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March 12, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Schools: Rock Mill Academy

Slate River Ramblings_Buckingham_Rock Mill Academy

Thomas J. Garden, who wrote the memorial tribute to Philip W. McKinney, stated, “after we left college he induced me to take a school at New Store.”

Garden’s first teaching positions are unknown; however, in early 1860, he planned to open a new academy.  He advertised in the Richmond Dispatch:

A select CLASSICAL and MATHEMATICAL MALE SCHOOL, opens on the 1st Monday in February 1860 at ROCK MILL ACADEMY, in Buckingham county, Va., THOS. J. GARDEN, A. M., Principal   

TERMS for 10 Months. — $50 Tuition and $100 for board, &c  No extras.  Only 15 scholars taken.  None need apply who cannot give testimonials of good moral habits, either reference or certificate.

What would certify “good moral habits?”

In his advertisement, Principal Garden promised that the school and its environs in peaceful Buckingham County were “free from the haunts of vice and dissipation.”

In July of 1860, Thomas J. Garden was enumerated at a teacher in Buckingham, although, no students appear to be boarding in the immediate vicinity.  Did Garden successfully establish Rock Mill Academy?  With war on the horizon, it likely did not survive long.  In 1870, he was married and living in Prince Edward County, still teaching school.

If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more about Thomas J. Garden and his career in education, please comment.

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