Rosenwald school

County schools, no. 18: Yelverton School.

The eighteenth 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.

Yelverton School

Yelverton School is listed as a Rosenwald School in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.

Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Yelverton School on present-day Aspen Grove Church Road near the Pitt County line.

Per notification of public sale in 1951: “YELVERTON COLORED SCHOOL in Saratoga Township, containing two acres, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEGINNING at a stake on the East side of Aspin Grove Road beside a white oak, runs thence South 55 1/2 [degrees] East 204 feet to a stake with a sourwood and 2 pine pointers, corners, runs thence 34 1/6 [degrees] West 420 feet to a stake, corners, runs thence North 55 1/2 [degrees] to a stake on the easterly side of said road, thence with said road to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a judgment recorded in Book 179, at page 155, in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Wilson County.”

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Bynums School had two acres valued at $200, but “no house.” Yelverton School was built in 1925-16 with $700.00 from the Rosenwald Fund, $2025.00 from Wilson County, and $50.00 from local families.

Yelverton School building is one, and the better preserved, of two Rosenwald schools (officially) standing in Wilson County. Per Research Report: Tools for Assessing the Significance and Integrity of North Carolina’s Rosenwald Schools and Comprehensive Investigation of Rosenwald Schools In Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson Counties (2007), in 1926, State Rosenwald Supervisor William F. Credle gave this report on the newly built Yelverton School to the Wilson County Board of Education:

“This is good two-teacher school with cloak rooms and industrial room. It is properly located on a good site. I recommend that the following improvements be made:

“Put in at least 30 feet of blackboard to the room. This should be provided with a chalk rail.

“Put in terra cotta thimbles in all chimneys.

“Provide good stoves. Jacketed stoves are to be desired. We furnish blue prints for jackets and they can be made for about $20.00 a piece at an good tinner’s.

“Hooks for cloaks and shelves for lunch boxes should be provided in the cloak rooms.

“The seats now in the building should be reconditioned and a sufficient number of new ones provided to accommodate the enrollment. The old seats that are badly cut can be put in very good condition by planing off the rough tops and staining and varnishing.

“Finally the privies should be removed to the line of the school property. They should be provided with pits and the houses should be made fly proof.

“The patrons should be encouraged to clean off the lot so as to provide play ground for the children.”

The condition of Yelverton School has declined considerably in the 13 years since Plate 256, above, published in the research report.

A bank of nine-over-nine windows.

One of the two classrooms. Note the stove and original five-panel door.

The rear of the school.

Known faculty: teachers Otto E. Sanders, Esther B. Logan, Merle S. Turner, Izetta Green, Louise Delorme, Dorothy Eleen Jones.

Plate 256 published in the Research Report; other photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

We are very anxious to add on to schools.

The North Carolina State Archives holds records of the former Department of Public Instruction’s Division of Negro Education, including correspondence between the Rosenwald Fund and county school superintendents.

In March 1926, Rosenwald Fund Supervisor W.F. Credle wrote Wilson County School Superintendent Charles L. Coon to update Coon on his visit to Elm City and to tout several sources of funding “for the colored children of North Carolina.” “We are very anxious to add on schools in towns the size of Elm City where buildings large enough for the accommodation of a high school can be provided.” 

Though initially cool to the idea of external control of funds, Coon responded quickly, inviting Credle to meet with the Board of Education to discuss “the whole problem of colored school buildings for Wilson county.”

On April 26, Credle sent Coon a report on the schools he had inspected during his visit and urged him to consider employing a Jeanes teacher, who “could assist the people in raising as much money by private contributions for school buildings and equipment as the county would have to spend for her salary.” (The Jeanes Foundation funded educational and vocational training in rural African-American communities, primarily via teacher placement.)

On May 31, Credle wrote again, “happy to advise” that checks for Stantonsburg ($900), Evansdale ($700) and Saratoga Schools ($900) were attached, and Yelverton and New Vester were coming. 

Correspondence: Rosenwald Fund, Box 2, Folder C, 1925-1926, African American Education, digital.ncdcr.gov.

County schools, no. 14: Saratoga School.

The fourteenth 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.

Saratoga School

Saratoga School is listed as a Rosenwald school in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.” This school was consolidated with other small schools in 1951, and its students then attended Speight High School.

Location: Per a sale advertised in the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks in the fall of 1951, “SARATOGA COLORED SCHOOL in Saratoga township, containing two acres, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEGINNING at a stake in the Saratoga-Stantonsburg Road, thence Northwest 140 yards to a stake, thence Southwest 70 yards parallel with said road thence Southeast 140 yards and parallel with the first line in the said Saratoga-Stantonsburg Road, thence with the said road 70 yards to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 157, at page 70, Wilson County Registry.”

The school has been demolished.

Description: This school is described in The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24 as a one-room building on two acres.

Known faculty: teachers Alice Mitchell, Naomi Jones, Mary E. Diggs, Corine l. Francis, Katie J. Woodard, Mary J. Lassiter.

County schools, no. 13: Kirby School.

The thirteenth 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.

Kirby’s School

Also known as Kirby’s Crossing School. This school is listed as a Rosenwald school in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.

Location: A 1925 soil map of Wilson County appears to show a school next to Saint Delight Free Will Baptist Church on a tiny lane that runs parallel to the railroad.

However, 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows a school on what appears to be present-day Newsome Mill Road, near the community of Boyette, which was a name by which the Kirby’s Crossing community was once known.

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Kirbys School was a three-room school seated on one acre. This photo appears in the report, but may depict an earlier school in the vicinity, also called Kirby’s, that served white children.

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In 1936, African-American children at Rocky Branch, Williamson, Kirby’s, New Vester and Calvin Level schools — all in the rural southwest quadrant of Wilson County — responded to a survey about education and farm life.

Known faculty: None.

County schools, no. 4: Barnes School.

The fourth 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.

Barnes School

[Please note that there appear to have been two “colored” Barnes Schools in the early 20th century, one under the jurisdiction of Wilson city schools, and one near Stantonsburg (perhaps affiliated with Barnes Church) under in the county school system. The post concerns the former.]

Barnes School was erected with Rosenwald funds in 1920.

Location: “3 1/2 miles west of Wilson on the Municipal Airport Road.”

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“This building can be torn down and the lumber salvaged to be used for other purposes. This building is located in one of the best farming sections in eastern North Carolina and only a 10 minute ride from the center of the city.” Wilson Daily Times, 26 March 1951.

A 1925 soil map of Wilson County shows a school on what is now Airport Boulevard near a branch of Hominy Swamp and the present-day YMCA pool. This accords with the recollection of D.W. Saulter, whose grandfather purchased a school building on Airport Boulevard and converted it into a residence. She reports that the building has been demolished.

In May 1942, an article in the Wilson Daily Times announced locations for sugar ration registration, including “Barnes school, all colored people in Wilson Township west of Wilson living within Wilson township.”

Description: From Research Report:Tools for Assessing the Significance and Integrity North Carolina’s Rosenwald Schools and Comprehensive Investigation of Rosenwald Schools in Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson Counties, “[Superintendent Charles L.] Coon notes that a five-room Barnes school, valued with its land at $9,300, was erected in 1920 in the city of Wilson …. Further, the school that the [Rosenwald] Fund supported was a three-teacher type that cost $6,000, with $700 in Fund support, $1,000 in public funds, and a whopping $4,300 contribution from the black community.”

D.W. Saulter recalls that the building was faced with windows and had a central inset front door.

Known faculty: principal Ruth Jones Palmer; teachers Dora GodwinCora Farmer, and Margaret L. Morrison.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 April 1935.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 December 1946.

County schools, no. 1: New Vester School.

The first 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.

New Vester School

New Vester School was built in the early 1920s with money from the community and the Julius Rosenwald Fund.

Location: Demolished. The school was on the north side of New Vester Missionary Baptist Church, now the site of the church’s front parking lot. As set forth in Mortgage Book 622, Page 410, the metes and bounds were: “Beginning at the Northwest corner of New Vester Missionary Baptist Church lot, a point in the middle of the road, thence with the middle of the road North 3 degrees 15′ East 67 feet to the center of the road to Wilson, thence with the middle of said road North 77 degrees 30′ East 351 feet; cornering; thence South 350.2 feet to the New Vester Church Cemetery line; cornering; thence with said cemetery line 253.5 feet to the New Vester Missionary Baptist Church corner; cornering; runs thence North 6 degrees 30′ East 210 feet; cornering; runs thence West 105 feet to the point of beginning; and being known as New Vester Colored School lot. …”

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Descriptions: per The Report on Schools in Wilson County, North Carolina 1925-26, “This is a building of the two-teacher type provided with cloak rooms and industrial room. The windows in this building are too close to the floor and there is no lattice between the brick piers. There was but little equipment in the New Vester school and modern desks should be supplied. A further criticism of this building is that the piers under the center girders were very crude. Good piers should be provided as early as possible for if the building once sags it will be almost impossible to ever get it in good condition again.”

Rosenwald two-teacher community school plan.

Known faculty: principal Cora Sherrod Wilson; teachers Lucille Clement, Hazel Marie Davis.

Notes: New Vester closed at the end of the 1950-’51 school year, and its children, of all grades, were sent to the new Springfield High School. The Wilson County Board of Education offered this school and lot at public auction on 19 November 1951 with eighteen other “colored” schools.

Aerial view per Google Maps.

For sale, the following public schools, pt. 2.

In the fall of 1951, having opened several modern — or modernized — brick buildings across the county, the Wilson County Board of Education moved to auction off its old colored school houses, some of which had been built with Rosenwald funds. For several weeks, the Wilson Daily Times ran lengthy notices identifying the properties by name and metes and bounds. Schools set for sale included Ruffin, Lofton, Lucama, Calvin Level, Rocky Branch, Williamson and Wilbanks Colored Schools in Black Creek, Cross Roads, Spring Hill, and Gardners townships.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 October 1951.

Woman-slapping superintendent explodes again.

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New York Age, 20 September 1919.

Charles Henry Moore, an Amherst College graduate who helped establish North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical University, served as a regional director for the Rosenwald Fund, whose school-building initiative Charles L. Coon largely opposed. Moore published an account of his school tour in May 1920 in volume 49, number 5, of The Southern Workman, Hampton Institute’s monthly magazine. The article did not mention Coon’s rudeness during Moore’s visit to Wilson County.

Clinton J. Calloway was director of agricultural extension work at Tuskegee Institute and managed the Rosenwald program.

J.D. Reid, then principal of the Wilson Colored Graded School, played a significant role in the “woman-slapping” incident.

For more re Wilson County’s Rosenwald schools, see here.

Studio shots, no. 90: Edna E. Gaston.

Per an eBay listing for a reproduction of this photo: “Photo. North Carolina. Black girl and doll carriage. The girl’s name is Edna Earl Gaston. She was the niece of John Clark who was a founder of St Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was also the first Black mail carrier in Wilson, North Carolina. 1925.”

In fact, Edna Earline Gaston was the daughter of Albert Sessle Gaston of Wilson and Annie House Gaston of Moore County, North Carolina. John H. Clark was her great-uncle, brother of Albert Gaston’s mother Ella Clark Gaston.

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In the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: Ella Gaston, 30, divorced, with sons Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2. [Also in the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, North Carolina: 44 year-old barber John Gaston, [second] wife Sabrina [Sattena] 22, and children Theodore, 13, Cicero, 10, George, 8, and Caroline, 2 months. John A. Gaston was Albert Gaston’s father.]

In 1918, Albert Gaston registered for the World War I draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 16 August 1897 in Wilson, N.C.; resided at 2105 Nassau Street, Philadelphia; worked as a longshoreman; and his nearest relative was Anna Gaston.

In the 1920 census of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania: at 2105 Nassau Street, building laborer Albert Gaston, 22; wife Anne T., 23; daughter Edna E., 1;  lodger Harry Jenkins, 19, a laundry laborer; and “mother” Hellen Hunton, 53. All were born in North Carolina.

Shortly after the census, the Gastons returned to North Carolina, where they took positions in Annie H. Gaston’s home county. On 28 April 1921, The Moore County News of Carthage printed principal Albert Gaston’s address to the Shady Grove colored school.

By October 1921, Gaston had take over as head of the struggling Addor school. Per this 1997 National Register of Historic Places nomination report, the Gastons began an energetic campaign to raise money for a Rosenwald School, and the Lincoln Park school near Pinebluff was the result.

Albert Sessel Gaston registered for the World War II draft in 1942 in Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1897 in Wilson; was employed by the Board of Education in Raeford; and his contact was Annie L. Gaston, 119 Lincoln Street, Hampton, Virginia.

Annie Lillian Gaston died 2 June 1952 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 July 1896 in Moore County to John House and Maggie Gunter; was a schoolteacher; and was married. Albert Gaston was informant.

Per the Social Security Death Index, Albert Gaston died November 1979 and Edna Gaston Coles died 25 July 1999, both in Philadelphia.

For sale, the following public schools, pt. 1.

In the fall of 1951, having opened several modern — or modernized — brick buildings across the county, the Wilson County Board of Education moved to auction off its old colored school houses, some of which had been built with Rosenwald funds. For several weeks, the Wilson Daily Times ran lengthy notices identifying the properties by name and metes and bounds. Schools set for sale included New Vester, Jones Hill, Sims, Farmer’s Mill, Howard’s, Brooks and Minshew’s Colored Schools in Old Fields, Taylors and Black Creek townships.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 October 1951.