About Our School
Back Creek Elementary School is located on seven acres of land in the Southwest section of Roanoke County. The present building was constructed in 1937. Additions to this structure were completed in 1959, 1970, 1989 and 1994. The 1989 construction included a complete renovation of the entire building as well as an addition which doubled the size of the school making Back Creek one of the most modern school facilities in Roanoke County. The 1994 construction added six new classrooms, four upstairs and two downstairs.
The school is fortunate to be part of a strong community with outstanding PTA support which serves the school immeasurably through an exceptional volunteer program and with contributions of materials and equipment for all of our programs. We firmly believe children receive a better education when the school and parents work as partners and constantly strive to have the best possible communication between home and school.
Back Creek has an enrollment of approximately 300 students in grades K-5. The staff consists of 13 classroom teachers and resource personnel in the following areas: library, reading, physical education, music, guidance, art and special education (learning disabilities). The student/teacher ratio at Back Creek is approximately 20 to 1. We are a performance based school with self-contained classrooms in grades K-5; however, we are semi-departmentalized in grades 1-5. Back Creek students attend Cave Spring Junior High School for grades 6-9 and Cave Spring High School for grades 10-12.
The History of Our Back Creek Community
Research by Dolores S. Peters and George S. Jack 1911
By Edna Martin
Just when or where the first settler pitched his tent or built his crude log cabin within Roanoke County is not know exactly. Historians believe that the foothills of Bent Mountain were occupied by white men even before any settlers' cabins were reared in the more fertile Roanoke and Catawba Valleys.
James L. Heckman, an aged citizen of Franklin County, who was living in 1911, gave an accout of the coming of the first settlers to this section. This account was told to him as a child, by his grandfather. The story tells that four men came into this vicinity from Pennsylvania on a hunting and trapping expedition. Their names were Heckman, Willett, Martin and Webster. Carrying nothing but their guns, ammunition, knives and frying pans, they passed down the valley of Virginia following the Great Path looking for game. The Great Path or Indian Trail was a direct course used by the Northern and Southern Indians as the easiest way to cross the Great Appalachian Chain.
Back Creek Settlement
As they crossed the Roanoke River (unnamed at that time), they saw the Blue Ridge Mountains looming up in the distance and made their way south-westward until they came to a stream flowing east which is now Back Creek. The hunters found plenty of game and good climate. The fertile bottom land of Back Creek was an ideal spot for settlement. They returned to Pennsylvania for their families then came back over the same route. After leaving what is now the Roanoke River, Heckman went further south to build his cabin at what is now Franklin County. The other three followed the course of Back Creek and formed the first Back Creek Settlement. David Willett built at the forks of the creek. Webster and Martin went further up the right fork of the creek. Although no permanent records of this settlement can be found, it is believed that these three came to this section soon after 1740.
After the first settlers, others came until the creek valleys were dotted with cabins. The records show that Bent Mountain and Back Creek furnished their full quota of troops to the Civil War. Among them were the Willetts, Fergusons, Joe Baldwin, Squire King, John Coles, Captain Joseph Terry and others.
Apples & Telephones
Time passed and orchards were planted in the Back Creek section. According to tradition, David Willett brought the first pippin apple tree here. He aslo introduced what is known as the Willett apple.
In November 1910, J.T. Henry, J.B. Willett, R.C. Wertz, J.W. Turner, J.M. Bell, C.J. Smallwood and L.D. Bell organized the Fruit Growers Telephone Corporation. This company constructed lines and poles, installed switchboards and put in a number of telephones. Their lines connected with the lines of the Virginia and Tennessee Telephone Co. at a point near Roanoke City Almshouse, thus giving subscribers direct communications with Roanoke, Salem and Vinton. Within less than one year, the corporation had more than twenty-five subscribers located in and around Poages Mill.
In the early days, there were four one-room schools in the area; Jim Ferguson School on Mt. Chesnut Road, Haran School across 221 from Martin's Creek, Roland Ferguson School on Twelve O'Clock Knob Road and the Wertz School on Bell Road. There was a three room school built in 1912 which later became a four-room school. This school was used until the present Back Creek School was built in 1937. Early salaries for teachers were thirty dollars a month for men and twenty-six dollars and eighty-three cents for women.
Some of the early churches were a Mormon Church on the Ferguson place and Kittingers Chapel near the old Back Creek School. The records show that the first Brethren services were held in the shop of Elijah Poage from 1860 to about 1865. After that a building was erected for the Church of the Brethren.
Poage's Mill got its name from Squire Elijah Poage, who was a mechanic and carpenter. His carpentry skills led him into coffin making which in turn led him into becoming the local undertaker. He also had a flour and corn mill, sawmill, store, post office, furniture factory and campsite for the covered wagons that came from Floyd, Franklin and Bent Mountain.
In about 1880, Ronald and Harrison Ferguson opened a store near the place where Rierson's Store is today.
For recreation, the early settlers had apple butter boilings, quiltings, barn raisings, hog killings, corn shucking and molasses boilings. It seems that one such event, a taffy pulling, was responsible for the naming of Scissorsville. Apparently, there was a big fight at the event and many people got taffy in their hair which had to be cut out with scissors, thus the name Scissorsville.
The Back Creek Valley lies south of Roanoke County, surrounded by rugged mountains such as Mason's Knob (3567 ft.), Twelve O'Clock Knob, Sugar Loaf and Bent Mountain (2850 ft.). The Blue Ridge Mountains are to the south and to the west is the Poor Mountain Range. The primary stream is Back Creek which gave the community its name.
Back Creek still has its beautiful mountains. The log cabins are gone and brick homes cover the hillsides. Orchards and forests gradually disappearing. Younger people do not farm the land. Schools are ultra-modern and buses pick up children every tenth of a mile. There are shopping centers, swimming pools, and all types of recreation only a few minutes away. Times have changed!
Other Tidbits From Our History
Mr. Isom Smith of Bent Mountain owned the Dollar Farm where he raised plump and heavy turkeys which sold at the Cave Spring Trading Center for $1.00 each.
Squire Elijah Poage sold his coffins ranging from $1 to $20, the latter being for the rich folks.
Ebeneezer Brewster, a local hunter, died in 1850 and his obituary stated that he killed 1200 bears.
Tish Fishburn drove the first automobile over the Back Creek Road and up Bent Mountain. Everyone along the road turned out to see the event.
Dr. Edward Tensley was the area's physician in 1897. It was stated that his practice extended for a radius of a dozen miles in every direction from his home.