Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cedar Rock Graduated Six in 1924

Maurice Jefferson Stokes was Valedictorian of the 1924 graduating class of Cedar Rock High School in Franklin County, North Carolina. Stokes's message, entitled "History of Cedar Rock Senior Class, '24," was written on a single long sheet of paper which was rolled into a tight scroll and almost forgotten for 75 years. (The Cedar Rock High School was about 2 to 2 ½ miles west of Castalia on Hwy. 56, on the right. The Cedar Rock Baptist Church is in front of it. The picture of the church was taken from

The address contained several references to the assassination of William McKinley, who was shot in Buffalo, NY in 1901. The class chose as its colors red, "the color of courageous blood," and white, for the white of the sky "which was to be a symbol of purity." The class flower was the carnation. "Since this tragic crisis (death of McKinley) in our national history, the carnation has seemed to stand for all the principles embodied in the Character of this splendid man."

After naming those of the original 14 classmates that had dropped by the wayside, Stokes makes the following observation: " Broad is the gate and wide is the way that leadeth to the high school, and many there be that go in thereat, but straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth to graduation, and few there be that find it."

The six graduates were:
1. Maurice Jefferson Stokes
2. Hiawatha Hedgepeth
3. Spurgeon Tharrington
4. Mary Gardner
5. Inez Sykes
6. Lena Wester

This story was published in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Summer 1997 issue.

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