This has been a trip into a history of my childhood neighborhood, a section of Columbia fondly known as Bagnal ’s Bottom. This sandhill subdivision has a rich history dating back to Wade Hampton III and including many interesting people.
The time came for the Bagnal’s Bottom Gang to move to elementary school. We got our shots, haircuts, brand-new clothes, and were carpooled up Gervais Street and down Maple Street to Schneider School. It was like venturing into a strange culture in a faraway country. Scary and yet exciting.
The first school in Shandon had been built in 1906 on the corner of Lee and Queen streets. S.M. Clarkson, Richland County Superintendent of Education, hired the first teachers: Misses Marion Means, Katie Duncan, Nan Pagett, C. Dozier, Louise DeBruhl, Jessie Patterson, and Mr. S.M. Busby.
The enrollment soon outgrew the building and a new six classroom brick building was constructed at the corner of Devine and Maple streets in 1909. S.M. Busby became the first principal of this new school. After one year he was followed by P.L. Geiger, then H.V. Knight. The first teachers in the new building were Misses Patterson, Mary Reid, Nan Miller, Ann Bellinger, A. Sepocht, and Sophia Bellinger.
In 1913, Shandon School and its 300 students were annexed into the Columbia City School System, and Wilbur S. Wertz became principal. The teachers were Misses Nadine Ott, Hess Hamby, Regina Williams, Mary Clarkson, and Mary D. Tarrant. Graduates of Shandon matriculated to Columbia High School.
Samuel P. Schneider succeeded Wertz as principal in 1917 and served until his death in 1936 when the name of the school was changed to Schneider School, and Guy L. Varn took over as principal for ten years. Roy J. Ellis succeeded Varn as principal and remained for 20 years until he was promoted to Central Office.
As our parents drove off wiping away tears, a stern Principal Ellis greeted the students at the front doors of Schneider School in 1946 and introduced our teachers: Misses Janie Brooks, Ruth Bundrick, Emma Davis, May Douglas, Louise Drummond, Nelle Marsh, Virginia Pack, Mary S. Richardson, Gertrude Thurmond (sister of Sen. Strom Thurmond), Reka Richards (daughter of Gov. John G. Richards), Grace Sease, Septima C. Smith, Mary D. Tarrant, Ann Thacker, Alma Van Landingham, Mary Van Landingham, Helen Roy, Catherine Wertz Davis (daughter of the first principal), Mrs. A.L. Moses, and Mrs. John D. Rogers.
We were assigned homeroom teachers and told, “Line up—girls first, spit out your gum, and don’t skip steps on the stairs.” I proudly donned my new Schneider School beanie and followed Miss Bundrick to our room not realizing my world was changing, and the Bagnal’s Bottom Gang was marching into history.