Flashback Frank: Interesting Area School Names

Apr 07, 2022 at 07:30 am by bryan

This is Flashback Frank of the Rutherford County Historical Society.

Some of the early public and private schools in Rutherford County had very imaginative descriptive names.


Hard Start School was built on a hill on Miller Road near Christiana in 1872. History has failed to explain the name for this school; perhaps “hard start” was meant to be descriptive of the early educational challenges in this rural community in the 1870s.

Little Hope School, built in 1894, was an African-American school north of Blackman in the decades following the Civil War. According to local lore, a visiting preacher at the local Baptist Church was disappointed in the turnout for his message. He declared that there was “little hope” for that community. The name stuck.

Then there was the Last Chance School, an African American school once located near the Bedford County line on what is now the Newtown Road south of Versailles. Little is known about the school or the community but the “last chance” name may have reflected the difficult times of the post-Civil War period.

A positive contrast with “little hope” and “last chance schools” was Happy Hill School, another African-American school once located in Christiana.

And who could forget Black Gnat Academy, a private school once located near Hwy. 96 and Overall Creek.
The “black gnat” name, according to lore, referred the swarms of black gnats that came up from the creek bank during the warm months.

Lizzard Lick School was located on the Eagleville to Shelbyville turnpike, about three miles south of Eagleville. The name was never documented or formalized, but “lizzard lick” may have been the name used informally to identify a local community.

Uncle Dave Macon is said to have influenced the naming of Loafer’s Rest School. The school was on the south side of the Woodbury Pike at the Mt. Herman Road intersection. Allegedly at the suggestion of Uncle Dave, a local store was named “Loafer’s Rest” and the community and school came to be known by the same name.

Sheephouse School, a subscription, ‘private’ school located east of Halls Hill Pike on Northcutt Road near the county line. So named because the McElroy family used the schoolhouse to shelter the sheep flock when school was not in session.

Finally, there was Toe Nail School located west of the Midland Community near present day Shelbyville Hwy. Local lore alleges that the school earned the “toe nail” name because of the barefoot injuries on the rough wooden floor. More likely, the name was applied because the school, like those it served, was thought to be “small and insignificant.”

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