About Russellville Elementary School

"Russellville has played a significant role in the development of Hamblen County. The Russellville area developed first as an Indian trail, then as a stagecoach road connecting Knoxville with Abingdon, Virginia, and later as a federal highway known as 11-E.

In 1785, Captain George Russell, a revolutionary war soldier, was granted land that would later be his home and be named Russellville. At this time, only wildlife inhabited this wilderness area. Soon other pioneers made their way to Russellville or, as some called the area, Russelltown where business began to thrive around the turn of the century.

The first Russellville School was held in church. In 1859, Russellville School began as an elementary school in the basement of the Methodist Church in Russellville. The school was held there for sixteen years with the seventeenth being in the auditorium upstairs.

In 1877 Russellville School was a white two-room schoolhouse which was located at the present site of the Russellville Cemetery.

Beginning in 1899, Union College, located near the present Bewley's Chapel Church, served Russellville as a school with classes for first grade through high school and college. One document shows the enrollment to be one hundred seventy students. Union College also served as a boarding school, had a college-educated founder and principal, served men and women, and had a school catalog. Its aim was to provide affordable education to men and women. A most exciting event during the Union College era was the passage of the 'Grand Old Liberty Bell' on a train heading north to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Students and faculty marched to the old train depot to see the steam-driven locomotive pass with the bell. Union College was destroyed by fire in 1910.

In 1910, Russellville was one of two three-teacher schools in Hamblen County. At this time schools were held five months and were characterized be homemade desks, buckets and dippers, pot bellied stoves heated with wood, slates, and pencils.

In 1911, a concrete three-story building was erected. This school was both an elementary and a high school. The building stood where the present Russellville Church of God stands today. When the new highway 11-E was built, a tunnel constructed under the highway allowed the children to safely reach the ball field located across the highway. This school was built and paid for by the citizens of the community.

A new brick building on the present site was opened in the 1950-51 school year. This building housed first through eighth grades until 1972 when East Ridge Middle School opened. Since the original building was constructed in 1950, Russellville has had four additions and renovations, with the latest being in 1992.

Russellville School presently serves an area from two to six miles in radius. The Russellville area was predominately rural until the Hamblen County industrial park was developed in east Hamblen County in 1962. This industrial park is located within a mile of the school. Since the development of the industrial park the student population has changed from a rural background in farming to a more industrialized environment. The community is now comprised of more subdivisions, apartments, and mobile homes located on farms that were once single family dwellings.

A special thanks are given to Mrs. Emma Dean Trent and Mrs. Lela Maude Dean for their contributions to this history. "