County schools, no. 17: Bynum School.

The seventeenth 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.

Bynum School

Though commonly believed to be, it is not clear that Bynum School was a Rosenwald school. It is not listed as such in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.It likely originally was a school for white students, turned over to educate black children after white schools consolidated. It closed circa 1949.

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“Rosenwald’s Ripples Continue to Spread,” Wilson Daily Times, 8 September 2001.

Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Bynum School on present-day Tartt’s Mill Road.

Per notification of public sale in 1951: “BYNUMS COLORED SCHOOL in Gardners Township, containing one-half acre, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: ALL that certain tract of land beginning at a stake near a Branch on the lands of Charles Bynum, thence in a northerly direction 70 yards to a stake, cornering, thence in an easterly direction 35 yards, cornering, thence in a Southerly direction 70 yards to a pine, thence West 35 yards to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 14, at page 377, Wilson County Registry.”

Bynum School building is still standing, but was long ago converted to a dwelling. This may be it:

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Bynums School was a one-room school seated on one acre and valued at $400.

Per a 8 September 2001 Daily Times article: the school was “a simple, two-room building that housed first through seventh grades.” “When [Simon Barnes Jr.] was 7 years old, [teacher Beatrice] Jones had paid him 25 cents to build a fire in the cast iron stove in the schoolhouse.” “‘I took a biscuit filled with preserves and ham in my back pocket everyday,’ [Simon Barnes Jr.] said, ‘I sat on it all morning. When I took it out, it was flat.’ After eating his lunch, he slaked his thirst with water from the big pump in the school yard.” “[Fannie] Corbett said by the time she was there, the parents had contributed lumber to partition off a lunch room and bought a little oil stove and some bowls. A nearby housewife baked biscuits fresh each day for the students.”

Known faculty: Principal Doris Freeman James; teachers Mrs. Dunstan, Lena Washington Hilliard, Beatrice Jones, Mamie PenderThelma Saunders Cooper.”In those days you made do with what you had, [Bennie Woodard] said. ‘The teachers did an outstanding job with what they had.’ And that set an example for the students. ‘That’s why none of us can forget Beatrice Jones,’ [Woodard] said. ‘I don’t think any of us would have made it had it not been for her.’

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

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