City Directories and History: Walker’s 1910 Postal Route map is an invaluable tool in tracking historical locations in York County’s early 20th century rural communities. Each section is tagged with the names associated with that particular area. Be sure to open the MORE INFORMATION / ENLARGEABLE MAP link for the enlargeable PDF map which users can easily study.
In many cases, these same locations, have also been linked directly to the R&R “other” pages, associated with the individual names, and sites on the maps. To return to the master index list, click HOME.
GOLD HILL SCHOOL –In the pre-Civil War period, Gold Hill Academy, north of Fort Mill, furnishes a good example of how a rural community built its first school. It was a time when the only state support was a small tuition for paupers. The county provided nothing. Schooling was the responsibility of the parents. A group of residents, probably all fathers of the potential students, joined together and constituted themselves as a board of trustees. Gold Hill’s first trustees were Josiah Fans, chairman, James Boyd, James A. Garrison and Stephen P. Sutton. In May 1858 Charles L. Clawson deeded one acre near the Steel Creek road for $ 10 along with right of way over his land. Brantly H. Coltharp was hired as the first teacher. In 1898 Jackson Hamilton came to teach. Gold Hill Academy was quite ordinary before Hamilton who stayed only 8 years but those 8 years soon became known as the “Golden Years.” Jackson Hamilton, a native of Union County, N. C., was only 18 years old when he began teaching and 21 when he came to Gold Hill. He must have been a remarkable teacher. He was remembered fondly as “intense and brilliant,” a man who taught with “enthusiasm and several hickory sticks in the comer”. In 1930 his former students formed the Jackson Hamilton Student Memorial Association which had a reunion every summer until the membership was reduced to only a few elderly people in the early 1970s. The reunion was held at the Pink Wilson Grove a few hundred yards from the old school. There were two special reminders of the past — the bell that had called the students to their studies and a rock wall. Jackson’s method of punishment was to have the students to add rocks to a wall around the school. In eight years the wall grew to be 200 feet long.
The Yorkville Enquirer on Oct. 28, 1896 reported the Gold Hill School will open on Nov. 2nd under the management of Ms. Maggie Alexander, who has been in-charge for the past three years.
The Fort Mill Times reported on Aug. 4, 1910 – “The summer session of the Gold Hill School opened Monday morning with Miss Esther Boyd, of Blackstock, as principal.”
In 1958 Grace Beacham Freeman wrote an article for the Charlotte Observer about reunion day at Gold Hill School and described the process this way: “This soup is a mouth watering tradition of the reunion. It is cooked by the men—’women would water it down too much’ — in a huge iron pot some 36 inches in diameter. The pot, embedded in a brick oven affair, has been in use since before the Civil War—it was used to feed a hundred or more slaves. There was a time when the soup makers were a little sprier and the story goes that turtle and catfish accounted for the delicious flavor.” A program was planned. The speakers were Gold Hill graduates who had distinguished themselves in the world. They came from all over the United States. The speakers remembered Jackson Hamilton with affection and they especially remembered how they got their training as speakers. Each Friday half of the student body was required to get up and make a speech before the whole school. The speeches were memorized but there were not enough to go around so some of the students repeated the speeches of others. “The same recitations were repeated so often that the students needed only the first line and then could take it from there.” Reunion speakers said that because of their thorough preparation under Professor Hamilton they were able to enter the sophomore year of college. It was said that no Gold Hill Academy graduate ever flunked out of college. One story recounted about Hamilton concerned the day about 35 students played hooky. In 1904 the India Hook dam was being constructed and the curious students took off to see what was happening. Hamilton “promptly secured several wagons and loaded the remaining students and the lunch pails (lard buckets) of the hooky-playing students and took them directly across the river. The culprits could do nothing but watch hungrily from a distance.” One of the things that the old-timers remembered was that Hamilton would not tolerate tattlers. They admired him for that Hamilton left in 1905 and returned to North Carolina but the parents managed to entice him to return for the 1908-09 term. At the end of the year he married a former student, Elsie Boyd, and took her with him. In 1935 Gold Hill School consolidated with the Riverview School. The old Gold Hill building on Whitley Road became a school for black children. The building burned on a reunion day. The Riverview school building was eventually torn down. The children of the area now attend school in Fort Mill.
(The above, by Louise Pettus, was originally printed in “Nearby History,” a weekly column in the York Observer, Sept. 3,1989.)
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