Old Historical City, County and State Maps of Virginia
Since then the various superintendents of the Russell County school system have been: E. Miller, D. Alderson, M. Clark, W. Kendrick, Wm. Patton, H. Fugate, R. Anderson, and G. Under the supervision of Superintendent H. Fugate, the present seven school districts were defined, and recorded February 11, ; and from that time until the general school affairs were handled by district boards in cooperation with the County Superintendent.
The State Legislature in , however, enacted a new County Unit School Law, which did away with district boards and created a County School Board to handle the school affairs in a manner similar to the way in which the Board of Supervisors handle the general County affairs. Dickenson, Chairman, of the Lebanon District; J.
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Gilmer, of the Moccasin District; S. Dickenson, of the Castlewood District; J. Purcell, of the Cleveland District; J. Baker, of the Copper Creek District; and J. Smith, of the Elk Garden District.
These men are appointed to their positions by the Trustee Electoral Board, composed of Messrs. Tate, John W. Alderson, and T. Bundy, who in turn are appointed by the Judge of the Circuit Court. Thus, the above named members of the School Board, together with G. Givens, Division Superintendent, and E. Among the high school teachers, there were eight with less than one year's experience, two with less than two years' experience, three with only two years' experience, and ten doing their first teaching in Russell County.
Among the elementary teachers, seventeen were doing their first teaching, sixteen were doing their second year's work and thirteen were teaching for the third time. The salaries varied considerably. Out of the total enrollment, 2, pupils attended the high schools; and of these were in junior high schools, which have since been discontinued as such.
Out of the total white enrollment of 6,, there were 3, males, and 3, females - a majority of in favor of the males; and likewise, out of a total negro enrollment of , there was a majority of 19 in favor of the males. There were 5, pupils, out of a total enrollment of 7,, in daily attendance regardless of excused absences; and it is of interest to note that the percentage for white pupils was Of the 6, white pupils, 4, were promoted, failed, and 1, were dropped; and of the negro pupils, were promoted, 36 failed and 22 were dropped.
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Within recent years a few trucks have been used; and centralized schools established, such as the high schools, the Sutherland school at Clinchfield and the Elk Garden school. During the school year , a few one-room schools were eliminated and four trucks were used in carrying pupils. Two of these trucks transported children to the Lebanon High School, and the other two served the pupils of the Castlewood High School. This year the two inadequate junior high schools were eliminated as well as a few one-room schools; and eight trucks are being used to haul a total of approximately children to the various centralized schools within the County.
The school bus lines are as follows: one from the Spring City community to Lebanon; one from the Elk Garden community to the Elk Garden school and thence to Lebanon; one from the Stinson and Rockdell neighborhoods to the Elk Garden school; one from the Emerson school in the Copper Creek District to Castlewood; one from the Meade's Branch neighborhood to Castlewood; one from South Clinchfield and the Dixie Splint Coal Company to the Sutherland school at Clinchfield; and one from the Hansonville community to the Cross Roads school.
This seems to be a good beginning toward making the better centralized schools available to a wider range of students; and it is understood that the County School Board and the Superintendent contemplate the extension of this system in so far as it is practical. Fugate, then superintendent of the Russell County schools, the Ninth Congressional District High School was established at Lebanon, and began the teaching of Agriculture, as well as Home Economics and the general high school subjects. Since, a modern system of high schools has been established and the opportunities for agricultural instruction widened; and in consequence, Russell County now has three agricultural instructors.
One teaches in the high school at Castlewood; one in the high school at Honaker; and the other in the high schools at Cleveland and Lebanon. Even in the days preceding the formation of the County, hunters coming into the section found the soil of such depth and fertility that they often built temporary cabins and farmed a year or two before their departure; and thereby became known as "long-hunters.
Today - years after the formation of the County - the vast majority of the farm land is still fertile and well adapted to the staple grains and to the native blue grass, which thrives unusually well, even on the slopes of the hills and the mountain ranges. According to the census definition of the term, the County is entirely rural, with the exception of the town of Dante, and consequently, agriculture is the life-sustaining pursuit for more than 50 per cent of the people.
In , all the land in farms totaled , acres, or Located on this land was a farm population of 13,, of which 13, were white and colored. These figures indicate that the agricultural and livestock industry is at least five times as great as the manufacturing business in the County; and make fairly clear the more wide-spread interest in the farm industry, and its relative importance to the life of the area.
FARM LAND With the foregoing facts in mind it is well to consider the question of the land area in farms; just what percentage this bears to the total area of the County; and the types of farm land found. It will be noted from the figures in the preceding table, that the percentage of land in farms was less in than it has been at three former census dates; and that there was a considerable decrease in the percentage of land in farms from to However, this decrease is not nearly so marked as in some of the other counties of the State.
The fact of the matter is that Russell County ranked 14th among the counties of Virginia in in regard to the percentage of land in farms. Clarke County ranked first with Russell County had a large percentage of her land in any farms than any of her adjoining counties.
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The most of Russell County's farm land comprises fine blue grass pasture; and it is because of this fact that Russell is one of the larger "livestock counties" of the State. In , she had a total of , acres in pasture land, and ranked third among the counties of the State, and above all her adjoining counties in this respect.
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While the percentage of land in farms has shown a decrease, possibly because of the general agricultural depression; the per cent of improved farm land has increased consistently. An increase of 12 per cent in the improved farm land will be noted from to With reference to improved land, Russell County ranked 11th among Virginia counties in , and above all her adjoining counties except Washington. A still more interesting thing perhaps is that Russell County's "improved farm land" increased by , acres over the year period from to , in spite of the fact that parts of three counties were cut off from her territory during that time.
The acreage known as "crop land" in was only 49, acres or In respect to this item Russell County ranked 82nd among the counties of the State and below the State figure of The idle or fallow crop land of Russell comprised only 1, acres in This was a very good showing indeed when we consider that it was more favorable than the figures for all adjoining counties, except Tazewell; and much more favorable than the figures which revealed the startling fact that the counties of Pittsylvania, Halifax and Caroline had 73,, 66,, and 40, acres, respectively, of idle land at the same date.
SIZE OF FARMS While considering the size of farms in Russell County, it must be kept in mind that the census definition of a farm is, "all the land which is directly farmed by one person managing and conducting agricultural operations, either by his own labor alone or with the assistance of members of his household or hired employees"; and that such a farm may consist of single tract of land or a number of separate and distinct tracts, held under different tenures, as where one is owned and another leased or hired.
Furthermore, when a land owner has one or more tenants, renters, croppers, or managers, the land operated by each is considered a farm. With this in mind the following table serves to make fairly clear the trend in the average size of Russell County farms, and the total number of farms at each census date since These figures, derived from the United States Census reports indicate that there has been a strong tendency for the farms of Russell County to decrease in size and increase in number, which condition is similar to the general tendency throughout the whole country.
While the average size farm in was an exception to this general trend, possibly because of the increased utilization of land attained during the World War, it will be noted that the average size farm of the County in was acres smaller than the average size farm in It will also be seen that there were 1, more farms in , than at the census date 65 years previous.
According to the Agricultural Census, Russell County had 2, farms with an average size of 96 acres. This placed her 31st among the Virginia counties with reference to the average acres per farm and a little above the State average of Perhaps, it is of interest to note that at the same date, Bath County ranked first with The classification of the farms into the above acreage groups, gives us additional information concerning the trend in the size of Russell County farms.
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It will be noticed that the farms in the size groups under acres, in general, have tended to increase in number; while the farms in the size groups comprising over acres have tended to decrease in number. The increase in the number of farms from 20 to 49 acres in size has been the most noticeable, and decreases in the number of holdings comprising over acres have been considerable; however, 44 farms of acres or more were listed in Of the larger holdings not used primarily for agriculture, one is an area of 32, acres belonging to the Clinchfield Coal Corporation.
FARM TENANCY The number and percentage of farms which are operated by tenants is often referred to as an indicator of the prosperity or of the relative strength of the farm life of an agricultural area. It is pointed out that tenant farmers as a rule, are afflicted with a high degree of mobility, and that this high "farm turnover" leads to the depletion of the soil and hinders the development of an adequate social program.
However, it is realized that if the tenant status represents an advance toward ownership it is indicative of progress rather than retrogression. Of the total number of tenants, 70 were listed as "cash tenants"; as "croppers"; and as "other tenants. For the year period under review, we see that the greatest number of farms were operated by tenants in ; and that the smallest number of farms were operated by tenants in The figures really show fluctuations in the percentage of tenancy which are unusual. While the percentage of tenancy was higher in than in , it was still higher in and But after reaching the peak in , the percentage of tenancy began to decrease.
This decrease in the percentage of tenancy since is encouraging; yet the County ranks 61st among the counties of Virginia in the per cent of farms operated by tenants, and just on a par with the average figure of While it is true that the majority of the tenants of Russell County are share tenants and croppers - the most desirable classes of tenants - and are almost wholly white tenants; nevertheless, a movement to encourage more of the tenants to become farm owners would be highly desirable, for it is realized that no community ever reaches its highest stage of agricultural development until its farms are operated almost exclusively by owners.
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This fact is most clearly demonstrated by comparing the values of farm machinery within the County at different census dates; and by comparing the more recent figures for the County with those for the State as a whole. The present century, however, has witnessed the most phenomenal increase in the value of implements and machinery used upon the farms of Russell County.
It is recognized, of course, that the latter figures represent somewhat of an inflated value. This was due, primarily, to the fact that her Scotch-Irish pioneers had a natural taste for cattle and sheep; and soon discovered the possibilities of that wonderful native vegetation called "Blue Grass. In fact, as soon as it was discovered that this form of vegetation which at first was thought to be an unwelcome weed had fattening qualities and extensive grazing possibilities, and that it would spread rapidly over land which was even unbroken and uncultivated; the folks began to deaden timber and admit the sun, in order to allow this volunteer grass to cover the valleys and mountain sides.
The early settlers brought the first stock into the area, from the low country to the east, but these cattle were not of outstanding quality. Consequently, as conditions became more conducive to the raising of livestock, the citizens began a search for improved stock, with which to build up the quality of their native herds.
The first pure breds are said to have been brought in from Kentucky just prior to ; that the cross worked like magic and produced a generation of half breeds which were unusually good in quality; and that by the general trend was away from the scrubs. This improvement was checked considerably during the Civil War period; by many fine specimens were preserved and afforded the foundation for the high class of beef cattle which developed into what is to be found in the area at the present time.