LAWRENCE COUNTY, TENNESSEE
The following information on African-American schools in Lawrence County was taken from various sources, some of which are listed at the end. During the time period many of these schools existed, most African-American schools were simply referred to as "colored" schools. Later the schools were given names, but still contained the word "colored". This is in any way meant to be a derogatory word, but simply what the schools were called at the time. If I listed them any other way, I would be changing history. Additional information will be added as time permits. The dates for when some of the schools were built came from teacher’s school registers completed by the teachers, or information found on communities, and are not necessarily correct. (Additions and corrections are welcome.)
COLORED SCHOOL – This school was located near Old Bethel School in the 10th District. John Fields, Brown Sims, and T.A. Thornton were teachers in the 1880's. (Old Bethel was located on the east side of what is now Park Grove Road in a curve shortly before intersecting the Ethridge-Redhill Road.)
COLORED SCHOOL – Brown Sims taught at a colored school in the 10th District in the 1880's. T.A. Thornton taught at school #1 in this district in 1882 and 1883; Cora K. Haynes taught at a colored school in this district in 1922; Queenie Chaves also taught here. Mattie Wilburn taught at school #2 in the 10th District, which was a colored school, between 1900 and 1905. The closest post office to this school was Ethridge. In 1930, a colored school in the 10th district was sold.
COLORED SCHOOL – Elgin Boyd taught at a colored school in the 14th District in northern Lawrence County in the 1880's. Lucretia Jennings taught at a school in this district 1921-1922.
COLORED SCHOOL – Norah Counce and Frances Simonton taught a colored school east of Lawrenceburg in the 9th District in the 1880's.
COLORED SCHOOL – Emma Hopkins, J. F. R. W. Summerhill, and T. R. Summerhill taught at a colored school in the 8th District in Lawrenceburg in the 1880's.
COLORED SCHOOL – Martha Kennedy taught at a colored school in the 15th District in West Point in the 1880's.
COLORED SCHOOL – Frances Simonton taught a colored school in the 6th District in southwest Lawrence County in the 1880's.
COLORED SCHOOL – T. A. Thornton taught a colored school in the 1st District in the Iron City area in the 1880's.
COLORED SCHOOL – H. G. Allan of Crestview opened school here last Monday, with an attendance of 43 pupils. This is H. G. Allens third term here, and the school has witnessed quite an improvement under him, both in point of pupils gathered in school and educational. He took this school in 1904, his enrollment that year being 64, exceeding somewhat that of any of his predecessors. His enrollment last year was 83, with a daily average of 40 to 45. Professor Allen hopes to enroll about 100 during this term. (Source: Lawrence Democrat 10 Aug. 1906.)
IRON CITY COLORED SCHOOL – This was a frame school building with 10 double desks, 1 table and 3 chairs. The heat was from a wood stove, water was from a well and there were 2 toilets. The building was sold in 1957. Lucretia Woodson, Ella M. Hodges, J.J. Loux, J.H. Waddell, Annie Willis, D.O. Burrows and Mrs. D.O. Burrows were teachers here in the 1920's. Mattie Caruthers taught in the 1920's and 1930's. She was paid $110.00 in ??.
KNOB CREEK COLORED SCHOOL – It was located in the same area as Knob Creek Community Church. Lucretia Woodson 1920-1921; Fannie L. Welch was the teacher in 1925; Willie Mae Parker 1935-1936. The nearest Post Office was West Point.
LAWRENCEBURG COLORED (Also see West Gaines Colored School) – This school was built in 1937 on 4 acres of ground, and was later used as the Board of Education for many years. It now houses the Human Services Department (2008). It is located on the right when going west just past the traffic light at the intersection of West Gaines St. (Hwy. 64 W) and Buffalo Road. The building was heated with a wood stove and had 5 flush toilets! There were 65 single desks, 6 tables and 40 chairs, with a total value of $9,000. Some teachers have been Lena Rhodes, Richard Otey, Vera Davis, Janie McDonald, Joe Thomas, Willie Mae Parker, William B. Baker and John Harrell. A Mr. or Mrs. Murry was paid $85.00 and Lena Rhodes $87.50 in ??. The school was integrated in 1964 and students were sent to various schools.
LAWRENCEBURG JR. HIGH COLORED SCHOOL (Also see West Gaines Colored School) – Built in 1936 (?) of brick on 4 acres of ground. The heat was an ordinary wood stove, there were 2 toilets and the water came from a hydrant. The school had 4 rooms which held 100 single desks with a total value of $5,000. High school students were transported by greyhound bus to Mt. Pleasant until integration in 1964. The teacher in 1940-41 was Joe A. Thomas. (I have been told, and believe, this Junior High School was an addition to the same building as the Lawrenceburg Colored School.)
LONG BRANCH COLORED SCHOOL – The school was located on Long Branch Road. Cora K. Haynes and Christine W. Kinnard were teachers in the 1920's. She was paid $42.50 in ??. This school was consolidated with Lawrenceburg Colored School in 1931.
MCCRORY/WILLIS CHAPEL COLORED SCHOOL – This school was named after Raymond McCrory and Wiley Willis, who were school officials. To get to this school you traveled through West Point to the top of the hill and turned right. McCrory and Willis attended the opening of the school. (ALSO SEE WEST POINT COLORED SCHOOL.)
MT. ARARAT COLORED SCHOOL – See Simington’s Chapel.
NAPIER COLORED SCHOOL – This school was located in District 12, probably close to the other school at Napier. H. A. Fields was the teacher in 1883. (There was a school located at Strathmore, which was in basically the same areas as Napier that was not "colored".)
PENNINGTON COLORED SCHOOL – No location is known at the present time for this school. Cora K. Haynes was the teacher in 1922. (However, there was a Pennington School that was not "colored" located on the Barnesville Road about half-way between the Turnpike and Barnesville. It was a small school established in the early 1900's. It is possible that the two schools were close together.)
SIMINGTON'S CHAPEL SCHOOL – This was a colored school located at Mt. Ararat and was probably in the same building as the Mt. Ararat Colored Church. Lena Rhodes 1920-1921
TUSKEGEE COLORED SCHOOL – This colored school was located in the 14th District in northern Lawrence County. Christine W. Kinnard, Vera Lou Rhodes and Alberta Bentley were teachers here in the 1920's. Vera Lou Merrimon was paid $85.00 for teaching at this school in ??. I found this school spelled "Tustegge" in teacher’s pay records.
WEST GAINES COLORED SCHOOL (Also see Lawrenceburg Colored School) – The first building I have been able to find information on was a two-story white frame building located behind the present St. John's Church on West Gaines in Lawrenceburg. Mattie A. Caruthers, Lena Rhodes, Jacob Gay, Vera Davis, and D.O. Burrows were all teachers in the 1920's; Vera Davis and Evilena Rhodes 1935-1936. This frame building was most likely the same as Lawrenceburg Colored and possibly the same as the colored school that was taught in the 8th District in the 1880s by Emma Hopkins, J. F. R. W. Summerhill, and T. R. Summerhill. Students were transferred to the Lawrenceburg Colored School on West Gaines when the new building was finished in 1937. Many of the same teachers are listed for both.
4 September 1890, Lawrence Union – This school, under the management of J.T. Bridgeforth, is making rapid progress. It has successfully passed the first month, having 36 pupils enrolled. The monthly examination held on Friday last was satisfactory and proved that the month had not been spent in idleness. Our teacher is striving to make this the most successful term known to the history of the school, and only time is needed to accomplish this end. – Pupil
27 November 1890, Lawrence Union – The Lawrenceburg Colored Public School, closed Friday, Nov. 26, ending a term of four months, under the successful management of Prof. J.T. Bridgeforth. The closing exercises were witnessed by many of the friends of the teacher and patrons of the school, many of whom admitted that they were highly pleased with the work of the Professor. We regret his departure and sincerely hope that he will be accepted as our teacher for the next term. The final examination was most satisfactory, the following pupils leading in their respective grades: 1st Grade Ardean Wigfall; 2nd Grade Samania Harris, 3rd Grade Frank Fields; 4th Grade Lula Esters; 5th Grade Jno. Haynes. – J.H.I.H.
WEST POINT COLORED SCHOOL – Not much is known about when the first school was built, but a new school was erected around 1910, which sat on one acre of land and had a total value of $1,100. The heat was from a wood stove, water was from a nearby well and there were 2 toilets. A total of 21 singles desks and 2 double desks provided seating for the children. Mattie Caruthers, Fannie L. Welch, Ella M. Hodges Spain and Cora Kennedy Haynes were teachers here in the 1920's. Lucretia Woodson taught in the 1920's and 1930's. (I have been told this was the same as the McCrory/Willis School, but am not sure).
Sources: Lawrence County School Board Minutes; Lawrence County Deeds; Lawrence County teacher’s pay vouchers; teacher’s student registers; community histories; Lawrence County newspapers; Superintendent Yearly Reports.
Updated August 16, 2011 by Kathy Niedergeses
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