When Attorney William B. Brady asked the Log Cabin Democrat to shed some light on a dilemma he faced, he had little notion that a curious situation was to come to light.
The Little Rock attorney tells of coming across an obituary that revealed the deceased had attended Perkins School and also Guy-Perkins School. This had the earmarks of double talk or at least a contradiction. It had to be one or the other, he wrote. But the obit was correct; the woman had attended both schools.
He is familiar with Guy-Perkins School. But "Perkins"? He said the only Arkansas place named "Perkins" was in Howard County and not shown reachable by any state or county road but as a stop on the railroad tracks between Dierks and Nashville. In addition, a town named "Perkins" does not exist on any Arkansas or county map.
Who in Faulkner County had the answer to an apparent riddle?
No one among the scores of people contacted. The answer was not forthcoming despite many inquiries. People approached seemed to be bewildered.
Even officials at Guy-Perkins School were daunted by the inquiry - until an intrepid reporter was directed toward Debbie Reeves, business manager of the school district, who it was said, could possibly cast a glimmer of light on the question.
"Yes, I think I can," said the compliant woman. She was to unearth a "History of Guy-Perkins School" among dusty tomes in the school. It became clear that a school consolidation was at the heart of the querying. Still, why was the name Perkins attached to the school at Guy?
History reveals that what occurred in the town of Guy was typical of many school districts in rural areas of Faulkner County, and elsewhere in Arkansas, during the 19th and early 20th century.
Thus, Guy-Perkins was created by the inclusion of eight small schools in proximity of Guy - Chinquapin, Cooperage Springs, Wolf Branch, Old Texas, Hendrickson, Rowlett, Solomon Grove and, of course, Perkins. Each was limited in the number of pupils enrolled.
Incidentally, the Solomon Grove District was made up of three black schools. It was formed in 1879 and consolidated with Guy-Perkins in 1949. Its high school students continued to attend the Pine Street School in Conway until 1964. The grade school was transferred to Guy in 1966.
The modest Perkins School, located hard by the town of Guy, was created in the 1880s. It pursued its course of instruction for some 50 years or so until consolidation with Guy was proposed on November 26, 1930.
Consolidation was agreed upon, but certain stipulations had to find agreement between both schools. For one thing, the grade school was to continue at Perkins. It was moved to Guy in 1936. In addition, the Perkins District patrons insisted that they would not agree to consolidation unless its name was included, making it Guy-Perkins. They also would have a resident of Perkins serving on the new school board. Agreed.
Subsequent information revealed that Guy-Perkins was the first Faulkner County school to offer lunch in its cafeteria - the price being 10 cents.
The district operated smoothly until 1948. At that time consolidation became a cause celebre in Arkansas schools. New state Education Department regulations demanded that Guy-Perkins District and others would be under the threat of consolidation unless an enrollment of 350 students was reported. Unfortunately, the Guy-Perkins district was well below this figure and, perforce, it searched around to annex other territories, hoping to make the score.
Nearby Centerville was approached as a possibility for consolidation. But for some unknown reason turned a cold shoulder toward the Guy-Perkins entreaty. Later Centerville’s snub became bitter when news of its merger with the Quitman School District surfaced.
Guy-Perkins now turned toward Solomon Grove’s black school. Its officials agreed to come on board, but separate schools would have to be maintained. This agreement put the number of students at 307, still bereft of the required number.
Frantically, Guy-Perkins School District cast around for other sites in need and found two other nearby black schools talking consolidation - at Clinton and Formosa. After many contacts and tense meetings, the schools got together. The Guy-Perkins place and storied name remained intact when its enrollment now reached 551.