Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Average: 4 (1 vote)

Stonewall Jackson Manual Training

by Clarence E. Horton Jr., 2006Boys at the Stonewall Jackson Training School, ca. 1937. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library. Original photograph owned by H. Lee Pharr.

In late nineteenth-century North Carolina, young men convicted of criminal offenses were subjected to the same harsh sentences and punishments as hardened adult criminals. In 1890 James P. Cook, a resident of Concord and editor of the local daily newspaper, the Standard, witnessed a sentence of "three years and six months at hard labor on the Cabarrus County Chain Gang" imposed on a 13-year-old boy convicted of petty theft. Distressed at the sight of the lad taken from the courtroom chained to a convicted adult criminal, Cook devoted the next 17 years to a campaign for the establishment of a training school for boys.

Supporters of such a school, particularly the benevolent organization King's Daughters of North Carolina, finally convinced the state legislature to embrace their "radical" idea. A special committee of the King's Daughters in 1906 successfully campaigned for the school through public meetings, newspaper articles and editorials, and the dissemination of pamphlets describing the success of reformatories in other states. Success in the legislature was finally assured when sponsors of the bill gained the support of the Confederate veterans in the General Assembly, proposing that the new institution be named in honor of beloved Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, who died during the Battle of Chancellorsville. The act establishing the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School in Concord became law on 2 March 1907.

Governor R. B. Glenn named James P. Cook to the school's first board of trustees. The board then elected Cook as its chairman, a position he held for almost two decades. At a public meeting in Concord on 30 Sept. 1907, the citizens of Cabarrus County appointed a committee to raise funds and locate land to be donated to the training school trustees to secure placement of the new school within Cabarrus County. The fund-raising effort was successful, and the school was located on a site that is now within the Concord city limits. In November 1907, the executive committee of the trustees named Professor Walter Thompson, then superintendent of Concord public schools, the first superintendent of instruction at Stonewall Jackson Training School.

From the beginning, school officials insisted that a quality education be offered to the young people committed to their care. The school was proud of its staff of certified teachers, its library, and its visual aids and resource materials. In addition to more traditional academic instruction, young men received training in a useful trade. Students worked in the shoe shop, machine shop, sewing room, print shop, barber shop, textile plant, and on the school's farm or in its dairy barn. For many years, students in the print shop published a magazine, called the UPLIFT, under the supervision of printing instructor Jesse C. Fisher. Young men learned modern farming techniques raising their food in school fields. Others helped tend the herd of dairy cows that furnished milk and ice cream for the school. "Big Buck," a prize-winning bull, presided over a large herd of Hertford beef cattle that furnished meat for the school kitchen.

Legislative policy eventually shifted away from the incarceration of juvenile offenders found guilty of "status" offenses such as truancy and undisciplined behavior. As a result, the Stonewall Jackson population had dwindled by the early 2000s to an average of 150 young men, from a peak population of 500 juveniles at the school's zenith. The crimes committed by juveniles confined at the school tend to be much more violent than 20 years ago; many are drug- and weapons-related offenses. Consequently, a fence has been installed to prevent students from leaving the grounds.

Reference:

Samuel G. Hawfield, History of Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School (1946).

Additional Resources:

"Stonewall Jackson Training School." N.C. Highway Historical Marker L-49, N.C. Office of Archives & History. http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?sp=Markers&k=Markers&sv=L-49

"Youth Development Centers." N.C. Department of Public Safety. http://www.ncdps.gov/index2.cfm?a=000003,002476,002486,002520 (accessed October 30, 2013).

Leland,Elizabeth. "Stonewall Jackson secrets: ‘Children against monsters’." The Charlotte Observer.  October 5, 2013. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/05/4367341/stonewall-jackson-secrets-children.html (accessed October 30, 2013).

Origin - location: 

Comments

Comment: 

I live just a short distance from the campus, and am interested in hearing from those who spent time there and the impact their time has had on their life thereafter.

I have made multiple trips for photo shoots, and the guards I have come across have all been very polite and accommodating when I make it clear that I am there to document the architecture, not to party or destroy things. Having said that, a strong word of caution follows:

There ARE signs up warning visitors that the campus is owned by the state and that trespassing is not allowed. Anyone wanting to visit it is strongly encouraged to check with the administration first to get permission.

The original buildings are in varying states of decay and have suffered a tremendous amount of damage from vandals, and are full of mold, broken glass, animal droppings, and rusty metal, so it is NOT safe to enter them. Keep in mind also that the modern detention center is directly attached to the old campus and is in full operation. In other words, the physical danger presented by the actual structures far outweighs any "thrill" of sneaking in or trying to "catch ghosts".

The only person who has EVER objected to my visits was a gentleman (I use that term loosely) who claimed to have been a former guard and accused me of lying when I said I'd already spoken to a Sheriff and been given permission to photograph the buildings. Aside from his abusive language and aggressive attitude, there was no indication he was actually ever an employee there - he offered up no identification, not even his name.

I know many people have posted on the 'Net that they were students who either benefitted from their time there or suffered abuse. Anyone who has stories to tell about their experience and is willing to be interviewed may contact me at sjts2016@mail.com, an email I have set up specifically for this purpose.

At some point I would like to publish a book on the history of the school, and any concrete and verifiable information I can accrue toward this purpose would be very useful.

Comment: 

I would like to know what the rules are for photographing the school? There are no "no trespassing" signs or "private property" signs. There is one sign that states there is a "secure area ahead" referring to the New school set behind the old. My friend was there on a Sun afternoon there were at least 5 other cars and people inside taking pictures. Today we went and were not even in the building and were told we had to leave because "they really don't want people on the property."? We were not doing anything except trying to take pictures and I know many people have photographed the school. Any help would be much appreciated :)

Comment: 

Hi Deidre,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your comment and question.

I believe that the school is under the jurisdiction of the NC Department of Public Safety and its Juvenile Justice program. I suspect you will need to contact the Department to ask about their visitation policy. Here is a link to their website: http://www.ncdps.gov/juvenile-justice.

I hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I want to do a paranormal session in some of the buildings. Who can I ask to get permission to do so?

Comment: 

MY SISTER THAT IS 76YEAR-OLD SAID THAT MY DAD WAS SENT TO JACKSON TRAINING SCHOOL FOR BOYS WHEN HE WAS 14YEAR-OLD,WE DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT OUR FATHER OTHER THAN THAT HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF HEWAS IN THERE HE WAS IN THERE MAYBE BETWEEN 1920 OR 1921 HIS NAME IS JOHN LEE BRADLEY ,CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE TO LOOK THANK YOU

Comment: 

Thanks for writing! I am forwarding your question to our reference department who can assist you with it. Their contact information is here: http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/contact.html

T. Mike Childs, NCpedia, N.C. Government & Heritage Library.

Comment: 

Any way to get faculty names at SJTS from late 40's - 50's.
Interested who ran the farm and dairy during that peroid.
Thanks!
Bill Herrington
Charlotte

Comment: 

Thank you for taking the time to submit your question through NCpedia. I emailed you to connect you with Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library. Additional contact information may be found for them at http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/contact.html.

Someone will follow up with you soon on your inquiry.

Good luck in your research!

Michelle Underhill, Digital Information Management Program, NC Government & Heritage Library

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, please note thats some email servers are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. These often include student email addresses from public school email accounts. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at http://ncpedia.org/comments.