Former Carthage High School and the Leake County Agricultural High School

front elevation

While the development of the county agricultural system in Mississippi might have made fuller progress toward a state-wide establishment since the first act providing therefore was passed, still, all things considered, the condition at the present day is not such as to cause the blush of shame to mantle the cheeks of the progressive men who have been behind the movement.  It is a fact that it was only eight years ago that the first agricultural high school act, authorizing the establishment and laying the legal groundwork of the system, was passed.  Today there are 43 such schools established in 44 counties, two of the number, Copiah and Lincoln, co-operating together in maintaining an inter-county institution.  (“Good showing for old Mississippi, August 11, 1916, p. 8. Biloxi Daily Herald)

In the 2012 nomination form for the Carthage Historic District, which includes the former Carthage High School pictured above, Preziozi described it:

…parapet with tiled cap and row of soldier course brick…recessed entry supported by brick columns.

The old Carthage High School building was constructed circa 1919, after the Leake County Agricultural High School was moved from Lena, where it had been founded in 1911, to Carthage in 1918 (J. Baughn, 2014, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory).   The MDAH/HRI identified Leake Agricultural High School on Red Dog Road in Carthage, no longer extant, but there is no additional information regarding that location.  A search of Mississippi Department of Archives and History school photographs turns up a photograph of the Leake County AHS, the boys dormitory and the girls dormitory, and a hand-drawn map locating it on Red Dog Road near Koscusko Road (Series 1611, ca. 1927 scrapbook, item 30).  No photographs of the building pictured above are contained, although there is a 1962 photograph of the new high school.

The Leake County Agricultural High School was referenced in the 1920 Laws of the State of Mississippi Passed at Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature, January 6, 1920-April 3, 1920, Tucker Printing House, Jackson.  Senate Bill # 171 authorized the Leake County Agricultural High School to borrow up to $11,000 for repairs and improvements.  Also in 1920, Senate Bill 500 appropriated money to construct

a concrete or brick sidewalk from the Northwest corner of the courthouse square to Leake County Agricultural High School, about 1 mile north.

The Bienennial Report and Recommendations of the State Superintendent of Public Education  to the Legislature of Mississippi for the Scholastic Years 1919-1920 and 1920-1921 lists the Leake County Agricultural High School, with principal Arden Barnett.  The authorization to borrow the $11,000 was again approved by the state legislature in 1922.  The first section of Red Dog Road is approximately 1 mile north of the current courthouse square, whereas the location of the old Carthage High School is less than a mile, although also north of the square.  The hand-drawn map locates the agricultural high school with surrounding pastures, and an orchard.

In 1927, the president of Mississippi College student body association was Charles C. “Hot” Moore, who graduated from Leake County Agricultural High School, and went on to play basketball at Mississippi College.

A 2-story frame dormitory for boys at LCAHS built in 1920 burned in 1933 at the end of the 1932-33 school year (The Weekly Democrat-Times, September 21, 1933, p. 2).  The building was empty at the time of the fire, but the dorm parents lost all their belongings.

Newspaper archives do not turn up any information about a school on Red Dog Road, nor any additional information about the Carthage High School building featured above.

Understanding the role of the county agricultural high schools for rural education, it makes sense that it would be relocated from Lena to Carthage–the county seat of Leake County, and with boarding facilities.  Was there a connection between building a new county agricultural school and boarding facilities in Carthage at the same time a new high school for Carthage residents was constructed?  Carthage was growing–perhaps it was seen as a prudent thing to do.

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6 Responses to Former Carthage High School and the Leake County Agricultural High School

  1. socialbridge says:

    Really enjoyed this post, Suz.
    Red Dog Road is a super name. Don’t know of anything like that here in Ireland.


  2. Suzassippi says:

    Dogs of Ireland–Unite! 🙂


  3. Sheryl says:

    I enjoyed reading about the history of this agricultural high school. I’m amazed that it was a boarding school. I’m more familiar with vocational agriculture tracks (usually with an FFA) wtihin comprehensive high schools.


    • Suzassippi says:

      Thanks, Sheryl. The school in the photograph was not the boarding school, just the local high school. However, since being in Mississippi, I have learned that boarding agricultural high schools were an important aspect of rural education. Mississippi still often retains the county high school where there is also a city high school. One would be for students residing inside the city limits, and the others for those in the county outside the city limits. There are still many vo-tech high schools in some rural areas also.


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