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150th Anniversary: Guide

1870-2020

The Webb Brothers

  • William Robert "Sawney" Webb
  • John Maurice Webb

 

With Sawney known for his drive and discipline and John known for his "saintly character, deep learning and the gift of imparting it," according to Vanderbilt University professor emeritus Edwin Mims, the brothers were a powerful force in education. 

"The two had made the school together, disciplinarian and scholar" John Andrew Rice

"Returning from Versailles, Woodrow Wilson, onetime president of Princeton, told Webb alumnus Norman Davis: "The Webbs defy all the accepted laws of pedagogy, but their boys were the best prepared that we got." - Time Magazine 1946


In 1869 while teaching at The Horner School on the outskirts of Oxford, North Carolina Sawney spoke at length with a fellow teacher about his dream of an “educational utopia.” The very next year W. H. Wilkes the town father of Culleoka, Tennessee wrote in a letter, “the school is yours.”

The first couple of years were a struggle.
In 1873 Sawney wrote his younger brother John M Webb asking him to join him at Culleoka. John was eager to join his brother’s new venture. Sawney was quite proud of his accomplished younger brother and placed an announcement of his arrival in the Columbia Herald. In the late 1870s, the school’s name was changed to Webb Brothers’ School. Although the brothers were offered professorships at Vanderbilt in 1875, the brothers remained the school principals until their respective deaths John Webb in 1916 and Sawney Webb in 1926.

 

Fact or Fiction

  • John Webb joined the school in 1874 [Fiction]
  • Though the historic marker states John joined in 1874, John may have actually joined as early as the 1872-1873 school year.[FACT]
    • Sawney advertised John's principalship in The Columbia herald. January 24, 1873
  • Women first began attending Webb in the 1970s.  [Fiction]
  • Female Students were among the members of the first class in 1870 [FACT]
    • From 1946 until 1969, Webb went from a coeducational institution to all-male.
    • Females returned after the 24 year period and the 1970s brought first female residential students to stay in Webb dorms.
  • Webb was founded as a Methodist school.  [Fiction]
  • Though the founders were devout Methodists - Sawney boasted the school was founded as the first ‘strictly preparatory school’ west of the Alleghenies  (Maury County Historical Society)  [FACT] 
  • "Webb School is non-sectarian.  Among our students, there are Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and often other faiths.  No attempts are made to disturb a student's faith in any way." - G.W. Follin around 1931

 

 

 

 

 

Webb's future is intimately connected to the values of its original visionaries. The school supports six enduring understandings based upon these founding values. They are:

  • Integrity is a cornerstone of a flourishing life and community.
    • ​School's motto: "Noli Res Subdole Facere." Do nothing on the Sly
    • Honor Code  "I pledge my word of honor that I will not lie, cheat, or steal."
  • Learning is an enjoyable and ongoing process.
    • ​"Go out and lead a large life" - some of Sawney's final words
  • Respect for self and others is essential to a harmonious society.
  • Self-discipline and autonomy are essential to success.
    • ​Progress is made only by experiment manipulated by individual initiative.  In this age of transition from authority to experiment, there must be somewhere an experiment station for the children where authority in the use of tools and methods is not compulsory. - Sawney Webb 1905 speech to the SEA
    • Don't be a spectator take a hand in the game.
  • Each person has unique gifts and capacities and a responsibility to develop them.
    • ​Don't be a "me too!"
    •  
  • Each person shares the responsibility and honor of serving others.

William R. Webb Jr. "Son Will" Thompson Webb Alla Webb               William R. "Bob" Webb III

 

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Progress is made only by experiment manipulated by individual initiative.  In this age of transition from authority to experiment, there must be somewhere an experiment station for the children where authority in the use of tools and methods is not compulsory.

The Webb School of Bell Buckle - Preparatory Academies and Vanderbilt University

Education: The Webbs of Bell Buckle Time Magazine Sept 16, 1946

Books

Important Dates

First Day of School - August 1870

Sawney's Birthday - Nov 11, 1842 

John's Birthday - Nov 29, 1847

Son Will's Birthday - Apr 4, 1874

Alla's Birthday - Oct 2, 1875

Thompson's Birthday Oct 24, 1887

The Webb School Library and Archives Phone: 931-389-5758