Welcome to the Taylor County History Blog, an online publication of the Taylor County Historical Society. Check back with us regularly for more posts about Taylor County’s history and culture, as well as news about what’s going on at the Historical Society!
When settlers first began arriving in what is now Taylor County during the mid-19th century, Florida’s public schools were still in their infancy. The State Legislature had passed a few laws encouraging counties to set up their own educational institutions, and there had been some talk about establishing a statewide institution of higher learning. For the most part, however, the counties were on their own. Many communities relied on private schools to educate their youth.
Such was the case in 1850 when several soon-to-be Taylor County citizens decided to contract with fellow settler John W. Mixson to establish a school. Nathan Smart, Mary Rogers, Maria A. Jenkins, and Harriet E. Parker signed the document below sometime shortly before October 25, 1850. At the time, of course, Taylor County was still part of Madison County. Judging by the signers, however, who all settled in the vicinity of Rocky Creek, we can say with some certainty that John Mixson’s school was located in what would soon become Taylor County. It was, therefore, Taylor County’s first school.
Here’s a transcript of the contract:
Articles of Agreement
Entered Into this day Between John W. Mixson on the first part and we the Under Assigned on the second part Which Will Shew that we the subscribers on the second part do Agree to pay Said Mixson one Dollar per Month per Scholar for two Months payable Viz in Corn, pork, or Bacon at Cash price And its fairly Understood this school Continues At the Same House the time Specified Above and that Said Mixson Faithfully Teaches Such Branches As Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic The time Specified Above According to Law and to Commence Forthwith After the close of the present Quarter Which Will be on or Before the 25th of Oct. 1850 Monday following to Commence Subscribed.
Truly yours Ever and Affectionate And Most Truly Yours
John W. Mixson
Nathan Smart 3
John W. Mixson 3
Mary Rogers 5
Maria A. Jenkins 2
Harriet E. Parker 2
We can presume that the numbers to the side of the names of the subscribers refer to the number of pupils they intended to enroll in the school. We don’t know anything specific about what became of this school, but we can see from this contract that Taylor Countians were taking education seriously from the very beginning. That’s something we can all be proud of!
Speaking of education, have you seen the collection of historical books and documents on local schools held by the Taylor County Historical Society in its research room? The Society holds copies of most yearbooks going back for decades, photographs, programs from events, and much more. Stop by one Thursday afternoon and check it out!