Written and presented for the 2000 Tishomingo Alumni Association, June 24, 2000 at Murray State College, Tishomingo.
Being challenged with the increased population of a newly
incorporated town, the citizens of Tishomingo in 1903 voted a $50,000
tax bond, which would be used for schools and waterworks. This action
led the way in providing a tax-supported facility to educate children
who were not Native American.
Tishomingo South Ward School quickly
became the center of the community's attention and activities. In just
one year, as announced in the June, 1994 issue of the Tishomingo News,
"the city council had let an $8,000 contract for construction of a
second school building to be located on Nashoba Avenue". This site
would be named North Ward School. Today this site is the home of
Tishomingo Memorial Grade School and houses grades K-5.
for the two schools were brought in from the "States", as Oklahoma had
not yet been established as part of the Union. As Statehood was
arriving on the horizon, there were developed methods and facilities for
the qualifying of homegrown teachers.
An examining board under the direction of the county superintendent was established to
administer tests and issue teacher certificates.
Great excitement occurred in the Twin Territory region, when Oklahoma was
admitted to the United States as the 46th Star on the flag. With that admission, county
and state government agencies were quickly formed. Among those was the
establishment of "secondary education"., offering training in agriculture and mechanics
and allied branches and domestic science and economics. Through the efforts of William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray,
Tishomingo would be the site of a college, Murray School of Agriculture & Mechanics, A&M.
With the good news, a change in the Tishomingo School system occurred. No
where to house a college, in September of 1908, Tishomingo City fathers provided classrooms
in the South Ward School. North Ward School would house grades 1-8 in that building
until college buildings could be constructed and completed.
Any student completing the 8th grade would be eligible to attend Murray A&M for additional schooling.
In 1912, South Ward School again began having high school classes. Additions to the building were
made in 1917 and through the early 1920s, as the town prospered and grew.
However, in the late 1920s through the 1930s, the depression has a great impact on the community and Nation.
The Work Progress Administration (WPA) provide a new building addition, would
house the home economics department. In the fall of 1937, Mary Ann Henderson (Mrs. P.J.) Parks was the first to teach in that building. Also in 1937 construction was started on the foundation for the Vocational Agriculture building on the High School grounds.
In 1938 a new gymnasium/auditorium was built which would provide a plade for large community meetings as well as sporting events.
On April 2, 1941, a fire destroyed a portion of the original South Ward School.
With insurance money and a one-year, 5-mill levy, 6 rooms were constructed to the north of the existing building. This included a two division Commercial Department, a science room and a three-division office and three classrooms. It was constructed in such a way that an annex could be added in the future.
Ten yars later, on Valentines Day, 1951, fire destroyed typewriters, desk, blackboards, books and many personal effects and the entire school library at the high school building. Students only missed one day of school, attending classes in the junior high wing of the building, gymnasium, school bus garages, home economics and vocational agriculture buldings.
Beloved teach, librarian and friend, Mrs. Johnny B. Chisholm issued a call in January 1952, for books for the High School Library. Thousands of books were donated through her effort and love for providing quality-reading material for Tishomingo students.
In a joint effort by the Tishomingo School board and the City of Tishomingo, a bond of $87,500 was passed for the purpose of building a Community room, yet a major portion of that money went to build a school.
Enrollment for Tishomingo Schools increased as the years rolled by and not until April 8, 1986 did the high school building experience yet another fire. This fire destroyed and badly damaged the east end of the school including a classroom, teacher's lounge and a portion of the original Home Economics building. Again, school was only disrupted one day, as teachers, parents and some students worked all day cleaning up the water and smoke damaged structure. School resumed the following day.
In the early 1970s land was purchased on the east side of Tishomingo for the construction of a new high school complex. This project was led by Superintendent S.G. "Pete" Littlepage. A football field was constructed first, due to the discontinuance of the football program at Murray State College. The new high school would house grades 9-12. This building was completed in 1977. School board members at that time were: Dale Anderson, Wiley Hacker, Clifford Parish, Wendell Blair and Richard Vandevier. The class of 1978 was the first class to graduate from the brand new facility.
Today, the site known as North Ward School is now Tishomingo Memorial Grade School and South Ward School is the location of the Tishomingo Middle School.
This school history would not be complete, if the activities were not mentioned, as an important part of all of our lives, Football, basketball, track, boxing, band, vocational agriculture and debate teams have all played an important role in the development of each students lives.
We will always remember the first football team consisting of James Mickle, Binks Burris, Archie Lynn, Stanley Clark, Haskell Lucas, J.D. Whithorne, Johnny Bryce, Joe Ecker, Clifford Hacker, Jodie Clark, Kern Thomas, Fred Womble, Carlton Corbin, Theodore Wilson, Stone Burris and Arnie Kinsley, Pat Taylor coached this team and the team mascot was Tishomingo's own T. Bone King.
Baskeball for both boys and girls was started in 1911, with the local team playing area teams including Durant and Ada Normal Schools.
Many students will never forget the experiences and lesson learned und the direction of Bob Stoddard. It was through his leadership and encouragement that hundreds of students have had the opportunity to perform at the Cotton Bowl six items, the Astro/Bluebonnet Bowl and various music festivals. By the time Stoddard retired in 1982, the Pride of Little Dixie was more than just the name of the band - it was a legacy to lived up to. He truly touched the lives of the community and students and the tradition lives on today.
Vocational Agriculture instructors Harold Troutman and H.F. Polone, were two Tishomingo High School instructors who left their mark on Tishomingo students who were interested in the field of agriculture. Today we see the results of their teachings through Stanley Parks and Luther Harbert, Vo-Ag instructors.
Many advisors and teachers have had great influence on our lives and have paved the way for educational excellence.