Antebellum Days – Schools (Part 1)

In Lauderdale County’s early days, education revolved around household activities and everyday survival.

Living off the land required the backbone of most household members, from fetching water from a nearby creek to firewood for cooking and staying warm.

The first school in the territory had been established for Choctaw children by Presbyterian Missionaries in 1824 at Coosa Indian Village, six years before the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek and the death of Indian Chief Pushmataha in Washington, D. C.   Evidence of white men living among the Choctaws was reported the 1831 Armstrong Choctaw Indian Census of the area, which was before the Indian Removal Act.

Somewhere around 1835, after log homes and a few churches had been built,

settlers began seriously considering their children’s education. Families in a somewhat close proximity of one another banded together to establish what was known as a “patron” school, where one settler furnished a log cabin, another furnished wood and bare necessities, such as tables, chairs, etc., and everyone pitched in to the pay the teacher.  The teacher and/or the patrons provided the few books for the schoolhouse.

Schools operated in various time increments, one or more months at a time, in different locations in the vicinity due to poor transportation capabilities. The school house was usually located near a water spring or creek to assure ample water supply. Often church, community meetings, and Justice of the Peace court were held in the school. Often, when a new community church was built, the school relocated into the old church building.

These schools were referred to as academies,

such as White Sulphur Springs Academy in Lauderdale and Walnut Springs Academy in the Alamucha area. By the 1840’s, patron schools existed in or near Marion, Alamucha, Sageville, Bailey, Suqualena, and Lauderdale and taught grades one and two for one or two 4-month periods each year.  Higher Education academies were Marion Academy established in 1837, and Alamucha, formed in 1838.  Later academies were Pinckney-Vaughn Academy and the Cook Academy.

On May 9, 1837, the State Legislature passed an Act to incorporate the first trustees of the Marion Academy.

They were James Ruton, James Murry, Benjamin T. Larke, John R. Leath, Isaac Barr, John F. Chester, Horatio B. Warbington and Theodore S. Swift. These trustees were empowered to receive donations, purchase or mortgage real estate, these purchases not to exceed $5000 and personal estate not to exceed $10,000.  Another stipulation was that the academy could not be located more than one mile from Marion.

The Board of Police, formed by the laws of the State of Mississippi in 1841, established further guidelines for the state’s public school system, including the appointment of a school commissioner for each of the five Police Districts in Lauderdale County.  The Board of the Police retained most of the power over the school system.

No Board of Police existed until the 1832 Constitution of the State of Mississippi, and even then the Sheriff retained most of the power until the 1840’s and 50’s.

The Board of Police divided each respective county into five districts and from each district, qualified voters elected one member for the term prescribed in the constitution under the rules and regulations the board had adopted. The first members of the Board of Police served for a period of 18 months until the second election, which was for a period of two years.

Lauderdale County set up five districts in April 1834, but no records exist since the records were burned in a courthouse fire at Old Marion in November 1837.

On November 16, 1847, the Lauderdale County Board of Police composed the following:

“Whereas the Board of Police (forerunner of the Board of Supervisors) for the county have held their meetings without any rules of order governing themselves, which has by allowing wrangling and disorder greatly delayed the transaction of business and prevents any dignity from attaching itself to their court, and thus tended to detract from their authority – giving occasion for idle and jesting remarks calculated to bring the board into contempt – we therefore the members of the board of police for Lauderdale County do for the more speedy and regular transaction of business, and for the respect we bear for each other, for our government to adhere and maintain the said rules and such others as we may from time to time find it necessary to adopt.” This was signed by L. B. Banes, President; Isaac G. Suttles; L. B. Moore; Daniel Cameron; and A. (Abie) Clay.

The Jan. 24, 1854 Lauderdale Republican recorded that bids were being taken on the building of Alamucha Academy, Marion, evidencing its longevity.

1854 – 1856 – A Directory of Marion, MS compiled by Fred W. Edmiston from the Lauderdale Republican


by Richelle Putnam



The Nature of Life

Teaching natural childbirth classes wasn’t a profession Elizabeth Steele had planned.

It was after the Marine Corps transferred her husband to Meridian, Miss. in 2005 and she became pregnant with their second child. Since she had had natural childbirth with her first, she began researching natural birth options for her second.

“I found one natural childbirth instructor in the whole state and no doulas,” she said. “I was floored, and knew that I needed to be a part of the solution to help Mississippi mothers know that they had options in childbirth.”

In 2007, Elizabeth earned her certification with the Bradley Method as a childbirth instructor and doula.  

“Women literally traveled from all over the state to take the classes,” said Elizabeth. “I had couples coming to Meridian from Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Columbus/Starkville every Tuesday night so they could know the logistics of how to give birth naturally.”

Then in 2012, when Elizabeth’s family moved to Hattiesburg, women signed up for her classes and hired her as their doula. Realizing the tremendous need in this area of childbirth, she formed Hattiesburg Natural Birth. Less than a year later, she added a DONA certification to her expertise. However, Elizabeth’s experience in natural childbirth includes much more than certificates.

“Having given birth naturally five times using all types of providers, both in hospitals and at home, gives me a unique perspective on knowing options,” she said. “I have had a long, hard labor, an easy breezy one, and ones that I consider in-between.” These experiences stir Elizabeth’s passion about moms making informed decisions. “It is an incredible privilege to serve women as their doula to physically help them achieve their goal as of a natural birth.”  

Elizabeth’s Bradley classes provide mothers-to-be information on birthing practices and their options before, during, and after labor. “Currently, 86.1 percent of my Bradley moms have given birth without medication. But the ones who had either an epidural or a cesarean did so knowing that was the best option for them.”

Though epidural or a cesarean might be the best option for some, women were designed to give birth. Therefore, they need to seriously consider whether or not they are healthy, low-risk women.

“Pregnancy is not a disease that needs to be cured,” said Elizabeth. “It’s a normal, healthy part of life for the vast majority of women.”  

The Bradley Method focuses on a low-risk diet, exercise, relaxation techniques and practices, while providing in-depth discussions, Elizabeth explained. Women gain a deeper understanding of the normal birth process and the options available to them during labor.

“It’s also incredibly helpful to be in a group of people striving for the same thing,” said Elizabeth.

Yes, Elizabeth is passionate about her work, but research reveals her passion to be more than justified. Dr. Michael Odent, according to Elizabeth, said that women who birth naturally have higher levels of natural oxytocin, which influences the natural bond between mother and child. In addition, Dr. Sarah Buckley believes that when women are given adequate time for labor, a cocktail of labor hormones creates an overall sense of satisfaction during and after labor.  The studies of Dr. Lennart Righard indicate that newborns breastfeed better after an un-medicated labor. Other contributions in the study of normal, natural birth have been conducted by Doctors Ina May Gaskin, Penny Simkin, and Doris Haire.

She suggests these five tips to help prepare for natural childbirth:

  • 1- take a Bradley class
  • 2- hire a certified doula
  • 3- keep healthy through diet and exercise
  • 4- stay surrounded by encouraging women with positive birth stories and affirmations
  • 5- believe woman are designed for natural childbirth

“The part I love most, though, is that it is a team effort. The mother and her coach are working together toward a common goal of a healthy baby.  The husbands/coaches who take my classes are genuinely involved with the moms, which gives [moms] the emotional fortitude to make it through labor.”

And a woman loved and supported during labor is a strong woman!

Hattiesburg National Birth

5001 Hardy Street,

Hattiesburg, MS



The documentary: The Business of Being Born (2008) Available on YouTube

DONA International


By Richelle Putnam

Photo courtesy of “Wonderful Pregnant Woman And Her Children” by hin255 at

Saint Nicholas

“The roots of Santa Claus are not found in the snows of the North Pole,”

writes Ace Collins in his book Men of Faith, “but were planted by third-century acts of charity in a region we now know as Turkey.” Ancient Christian writings indicate that Nicholas of Myra, born around 270 AD, was a man with a God-given call upon his life.

As a teenager, Nicholas had great compassion for the needy people he encountered. Although his native city of Myra appeared to be an ideal place, a busy financial center with great sophistication, there was a dark side. Hidden in the shadows were brothels where young girls from poor families were sold into sexual slavery.

Nicholas learned of one young girl who was in danger of being forced into prostitution.

Previously, her father’s business failed, causing him to lose everything. Eventually, the family no longer had food and the children were suffering. The father then began to negotiate with local brothel owners to sell his oldest daughter, so that his younger children would not starve.

The night before the girl was to be sold, Nicholas went to the family’s home after dark and tossed a bag of gold through an open window. Months later, Nicholas returned with another bag of gold, delivering it once again secretly. When the father discovered the identity of the donor, he asked Nicholas why he had not given the gifts openly. Nicholas answered, “Because it’s good to give and have only God know about it.”  

After Nicholas’ wealthy parents died, he no longer had gold to give to the needy.

His troubles increased when he entered the priesthood, during the rule of Roman emperors. During this time when Christians were experiencing great persecution, Nicholas was incarcerated because of his faith. Even in prison, he encouraged other prisoners in the faith.

Later, after his release from prison, he began feeding the poor, establishing shelters for the homeless, and finding homes for orphans. When Nicholas became Bishop of Myra, the church coffers were filled with Roman coins. Although some church leaders used the money to provide themselves with lavish lifestyles, Nicholas gave money away. As he traveled through his district, he often dropped coins into the windows of the poor. When he walked about the city, he carried small toys and candy to give to children, and, as he did, he told them stories about Jesus.

As a cardinal in the church, Nicholas of Myra, like Santa, would have been seen in flowing red robes, and early Christian art does reveal that late in his life Nicholas probably had a balding head and a white beard. When he walked the streets, he always had children clinging to his robes and following in his footsteps.

     “Saint Nicholas didn’t become Santa Clause by chance,” writes Ace Collins. “Those who first provided the holidays with a magical elf dressed in red did so as a tribute to the giving spirit of this extraordinary man.”   

by Virginia Dawkins

Image courtesy of “Christmas And New Year Concept” by graphixchon t


Dynamic Dyslexia Design

In 2008, Dynamic Dyslexia Design; The 3-D School and Evaluation Center

in Petal, Miss. opened its doors to 24 children. Today, as a state accredited non-public, special purpose school for children with dyslexia, it serves 106 children (grades 1-5) in a full day program designed specifically for dyslexic children. A staff of 20 includes dyslexia therapists, speech pathologists, and support teachers.

“In 2005, my colleague, Dr. Trudy Abel, assisted me in identifying and evaluating students for learning disabilities in a local private school,” said Dr. Cena Holifield, Executive Director of the 3-D School. “We became alarmed at the number of students that we were identifying as dyslexic, and surprised as to how many were also gifted.”

Also, alarming was the lack of appropriate intervention services for dyslexia in the schools. Thus began their mission for a transitional two year intervention program targeting the unique learning needs of dyslexic children. The goal was to remediate reading, writing, and spelling skills so students could return to their regular schools as stronger students.

“Research tells us that early intervention is critical and children with dyslexia need daily specialized multisensory instruction over a two to three year period,” said Dr. Holifield. “We also know that children with dyslexia require 500 to 1500 repetitions of this instruction in order to build the memory of critical reading concepts and spelling rules.”

Because regular classrooms are not designed to provide this specialized instruction, dyslexic children fall behind in the regular classroom setting. Many experience feelings of inadequacy. The 3-D School and Evaluation Center provides a safe environment and licensed dyslexia therapists who provide daily one-hour Orton-Gillingham based dyslexia therapy to students in small groups. In the classroom, explained Dr. Holifield, they receive language arts instruction with repetition and application of critical reading concepts.  

“When they become functional readers,” said Dr. Holifield, “they can achieve in the regular classroom with a teacher who makes appropriate accommodations for them.”  

Not all children with reading disabilities have dyslexia. The 3-D diagnosticians, Elesha McCarty, CCC-SLP, CALT, and Dr. Jane Herrin, evaluate children in grades K-12 and then guide parents to the appropriate services addressing the learning needs of their children.

Each year during the holiday season, the 3-D students participate in a community project. Past projects have included The Salvation Army Angel Tree, Christian Services, and Edwards Street Mission, the Shoe Box Ministry, and Pennies for Africa. This year the children collected food items for the Petal Children’s Task Force.

“Children with dyslexia are very sensitive to the needs of others,” said Dr. Holifield. “We teach them that each of them is being prepared by God for a special purpose in life that includes serving others.”

Other information:

The 3-D School works in collaboration with William Carey University to train teachers to become dyslexia therapists through an International Dyslexia Association (IDA) accredited Master’s Degree program in Dyslexia Therapy.

Donations and the funds received by MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) funds helps to supplement tuition fees for parents. The 3-D School offers scholarships to families with financial needs and does not turn away children due to the inability to pay tuition.



by Richelle Putnam

‘Tis The Season

My cue to begin celebrating Christmas is the day when Sue and Sam Gressett set up their Nativity scene. That little nook with Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds is my “true north” throughout the month of December. When I get too caught up in shopping and all the busyness of the season, and on days when I feel like Scrooge, I can look across the street and be reminded of what it’s all about.

I do love this time of year when lighted trees are peeping from windows all through my neighborhood.

I like making lists and searching for gifts. I anticipate the Christmas Eve candlelight service when our whole family will be together. I hope it’s cold on Christmas Eve so we can smell the logs and hear the crackling and popping of the fire as we open gifts. I can almost taste the shrimp and grits and home-made rolls my daughter-in-law makes. For every Christmas we’ve been able to spend like this, I am so very grateful.

However, our pastor reminded us that Christmas is not a joyful time for some people because of dysfunctional family situations or the knowledge that a son or daughter will be spending Christmas in jail because of addiction. Some families may still be mourning the loss of a loved-one or remembering a life-shattering event.

But the saddest of all is the person who believes that the whole world is celebrating, partying, and enjoying life—everyone except him. He believes there’s no hope for his miserable life to change, for hopelessness has taken control of his mind. He wants the emotional pain to stop and thinks that if he ends his life he won’t have to feel it anymore.

The threat of suicide affects people from all walks of life and economic backgrounds.

We live in a destitute world filled with needy people of all descriptions. In fact, most of us are needy and vulnerable at some time in our lives. Reverend T.D. Jakes says, “Most people live their lives between two voices—the angelic and the demonic. It’s like there’s an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other.”

A survey reports that one out of six college students has contemplated suicide; often this is a result of academic demands, peer pressure, lack of sleep, and alcohol and drug abuse. Through ministering to women in jail, I find that the death of a loved-one or any bad news from home often sets an inmate on a course of hopeless, suicidal thoughts. Even famous, gifted people who seem to be equipped with everything necessary for living happy lives have been known to entertain thoughts of ending their lives.

The story is told of the famous musician, Ludwig Beethoven,

who wanted to commit suicide because of the lack of reception for his work. Before it was too late, Beethoven reached out to God and then vowed to live and write music for God alone to appreciate. I wonder who it was who spoke an encouraging word to Beethoven or prayed prayers for him. Who was it who reminded him of God and told him to look up?

What Christmas is about is that God cares about broken, hurting people. Looking out my bedroom window at the manger scene, I know that this is true:

 “The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity, hope for pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory, because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that 33 years later He might hang on a cross.” -J.I. Packer

by Virginia Dawkins

Stand Up For Someone Today

On December 10th, the world will celebrate the Universal Day for Human Rights.

Adopted in 1950, it proclaimed a common standard towards which individuals and societies should strive. It states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; that fundamental human rights shall be universally protected, covering all aspects of a human life – civil, cultural, economic, political and social. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was a shout across the world stating loud and clear that no matter where we live, what we believe, or how we love, we are each individually deserving of the most basic fundamentals of human needs from food, shelter, and water to access to free and uncensored information.

The responsibility to protect and respect Human Rights falls on all segments from States, international, national, state, local and our covenant with one another. As individuals, you and me – while we are entitled to our own human rights – have responsibilities for respecting the human rights of others.

Today, poverty prevails and so does the way we often look at and treat the other.

Both are grave human rights challenges in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime… Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.

With information taken from the website of UDHR this year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights! It is everyone’s responsibility to uphold human rights. Every one of us should take a stand. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, an indigenous person, a child, a person of African descent, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence. Or, I might add, hunger.

With the upcoming of our season of giving we may consider advice from a man who gave us many laughs and heart warming lessons. Dr. Seuss once wrote: “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” The Grinch had to learn the lesson the hard way, but at this time of year, are we guilty of the same? There  might be another way of giving, wrapping it in love than in paper.

What’s a person To Do?  

  • Get out there and make a difference, whether it’s holding open a door, making it easier for someone who is using a wheel chair to enter or refusing to listen to jokes or negative messages about groups of people.
  • Look around your neighborhood and see what you can do. Stand between a bully and a child who is being mistreated because of his or her size, looks or disability.
  • Read to a child or offer to shop for a neighbor who has problems getting to the store.
  • Make a donation to one of the dozens organizations that work to make people’s lives better or start your own drive to help organizations who are fighting the the rights of people and against hunger and poverty.
  • Pick up the trash that’s collecting on the street. Better still, make sure none of it’s yours.
  • Giving care packages of toothpaste, shampoo and other necessities for people who are without a home can go a long way to help fill human needs and change quality of life for someone.
  • Give time and money to organizations that work globally to help others or organize a donation drive of your own to help fight the good fight.
  • Most of all, if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

 Just a few ideas, but you get the point.


Dr. Rachell N. Anderson

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website for more articles and books.


“If you really think about it,” wrote Mark Batterson, “it’s the bad days that help us appreciate the good days. Without them, we’d have no comparison point.”

In Mark Batterson’s book, If, he urges us to count our blessings and to remind everyone else how blessed we all are! He suggests that we consider these things:

  • If you woke this morning with more health than illness—you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
  • If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation—you are better off than five hundred million people in the world.
  • If you can attend a church meeting, or not attend one, without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death—you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
  • If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep—you are richer than 75 percent of the world’s wealthy.

If you can read a book, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

In her book, Choosing Gratitude, Nancy DeMoss described a scene taking place in India: A three-year-old boy is leaning against the cot of his dying mother. The boy’s eyes are hollow, his stomach is distended, and his face is fly-infested. An American pastor observing the child and his mother made this statement: “Standing there in that slum, I felt all complaints I had ever spoken as if they were a weight on my shoulders.”

After returning to America, the pastor asked a church leader from India who had come to the states to study, “What do you think of Americans?” The man from India answered, “You have no idea how much you have, and yet you always complain.”

In our journaling class at church, we include in our journals a prayer list, a section in which we write letters to God, and pages for recording scriptures. Sometimes our “God letters” become a little whiney and self-centered as we describe our problems. Lest discouragement creep in, we turn to our Thanksgiving page, where we have listed daily blessings as well as great big miracles which God has performed in our behalf. When we reread each blessing and give thanks once more, our faith becomes brighter and our problems grow dimmer.

When Jesus told the disciples to provide food for five thousand hungry people, the situation looked hopeless; all they found was a little boy’s small lunch. Jesus took it, looked to heaven and gave thanks. His thanksgiving brought a miracle blessing that day—all the people were fed, and there was food left over.

When we take inventory of what we already have and give thanks for it, we realize that we are very rich indeed.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

As Americans, we are very rich indeed! Let us give thanks for what we have and cry out to our Creator for His mercy and grace to reign over our nation.

By Virginia Dawkins


For  Mark Batterson’s book, If 

For Nancy DeMoss’s book, Choosing Gratitude

Smartphone Holiday Memories

More families travel during the holidays than any other time of year.

In fact, for some families, the holiday season is the only time of tyear they gather together to break bread with loved ones. However, in this day and age smartphones too often pull us away from conversations and family moments, even during the holidays.

But wait…don’t put those smartphones away yet. Use them to create Holiday memories that remain with you and your family forever.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Memory Books! Having everybody together provides perfect opportunities for recording holiday moments through photos. Thanks to smartphones, just about everyone can and should take pictures because you never know who will catch that unforgettable moment. That said, it’s probably best to have at least one family member looking for and recording moments that tell heartwarming and humorous stories without words. Then, before everyone heads home, have each member handwrite their favorite holiday moment. The person’s actual handwriting makes the memory more personal, especially years later, when the kids have grown and some family members have passed away. Using high-quality stationery to record memories is a nice touch for handcrafted scrapbooks and smash books. (Pinterest has great ideas for smash books) Of course, you can scan handwritten notes into JPGs and use places like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Montage, and Mixbook to produce a professionally developed memory book.

  2. Memory Audios! Smartphones have built-in recorders that can be plugged into the computer and uploaded to WAV or MP3 files. Reminiscing is for everyone, especially the kids, who get to tell stories, but also hear stories about Dad and Mom and Uncle Lewis and even grandparents. Setting aside times to record the memories of individuals, couples and families means you’re also preserving family histories in the storytellers’ voices. Memory audios can be downloaded as MP3s to play whenever you like, just like audiobooks.

  3. Memory Videos! Using simple video programs, you can create private family Youtube videos from the photos and audios, allowing only a specific audience to view them. Now, how cool is that? In addition, smartphones are capable of producing some really good videos. The challenge is keeping a steady hand. There’s nothing more aggravating than a shaky video. Invest in a tripod or prop your phone on a secure place, like a counter or tabletop. If the flat surfaces are not quite high enough, stack some books on top of the surface. You can record game board moments, karaoke moments, football game moments, and even the kids playing outside. Videos can be downloaded as well, but be sure to back them up onto a flash drive, an external hard drive or Windows Cloud. You don’t want to lose precious memories.

To help assure spontaneity, the photographer/recorder/videographer should be as inconspicuous as possible. Still, family members playing to the camera with funny faces and poses and overacting won’t matter. Even the cutups and the hams will be a delight to view in years to come.  

This year, share your “thanks” for family by “giving” future generations holiday memories that last a lifetime. They don’t call them smartphones for nothing!

Shutterfly –

Snapfish –

Montage –

Mixbooks –


by Richelle Putnam