The high school received its name from Augusta Tilghman, the wife of General Lloyd Tilghman, an officer in the Confederate Army. In 1919 as a memorial to their parents, the sons of General Tilghman erected a statue of their father in Paducah, and gave the city $20,000 to buy a site for a high school in memory of their mother. That site was located on Murrell Boulevard between Clark and Adams Streets. As a result Augusta Tilghman High School was opened September 19, 1921, replacing the former Paducah High School.
The increasing population of Paducah later necessitated the building of a larger and more adequate school. Mr. Mark L. Scully, Superintendent of Schools, became the head of a drive to construct a new facility at 2400 Washington Street; with the added leadership of Mr. Walter C. Jetton, Tilghman’s principal from 1922 to 1957. Through the efforts of Dr. Ralph W. Osborne, Superintendent of Schools, the drive was completed and the cornerstone laid for the present Paducah Tilghman High School in 1955.
At the time of the construction of the new building, those constituting the Board of Education were Lee F. Powell, President; Ralph W. Osborne, Superintendent; Mrs. Ethel M. Stamper, Secretary and Treasurer; Dr. H.D. Abell, Glenn Houser, Lynn B. Phipp, Earle T. Shoup and William R. Black.
Later a significant addition was made to the campus of Tilghman through the efforts of many interested citizens. Mr. Sam Livingston was the chairman of a committee which raised, from voluntary contributions, the primary means of financing the building of Memorial Stadium. Today, Memorial Stadium and Ralph McRight Field play an important part in the lives of those associated with Tilghman. In 1960 Mr. George Crounse donated half the cost of a quarter mile track.
In 1966 a new wing of classrooms located above the cafeteria was completed. Also in 1966 the Tilghman Area Trade School was opened. This structure houses classrooms and shop facilities in which several modern trades are taught. An extensive remodeling of the library provided new conference rooms and more complete utilization of the materials contained in the library.
The combining of Paducah Tilghman High School with Lincoln High School, in 1965, produced the first complete integration of public high schools in the city.
More than any other person, the name of Walter C. Jetton has been connected with Tilghman. His name is legendary in the perfection he expected of both teachers and students. Through the dedicated service of Mr. Jetton, Tilghman’s position of leadership and esteem in scholarship, athletics, and other areas of school life was developed.
History of Tilghman