I874 - I973
A BRIEF HISTORY
MARY A. BRANCH
MARY ANN BRITT
REESE LIBRARY AUGUSTA COLLEGE
R.C.H. LD7501.T8 B7x
Branch. Mary A. comp. 010105 004
Tubman School, Richmond County
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1874 - 1973
A BRIEF HISTORY
Mary A. Branch
Mary Ann Britt
Copyright <c} 1973 by Mary A. Branch
Copyright n(c) 1973 by Mary Ann Britt
This Tubman history is dedicated to those
Augusta area educators who, in their giving of
self and knowledge, have so exemplified the spirit
of education as found in the annals of the Tubman
|v] j ^rva
"BLACK AND GOLD"
Now we'll give a cheer for Tubman,
For the school we love the most!
Evermore we sing her praises,
And her name shall be our boast.
To the top we'll raise her colors,
And her standards ever hold.
Then let us give a rousing cheer
For the Tubman black and gold.
Then let us give a rousing cheer
For the Tubman black and gold.
So with voices loud and strong,
To her name we raise a song,
For to her our hearts belong,
With a love untold.
Then we'll cheer for Tubman High!
May her spirit never die,
Victorious may fly
Dear old black and gold.
Class of 1925
Tune: "They All Love Jack"
School Colors: Black and Gold
Emily Harvie Thomas Tubman
March 21, 1794— June 9, 1885
Emily Harvie Thomas, daughter of Ann Chiles and
Edmund Pendleton Thomas, was born in Ashland, Hanover County,
Virginia. Following the death of her father when she was but
nine years old, Emily became the ward of Henry Clay.
Little is known of her early life, but in 1818 she
traveled from Frankfort, Kentucky, at that time her home, to
visit her mother's cousins, Colonel and Mrs. Nicholas Ware and
their niece, Mary Ariuton Ware, who lived in Augusta, Georgia.
During her visit, she met an Englishman, Richard C. Tubman, a
wealthy planter and merchant, whom she married later that year.
Mrs. Tubman fitted easily into Augusta social life and
was known for her graciousness and understanding. When the
Marquis de Lafayette visited Augusta in 1825, Mrs. Tubman was
in charge of arrangements at the Planter's Hotel and was honored
to lead the minuet at the evening's festivities with the Marquis.
Following the death of her husband in 1836, Emily was
faced with finding a way of carrying out a portion of her husband's
will. In it he had stated the desire to free his slaves with the
exception of only a few household servants. At this time, however,
Georgia laws were very strict concerning the emancipation of slaves,
and the Emancipation Proclamation was yet to be signed in 1862.
Yet, in 1844 Emily called her slaves together and told
them about a country being established in west Africa for
freed slaves— Liberia. She gave them the choice of freedom in
Liberia or remaining with her. For the sixty-nine who chose
freedom, she furnished a ship from Baltimore and a fund to help
them establish homes and to provide supplies for them.
Emily Tubman's influence in Liberia can still be found.
The name of one community is Tubmantown, and from 1943 until his
death on July 23, 1971, the president of Liberia was William
Vaccanarat Shadrach Tubman, a grandson of William Shadrach and
Sylvia Ann Elizabeth Tubman, two of the freed Tubman slaves.
Mrs. Tubman provided food, clothes, and shelter for those
slaves who chose to remain with her until they were able to
Following her husband's death, Emily Tubman devoted her
efforts toward the support of the Disciples of Christ Church
under the leadership of Alexander Campbell, and through this
religious interest she played an important part in the estab-
lishment of the First Christian Church and the Central Christian
Church in Augusta.
Although Emily Tubman used her financial resources to
further many religious causes, she also used these resources in
the interest of education. In 1874 at the age of eighty, Mrs.
Tubman purchased the Christian Church building located on the
700 block of Reynolds Street in Augusta near the Cotton Exchange
and donated it to the Richmond County Board of Education for the
purpose of establishing a public high school for girls. Prior
to this, the first free girls' school in Augusta was operated
by Mr. Ben Neely in a few rented rooms on Broad Street. Mr.
Neely would become the first principal of the new school—
Tubman High School for girls.
Upon her death in 1885, Emily Tubman was honored with the
placing of a marble tablet in the First Christian Church of
Augusta. It bears her name and the inscription: ^i Monumentum
Quoeria Circumspice (If you seek her monument, look .around) .
Mrs. Tubman was buried in the family cemetery, Frankfort,
Kentucky, near the grave of Daniel Boone.
Ill RevnoU* 5+y-eef
Established in 1874 in the old Christian Church building
on the 700 block of Reynolds Street, Tubman High School for
girls graduated its first class, consisting of six girls, in
1877. According to reports, the address was given by Mr. John
S. Davidson and graduates wore calico dresses.
The first faculty consisted of one male and one female,
and the course of study for the three-year program was as follows;
First Year ; arithmetic, spelling and defining, Latin,
French, rhetoric, natural philosophy, reading, and
Second Year ; arithmetic, algebra, synonyms, Latin,
French, natural philosophy, physical geography, penman*-
ship, reading, and history.
Third Year ; algebra, Latin, French, English literature,
physical geography, chemistry, astronomy, penmanship,
reading, and history.
Students chose between Latin and French. Calisthenics was
required twice a week, and girls were allowed to remove bustles
and corsets for public exhibitions. This was the only freedom
of movement and display of form allowed.
The school seems to have been popular from the beginning.
Annual commencements were held in the "Grand Opera House"
located on the northeast corner of Eighth and Green Streets with
full, front-page coverage being given the event in the local
A typical commencement program included the following:
Class Motto: "Live to Learn, Learn to Live"
Welcome Song School
Delivery of Diplomas
Announcement of Honors
In the early days of Tubman's history women's education was
still not considered of great importance; however, in 1892 a fourth
year of study was added to the curriculum. It consisted of higher
mathematics, history, literature, and science. At this time, the
Board hired a physical culture teacher to visit the school once
a week in order to "draw the blood away from the brain and into
the vital organs and limbs."
Early Board reports show the cost of education to be
approximately $1.05 per pupil per month.
Although the early building remained largely intact, it
was enlarged twice, once for the purpose of adding a course in
cooking or domestic science. This course was scoffed at as largely
unnecessary by the majority of the public.
According to the records of Dr. Lawton B. Evans, super-
intendent of Richmond County schools for over fifty years, there
were 100 girls enrolled in Tubman in 1882. The principal, who
had succeeded Mr. Ben Neely in 1880, was the Reverend Mr. William
S. Bean. He received a salary of $1200 for eight months' service,
and the other teacher, Mrs. Sarah Adams McWhorter, received $800.
In 1903 Professor Thomas Harry Garrett, principal of the
Woodlawn Grammar School, was designated principal of Tubman High
School upon the death of Principal John Neely. Mr. Neely had
been principal, succeeding Mr. Bean, from 1883 until his death.
His brother, Ben Neely, had been Tubman's first principal. Mr.
Garrett was to hold the longest tenure as a Tubman principal,
for he held this position until 1945 when he retired as principal
As early as 1911 Mr. Garrett had written a lengthy article
in the Augusta papers citing the need for a new school to house
the Tubman High School students, numbering about 200 at that time.
He stated that it was then impractical to accept more students,
since some classes had as many as 86 students in them.
Early in 1913 it was announced that a lot had been
purchased for the erection of a new school, and Professor
Garrett expressed his hopes that the new school would be
completed by the end of the year. However, because of con-
tinuing conflicts over the real need for the new school, Mr.
Garrett's dream was not fulfilled immediately.
Again, in 1915, Mr. Garrett in a letter to the editor
pointed out the dangers facing students attending Tubman, still
located on Cotton Row. He said that the most important menace
was the danger of fire and the lack of accessible exits because
of the bales of cotton blocking the streets surrounding the
Then, Fate, which seemingly dealt a tremendous blow to
Augusta's business and residential district on the night of
March 22, 1916, with the Great Augusta Fire, stepped to the aid
of Augusta's girls and Professor Garrett's cause with the total
destruction of Tubman High School on Reynolds Street.
Never had Augusta known such total destruction; however,
on March 27, 1916, the students of Tubman High School held their
first meeting following the fire in the Sunday School Building,
also known as the Telfair Building, of the First Presbyterian
Church located on Telfair Street. The assembly that morning
consisted of the following program:
Psalm 47 Mr. Garrett
Welcome Mr. Garrett
, "America" School
Talk Dr. Sevier
Talk Miss Flisch
Talk Mr. C. E. Whitney
Thanks from representatives of each class for
use of the building:
Senior Emily Weigle
Junior Adelaide Pund
Sophomore A Miriam Gerald
Sophomore B Virginia Burum
Freshman A Marion Battle
Freshman B Katherine Hagler
During the nearly two years before the new Tubman was
opened, this church building and other buildings in the
vicinity served as classrooms for Tubman students.
Work was soon begun on the new school to be located at
1740 Walton Way near the center of population at that time.
The site for the new school had been known as the Scheutzen
Platz, a piece of property owned by the German Society of
Augusta and used for a clubhouse, beer garden, and shooting
place. This land was purchased for $20,000 by the Board of
Education. Shortly after the fire a school bond for $100,000
was passed to build the new school. This bond was the first
school bond passed by Augustans.
The new building was made of cream-colored, pressed brick
to accomodate 600 girls. In February, 1918, 300 girls moved
into the new school, and in May, 1918, formal dedication was
The new Tubman High School was one of the most modern
schools in the South. There was an auditorium to seat almost
700, a library, a laboratory, a lunchroom, and a principal's
office. Surely, this building would adequately serve the
community's needs for many years. Nevertheless, by 1932, the
student body had increased to 900, a three-storied wing had
been added to the main building, and a new lunchroom had been
built behind the school. Even objectors to the building of
the new school had to admit that they had "outguessed the
ability to fill the building with students by ninety-seven
years." By 1939 the school housed nearly 1200 students.
With the increase in students, Tubman's reputation as
one of the finest educational facilities in the South was on
the upswing also. No other school could begin to compete with
this school in the Augusta area. It was during the high school
years of Tubman after 1918 that traditions often associated with
the school were begun. No graduate of the Tubman of those years
can forget Maids and a Man , the school yearbook, which received
its title because Mr. Garrett was usually the sole male at
Tubman. Nor can one forget Minerva, the statue of the Greek
goddess of wisdom, who for many years took her place at Tubman's
entrance to guard, protect, and inspire her charges to reach for
greater heights. Now, she stands in some forgotten closet, a
victim of time and change. During this time, Tubman girls
attended daily chapel exercises where they sang "The Black
and Gold" and listened to the strains of "The Tubman High
Students came from surrounding counties and South Carolina
to board in Augusta homes in order to attend Tubman. Others
commuted daily by train and other means of travel from such
nearby communities as Aiken and Grovetown.
In 1945, Tubman was dealt a blow with the forced retirement
of T. Harry Garrett, its much beloved principal. Elected as his
successor was Mr. Lamar Woodward who remained principal until 1951.
In 1951, because of the trends of the times and the need for
additional schools in Richmond County, a bitterly protested change
was necessitated in Tubman High School. At this time the Board
of Education decided to make the Academy of Richmond County a
coeducational high school and to make Tubman a coeducational
junior high, consisting of grades eight through ten.
This change marked the end of an era for Augusta girls.
No longer would they attend Tubman High School to receive their
diplomas. Other junior highs would soon be built to compete
with Tubman. A shop wing was added to provide classes in wood,
metal, and drafting for the new male students.
In 1951, Mr. D. K. McKenzie became principal. During his
tenure was published the school newspaper, the Tubman Times .
When Mr. McKenzie left in 1961, Dr. C. D. Sheley became principal.
Under Dr. Sheley new equipment was purchased for the shop,
science, and home economics departments. Perhaps the most
significant aspect of this period was the integration of Tubman
in 1961 with approximately 10% Negro students. At the end of
Dr. Sheley's principal ship at Tubman in 1970 came another
change— the loss of the tenth grade.
Mr. John P. Strelec was principal from 1970-1972 and the
present principal is Mr. Albert A. Greenlee, the school's first
black principal. The student population has dropped to about
600 at present with approximately one half black and one half
white total enrollment.
Over the years Tubman has seen many changes. None perhaps
was as important as its loss of high school status. Now Tubman
consists of girls, boys; blacks, whites; academic courses,
pre-vocational courses. Its faculty consists of almost forty
members in a sixty /forty, white /black ratio.
Tubman's future is unknown, but for those who are a part
of its tradition, Tubman will never be forgotten. It will
always stand for excellence in education for those who have been
In the Tubman tradition—
What do you remember?
Maids and a Man
One faculty room
10' X 10» principal's office
"Quiet in the Halls!"
Class pins— rings
Study halls 1 & 2
Gym on the stage
White graduation dresses
The Honor League
French Mardi Gras
Red roses at graduation
Boys at the back fence
Lunchroom under the stage
9:00-2:10 school days
Tubman High School March
Single file on the stairs
Trees in the backyard
Roman banquets and weddings
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Deen, Edith, Great Women of the Christian Faith ,
Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1959.
Evans, Lawton B., Personal Memoirs as Superintendent .
Garrett, T. Harry, "Tubman High School for Girls,"
Southern Association Quarterly , November, 1937
Garrett, T. Harry, Personal records and scrapbooks.
We express our gratitude to the following for their help
in compiling the information in this booklet: Tubman Historical
Society, Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, Augusta
Vocational School, Miss Bertha Carswell and the Tubman School
library files, Mrs. Bess Neely Plumb Conlon, Mr. Harvey M.
Duncan, Mrs. Freddie Fortune, Mr. D. K. McKenzie, Dr. C. D.
Sheley, Mr. John P. Strelec, and Mrs. Ruth M. Williams.
Artist: Mrs. Elaine Branch Carter.