Jefferson Davis County was carved out of surrounding counties in 1906. In 1907 the Prentiss Institute opened its doors. Jonas Edward Johnson and his wife Bertha LaBranche Johnson borrowed money to purchase 40 acres of land that included a log cabin that was once used as an early homestead, perhaps as an inn and tavern […]
In 1907 the Prentiss Institute was founded by Jonas Edward “J.E.”Johnson (a Laurel native) and his wife Bertha LaBranche Johnson (of Wesson). Mr. Johnson graduated valedictorian from Alcorn A&M College, while Mrs. Johnson studied under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. The Prentiss Institute was an offspring of the Tuskegee Institute “emphasizing the training of […]
Bertha LaBranche Johnson was born in Wesson. She was the co-founder of not only the Prentiss Institute but also the Oak Park Vocational School of Laurel. She was the ex-president of the Mississippi State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, the executive council of the Committee of Interracial Cooperation, the president of the Southeastern Federation, a […]
Educator and noted civil rights activist Dorothy Height talks about Heifer’s involvement at the Prentiss Institute as the inspiration for her own initiative the “pig bank”in her 2003 memoir “Open Wide the Freedom Gates.” “Participating families were trained to care for pigs, to establish cooperatives, and to work together to improve the community’s nutrition and […]
Wallace and Laura Eash came from a farm in Iowa and served for 10 years in Mississippi. Under the direction of Mr. Eash the program grew to include more than 300 head of cattle distributed in 4 counties. The couple remained in Mississippi after their service to Heifer ended.
Thurl Metzger, former Heifer executive director, was involved in the project since its inception, visiting the Prentiss campus many times. Remembering the project in this book “The Road to Development”he recalled, “Heifer Project was involved in a small part of the struggle for equal opportunity. We were there before the civil rights legislation, and we […]
Presently, Lulla Myers is president of the Prentiss Institute board of directors, the only remaining functioning body of the school in south Mississippi. She was once a student at the Institute as well. Sources: Matthews, Jaman, Remembrance of Days Past: The Prentiss Institute at 100. http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.2607605/
Rosie Hooker and Luther Alexander also presently serve on the board of directors for the Institute. Mrs. Hooker is a life-long resident of Prentiss and a 1942 graduate of the school. es’>