Cook Helps Establish Stonewall Jackson Training School in Cabarrus County

1 Jan 2015

“Jackson Training School, near Concord, N.C.,” c. 1909-1915, in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection, UNC, Chapel Hill.

The January 2, 1937 issue of The Uplift, published by the boys of Stonewall Jackson Training School, carried an article listing contributors to the Boys’ Christmas Fund. Local donors to Christmas 1936 included:

M. S. Lyles, Concord: $5.00
W. J. Swink, China Grove: $50.00
E. B. Grady, Concord: $5.00
L. D. Coltrane, Concord: $5.00
Mrs. Charles E. Boger, Concord: 130 pounds of pecans
Cabarrus Cash Grocery, Concord: 1 box oranges, 2 boxes tangerines
J. W. Propst, Jr., Concord: 14 bushels oranges

Each boy received a Christmas bag with nuts, candy fruit, raisins. chewing gum and Cracker Jacks.

Stonewall Jackson Training School was established by act of the N. C. Central Assembly in 1907. It was the first and largest correctional institution in N. C., conceived not only to correct youthful offenders but also to teach them moral conduct and a trade. Such an institution was first proposed by Concord Standard newspaper editor James P. Cook in 1890.

James P. Cook,

James P. Cook, merchant and legislator, was born in Mt. Pleasant, the son of Matthew and Mary Costner Cook. He was married to Margaret Jeannette Norfleet of Nansemond County, Va. For four years he was principal of schools, first in southern Cabarrus County (1885–86), and later at the Boys’ High School in Concord (1886–89). He established The Daily Standard in Concord and successfully operated it for six years (1890–96). Concurrently, he served as superintendent of schools for Cabarrus County. When he decided to sell his paper and become a special representative for educational publishers, he resigned as county superintendent but was elected chairman of the Cabarrus County Board of Education, serving from 1896 to 1912.

During his days as newspaper editor, Cook attended a Cabarrus Superior Court session and watched an orphaned 13-year-old boy receive 3-1/2 years hard labor on the county chain gang for stealing $1.30. Cook reasoned that such a harsh sentence would only encourage a youthful offender to continue a hopeless existence. Cook launched a campaign for an alternative, a school to reform such boys. The idea was supported by other newspapers and by the King’s Daughters of North Carolina. Stonewall Jackson Training School opened its doors on January 12, 1909.

Many Cabarrus people took an interest in the school. Those who served as Trustees throughout the years include James P. Cook as first Chairman of the Board, D. B. Coltrane, W. Archie Brown, C. A. Cannon, L. D. Coltrane, L. T. Hartsell, Alex R. Howard, and Roy C. Propst. Cook and his associates ensured that the school’s 120 boys were given good educational opportunities and that the “reformatory” angle was minimized.

Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library Lore Local History Room and