Seventh District Agricultural School
Three Mountaineer yearbooks are available on Ancestry.com. The Gunterville Democrat was one of the newspapers that regularly covered school news. The ad (right) is from that newspaper. Secondary agricultural education in Alabama (1909) describes the programs of all of the district agricultural schools.
In 1893 the Alabama legislature approved the creation of an agricultural high school in each of the state’s nine congressional districts. The seventh district school opened at Albertville in the fall of 1894. Its primary purpose was to teach scientific and practical agriculture. Beyond this, the school fulfilled a number of local needs: to train and educate young men and women for
teachers in the public schools; to prepare those who wish to pursue a course of study in colleges and universities; and to give a good and practical education to those who cannot attend such institutions. The 1917 Mountaineer shows that there were two courses of study. The majority of students chose the scientific course, while others chose the Latin-based classical course. Faculty were available for art, music, and expression.
Figures in 1896 show 182 students enrolled. This figure included students in the primary and intermediate grades. While the lower grades were later eliminated, the 1917 Mountaineer still shows a large sub-Freshman class. Since graduates of the district agricultural schools were entitled to enter public colleges as sophomores, the Senior course of study was considered collegiate level.
Albertville became the largest of the district agricultural schools with an enrollment of 282 by 1907. From the start it had had two literary societies—the Henry Grady for males and the Victoria for females. By 1917 these had been replaced by the Morgan and Lee societies—both co-educational. These became the basis of interschool competition—not only in the annual debate but also in the annual field day exercises. There was also a dramatics club with a play presented by the Junior class each year as part of commencement week.
When Alabama lost a congressional district following the 1920 census, each of the schools was renamed: State Secondary Agricultural School. In 1936 during the Great Depression, the agricultural schools were closed. The Albertville school merged with Albertville High School.
The Hobdy Building with the historical marker in front. Image by David J. Gaines. Courtesy of HMdb.org
Bricks and Mortar
Albertville had an 1890 population of 1,388. Its location on the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway line and an 1899 law forbidding the sale of alcoholic beverages within six miles of the city made it an ideal location for the school.
The campus covered two blocks in town with a 48-acre farm outside. The building itself, completed in 1894 at a cost of $15,000, was a two-story frame structure
described as “very commodious and conveniently arranged.” That building is featured in the school ad above. As part of their work requirement, students removed 320 stumps from the grounds to create a lawn. On January 12, 1912, this building was completely destroyed by a fire.
The $30,000 replacement building was a red brick, three-story Classical Revival style structure. That building passed on to the local high school in 1936. Renamed Hobdy Building, it remains the center of the school complex today.
Team name: Aggies
Colors: Scarlet and Black
In 1905 Albertville defeated the Ninth District school at Bloundsville in both ends of a doubleheader track/debate meeting between agricultural schools.
In 1907 Albertville began a football program, playing a three-game schedule. Over the next 11 seasons the Aggies compiles a 39-11-6 record. Their schedule included college opponents such as Alabama Presbyterian, Birmingham College, Jacksonville Normal, Birmingham Medical, Howard, and the University of Alabama reserves. The 1911 team went undefeated, allowing only two touchdowns to the Alabama reserves and Marion Military Academy. Through World War I the Aggies boasted of never having lost to a high school team. Their big games each season were against the Ninth District school and county rival Gunterville High School.
The Aggies played baseball against the same opponents. The 1923 yearbook shows a girls’ basketball team.
1916 football team. Image from the 1917 Mountaineer. This team compiled a 3-1-2 record.