Henry D. Wyatt



Wyatt Founds City High,

Initiates 100-Year History

By Mary Thomas Peacock


     Prof. Henry D. Wyatt father of the public school system of Chattanooga, which he founded in 1872, laid the solid foundation, which we have today.  He was the system’s first superintendent.

     He was born in 1836 in Grafton, New Hampshire.  After finishing high school, he taught for several years and worked on a farm in the summers.  In 1862, he enlisted in Company B, fifteenth New Hampshire Infantry, was wounded, and mustered out the same year.  Then he took up the study of medicine and in 1865, he was made assistant surgeon in a heavy artillery corps.  After the war, he graduated from Harvard University in Medicine and in 1871 took his master’s degree from Dartmouth.  Then came the call to Chattanooga.

     The first high school classes he taught in his office while he also filled the duties of superintendent of schools.  Thus, he became the school’s first principal.  In 1894, he took the principalship of Chattanooga High School, a position he held until 1910 when he was made supervisor of music for all the city schools.  This position he held until his death in 1917.

     While principal, he also taught the classes in the then-offered Greek course.  He organized the glee clubs and an old-timer recalls that after the sheet music for a new song have been passed out to the students he would reach for his violin and say, “Now the tune goes this-a-way.”  Then he would play the more difficult parts until the students “caught on.”

     He was never known to lose his temper.  Mild mannered, soft spoken, he could enter a room where noisy students were in charge, step to the edge of the platform, and with a rising of his hand obtain immediate quiet and order.  They all loved him.

     Old-timers also say that Prof. Wyatt, Miss Trimble and Mrs., McDonald were a triumvirate, a bulwark of learning and high standards, which stood for Chattanooga High School through the years.  The students often called his “Daddy Wyatt,” and in truth, he was the father of our schools.


Reprinted from Chattanooga High "Maroon and White", special edition April 17, 1964