Jackson Agricultural College
1896-1936 (College 1896-1903?)
Alabama Digital Archives has the D.B. Henley photo of the Jackson Agricultural College building. Report to the Superintendent has statistical data for the school for 1896-98. Rural Southwest Alabama shows the historical marker. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography by Thomas M. Owen has the history of the school through 1918. The Montgomery Advertiser contains an article by President J. W. Watson, giving a state of the school in 1911.
Jackson Agricultural College, one of nine in the state, was founded at Jackson, Alabama, in 1896. Authorized in 1891, its purpose was to teach scientific and practical agriculture, train young men and young women to become teachers, prepare students to enter institutions of higher learning, and provide a good, practical education. To meet these purposes, students took classes in cooking, sewing, and farm bookkeeping alongside those in piano, voice and expression.
The Report to the Superintendent for 1896 shows an enrollment of 194—51 in the Primary division, 88 in the Preparatory division and 55 in the Collegiate division. Almost all of the students were from Alabama. English and philosophy classes enrolled 170 students, mathematics enrolled 165, while languages had 94. Music had 37 students, business had 14, and art attracted six. Students were taught by a faculty of eight, who, among them, earned just over $4,000 in salaries that year. Faculty were elected for four-year terms. JAC was a boarding school with students paying $8 per month for board.
According to the 1900 YMCA handbook, eighty percent of the young men in the school were member of the YMCA, most attending the weekly meetings with Bible study. Owen notes that there was also a YWCA. He states that students had two literary societies--Lanier and Tutwiler-- which gave practice in "debates, the delivery of orations and declamations, and the preparation of essays."
It seems likely that the collegiate department was dropped early on. Owen mentions "regular academic work covering four years." In 1903 the school was renamed First District Agricultural School. In 1919 the name was changed again to State Secondary Agricultural School.
By 1918 enrollment had fallen to 79. Jackson continued as a state school until 1936, when it became a part of the Clarke County School System.
Bricks and Mortar
The three-story brick building was completed in 1896. It sat on a four acre campus. The building contained an auditorium, studios, laboratories, classrooms and a library. The campus also contained a 49-acre experimental farm on which students worked. After the school became a public high school, the JAC building was razed to make way for a new high school building.
Team name: Aggies
President Watson noted that, for the competitive nature of the students, the grounds of Jackson Agricultural College contained space for outdoor sports such as baseball, football and tennis . College Football Data Warehouse list games in 1928 and 1929 against Marion Military Academy. The Montgomery Advertiser shows a sound football defeat at the hands of the Clarke County High School in 1921. A 1909 Advertiser article shows a doubleheader loss in baseball to Southern University.
Jackson Agricultural College Building. (Photo Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
The President's House is now on the National Register. Image by Jeffrey Reed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackson_Historic_District_(Jackson,_Alabama)#/media/File:Jackson_Historic_District_01.JPG