History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

Early Monroe Schools

J.C.M. Vann's third grade class 1895
John D. Hodges founded the first Monroe School in 1875, the year after he graduated from Yale. It was a private boarding school located on Lancaster Avenue. The school was somewhat revolutionary in that it was co-educational. However, on March 12, 1891, this building burned down.
March 12, 1891, The Landmark (Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina) - Fire was discovered in the Monroe High School building early this morning. An alarm was at once sent in and the students of the school were aroused as soon as possible, but it was too late to save the building and two unfortunate young men, Thomas E. Pemberton, of Little Rock, Ark., and Albert Bost, of Bost's Mills, Cabarrus County, N.C., perished in the flames. At the first alarm the young ladies, who roomed on the ground floor, made their escape. The young men roomed on the third floor and when the alarm reached them, means of escape were partially cut off and the building filled with smoke and flame. Albert [Jackson] Bost [17] and A.C. Rhodes were in a room together. Albert awakened first and discovering the fire awoke Rhodes. In trying to escape, Albert started for the west entrance, which was in the part of the building where the fire originated. He was suffocated by the smoke, overcome by the heat, and went down with the building. Rhodes sought the east entrance and managed to escape after being severely burned about the neck, head, and arms. Thomas Pemberton [15, son of Calvin and Harriet, buried in Monroe City Cemetery] was not seen at all and his remains were found on the wire springs of his bed, leading to the belief that he did not awake at all. Rocks were thrown through the windows to arouse him and tongues of flame licked through the openings in the glass…The building was completely destroyed, together with school furniture, four pianos and the library. The loss is some $10,000 with small insurance. The fire is supposed to have been incendiary.

The Monroe City Schools were originally chartered by the N.C. Sate Legislature on February 25, 1897. In 1900 the City of Monroe built a new two-story structure that was later to be known as John D. Hodges School.

Early 1900s
Photo from 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County
1938 Florence Redwine's 6th grade class
1911 Postcard
About 1902, Professor E.C. Brooks wrote in Sketches of Monroe and Union County:

"The Monroe Graded Schools were organized in June, 1900. This was the third attempt and the interest manifested in the opening of the schools showed that all, even those who were opposed to the extra tax, were prepared to give the institution the good will of the town and to go to any reasonable expense that every feature might be as strong as possible. The men who have served as members of the Board--Messrs. H.B. Adams, R.A. Morrow, W.S. Lee, S.J. Welsh, S.W. Parham, J.C. Fletcher, A.M. Crowell and S.O. Blair are all strong business men, and they have administered the affairs of the graded school with the same intelligence that they would have given the business of a private corporation.

"At the end of the first year they realized that the salaries paid the teachers were not sufficient to retain or secure the best teachers in the State; and with their characteristic liberality they immediately raised the salaries of all the teachers, and at the same time passed an accompanying resolution that for the future no teacher would be selected who has not had normal training or who has not had at least two years experience in graded school work. This was a frank admission that the board of trustees believed there is science in teaching, that teaching is a profession requiring skill and previous training. Such a resolution as this immediately placed the schools on a higher plane, for the profession naturally received a higher consideration in the estimation of the public mind.

"At the end of the first year it was observed that several students, ranging from the first to the tenth grades, who for various reasons failed to complete the entire work of their respective grades must either spend the whole of the next year in the same grade, or pass over the work that was left unfinished. It was seen that with two assistant teachers a bridge-work from one grade to another could be secured, giving the delinquent students an opportunity of advancing as their ability demanded and giving the quicker students an opportunity of passing from one grad to another without being held back with the whole grade until the end of the year. The board, after considering the merits of such a plan, selected two assistant teachers. The result of this work has been most gratifying.

"The first two years has been spent in the building and equipping the school. Recently the last installment of furniture was placed in the new building. The entire property is now valued at about $20,000; $15,000 in buildings and equipment. The enrollment in the white school for the year is 491, with 11 teachers. In the colored school, 220, with three teachers. This school is doing work of an industrial nature."

The Graded School had ten grades. The building had two main entrances. The boys had to stay on the left side and the girls on the right. There was a high board fence separating the two sides at the back.


John Daniel Hodges (1844-1936)
Private . Captain William E. Booe's Partisan Rangers . N.C. Volunteers . Company H, 63rd Regiment . (5th Regiment N.C. Cavalry) . N.C. Troops

"John was born October 11, 1844, in Davie County. He was the son of Joseph W. (b.1817 Virginia) and Mary Ann M. (b.1818 Davie County) Click Hodges. By 1860 John's father had died and John assumed the responsibility of helping his mother tend to the farm in the Liberty District. He enlisted April 15, 1863. He was captured near Hagerstown, Maryland, July 12, 1863, paroled at the hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and exchanged at City Point, Virginia, September 27, 1863. He was present and accounted for through December 1864. He was captured again at Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, on March 30, 1865, and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, until released after taking the Oath of Allegiance, June 27, 1865.

"James W. Wall writes in his History of Davie County that 'After serving in the Civil War, Hodges returned to his farm home in Augusta and then attended attended Trinity College (Duke) and graduated from Yale University in 1874. He began a fifty-two year career in education as a teacher and administrator in Union County, served as a teacher and administrator in Raleigh and New Bern, and in the early 1880s was professor of Greek at Trinity College.' 

He returned home to Davis County where he married Sallie A. Thompson, age 21, on January 9, 1896. Their children were John D. Jr., Paul Eustace, Mary, Sarah and Ruth. He became county supervisor of schools in July 1900, and remained a prominent influence for education until his death on January 4, 1936. He is buried in Concord United Methodist Church Cemetery. Professor Hodges had served as a Private in the Civil War, but during his long life he rose through the ranks of the N.C. Division United Confederate Veterans to become Brigadier General of that organization." Ancestry.com 

Photos from the Photograph Collection - Heritage Room, Monroe, NC and Ancestry.com

1 comment:

  1. Wish we had some names of those in Miss Redwines's class. Wouls she be the same Miss Redwine who taught me in first grade ? I think - not 100 sure - my Dad once told me he had her too. Possible ?