By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.
In past columns over the years you’ve heard me tell of attending Camp Ground school, so I thought I’d give a little history and how it came to have the name.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries camp meetings were a big factor in the rural south. East of where the Camp Ground school would later be constructed was a large field where families could come after “laying by” time, pitch tents, attend day and night services and visit with neighbors and relatives. Papa Badley showed me the spot once and as I remember it was across the road from the Camp Ground cemetery.
By the end of World War I there were several one room schools scattered across Yalobusha and Lafayette counties. They only went through grade school and to continue their education, students would have to attend “boarding schools” if the family could afford it. It was decided to consolidate several of these one room schools into one central location and go through 12 grades. Dovie Rushing, a progressive citizen, donated land for the school and enough for a church.
Work started in 1920 and the first classes got underway in 1921. School routes were laid out and bids were opened for school wagon drivers. Papa Badley was awarded a bus route and he continued until the late 1920s when the routes were mechanized.
Camp Ground was called a county line school, since the county line went through the school ground. It was supported by both counties, as students came from Yalobusha and Lafayette.
Basketball was the leading sport with both boys’ and girls’ teams. My aunt, Elizabeth Cooper, and Vashti Henderson, who was the grandmother of Rick Carlisle, were on the same team one year.
In 1935 the girls’ team were state champions with coach Hortense White, who became Mrs. Dick Wilhoit. The players included Roxie Garner, later Mrs. George Arrington, Marie Carr, Dorothy Maynor, Louise Baddley, Lucille Holt, and Pauline Smith, better known as Nancy Pass. There were others and I hope some of you readers can supply us with the names. Just think, they did all this and had only practiced on dirt courts.
The Camp Ground Missionary Baptist Church was organized in September 1928 in the school building and the first pastor was Rev. Marvin Metts. I hope that all of you with connections to Camp Ground will enjoy this as much as I did researching it.
In the mean time you can write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and I hope you have a great week.