Over the next 30 days, The Birmingham Buff will feature 30 remarkable women who have made their mark on Birmingham’s history.
A Woman You Should Know #5
Carrie Tuggle, a married mother of four and welfare officer, stood in the courtroom as two destitute black boys went before a judge. The boys were about to be sentenced for some petty crime, but Tuggle stepped in and offered to take the boys home to live with her. The judge agreed with her plea. Not long after, the idea to start a home and school for youthful offenders and orphans was birthed.
Carrie A. Greggs was born into slavery in Eufaula, Ala., in 1858. She married John Tuggle there and had four children. She and her family moved to Birmingham in 1900 for greater opportunities. The Tuggle Institute, after much struggle to raise funds, was opened September 3, 1903.
Nestled in the black middle-class neighborhood of Enon Ridge, the school grew quickly and soon began to take in neighborhood students as well. Some of the school’s students included successful businessman A.G. Gaston, influential jazz musician John “Fess” Whatley and Big Band composer and musician Erskine Hawkins.
The school adopted the Tuskegee Institute’s philosophy of industrial education, emphasizing the importance of a skilled trade over classical learning.
Tuggle remained the school’s headmistress until her death on this day in 1924. It became affiliated with the Birmingham school system in 1926, and the school’s name was changed to Enon Ridge School in 1934 when the Birmingham Board of Education purchased it. Two years later the school was renamed Tuggle Elementary School.