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Winchester School for Mountain Boys

The Winchester School for Mountain Boys opened near Havana (Yell County) in 1921. Named after Bishop James R. Winchester, the Episcopal bishop of Arkansas from 1911 to 1932, the school was operated by the Episcopal Church and associated with St. Barnaba’s Mission in Havana. The Winchester School was a “mountain mission school,” a type of educational institution established during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to serve children in the mountainous regions of the South, particularly Appalachia and the Ozark Plateau.

The Winchester School for Mountain Boys was funded by a group of women from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and first run by the Reverend Gustave Orth, locally revered as “the Apostle of the Mountains,” and later the Reverend E. T. Mabley.

The school afforded poverty stricken and isolated boys a parochial education, offering vocational training in the areas of agriculture, blacksmithing, printing, crafts, carpentry, and domestic skills. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were also taught in accordance with public school standards in Arkansas. Most students attending the school were usually the first in their family and/or community to attain a high school education, with some going on to college.

In 1932, the Winchester School for Mountain Boys burned down and was never rebuilt.The property was later sold to the federal government.

For additional information:
Blevins, Brooks. “Mountain Mission Schools in Arkansas.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 70 (Winter 2011): 398–428.

Beary, Michael J. Black Bishop: Edward T. Demby and the Struggle for Racial Equality in the Episcopal Church. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

McDonald, Margaret Simms. White Already to Harvest: The Episcopal Church in Arkansas, 1838–1971. Sewanee, TN: University Press of Sewanee, 1975.

Amber Davidson
Columbia, South Carolina

Last Updated 10/8/2013

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