History of Education in Greenbrier County

Greenbrier County Public Schools - 1904

BY L. W. BURNS, SUPERINTENDENT

When the civil war closed there were few schools of any kind in this county. About this time Zachariah Trueblood, who was the first county superintendent, came to the rescue, and did much for the public school system. A few of the rude log houses built then may still be seen standing, but none are in use.

Through the several years following, the idea of public education steadily became popular. Such enterprising and successful men as Walter C. Preston, Judge J. M. McWhorter, Wm. Lewis, and Hon. Thos. H. Dennis were elected county superintendents.

In 1881, J. W. Hinkle, a young man of exceptional ability, was chosen county superintendent. He gathered about him many good teachers, and all were assisted in their earnest efforts to make the schools better by the hearty co-operation of many loyal patrons. During this period the schools were very prosperous. The advancement of these eight years proves that it is best to have long service in office.

From 1889 to the present time the following men were elected to the office of county superintendent: E. D. Smoot, 1889-'91; W. F. Lawrence**, 1891-'95; Alex. Thompson, 1895-'99, and L. W. Burns, 1899-1903, the last named being re-elected and now in office.

With few exceptions the schools of this county have been steadily progressing.

The number of schools, at first forty or fifty, is now two hundred. The largest schools are at Ronceverte, Lewisburg, Falling Spring, North Alderson, White Sulphur Springs, Frankford and Williamsburg.

Greenbrier county joins Virginia, and has always been somewhat under the shadow of the influence of the Old Dominion.

Many people of Virginia do not believe in public schools, and some are found here who do not support this greatest of all methods of educating, but they are fast disappearing.

With the great advantage of coming in contact with the culture and refinement of Virginia, and at the same time with the enterprise and progress, and every thing that is good of its own great State, Greenbrier stands high in the list of counties in many ways. It may be truly said that it has furnished as many, or more, excellent students for the colleges and universities of our country than any county in the South.

This school has been in operation for ten sessions, its enrollment has never exceeded fifteen pupils, but during this period there have gone out from it,

Two practicing physicians,

A college graduate,

One public school teacher,

A justice of the peace and postmaster.

A teachers' institute Instructor.

**Bill Johnson writes: "The name W. F. Lawrence in the piece should be W. F. Lowance. He was the brother of my great grandfather. The Lowance name is disappeared from Greenbrier County...with the death of my aunt Mary Edith Lowance Helms in 1989."