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African American Schools in Henderson County, KY
Start Year : 1866
End Year : 1965
Between 1866-1870, there was a school in Henderson County, KY, that was supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. The school didn't last: the teachers were threatened and run out of town [see NKAA entry Freedmen Schools]. There was a colored school in Cairo in the early 1870s [source: Starling, p. 378], and Dr. Pickney Thompson is credited as the author of the 1871 act that created a colored school in the city of Henderson, KY [source: History of Henderson County, Kentucky, by E. L. Starling, p. 719]. The act was amended in 1872 because of a wording error, "...be so amended as to read between the ages of six and twenty years, instead of between the ages of sixteen and twenty years..." -- [source: Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, December 1871, Chapter 112, p. 194]. The trustees of the school were all white: Dr. Pickney Thompson, H. S. Park, A. F. Parker, Jacob Held Jr., and Y. E. Allison [source: History of Education in Henderson County, Kentucky, by Hal E. Dudley, pp. 91-92]. A school house was built on the lot located at the corner of First and Alves Streets; the lot was purchased by the Trustees. Classes started September 2, 1872, and Samuel Harris, who was also white, was the superintendent and one of the teachers. He was assisted by Mrs. E. P. Thompson, an African American, who resigned after three months. She was replaced by Mrs. Mary W. Letcher, also African American; she had been a school teacher in Henderson County since before the 1871 colored school opened in the town of Henderson. Both Mary Letcher and William W. Gilchrist were two of the African American teachers in Henderson County as early as 1870, according to the U.S. Federal Census. In 1880, the teachers listed in the census were Mary Letcher, Addy Letcher, Elija Ash, John K. Mason, and William H. Hall who lived at the home of Aaron Cabell. Teacher John Mason had also been employed as the Henderson colored school superintendent in 1874, and his wife Martha was the assistant teacher [source: Dudley, p. 92]. There were 145 students attending the school [source: Dudley, p. 93]. The Masons were from Louisville, KY, and had been teachers at Runkle Institute in Paducah, KY. Runkle Institute was one of the early schools supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Four years after the Masons arrived in Henderson, KY, in 1878 another room was added to the Henderson colored school and Miss Virgie D. Harris, a graduate of the school, was added to the teaching staff. During the 1882-83 school term, another addition was made to the school, and there were four teachers: the Masons, Miss Alice B. Moting, and William H. Hall. Two other schools in Henderson were the High Street School built in 1881 and the Alves Street School, which was built in 1889; a colored high school was established on the third floor of the Alves Street School [source: Dudley, p. 93]. The county colored schools were developed after 1871, and in the year 1880 there were 16 colored schools, and in 1892 there were 37 [source: Dudley, p. 121]. By 1908, there were 663 students enrolled in the Henderson County colored schools [source: Dudley, p. 93]. In 1916, the expected attendance at the Anthoston Colored School was 19 [source: Library of Congress, PPOC]. In 1935, the number of county colored schools had decreased to 15 one-room schools and a three-room school. [source: Dudley, p. 177]. The school in Corydon had three teachers, and there was also a two-year high school. The new Douglass High School, built in 1931-32 on the corner of Alvasia and Clay Streets, was in the city of Henderson and served as the high school for all the other colored schools in Henderson County [source: Dudley, pp. 177 & 155]. In 1951, G. Brisco Houston was principal of the Henderson County Consolidated Schools [source: "Notes on district officers," KNEA Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, p. 6 (online at Kentucky Digital Library)]. The Henderson County schools were fully integrated in the fall of 1965.
- Freedmen School
- Colored Schools (37)
- Henderson School
- High Street School
- Alves Street School
- Douglass High School
- Cairo School
- Anthoston School
- Corydon School
- Henderson County Consolidated Schools
- J. Boyd School [see p. 23 in Kentucky Historic Schools Survey by R. Kennedy and C. Johnson]
- Scuffletown School [see p. 23 in Kentucky Historic Schools Survey by R. Kennedy and C. Johnson]
See photo images of the Anthoston Colored School and students, the images are within the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog [PPOC].
Subjects: Education and Educators, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, African American Schools in Kentucky (Counties A-Z)
Geographic Region: Henderson County, Kentucky