Education, Migration, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Back to school.

Atlanta has begun its new school year, and my Facebook timeline feed is dotted with pictures of beaming children. Just about a hundred years ago, my grandmothers started school for the first time. I have no photos of my father’s mother at that age, but she spoke to me of her anxious first days at an elementary school in New York City. She’d gone there with her great-aunt and adoptive mother, Sarah Henderson Jacobs, who occasionally traveled North for short stints of domestic work:

The first day I ever went to school, Frances [Aldridge Newsome, her paternal aunt] took me and her son Edward to school. And the building – I don’t remember what the building looked like inside – but I know we went in, and they had little benches, at least it was built around in the room. And you could stand there by it and mark on your paper if you wanted to or whatever. I didn’t see no seats in there. You sit on the same thing you were writing on.   It’s in that, it seem like, from what I remember, it was down in the basement. You had to go down there, and the benches was all the way ‘round the room. And the teacher’s desk — and she had a desk in there. And the children sat on the desk, or you stand there by it, or kneel down if you want to mark on it. First grade, you ain’t know nothing ‘bout no writing no how. And I went in, and I just looked. I just, I didn’t do nothing. I just sit there on top of the desk. And I was crying. I went back to Frances’ house, and then after they come picked us up, I said, well, “Frances, I want to go home.” Go where Mama was. So Frances said, “We’ll go tomorrow.” I said, “How come we can’t go today?”   She said, “Well, it’s too far to go now.” I said, “Well, can you call her?” And she said, “I don’t know the phone number, and I don’t know the name it’s in.” And so that kind of threw me; I finally went on to bed. But anyway before long they all took me back over to Brooklyn.

My mother’s mother also spoke of her early school days:

I never shall forget, we went to Golar’s school when there was a flu epidemic at home, and the schools were closed for months, you know. I don’t know how or why they closed them like that, but anyway, they were closed. And the county schools were open. And Papa used to take us down there to [her sister] Golar’s school. She had a school down there below Belmont. It wasn’t called Belmont. What’s the other one called? She had a little school in Williams Grove. And taught me so much more than them city schools. Girl, I’m telling you, I was in second grade, I never shall forget, she taught me how to crochet. She taught me how to crochet. She taught me how to do divisions. She taught me how to do fractions.

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Margaret Colvert Allen, seated far right, third row. Circa 1915, Statesville.

Morningside School 3

Margaret C. Allen, second from right, second row from top. Her sister Launie Mae Colvert Jones, at left, first row of middle section. Circa 1916, Statesville.

Interviews of Hattie Henderson Ricks and Margaret Colvert Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

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Education, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

We, the colored people, are going to run a school.

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The Great Sunny South (Snow Hill), 25 February 1898. 

Cain D. Sauls revealed his civic commitment in this edition of his newspaper column. I need to research whether the efforts to fund and establish a ten-month school were successful.

(By the way, C.D.’s guests were primarily his relatives: first cousin Henry Artis Jr. and his sisters and first cousin Hannah Artis Randolph.)

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Education, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Colored children of school age.

 

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Thirty-five years after Emancipation, the Miller-McConnaughey and McNeely families were still clustered in western Rowan County, working small farms that they owned or rented. Education was a prized advantage, and many children in the neighborhood completed at least a few years.  This school census, taken in 1900, lists all school-aged children in a household, though there is no way to tell if the children actually attended.

The six youngest children of Ransom and Mary Ann McConnaughey Miller are listed: Florence A., Ida L., Margaret Lina, Spencer Lee, Hattie A., and Thomas Eddie Miller.

Green and Grace Adeline Miller Miller‘s household included Walter, 10, and Bertha, 7. Both children were listed as the couple’s grandchildren in the 1900 census. Bertha Todd was the daughter of Green and Adeline’s daughter Margaret Miller and Alfred Todd. I don’t know who Walter Kerr’s parents were, but it seems likely that his mother was either Margaret or Mary Caroline Miller.

George Miller, by then in his mid-60s, is listed with a 13 year-old boy named Ernest. This appears to be the Earnest Hilliard listed in his household in the 1900 census and described as a grandson. Was he Maria Miller’s son?

Finally, Arch McNeely, nephew of Martha Miller McNeely‘s husband Henry W. McNeely, is listed with four of his children, Ann J., Callie, Julius L.A., and Mary E. McNeely.

Copy of document from School Records, Rowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

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Education, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Morningside School.

Statesville’s Morningside School had its beginnings in the two-roomed Colored Free School, which opened in 1891. Maggie Sellars and Alma J. Carter shared teaching duties. The following year and additional room was added, and the instructional staff expanded to five. In 1915, a mysterious fire consumed the original building, and for the next six years children attended classes in nearby churches and fraternal halls. In 1921, a new eight-classroom facility on Green Street near Garfield opened, with Charles W. Foushee as principal. This building was known as Morningside School. Within two years, booming enrollment demanded expansion to seven elementary grades and two high school. Tenth and eleventh grades were added in 1928, and the school was accredited in 1930. After desegregation in 1965, Morningside became an elementary school and, in 1971, its name was changed to Alan D. Rutherford School.

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Margaret at school

These photographs were probably taken shortly before the Colored Free School burned down. In the first, my grandmother is second from right on the second row from the top. Her sister Launie Mae is first in the third row from the top. In the second photo, my grandmother is seated last on the third row from the top.

Text adapted from materials produced for Morningside Alumni Association — 2002 Reunion, Statesville NC, 31 August 2002. Photos in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

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Education, Letters, Maternal Kin, Other Documents, Photographs, Virginia

The Keysville school.

Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Chap. 91.  An Act to Incorporate the Keysville Bluestone mission industrial school.  Approved January 17, 1900.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, that Reverend Nelson Jordan, R.C. Yancey, George D. Wharton, P.E. Anderson, F.L. Hall, Jesse H. Wilson, Jordan Moseley, Whitfield Clark, L.N. Wilson, A.J. Goode, S.L. Johnson, N.C. Ragby and Miss Mary E. Wilson [are appointed] board of trustees [of an institution] by the name and style of the Keysville Bluestone mission industrial school for the purpose of keeping and conducting at Keysville, Charlotte County, Virginia, a boarding and day school of the above name, and of giving instruction to such colored persons, male and female, as may be committed to their care as pupils of said school. …

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Rev. Whitfield Clark’s sister Mary married my great-great-great-great-uncle Joseph R. Holmes, who was murdered on the steps of Charlotte County courthouse in 1869. As shown below, Joseph Holmes had been instrumental in securing support for the precursor to this school:

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Joseph homes letter

Photograph of Keysville Industrial School, Keysville, Virginia, by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2012. Images of letters from Virginia Freedmen’s Bureau Letters of Correspondence 1865, 1872, www.familysearch.org (originals in Records of the Field Offices for the State of Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands 1865-1872, National Archives and Records Administration.)

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