If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Guest speaker Mr. Robert L. Avery, left, pictured with District 3 County Commissioner Unzell Kelley, the program chairperson and master of ceremonies. Photo submitted
John R. Savage, founder of Coosa County Training School, is buried on the old school property in the Cottage Grove community. Photo submitted
Special to the News
The autumn season is a time to celebrate the weather, fall colors, festivals, and also the season that the J. D. Thompson Alumni Association celebrates John Reuben Savage, founder of the Coosa County Training School.
On November 13, the Alumni Association and members of the community held a program in honor of the contributions Savage made to Cottage Grove and Coosa County.
The speaker for the occasion was Robert L. Avery, a noted speaker from Gadsden. Avery provided everyone with insight on their responsibility to help sustain the community, the importance of working together and maintaining the heritage and legacy that Savage has left.
Savage was educated in Selma at Burwell Academy and was a graduate of Talladega College. His first job was that of principal at a public school in Opelika when he decided to leave and pursue an opportunity in Nixburg, Coosa County, in 1899.
The history we know of Savage is of his love and dedication to the students and the Cottage Grove community. The same year he arrived in the area he started the Cottage Grove Industrial Academy in the former house of Major Kendricks, but later changed the name to Coosa County Training School.
In history documents we find that local churches and community members helped Savage purchase 300 acres of land in Cottage Grove for the school. Financial support also came from the General Education Board, philanthropist Seth Low, Booker T. and Mrs. Margaret Washington, and other residents.
Savage wore many hats during his life in Cottage Grove; he was the school founder, principal, teacher, and fundraiser. Also, he started a post office in his home, but was always focused on preparing girls and boys for a better living and creating an atmosphere of democracy at home, church and school.
The love that Savage had for the students and community was evident as information was documented of his travels to raise funds for the school, which appears to have played a role in his death. Savage died a slow death; after developing a fever and becoming ill from the strains of his travels through rain in 1909, he passed away in 1910 from the illness.
In honor of Savage, students built a memorial tower on the school grounds which shows his name and the date the school was founded. Savage is also buried on the school property.
The Coosa County Training School, established in Cottage Grove, founded by Savage in 1899, became the first County Training School in Alabama in 1915. The current school property is listed on the Alabama Historical Register of Landmarks and Heritage places.
The school founder, with the help of so many community individuals, paved the way for other school leaders. J. D. Thompson, Douglas Bennett and all the school staff that came after Savage helped in educating and leaving a legacy for the Coosa County community to look up to and be proud of.