22 Apr 2014
Cabarrus County has a long tradition in education. As our early pioneers built communities, they built churches. These churches provided the foundation for the Revolutionaries who saw education as the path to self-government and independence. Schools and academies during this period were privately supported and generally educated the children of affluent parents. The State Constitution of 1776 directed that “as School or Schools shall be established by the Legislature for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the Masters paid by the public,” but essentially provided only for the establishment of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. A statewide system of public schools was first proposed around 1817. The Education Act passed by the General Assembly in 1939 and revised in 1841 created North Carolina’s earliest public school system.
The first Superintendents of Common Schools for Cabarrus County met on April 22, 1841. James Young, C. Melchor, John H. Bost, George Barnhart, Henry Blackwelder, R. Kirkpatrick, Michael Freeze, Charles W. Harris and R. W. Allison met in the office of the Clerk of Court and elected Mr. Allison as chairman. It was not until their next meeting in July that the Superintendents began laying out 36 school districts for the county.
The minutes for the following years dealt mainly with continuing changes made to those first district boundaries. It is interesting to note the school budget recorded in October 1854. The tax monies for schools totaled $1,893.68. Other funds of $890.88 brought the total 1854 operating budget for the whole county to $2,784.56. (The 2014 budget for the combined Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City Schools is $54,903,033. Cabarrus County FY 2013-2014 Budget.)
One of the school registers for Tammany Hall (District 33) in Mount Pleasant has survived. Among the students who, in December 1883 attended the log school located near the present-day site of Mount Pleasant High School were William G. Barringer’s children: J. L. Deberry, Willie A., James G. and Ina; Mrs. T. M. Fisher’s children: James W., Walter B., Mollie H., Victoria J. and Clifford P.; and Laban Petrea’s children: Willie A., Caleb C., Sallie F., and M. Winifred. The children studied spelling, reading, writing, grammar, geography, arithmetic and the alphabet. School opened each morning with the reading of a Bible chapter and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Sources on early Cabarrus schools at the Concord Library include minutes of the Superintendents of Common Schools and of the Board of Education, articles in the Concord Telephone Company’s Progress magazine and the Tammany Hall register.
Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room