Montvale Academy produced many prominent citizens through the years


The first school in Celina after the Civil War was taught by George W. Stephens in 1868. Later schools were taught by: Mrs. Emma Colson, Miss Martha Maxey, and J. Fay Brown. 

The first outstanding school was Montvale Academy, which was organized on April 13, 1882 by Isaiah Fitzgerald, A.P. Green, John H. McMillan, J.H. Stephens, V.P. Smith, and William Love. J.S. McMillan, the brother of Benton and John H. McMillam and a graduate of Burritt College, was elected to head the school. He served as administrator for approximately ten years. Some of the Montvale students made lawyers, doctors, judges, and teachers.

Two of the most famous graduates were Congressman and later Secretary of State, Cordell Hull (pictured at right); and Benton McMillan, Governor of Tennessee. Teachers at Montvale were: R.L. Fitzgerald, Luther Moore, Douglas Woods, Hill Edwards, O.B. Maxey, and Scott Smith. Interest in the school abated, but it was rejuvenated in the early 1900’s when a new board of trustees was elected. The members of the new board were: M.M. Smith, W.C. Lowry, S.B. Anderson, and L.S. Brown. They employed W.B. Boyd who was so well-liked that the school had to be enlarged at the beginning of his second year. About $3,000 was raised by private subscriptions to enlarge and remodel the school which became Montvale College.

The daily attendance at the college was approximately 200 students. Montvale was in existence for 37 years, and students came from far and near to attend this outstanding institution. Students attending Montvale in 1904 were: Frank Brown, Herman Brown, J.D. Brown, C.J. Mabry, Herman Plumlee, O.L. Carnahan, Milton Boles, Ellis Brown, A.J. Dale, J.B. Hamilton, Shields Plumlee, Samuel Weaver, G.O. Arms, G.B. Arms, A.T. Arms, T.C. Crabtree, Fred Clark, Perry Dale, Breck Dickens, Hubert Donaldson, B.G. Edens, A.B. Edens, M.L. Fowler, H.H. Grider, Bennett Gates, C.B. Hamilton, Paul Hamilton, B.J. Hampton, Charlie Hampton, R.L. Irwin, Terry Irwin, Know Inness, Walker Inness, M.F. Lynch, Mark Lowery, H.H. Maxey, Tony Maxey, J.F. Monroe, Eddie Monroe, Porter Rich, Ellis Spear, Amos Spear, Guy Stephens, G.P. Stone, A.T. Stone, Wade Stone, Waterston Stone, N.F. Stone, B.C. Stone.

cityofcelinasealOscar Simmons, Arthur Terry, Austin Terry, B.C. Waddle, B.S. Waddle, James Waddle, H.W. Waddle, Willie Waddle, Fowler Webb, David Williams, J.M. Crawford, Charlie Hatcher, Antne Netherton, Herod Birdwell, Sr., W.L. Murphy, E.G. Murphy, J.W. Smith, Herman Estes, W.A. Hensley, D.A. Clark, Clyde Martin, W.M. Bibee, L.M. Botts, W.C. Hill, Guy Johnson, Hollis Carroll, Frank Norman, Evert Spear, Edward Spear, Fred Spear, Mac Scott, Mildred Mabry, Alice Carnahan, Nannie Smith, Willie Mayfield, Stella Windle, Golda Walker, Ada Arms, Ethel Brown, Nina Brown, Lula Brown, Bertha Brown, Zora Dickens, Ora Dickens, Martha Dale, Lillie Dale, Paulina Dale, Rudy Donaldson, Emma Donaldson, Mattie Edens, Dayse Fowler, Maude Fitzgerald, Pauline Gray, Lucy Price Gray, Hettie Grider, Ella Hamilton, Rose Hampton, Pearl Hampton, Minnie Irwin, Dayse Johnson, Annie Lowery, Nardie Lowery, Carrie Maxey, Dixie Maxey, Bettie Maxey, Bonnie Poindexter, Bessie Rich, Gracie Rich, Clara Roberts, Beulah Roberts, Dora Spear, Lean Terry, Emma Terry, Dee Terry, Ruby Tinsley, Sophia Williams, Myrtie Williams, Pearl Kuykendall, Letha Netherton, Duleenia Smith, Etta Neely, Cylde Harris, Bettie Sewell, Verda McGlasson, Minnie McGlasson, Flora Smith, Verna Spear, Ova Spear, and Dora Scott.

In 1905, the Board of Trustees had the following members: W.C. Lowery, President; W.B. Boyd, Secretary; W.L. Brown, S.B. Anderson, W.N. Gray, E. Kirkpatrick, and C. Hull. Other teachers at Montvale were: R.L. Fitzgerald, Luther Moore, Douglas Woods, Hill Edwards, O.B. Maxey, Scott Smithland, Joseph McMillan, Daisy Dale, Walter Boyd, Billy Boyd, Della Boyd, Ida Johnson, Ollie Hughes, and Virginia Myers.

“The Montvale College Trustees’ Circular” published in 1905 stated: “The scholastic year, beginning in September, will continue for a period of nine months, and will be divided into two sections. The rules are few and reasonable, but are never relaxed; and a strict observance of them is required of all alike. This is not a school of favorites and pets, but a place where the sluggard finds no rest and the meritorious gets their reward. Students are not permitted to loiter about town, and are required to remain at their homes or study rooms at night.” The importance of discipline could not be overestimated.

1. No fighting, quarreling, or rioutous conduct of any kind will be allowed.

2. All students are required to abstain form rough boxing, wrestling, and scuffling.

3. No student shall bring any pistol, dirk, fireworks, or explosive of any kind upon school premises.

4. No student shall bring obscene pictures, of gaming cards of any kind upon the school campus.

5. All cursing, swearing, or indecent language is strictly forbidden.

6. No student is permitted to interfere with the property of another, whether student or citizen.

7. No student shall mark, cut, or in any way deface the school property and should this regulation be violated, the offender shall pay all damages and be subject to such punishment as the Principal may see proper.

8. Every student must abstain from smoking and chewing tobacco while on the school campus.

9. Every student must occupy the desk assigned, or his room, and must refrain from all visiting, sport, communication, or unnecessary noise.

10. No student shall at any time leave the premises without permission.

11. Every student is expected to obey promptly every summons of the school bell.

12. No student, save the regular bellman, shall interfere with the school bell.

13. On the ringing of the evening bell, every student must retire to his/her room and use time as designated by the faculty.

14. Except at times designated by the faculty, there shall be no communication of any kind between boys and girls.

15. Every student must abstain wholly from intoxicating liquors and association with characters of ill-repute.

The school had a series of dormitories for use by the young men. Students occupied these rooms both day and night. During the day, they were removed from the noise and general “bustle” of the study hall; during the night they were under the immediate supervision of the Principal. This enabled the faculty to keep students at their places and work, and allowed them to keep them away from all pernicious associates and influences.

Students wishing to enter the school had to present evidences of moral character and had to pay in advance for all room and contingent fees. The itemized expenses were as follows: board, $6-8 per month; tuition, primary $1.25 per month, intermediate $2 a month, preparatory $2.50 a month, academic $3 a month, teachers course $3 a month; elocution, $2 per month; instrumental music, $3.50 a month, and contingent fee of 50 cents a month. Young men who occupied a dormitory room had the following expenses: board for 5 months, $30; tuition for five months $10-12; room rent, $2; fuel and incidentals, $2.50-5.00. The total bill came to $44.50 to $49.00. The cost for young ladies and/or young men who lived in town per session came to $50-$55. Any student who was expelled or stopped before the end of a term, without reasonable cause, forfeited the tuition for the entire term.

The following course of study was offered in 1905: Primary Department–primer, reading, writing, speller, numbers work, and home geography; intermediate department–reading, spelling, U.S. history, Tennessee history, geography, practical arithmetic, English grammar, and intermediate physiology; preparatory department–intellectual arithmetic, higher arithmetic, algebra, geography, and higher English; academic department–first year: higher arithmetic, rhetoric, geometry, higher algebra, latin and civil government; second year: geometry, physics, English literature, Latin, ethics, and geology of Tennessee; third year: trigonometry, astronomy, botany, chemistry, logic, and zoology; special courses–psychology, art of study, pedagogy, and school management.

Montvale had two special departments–the Department of Elocution, a four-year course of study which included: simple breathing exercises, articulation, delarte exercises, short recitations, vocal training, study of gesture, gymnastics, harmonic pose, pantomime expression, dramatic readings, etc., and the Department of Instrumental Music, a five year course of study which included: Lebert and Stark’s Piano School, pieces by Shumann, Gurlitt, Hullah, Reinecke, Vokmon, Clementi’s Sonatinas, selections from Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and Mendelssohn.

Some of the students enrolled in these specialty programs in 1906 were: Ethel Brown, O.L. Carnahan, G.P. Stone, G.O. Arms, L.M. Botts, J.H. Reneau, Lockie Webb, Lee Anderson, Belew Edens, Maude Fitzgerald, W.T. Sewell, F.C. Maynard, C.J. Mabry, W.L. Roberts, H.L. Long, Myrtie Dowell, O.R. York, Beryl Haile, Fred Maxey, Paul Hamilton, Fowler Webb, Charlie Haile, Nina Brown, and Della Elam.

“The Montvale Bulletin” described the town of Celina as: “a small town, on the east bank of the Cumberland River. …blessed with a solid, sober-minded, conservative citizenship. Its free from “Quacks, frauds, side shows,” and it is also free from the light and fastidious characteristics in manner and dress. Celina has a refined country society, from which at all times the great and good have come.”

In 1907, Clay County had three school systems governed by three separate board of educations one of which was the Celina Board of Education. In 1919, Celina came under the Clay County School Board and a public high school, Clay County High School, was established. Professor J.J. Hendrickson was principal of Clay County High School. Clay County High School became Celina High School in 1933.