This “Stantonsburg Negro School History,” found in Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981), offers a detailed account of Stantonsburg Colored School‘s early history.
“The first reference to schooling for the Negro children in Stantonsburg Township is found in the County School Board Minutes of September 1887. ‘The colored children living on lands of William Applewhite, William Barnes, Uriah Amerson, W.J. Batts, Edwin Barnes and Frank Barnes be assigned to District Number 29.’ The location of this school is unknown at this time.
“Books and charts used by both the Negro and White schools in 1893 were published by the American Book Company.
“Very little is known about the early Negro school except there was a school for colored children in Stantonsburg prior to 1913 proven by the fact that the county Board of Education appointed H.E. Thompson, J.C. Stanton and C.L. Coon, a committee in the latter year with power to act relative to moving the colored school.
“In December of 1916, the county Board of Education voted to appropriate $75.00 to remodel the colored school. It was located just outside the city limits on Highway #58, approximately one-fourth mile from the corner of Highway #58 and Saratoga Road, on the Johnnie Page corn mill site; now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Holton.
“On March 3, 1919, the county School Board ‘agreed to sell to the colored Masonic Lodge of Stantonsburg the colored school house of that district for $900.00, provided that the colored people of said district raise $600.00 with which to erect a new colored school building.’ The county agreed to appropriate $250.00 for the new building. At the November 3rd meeting, the chairman and secretary were instructed to ‘make a deed for the Stantonsburg Colored School House and lot upon the payment of purchase money by Lodges of Masons and Knights of Gideon.’
“When the county board convened for the December 1st meeting, it was reported that the colored school house had burned since the last meeting and the following agreement was made:
“1. The Masonic and Gideon Lodges, colored of Stantonsburg, having paid $500.00 on the purchase of the colored school house it is ordered that $300.00 of the amount be returned to the two lodges.
“2. It was agreed that the county board will deed one-quarter acre of the colored school lot to these lodges for a site for a lodge building free of cost.
“After the fire in 1919, school was held in the St. Luke Free Will Baptist Church for the years 1920-1923.
“Land for the new school was acquired from R.M. Whitley. The building was completed in 1924 and is located on Macon Avenue. School was held in the four classrooms, wood framed building until it was closed down in 1951-52 and sold to Elijah Wood. The school was heated by wood and coal heaters.
“In 1951-52, the pupils were transferred to Speight’s School located between Stantonsburg and Saratoga, North Carolina.
“Very little is known about the very early teachers, except in 1916-17 we know that there were two teachers. Other records have been lost or misplaced.
“The following list of teachers and principals was found at the Wilson County Board of Education in Wilson. The earliest known teachers were: W.S. Ward, 1892-1896, District Number 29; E.L. Reide, 1894-1896; E.L. Reide and Clarissa Williams, 1898, District Number 10. [A list of teachers and principals from 1920s through 1952 follows; it will be the subject of another post.]”
A few observations:
- The boundaries of earliest rural school districts for African-American children were contiguous with large farms on which large numbers of Black families lived and worked as tenant farmers or farm laborers. This begs the question of where children who did not live on such farms went to school.
- “Saratoga Road” is now NC Highway 222. I am unable to further pinpoint the location of this school from the info provided. (Does anyone recognize these landmarks: Johnnie Page’s corn mill or the Holton home?)
- The paragraph about the land purchases involving the Masonic lodge and Knights of Gideon clarifies information set forth in a Rosenwald School report concerning Barnes School, which was located a few miles northwest of Stantonsburg, a bit north of present-day Speight Middle School. I have made notations on the post regarding that school.
- Does anyone recall the name or location of the Prince Hall lodge in Stantonsburg?
- The site most closely associated with this school was the Macon Street location purchased in 1924.
- I have not identified W.S. Ward, but E.L. Reide was Elijah L. Reid, the Wayne County-born veterinarian who practiced (and apparently taught) in Stantonsburg before relocating to Wilson. Clarissa Williams was also a Wayne County native and moved to Wilson to teach and, eventually, become principal of the Colored Graded School.