John C. Campbell Folk School

Brasstown Community Helps the Folk School Begin

By the time Olive Dame Campbell and Marguerite Butler decided Brasstown would be the location of the Folk School Fred O. Scroggs had rounded up promises to help start the project.

The pledges folks signed still exist in the Folk School Archives. I love to read them and think about what a sacrifice it must have been for people to donate to a type of school they’d never heard of.

pledge card

CB Green pledged: 5 Days work each year for 3 years.

Pledge Card

Cliff Waldroup pledged: $100 in labor at customary price to be donated throughout a period of three years. Option on farm at reasonable price if needed. Five loads fire wood each year for a period of three years.

Pledge Card

G.W. Crisp pledged: Building stone – Any suitable on my farm. Will haul rocks if health will permit.

Pledge Card

John Logan pledged:  10 days work with team first year – 5 days work with team each additional year for 2 years.

Pledge Card

Mrs. Lillian Scroggs pledged: 500 Narcissus bulbs all varieties. 25 Peonie eyes – 3 colors. Any wild shrubs, and any local stone on my farm.

pledge card

William Clayton pledged: First year 30 days of work . Each additional year 10 days work. 10 building logs. 3 loads fire wood each year for 5 years.

Pledge Card

Loye Payne pledged: 6 days work yearly for 3 years.

I’ve only shared a small sampling of the pledges. There were many other donations, including the land from Fred O. Scroggs and his family that the school was started on.

The names on the pledges are still common in Brasstown today. I especially like Cliff Waldroup’s pledge because I heard Pap talk about him and about the Waldroup place just this side of the Folk School. I also love the pledge from Lillian Scroggs. Man she must have had one more flower bed 🙂 And what about G.W. Crisp? Seventy-three years old and still pledging to haul in his rock if he was able.

I believe community donations gave the Folk School the solid foundation it needed to succeed. If you jump over to this page, you can hear Oscar Cantrell (Legendary Folk School Blacksmith) talk about the pledges.


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 19, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    While you are browsing through the records at the Folk School please keep an eye out for my aunt Violet Luman’s name. She worked at the Folk School around 1960. Her husband had died and left her financially independent. She didn’t need to work. The Folk School was nowhere near where she had lived before and was away from her children yet she chose to work there as a housekeeper. If I remember correctly she stayed at the School year round.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 19, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I never knew about the generosity of folks willing to give their time and money for the Folk School.

    A long time ago, when I was just a boy, Daddy and Mama would donate several Bushels of our Irish Potatoes and Mama would pick her canned foods and take them to the Depot in Andrews to CARE. We didn’t have a truck so Daddy would get his Brother, Frank to use his GMC truck to haul the things to the Depot, so they could be put on the train. (After WW2, Frank hauled Peaches and Apples for a living.) I went with them and hadn’t never saw so many people at the Train Station. Seems everybody wanted to help. They’d give of themselves.

    Today, not so, but folks Hearts were in the Right Spots. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 19, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Subscription used to be the way projects were done such as building a church, a school or even writing a book. Pledges of work or materials in communities with little ready cash but where people had tools, skills, work animals and raw materials made excellent common sense. Much like the restoration of the cupola you wrote about, when the project was done it ‘belonged’ (not legally but in spirit) to the community as a whole.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 19, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Tipper those pledges are nothing short of amazing. I didn’t know that the community had helped this much to get the school going. Those are very generous offerings for a little country community. These are not a people with lots of spare time on their hands. They worked all day every day to feed and clothe their family and to donate 5 days was a lot to give. A very generous donation indeed!

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    September 19, 2019 at 7:17 am


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