Gurley Community & History


School Pictures 1908, 1933, 1937, 2002

A tradition of almost a century of teaching in this location. History of Robert Donnell Academy ( Centennial 1908-2008 ) and the original Madison County High school, Madison County Middle School. Much of the original architecture has been preserved. The text was kept as written by the author Lillian W. Power. Found in the back of a file cabinet and adapted for the web by the webmaster. The researched (added) pictures were reduced to be more appropriate for Internet use. If you want to have the original digital copies (larger size) or to add any comments or information send me an email . Thank you for sharing these pictures.

A tradition of over a century of teaching!
See pictures of the 2014 Inauguration of the new MCES/MCMS
Thanks to Jane Ford Pearson for sharing these pictures with us.
See more Madison County High School Band pictures See more Madison County High School Choir pictures
See the Madison High School 1902 picture See the Madison County High School Graduation of 1933 pictures
See the Madison High School Professors' pictures See the MCHS Football Team of 1933 pictures
See the Madison High School 1908 or 1910 picture See the Madison County Junior Class of 1937 pictures
See the 1933 MCHS Senior Class picture See the Madison County High School Class of 1937 pictures
See the 1933 Gurley MCHS Football team See the 1908-2008 Centennial Parade pictures
  See the 1908-2008 Centennial Banquet pictures

BSA troop 96 Aviation merit badge requirements Picture taken by Vincent G. Schneider Madison County Middle School
Madison County Middle School Aerial photograph taken in 2002 by Vincent G. Schneider during BSA troop 96 aviation merit badge requirements

Madison County Elementary School Today's Education Facing A New Age For America

Madison County High School

History of schools at Gurley


Author: Lillian W. Power
Article Date: unknown (aprox: 1982)
Adapted and added information in green researched for the web: 12-11-2004 by the webmaster
Pictures gathered since January 2000 by the webmaster

The federal government bought Madison County from the Cherokee Indians in 1817. Gurley did not become a part of Madison County until 1826.
There was some type of school before 1860 but no records have been found to that effect. Between 1860 and 1890 an academy was established on the north side of the railroad, and there was a public school directly in front of the academy on the south side of the railroad. These schools were in the vicinity of the Mattie Shaw house, which burned recently. The academy, which had only 3 teachers, burned in 1890. The Presbyterian Church saw the need for an institution of learning; for they had always advocated educating their ministers. Robert Donnell Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church set out to find a location in the area, which would be coeducational.

History of American Education in Alabama
Governor Comer visited Gurley, and Gurley was chosen to get the new school in Madison County
(Centennial 1908-2008)

Captain Frank Gurley gave five acres of land on which to locate the school. The Robert Donnell school was completed Aug 1 1893. Two dormitories were built, one for boys and the other for girls. Classes began in the fall of 1893. Miss Ernestine Hall, whom we knew as Mrs. John Bogensholt, was the one graduate in 1894.In 1895 Governor Comer decided to establish high schools in the state. A decision had to be made as to whether Huntsville or Gurley would get the new school in Madison County. Governor Comer visited Gurley, and Gurley was chosen to get the new school in Madison County.

Robert Donnell Academy 1902
Terry D. Lee volunteer and webmaster for the Madison Co. Records Center found this Robert Donnell High School document in the Probate case file of William J. Walker
Terry D. Lee volunteer and webmaster for the Madison Co. Records Center found this document in the Probate case file of William J. Walker. Thank you Terry! (Madison County Treasures)

In 1908 the Robert Donnell Academy was transferred to the state and it became the first accredited school in Madison County. The name of the school was changed to Madison County High School, the name which it bears today. The building described above was used until 1936, when it was torn down and the present high school was built. The public school that the most of us attended over the hill, where the principal's home is now, was closed. Robert Ellet, who was the principal, the teachers, and children were transferred to the new building at Gurley. This building was built to serve all 12 grades. There were 10 teachers.

Students outside the newly acquired Madison High School 1908 or 1910
Students outside the newly acquired Madison High School 1908 or 1910

Professor. B. F. Smith History and French
Professor. B. F. Smith

The subject of this sketch was born in Alexander City, Ala., and received his early education in the Alexander City High School. Upon finishing the High School he taught one year at Speed Ala., Coosa county. He entered the University of Alabama in 1904, and was graduated from that institution in 1907, receiving a degree of Bachelor of Arts. Mr. Smith has taught successfully in Coosa Jefferson and Marshall counties.
Before taking up the work of Professor of
History and French in the Madison County High School here, he taught as principal of the High School at Guntersville Ala.
Forceful and enterprising, his personal appearance inspires confidence of both teacher and pupil, and his sane common sense and lightning grasp of the best modes of teaching keep as friends those whom his personal magnetism draws to him, Indeed his past achievements are remarkable for so young a man, but his sterling worth, big brain, as well as rugged honesty has brought him to the front ranks of his profession. With such a brilliant record in the past, it goes without saying that his future will be anything that he chooses to make it. The Herald considers it a privilege to publish the picture of this enterprising and up-to-date teacher in this issue.

The subject or this sketch was born near Jacksonville. Ala. and his education received at the State Normal College at Jacksonville and at the University of Virginia.
He began teaching in the public schools of Russell County in 1899. After teaching two years and a half he was appointed County Superintendent of education for Russell County, to which office he was elected the following year, thus holding the office for three years, and had the distinction of being the youngest superintendent in the State. He then resigned his office and entered the University of Virginia.
After leaving the University, he was associated with his brother in conducting a training school for teachers, preparing for the State Examination.
In 1907 he was elected principal of the R. D. H. S. School, and after the establishment of the Madison County High School here our people desiring to secure the ablest educators to he had selected him as first Principal of that institution, which position he now holds. With such a man as Prof. Broughton at the head of the school, patrons realize the fact that their children are reaping a rich harvest from his experience as a teacher, as well as the noble example lie sets before them as a Christian gentleman and scholar.
There is no man here who takes town than he does. Being a man of high integrity and public spirited, his advice is sought and influence felt in many matters foreign to the interests of our schools, for which he is at all times an earnest worker. Prior to the location of the Madison County High school here, he made several trips to Montgomery, and there is no doubt that the influence wielded by him had its weight with Governor Corner in locating the school here and Gurley is proud of him.

Professor. B. B. Broughton Madison County High School
Professor. B. B. Broughton

Robert Donnell Academy and original Madison County High school until 1936
Robert Donnell Academy and original Madison County High school until 1936

Madison County Junior Class of 1937
Madison County Junior Class of 1937

Madison County High School Class of 1937
Madison County High School Medlen

We have lost 13 of our fellow classmates, but I feel sure that God in His infinite wisdom has in some spiritual ways let this reunion be felt in the hearts of all. Let us always be mindful of his great love and care which is beyond all comprehension. Those who are deceased are as follow:

Katherine Smith McCall, May 17, 1964
Nolton Tipton, March 17 1968
Robert James, Aug 24 1969
Clyde Popjoy, Jan. 28 1975
Cindy Esslinger, July 6 1978
Barkley Chandler, Jan 4, 1979
L. Clayton Ginn, Jan 3, 1981
Callie Mae Mellette, March 18, 1981
Vivian Mill, Dec 6, 1981
Julian McBroom, Feb. 19 1982
Emmet Vandiver
Frances Preston

The people who help me with this information were Mr. W.O. Woolley, Mrs. John Bartie, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Hall, Mrs. Mercer Williamson, Mrs. Lela Mae Harless, Mrs. B.C. Adcox, Miss Ruby McKinny, Mrs. B.E. Graham, Mrs. Pat Malone, Mrs. Mildred Brawley, Janet Solmon, Jennifer Bevel, and Janice Traylor.

I hope you will enjoy this information that I have given you about the progress of our Alma Mater much as I have enjoyed collecting it.

Lillian W. Power

Do You Remember?

Cheer up girls, Woman's lib was in affect long ago because the first principal of Robert Donnell Academy was a woman. (Believe it or not - It' s true!!!)

ALMA MATER
( Listen to the Alma Mater on YouTube ~ MCHS Centennial Banquet at the VBS )

In the county of Old Madison,
Framed against the sky.
Proudly Stands our Alma Matter,
Dear Old Gurley High.

When the time has come to leave you,
We asunder part.
But forever we'll be with you,
Memories in our heart.


Chorus:

Onward ever is our motto,
Conquer and prevail
We will love our Alma Mater,
Gurley High, All Hail!

1933 MCHS Senior Class shared by by Dwayne Renfroe
1933 MCHS Senior Class shared by by Dwayne Renfroe

1933 Graduation picture shared by Dwayne Renfroe
1933 Graduation picture shared by Dwayne Renfroe
See also the 1933 Football team