school

County schools, no. 16: Healthy Plains School.

The sixteenth 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.

Healthy Plains School

Healthy Plains School is not listed as a Rosenwald School in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.Nor is it listed in Superintendent Charles L. Coon’s report The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24.

Location:  A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Healthy Plains School on present-day U.S. 264 Alternate, just west of the Greene County line near Spring Branch Church Road.

Description: This school was likely named for (and near by) Healthy Plain Primitive Baptist Church, an African-American church (to be distinguished from a white church of the same name near Buckhorn in western Wilson County).

Known faculty: teacher Mary Estelle Barnes.

County schools, no. 10: Lofton School.

The tenth 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.

Lofton School

Lofton School does not appear to have been a Rosenwald school.

Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows “Lofton” school on present-day Downing Road, just below Contentnea Creek.

Per sale advertised in the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks in the fall of 1951: “LOFTON COLORED SCHOOL in Black Creek Township, containing 1 3/4 acres, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEING on the Southerly side of the Aycock Road and the Westerly side of Contentnea Creek, just below the bridge; BEGINNING in the center of the road at the bridge, runs thence with and along the road South 73 degrees 45′ West 175.13 feet to an iron pin, a bend in the road, thence South 44 degrees 10′ West 317.58 to an iron pin, leaves the road and runs thence South 81 degrees 19′ East about 619 feet to the center of Contentnea Creek, thence with and along and up the line of said Creek to the point of beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 108, at page 109, Wilson County Registry.”

Description: This school is not listed in The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, unless it is “Lovers” School, described as having “no house.” In such case, the school would have met in another building, such as a church. Clearly, however, there was a Lofton school building.

Known faculty: Annie Cooke Farmer Battle Dickens, Eloise Reavis Peacock.

Aerial view courtesy of Bing.com.

Road map to county schools.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has made available digitally copies of many of its historic maps. The 1936 North Carolina County Road Survey not only maps Wilson County’s roads, it also shows the locations of schools and churches. African-American county schools appear as “other”:

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Some of the schools are easily identified, but for others I have made best guesses.

Starting in the northern part of the county, which covers parts of Taylor, Toisnot, Wilson, and Gardners townships:

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  1. Turner School
  2. Page School
  3. Wilbanks School
  4. Pender School
  5. Mitchell School
  6. William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church

The southeast sector, covering parts of Wilson, Saratoga, Stantonsburg, and Black Creek townships. Holdens and Saratoga Schools do not appear:

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  1. London’s Primitive Baptist Church
  2. Bynum School
  3. Lane School
  4. Evansdale School
  5. Brooks School
  6. Minshew School
  7. Stantonsburg School
  8. Healthy Plains School
  9. Yelverton School

The southwest sector, covering parts of Wilson, Spring Hill, Cross Roads, and Black Creek townships:

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  1. Rocky Branch Christian Church; Rocky Branch School
  2. Williamson School
  3. Calvin Level School
  4. Kirby School
  5. Powell School
  6. probably Ruffin or Ferrell School

The northwest sector, covering parts of Wilson, Taylors, and Old Fields townships. Barnes, Sims, Howard, and Jones Hill Schools do not appear to be marked:

  1. Lofton School
  2. New Vester Missionary Baptist Church; New Vester School
  3. Farmer School

County schools, no. 5: Turner School.

The fifth 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.

Turner School

Turner School was originally built to educate white children. After school consolidation 1917-1924, the building was turned over for use by black children. In 1939, children in Turner district began attending the newly built Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City.

Location: The 29 September 1953, the Wilson Daily Times reported this land transfer: “Board of Education of Wilson County to the Board of Trustees of Elm City Graded Schools, lot beginning at I.T. Luper’s corner in the center of the Town Creek-Rocky Mount road [now Town Creek Road] known as the Turner School lot and lot beginning at the northwest corner of a church lot in the road leading from W.L. Matthews’ store to Gardners store.”

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Turner School was a one-room school seated on one acre. The report included this photo of Turner School.

Known faculty: none.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 October 1939.

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.

The public schools of Wilson County, part 2.

In 1924, the Wilson County Board of Education published Superintendent Charles L. Coon’s report The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24. I went looking for a copy today and found one in Google Books.

On pages 19-21, Coon’s report contains a table of the value of colored school property in 1924.

In Wilson township, there were five schools: twelve-room Old School (the Colored Graded School), ten-room New School (Wilson Colored High School, later Darden High School), five-room Barnes, one-room Lanes, and Lovers (which I have never heard of.) Lovers School had “no house,” which meant its pupils met in a church or some other building

In Toisnot township: five-room Elm City School and Penders, Turners, and Pages, all one room.

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In Cross Roads township, three-room Lucama and one-room Powells and Calvins [Calvin Level]. In Gardners township, one-room Holdens, Wilbanks and Bynums Schools and unhoused Whitley School.

In Old Fields township, Sims School (“no house”) and two-room schools Jones Hill and New Vester Schools. In Springhill township, one-room Williamson and three-room Rocky Branch and Kirbys Schools. In Taylors township, unhoused Farmers School, one-room Howards School, and three-room Mitchell School.

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In Black Creek township, there were four one-room schools, Ruffins, Ferrells, Brooks and Minshew. In Stantonsburg township, neither Evansdale nor Stantonsburg Schools had a dedicated building. In Saratoga township, Saratoga School had one room, but Yelverton and Bethel Schools had none.

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The public schools of Wilson County, part 1.

In 1924, the Wilson County Board of Education published Superintendent Charles L. Coon’s report The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24. I went looking for a copy today and found one in Google Books. (And, yes, this is the same Charles Coon who slapped Mary C. Euell and thereby sparked the boycott of the Wilson Colored Graded School.)

An examination of two charts in the report led to an epiphany. The first shows white schools in Wilson County in 1917; the second, white schools in 1924, after a consolidation of most one and two-room rural schools and construction of several modern brick buildings. I’d been puzzled by the apparent duplication of black and white school names in newspapers, and I immediately noticed a Lane School in the 1917 chart in the same location as the black Lane School. I looked more closely. Here were Turner, Page, Wilbanks, Pender, Minshew and Ferrells Schools, all later described as “colored.” And the 1924 chart shows none of them. I deduce that after decommission as white schools, these decrepit buildings were handed down to African-Americans for the education of their children.

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A bonus: the report includes photographs of several county schools that housed African-American children!

E.J. Hayes and Wilson County Digest.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 May 1923.

There are no known surviving issues of the Wilson County Digest.

The following year, Edgar J. Hayes left his position as superintendent of Wilson County’s colored graded schools to become principal of Williamston Colored School in Martin County, and to develop its high school division. This Rosenwald school was renamed E.J. Hayes High School in 1951. An elementary school in Williamston now bears Hayes’ name.

——

I have only one other reference to Hayes in Wilson — in the byline of an article he contributed to the Daily Times in 1921.

In the 1940 census of Williamston, Martin County, North Carolina: Amielissa Cherry, 55; daughter Nora, 25, teacher; adopted daughter Ruth Bazemore, 13; lodger Edgar J. Hayes, 30, principal, born South Carolina; lodger Augusta Hayes, 38, teacher; and lodger James Hughs, 23, insurance salesman.

County schools, no. 3: Lane School.

The third 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.

Lane School

Lane School was one of two known schools for African-American children outside town limits (but inside Wilson township) that were administered by town of Wilson’s public school system. The date of construction is not known, but white children attended school there until school consolidation circa 1920.

Location: In May 1942, an article in the Wilson Daily Times announced locations for sugar ration registration, including “Lane school, all colored people living within Wilson Township but east of Wilson.”

Seven years later, Wilson City Schools offered Lane Colored School for sale. The metes and bounds are somewhat difficult to decipher: “Beginning at a small water-oak on the North side of the public cart path leading from H.B. Lane’s to A.P. Moore’s (said pathway leading from Moyton and Stantonsburg roads) thence in a Northerly direction, at right angles to said public cart path, eighty yards to a stake, cornering, thence in a Westerly direction parallel with said public cart path sixty-one and one-fourth yards to a stake, cornering, thence in a Southern direction eighty yards to a stake in said public cart path, thence in an Easterly direction along with said public cart path sixty-one and one-fourths yards to the beginning.”

I’d thought “the cart path” was one that ran between what are now Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Stantonsburg Road. However, Will Corbett of Wilson County’s GIS Office steered me in the right direction by locating the general area in which H.B. Lane and A.P. Moore’s properties were adjacent or nearly so. This area is just above what is now Wedgewood Gold Club. (And about a mile due south of the neighborhood in which I grew up.)

A 1925 soil map indicates a church or school on one of a maze of dirt paths meandering between what are now Old Stantonsburg Road and N.C. Highway 58. This is likely Lane School. There are few houses in the area now, and except for a single road leading in from 58, the paths are gone.

A 1937 aerial map shows the land and its use more clearly. Most of the paths shown in 1925 had been plowed up by then, though some are visible through the trees. I have encircled a cluster of buildings that appears to approximate the location of Lane School.

Here, per Google Maps, is my best approximation of the area today. A section of Wedgewood’s golf course is visible at lower right:

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 September 1949.

Description: one-room school.

Known faculty: teachers Blanche ThomasClara R. Cooke.

——

Update, 14 June 2020: I found a photograph of Lane School in Charles L. Coon’s report The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24!

My deepest thanks to Will Corbett.