Early Negro Education In West Virginia

by Carter G. Woodson
(Institute: The West Virginia Collegiate Institute, 1921)


This study was undertaken at the suggestion of President John W. Davis of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute. He appointed the following persons as a committee to collect the facts hearing on the early efforts of teachers among the Negroes in West Virginia: C. G. Woodson, D. A. Lane, Jr., A. A. Taylor, S. H. Guss, C. E. Jones, Mary E. Eubank, J. S. Price, F. A. Parker, and W. F. Savoy. The plan was to study the history of Negro education in this State as far as 1891.

At the first meeting of the committee C. G. Woodson was chosen Chairman, and at his suggestion the following questionnaire was drafted and sent out:



1. When was a Negro school first opened in your district? . .

2. What was the enrollment ?

3. Who was the first teacher?

3. Was he well prepared?

5. How long did he serve?

6. Were his methods up-to-date or antiquated?

7. Did he succeed or fail?

8. Who were the useful patrons supporting the school?

9. What was the method of securing certificates?

10. What was the method of hiring teachers?

11. What was the method of paying teachers; that is, did the school district pay promptly or was it necessary to discount their drafts or wait a long period to be paid?

12. Did the community own the school property or was the school taught in a private home or in a church?

13. What has been the progress or development of the school?

14. What is its present condition?

15. What persons in your community can give additional facts on Negro education?


From the distribution of these questionnaires there were obtained the salient facts of the early history of the pioneer teachers of Negroes in the State. A number of names of other persons in a position to give additional information were returned with the questionnaires. These were promptly used wherever the information needed could not be supplied from any other source. Members of the committee, moreover, visited persons in various parts and interviewed them to obtain facts not otherwise available. Wherever it was possible, the investigators consulted the available records of the State and county. In this way, however, only meager information could be obtained.

The most reliable sources were such books as the annual Reports of the State Superintendent of Public Schools, the History of Education in West Virginia, (Edition 1904), and the History of Education in West Virginia, (Edition 1907). Such local histories as the Howard School of Piedmont, West Virginia, and K. J. Anthony's Storer College, were also helpful.

At the conclusion of this study the President made the celebration of Founder's Day, May 3, 1921, an occasion for rehearsing the early educational history of the State. Most of the living pioneers in this cause were invited to address this meeting, as they would doubtless, under the inspiration of the occasion, set forth facts which an ordinary interview would not make; and thus it happened.

Of those invited, Mrs. E. M. Dandridge, one of the oldest educators in the State, Mr. S. H. Guss, head of the Secondary Department of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute, and President Emeritus Byrd Prillerman responded with informing addresses. Mrs. Dandridge gave in a very impressive way a brief account of the early efforts in Fayette County. Mr. Guss delivered an informing address on the contribution of the first Negro teachers from Ohio, and President Emeritus Prillerman expressed with emphasis a new thought concerning the rise of schools in the State and the organization and growth of the West Virginia Teachers' Association. Prof. J. S. Price, of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute, showed by interesting and informing charts the development of the Negro teacher and the Negro school in West Virginia.

At the conclusion of all of these efforts the facts were collected and turned over to C. G. Woodson to be embodied in literary form. Prof. D. A. Lane, Jr., of the Department of English of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute, also a member of the Committee, read the manuscript and suggested some changes. Chapter VII was written by Professor J. S. Price, who made the accompanying diagrams.


The early education of the Negro in West Virginia falls in three periods. During the first period, it was largely restricted to such efforts as benevolent whites were disposed to make in behalf of those Negroes who had served them acceptably as slaves. This period, therefore, antedates the emancipation of the Negroes. Because of the scarcity of the slave population of West Virginia, the 13,000 slaves scattered among the mountainous counties came into helpful contact with their masters, among whom the institution never lost its patriarchal aspect. Although it was both unlawful and, in some parts of West Virginia, unpopular to instruct Negroes, these masters, a law unto themselves, undertook to impart to these Negroes some modicum of knowledge. Upon the actual emancipation in 1865, when all restraint in this respect had been removed, benevolent white persons, moved with compassion because of the benighted condition of Negroes, volunteered to instruct them. The first teachers of the Negroes in West Virginia, then, were white persons. The Negroes of Jefferson, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Kanawha, Mason, and Wood Counties still point with pride to these white friends, who, by their indefatigable work as teachers, blazed the way in a field which to them had been forbidden.

During the next period there came into these same parts the Union soldier, followed and sometimes accompanied by the missionary teachers sent out by the Freedmen's Belief Commission of the North and by the Freedmen's Bureau. The efforts of the Union soldier could not be crowned with signal success for the reason that they were sporadic, and the volunteer was not in every case well prepared for such services. The greatest impetus was given the cause when missionary teachers appeared upon the scene. Having the spirit of sacrifice which characterized the apostles of old, they endured the hardships resulting from social proscription and crude environment. With the funds which they secured from the agencies they represented and which they could raise among the poor freedmen and their few sympathetic white friends, these teachers of the new day built or rented shanty-like school houses in which they proclaimed the power of education as the great leverage by which the recently emancipated race could toil up to a position of recognition in this republic. The educational achievements of this class of teachers were significant, not so much because of the actual instruction given, but rather on account of the inspiration which set the whole body of Negroes throughout the State thinking and working to secure for themselves every facility for education vouchsafed to the most favorite element of our population.

One of the important results of the efforts among the early workers of this State was that of enabling the Negroes to help themselves. Because of the rapid development of this industrial State and the consequent influx of Negroes from other States to it, however, the number of Negro teachers produced on the ground proved inadequate to the demand for instructors among the increasing and expanding Negro population of West Virginia. There went out, then, to the other States the call for help, which was answered largely by workers from Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. Virginia did not have many workers to spare, but from Baltimore, where because of the liberal attitude of the whites toward the education of Negroes prior to the Civil War, a larger number of Negroes had been trained, came a much larger number of workers. From Ohio, however, came as many as were obtained from both Virginia and Maryland, for the reason that although the Negroes were early permitted to attend school in Ohio, race prejudice had not sufficiently diminished to permit them to instruct white persons in white schools. Looking out for a new field, their eyes quickly fell on the waiting harvest across the river in West Virginia. These workers from adjacent States, moreover, served the people not only as teachers but also as ministers of the gospel. They were largely instrumental in establishing practically all the Methodist and Baptist churches in the State, and while they taught school during the week, they inspired and edified their congregation on Sunday.

The beginning of the education of the Negroes in West Virginia at public expense was delayed, inasmuch as its first constitution, although it made provisions for free schools, did not extend the facilities of the same to Negroes. In the report of the State Superintendent of Public Schools in 1864, therefore, he complained that the Negroes had been too long and too mercilessly deprived of this privilege. "I regret to report", said he, "that there are not schools for the children of this portion of our citizens; as the law stands I fear they will be compelled to remain in ignorance. I commend them to the favorable notice of the legislature." (* Report of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1864.)

In 1866, therefore, the legislature enacted a law providing for the establishing of public schools for Negroes between the ages of six and twenty-one years. These schools had to maintain an average attendance of sixteen pupils or be closed. As Negro communities were not very large and the number of children were small, many Negro children scattered throughout the State were denied the opportunity to acquire an education. This law, therefore, was amended in 1867 so as to authorize local boards of education to establish a school whenever there were more than fifteen Negro children between the ages of six and twenty-one. The attitude of the State was that of separation of the two races in the schools, but the first two laws bearing on Negro schools did not make this point clear. Upon revising the constitution in 1872, however, it was specifically provided that whites and blacks should not be taught in the same school. (* See West Virginia Constitution.) Thereafter, however, the whites and blacks sometimes used the same school houses. As the school term consisted of only four months of twenty-two days each, the whites would open school in September and vacate by Christmas, when the Negroes would take charge.

No further changes were made in the school law until 1899, when it was further amended to the effect that the trustees in certain districts should establish one or more primary schools for Negroes between the ages of six and twenty-one years and that these officials should establish such Negro schools whenever there were at least ten Negro pupils resident therein, or for a smaller number, if possible.


Parkersburg enjoys the distinction of having established in this State the first school for Negroes supported by private funds. Having a desire to provide for their children the facilities of education long since denied to members of their race, a group of progressive Negroes met in Parkersburg in January, 1862, to translate their idea into action. Among these persons were Robert Thomas, Lafayette Wilson, William Sargent, B. W. Simmons, Charles Hicks, William Smith, and Matthew Thomas. They organized a board which adopted a constitution and by-laws by which they were to be governed in carrying out this plan. They then proceeded to establish a pay school requiring a tuition fee of one dollar a month to those who were able to pay, but poorer children were admitted free of charge. At this time there was a certain stigma attached to the idea of educating one's children at the expense of others or at the expense of the commonwealth. Persons able to pay for the instruction of their children were therefore willing to do so that they might not have the reputation of dependency or delinquency.

The teachers employed were Sarah Trotter and Pocahontas Simmons, persons of color, and Reverend S. E. Colburn, a white man. The number of pupils enrolled in the first year numbered about forty. To encourage Negroes in that city to avail themselves of their opportunity for their enlightenment, these teachers moved among the people from time to time, pointing out the necessity for more extensive preparation to discharge the functions of citizenship then devolving upon Negroes in their new state of freedom after the Civil War.

Parkersburg enjoys also the distinction of having established the first free school for Negroes in the South. The work of the school organization of 1862 had been so well effected that it was easily possible to interest school officials in the extension of educational privileges for Negroes. The Parkersburg Weekly Times of June 7, 1866, carried a notice to the effect that the first public free school for the Negro children of the city of Parkersburg, was opened in the school ward lately removed. "All colored children over six years of age and under twenty-one as the law directs," continued the editor, "are at liberty to attend and are requested to do so". Reverend S. E. Colburn was the teacher. The private school then came to an end.

It does not appear that Rev. Mr. Colburn remained for a long time in this school, for at the close of the session in 1866 we have a record of an exhibition in Bank Hall under the charge of T. J. Ferguson. Ferguson was a versatile character among the Negroes at that time, participating extensively in politics during the reconstruction period, and contending for the enlargement of freedom and opportunity for the Negro. The next man of consequence after Ferguson was J. L. Camp, who served the system for eleven years. He passed among his people as a man of high character and today is remembered as one of the most successful and inspiring workers to toil among the lowly in the State. The Negro schools could then be turned over to teachers of the race who had availed themselves of the opportunities for education and had equipped themselves for service among their own people. With the future organization of the public school system of Parkersburg, the Negro school was brought under the direction of the local superintendent of schools and was given the same course of instruction and inspection as those provided for white schools. In the course of time the work developed from a primary into an intermediate and then into a grammar school.

Parkersburg is unique again, moreover, in having the first high school for Negroes in the State. This advanced phase of public school work was added in 1885 and the first class was graduated in 1887. For a number of years the Negro school was housed in a frame building of two rooms. This building was enlarged somewhat in 1883. This enlargement, moreover, has been followed by the erection of a brick structure with the modern conveniences for public schools, facilitating especially high school instruction, which under former conditions was handicapped. A new building known as the Sumner High School was constructed there in 1886, and A. W. Pegues, a graduate of the Richmond Institute, was made its first principal. He showed himself a studious man of intellectual bearing; but after serving in Parkersburg for one year he resigned to accept a chair in Shaw University in North Carolina. He has since then been made the head of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum of that State.

Following Professor Pegues came T. D. Scott, who served in this high school five years, reorganizing the work and enlarging the curriculum. When he resigned in 1892 he became an instructor in natural science at Wilberforce University, of which he was an alumnus. Carter Harrison Barnett, a graduate of Dennison University, became principal in 1892 and served one year. Then came John Rupert Jefferson, who took charge of the institution in 1893. He has successfully filled this position until the present time, with the exception of one year, when he was supplanted by Mr. B. S. Jackson, an alumnus of Howard University, who at the close of his first session gave way to Mr. Jefferson.

Clarksburg, following in the wake of Parkersburg, soon bestirred itself in the direction of the education of the Negro youth. The first school was established there in 1867 with an enrollment of thirty pupils under the direction of Miss Josephine Gee. For her time she was a well prepared woman using up-to-date methods, and was very successful in the work there for two and one-half years, at the expiration of which she married. Her success was due in no small measure to the cooperation of Mrs. Mary Rector, Mrs. Phyllis Henderson, Mr. Fred Siren, Jr., and Mrs. Harriet Beckwith. They did not own the school property, but conducted the work in the one- room ramshackled structure. (*Another group of ambitious Negroes established a school at Glen Falls in the same county in 1872, with Noe Johnson as the teacher.)

Steps were soon taken to provide better educational facilities for Negroes in Clarksburg. On July 15, 1868, the Board of Education of that city accepted a bid of $1147 to erect a one story brick building to be used as a Negro school house. This structure was completed and occupied by the end of the school year 1870. After the school had been better housed, the work was professionally organized and thereafter intelligently supervised so as to standardize instruction.

In the beginning of this new day the school was successful in having a number of popular principals to serve it efficiently. Among these may be mentioned Charles Ankrum, a pioneer teacher who was principal of the school from 1870 to 1873; J. A. Riley, a man of the same type, serving from 1873-1874; G. F. Jones, a man of little more preparation, principal from 1874 to 1876; W. B. Jones, an honest worker, toiling from 1876 to 1878, and M. W. Grayson, who served the system well from 1878 to 1889 and did much to lay the foundation upon which others built thereafter.

The first man of extensive preparation in keeping with the standards of today was J. S. Williams, a graduate of Morgan College, who was principal from 1889 to 1891. Mr. C. W. Boyd, a normal graduate of Wilberforoe University, served the system one year - that is, from 1891 to 1892 - after which he became a teacher in the Charleston Negro Public Schools, of which he is now the head. Then came Mr. Sherman H. Guss, the first Negro to receive a degree from Ohio State University. He made a special study of the needs of the school, forcefully presented them to the educational authorities, enlarged its facilities, and developed there a high school which ranks today as one of the best in the State. In 1901 Mr. Guss resigned to become instructor in Latin at the West Virginia Colored Institute, where he is still employed. He was followed by J. W. Robinson, a man of liberal and specialized education, who did much to maintain a high standard and to extend the influence of the Negro school, adding much to develop an intellectual atmosphere through the enlargement of the school library. After toiling in this city for a number of years he taught at St. Albans, and then became principal of the high school at Northfork while he was serving as a member of the Advisory Council to the State Board of Education of West Virginia.

Weston did not lag far behind the other towns in making some provisions in education for the Negroes. During these early years immediately following the Civil War, a white man of philanthropic tendency named Benjamin Owens taught a Negro school in an old church located not far from the head of Main Street extended in Weston. A local historian believes also that one Doctor Gordon's daughter taught in the same school. It does not appear that Owens was a man of exceptional intellectual attainment, but he had well mastered the fundamentals of education when working in the printing office of Horace Greely in New York, where he learned to manifest interest in behalf of the man far down, and to make sacrifices for his cause. His work was so successful that the school was later established as a public institution supported by the State.

The next pioneer to lend a helping hand here was George Jones, who, having served the Negroes as a teacher for a number of years, abandoned the field for a much larger work as a minister. Next came Misses Hattie Hood, Grace Rigsby, and Anna Wells, who served the Negroes here as teachers for one or two years each. Then there appeared W. P. Crump, who is referred to as the first Negro teacher of exceptional ability to toil in Weston. He did much to develop the school and exerted a beneficent influence upon the people. After having served them as instructor for a few years, he abandoned the work for more lucrative employment elsewhere. The next teacher of importance was Mr. Frank Jefferson, who also toiled successfully in these parts. Inasmuch as the salary at that time was unusually low compared with the compensation offered in other parts, he eventually abandoned the work for other service.

About 1898 there came L. O. Wilson, an influential teacher and leader, who later became a power and an influence throughout the State of West Virginia. He reorganized the school, improved its methods of instruction, and supplied it with a library. He endeared himself to the people there, as elsewhere; and, although he was several times offered higher salaries in other districts, he preferred to toil among the people of Weston for less compensation. The results which he obtained while laboring among these people stand out as a monument justifying the sacrifice which he made to serve them.

The next school of importance in this part of the State was that of Piedmont, since then designated as the Howard School. Educational efforts in behalf of Negroes began in this section about six years after the Civil War. Prior to that time the few Negroes coming into Piedmont were too migratory to necessitate any outlay for their education. Some efforts were made to effect their improvement through private instruction in the fundamentals, and a little progress therein was noted. Years later there came such substantial friends of education as the Barneses, the Masons, the Thomases, the Biases, and the Redmons. There was no organized effort to the end of establishing a real public school, however, until the year 1877, when one John Brown, being influential with Mr. Hyde, then President of the Board of Education, induced him to provide a school room and hire a teacher for the instruction of the children of Negroes. These persons, since known as Mrs. Emma Stewart (Mason), Miss Mary Thomas, Mr. John Brown, Jr., Miss Alice Brown, and Mr. Harry Bias, presented themselves as the first students of this school, with one Mr. Ross, a white man, as first instructor. The next teacher of this school was a white man, and he was followed by a member of his race.

The early history of this school published in 1919 states that the attendance was regular, and that after three years of conducting a private school the Board of Education formally established this as a public school, in the year 1880, with Mrs. Steiglar, a white woman, as instructor. The school was still held in the private building, which has since been occupied by the Williams, Redmon, and Taylor families of the town. After this school had been conducted thus for about ten years there came a change which marked an epoch of progress in education in Piedmont. This was the time when the white teachers were exchanged for those of Negro blood, who, having more time and interest in their race, and treating the pupils with more sympathy, achieved a much greater success than their predecessors. This school has since been much developed under the direction of Mr. H. W. Hopewell and Miss M. Brooks.

The early schools of Fairmont, Grafton, Keyser, Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, Harpers Ferry, and other places nearby in West Virginia were in the beginning largely private, and even when established as public schools accomplished little more than their predecessors until they received an impetus from without. The first stimulus came from Miss Mann, a niece of the educator, Horace Mann. She was sent by the Christian Commission to Bolivar, near Harpers Ferry, to open a Negro school, which in spite of rank race prejudice she maintained a year. Then came the establishment of Storer College by that philanthropic worker for the uplift of the Negro race, Rev. Nathan C. Brackett, a graduate of Dartmouth College, who during the last year of the Civil War had been attached to the Christian Mission of Sheridan's army in Virginia. Fortunately the agents of the Freedmen's Bureau in charge of the educational work among Negroes designated him as the superintendent of such schools to be established in the Shenandoah Valley. While he was thus organizing and directing the education of the Negroes in this section, Mr. John Storer of Sanford, Maine, expressed a desire to set aside a fund of ten thousand dollars for the establishment of an educational institution for the freedmen, on the condition that an equal amount should be raised by other persons within a specified period. As there was an increasing interest in the uplift of the freedmen throughout the country at this time, it was an easy matter to meet this condition with a similar contribution from another quarter. The additional funds came largely from the Free Baptists, in the principles of which this institution had its setting when established.

The work was begun by special arrangements with the Federal agents, in dilapidated houses recently abandoned by the Union troops at Harpers Ferry. With the cooperation of Congress the buildings were secured through the influence of James A. Garfield, then a member of that body, and William Fessenden, another member serving then as United States Senator from Maine. Mr. and Mrs. Brackett opened this school in October, 1867, with nineteen earnest students. Since then it has become a power for good, a factor in the development of sensible Christian manhood and womanhood. For a number of years it was the only graded school for Negroes in the State of West Virginia, and to supply many of the first teachers and ministers in West Virginia and even in the adjacent portions of Maryland and Virginia. The towns nearby caught the spirit of the uplift of the Negro from what was being done for the race in Storer College. This institution, of course, had its opposition; but wherever there was a helpful attitude toward the Negro the work which it was doing in spite of its difficulties stood out as a shining light.

Many of the early teachers of Storer College spent a part of their time working among Negroes in nearby communities. Mrs. Annie Dudley, a white woman connected with that institution, taught the first school at Shepherdstown. She had about twenty-five students and conducted a night and day school. She was a well educated woman, with a spirit of sympathy, and did much to lay the foundation for the Negro public school which was established there in 1872. This school thereafter developed into a successful one-room school and finally its attendance increased sufficiently to necessitate the employment of another teacher. The most prominent teacher that it had was John H. Hill, who had also caught the inspiration of the good work being done at Storer College. He later studied two years at Bowdoin College. Mr. Hill graded the work of the school, endeavored to standardize instruction, and popularized education among the people. He is still remembered in that community for the efficient work which he accomplished. He was finally succeeded by Alexander Freeman when Mr. Hill became an instructor in the West Virginia Colored Institute, of which he later became principal.

About the same time the influence of Storer College was felt in Charles Town, the county seat of Jefferson County, where there was another settlement of Negroes. The first teacher of whom we have a record was one Enos Wilson, a Negro. He was a man of fair preparation through self-instruction. He had much enthusiasm in his work, exerted an influence for good, and won the respect of his people. In achieving this success he had the cooperation of Mr. William Hill, the father of J. H. Hill. Although not well informed himself, William Hill believed in education and religion, and supported all uplift movements then taking shape among the Negroes.

Following Enos Wilson, who later became an instructor at Storer College, came L. L. Page, who, building upon the foundation made by his predecessors, rendered unusually valuable service. Like his predecessor, he was a very good man and an enthusiastic worker. The people waited upon his words, answered his summons to social service and supported him in his efforts to promote their general welfare. This is evidenced by the fact that he served his community as its teacher about twenty-five years. He was succeeded by Phillip Jackson, who found the school sufficiently well developed to necessitate the employment of three teachers.

Speaking generally, however, one must say that the education of the Negro in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is after all much more backward than in other parts. A good example of noble effort in behalf of the Negro was given, and the spirit with which workers should address themselves to the task was furnished by the founders and graduates of Storer College; but they were not supported by public sentiment among the whites of that section. Glancing at the map of West Virginia, one can readily see that the Eastern Panhandle is geographically a part of Maryland and Virginia, States which have not as yet been converted to the wisdom of making adequate appropriations to Negro education. The ardor of these early enthusiastic workers in that section, therefore, has been dampened, and the results that they have obtained fall short of the thought and aspirations of these pioneers with reference to the rehabilitation of the freedmen that they might live as the citizens of afree republic.

A mere glance at these schools will show that these beginnings in the northern section were confined to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and its branches. There were not many Negroes living in the other northern counties of the State. In 1878, Moundsville, in Marshall County, welcomed a Negro woman of Smithfield, Ohio, who taught its first public school for her race. She had a fair preparation and rendered valuable service with the cooperation of such patrons as Mrs. Rollen William Love and Thomas McCoy. Because of the small Negro population in this town, however, this school has not rapidly developed, although the work of the teachers employed there has been efficient as has been evidenced by their strong graduates of the eighth grade who have done excellent work in more advanced schools.

A little farther north, in Wheeling and on the adjoining county of Ohio, Negro education had a better opportunity. Wheeling is geographically a part of Pennsylvania and Ohio and its attitude toward education has been determined to a large extent by the impetus given education in these progressive commonwealths. The spirit of fairness in dealing with the man far down in these adjoining cities, moreover, has been reflected to a certain extent in the policies of the educational authorities of Wheeling in dealing with the uplift of the Negro. At an early date the Negroes of Wheeling were provided with elementary schools. Referring to the increasing interest in Negro education in 1866, State Superintendent White said: "An excellent school has been started in Wheeling and a, few are reported in other places. The school house in Wheeling cost about $2500. The school is conducted by a teacher of their own color and the behavior and scholarship of the pupils are worthy of imitation".

As in the case of most Negro schools near the Ohio River and even in the central portion of the State, most of the first teachers in Wheeling came from Ohio, where they had the opportunity to attend the high schools and even colleges of high order, although they were not able to over-ride race prejudices which barred them from the teaching corps in that free State. The pioneer who first served there was John West, of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. He was considerably encouraged by Dr. Archibald Hupp, a white man, and by John Jackson, a progressive man of color. In Wheeling, moreover, the salaries paid were much more inviting than they were in many towns of West Virginia, and it could easily employ those persons best equipped. Among those who later served in that city were a Miss Carter and William Gaskins.

The Wheeling school, then, fortunate in having the service of such teachers, developed about as rapidly as possible under the circumstances of a limited Negro population; for Wheeling is not in a Negro section, and since the industrial aspect of the city was not inviting to Negro workers, the population of color did not rapidly increase. In 1897, however, when the pupils of all of the grades reached about three hundred, the city established the Lincoln Junior High School, which had its development under J. McHenry Jones. He called to his assistance well equipped teachers and succeeded in offering to the Negroes of that city practically the came course of study taught in the white high school, though at times some classes were too small to justify instruction in certain phases of specialized work. J. McHenry Jones was succeeded by his brother, F. B. Jones, who served eight years. Then came Mr. J. W. Hughes, who added the domestic science and manual training courses. This school is still successfully conducted by Mr. J. H. Rainbow, the principal, who is ably supported by Mr. H. H. Jones, Miss E. L. Shields, Miss M. L. Lacour, Mr. J. W. Kinney, and Miss E. L. McMechen.


A more extensive movement for the education of the Negroes was taking place during these years in the central part of West Virginia, following the line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and the New and Kanawha Rivers. This work did not arouse equal interest in all of the counties along these routes, but reached a point of development deserving mention in Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Fayette, Kanawha, Cabell and Mason Counties. It can be readily observed that this development in education resulted largely from the early settlements of Negroes in the east-central counties of the State, from the influx of Negro laborers into the Kanawha Valley to work on the salt works, and later from the migration of Negroes to the coal mines opened along the Chesapeake and Ohio and the Kanawha and Michigan Railroads. Negro schools, with such few exceptions as those at Marshes, in Raleigh, at Madison and Uneeda in Boone County, at Red Sulphur in Monroe County, and at Fayetteville in Fayette County, were unsuccessful at points distant from these important thoroughfares.

The earliest teaching of the Negroes in the east-central counties of the State came as a result of the sympathetic interests of benevolent slave-holders who, living in a part of a State with a natural endowment unfavorable to the institution of slavery, failed as a whole to follow the fortunes of the slaveholders near the Atlantic Coast. They, hoping to see the ultimate extension of the institution by gradual emancipation, gave the Negroes an opportunity for such preparation as they would need to discharge the function of citizenship. Immediately after the war, when there was no law to the contrary and very little public opinion proscribing such benevolence, sympathetic white persons taught Negroes here and there privately. Such was the case at White Sulphur Springs, long since known as a summer resort, attracting from afar persons of aristocratic bearing who, coming into contact with the Negro servants whom the resort required, not only proved helpful to them by way of contact, but gave them assistance in realizing limited educational aspirations. The private school at White Sulphur Springs finally gave place to one established by the district. It had the support of the best white citizens of the community but was maintained largely by the enterprise of progressive Negroes. The Freedmen's Bureau had a school in Lewisburg, in 1866, under the direction of one Miss Woodford. After serving the people well for a year or two, this institution gave place to a public school.

In Ronceverte, where the Negro population increased more rapidly and where these persons of color made more economic progress than in the case of White Sulphur Springs, Negro education had a better chance. After passing through the stage of such private instruction as white persons interested in the man far down felt disposed to give, an actual school was opened in the early seventies with an enrollment of thirty pupils. The first teacher was Mr. Robert Keys of Charleston, West Virginia. Mr. Keys was well prepared for that time and served there creditably for two years. Mr. Keys had the support of such well-known families as the Crumps, the Capertons, the Gees, the Petersons, the Eldridges, the Browns, the Eubanks, the Williamses and the Hayneses. There served, likewise, Miss Carr of Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Benjamin Perkins of Lewisburg, West Virginia. Mr. Robert D. Riddle was also one of the early instructors. Mr. Riddle retired from teaching several years ago but is still living in the city of Ronceverte, where he has distinguished himself as a successful truck farmer. Some years later, Reverend R. D. W. Meadows, who has since then been a missionary in this State, served as a teacher in Sinks Grove, White Sulphur Springs, Ronceverte, and Hinton, leaving a favorable impression on the systems. The Ronceverte school was first taught in a small one-room house, privately owned, but when it increased in later years it was necessary to divide it so as to teach a part of the school in the Negro Baptist Church until a larger building could be provided. It is now a well graded and junior high school, with many modern facilities.

Union, in Monroe County, was not unlike the other large settlements of this section, having a considerable Negro population. There was at times even prior to the Civil War a healthy sentiment in favor of the improvement of the few slaves there, and this was not lost after that conflict had ended. So general was the interest in behalf of the Negroes that this proved to be a most favorable community. Union was one of the first towns in that section to establish a public school for Negroes. In the beginning there was some difficulty in securing well-prepared Negro teachers in the county itself; for one John Didell, a white man, was the teacher of the public school. He had the support of such respectable Negroes as Julius Smalls, Andrew Bailey, Malinda Campbell, Henry Campbell, James Clair, Christopher Whitlock and Charles Campbell. Among those who came in later to stimulate these efforts were Mrs. Leota Moss Claire, now a resident of Charleston, West Virginia, and J. M. Riddle, who after having taught at Sinks Grove and preached for several years in various parts of West Virginia, engaged in the ministry in Ohio and thereafter went to California, where he is now serving as a State Missionary of the Baptist Church.

In Summers County, the large settlement of Negroes was at Hinton. This place had a Negro school of fifteen pupils as early as 1878, with one T. J. Trinkle as instructor. He was a man of limited education but prepared to help those who had not made advancement in the fundamentals. What he lacked in education he made up in moral influence, and his career is still remembered as a success. The school in Hinton began in a one-rooni structure rented for four months, the length of the school term. (*The cause of education among Negroes of Hinton was fearlessly supported by E. J. Pack and C. H. Payne. The latter was once a teacher in a rural district in this county himself and later became a preacher and a public servant in this country and abroad.) Teachers were paid at the rate of $15, $25, and $30 a month for third, second, and first grade certificates respectively. It has recently developed into a well graded school, having a junior high school department with teachers paid at the rate of a combined monthly salary of $600.

The Negro public school experienced a later development in Fayette County than in the case of the counties nearer to the eastern border of the State or along the Ohio River; for, unlike those parts which had a larger number of slaves than the central and northern counties, Fayette County never before the eighties had Negro groups in sufficiently large numbers to warrant an outlay in education at public expense. The beginning of Negro education in this county was consequent upon the migration of Negroes to the coal fields of that district. Many of them were interested in education. Among those were Samuel Morgan, A. W. Slaughter, J. H. Shelton, J. D. Shelton, Aaron Chiles, Thomas Chiles, Randall Booker, Thomas Bradley, Ballard Rotan, B. J. Perkins, Aaron Galloway, Mat Jordan, Henry Robinson, S. H. Hughes, Wellington Henderson, John Carrington, James. Caul, George Moss, and Pleasant Thomas.

The first school established in Fayette County was that at Montgomery in 1879. It was opened by H. B. Rice, a pioneer teacher in Kanawha Valley, who had completed his education at Hampton Institute. For three years Mr. Rice taught in one room of the home of Thomas H. Norman, an intelligent and progressive Negro, who, realizing the importance of education as a leverage in the uplift of his people, early made sacrifices for the establishment of this school. The school was then taught in a shanty. At the end of one year, or by 1883, the Negro population had rapidly increased, and this uncomfortable building was very much overcrowded; the school, therefore, had to be divided so that part of it could be taught in the Baptist church nearby.

Among the teachers who foiled in the district were Mrs. A. G. Payne, Mrs. Anna Banks, Miss Sadie Howell, Miss Julia Norman, Mrs. Annie Parker Hunter, Miss M. E. Bubank, Mrs. F. D. Bailey, Mr. George Cozzins, Mrs. M. A. W. Thompson, Miss L. O. Hopkins, Miss Lizzie Meadows, J. W. Scott, Miss Rebecca I. Bullard, Mrs. Mattie Payne Trent, Mrs. Lola M. Lavender Mack, Mrs. Nellie M. Lewis Brown, Mrs. Ida M. King Page, and H. H. Bailey. The last mentioned not only attained distinction as the principal of this school, but so impressed his constituents as to be elected to the West Virginia legislature. He has recently been made the head of the West Virginia Negro Orphan Home.

The impetus given to education at Montgomery was productive of desirable results in other towns in Fayette County. The second Negro school to be established in Fayette County was that at Quinnimont in 1880. A storm of protest made the life of the teacher almost intolerable, although he was a white man. The school house had to be guarded, but Reverend M. S. G. Abbott taught it two years. Then came Mr. B. D. Riddle, mentioned above as a teacher at Ronceverte.

At Eagle, not far from Montgomery, there settled a group of Negroes sufficiently large to necessitate educational facilities for their children. A large one-room school soon followed, and this had not been established very long before it was necessary to employ two teachers. The prominent workers in this field were Mrs. Mary Wilson Johnson and Mrs. A. G. Payne. This work experienced a most extensive growth under the direction of Mrs. A. L. Norman Brown, Mrs. M. B. Shelton Eaton, and Mr. E. C. Page.

There soon followed schools at Quinnimont, Fire Creek, Hawk's Nest, Stone Cliff, Nuttallburg, Sewell, Eagle, Fayetteville and other towns in Fayette County. Prominent among the teachers serving in these towns were D. W. Galloway, A. T. Galloway, Miss L. E. Perry, Mrs. Lizzie Davis, Miss Bertha Morton, Mr. James Washington, Mrs. F. Donnelly Bailey, Mrs. H. C. A. Washington, Mrs. J. B. Jordan Campbell, Douglass Carter, C. G. Woodson, and Mrs. E. M. Dandridge. These teachers did not generally serve a long period in any place, as there was a difference in salary in various districts. The best teachers usually sought the most lucrative positions, and sometimes, in the battle for bread and butter, the rather keen competition in certain districts led to the periodical dismissal of teachers without justifiable cause.

To these mentioned above, however, is due the credit for the development of the Negro schools in Fayette County. This is specially true of Mrs. E'. M. Dandridge, who doubtless had a more beneficent influence in Fayette County than any teacher of color who toiled there. She was stationed at Quinnimont, where, for twenty-five years, she was not only a teacher but a moving spirit in all things promoting the social, moral, and religious welfare of the Negroes of her own and adjacent communities. She was fortunate in having a natural endowment superior to that of most persons and enjoyed, moreover, educational advantages considered exceptional for most teachers of that day. She still lives to continue her noble work and to complete a useful career in the same county where she years ago cast her lot.

For almost a generation earlier than this, Negro education had been launched with much better beginnings in the county of Kanawha. There were no free schools in West Virginia until 1866, but as in the case of several other settlements in the State, private schools were conducted for Negroes immediately after their emancipation. There had come into the county of Kanawha Rev. F. C. James, an Ohio Negro, the father of C. H. James, the wealthy wholesale produce merchant of Charleston. He was a man of fundamental education and unusual native ability. This pioneer opened at Chapel Hollow, or Salines, two and one-half miles from Malden, in 1865, the first Negro school in the Kanawha Valley. He thereafter taught at Uneeda in Boone County and later became the founder of the First Baptist Church of Charleston. The following year Miss Lucy James from Gallia County, Ohio, opened the first Negro school .in Charleston. Among the first patrons were Matthew Dillon, Lewis Rogers, Alexander Payne, Lewis Jones, Perry Harden, Julius Whiting, and Harvey Morris. Mrs. Landonia Sims had charge of the school one year also.

At this time Rev. Charles O. Fisher, a Methodist Episcopal Minister of Maryland, had a private and select school which was later merged with the free public school, between 1866 and 1869. Rev. J. W. Dansberry, another Methodist Episcopal minister from Baltimore, Maryland, belonging as did Mr. Fisher to the Washington Conference, served also as a teacher while preaching in this State, as the Simpson M. E. Church was during these years being developed and was in 1867 housed in a comfortable building on Dickinson and Quarrier Streets. Mr. C. O. Fisher was a well educated man, but Mr. Dansberry depended largely on natural attainments. Rev. Harvey Morris, another minister, opened a public school at Sissonville in 1873, and Rev. J. C. Taylor another at Crown Hill in 1882. This work was accelerated, too, by the assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau, which sent to this section C. H. Howard, a brother of General O. O. Howard, to inspect the field, and later sent one Mr. Sharp to teach in Charleston. Rev. I. V. Bryant, who had taught the first school in Guyandotte in 1873 and served there until 1877, taught the Negro school at Baker's Fork, about two and one- half miles from Charleston, in 1888, when pastor of the First Baptist Church of this city.

One of the first schools in Kanawha County was organized at Malden, which immediately after the Civil War had a much larger and more promising Negro population than the city of Charleston. Many Negroes had been brought to Kanawha County, and after their freedom many others came to labor in the salt works, as was the case of Booker T. Washington, who came to Malden from Halesford, Virginia. This private school was conducted by Mr. William Davis, the first teacher of Booker T. Washington.

Mr. Davis' career is more than interesting. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, November 27, 1848, and remained there until his thirtieth year, spending parts of the years 1861, 1862, 1863 in Chillicothe. During these years he mastered the fundamentals of an English education. He moved back to Columbus in the fall of 1863. On December 18th of that year Mr. Davis enlisted in the Union "Light Guard", called "Lincoln's Body Guard", at Columbus. He served in the army eighteen months and was discharged at Camp Todd Barracks, Washington, D. C., June 24, 1865. He then returned to Columbus and after remaining there about a month went to Cincinnati, after which he ran on a boat from Gallipolis to Charleston for about four weeks.

About this time the people of Malden, under the wise guidance of Lewis Rice, a beloved pioneer minister, better known among the early Negroes of the State as Father Rice because of his persistent efforts in behalf of religion and education, had decided to establish a school for the education of their children. Mr. William Davis thereupon abandoned his work on the boat and became the teacher of this private school at Malden, in 1865. This school was established in the home of Father Rice. As the school had to be conducted in the very bedroom of this philanthropist, it was necessary for him to take down his bed in the morning and bring in the benches, which would be replaced in the evening by the bed in its turn. The school was next held in the same church thereafter constructed, and finally when it ceased to be a private institution, in the schoolroom provided at public expense as one of the schools of the county.

About the only white person who seemed to give any encouragement to the education of Negroes at Maiden was General Lewis Ruffner. It seems, however, that his interest was not sufficient to provide those facilities necessary to ease the burden of this pioneer teacher. Yet when we think that out of this school came such useful teachers as William T. McKinney, H. B. Rice, and one of the greatest educators of the world, Booker T. Washington, we must conclude that it was a success[.]

Mr. Davis's reputation as a teacher rapidly extended through the Kanawha Valley. He was chosen by the board of education of Charleston to take charge of its Negro school in 1871, when it was just a two-room establishment. In this field, however, Mr. Davis had been preceded, as mentioned above, by noble workers in behalf of the Negroes. Building upon the foundation which other Negroes had laid, he soon had a school of four instead of two rooms, and before he ceased to be principal, it had sufficiently increased to have a well graded system, standardized instruction, and up-to-date methods.

Mr. Davis' early assistants in this work were Charles P. Keys, P. B. Burbridge, Harry Payne, James Bullard, and William T. McKinney. He received some cooperation from a few white persons, the chief one of whom was Mr Edward Moore, a native of Pennsylvania who was the father of Spencer Moore, now a bookseller in the city of Charleston. Mr. Edward Moore taught a select school for Negroes and helped the cause considerably. Mr. Davis served about twenty-four years in all as principal, although he was a member of the teaching staff for a much longer period, having served forty- seven years altogether.

Because of the unsettled policy of the Charleston public schools they changed principals every year or two, to the detriment of the system and the student body. Rev. J. W. Dansberry served for a while as principal, and H. B. Rice, who entered the service as an assistant in 1888, became principal some time later, serving about four years. Mr. Davis, who had been demoted to a subordinate position, was then reinstated, but not long thereafter came Mr. C. W. Boyd, who had rendered valuable service in Clarksburg and had later found employment in the public schools of Charleston. He succeeded Mr. Davis as principal. At the close of one year, however, Mr. Rice was reinstated and served for a number of years, at the expiration of which Mr. Boyd became principal and remained in the position long enough to give some stability to the procedure and plans of the system and to secure the confidence of the patrons of the schools. Some of the valuable assistants serving during this period were William Ross, Miss Blanche Jeffries, Mrs. Fannie Cobb Carter, and Byrd Prillerman, whose career as a teacher includes a short period of service in the Charleston public schools.

At what is now Institute in Union district, there was established in the fall of 1872 another Negro school, opened on the subscription basis in the home of Mrs. Mollie Berry, nee Cabell. Mrs. Berry was the first teacher of this school.(* In the summer of 1874 there was circulated among the teachers of this school a petition In behalf of Miss Bertha Chappelle, who was chosen to teach the second term of the high school. In this way the last month of the session was taught with but one scholar attending. In the year 1875, Miss Mollie Berry was chosen to teach this school, and she was followed in 1876 by Frank C. James, who had taught previously the first public school at Kanawha City, in 1866. He was succeeded in 1877 by Mr. Pitt Campbell, who was followed by Mrs. Bettie Cabell in 1878. She was In turn followed by Mr. Brack Cabell. In 1880 the school was moved to the site now occupied by the two-roomed village school and was called the Piney Road School. Mr. J. B. Cabell was chosen teacher for the first year.

In 1881 Miss Emma Ferguson was hired to teach this school. Miss Ferguson, now Mrs. Emma Jones, is still an active teacher. In 1882 Miss Addie Wells taught the school and she was followed by Miss Annie Cozzins. In 1884 W. G. Cabell was In charge. He was succeeded in 1885 by Otho Wells, and he by Mrs. Julia Brown in 1886.) The building is occupied at present by Mr. James and is owned now by Mrs. Berry's daughter, Mrs. Cornie Robinson. In the spring of 1873, Mr. William Scott Brown, who had by marriage connected himself with the Cabell family, was elected trustee in the Union district, and by his efforts a Jenny Lind one-room building, small and creditably furnished, was erected on a lot purchased by the Board of Education from Mrs. Cabell for twenty-five dollars, on the site now occupied by the family of Mr. Solomon Brown of Institute. The trustees chose Mr. Samuel Cabell as the first Negro public teacher of the district. The method of qualifying as a teacher was purely perfunctory, as a license to teach was easily obtained by nominal examination. The term was for four months. The line of teachers from 1886 is traced on from records of the Board of Education of the district. Short tenure of officer for a few years seems to have been the rule until the recent years dating from 1918. It is the opinion of Mr. W. A. Brown and others of the old system that the quality of the local school has grown better. The establishment of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute at this point is considered the greatest contributing factor.

The next school of consequence on the Kanawha Biver is the Langston School of Point Pleasant, in Mason County. This institution was organized in 1867 by Eli Coleman, its first teacher. He toiled for seven years in the one-room frame structure at the end of Sixth Street. At the very beginning the enrollment was 64, some of the students being adults. The school continued as an ungraded establishment for a number of years, working against many handicaps until the independent district was established and provided better facilities. This school then had a board of five trustees, three white and two colored, and was incorporated into the State system by the board of education and placed under the supervision of the Superintendent of the Point Pleasant Public Schools.

Some of the early teachers following Mr. Coleman were J. H. Bickman, later principal of the Negro school in Middleport, Ohio, P. H. Williams, Mrs. Lillie Chambers, Florence Ghee, Fannie Smith, and Lida Fitch. In 1885 the school had grown sufficiently to justify the employment of two teachers. These were L. W. Johnson as principal and Miss Hattie C. Jordan as his assistant. Mr. Johnson served until 1890, when he was succeeded by Miss Lola Freeman as principal, with Samuel Jordan as assistant for one year. The board of education then secured the services of J. B. Campbell as principal. Under him the school moved into a five-story brick structure vacated by a white school when better quarters for the latter had been provided. The Negro school was then named the Langston Academy in honor of John M. Langston, a Negro Congressman and public official of wide reputation. Miss Iva Wilson of Gallipolis succeeded Mr. Campbell as principal with Miss Jordan as assistant. Later there came as principals Mr. F. C. Smith, A. W. Puller, Ralph W. White, and finally the efficient and scholarly Isaiah L. Scott, a promising youth cut off before he had a chance to manifest his worth.

Somewhat later than this another group of Negro schools developed in Cabell County, the first and most important being in Guyandotte and Barboursville. Rev. I. V. Bryant began the first school in Guyandotte in 1873, after qualifying for the service in an examination conducted at Barboursville by the late Champ Clark, who at that time was President of Marshall College in Huntington. These Negro schools followed as a result of employment of Negroes on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad terminating at the Ohio River, where it gave rise to the city of Huntington, West Virginia, laid out in 1870. Most of these Negroes, among whom were James Woodson, Nelson Barnett, and William O. James, came from Virginia.

The first impetus which marked an epoch in the development of the school at Huntington came with the employment of Mr. and Mrs. W. F. James, products of the Ohio school system. They were for their time well- prepared teachers, of foresight and ability to arouse interest and inspire the people. Mr. James at once entered upon the task of the thorough reorganization of the school, and by 1886 brought the institution to the rank of that of the grammar school, beginning at the same time some advanced classes commonly taught in high schools. He was an earnest worker, willing to sacrifice everything for the good of the cause. While thus spending his energy as a sacrifice for many, he passed away respected by his pupils and honored by the patrons of the school. His wife continued for a number of years thereafter to render the system the same efficient service until her death in 1899.

Following Mr. James, there came Mr. Ramsey and Mr. J. B. Cabell, who seemingly gave some impetus to the forward movement; but another epoch in the history of school was reached when W. T. McKinney became principal in 1891. By this time the board of education had been induced to build on the corner of Sixteenth Street and Eighth Avenue the Douglass High School which, in its first form prior to the making of certain additions, consisted of a well-built six-room school costing several thousand dollars. Mr. McKinney added a regular high school course and in the year 1893 graduated the first class of three. Following Mr. McKinney there served the system, as principals, the scholarly C. H. Barnett from 1891 to 1900, C. G. Woodson from 1900 to 1903, and the efficient B. P. Sims from 1903 to 1906. J. W. Scott, who succeeded Mr. Sims, is today principal of this school, ranking throughout the State as one of its foremost educators and as a social worker of unusual worth.

Following along the line of Wayne County there soon appeared a school at Ceredo and another at Fort Gay, just across the river from Louisa, Kentucky. Under Mrs. Pogue, a woman of ambition and efficiency, this school accomplished much good and exerted an influence throughout that county. A number of students trained through the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades later attended school in other parts and made good workers because of the thorough training they received. The scholarship of Mamie Pogue is a case in evidence.

At Fort Gay in this same county, however, no such desirable resalts were achieved because of the small Negro population, inability to secure teachers for the small amount paid, and the tendency on the part of local trustees to change their teachers without adequate cause. Mrs. Cora Brooks Smith, a graduate of the Ironton High School, who toiled at Fort Gay a number of years, and Miss Susie Woodson, a graduate of the Douglass High School of Huntington, West Virginia, who also labored in this same field, should be given at least passing mention in any sketch setting forth the achievements in education among the Negroes in Wayne County.


In Southern West Virginia there were at first few early schools for Negroes, inasmuch as the small Negro groups here and there did not warrant the outlay. What instruction Negroes in that district received prior to 1888 was largely private. That year an epoch was marked in the development of the southern portion of the State by the completion of the main line of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, opening up one of the largest coal fields in the United States. As the discontented Negroes of Virginia and North Carolina were eager for industrial opportunities in the mining regions of the Appalachian Mountains, these coal fields attracted them in large numbers. The city of Bluefield, which developed in a few years from a barren field in 1888 to a town of almost ten thousand by the close of 1900, indicates how rapidly the population there increased. Other large centers of industry like Elkhorn, Northfork, Welch, and Keystone, soon became more than ordinary mining towns.

When these places had worn off the rough edges of frontier settlement and directed their attention to economic and social welfare they naturally clamored for education. The first school for whites was established in Bluefield in 1889, and one for the people of color followed in 1890. Other towns establishing free schools about the same time were Keystone in 1890, Northfork in 1892, Eckman in 1894, and Welch in 1895.

Prominent among the pioneering teachers in Bluefield were Mr. A. J. Smith and L. 0. McGhee, who began their work in a one-room log building in the suburb of the town now known as Bluefield. The school, of course, was poorly equipped and the teachers were not then. adequately paid, but they continued their work here two sessions of five months each. In the third year the school was moved to another town called Cooperstown, where it was housed in a two-room building more comfortable than the first structure, but not a modern establishment. As it was situated in crowded quarters the children had no playground. Several years thereafter the work was continued by Mr. S. W. Patterson and Mrs. E. O. Smith. When, however, a large Negro population settled in North Bluefield it was necessary to provide there a two- room building between them. In this schoolhouse taught Mr. P. J. Carter with an enrollment of about thirty pupils. When, not long thereafter, the building in the suburbs of Cooperstown was burned, two additional rooms were annexed to that of North Bluefield, but before that could be occupied it was also destroyed in the same way. The Board of Education then opened a school, first in a building used as a bar-room, then in a pool-room, and finally in a court house. Thereafter an old store-room was used for four years.

There were then four teachers in Bluefield: Mr. H. Smith, Mr. T. P. Wright, Mrs. Lane and Mrs. E. C. Smith. In time Mr. Wright, Mrs. Lane and Mr. Smith were replaced by Miss H. W. Booze, Mr. W. A. Saunders and Mr. R. A. McDonald. Mr. Saunders remained for one year and then was followed by Mr. G. W. Hatter, who was in his turn succeeded by Mr. R. F. Douglass, who served as principal four years. Mr. Douglass had the board of education appropriate funds for a six- room building and increased the corps of teachers to five. By raising funds in the community through entertainments and the like, the teachers purchased a library of 100 volumes. In later years Mr. Douglass was followed by Mr. E. L. Rann, a graduate of Lincoln University.

At Keystone, in 1890, Mr. J. A. Brown began a school with an enrollment of about twenty-five. He was a man of fair education but could not accomplish very much. for the reason that the term continued for only three months. The school was held in one of the private houses belonging to the local coal company and later in a church. In subsequent years there was very much development in the right direction which proved the quality of the teachers employed in the school. Among these were R. J. Whittico, Mrs. Josephine D. Cannady, Mary A. McSwain and Maggie Anderson. This school has been combined with that at Eckman and is known as the Keystone-Eckman graded school. It has an eight months term and well qualified teachers.

In November, 1892, one Moses Sanders at Northfork opened a school with an enrollment of twenty. He had only a rudimentary education. He served at Northfork for three terms, using methods considered fair for that time, but his work, as a whole, was regarded as successful. He had there the support of such a useful person as Henry Glenn, now a member of the local board of education. This school has later developed into a standard elementary graded school and a junior and senior high school with more than one hundred students. It has done well under the reorganization and direction of Mr. J. W. Robinson, the present principal.


It did not require much argument to show that the school could not make much progress without some provision for developing its own teaching force. Some of the first Negro teachers of West Virginia attended school in Cincinnati before the Civil War, while others studied at T. J. Ferguson's Enterprise Academy conducted during the same period at Albany, Ohio. The State Superintendent was early authorized, therefore, to arrange with some school in the State for the professional training of Negro teachers. For a number of years the State depended largely upon such normal training as could be given at Storer College at Harpers Ferry, where were shaped the characters of many of the first efficient teachers and ministers of West Virginia and adjacent States. The reports of the State Superintendent of Schools carried honorable mention from period to period of the successful work being accomplished there under the direction of Dr. N. C. Brackett - the only effort for secondary education for Negroes in the State. This was given an impetus by a measure introduced in the legislature by Judge James H. Ferguson of Charleston, providing for an arrangement with Storer College by which eighteen persons as candidates for teachers in this State should be annually given free tuition at Storer College. As this school was in the extreme northeastern section of the State and was geographically a part of Maryland and Virginia, however, the Negroes of the central and southern portions of West Virginia soon began the movement for the establishment of a Negro school providing for normal instruction nearer home. Mr. William Davis and his corps of teachers in Charleston, West Virginia, were among the first in the State to direct attention to this crying need.

In the meantime, however, Negroes desirous of higher education were going in various directions in quest of that opportunity. Those interested in mere fundamental training attended the schools in Virginia and adjacent Southern States. Morgan College in Baltimore was one of the first institutions to extend its influence in West Virginia through its efficient graduates. Booker T. Washington attended Hampton, and like Mattie E. Brown, Carter H. Barnett, Agnes Terry, and Lizzie E. Perry, later prepared for more advanced teaching at the Wayland Seminary in Washington; C. H. Payne and A. W. Pegues attended the Richmond Institute, now the Virginia Union University. Miss Mary E. Eubank secured her education at the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute, Petersburg, Virginia. Miss Ida King and Byrd Prillerman secured their preparation at Knoxville College, and William B. Ross, the first West Virginia Negro college graduate, took honors at Fisk University. Valuable service in preparing Negro teachers for West Virginia was also rendered by the Ohio high schools, near the border of the State. There came J. McHenry Jones, J. E. Campbell, C. E. Jones, E. L. Morton, Bertha M. Morton, Benjamin Starks, Mary Wilson Johnson, Fleming B. Jones, Harry D. Hazelwood, Fred B. Smith, L. O. Wilson, and J. R. Jefferson from the Pomeroy High School; Josie M. Barnett, J. W. Scott, Effie Bryant Carter, and Isaiah L. Scott from the Ironton High School; E. A. Viney a.nd Leota Moss Claire from the Lancaster High School; Sarah Howell, and A. G. Viney from the Gallipolis High School; and Miss Mary Dill from the Portsmouth High School. Further indebtedness of West Virginia to Ohio becomes evident when we think of the services of S. H. Guss, the first Negro to be graduated upon the completion of the college course of the Ohio State University, the graduation of Carter H. Barnett at Dennison University in 1891, and the advanced studies of J. W. Scott and Isaiah L. Scott at the Ohio University at Athens, at the Ohio State University, and at Miami University in the same State.

Teachers thus prepared meant an increasing interest in education for the steadily growing Negro population, for they emphasized the importance of provision for professional preparation at home. In the summers of 1890, 1891 and 1892, therefore, Byrd Prillerman and H. B. Rice undertook to supply this need by conducting a summer school in the city of Charleston. Exactly how far- reaching this movement was cannot now be determined, for the reason that during this same period a systematic effort was being made to interest a larger group in the more efficient, training of Negro leaders. The Baptists of the State, led by C. H. Payne, undertook to establish a college in West Virginia. Payne toured the State in behalf of the enterprise, setting forth the urgent need for such an institution and showing how this objective could be obtained. Rallying to this call, the people of the State raised a sum adequate to purchase a site which was soon sought by authority of the Baptists of the State. They selected the abandoned building and grounds of Shelton College, overlooking Saint Albans. Because of race prejudice, however, the people of that town started such a protest that the owners of the property were induced not to sell the site for such an unpopular purpose.

A more successful effort, however, was soon made. Talking with Superintendent Morgan about the necessity for higher education for the Negroes of West Virginia, Byrd Prillerman obtained from that official the promise to support a movement to supply the need. Superintendent Morgan furthermore directed Prillerman to Governor Fleming to take up with him the same proposal. The Governor was in a receptive mood and informed Prillerman, moreover, that this problem could be more easily solved than he had at first thought, for the reason that such an institution could be established so as to benefit by the Morrill Land Grant Act, enacted to subsidize with funds from the proceeds of public lands institutions devoted to the instruction in agriculture. Like the Negro Baptists of the State, Governor Fleming thought of purchasing Shelton College in St. Albans; but, that plan not being feasible, the State government had to take more serious action. As Governor Fleming said he would give his approval to a bill for the establishment of such an institution, the only problem to be then solved was to find persons to pilot such a measure through the legislature. Superintendent Morgan outlined the plans for the legislation. He showed how necessary it was to secure the support of C. C. Watts, and Judge James H. Ferguson. Byrd Prillerman used his influence in securing the support of C. C. Watts, and C. H. Payne induced Judge Ferguson to lend the cause a helping hand. These gentlemen framed the measure which, after some unnecessary debate and unsuccessful opposition from friends of Storer College, passed the legislature in 1891, as a law establishing the West Virginia Colored Institute.

The first principal of this institution was James B. Campbell, a graduate of the Pomeroy High School. After laying the foundation and popularizing the work to some extent in the central portion of the State, Campbell resigned and was succeeded by J. H. Hill, who rendered very efficient service until 1899, when he was succeeded by J. McHenry Jones, under whom the school expanded considerably during the next ten years, as a well regulated secondary school. Following him came Byrd Prillerman, a man belowed by the people of West Virginia. He had already been a successful teacher of English in this institution. He served the school as president for ten years, emphasizing high ideals and Christian character as essentials in the preparation of the youth. In 1919 he was succeeded by John W. Davis, under whom the institution is progressing with renewed vigor in its new field as a recognized college, furnishing facilities for education not offered elsewhere for the youth of West Virginia.

The influx of Negroes into the southern counties of the State necessitated the establishment of many elementary schools and led to a demand for the extension of facilities for fundamentals and pedagogic training of the advanced order provided in the West Virginia Colored Institute, which was not at first easily accessible to the people of Southern West Virginia. Acting upon the request to supply this need, the legislature established the Bluefield Colored Institute in 1895. Mr. Hamilton Hatter was made the first principal and upon him devolved the task of organizing this institution. After. rendering the institution efficient service until 1906 he retired and was succeeded by Mr. R. P. Sims, who had formerly been a skillful and popular assistant there under Mr. Hatter. Mr. Sims has acceptably filled this position until the present time.


To promote education and to encourage interest in the particular needs of workers in this field the Negro teachers of the State soon deemed it wise to take steps for more thorough cooperation of the whole teaching corps of West Virginia. White and Negro teachers were then admitted to the same teachers' institutes and on certain occasions were encouraged to participate in the general discussions; but believing that they could more successfully cooperate through organizations of their own, the Negro teachers of Charleston, in 1891, appointed from their reading circle a committee to organize a State Teachers' Association. This committee was composed of H. B. Rice, P. B. Burbridge, and Byrd Prillerman. The teachers concerned were invited by Professor Prillerman as secretary to meet at the Simpson M. E. Church in Charleston. More than fifty teachers and race leaders attended. Inasmuch as H. B. Rice, the chairman of the committee, was absent on account of illness, P. B. Burbridge, whose name was second on the list of the committee, called the meeting to order, and delivered the address of welcome. William T. McKinney, of Huntington, was elected temporary chairman. The association was then permanently organized by naming Byrd Prillerman its first president and Miss Rhoda Weaver its first secretary. (* The following resolution adopted at the meeting of the Treasurer's Association in 1891 were suggestive:

1. That all persons of high literary standing, who are not teachers, be admitted as honorary members.

2, That we highly commend the committee of arrangements for their success in bringing together so many teachers and professional persons, and for making the meeting of so much importance and interest.

3. That we recognize in the death of Prof. W. R. Boss, A. M., who died at his post at Greenville, Texas, August 20, 1891, the loss of one of our ripest scholars and most efficient educators.

4. That we tender our thanks to Hon. B. S. Morgan, State Superintendent, for the interest he manifested in the Association and the able address he delivered before us.

5. That the Summer School for Teachers, as it has been taught by Professor H. B. Rice and Byrd Prillerman, has been a means of elevating the standard of our teachers, and should be continued.

6. That we indorse the action of the State Legislature in establishing the West Virginia Colored Institute, and that we will do all In our power to make this school a success.

7. That we make The Pioneer the official organ of the Association.

8. That we tender our thanks to the Pastor and Congregation for the use of this Church, and also to Mr. I. C. Cabell for his valuable services as organist.

The committee was composed of J. R. Jefferson, Mary M. Brown, Dr. W. T. Merchant, Rev. C. H. Payne, D. D., Miss Luella Ferguson, and Lawyer M. H. Jones.

Among the most important addresses was that of C. H. Payne, an influential and educated minister then engaged in religious and editorial work at Montgomery, and that of B. S. Morgan, State Superintendent of Public Schools. Others attending the meeting were Dr. W. T. Merchant, Mrs. E. M. Dandridge, Mrs. M. A. Washington Thompson, F. C. Smith, and J. R. Jefferson.

The second meeting of this Association assembled according to arrangement in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The work of the Association had by this time been taken more seriously by the teachers throughout the State. They adopted a constitution, with the following purpose, as stated in the preamble: "To elevate the character and advance the interest of the profession of teaching, and to promote the cause of popular education in the State of West Virginia." An address was delivered by State Superintendent of Schools B. S. Morgan, and papers were read by Mrs. E. M. Dandridge of Quinnimont, Miss Blanche Jeffries of Charleston, Miss Coralie Franklin of Storer College, and J. E. Campbell, principal of the West Virginia Colored Institute. Among the persons attending but not appearing on the program were C. H. Barnett, who had been recently graduated by Dennison University in Ohio, Dr. W. S. Kearney, a graduate of the medical college of Shaw University, then beginning his practice in Huntington, J. R. Jefferson, F. C. Smith, C. H. Payne, and O. A. Wells. Booker T. Washington was at this time made an honorary member of the Association. Byrd Prillerman was unanimously elected President.

The third annual meeting of the Association was held at Parkersburg, West Virginia, in 1893. For some reason there were not many teachers present. The meeting was held at the Baptist Church of that city, with Byrd Prillerman presiding. The address of welcome was delivered by J. B. Jefferson, to whose words C. W. Boyd of Charleston responded. At this meeting J. E. Campbell of the West Virginia Colored Institute was made president of the Association, with C. W. Boyd, J. E. Jefferson and Miss Mary F. Norman as vice-presidents, Miss Clara Thomas as secretary, Miss E. C. Webster as treasurer, and Mrs. Susie M. James as historian. Two of the most prominent persons participating in this meeting were J. McHenry Jones, then principal of the Lincoln High School in Wheeling, and J. H. Hill, an instructor in the West Virginia Colored Institute.

The fourth annual meeting of the Association assembled at Montgomery. J. E. Campbell being absent, C. W. Boyd presided. The meeting to a certain extent was a successful one. A Thanksgiving sermon was preached by C. H. Payne, and Dr. H. F. Gamble read a paper on "Science in Common School Education". The Association took high ground in the form of a resolution urging the enactment of a compulsory school law. A committee consisting of C. W. Boyd, G. B. Howard, J. W. Scott, John H. Hill, and Byrd Prillerman, was appointed to urge the State to make an appropriation for the teaching fund of the West Virginia Colored Institute. Byrd Prillerman was again elected President, and Miss Fannie Cobb was chosen secretary.

The fifth annual meeting of the Association was held at Hinton. An important feature of the meeting was the method of entertainment, in that the citizens of Hinton gave the teachers a free banquet. Still more significant was the address delivered by Dr. J. E. Jones of the Virginia Theological Seminary. Byrd Prillerman, the President, delivered an important address containing valuable facts as to the conditions of the schools of the State. This address evoked widely extended comment. Prominent persons attending the session were J. H. Hill, principal of the West Virginia Colored Institute, G. B. Howard, Miss Mary Booze, W. T. McKinney, and Miss G. E. Fulks.

The sixth annual meeting was held in Charleston in the assembly room of the House of Delegates, November 26-27, 1896. This was larger and more interesting than any meeting hitherto held. Welcome addresses were delivered by C. W. Boyd of the Garnett High School, Superintendent G. S. Laidley, of the Charleston Public Schools, and Governor W. A. McCorkle. Responses to the words of welcome were delivered by J. H. Hill, principal of the West Virginia Colored Institute, Hamilton Hatter, Principal of the Bluefield Colored Institute, and C. H. Payne. Other prominent persons who attended the meeting were Honorable V. A. Lewis, P. F. Jones, Colonel B. W. Byrne, Professor A. L. Wade, J. R. Jefferson, Dr. D. W. Shaw, Dr. G. W. Holley, P. B. Burbridge, Dr. H. F. Gamble, Dr. L. B. Washington, Mrs. E. M. Dandridge, Mrs. M. A. W. Thompson and Mrs. Byrd Prillerman. Officers elected were: President, Byrd Prillerman; Vice Presidents, J. R. Jefferson, Mrs. E. M. Dandridge, and C. W. Boyd; Secretary, Miss Mary J. Jones; Treasurer, Mrs. M. A. W. Thompson; and Historian, Mr. George L. Cuzzins.

At this meeting of such unusual interest and unexpected success, the West Virginia Teachers' Association reached its purely pedagogic setting. It ceased to be the organization concerned with the general social uplift of interest to all, and thereafter restricted its program largely to educational matters. This was due to a desire on the part of the teachers not so much to discontinue cooperation with the clergy, but rather to direct attention primarily to the field of education. Ministers thereafter figured less conspicuously in the conventions, except so far as their interests were coincident with those of the teaching body.

There have been twenty-eight sessions of the Association, held at Charleston, Huntington, (*At the Huntington meeting in 1892, a poem on Thanksgiving Day was read by Miss Leota Moss. The poem was written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar for this special occasion at the request of Byrd Prillerman, the president. The price paid Dunbar for this service was $2.00.) Parkersburg, Hinton, St. Albans, Bluefield, Institute, Kimball, and Harpers Ferry. The session that was scheduled for Clarksburg in 1900 was postponed because of the outbreak of small-pox just before the time for the session to be convened.

Eleven different persons have been elected to the presidency of the Association. Byrd Prillerman served nine terms, C. W. Boyd one, J. R. Jefferson one, J. W. Scott three, H. H. Bailey one, Hamilton Hatter one, B. P. Sims two, E. L. Bann two, J. W. Moss two, A. W. Curtis two, John F. J. Clark two, and H. L. Dickason, the present incumbent, two.

Among those who have served as secretary are Miss Rhoda E. Weaver, Miss Blanche Jeffries, Miss Clara Thomas, Miss Fannie C. Cobb, Miss Mary J. Jones, Miss C. Ruth Campbell, and Miss H. Pryor.

Among the prominent persons who have addressed the Association are C. H. Payne, Ex-Governor George W. Atkinson, Ex-Governor William A. McCorkle, and State Superintendents B. S. Morgan, Virgil A. Lewis, James Russell Trotter, and M. P. Shawkey. Among other such persons have been Dr. J. E. Jones, George William Cook, Kelly Miller, Dr. W. E. B. Dubois, William Pickens, William A. Joiner, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Dr. John E. Gregg, Nannie H. Burroughs and John W. Davis.

Because of the shortness of the average school term, the small salaries of teachers, and the long distances to be traveled from outlying towns to the meetings of the West Virginia Teachers' Association at central points, the attendance of many teachers was thereby all but prohibited. In view of these and some other facts, E. L. Morton, then principal of the Negro school at Buckhannon, issued a call for a meeting of the teachers in the northern part of the State in the year 1906. Teachers from Wheeling, Fairmont, Grafton, Buckhannon, Weston, Bridgeport, and Clarksburg responded, meeting in the city of Parkersburg, November 29 of that year, when they effected an organization which has become known as the Northern Teachers' Association. J. R. Jefferson was elected the first president.

Note: The book also includes a chapter seven, "Progress Traced By Charts," and eight diagrams.

African Americans

West Virginia Archives and History