(Disclaimer: Not being a historian, I stuggled with the terms used in writing about race in the South:. African-American, Negro, Colored, Black, Mulatto, and Mixed Race. Reading through the literature to get some guidance, I came away with a wide array of advice, often contradictory. What I have done, for better or worse, is when using original references, I have used the identifications in the articles. When speaking generally I have tried to use African-American, however I do so, recognizing, that there are those who object to that term for sound reasons. If the reader finds places where I have failed to be consistent, please email me. firstname.lastname@example.org )
Acknowledgment: Lois Mallory kindly transcribed a number of vintage newspaper clippings for me.
For many years I have sought information about early African-American schools in rural Warren county. I attended school in the county between 1942–1954 and did not remember any such schools until one was built 1951 not far from where we lived. My memories are of children walking to school in all kinds of weather while we were on a dry school bus. They carried the books that were determined to be of too poor condition to be used in white schools. These children from time to time would be pelted with various objects from cars driving by. The culprits were usually teenage boys.
My search for earlier schools was unsuccessful. My inquires to older members of the community likewise yielded no information. A puzzling find in the U. S. Census was the rare African-American woman who listed her occupation as "Teacher." My suspicion was that these women taught in the home of some family or in a church.
Recently my brother, Donald Oakes, who had served as superintendent of Warren County schools, sent me a brochure for the dedication of a historical marker for Kings School. The marker is seen above. The brochure not only provided some information about earlier schools, but also included the names of several women, Zelmarine Murphy and Ezell Matthews-McDonald, who had helped research the history of the Kings and associated schools. With this new information from the brochure and an informative conversation with Mrs. Murphy and Mrs Matthews-McDonald , I have launched a new effort to document African-American schools in Warren County and their unfortunately sad history. In doing so, I have discovered some remarkable men and women who struggled against forces determined to minimize the education of the African-American children. Their efforts can inspire us all.
Following the abolishment of slavery and the end of the Civil War, there was hope that the freed slaves would be educated and take their rightful place in society. Reconstruction was the mechanism used to fast track this goal. We have to look to more recent scholarship on Reconstruction to understand what went wrong. The history of Reconstruction originally was written by early southern historians and is now known to be highly biased and racist. Contrary to what most of us were taught, much progress was made during Reconstruction toward the stated educational and economic goals of the Union. Free public schools for whites and blacks grew out of Reconstruction. However, sadly, a political deal was struck with Southern Democrats of the time to settle the presidential election, the Compromise of 1877 (better known as the Great Betrayal). The agreement was to withdraw Federal soldiers from the south and thus began the perfidious institution of Jim Crow which dashed the dreams of African-American families to see their children receive a quality education.
A recent series of articles in the Sun Herald (a South Mississippi newspaper), February 2019, by Jerry Mitchell highlights the unfortunate history of public education in Mississippi.
He writes, “'Even in the territorial days, public schools were for the elite,' said David Sansing, professor emeritus of history at the University of Mississippi. In the years leading up to the Civil War, the state spent little money on public education, regarding “free schools” with contempt. It’s no surprise then that what little public money the state did invest in education often went to private schools. Many towns contributed nothing to educate white children in Mississippi. Black children fared even worse because state law made it illegal to educate them.
"After the Civil War, in 1868, Mississippi held its first constitutional convention in which African Americans were allowed to participate. Their breakthrough constitution created “a uniform system of free public schools” for those ages 5 to 21, and divided school funds evenly among all children of school age. But many policymakers rebelled against white taxpayers paying anything toward the education of black students. The state superintendent of education called the creation of public schools “an unmitigated outrage upon the rights and liberties of the white people of the state.”
"In the years that followed, violence, fraud and a new Constitution in 1890 put an end to black voting, returning white supremacy to power. With white policymakers back in charge, taxes were cut, school funding was whacked, segregation resumed, and state officials relied on favoritism, prejudice and the law to send the majority of money to all-white public schools. In 1931, a State Department of Education official concluded Mississippi’s basis of funding education was “the least satisfactory basis now in practice.” Five years later, Mississippi began requiring counties that wanted state funding to levy a local 10-mill property tax, but that local tax could only be imposed with a majority vote, leaving a number of counties in the cold."
"Black students suffered the most, and policymakers defended their prejudices. “The education of a Negro only spoils a good field hand,” U.S. Sen.and Gov. James K. Vardaman declared. “It is money thrown away.” His words found fertile soil in Mississippi. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld “separate but equal” schools, but Mississippi’s segregated schools were far from equal. In 1890, the state spent twice as much on white students as on black students. By 1935, the state spent more than three times more on white students. By World War II, African-American students received only 13 percent of the education funding, despite making up 57 percent of school-age children. Black teachers, who took home the same pay as white teachers between 1877 and 1885, now made only 38 percent as much as white teachers. Lack of pay, combined with a lack of training, contributed to fewer qualified teachers, half of them lacking a high school diploma. It’s no surprise then that by 1950 only 2.3 percent of black Mississippians had graduated from high school. The vast majority had a seventh-grade education or less."
"Two years later, a state legislative committee on education investigated the matter and concluded that “the condition of Mississippi’s schools for Negroes in rural areas is pathetic, and in some cases it is inexcusable.” Hundreds of black children are compelled to attend school in “unpainted, unheated and unlighted buildings that are not fit for human habitation and should have been condemned years ago,” the report said. “There are very few rural schools for Negroes in Mississippi that have sanitary drinking water facilities or sanitary toilet facilities.” Fearful that courts would rule its segregated schools far from equal, Mississippi began to build more all-black schools, following the lead of other Southern states. But even with those efforts, the state fell far short of closing the funding gap between black and white schools. Money the state appropriated to raise the pay of African-American teachers often failed to reach them. And districts continued their spending along racial lines. For instance, funding in Glendora for the average black student was $13.71 — less than 3 percent of the $464 the average white student received."
If my preliminary information is correct, namely that the first Rosenwald African-American schools in rural Warren county were in 1921, then this means that these children received inadequate public support for education from 1865 until 1921, a span of 56 years! Note the photo at right of Warren County Superintendent J. H. Culkin in the May 1922 Vicksburg Evening Post, lauding the lowest taxation rate in the South and the year-end unspent funds of $6000! Culkin was a strong advocate for securing funds from the Rosenwald Fund.
Julius Rosenwald was the founder of the Rosenwald Fund. He contributed seed money for many African-American schools and other philanthropic causes. He required local communities to raise matching funds to encourage their commitment to these projects. To promote collaboration between black and white people, Rosenwald required communities to commit public funds and/or labor to the schools, as well as to contribute additional cash donations after construction. With the program, millions of dollars were raised by African-American rural communities across the South to fund better education for their children and white school boards had to agree to operate and maintain the schools. Despite this program, by the mid-1930s, white schools in the South were funded more than five times per student that of black schools (in majority-black Mississippi, this ratio was sometimes more than 13 to one in some counties.). Political leaders across the South had much to answer for.
Here is a 1911 map of Warren County. I have put red stars at the location of African-American schools. As the list below indicates there were more than one school located at some locations. There were generally about 60 such schools.
Most photos came from Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database.
Allen's Station School, #100
Baconham School , #75
Ballground School, #77
Bell View School
Brunswick School #78
Cedars School #93
Cherry Street School
1884:Mrs. A. A. McCalloway, Mr. Temple, W. H. Reynolds, Laura Winans ($35/mo in 1884), Lucy Crump ($25/mon in 1884, Mamie McAllister (1884), Mary E. Holt (1884), Mrs. E. H. Morgan (1884), Florence Russell (1884), Marcella Harrison (1884)
1893:W. H. Reynolds, Principal; Mrs. A. A. McCalloway, Miss Mary E. Holt, Mrs. L. J. Campbell, Miss Mary L. Harrison, Mrs. M. L. Hemphill, Miss Belle W. Banks, Mrs. L. P. Foote, Mrs. C. J. Andrews, Miss A. M. Hitch, Mrs. L. C. Blowe; Mrs. J. E. Dunham, substitute.
T. C. Golden, Janitor Main Street School; Mrs. M. T. Tyler, Janitress Walnut Street School; Thos. Davis, Janitor Cherry Street School.
1896: B. F. Shannon principal, Mrs J. E. D. Woode, assistant principal. First grade, Miss Gertrude Monroe; Second Grade, Miss Sarah Banks; Third Grade Mrs. M. M. Hemphill; Fourth Grade, Mrs. A. M. Bowman; Fifth Grade, Miss Emma Lee Johnson; Sixth Grade, Mrs. L. P. "Millie" Foote; Seventh Grade, Mrs. B. W. Williams; Eighth Grade, Mrs. L. C. Blowe; Ninth Grade, Miss M. N. Jones; Tenth Grade, Mrs. M. E. McAllister
1901: Division 11, High School, Principal B. F. Shannon, Div 10 Miss M. L. Mabry, Div 9 Mrs F. D. McAllister, Div 8 Mrs. G. E. Shannon Div 5 Mrs M..E. H. McAllister, Div 5 Miss S. E. Hunt, Div 4 Mrs. L. P. foote, Div 3 Miss Q. E. Wills, Div 2 Mrs M. Lovett, Div 1 Mrs. B. W. Williams, General Substitute Miss E. Scott.
1917: G. M. McIntyre, principal; Mary McAllister, Mae Dixon, Maude Foote, Mattie Holland, Sarah Howard, Katie Wiley, Margaret Winlock, Flora McAllister, Helen Wesley, Rosa Buck, Minnie Cannon, Bessie Bankston, Grace Dunham, Emma Scott
Clay Street School
Clover Valley School
Eagle Bend School
Eldorado School #93
Flowerree School #81
Four Mile Bottom School #86
Haynes Bluff School
Hickory Tree School
Keiger School, #6
Building Plan Three-teacher type
Building Type School
Budget Year 1920-21
County Warren State Mississippi
Application # 45
Total Cost $5000.00
Notes Additional Comments '2' written in bottom right corner; likley acreage
Funding Sources, Negroes $2,000.00, Public $2,000.00, Rosenwald $1,000.00
King's Point School
Lake School #95
Lane's Hill School
Locust Grove School
McIntyre Elementary School
National Cemetery School
Oak Ridge School
Pleasant Hill School
Redwood School #59
Rosa Temple High School
Rose Hill School
Sadler School #97
Sandy Bottom School
St John's School
Sunny Side School
Walters School #98
Youngstown School #59
List of African-American Teacher found in Warren County
Will add first names, dates and school when found. Please email me any information you may have: email@example.com
Some Chronolgy of Public Schools for African-American Students in Warren County
1900–Emma Scott, daughter of Julia Stith, was listed as school teacher in Warren County. In 1931 she is teacher in Cherry Street School. She was still teaching in 1940. She married John Spring however they were divorced in 1916.
February 12, 1909-Vicksburg Evening Post includes an "Eloquent Letter of W. E. Mollison (at right) to Supt. Carr Asking Holiday for Pupils of Colored Public Schools that they may observe Lincoln's Anniversary".
"Vicksburg, Miss., Feb. 12, 1909
Prof J. P. Carr, Supt. City Public Schools, Vicksburg, Miss.:
I beg your pardon for calling attention to the fact, that the colored youths of Vicksburg, as well as their parents, are greatly interested in the observance of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.
It would be a fitting thing in my judgment, to permit the colored children in the public schools to have the day, and if not all, half of it as a vacation. In making this request, I am not unmindful of the fact that the number of holidays is increasing, and that the observance of them may cost something in the way of discipline, and in a slight degree break into set program. But I am sure you will agree with me that the colored boy and girl, some of whose immediate ancestors felt the chafing of chains, the birthday of Lincoln means more than would the joint birthdays of the wonderful Washington, the loved Lee and the dauntless Davis to the white boy and girl in Mississippi.
To no one man can the white man look as the founder of his freedom from chains of any kind, as can the black man to this marvelously merciful man whose figure looms larger as the solemn procession of the years passes onward. There is no desire to keep alive any feeling of race or hate, for the man whose name every black man whispers in reverence has been called, "the greatest memory of our world," and he came from the dominant Saxon and made the white man a freedom safe and sure.
If one wished to draw race lines, he could not mention that in this week not quite a hundred years ago, a slave was born whose eloquent tongue and lofty patriotism helped Lincoln in his mighty task to make the nation great and free. But Fred Douglass, like all his patient tribe, can wait for time to put the chaplet on his brow.
This is Lincoln Day. The country joins in the deepest song than ever rose from patriots throats from time's great dawn till now, and Lincoln lives in every line.
Let black boys and girls go forth today, not in thoughtless idleness, but that they may be reminded of him who waited not, but wrought until the world acclaimed Lincoln "Freedom's Foremost Friend." Let them go forth beneath our skies in benediction bended on each returning Lincoln day "lest they forget" that gratitude is the sweetest flower that blooms in all the garden of the gods.
To make this humble plea, I waited until the good hour, with fondest hope that the two colored principals of the schools for whose pupils I pray, would have called your attention to it and made the request, but I have heard no word, and so I ask that you direct that the colored schools be given at least a half holiday, today, February 12.
I am, with sentiments of the profoundest respect,
Your humble servant,
W. E. MOLLISON."
Bio for Mollison: Willis Elbert Mollison was born during 1859 near Mayersville in Issaquena County. He was the son of Robert and Martha Mollison. Robert and Martha, his parents, were both born during 1827 in Maryland and were residents of Issaquena County prior to 1859. Willis Elbert grew up in Issaquena County and at an early age attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and during 1878 he entered Oberlin College, graduatig in 1880. From 1882 until 1892 he served as the Issaquena County Chancery and Circuit Court Clerk and shortly after 1892 he moved to nearby Vicksburg in Warren County. He married Ida Wellbourne.He was a noted newspaper writer. Several times he was elected as a delegate to the Republican national conventions and always cut a wide swath in all public affairs. He was a lecturer of great ability and well versed on historical subjects. He was a practicing attorney in Warren County. His wife was the former Ida Welbourne of Clinton in Madison County. Between 1910 and 1920 he moved to Chicago, Cook County Illinois where he continued to practice law. In Chicago he was the vice-resident of the Anthropological Society and served as president of the Cook County Bar Association. His son, Irvin Charles Mollison, attended Tugaloo College, Oberlin College and University of Chicago. He became Judge of the United State Customs Court. His daughter Mabel Z. Mollison graduated from Oberlin and work for her father. Some of the material for this short biography is taken from the book, Beacon Lights of the Race, published during 1911. For more detail of Mollison's amazing life click: Mollison
February 19, 1909 The colored students did not get the holiday. An article in the Vicksburg Evening Post states,
'The ceremonies celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, at Mount Hereoden church was one of the greatest events in the history of the colored people of Vicksburg. The spacious church was packed to the doors. the music and choruses were well rendered. The solo of Fletcher Scott, "David Jones Locker" was encored. Rev. E. P. Jones was master of ceremonies. The papers showed great thought and feeling. The subjects treated were as follows:
"Lincoln as a letter writer," by B. W. Currie of the local carrier force showed wide reading of Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg in a creditable manner. J. G. H. Howman of the city schools read, "Lincoln as a man." Rev. L. W. W. Manaway of Jackson and who was in Washington the day of issuance of the immortal proclamation, and who enjoys the distinction of having known Mr. Lincoln well, told of the human document and the patient sympathetic man. Rev. L. B. Price spoke of Lincoln's religion. W. E. Mollison spoke of "Lincoln the Emancipator." His speech was warmly applauded.
"At the conclusion of the speeches and papers, Charles Long took a flash light picture of the Grand Army of the Republic and the children who rendered America. Altogether there has been no greater event in the history of the colored people of this city.
"The reception held at Lincoln Savings Bank Friday was a great success. The log cabin and ax and log in the window attracted hundreds of persons who spoke of the taste and skill displayed in the conception and execution. A large number of out of town colored people were visitors to the city to take part in the celebration." (Mollison was a major stockholder in the Lincoln Savings Bank.)
October 14, 1916-Vicksburg Evening Post list of Colored Teachers and their schools.
WARREN COUNTY COLORED SCHOOL TEACHERS AND THEIR SCHOOLS, 1916
Weathers, E. R.
Horton, T. A.
White, L. E.
Wilson, P. E.
Lewis, E. W.
Springs, Emma ( neice of GW Stith, daughter of Julia Stith)
Welmore, J. L.
Clark, H. G.
Brown, A. L.
Brinson, E. V.
Price, Bertha M.
Monroe, W. M.
Hicks, B. M.
Cook, A. P.
December 2, 1918-Vicksburg Evening Post publishes letter from Negro Ministers asking for modern school. The article mentions 60 colored school teacher and their average salary of $28/month for 6 1/2 months. They suggest the Rosenwald fund to begin with modernizing one school. The letter was signed, however the Post did not publish their names, likely to prevent any harassment.
February 12, 1919-Vicksburg Evening Post mentions Lincoln's Birthday. There was no school wide observance.
November 11, 1920—Vicksburg Evening Post reports that the Rosenwald Fund Warren County application was approved and will receive $15,000.
December 6, 1920—Vicksburg Evening Post reports that Superintendent of Schools for Warren county has secured an additional $5000 from the Rosenwald Fund which has given $52,000 to the state. He justifies the effort to improve Negro school as necesaary to keep "producers" from leaving the county. He says this is the most successful educational effort during his tenure.
March 11, 1921—Vicksburg Evening Post publishes Schools Financial statement by Superintendent J. H. Culkin. Nine white schools are mention with a total budget for them approximately five times that of the colored school. Oak Ridge has the largest budget at $13,405.9. The portion of the report related to Colored Schools follows:
"In the following list (African-American teachers in Warren County) is noted each teacher connected with the negro schools and the total amount received for the term, up to March 1, 1921, same representing five months. The names of the negro schools are not listed but a copy of the said schools is filed with the Chancery Clerk, Mr. J. D. Laughlin, before any warranats are issued. Thesee schools are established by the County Board of Education. It will be seen that some of the teachers are receiving very small amounts. These taught for only a few days. However, the records on file with the chancery clerk, will show the exact number of days taught by each and the school and the number and location of the same. The negro schools are listed from No. 45 to 163 and the teachers are placed in that order, in this outline, in order that this list and the amounts may be checked with ease and accuracy."
Total for operation of colored
schools for the first five months
of 1920-21 school
term . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,931.00
White Teachers salaries range between $650 and $750 while the African-American teacher range between $120 and $165 for a 5 to 6 month school year. Year was shortened to allow children to work in the fields. Contrary to the White schools, there seem to be no Drivers listed . There are 80 teachers listed above.
Below is some research on various people in this list of teachers. The census records which list occupation only list 3 of the 13 people I have researched as teachers. An eighth grade education was deemed adequate for these schools, There was very little college training for Aftrican-American teachers.
Olivia Martin: 1920 census says she is 31 and a teacher married to Andrew Martin. Her mother is Mattie Henry. Ward 5 District 0074 Celestine Jones, 1900 census has a Celestine
H. Jones, age 11, making her 31 in 1920. She is attending school in 1900. No 1920 information. Fostoria District 0131 Henry P. Prentiss age 52, farmer married to Winnie Prentiss. Beat 2 District 0079 Mary Brown: 1920 say she is 41 married to Richard Brown and she is a housewife. Lives on Lovers Lane, Ward 1 District 0065.
Husband Richard is farmer Mary House: no record Pearlie Hall: 1920 census says she is 23 and is a laborer. Janie Porter: 1920 census says she is 47 and a housewife to farmer Berry Porter. Beat 45, District 0084. Lucinda Kyle: 1910 census says she is 8 years old, so would be 18 in 1920. Stepdaughter of Tobuss and Lucinda Billenger., Beat 3, District 0066 Eliza Owens: 1920 census says she is 28 years old and no profession. She is married to farmer Edward Owens. Beat 4, District 0084. Lorena Bass: 1910 census has a Lorainne Bass, age 4. She would be 14 in 1920. Beat 3 District 0065 Rosa Turner: 1910 census says she is a teacher, age 33. married to George Turner, four children. Ward 4 District 0058. 1920 census says she is 37 and married to George Turner, Baldwin Ferry Road and Davis Hill , Beat 4 District 0115. W. M. Monroe: A 1918 WWI Draft Resistration card has a Willam Morgan Monroe, age 45, born 1873. Cedars, Warren, MS. He is farmer and married to Katie Monroe. The 1920 census says he is a farmer. Addres Redbone District 0082.
One of the most interesting teacher I have researched is:
George Washington Stith 1920 census says he is 73, and a lecturer in the county school. Parents were from Virginia. He is married to Elizabeth Stith and they live 703 First North St. He was a teacher in 1910 also. Ward 1 District 0066. Stith was a most remarkable man. He was born into slavery in 1847. During Reconstruction he was given the opportunity to study at Iowa College in Grinnell, Iowa. In the Iowa College 1868–1869 yearbook he is listed as from Chester, Iowa and is a first year student. He is listed from Vicksburg in the Iowa College 1869–1870 year book. Stith opened a bank account with the Freedman's Bank in 1870. The 1870 U. S. freedman's Bank Records list him as teaching in Warren County and his age is 24. He is employed by Supt. Hosie (sp?). His siblings are Chloe, Nathan, Harry, Sophia Virginia and Julianna. His parents are Henry and Lucy.
The 1880 U. S. Census lists George Stith, his wife Eliza and daughters, Estella, 6 (at school) and Bertha, 4 as Mulatto. In the house is a sister-in-law Victoria Connor, 20, also Mulatto. Her occupation is cook.
George Washington Stith's Siblings
The 1880 census has a Harry Stith, 35 (born 1845) living on Openwood. He is Mulatto and married to Mahala Stith. They have three children, Robert 7, Cora 6 abd Jennie 2. He was a policeman. In the household is Harriett Vick 48, mother-in-law. Harry in 1870 also filed for a bank account with the Freedman's bank. In this application he listed his parents as Henry and Lucy Stith. His siblings are Washington, Nathan, Chloe and Sophia. He was living on Jackson Road and was 23 year old (born 1847–48). His occupation is steamboating on the Yazoo Belle. His wife is Mahalia. He signs with an X. In the Jackson State Ledger, March 7, 1884, it is reported that a Negro policeman in Vicksburg, Harry Stith, arrested a Harry Johnson. They become involved in an altercation and Johnson cuts the femoral artery of Stith who fires two shots, killing Johnson. Stith is carried home where he dies. In 1924, Robert Stith, on behalf of Harry Stith (alias Harry Hardiway sp) filed for a Civil War pension as a result of service in the US Army. He says that Harry died February 1884, consistent with newspapeer article. He says he enlisted in 1864 (this would have been after the siege at Vicksburg) was discharged May 20, 1866. His service is Company L 5 Regiment U. S. H. Art. The request was declined.
The 1880 Census has Sophia Stith born in Mississippi about 1851, a mulatto, with parents born in Virginia living on Openwood Street in the household of Emanual Sweet, a 22 year old mulatto, laborer. Sophie's relationship is listed as "concubine". She has three children, Lucy, 13, Henry 7 and Benjamin 6. Recall that Henry and Lucy are her parents names. Her occupation is "Washes". She is single. Her sister, Julia, lives next door. Julia is 26 born 1854, She is Mulatto with a 3 year old daughter, Emma. Her mother Lucy lives with her. Lucy is 74 years old, born 1806. (The 1860 U.S. Census, has a Lucy G. Stith in Brunswick, VA. She was born in 1806 and listed as a "mistress." Her daughter, Julia E., age 21, lives with her. Both are apparently white.)
Stith's family was devoted to education. G. W. Stith's younger brother, Nathan J. Stith, attended Alcorn University, 1873, 1874. In 1884, he was a senior at Central Tennessee College. He became a doctor. Below is the announement from the Vicksburg Eventing Post, April 1886. Nathan opens an account with the Freedman's Bank on July 15, 1871. He is 16 years old (born 1855). His father is Henry and his mother is Lucy. His siblings are George Washington, Harry, Chloe Daniels. He lived 12 miles from Vicksburg on Hardaway's Place. He practiced medicine in Forrest City amd Marion, AK (entry in 1890 Polk's Medical Register and Directory of the United States and Canada) and Memphis, TN. In the 1891 Central Tennessee yearbook, Nathan is listed as deceased in the alumni section.
In the 1880 Census, Julia's brother, George Washington Stith, age 33, teacher, lives nearby with his wife, Eliza and daughters Bertha, 6 and Estella 4. All are listed as Mulatto. Julia's daughter Emma (Scott) eventually becomes a school teacher in Vicksburg. She will have three years of college.
Since George Washington and his siblings are listed here as Mulatto, then the question arises as to who are his parents. There is a white man, named Lawrence Washington Stith in Vicksburg who was originally from Virginia. Lawrence Washington Stith (1788–1868), in Vicksburg listed in the 1850 and 1860 MS Slave Schedule. the Vicksburg Daily Whig reports Lawrence W. Stith in Vicksburg as early as 1841 where he was elected as County Treasurer. According to the Vicksburg Register, his daughter, Rebecca Louisa Stith married William H. Paxton in Vicksburg, April 16, 1836. The November 7, 1910 Vicksburg Evening Post reports the marriage of Ann Rebecca Stith, daughter of Commodore W. W. Stith of Vicksburg to James R. Yerger, Esq. in Jackson, MS. However the 1891 obituary for James R. Yerger says Yerger's were married November 1, 1860. The December 17, 1856 Weekly Mississippian (Jackson, MS) reported the death of Captain J. L. Stith of the First Nicaraguan Rifles. He is the son of Lawrence W. Stith, formerly of the U. S. Navy, Captain Stith was 22 years of age. There is confusion here, some report that Captain J. L. Stith was killed in the Civi War in 1862. There is another son John William Stith.
The newspaper reports that Lawrence Stith was originally from Brunswick, VA. Recall that George Washington Stith says his parents, Henry and Lucy are from Virginia. In 1850, Stith has 5 slaves including a boy about 5, ages are notoriously inaccurate for slaves, G. W. Stith would be about 3. In 1860, Stith has 11 slaves including a boy about 15 and one 7, ages. G. W. Stith would be 13-14 and his younger brother, Nathan would be 5. The two boys ages differ by 8 years which would match. Lawrence is a serious candidate as the owner, and maybe the father also of George Washington Stith which is where G. W. Stith got his name. In an article about the Stith family of Virginia, I found the following comment, "The author ( of the article) would like to mention an incident that happened relative to the marriage of his daughter, Rickey. She and her prospective husband, Robert Hall, decided that no one but the Reverent Bob Saul could conduct their wedding ceremony. This presented a small problem as Bob Saul had been transferred to Vicksburg, Mississippi. To satisfy this whim, everyone packed up and removed to Vicksburg. The wedding ceremony was performed in an old, but picturesque church chapel. Approximately one month after the wedding, the friendly and rotund Reverend Bob called the author and asked if he might be interested in the names of some Stiths who were members of the church before the Civil War. The first name he called out was Commodore Lawrence Washington Stith and he followed with Lawrence's wife and a daughter. The author was astounded because he had been trying to locate this family of the Washington Stiths. The son, James Stith, who fought the duel with Henry Vick (nephew of founder of Vicksburg), had been killed in the Civil War. "
If Lawrence Stith is the father, he was 69 in 1850, putting him 66 or older when the Stith children are born. Lawrence W. Stith had a son, James Henry Stith who was killed in the Civil War in 1862. He was born 1833, maybe too young to sire George Washington Stith. Very important question: When G. W. and and brother Nathan list their parents as Henry and Lucy Stith, was he giving his white father's name? In the 1860 Slave Schedule, there is a 60 year old female listed. Lucy would have been 56 years old, maybe this is her. In the 1850 schedule there is a 45 year old female, Lucy would have been 44.
1850 Slave Schedule for Lawrence W. Stith with possible identities.
15 Female Black—
45 Female Black—Lucy Stith (44)
9 Female Black
12 Male Black
5 Male Black—George Washington Stith (3) or Harry (5)
1860 Slave Schedule for Lawrence W. Stith with possible identities.
7 Male Black—Nathan J. Stith (5)
60 Female Black—Lucy Stith (54)
1 Male Black
1 Female Black
20 Male Black
15 Male Black—George Washington Stith (13) or Harry Stith (Harry apparently was also Harry Hardiway so might live elsewhere)
3 Male Black
2 Female Black
19 Female Black
29 Female Black
4 Female Black—Julia Stith (6)
9 Female Black—Sophie Stith (9)
Stith served as deputy sheriff in Warren County probably during Reconstruction. He ran for Harbor Master in 2882, coming in second to a white man. He was Justice of the Peace of Oak Ridge in 1874. He ran for Justice of the Peace in 1883 but was not elected. He was an outspoken advocate of free public schools and no educational requirement for voting.
Below is a "Souvenir of General Convention of Episcopal Methodist Church" at Cleveland, Ohio, May 1896 which gives a brief bio. He was very active in the Wesley Chapel M. E. Church a First East and Openwood Street.
Note that Stith is in Chester, Iowa, in February 19, 1865, several months before the end of the Civil War. However the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Union victory in Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 would have provided him an opportunity to flee the South.
Here is Stith's photo from the conference. He is No. 5. These documents were generously provided by Professor Daniel H. Kaiser of Grinnell University.
Stith was married to Eliza Hebron, born Vicksburg, and they had at least two children, Georgia Estella (1876–1943) and Bertha G. Stith Cowan Ross (1874–1933). Bertha first married Samuel A Cowan, 20 years Bertha's senior. She later married Andrew J Ross (b. ca 1872) Stith died August 20, 1926 in Vicksburg. Their daughter Georgia E. (born 1876) was a long time teacher in the Warren County School System. She married Benjamin F. Shannon (later divorced), a teacher, and had a daughter, Myrtle (1896–1989). They moved to Chicago. Georgia died in 1943 and is buried in Burr Oak Cemetery in Wort, IL. In the 1880 census, Eliza is listed as Mulatto, her father from Virginia and mother from Mississippi. Stith, his wife and his daughter, Bertha, are buried in Cedar Hills Cemetery. Their stones are below.
Stith's granddaughter, Myrtle Estella Shannon, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Roosevelt University in 1996 at the age of 91! She remembered her grandfather, "Over all the years--from her rearing in segregated Vicksburg, Miss., to her family's migration to the steel mills of Gary, Ind., then to the big city of Chicago--she heeded the advice of her grandfather, George Washington Stith, a former slave who was educated in Iowa during Reconstruction. "He always taught us: Get as much education as you can," she recalled. "He said that nobody could beat you out of anything, or take away things that belong to you. He said: Get as much education as you can." Myrtle graduated from high school in Vicksburg when she was 16. She finished business trade school when she was 20. She earned a certificate in liberal arts from an adult education program at the University of Chicago when she was 47. She received an associate's degree from Woodrow Wilson Junior College, now Kennedy-King College--attending school at night--when she was 62
March 11, 1921—Vicksburg Evening Post has an article written by School Superintendent J. H. Culkin, entitled "Article Concernijng Our Colored Schools". He assures the citizens that no money will come from the existing school budget to support the grant from the Julius Rosenwald Fund which will fund the construction of 15 colored schools. The schools will be strictly industrial. Farming carpenter work, industrial and manual training teatures form the basis of all activities. "Under no circumstances, will there be any conveyances for the purpose, there being no necessity for same." Supt. Culkin continues, "The whole proposition is an economic. These schools can be made the means of retaining our present labor supply and will assist in recalling many of the negroes who have left Warren county.: he supports his argument, "Since the county will pay only about 10 perc cent of the entire cost of these buildings or about $7,000, and in all probabilities very muuch less, lit ibe assumed that these schools might be the means of retaingin ony seven families foer 10 years. Assuming that each of the families would have an earning power of as low as $200 per year, the amount of mney invested would be regained."
March 26, 1921—Vicksburg Evening Post has an article dedicate to "The Annual Exhibit of the counthy colored school chirdren and members of the community clubs. It states, "There are 60 colored schools and 60 community clubs in Warren county." Ir further states that the "Work of colored teachers and the ccolored pupils has heretofore been done under very adverse circumstances—the lack of proper school buildings and equipment. Things will be differen hereafter for 15 fine colored schools, which Rosenwald, the Chicago philanthropist helped to build, are now in the course of construction and will be ready for occupancy when the next school term opens the coming fall." It goes on, "The erection of the schools has filled the teachers and pupils, in fact the whole colored population of the county, with a great deal of enthusiasm, and everyone feels that equipment will be forthcoming and the good work of the schools and their usefulness will be much greater in the future than in the past." It comments on the recenty ending of the school year, March! Colored school were only for five months. Apparently starting after the fall harvest and ending before spring planting. The article describes in detail the students exibits and the domestic skills the students have been taught. It mentions Olivia Martin and M. B. R. Bowman who hold and held the position of "Jeanes agent for the colored schools. It mentions two school, Dunbar and Cementery. Mrs. Bowman is quoted in the article as believing the new scholl will be an example of neatness and ordiliness resulting in negroes in the county will no longer be content to live in ill kept and ramshackle huts. "Better schools mean better homes and better citizens and a better country." The article mentions that last session school 92 won the prize for the best equipped among those in the county for colored pupils. It is a one-room building on the thoroughfare leading from the old Jackson roac to the new cross-state highway. It looks small and antiquated when compared with any of the 15 new schools being erected.
May 17, 1921—Vicksburg Evening Post reports commencement exercises for students at the Cherry Street Colored School. Myrtle Estella Shannon, granddaughter of teacher George Washington Stith is a graduate. The class performs the play, The Princess by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Magnolia Avenue also has it closing exercises. They preform scenes from As You Like It by William Shakespeare.
August 27, 1921—Vicksburg Evening Post reports thta the Rosenwald foundation provided initially a quota of $75,000 for one year to the State of Mississippi for its Negro Schools. The fund was exhausted in one month and the Fund added an additional amount of $15,800, making the total $90,800. (An error in the article says the total of the two is $95,8000.)
1923–Replacing an earlier school on Cherry Street, Magnolia High School was built here in 1923. J.G.H. Bowman was the school's principal from 1906 to 1944 and helped develop a strong college preparatory curriculum. Professor Bowman is seen in the upper right of the photo at right. In 1940, the school was selected to participate in a secondary school study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Of the sixteen African American schools selected in the southeast, Magnolia was the only school from Mississippi. The school was renamed Bowman High School in 1944.
The original name of Kings Elementary/Junior High School was Sandy Bottom School. Sandy Bottom School was a Rosenwald School built in 1920-21. It was the result of a collaborative effort by Booker T. Washington, an African-American, leader, educator, the president and founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Julius Rosenwald, a German-Jew, clothier, philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Illinois. They built more than 5,000 schools, shops and teachers’ homes in southern states from 1912 to 1932 to educate African-American children. Twenty-eight Rosenwald schools were built in Warren County. African-Americans, known as Negroes and Coloreds at the time, contributed to the funding for the schools.
In 1951, Kings School was built at its present location. Students from Rosenwald Schools, namely, Sandy Bottom (Kings), Lake (near St. Mark M. B. Church), Kings Point, Waltersville, National Cemetary, Blakely, Katzenmeyer, Ballground, Brunswick (Eagle Lake) Schools began attending Kings School in 1952. Kings School discontinued being a junior high school in 1970 following the integration of neighborhood schools. Kings School served Vicksburg’s African-America community for 50 years.
Kings School produced some of Vicksburg‘s finest citizens. Former students became accountants, actors, bankers, carpenters, doctors, educators, engineers, computer programmers/technicians, farmers, ﬁremen, laborers, lawyers, law enforcement officers, managers, professional football players, to name a few. The school is presently Kings Headstart Center, a Mississippi Action for Progress facility. he first Kings School “All Classes” Reunion was recently held and plans are to have another reunion in two years.
Additional Information: In 1960 W. J. Jones was principal. Oscar W. Howard also served as principal at Kings sometime before he retired in 1973. He died in 1978. Graduate of Alcorn State University. Principal atTemple High School was W. C. Armstrong, Mary Reed Elementary
Sandy Bottom School, below, was of the three-teacher type. Its total cost was $5000 in 1920–21. Likely built on 2 acres. The funding source, Negroes $1500, Public $2500 and Rosenwald Foundation $1000.
Brochure of Kings School marker dedication
Building Plan: Three-teacher type
Building Type: School
Budget Year: 1920-21
Current Address Land (Acreage) County: Warren State Mississippi
Application # 43
Total Cost: $5250.00
Funding Sources: Negroes $2,250.00, Public $2,000.00, Rosenwald $1,000.00
Building Plan Three-teacher type
Building Type School
Budget Year 1920-21
Current Address Land (Acreage) County Warren State Mississippi
Application # 22
Total Cost $5000.00
Notes Additional Comments '2' written in bottom corner; likely acreage
Funding Sources: Negroes $1,900.00, Public $2,100.00, Rosenwald $1,000.00
Historic Name Lake School
Building Plan Two-teacher type
Building Type School
Budget Year 1920-21
Current Address Land (Acreage) County Warren State Mississippi
Application # 21
Total Cost $4500.00
Notes Additional Comments '2' written in bottom right corner; likely acreage
Funding Sources: Negroes $1,500.00, Public $2,200.00, Rosenwald $800.00
Magnolia School Celebration (December 2017)
VICKSBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) - It was one of the oldest and most recognized schools for African American students in this state. A historical marker now stands at the site of Magnolia High School which was built in 1923. It received special recognition in 1940 for its high academic standards. It was one of the few schools in the Southeast to offer African American students a college preparatory curriculum. Some of the former students came back to the site for Thursday's ceremony and unveiling. "In 1940 this high school was recognized for its accreditation and for its academic achievement at that time. It was one of the only accredited high schools in the state of Mississippi at that time", said Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs. The special college prep program was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Magnolia High was one of 16 schools in the nation selected to participate.
Vicksburg Post article December 28, 2017 By Brandon O'Connor Published 8:04 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017.
North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, Sr., right, unveils the Magnolia Avenue High School Historical Marker alongside Magnolia High graduates Thursday on Bowman Avenue. Magnolia Avenue High School receives historical marker Even as the building that held the school for many years sits vacant on Bowman Avenue, the history of Magnolia Avenue High School will never be forgotten thanks to a new historical marker that was unveiled during a ceremony Thursday. Open from 1923 until 1958, Magnolia was the second African American high school in Vicksburg. It was later replaced by Rosa A. Temple. "Magnolia laid the foundation for me to succeed as an educator and as a scientist,” Edgar Smith, who graduated from Magnolia in 1951 and served as the master of ceremonies Thursday, said. “My foundation was built here. We had fantastic teachers. I had an interest in science from a very early age. My chemistry teacher here sparked that interest so I went on and I got my doctorate in chemistry and I taught at major medical schools.” Thursday’s ceremony started with a program at the city hall annex before the marker was revealed at the site of the school on Bowman Avenue, which is named after J.G.H. Bowman who served as the school’s principal for 38 years. The school was also eventually renamed for Bowman following his death in 1944. “In the years that I was here were my early elementary years, it was Bowman then. During my mother’s era, it was Magnolia. This is something that we have looked forward to seeing for many years,” northward alderman Michael Mayfield said. “When you look back at the years we spent as young people here in this city and what this school meant back then before integration, it lets you know there is a profound history … It was an honor for me to go here as an elementary student and come back and unveil a marker as an elected official here in the city of Vicksburg.”
From 1940 to 1946 Magnolia was the only African American high school in Mississippi to be included in a curriculum study performed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The study focused on 16 African American high schools from throughout the southeast that were selected based on their progressive approach to education. “Mrs. (Anthenia) Jefferson and I approached the mayor about a marker,” Bettye Gardner, the co-chair of the marker committee, said. “We felt it was important to make sure Magnolia was not forgotten. People know Temple because it came later and was the next school, but they don’t know very much about Magnolia. It was an outstanding school, a very distinguished high school.” Many alumni of the school as well as the children of alumni who have died attended the program. “I have seen people I haven’t seen in many many years and they are looking good,” Smith said. “They were able to bring back memories of the earliest days. The memories were sincere and we all felt the same about how we felt about this institution and what it did for us.” The marker focuses on Bowman’s contribution to the school and the participation in the Rockefeller study. It is recognized by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Vicksburg Post Article
Three Warren County landmarks earn state historic markers By John Surratt Published 5:50 pm Saturday, July 28, 2018
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has selected three Warren County landmarks for state historic markers. The markers, which are approved by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, recognize significant people, events, and movements across Mississippi. The markers are funded by sponsoring groups that work with the department to create the text for each marker, which will be fabricated and installed at the expense of the requesting group.
To qualify, a site must have unique historical significance to the local community, the state, or the nation. Two of the Warren County markers recognize sites in Vicksburg — Bowmar Elementary School on Bowmar Avenue and the home Dr. Jane McAllister on Main Street— and the site of Fort St. Pierre on Mississippi 3. Sponsored by the Vicksburg Warren School District,
Bowmar Elementary was built in 1939 by the Jackson architectural firm of Overstreet and Town and is notable as one of Mississippi’s earliest and most intact examples of International Modernist architecture, a style introduced to the state by Overstreet and Town between 1937 and 1941. The school was built by the Federal Works Agency and is designated a Mississippi Landmark property. Architect A. Hays Town later opened his own office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is well-known for his designs.
Dr. Jane Ellen McAllister
The McAllister home marker is sponsored by the city of Vicksburg. Dr. Jane McAllister was born in Vicksburg in 1899. Her father worked as a mail carrier, and her mother was a schoolteacher. McAllister graduated high school at 15, and four years later graduated from Talladega College in Alabama in 1919, where she became the youngest Talladega graduate by earning her degree at the age of 19. In 1929, she became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She taught psychology and education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee, Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, and Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and other schools until her retirement in 1970. Dr. McAllister died in January 1996, at the age of 96.
>“I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving,” said Yolande Robbins, who knew McAllister. “She was a real history maker. Her second cousin was Dr. Bettye Gardner, and we grew up together, so we spent a lot of time at Dr. McAllister’s house and we both not only knew Dr. McAllister, but her father and mother and sister and brother.”
Located on Mississippi 3 south of International Paper, the Fort St. Pierre site is one of two from the French and Indian period to be designated National Historic Landmarks in Mississippi. The state marker for the site is sponsored by the Fort St. Pierre Tercentenary Planning Commission, which is planning the 300th anniversary of the fort’s construction north of the Redwood community. Frederick L. Briuer, a retired research archeologist with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and chairman of the tercentenary planning commission, said the organization received a grant to pay for the marker, adding the Mississippi Department of Transportation has agreed to install the marker on Mississippi 3. He said MDOT officials have also agreed to install signs on the highway alerting tourists to the site. “We have written the text for the marker and it has been edited and approved by Archives and History,” he said. “Mayor (George) Flaggs has agreed join us for the unveiling, which we will have in January. That will be the start of our observance.” Built on a bluff overlooking the Yazoo River, Fort St. Pierre stayed until 1729, when the Yazoo and Chickasaw Indians attacked the fort and massacred the soldiers and colonists who lived near it. The Indians captured some women and children who were later rescued by the Choctaw Indians. The area around the site is also home to earthworks built by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War to protect the Yazoo.