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Our First Schools
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Additional Pages:
Our First Schools
Town of Rogersville Founded
Swift College
Children at Play - Outdoor Sculpture
Then and Now

Most early schools in the county were private ones supported by private subscriptions from the community to build and maintain the schools and churches used the same building. It would be many years before there was a public school system in the county that would support public schools though taxation. Starting salaries for the early teachers were about four dollars per month.

Tennessee passed an act on March 19, 1875, that provided for the creation and incarnation of cultural, literary and educational institutions. Most of the early schools took advantage of this new law to promote better financing and better management of the schools through a Board of Directors. There was also the thought , even back then, that the private academics could admit or reject whom they pleased. Subsequently, the Ebbing and Flowing Spring school was taken into the county school system. By 1900, when the county was operating the schools, salaries had advanced to twenty-five dollar per month. Below are a few pictures of the early community schools. Click the images to enlarge.

Ebbing and Flowing Springs

Grigsby School

Video interview with the last teacher at Ebbing Flowing Springs School.
Click the arrow to play video.

Shorty after 1900 Tennessee passed a law encouraging the building of public high schools and offered as an incentive to each county an up front sum of $1,000 plus matching funds up to one-third of the cost of the building a county high school. by 1913, some 111 free, public high schools had been built across the state but Hawkins County was still without such a school. Students in Rogersville, Both elementary and high school age, had been attending classes either at McMinn Academy or at the Rogersville Synodical College, Both of which were about to close. Black students had been attending Price Public School or the high school department of Swift College

The Rogersville Synodical College, built in 1849, was a private Presbyterian finishing school for women and is now the site of the Rogersville City Elementary School. Swift College, 200 North Depot Street, a world-renowned Presbyterian college for blacks operated from 1883 to 1955 and as a high school until Hawkins County integrated in 1963. Some of the Hawkins County Board of Education offices are housed in the remaining college buildings.

In May, 1913, the High School Board recommended to the County Court that three high schools be built in the county. The county Court solicited concessions from the various communities seeking to have a school built there. The three high schools were awarded to Church Hill, Mooresburg, and Eidson and construction of these schools began in the summer of 1913 and opened in the fall of 1914. The Bulls Gap high school classes continued in the old Bulls Gap Academy. Hawkins County would build a new high school building at Bulls Gap in 1916 and the old academy building would become a part of the Stewart Funeral Home. The Rogersville grammar school and high school classes continued in the Synodical College building.

Some of the old high school buildings and one of the first busses are pictured below, Click on them to see a larger photo.

 Eidson High School
Eidson High School

Mooresburg High School

Surgoinsville High School

School Bus


The Hawkins County school system supports twelve elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, one adult education program, an alternative school. Twelve colleges and universities lie within a seventy-five-mile radius of the county. 

Hawkins County Schools 2015 Community report


  •  Goodspeed, History of East Tennessee. (Knoxville: 1887).
  • Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of
    Rogersville, Tennessee.
    Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001).
  • Price, Henry, Hawkins County: A Pictorial History. (Rogersville: 1996).
  • Hawkins County Archives





It is the policy of the Hawkins County School System not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability in its educational programs or employment policies as required by Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title IX (1972 Educational Amendments), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.