St. Thomas Hall was a military boy’s school founded by the Reverend Francis L. Hawks, who came from New York in 1844 and became the first headmaster of the school. St. Thomas Hall was run by the Episcopal Church, and competed against the other military school in town, Chalmers Institute.
The original St. Thomas Hall lasted for 17 years, and was run by a series of headmasters, including Dr. J. H. Ingraham. The school produced many famous alumni over the years, including General (and later Senator) Edward Walthall, General (and later Chief Justice) H. H. Chalmers, Secretary of State Kinloch Falconer and William and Stagy Watson, the sons of J.W.C. Watson, both of whom died during the Civil War.
The school was closed in 1861 with the coming of the Civil War, when most of the teachers and students left to fight for the Confederacy. In 1862 the school buildings were used as a hospital for Confederate wounded, and in 1865 they were largely destroyed by Union soldiers. The Episcopal Church tried unsuccessfully in 1867 to reopen the school.
A second attempt to reopen St. Thomas Hall, in 1893, was more successful. The second St. Thomas School was located across the street and across the train tracks from this school, at the old Pointer House.
In 1910, the Trustees of the former St. Thomas Hall sold the land of the original St. Thomas Hall to J. S. Sowell, and this location was eventually known as Sowell’s Field. Today, an empty field marks the spot of this long-forgotten school, located between the train tracks and a modern residence.
The picture of the original St. Thomas Hall is courtesy of Hubert McAlexander’s A Southern Tapestry: Marshall County, Mississippi, 1835-2000.