September 2nd, 2023
HISTORY OF EHS
Many years ago, in a peaceful little valley between the mountain ranges of southeastern Kentucky, the settlement of Evarts was formed. The people often gathered under the sycamore trees to hear the messages of Preacher "Sammy" Sutton of the Congregational Church of Barbourville, Kentucky.
In 1892, under the Supervision of the American Missionary Association, Mr. Sutton established the Congressional Church of Evarts and the American Missionary Association, assisted by the people, organized the Black Mountain Academy. The first school was taught in an old store building on the bank of Yocum Creek back of the present location of Fuller's Store. Mr. Jewett, his wife, and his daughter, Mrs. Pond, were the first teachers.
Before the next term Mr. Calvin Pace and Judge J. H. Middleton donated the sire where our school is now located. The people gave timber and the logs were sawed into lumber. The frame structure which was being erected was burned before completion. The enthusiastic supporters, however, did not stop at one attempt. The building was re-erected and used for both a school and a church. Mr. Carleton from Boston was principal during this term.
For the next few years the school prospered and expanded under the management of Mr. E. F. Dizney of Berea, Kentucky. In 1901 a tornado tore off the roof and lifted the building from its foundation, but it was still used, Two years later it was repaired.
The Black Mountain Academy was established under adverse conditions and weathered many storms. By the fortitude of its founders and the generosity and devotion of its local friends, it became one of the leading schools of this section. It was owned by and under control of the American Missionary Association and was entirely non-denominational in character.
Students attending here came from all sections of the county, adjoining counties, and bordering parts of Virginia. The nearest railway station was St. Charleston, Virginia, ten miles away. All communications, transportation, and travel was over rough, hazardous roads. Students either walked or rode horseback from their distant homes. Supplies were hauled over the mountains from St. Charles and down the rocky bed of Yocum Creek.
In early years the higher grades were classes as advanced courses, instead of high school/ After completing these, students went to Harlan and took examinations. According to the grades made, they received first, second, and third class teacher's certificates.
Dr. Edward G. Rowland of Dalton, Mass., was principal and teacher of science during 1909 and 1910. Mrs. Margaret O. S. Rowland taught mathematics, drawing and the high school branches. At this time no students below the sixth grade were accepted and instructions were offered in all branches extending through two years of high school. There were extra courses in agriculture, woodwork, and domestic science.
The Evarts High School was established in 1921 with only one teacher, Liss Lillian K. Neal. She taught all courses offered to the class of about ten Freshmen. The Freshmen class doubled the next year, and the second year courses were taught. Mr. E. F. Dizney worked as principal with Miss. Neal.
By the work of the citizens and the board members -- S.E. Crouch, W.C. Turner, Cleve Carmical, Kilie Ball, G. W. Sergent - a new brick building replaced the old frame structure in 1923. It was planned by R. F. Graff and sons, architects of Knoxville, Tennessee, and built by the General Construction Company of Harlan, Kentucky. The total cost was twenty-nine thousand, three hundred dollars, Eleven thousand, five hundred dollars was issued in bonds.. Still only two years of high school was taught and there were only two teachers, Liss Lillian Jones and Mr. E. F. Dizney. An operetta was given at the end of the year.
For the next three years Mr. Kelly remained principal. In 1927 Miss. Flonnie Chambers taught English and dramatics; W.C. Creech, history and debating; Mr. Young, mathematics. Only three students graduated in 1928. There was no graduate class in 1929.
Mr. L. R. Moseng came as principal in 1933. The Parent-Teacher and Athletic Association were organized and football was resumed. In 1934 the Evarts school merged with the county school system. It had the largest enrollment of any school in the Harlan County system. The library was reorganized and catalogued as many new volumes were added.
Over its 70-plus year history, the buildings, courses, and teachers of Evarts High have changed tremendously, but the underlying philosophy remains the same. Students are encouraged to grow in all aspects by a faculty of dedicated, sacrificing, and caring teacher.