• Canvas One

    Below this canvas sits two old desks from Forsyth County schools. They were part of the collection gathered by former Superintendent Robert Otwell as reminders for future generations of the “olden days”. The wood floor below the desks is from the former Cumming Public School gymnasium, which was torn down in the late 1990s.

    1. Built in 1923, the Cumming Public School (also known as Cumming High School) offered a high school diploma for the first time in Forsyth County history. The original structure burned in 1927 and was rebuilt later that year, serving grades 1-11 until 1955. Forsyth County High School (now Forsyth Central) became the new school for older students. Then, in 1961, Cumming Lower Elementary opened its doors to younger students. Students in grades 7-8 continued to attend Cumming Public School until 1973 when Forsyth County Middle School (now Otwell Middle) first opened. With no other grades left to serve, Cumming Public School was used as the school district’s central office until 1999. 

    2. In the early days of public education, many students walked multiple miles to and from school or were transported by horse-drawn wagons. With the rise of automobiles, school buses were introduced in the 1920-30s when community residents converted truck bodies to serve student transportation needs. In the early days of bus transportation, parents, teachers, as well as a few trusty-worthy teenagers with licenses, drove school buses in the county.

    3. Frogtown School, also known as Hightower School, was located along Old Federal Road. Classes were held on the first floor of the building, while the second floor served as an Odd Fellow Lodge. Long benches were used for seating and students carried their books to and from school in flour sacks. The school was heated by a potbelly stove and for “air”, windows were propped open with sticks. Water for the school was toted from an adjacent home. The area, Frogtown, was named for an abundance of frogs, while Hightower was also a name for the Etowah River.

    4. After marrying and moving to the community, Minnie Bailey Julian served as one of the first teachers in Forsyth County. In 1865 she opened her first school in a former slave cabin on Julian Farm. Mrs. Julian taught at various schools in Forsyth County for the next 35 years. In 1881 she was instrumental in establishing Chestatee School, also known as the Julian School. In 1885 she taught English at Gainesville College and in 1891 she was appointed by Georgia Governor William J. Northern to the Board of Visitors to the Normal and Industrial College in Milledgeville, now known Georgia College and State University.

    5. This image of the 1963 Forsyth County High School senior football players includes William H. “Billy” Waters, the first four-sport (football, basketball, baseball, and track and field) letterman in Forsyth County, Marinus Tavernier, and two teammates. Mr. Waters later went on to serve on the Forsyth County Board of Education. 

    6. This Brandywine School student and staff photo is from 1915. The original building burned in 1953. In 1961 students from Brandywine School combined with students from Bethelview School to form Midway Elementary School. In 2016, Forsyth County Schools opened it’s 21st elementary school, named Brandywine after the former school. Rocks from the original school’s foundation are located outside the new school. The name Brandywine honors a Revolutionary War veteran who lived in this area and fought in the 1777 Battle of Brandywine. 

    7. The original Matt School was in an old wooden schoolhouse on Elmo Road and served grades 1-9. It was destroyed by fire in 1942, until this “new” brick Matt School (also known as Matt High School) was built on Bannister Road in 1945. It closed in 1968. The school was named after the Matt (also known as Mat) community, which was named after Madison Martin (father of the Postmaster). Prior, the community was known as Omega. The original Matt School held 75 students in multiple grades. Rather than desks, students sat on slab benches around an open fireplace. Their drinking water came from a nearby spring and students walked to school. In 2001, Forsyth County Schools opened Matt Elementary to honor this former school. 

    8. Ebeneezer School student and staff photo from 1906, including teacher C.S. Henderson. The earliest mention of this school in historical documents is 1894. Records mention the school numerous times up through 1930, when with 98 elementary students, it was one of the largest schools in the county. The last mention of the school was in 1936.

    9. This 1931 photograph is of Chestatee High School’s first basketball team. The team played on a clay court adjacent to the school. Uniforms and equipment were purchased through donations from the players’ families. For more information on Chestatee School, see canvas 2 #18.

    10. D.B. Carroll was a teacher and coach at Forsyth County High School. He coached baseball and girls’ basketball, who were the 1959 State champions. This was the first State basketball championship in the history of Forsyth County sports programs. At his retirement, Coach Carroll held the State record for the second-most winningest basketball coach with a 1,254-283 record. He was inducted in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1962.

    11. This photograph is of a senior superlative from the Forsyth County High School class of 1962 yearbook. For more information on Forsyth County High School, see bullet 14.

    12. This image is of a Forsyth County teacher’s license. Our school district’s history started in 1873 when “old field schools”- log buildings with dirt floors built-in cleared fields- were consolidated into one public school district. At that time, teachers were paid $29.97 a month. There were 1,456 total students in the district, 114 Black or African American and 1,342 White.

    13. This photograph is of Mt. Zion School from 1921 when the enrollment was 70 students. Historical records first note the school in 1894, which was served by the Oscarville Post Office.

    14. Forsyth County High School opened in 1955 with 429 students. With the opening of South Forsyth and North Forsyth high schools, the name of the school was later changed to Forsyth Central High. Named after the county in which it is located, Forsyth County was named for John Forsyth, Governor of Georgia from 1827-29 and Secretary of State under Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

    15. This is a sketch of the former Hopewell School that was used for the construction of the building. The school is mentioned in historical documents from 1894 and was serviced by the Novetta Post Office. Various members of the Hughes family served as teachers to the 65 students. The last mention of the school is in the 1930s.

    16. Gladyse Barrett was a teacher at Cumming High School in the early 1940s. In addition to teaching math, she was also the first school counselor in the history of the school district. She retired in 1975 from Forsyth County High School. 

    17. The original Coal Mountain School closed in 1955. It was located closer to the intersection of Highways 9 and 369 (former Old Federal Road, which as an east-west connector was the earliest postal route west of the Chattahoochee River) than the current Coal Mountain Elementary, which opened in 1981. Though there are no reported findings of coal reserves in the area, the Coal Mountain location did receive its name from an early resident who claimed the land was rich in coal to encourage more development in the area. 

    18. This photograph is of the Cumming High School graduating class of 1934. At that time, each graduating class selected a unique class motto, flower, and colors to represent their time at the school.

    Note: If you have edits or additional information for us to share, please contact jbice@forsyth.k12.ga.us.