Much of the educational history of Pisgah is connected to religious organizations, mainly because even though Alabama was admitted into the Union in 1819, the state did little to educate its children. Public education was not necessarily free education. In the Pisgah area of Jackson County, several schools connected to specific churches had patrons who pooled their resources to pay the expenses for the school, including teacher salaries.
Community-supported Church and School
Some of those patrons did not have children attending the schools, yet, all those patrons valued the importance of education. During 1900-1917, religious denominations established several academies designed to provide education through high school. A Baptist church was built and established and called “Pisgah” in 1870. After ten years, this building burned and another one was erected near the present site of the Baptist Church. It served both as a church and a school. The First teachers were John Ambrester and his sister, Mary Ann. When Mr. Ambrester died, John Justice Beeson finished the school term. He was followed by Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Derrick, and Mr. Montrose. In 1881, Mr. Beeson returned to Pisgah and taught and preached until his death fifteen years later.
Pisgah School District Formed
In December 1900, Pisgah School District was established. About 1912, Mrs. Clive Estes, widow of one of the first postmasters, donated 10 acres of land for housing a new school. The Baptist Home Mission Board established the school, naming it Beeson Academy. The first principal of the school was J.M. Langston. The faculty consisted of the principal and one teacher, Miss Burleson, with courses of study for first through twelfth grades. A dormitory was built to house students who lived too far to travel daily to attend school. Thus were the humble beginnings of what would become Pisgah School.
Pisgah As We Know It
In 1922, the state erected a new building on the same grounds where the current school sits. A famous Alabamian, Albert Raines, was the school principal for the first two years. A vocational department was added in 1923, and In 1925, the community united in its efforts to make the school accredited. The first graduating class of Pisgah School was in 1926, with fourteen graduates. The school lunch program began in 1935, with Pearl Cox as the first lunchroom manager, and a gymnasium was built with community help in 1934. Throughout the years, Improvements were made. A new high school building was built in 1938 with WPA labor. A new elementary building was constructed in 1953, a new gymnasium in 1961, a junior high wing in 1963, a new agricultural building in 1965, a new lunchroom in 1969, and a new library in 1985. Currently, all of those new constructions have been replaced, with the exception of the junior high wing and the library. Over the years, several schools have consolidated with Pisgah. These were Webster and Chalybeate Springs in 1939, New Herman in 1941, Browntown and Central in 1946, Subletts in 1951, Pleasant View in 1964, and Deans Chapel in 1969. According to all available records, Pisgah High School is the longest consecutively operating school in Jackson County History.