Days Gone By - stories from the pastGenealogy Information

Old Greensboro Female Academy in Alabama had many excellent female graduates, including a popular author


Published 1908

In December, 1839, a meeting was held in the Greensboro Lyceum (in Hale County, Alabama) by the subscribers to the building fund of the Greensboro Female Academy. For a long while prior to this time a female school had been conducted in the same lot on which the Academy building now stands. Judge Pasteur was principal and was assisted by Miss Mary Lawson. Edwin Fay was the principal in 1839, and possibly further back, but no records on the subject are available.

Board of Trustees elected

At this meeting of the subscribers to the building fund the following board of trustees was elected: John Erwin, chairman, J. M. Witherspoon, John May, James McDonald, Matthew Hobson, Wiley J. Croom, and Robert Waller. John Fife was made secretary of the board.

At the first meeting of this board of trustees, Edwin Fay was elected as president of the Academy, and Miss Ruth White as music teacher, and Dr. Bradford assistant music teacher. In 1840, a contract was let to Jesse Gibson and Claudius Jones for $6,345 to make necessary “additions to the present academy building.” The work was finished in 1841, and in that year Edwin Fay resigned as president of the Academy and Rev. Daniel P. Bestor was elected to succeed him.

Old Greensboro Female Academy – In 1908, the brick portion had been standing for nearly three-quarters of a century. (HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALABAMA From Its Earliest Settlement by William Edward Wadsworth Yerby, Montgomery, Alabama)

Academy was incorporated

On December 29th, 1841, the act of the legislature incorporating “The Greensboro Female Academy,” was approved. The incorporators mentioned in the Act were: Robert C. Randolph, James M. Witherspoon, Daniel P. Bestor, John May, James McDonald, Matthew Hobson, and Robert B. Waller. The school was among the best and most prosperous in this section for a number of years, and was attended by young ladies from many portions of Alabama.

The prescribed course of study the year of incorporation was: Spelling, reading, writing, grammar, geography, mathematics, philosophy, chemistry, history, logic, French, Latin, drawing, painting, ornamental work and music. A complete list of the presidents of the Greensboro Female Academy is as follows: Judge Pasteur, Edwin Fay, Rev. Daniel P. Bestor, C. J. D. Pryor, Rev. James C. Mitchell, Rev. C. E. Brame, A. H. Hutchinson, N. T. Lupton and J. C. Wills, Miss Julia Tutwiler, P. B. Capbell, Miss Mary Avery (filled out unexpired term of P. B. Capbell in 1874) Rev. Thomas Ward White, Rev. W. C. Clark, D. P. Christenberry, J. B. Cassidy, Rev. W. G. Keady. In 1876, Miss Bettie Lou Clark (afterwards Mrs. Pyrnell) the author of “Diddy, Dumps and Tot,” a most popular book with children, was a teacher in this Academy.

From 1865 to 1871, the school was not opened on account of the stringency of the times immediately following the close of the Civil War, and really it was never again as successful as it was prior to the war. It was again closed from 1877 to 1883 when Mr. Clark took charge of the institution. Sometime during the intervening six years the trustees of the Academy opened subscriptions for money with which to repair and make additions to the building, and about $4,000 was raised for this purpose.

The large frame structure on the north side of the brick portion of the Academy was added. The last president was Dr. W. G. Keady, who gave the school up in 1900, since which time the property has been rented to the board of trustees of the Greensboro Graded School, where a large and successful public school has since been conducted.

The title to the property of the Greensboro Female Academy is vested in the board of trustees of that institution, who, it would appear from the minutes of the board, hold it in trust for the “stockholders”—said stockholders being composed of all those who contributed as much as $25.00 towards the building fund. These stockholders held elections annually for the election of seven trustees, to whom was turned over the management of the property and the selection of a president.

The Greensboro Female Academy numbers many most excellent women among its graduates, who are scattered far and wide, and it was a source of regret to all when the doors of the time-honored institution were closed.

Diddie, Dumps and Tot (Hardcover)
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Diddie, Dumps and Tot (Hardcover)


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By (author):  Pyrnelle, Louise-Clarke

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. My great-great-grandmother, Ada Byron Vaughan, from Demopolis, was a student at the school under Christopher J. D. Pryor ca 1850. Thank you for this information.

  2. Thank you for posting. John Erwin was my great grandfather and my grandmother, Margaret Adams Erwin Inge, attended the school. She was so proud to have had the chance.

  3. Thanks for mentioning “Diddie, Dumps, and Tot,” it was my favorite child book. I can’t tell you how many times I mentioned those stories when I was teaching Am, history many years ago. The copy that you showed is like the one I purchased in New Orleans back in the 60s after it was reprinted by Pelican Press in New Orleans.

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