HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
The Darby School
This page was last updated on Dec. 1, 2012.
An earlier school in this area was called the Willow Oak school.
According to McCormick, the Darby School for whites opened in October 1888 and a school for blacks opened one year later.
A deed dated Sept. 28, 1888, conveyed property in S36 T21 R19 from William J. Zeigler and wife Mary E. Zeigler to the school board. School board minutes of Oct. 1, 1888, report that W. J. Zeigler and wife Mary deeded one acre for the Darby School.
On Jan. 13, 1898, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The re-opening of the Darby School which was to take place Monday, Jan. 10th, has been postponed for another week on account of the teacher, Miss Mary Howard, being sick.”
On Oct. 5, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The public school in the Darby settlement was closed by order of the School Board on account of sickness.”
On Sept. 18, 1914, the Dade City Banner reported, “Mrs. Ollie Norris and two children arrived Wednesday morning from Ellenton, Ga., and drove out to the Darby school, where Mrs. Norris will teach.”
A Dec. 1915 newspaper indicates that Miss Myrtle Johnson was the teacher at the Darby school.
In August 1918 Mrs. Clora M. Knight was appointed the teacher.
In November 1919 the teacher was Mildred M. Hudson at Darby, no. 22.
A 1927 map shows the Darby school in the NE ¼ of the NE ¼ of Section 36.
School board minutes show the following teachers appointed:
School board minutes of April 10, 1951, report that the school trustees recommended the closing of the Darby School. On Dec. 8, 1953, the Darby School and one acre were sold to B. V. Lyons for $635.
Some stories about the Darby School can be found at http://www.bryburcon.com/TheDarbyStories.html.
Fond Memories of One-Room SchoolhouseThis article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on May 10, 2002.
By CAROL JEFFARES HEDMAN
Students are counting down the days until that final bell rings, signaling the start of summer vacation.
But in bygone days, school vacations weren't days of leisure. Schools were often only in session for six months to allow for youngsters to pick crops on their vacations.
Such was the case at the Darby School in the early 1900s. The school was built then at the corner of what is now Bellamy Brothers Boulevard and Darby Road.
Students walked miles to attend classes in the one-room schoolhouse. Most came barefoot, toting lunch pails with biscuits and syrups, and sat on hard wooden benches to learn their lessons.
Hattie Bellamy Miller, who first attended the Darby School in 1911, walked the 1 1/2 miles to classes and back home again each day.
"We got to go bare-footed until we got half-grown," she said in a 1986 interview at 80.
Miller and the other students filled their lunch pails with all types of food.
"A fresh onion with a biscuit - anything we could eat we'd put in that bucket," said Miller, whose daughter, Sylvia Young, was a longtime county commissioner.
Many times, Young added, Miller would take cold biscuits and turnip greens, once even trading her lunch for a necklace from another student.
There was an old, open well from where the students would draw water, taking a dipper to fill the individual cups they left each day at the schoolhouse.
"It was just a one-room school, but I'll tell you this:
"When we got through with our lessons, we knew it. We didn't have all this baseball, football and glee club," Miller said.
When she attended the school, it included first through eighth grades. She went eight years and then some.
"Momma was afraid I'd missed something, so she put me back another year," Miller said. "Then she found out I was teaching the little ones - not the teacher. She pulled me out."
There was a high school in Dade City, but all the students didn't continue their education because there wasn't a way to get to the school, located more than 10 miles east.
The land where the Darby School once stood originally was purchased by Mary Wiggins Darby in 1867. In later years, she gave 40 acres to each of her two daughters, one of whom was Miller's grandmother.
In 1890, Darby's other daughter and Miller's great-aunt, Mary Atkins Ziegler, donated an acre to the county for construction of the public school.
The first building burned a short time later. While it was being rebuilt, students attended classes at a log house and sat on logs.
Miller's children, including Young, and other Darby youngsters continued to attend classes at the Darby School until it closed in 1949.
In later years, with additions to the old one-room schoolhouse, it was transformed into a private residence, Young said.
But that didn't change the memories that Young and other Darby residents will always have of their school days.
Like her mother, Young walked some two miles to school on dirt roads.
"It was very country. We had no paved roads out here," she said.
"We're still country. We only have two paved roads now."
Even in the days when the 64-year-old Young attended the Darby School, there wasn't any electricity.
It was still a one-room schoolhouse where the 35 or 40 pupils were all taught together. A big iron heater in the center of the room provided warmth during the cold winter days.
Trading lunches was still a popular practice, Young said.
So was going barefoot, although the children would start off from home wearing shoes - "at least until the time our parents couldn't see us."
Young attended first through sixth grade at the Darby School. It closed that year, and the six in her class went on to junior high in Dade City.
That school was in the old two-story building on 14th Street that was built in 1914 as a high school to replace the original pre-1900 wooden structure.
In later years, the red-brick school next door, now Pasco Middle School, was constructed to house the high school, and the old building became the junior high.
But Young and others who attended the Darby School will always remember those old days.
"They were good times," she said.
Throughout the years, the former students gathered for school reunions, often organized by Young's mother, who died in 1997 at 91. The reunions aren't as frequent these days, Young said.