Home Trade school Centenary of Tilghman: Augusta Tilghman High School opened 100 years ago | New

Centenary of Tilghman: Augusta Tilghman High School opened 100 years ago | New


Augusta Tilghman was a wife and a mother. She moved to Paducah in 1852 with her husband Lloyd, who was a railroad engineer before defecting from the Kentucky State Militia and becoming a general in the Confederate Army.

Two of his sons, Frederick and Sidell, would become successful millionaire stock brokers in New York City and used part of their fortune to honor their parents in the city where they spent most of their childhood: Paducah.

The monument honoring their father’s controversial legacy can still be found in Lang Park. The Tilghman brothers then bought a property to donate to the city for a new school. The donation came with a condition: the school that would be built on the property would be named after their mother, Augusta Tilghman.

The Walter Jetton Boulevard school building, which has served junior high and high school students for nearly 60 years, first opened 100 years ago on September 19, 2021.


Not much remains that documents details of Augusta Tilghman’s life, and much of what is known about her concerns her husband or two notable sons. Tilghman, née Augusta Murray Boyd, was born in Maine in 1819 and was the last of 15 children. Her obituary, published in the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle in 1898, stated that she often visited her uncle in New York City and that she often met former President Martin Van Buren when visiting her uncle.

Augusta married Lloyd Tilghman, who by this point graduated from West Point and became a railway engineer, in 1843. During her lifetime Augusta had eight children, according to her obituary, but not all of them survived. in early childhood. The Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum notes that six of the children lived in Paducah at some point in 1852, when the family moved here, until 1861, when Lloyd Tilghman moved the family to Clarksville, Tennessee.

In 1865, after the deaths of her husband and eldest son during the Civil War, Augusta Tilghman moved to New York City, where she spent the rest of her life. At the time of his death, Frederick and Sidell Tilghman were his only two surviving children. The sons had the body of Lloyd Tilghman moved from Vicksburg, Mississippi, to New York City so that their parents could be buried together at Woodlawn Cemetery.

A legal document on display at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum that mentions Augusta Tilghman is her husband Lloyd’s last will. In the will, drawn up and attested in July 1861, Lloyd leaves Augusta all of his estate, including five slaves named in the will and property in Arkansas and Kentucky. Lloyd Tilghman, Brigadier General of the Confederate Army during the Civil War, died in action in May 1863.

Bill Baxter, administrator of the museum, said at the time that most estates would have passed to the oldest male heir, unless there was a will in place to indicate the deceased’s contrary wishes .

Frederick and Sidell Tilghman, who spent much of their childhood in Paducah, paid for their father’s monument creation and donated it to the city in 1909. Years later, the sons expressed the desire to have another monument in their childhood hometown, but that monument represents their mother, according to Sun records.

Augusta Tilghman High School, later to become Walter Jetton Junior High, opened on September 19, 1921.

In 1919, the sons came to an agreement with the school board for the Tilghmans to buy the land for a new school. All Frederick and Sidell asked in return was to name the new high school after Augusta Tilghman.

A textbook from Augusta Tilghman High School in 1952, of which the McCracken County Public Library had a copy for the Sun to see, corroborates the school’s story available in the Sun’s archives. According to the manual, after placing a statue of their father in Paducah, Frederick and Sidell Tilghman, “felt that they would not be satisfied until a memorial was made for their mother.”

Wayne Walden, communications coordinator with the Independent School District of Paducah, said the sons’ donation intended to name the school after their mother.

The compromise

A growing student body again led the school board to construct another new high school building in the 1950s, where the Paducah Tilghman High School is currently located.

The question of the name of the new school dragged on for months in 1954 and 1955. There were discussions to leave Tilghman’s name at the Jetton Boulevard site as that was the land Tilghman’s sons made. donation in honor of their mother, according to The Sun archives. In September 1954, Augusta Tilghman students overwhelmingly voted in favor of the appointment of the new Tilghman High School. Letters poured in to the Sun-Democrat from students and alumni stating that they wanted to keep Tilghman’s athletic and academic legacy in the community and keep Tilghman’s name on the new high school.

In April 1955, the school board officially adopted the name Paducah Tilghman High School, combining the names of the two previous high schools in the district, according to an article in the Sun-Democrat.

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Walden pointed out that the current name of the school Paducah Tilghman emerged from this compromise and was unrelated to Lloyd Tilghman.

“Our student body is very diverse and it would be a big problem if our school was named after a Confederate general,” Walden said.

JW Cleary, president of the McCracken County NAACP, said while the group discussed the name of Paducah Tilghman High School in the summer of 2020, the group decided not to ask for the current school building to be renamed after learning that the building had only been named for Augusta Tilghman, and not for her husband.

Walden told The Sun that the school district had taken no official steps to separate itself from the possible Lloyd Tilghman association, but said the history and legacy of the school is explained in one-on-one conversations with people who have questions about the school. the inheritance of the name.


Reports from the Sun Archives indicated that the Paducah School Board had hired an architect to research properties in the town that would be suitable for a new high school. The high school at the time, Paducah High School, was becoming too small to properly serve the growing population.

The architect’s ideal choice for a new school was the location of the home of Elbridge Palmer and his sister, Frances Gould, referred to in subsequent Sun articles as the Palmer Residence. The Tilghman brothers were educated at a school located on the property of the Palmer Residence.

Frederick and Sidell Tilghman bought the land on which the Palmer Residence stood and ceded the property to the school board, according to a November 1919 report.

The donation of land from the Tilghmans, intended to house the new public school, was conditional. According to the Augusta Tilghman High School’s application for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, the donation was conditional on the adoption and ratification of a school bond issue. The issue, which included acquiring funds to build a new high school, required a ratification vote from voters.

This, the app notes, has become an important point in the history of women in Paducah. In 1920, women gained the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. According to demand, “[Paducah women] were very committed to their children’s education and used their newly granted civil liberties to ensure that bond issuance would be understood and embraced. The bond issue was ratified and demand called the vote “a huge success.” In the first election, women could be part of Paducah, they represented 46% of the vote.

Augusta Tilghman High School opened its doors 100 years ago on September 19, 1921. The first class to graduate was the Class of 1922. The school hosted 34 classes of students until 1955.

The 1952 manual stated that the Augusta Tilghman Building had received over $ 200,000 in upgrades over the years, including the addition of a boys’ trades school, new gymnasium, new classrooms, d ‘a department of home economics and music rooms in the basement.

A growing student population prompted the school board to inaugurate a new school in a different location. This school would become the Paducah Tilghman High School, which opened in September 1955.

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Throughout its history, Augusta Tilghman High School has served only white students. The integration of public schools in Paducah did not take place until 1956, after the opening of the Lycée Paducah Tilghman. Until then, black students and students of color in the public school system attended Lincoln High School. The first black students to attend Paducah Tilghman were transferred from Lincoln.

The old Augusta Tilghman High School building has become Walter C. Jetton High School, named after longtime principal of Augusta Tilghman High School. This school operated until 1980. After the closure of Jetton Junior High, the campus was used for various purposes such as community events, symphony concerts and affordable housing.

In 1995, the Augusta Tilghman High School building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In August, group leaders Marian and Paducah inaugurated the original ‘The Dunlap’ campus, which will include 42 affordable housing units and a restored space for the Paducah Symphony Orchestra.