directly.”

Back to the road and around the curved narrow streets of long ago, they made their way to an old two-story brick building sheltered by a grove of giant oaks. Several men sat in their cool shade whittling and gossiping. The boys looked with interest as they sat down on the steps of the old courthouse building.

Leaning against the dusty doorway of the building, the old man began, “It’s this way, boys – in 1869, shortly after the Civil War, Professor E. W. Carmack taught school in the southern part of the then booming little town of Jacinto, in a two-story building. Shortly after the war, the County was divided and the courts were established at Corinth, Iuka, and Booneville, leaving vacant this old courthouse and jail. After this, Prof. Carmack moved his school into the old Jacinto courthouse. Winter after winter rolled along, and the school was a great success. Pupils enrolled there from three states. Youths, full of pep and ambition, sought boarding places in the old hotel or with families who had extra room.”

“Professor Carmack’s school turned out some of Mississippi’s most notable characters, among them, Garvin Chastain, a missionary; Hon. Ned Carmack of Tennessee; Professor J. O. Looney; Professor J. R. Reynolds; Dr. Frank Carmack of Iuka; and Hon. Charlie Lacy of Booneville.”

“But in 1880, down in the old Jacinto Cemetery under a beautiful oak, Professor Carmack’s bereaved pupils buried his body, but not the beautiful sacred memories of their beloved instructor. A marble tomb marks the grave, which has been approached reverently by scores whose lives were touched by his.”

“Now, boys,” continued the old man, “after Professor Carmack died, Professor J. R. Reynolds took charge of the school term of 1880. The following term began in a big way, under Professor Looney, who remained for 10 fruitful years of successful teaching.”

“Professor Looney erected the large two-story building over there for a boarding house to accommodate his pupils.”

“Now, after Professor Looney came Professor J. R. Reynolds who taught a number of years in the old courthouse. Then Professor Charlie Davis took charge of the school and taught with Professor J. D. McLaren. During Professor Davis’ stay here, the school was moved to the deserted old jail. Imagine going to school in a building where there still remained blood stains from people who were hanged by their necks for crimes. But it was so.”

“Professor John O. White was the first to teach in the new five-room building.”

“The pages of old Jacinto’s book of knowledge have turned several times since and the teachers came as I tell you: Charlie Smith, Curtis Williams, Mittie Googe, Amos Babb, Edward Finger, Bedford Sherrod, Willie White, Sawyers, Wheeler Burns, Prof. Dabbs, J. O. White, A. P. Ford, Raymond Taylor, J. E. Johnson, Patt Mathis.”

“K. T. Jourdan, with the assistance of Horace W. Richardson and the trustees’ permission, worked through a project to wreck the old jail and build the new modern, convenient teachers’ home. Careful wrecking and watching kept the old blood-stained stairway and antique timber in service.”

“Garvin Richardson, Mary Hancock, Alice Taylor, B. A. Kitchen, and Eunice Armstrong are now in charge of the school.”

Stirred by the old man’s account, the boys walked through the empty ground-floor rooms of the courthouse, up the hard, sturdy stairway to the wide courtroom. A woodpecker’s tap-tap echoed through the building. They then visited the old schoolhouse, saw the numbers on the doors which opened outside on the long verandas, mounted the winding stairs that squeaked under their tread, shouted from the upper floor veranda, and heard answering echoes from the distant hills. A family of mocking birds fluttered and chirped nearby, while two squirrels chattered as they chased each other along the branches of the great old oaks.

Contributed by Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical Society.

Source: Nabors, S. M. History of Old Tishomingo County 1832-1940.

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MSGenWeb Tishomingo Co. Coordinator: Jeff Kemp


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