Friday, October 30, 2015

Ms. Nettie Fant Thompson

For those who remember Ms. Nettie Fant Thompson it is with many pleasant memories.

Ms. Nettie Fant Thompson was native to Holly Springs, MS.  She was an art teacher and a historian for the WPA (Works Project Administration).

At the Depot, Gwen Wyatt and her sister Josephine Wyatt-Ashmead, remember their after school art teacher fondly.

"She was never boring" said Josephine. "You never knew what she was going to do next.  Anything was possible in her studio.   She had a cute face, loosely piled hair, and an impish glint always shimmering in her eyes."

The two would never hesitate to go to her studio every week. "It was always a fun and exciting experience," said Gwen.

They learned a lot from their teacher.  "She taught me how to draw trees in the distance.  You do a quick trunk and then add the leaves like clouds.  She was really into painting trees," added Josephine.

Ms. Nettie would jokingly say, "I painted every tree in Holly Springs."

"I did a picture of pansies with pastels," chimed in Gwen.
A close up example of how Ms. Nettie painted her trees.

"One hard lesson that I finally learned was to never say 'can't'," tells Josephine.

Ms. Nettie Fant would always say, "Never say can't. You can always try doing it another way."

If you said the word 'can't' you had to add a nickle to the jar.

"It was a very expensive lesson to learn," remarks Josephine.  "When I was six, I once had a temper tantrum and chanted the word 'can't' five times in a row. I added a lot of money to her jar that day."

"The money in the jar was probably used to feed her cat," Gwen jokes.

This joke ties into the most noteable memory the two share.
Cite:  Unknown item from Nettie Fant Thompson's folder at the Marshall County Historical Museum.

"Ms. Nettie Fant Thompson would assign us a task, fix herself a sandwich, and eat it," explains Gwen.  "She would take a bite from one side and her cat would start in on the other side. Eventually, they would meet and when they did the cat would give her a kiss in thanks."

All in all, Ms. Nettie Fant Thompson was a vivid character in Holly Springs.  She left wonderful and colorful memories to her students.

Today, one of her oil paintings hangs prominently at the Depot.  It pictures a scene from Mirror Lake at Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama.

"I won't forget her.  She had a great influence on me!" exclaimed Josephine.  "She taught me the most important lesson of my life.  She taught me that everything is possible!"


  1. Hello - I was wondering if you had any further information on Nettie Fant Thompson; or even if you could point me in the right direction. I am trying my best to do some research on her art career and I'm coming up empty handed! Any help would be appreciated. Thank you -

    1. Sorry for the delay. Sadly, most of her information is missing. The Marshall County Historical Museum have a bit about her and her works. I would check there first.