Then and Now
By: By June Kemp
Recently the Dresden FFA Alumni Chapter decided to recognize long-time Palmersville FFA advisor A. B. “Buren” Austin with the sale of a Case commemorative knife etched with his name, years of service and the FFA emblem. According to research done by Lindsey Parham, who is currently one of the Dresden FFA advisors and a member of the alumni chapter, the Palmersville FFA Chapter No. 91 was chartered Nov. 1, 1928, making it the first FFA chapter established in Weakley County.
I am not sure who the first FFA advisor was, but the Smith-Hughes Agricultural High School Course was among the first courses taught at Palmersville High School when it began in 1921, and Jerry Fitch was the teacher. Jim H. Elam began as vocational agriculture teacher in the fall of 1931 and continued until 1950. Following Mr. Elam was Harry McPeake who continued until 1956. Buren Austin began his tenure in the fall of 1956 and continued until 1977.
My memories of Mr. Buren were not from his vocational agriculture classes, as girls did not take agriculture at this time, but from the freshman practical math class which he taught in the classroom of the old concrete block ag building warmed in the winter by a pot-bellied stove. However, we did learn many math lessons by measuring the perimeter of a field and figuring out how many fence posts we’d need to put up a fence and calculating how many bushels of grain a silo would hold.
Later FFA advisors at Palmersville were Paul Oliver from 1977-83, Robert Henry from 1983-84, Richard Heath from 1984-85, Kenneth Greer from, 1985-91, and Dee House from 1991 until the high school closed in 1997.
The Palmersville Historical Society invites you to visit during our hours from 1-5 p.m. each Friday or attend our quarterly meetings. Our next meeting will be at 7 p.m Friday night, Jan. 25 at their building next to the Volunteer Fire Department. The theme will be “An Old Fashioned Story Telling.” Checkerboards and snacks will be provided.