Posted in Early History, Faculty

1908-9 Biographies of New Faculty

Central Faculty 1908-9


      For Central’s second year, Walter K Greene’s departure for Baker-Himel resulted in two new hires – J. A. Setliffe for foreign languages and James B. Rike as the new athletic director. A girl’s speech and gym instructor was also hired – Mary Elizabeth Beck – making the 1908-9 faculty as follows:

A E Darrah, Principal

Mary Elizabeth Beck, Expression

Nannie Carter, English

George Davis, Science

O C Kirkman, Manual Arts

Ms. O C Kirkman, History

Charles McGuffey, Spanish

J B Rike, Physical Training and Math

A T Roark, Commercial Dept.

C E Rogers, Math

Ms. L M Russell, Teaching Dept.

J A Setliffe, Greek, Latin, German

Biographies of New Faculty

     John Allen Setliffe was added at the end of the 1907-8 school year, as he was one of eight Central teachers participating in the Hamilton County Teachers Summer Institute held June 1-26, 1908 (McGuffey was the only Central faculty non-participant since Spanish instruction was not offered).  J.A. Setliffe was born June 3, 1853 in Athens, AL, received an AB from Burritt College in Spencer, TN, then received an AM from the University of Kentucky. While in Kentucky Setlifffe married Anna Doom on Feb 9, 1875 and they had a son, Walter S. born in 1878. Setliffe then married Sara Ann Quayle Nov 15, 1883 in McMinnville, TN and they had two children –Arthur Pope born 7-17-87 in McMinnville and J. Alyne born 3-7-89 in Hope, AR.  Setliffe’s job as a minister of the Christian Church moved him around the South, but by 1900 he is listed as residing in Chattanooga and minister of the Highland Park Christian Church, a position he maintained while teaching at Central. Setliffe taught foreign languages at Central for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1937 a few days shy of his 84th birthday; but his most noteworthy role other than teaching at Central was his attempt to prevent removal of Principal Darrah by actively running against J B Brown for County Supt of Schools in 1911-12, which he lost. His standing in the community and his expertise in several languages probably prevented his removal from Central as befell McGuffey after Darrah’s departure. Setliffe died on August 4, 1939, leaving behind his third wife Lelia Hall Setliffe, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

    James B Rike was born Feb 23, 1884 in Ohio, son of James D and Cora Gibbs Rike.  He had a stellar football career at Ohio Wesleyan College from 1905-07 as a running back, playing his last two years under legendary coach Branch Rickey.  On Sept 3, 1908 the Chattanooga Times announced that Rike had accepted dual jobs as football coach at the University of Chattanooga and as athletic director (and biology teacher) at Central High School. Rike coached football, basketball, track, and baseball (and for a brief time girls basketball) at Central until the end of the 1918 school year. His aggressive recruiting of area and beyond athletes (and instant success) caused backlash from other area schools. By the start of the 1910-11 school year, Central was not invited to play in the City Prep League (after being the football and baseball champions for the previous year), and had difficulty scheduling opponents.  Ultimately, Principal Darrah was removed and Rike’s success gradually waned under the new Administration until, without the ability to recruit and having no athletic fields, Rike resigned and became the YMCA Director at Ft. Oglethorpe. He was subsequently hired by Baylor in 1919 for around  4 times what he was paid at Central (twice what the Baylor President was being paid) and had a highly successful career, most notably in track and field.  Rike was married briefly to Nellie Prugh (Dec 29, 1909 – Nov 15 1910) who died from complications of childbirth (Eleanor born Nov 2, 1910). Rike subsequently married Marian Barnes of Nashville Dec 21, 1912, and they had one son, James Barnes Rike, born in 1919.  Eleanor Rike married Davis Sandlin, trainer for the Chattanooga Lookouts and UC, and worked for Joe Engel at Chattanooga Baseball, Inc. for many years.  James Jr. starred at Baylor and UT and briefly played pro football for the Detroit Lions, then had a long career with the FBI.  James Sr. coached at Baylor until 1959, retiring at 75 years of age. He passed away on Feb 6, 1964 and posthumously became a charter member in the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mary Elizabeth Beck was born in Rivermont/ North Chattanooga  Feb 22, 1881, the daughter of Henry Clay and Rhoda Wexler Beck and granddaughter of Joshua Beck, whose Rivermont quarries supplied much of the building stone for downtown Chattanooga, notably the Walnut Street Bridge (1890). Henry Clay Beck was the Hamilton County Registrar (1874-90) and founded Title Guaranty and Trust Co. in 1899.  Mary Beck graduated from Chattanooga Normal School in Hill City, attended U S Grant University, and received a teaching diploma from the Boston School of Expression (now Curry College) around 1905. She taught at Belmont College, Nashville in 1905-7 and at Hollins Academy, Hollins, VA  1907-1909. Beck was the speech and women’s gym teacher at Central for four years. During the 1909-10 and 1910-11 school years, Beck’s women’s basketball teams won two City Championships and were undefeated for both years.  Beck left Central after the 1911-12 school year and married Charles Oren Hon, who later directed Title Guaranty and Trust Co. (still currently directed by grandson Charles O Hon III).  Mary and Charles Sr. had five children – Eleanor   born 12/25/16, Dorothy (5/25/18), Charles Jr. (1920), Margaret (1922), and Daniel (1924). Mary Beck Hon was involved in many local civic activities throughout her adult life, and  passed on June 8, 1967.

More Central Connections:    Mary Beck’s first cousin, Anna Lucille Beck, graduated from Central in 1911,  returned to teach English in 1922, and helped  resurrect  the Digest as a weekly newspaper. Anna’s younger sister, Flora Beck, graduated from Central in 1926 and returned to Central as an algebra teacher in 1931 (until 1948 then as Flora Ware), retiring in 1969 after a 38-year career at Central.  Mary’s second cousin and Flora’s niece, Frank H Beck, also graduated from Central in 1938 and taught English at Old Central (as Mrs J C Robbins) starting in 1962-3 to the end, then continuing for several years at the new school. Flora Beck Ware’s father, William Sherman Beck, was president of the Hamilton County High School Board that proposed and funded Central High School, was a frequent visitor to Central, and was pictured on the January 1911 Digest cover as being one of Central’s Hall of Fame.

As a footnote, Coach Rike’s grandson, Joseph Sandlin, married Mary Beck Hon’s granddaughter, Carolyn Poynton, thus their two children, Rike and Steven Sandlin, are common great-grandchildren of two of Central’s 1909 faculty members.


Chemical engineer; retired EPA in 2002 after 31 years. Still consulting when I have to. Grow lots of fascinating stuff on my 12 acres. So much left to little time. History is a passion. Sorry I didn't have more discourse with those who have left us. History lost forever.

4 thoughts on “1908-9 Biographies of New Faculty

  1. Great info! Hope you and your family are enjoying the holiday season. Busy week for me. My youngest daughter, Katee, graduates from The Art Institute of Seattle this Thursday. Very proud of her for earning a 4-year degree in 3 years while working 20 or more hours a week. She will receive a BS in Fashion Markerting and Management.

  2. I LOVE that Charlie can take cold, hard facts and “flesh” them out into human beings whose contributions to Central affected ALL of our lives. Every new edition of mini bios, I experience warm feelings for these folks that spreads to a smile, then to jaw drops as I realize how real the “Central Connection” really is. Isn’t that what the kids call the 6 degrees of separation?

    Thank you, Charlie!
    I look forward to you compiling a book – hint hint wink jab jab….

  3. I hope Mr. Sedman is taking some of the information from the CentralConnetion web site. There are so much memorable history put there.

  4. My grandfather was J.A. Setliffe!! I never got to meet him, and knew so little about him!! This is a WONDERFUL site!! So happy to have found it!!

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