The Ebenezer School, ca. 1840
[easy-media med=”323″ col=”1″ size=”200,200″ align=”left” mark=”gallery-Wgvzp6″ style=”transparent”]Please click on the thumbnail for a slideshow of historical images and the restoration. Until the North Carolina Public School Act of 1839 established a state-wide primary school system, area schools shared church buildings, as was the case at Old St. Paul’s, or more often neighborhoods erected their own schools and appointed trustees. The 1839 act stipulated that each county would provide half the funds to run the public schools; the state would provide the other half. The proposed legislation had to be accepted by the counties, and only seven declined to ratify it, including Lincoln County, to the disappointment of those in its upper region, which would become Catawba County two years later, a division no doubt influenced in part by the desire for public education.
The first board of Catawba County Superintendents of Common Schools met in December 1844. In July 1855, they recorded a tax receipt of $300.01. The superintendent’s first report revealed thirty-eight county school districts and an average monthly teacher’s salary of $12.55.
The Harts purchased the Ebenezer School from Gladys and Evan Wright and moved the structure in 1989. Found on Highway 10 in Catawba County just six miles from Hart Square, it was being used as a barn, but Evan Wright recalled that his father always referred to it as the old school, which had been moved from “across the way.” The Harts spoke with several elderly people in the area, and Nellie Williams, ninety years old at the time, confirmed the building as the old Ebenezer School, which can be found on the 1886 Yoder Map. Clara Rhoney, another neighbor, had always heard the school remembered as an old log building, which was moved to the King place when the new school was constructed. The Wrights owned the King place.
The Ebenezer School’s two-door entrance is its most salient exterior feature. The girls would enter through one door and the boys the other, just as many churches were divided at the time. Once inside, the girls and boys were separated by a wide aisle, “so Becky can’t put her foot up on Bob’s leg,” she says.