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African American Schools

Transcribed and contributed by Lee Freeman

From the Florence Journal, Thursday, November 8, 1866, p. 3:

     The colored people of this town and vicinity, who wish to have their children educated, should be made acquainted with the fact that O. M. Waring is now teaching a free school, in Florence. See his announcement elsewhere.

From the Florence Journal, Thursday, November 8, 1866, p. 3:

Freedmen's Public School

The above-named School was opened on Monday, the 29th ultimo. under the auspices of the Pittsburg Freedmen's Aid Commission, in the Colored M. E. Church in this place. No tuition whatever is charged, and Books, etc. are furnished those children not able to purchase them. The building has been repaired and accommodations provided for any number of pupils. It is hoped that the Freedmen of Florence and vicinity will avail themselves of this opportunity to secure to their children the benefits of instruction, and that citizens both white and colored, will extend their influence toward making this School a success.
November 8, 1866. 1 t

From the Florence Journal, Thursday, January 24, 1867, p. 3:

We are placed under obligation to OSCAR M. WARING, the teacher of the Colored School in this place for numbers of the "British Workman," and a copy of the "Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin." Slavery is abolished, and the South honestly accepts a recognition of the fact, and to make our former servants in their present status recognize their relationship to society at large, education is to be freely accepted as the leading means. The school in Florence is apparently in a flourishing condition, and the character of its teacher in his outward conduct is entirely blameless, and creditable to him as a stranger in our community.

From the Florence Journal, Thursday, October 21, 1869, p. 3:

THE COLORED GRAMMAR SCHOOL.--The Senior class of this Institute will give a reading this evening, commencing at 7 1-2 o'clock. Price of admission Fifty Cents. We acknowledge the receipt of a complimentary ticket.



From the Florence Journal, Thursday, October 28, 1869, p. 3:

THE COLORED SCHOOL.--In company with several other gentlemen, we were present by special invitation, at the Readings given by the senior class of the Colored Academy in Florence.- The readings and music evidenced much skill and learning on the part of the teachers, and great aptitude and industry on the part of the taught. The Academy is in a flourishing condition, and the colored children are being well instructed in the different branches of a substantial education.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, March 20, 1880, p. 3:

Among the pupils who attend the colored school taught by Jake Thompson, on Mr. Peter Broadfoot's place, is Aunt Mariah Koger, who is 60 years old. We commend the old lady for her energy and determination. At this writing she has gotten as far as a-b "ab," and says she wants to "git fur nuff long to read her bible."

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, May 22, 1880, p. 3:

Rev. W. H. Ash, who has for the past year had charge of the Colored Congregational Church and school in our town is, we understand, about to return to the North. His school closed with some very interesting exercises last Monday night at which time Mr. Ash made a very eloquent and sensible address telling the colored people that if they would conduct themselves properly they would receive the respect and aid of the white people. Mr. Ash has gained the respect and good will of all classes in this community and has accomplished a most praiseworthy educational and religious work among the people of his race.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, May 27, 1882, p. 3:

Florence Col'd Public School.

     Examinations will take place Wednesday, May 31st, and Thursday, June 1st, 1882. Exercises commence at 9 a.m., and continue to 5 p.m.
     Rhetorical exercises will take place Tuesday, May 30, Wednesday, 31st, and June 1st, 1882,commencing [sic] at 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
     Literary Address at the Court House, Friday night, June 2nd,by [sic] Rev. M. Ed. Bryant. All are invited.
     Y. A. WALLACE,

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, November 18, 1882, p. 3:

We hear that Rev. B. A. Imes, of Memphis, will probably take charge of the "Carpenter High School" and the Congregational Church, both lately in charge of the late lamented Rev. W. H. Ash.

From the Florence Gazette, Saturday, September 12, 1885, p. 3:

Rev. J. M. Shippen, of the Congregational church, has returned from his summer vacation, and reopened his school. His family are now here with him.

From the Florence Times, Saturday, November 10, 1894, p. 2:

Young A. Wallace, formerly in charge of the colored public school of the city, is now teaching a subscription school in Canaan, in Leach's Hall. He is an experienced teacher.

From the Florence Times, Saturday, June 29, 1895, p. 5:

The Colored Schools.

In the year 1876 the Congregationalists of New York opened a colored school here which is being well conducted and is doing excellent work. It is under the charge of Prof. Wm. L. Johnson and Miss M. Copier [sic], both graduates of Fisk University at Nashville. This work is well though of by the community.

From the Florence Times, Saturday, May 2, 1896, p. 4:

Commencement Exercises of the Florence City Colored Schools May 3rd to 8th.
Annual sermon at First Baptist church by Rev. W R Palmer May 3rd, 1896, at 2 o'clock, p m
Annual address at the school house by Prof. B. J. Sterling May 5th at 8 o'clock, p. m.
Public examination at school house May 6th, 7th and 8th, each day from 9 a. m. to 12 m. 
Exhibition May 7th and 8th at school house. Admission to exhibition 10 cents.
Doors open at 7:30 p. m.; exercises commence at 8 o'clock sharp.
The public is cordially invited to attend these exercises. Very respectfully, 

From the Florence Times, Friday, April 9, 1897, p.3:

The colored school taught in Canaan, the Southwestern suburb of Florence by Miss Mary Corpier is an interesting feature of our educational work here. It is sustained under auspices of the American Missionary Association, and has a large attendance, numbering now about 60 pupils, though it sometimes is as high as a hundred. Each pupil is expected to pay 50 cents per month. The teacher is a graduate of the normal department of the Fisk University and is doing her work in a very satisfactory manner.

From the Florence Standard-Journal, Saturday, May 27, 1898, p. 5:

The Colored Public Schools.
     At the close of last Friday night's programme, Messrs. Geo. Terry and Wash Seawright spoke in praise of the teachers and the good work that is being accomplished here through them, for our school community.
     Superintendent H. C. Gilbert being present, was asked to make some remarks which he did in his plain, forcible and eloquent style. The large audience gave him marked attention. They were anxious to hear every word Prof. Gilbert had to say. He is esteemed by them; a friend to the enducation of the colored, as well as the white youth of the city.
     The teachers were very grateful for the kind mention made of them, and extended the thanks of themselves and pupils, to the Mayor and Superintendent, for their presence and kind words. Most of the pupils passed their grades this term. We are proud of our school and its teachers, and think they deserve every encouragement we may give them. 

From the Florence Herald, Thursday, May 4, 1899, p. 1:

The closing exercises of the Carpenter High School were held at the opera house last night and were attended by a large number of patrons and friends of the school. Misses Mary L. Corpier and A. M. Nicholson, principal and assistant, are to be congratulated upon the excellent showing made during the term, which has been a very prosperous one. They have proven able teachers and have given entire satisfaction. The program rendered by the children was a very interesting one.

From the Florence Herald, Friday, June 26, 1903, p. 1:

Location for Building Secured and Deed Signed.

     American Missionary Association Will Build $5,000 Structure and Employ Six Teachers--Expense to City of Maintaining Negro School Will Be Greatly Decreased.
     By July 1st the American Missionary Association will commence, in this city, the erection of a $5,000 brick veneered building for a colored school.
     The $350 asked of the citizens for the purchase of a site, was raised through the efforts of Mayor Walker, and on Wednesday the deed for the lot was signed and the last doubt of securing the school for Florence dispelled.
     The lot is a part of the Murdock property, on Circular Road and Poole street, in the southwestern part of the city, and is 160 by 240 feet.
     The builder will be here not later than July 1st, and it is expected that everything will be in readiness to open the school in the fall.
     Six teachers will be employed.
     The establishment of this school in Florence will not only benefit the negroes, but the white people will derive great benefits. The city's resources, which have been taxed to maintain negro schools, will be largely relieved of that burden, and will consequently have more to devote to the white schools.
     Mayor Walker, with that end in view, has been assiduous in his efforts to locate the institution here, and he is to be congratulated upon the successful termination of the undertaking.

From the Florence Times, Friday, July 10, 1903, p. 4:

The New Negro School.

     The building agent for the American Missionary Society has arrived in Florence and will commence the erection of the new negro school building as soon as he can get men and material together. This building will be located in the extreme southwestern part of the city, and will cost $5,000.

From the Florence Times, Friday, July 24, 1903, p. 3:

Program, Colored Teachers' Institute.
To be held Friday and Saturday before the second Sabbath in August, at the St. Mark's Baptist church, Florence, Ala.


9:30-10 Informal Conference and enrollment.
10-11 Paper--Can the Present Method of Teaching History be Improved?--Prof. J. B. Bonner; discussion by Miss Emma Posey.
11-12 Paper--The Best Method of Exciting Interest in Study--Mr. J. H. McClure; discussion by Mrs. M. Hargrove.
12-1 Paper--The Most Practical Method of Teaching Grammar--Mrs. W. E. Ashton; discussion by Miss Bettie Dewberry.
1-2 Intermission
2 p. m. Class Drill--Vulgar Fractions--Messrs. Chas. Gray and D. F. Weems. 
3-4 Paper--The Relation of the Teacher to the Parents of his Pupils--Miss Emma Posey; discussion by Miss Effa Hewitt.
4-5 Paper--Our Rural Schools and How Best Improved--Miss J. W. Handy; discussion by Miss Alberta L. Green and Rev. T. S. Johnson, B. D.

From the Florence Herald, Friday, July 24, 1903, p. 2:

Resolution of Thanks.
Smithsonia, July 18.

     We, your committee, of Good Hope School, offer a resolution of thanks to the following gentlemen for the generous patronage extended by them to the colored people, in getting up and carrying on a four months school in the Smithsonia beat. We deem this the best way in which to show our appreciation and thanks to them for their contributions.
     Capt. J. T. Reeder $50,         Mrs. Bob Smith $5,     C. L. Smith $2,       C. S. Rhodes $1, 
     W. P. Price 50c.,                A. J. Ham 10 c.,            John Carroll 25 c.,   Jones Carroll 10 c., 
     Owen Sharp 10 c.
                                                                                                             R. W. Boddie, Sec'y.


From the Florence Herald, Thursday, June 2, 1939, p. 1:

Burrell Graduates Will Get Diplomas
     Graduating exercises of the Burrell Negro High school, Florence, will be held this evening at 8 o'clock in the Slater auditorium, with Dean R. A. Carter, of the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute, Huntsville, delivering the message.
     On Wednesday evening, the candidates for graduation held their class night exercises in the Burrell auditorium, while the senior class play, "Mama's Baby Boy," was presented in the Slater auditorium Monday evening.
     The baccalaureate sermon was delivered by Rev. J. L. Beasley, who is a graduate of Burrell and who is now pastor of Rush Memorial Congregational church, Atlanta, at the Slater negro school Sunday afternoon.
     Names of probable graduates are as follows:

     Helon Buckingham                  Jenetta Bailey                 Esther Cole                 Cornetta Armstead

     Nettie Lee Williams                 Ruth Summerhill             James Ella Turnley       Christine Hawkins

     Eva Simpson                          Hannah Hawkins             Thelma McLeod           Samella Smith

     James T. Smith                       Joseph Thompson            Wiliam Brooks            Alfred Leach

     Annie Hawkins                       Geneva Walker                James Marquis 


1. Note: The Colored M E Church refers to Church Springs Methodist Episcopal Church, founded ca. 1837 near the public spring on Spring street, which in 1879 relocated to the corner of Court and Alabama streets and changed its name to St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church and exists today as Greater St. Paul's AME Church.
2. Note: The Colored Congregational Church in Florence was founded in 1879.

3. Note: Rev. Ash died Monday, November 13, 1882. 

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