The second in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.
Mitchell School was built in 1919 near Dunn’s Crossroads on land donated by James Gray Mitchell. It was not a Rosenwald school.
The front, shot from the western end of the building.
Location: Astonishingly, this school is still standing and is remarkably intact. It is hidden in a nearly impenetrable grove of pine and sweetgum saplings in a residential stretch of Lake Wilson Road.
Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Mitchell School was a three-room school seated on two acres. I could not observe the building head-on or from all sides. Its windows and doors are boarded up, but its hipped tin roof is solid, as is the observable siding. Its entry door is under a central gable. There are two windows in the easternmost room, and a bank of windows on the southern facade.
A February 1951 report on Wilson County schools found: “The jury expressed the opinion that more instructors are needed to tutor pupils at Mitchell school …. Mitchell, a one-teacher school with an enrollment of 41 pupils, needs replacement of window panes and a grate in the stove, the group said.” Wilson Daily Times, 16 February 1951.
Banks of windows on the south-facing side.
The siding, weathered but in surprisingly good shape.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 January 1940.
- James Gray Mitchell
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 52, and wife Cherry, 45; Jerry Bynum, 6; farmer James Mitchel, 47, wife Rosa, 33, and son James G. Mitchel, 11.
On 24 December 1889, James Mitchell and Amanda Edwards, both 20, applied for a marriage license in Nash County, North Carolina.
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Mitchel, 31; wife Armanda, 30; and children Chister [Kester], 9, Regenia, 8, Henretta, 6, William R., 4, and Dewey, 2; and mother Rose, 50.
In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Mitchell, 38; mother Rosa, 58; and children Kester R., 18, Cynthia, 14, Robert L., 12, Jimmie D., 10, and Lelia B., 8.
Jimmie Dee Mitchell registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born in 1898; lived on R.F.D. #4, Elm City; and worked as a farm laborer for Jas. Grey Mitchell.
James Mitchell Jr. died 19 May 1953 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 May 1869 in Wilson to James Mitchell Sr. and Rosa Parker; was a farmer; Informant was Robert L. Mitchell, Elm City. He was buried at William’s Chapel cemetery, Saratoga [sic; Elm City].
Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2020. Many thanks to Agnes Green for pinpointing the school’s location.