In Vernon Parish, as in other parishes, education during the Antebellum Period was the responsibility of the parent, not the government. Private education under tutors from other states or academies was for the ownership class.
Spring Creek Academy in western Rapides Parish was established for the children of plantation owners. Education as we know it today was called "pauper" or "free" schools. Many preferred no school rather than the stigma of public education.
Education developed slowly in West-Central Louisiana. In 1850 Sabine Parish had 33 schools, Rapides Parish had 28, and Natchitoches Parish had one. According to "LA Hometown Locator", Sabine and Rapides Parishes had 45 historic schools each, yet none were in present-day Vernon Parish.
Toro School at Toro on the west bank of Toro Creek and Occupy School at Westport on the east bank of Ten Mile Creek were the two closest schools to present-day Vernon Parish. Both schools were a rock throw from our parish.
Even though no public schools existed prior to 1871, many "common" teachers can be found in the 1850 and 1860 census reports of Many Ward in Sabine Parish and Anacoco Ward in Rapides Parish. There were three groups of teachers. One group was from the families of community leaders like Patrick Henry Cavanaugh, Cavill Bray, and Theodosia Burr Smart.
A second group of teachers lived next door to community leaders and tutored their children like D. E. Sorelle who lived next door to Clerk of Court W. H. Smart, W. J. A. Kelly, who lived next door to Dr. L. J. Robison, and J. M. Hills who lived next door to Gilman B. Burr.
The third group of teachers lived in the same household with the students they taught. Teachers like A. McArthur lived in the same household with Lydia Godwin, Henry L. Hardy lived in the same household with Gibson Johnson, and Joyce Willis lived in the same household of George L. Wilson.