Verona’s past legacy of educational excellence

This old Verona School Building was located on same site as today's Verona Elementary School.

The earliest school on record that was available to the youth of Verona was the private one teacher school of Professor Lafayette Rogers, established about 1859 and located about two and a half miles south of Verona at McDonald’s Chapel. The school was attended by both boys and girls. About 1871 it was taken over by Professor A. L. Whitten and his wife, who came from Virginia. It was at this time that the school became the Verona Male Academy. It had such a high standard of curriculum that boys leaving there were accepted into the junior year at the University of Mississippi, the University of Tennessee, and at Emory and Henry College in Virginia.

Professor Whitten did not keep the Academy very long. He gave it up in 1875 and left Verona for Texas. Dr. J. G. Deupree from Macon took charge of the school at that time. It was quite a flourishing institution with between 75 and 100 boys in attendance. Many were from surrounding counties and boarded in Verona while attending school. The school also was attended by many grown men whose education had been interrupted because of their service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Dr. Deupree changed the name to Verona Collegiate Institute during his tenure and stayed until 1882 at which time the school was taken over by Andrew Kincannon who had just graduated from the University of Mississippi. Kincannon had grown up in Verona and attend school in Verona as a boy.

Another school that began in Verona operated between 1861 and 1871. It was known as the Irwin institute, a boarding school for girls and young ladies. It was established by A. Irwin. It is known to have been a select private school of about thirty to forty pupils and to have been the only school for girls in Verona prior to the establishment of the Verona Female College.

The Irwin Institute was conducted in a residence that was later bought by Captain James Kincannon, a part of which was still standing into the mid 1950’s, known as the “Old Kincannon Home.” It was a large frame building of only a few rooms, but they were each very large. When necessary the house next door was used to accommodate the pupils.

The Verona Female College was built in 1869 by the Methodist citizens of Verona under the leadership of Col. R. C. Clark, one of Verona’s more important citizens of that time who was deeply interested in religion and education. Clark became the first president of the school’s Board of Trustees.

When the North Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Church was organized in 1870 at a meeting in Water Valley, Mr. Clark was a Lay delegate and was made Chairman of the Board of Education. At this meeting the Verona Female College was offered to the conference. It was accepted and became the conference school for girls, with Dr. T. G. Weir as President. This school remained the property of the Methodist Conference and under its full control until 1876 when because of debt it was sold to a stock company.

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