Cobb & Nichols School
The local newspaper, the Dresden Enterprise, covered some school events as did the Union City Commercial. “Cousin Martha’s Abstracts,” snippets from Weakley County newspapers, occasionally included items from the school. The Pinterest image of the baseball team is from the moranfamilytn.blogspot.
Dresden Training School opened on January 26, 1903 with Professor John B. Tansil as principal. Training schools in Tennessee were turn-of-the-century private schools, designed to prepare students to enter universities. By fall of 1903 a D.T.C. graduate, Arthur Jones, received a prize worth $50 for the highest Greek and Latin entrance scores among Vanderbilt University Freshmen. While Patterson's College and School Directory calls the school co-educational, ads refer only to educating “sons.”
In February control of D.T.C. passed to two young Vanderbilt graduates, Charles H. Cobb and J. Walter Nichols. Thereafter the school became known as Cobb & Nichols School—though Cobb left the school after two years and Nichols after four, both to practice law. The 1904 Report to the Superintendent gives enrollment as 92, with three teachers. In addition to Cobb and Nichols, who apparently taught all intermediate and preparatory students, Miss Pearl Matthews headed a primary department.
Ads for the school emphasized the strict discipline and sound teaching. Students “are required to stay in their rooms at night to study, nor are they allowed to loiter in the streets during the day.” Ads note “honest instruction”; “no catchpenny methods”; and “no (ab)normal courses”).
In the fall of 1904 “Cousin Martha” notes that a literary society had been formed “to obtain a facility for public speaking.” A debate team was created, and a prize was set up for oratory at commencement. The Enterprise shows that Miss Matthews provided a picnic and an Easter Egg hunt for the “little fellows.”
By the 1909-10 school year, enrollment was down to 45 according to the Report to the Superintendent. In May 1910 the Commercial announced that the school would close in a week.
Bricks and Mortar
In 1902 the Nashville Banner notes that the trustees of Dresden Training School had found a site for a building on the “Jeter property in South Dresden,” and had authorized the burning of 200,000 bricks for its construction. The Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Dresden (left) shows that the building was a two-story brick structure with twelve-foot ceilings, stove heat, and no lights. The building sat between “A” and “B” streets. Apparently “College Hall” had an auditorium for public events. In 1907 the Enterprise reported that it was so crowded for commencement exercises that even standing room places were taken.
By 1906 Cobb and Nichols had determined to add a dormitory to attract out-of-town students. Ads in 1907 called the dormitory “new,” and offered board at cost—“not to exceed $10.”
In August 1910 the main building was sold to the city “for school purposes.”
Cobb & Nichols fielded both baseball and football teams after Walter Nichols arrived to coach. The football team was organized and defeated Union City Training School 15-0 on October 21, 1904. “Cousin Martha” described it as the first football game the local people had ever seen. The only C.&N. game listed by College Football Data Warehouse is a 19-0 loss to Christian Brothers College of Memphis. But opponents—some of which appear to be college level-- included McTyerie Training School at McKenzie, Fitzgerald School at Trenton, Bethel College at McKenzie, McFerrin Training School at Martin, Southwestern Baptist University at Jackson, and Southern Normal University in Huntingdon.
The Enterprise listed the members of that 1904 football team. The quarterback and manager that year was Dow Beenie, who also was the president of the literary society and a member of the debate team. In 1911-12 a former C.& N. fullback named J.V. Geisler was a starting end for the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
The 1905 Cobb & Nichols baseball team. Walter Nichols is to the left in the back row. Charles Cobb is in the middle of the back row. This image is in the moranfamilytn.blogspot because Cobb married into the Moran family.