Section Twelve of the 1871 Legislative Act that established Vernon Parish stated the new
parish shall provide a school system in the same manner as for other parishes in the
The police jury took responsibility for organizing the school system. As police jury
treasurers, Major Stanley (1871-1873), J. E. Ryan (1873-1874), and Charles K. Oakes
(1874- ? ) had the responsibility of overseeing education.
The school system as we know it established slowly. From 1871 to 1876 nine school
board members were chosen for the six wards: Rudolphus Brown of Ward Two, Philip
Koonce of Ward Two, James Word of Ward Three, Patrick Cavanaugh of Ward One,
James Phillips of Ward Six, Charles Oakes of Ward Four, Edmond Smart of Ward One,
William Cain of Ward Three, and Calvin Collins of Ward Six. Ward Five had no
member. The first board met on May 8, 1876.
On March 27, 1890 the police jury met to vote on funding for the new school system.
The motion was made to vote on a one and one-half mills tax. The entire jury voted no.
There was an outcry throughout the parish. The following year on July 11, 1891 the jury
voted yes. By March 31, 1892 the tax raised $1,500.00.
By 1888, the school system was established as a governmental entity separate from the
police jury and Charles K. Oakes (1888-1896) was superintendent.
In 1876 thirty-seven teachers were hired for thirty-seven schools. School sessions were
one to three months. Pay varied from $18.00 (Pleasant Grove and Pine Grove) a month
to $33.33 (Burr Ferry, Big Creek, Leesville, Edgefield, Tom Butler Community, Holly
Grove, and O. K.).
Men and women were paid the same.
The thirty-seven schools and teachers were:
● Beech Grove - William King Self
● Big Creek - James Duff
● Brushy Creek - Thomas Stephen Franklin
● Bundicks Creek - Julius Dewe
● Burr Ferry - Edmund Burke Waddell
● Castor Church - James C. Cavanaugh
● China Grove - Rev. Jonathan "John" Franklin
● Conrad - Rev. Barnabus O. Owens
● Cryer - Michael Andrew Cavanaugh
● Davis Neighborhood - John Washington Davis
● Edgefield - Elias Self
● Elizabeth Chapel - Emily Smart McAlpin
● Good Hope - James Hudson Self
● Holly Grove - William Spence Winchester
● Huddleston - Julia "Jennie" Cole
● Knight Neighborhood - William James Knight
● LaCaze Neighborhood - Catherine Lolette Coutch
● Laurel Hill - Rev. James Carroll Koonce
● Leesville - Theodosia Burr Smart
● Melton Chapel - Robert P. Walker
● Midkiff - Alice L. Pugh;
● Mt. Olive - Thomas S. Franklin
● O. K. School - John K. Foster
● Pine Grove - Walter C. Self
● Pine Island - Sarah Jane Gossett
● Pleasant Grove - Rev. Payton P. Mathis
● Providence - Martin V. Johnson
● Shiloh - Thomas Jefferson Newman
● Silver Creek - William Haywood Beckcom
● Six Mile - Rev. William Henry Cain
● Smith Neighborhood - A. L. Smith
● Tom Butler Community - Thomas Word
● Union - George Washington Self
● Union Hill - James Cullen Brown
● Walnut Hill - Horatio N. Grey
● Weeks Neighborhood - Cora Hills Bolgiano
● Whiskey Chitto - Archibald Smith.