Friday, April 24, 2009

EARLY SCHOOLS OF LAURENS COUNTY FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS

The Negro students of Dublin did not have a permanent school building during most of the 19th century. Students studied in church buildings in the same manner as many county school students in the earlier part of the century. Jacob Moorman and Rev. Norman McCall were early leaders in the system. Near the end of the century, the city organized its school system for both white and colored students. The city of Dublin purchased a tract of land on the Telfair Road at the southwestern corner of the Currell property in 1888. It was bounded on the east by the Telfair Road, on the west by present day Joiner Street, and on the northeast by a branch. The site is occupied today by the Georgia National Guard Armory.

The list of principals at Telfair Street School included S.H. Daley, L.P. Pinkney, Isiah Hayes, D.M. Smith, E.L. Wheaton, N.W. Clark, Roscoe Appling, J.C. Brookins, and H.B. Rice. Some of the teachers at the school were Lucille Battey, Laura Proudfoot, Julia Hudson, Mary Boggs, Madora Jefferson, Gussie Proudford, and Emma G. Reader. In 1914, the school was moved to a new location on Taylor and Pritchett streets. The new school later became known as Taylor Street School, but to some it retained its original name. In 1920, one of Dublin's foremost educators, Susie Dasher, took over the principalship of the newly created Telfair Street Elementary School. Susie Dasher helped to establish the first Parent Teacher Association in 1923. The Telfair High School students joined the Scottsville School students in a new building known as Washington Street High School.


The growth of the northeast quarter of Dublin led to the need for a Negro School in the area. A site was chosen on North Decatur Street opposite the Second African Baptist Church in a community known as Scottsville. The community grew up around the furniture factory of the Dublin Furniture Factory Company. The Board of Education voted to build the Scottsville Elementary School in 1908. The first principal was E.L. Hall with Pearl Simmons and E.B. Caldwell as his assistants. Unfortunately, the school burned during in its tenth term. Students were quartered in churches while the city pondered whether or not to rebuild the school. The city chose to establish a new school close to the area because of the rapid growth in the southeastern quarter of the city, a school was built on South Washington Street and became known as Washington Street Elementary.

Following the destruction by fire, of the Scottsville School the city erected a new school for colored children. A site was chosen near the middle of the two most populated areas. The new Washington Street School was built in 1918 in an area known as Pine Park on the site of the colored baseball field. Eventually, the students from the Telfair Street School came to the school. The school was located on South Washington Street on the lot adjoining Howard Chapel Church. The school eventually moved to new quarters at the end of Washington Street under the new name of Oconee High School. The school was located between the present day Howard Chapel Methodist Church and the Katherine Gray Library. Susie White Dasher, one of Laurens County's most legendary educators, began her teaching career in 1896at the age. Mrs. Dasher, a native of Macon, Ga., attended Morehouse College, Fort Valley State College and graduated from Tuskeegee Institute in 1896. Mrs. Dasher retired for over a decade to rear her two children. Mrs. Dasher began her career here as a first grade teacher at Telfair Street School in 1914. The school had just been relocated from the south side of Telfair Street just before its intersection with Smith Street to the corner of Taylor and Pritchett Streets. Mrs. Dasher took over as principal of the school in 1920 and made great improvements, such as adding lights and a lunchroom - making sure each child received one well balanced hot meal each day. Three years later she organized the first P.T.A. at the school, which raised money for needed equipment. Susie Dasher's long career of dedication to her students and her community led to the naming of an elementary school in her honor. (Information courtesy of Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc.)


SUSIE WHITE DASHER

One hundred years ago, there were thirty three county schools for colored students. There were two line schools which were shared with adjoining counties. Of the thirty six teachers, thirteen were male and twenty three were female. There were eight assistants. The enrollment was 2,240 with an average daily attendance of slightly over thirteen hundred.

Due to a lack of taxpayer funding, most, if not all, of the schools were held in local churches. The schools of 1898 were : New Providence, Cave Springs, Green Hill, Donaldson, Sandy Ford, William's Chapel, Valdosta, Dexter, Garbutt, Rose Mount, Spring Hill, Montrose, Poplar Spring, Laurens Hill, Mount Pullen, Oaky Grove, Rocky Creek, Oconee, Brewton, Shewmake, Hickory Grove, St. James, Eason Hill, Buckeye, Holly Grove, Byrd Hill, Fleming Chapel and Holly Springs.

Laurens County teachers a century ago included:, P.R. Butler, Mary Devise, Rosa Dasher, Nettie Freeman, Mamie Grant, Leila M. Grant, G.C. Grant, F.D. Griffin, J.S. Houston, Emma Hines, Charlotte Johnson, Sallie Kellum, C.E. Lewis, Virgil Lewis, W.L. Miller, Fannie Moore, Clara Moorman, Lucretia Neal, Dr. B.D. Perry, Lillie Walden, Mary M. Smith, Sarah Smith, H.L. Rozier, Flora Troup, Ella Troup, W.B. Troup, John Tucker, C.D. Wright, Ella White, and A.J. Harris. Dublin teachers were Isaac H. Hayes, Kate Dudley, and Theodocia Hinton. Enrollment in the city school was about eighty.

These early scHools for Laurens County were pretty much like their white counterparts. Each school was understaffed and underfunded. The agricultural economy took precedence over school work. When the fields needed working, school was put off. During the first two decades of the 20th century, there was a major shift in the education of black Laurens County children. Illiteracy rates were cut dramatically. This progress was a direct result of the dedicated men and women who made it their life's mission to teach their children.

3 comments:

Joyce said...

I found your article on the early schools for African Americans very interesting. My great-grandfather, John Rozier was a teacher in Laurens County in a school that his children attended. My aunt, Sarah Rozier Bryant recounted that it was called the Piney Woods Baptist Church school. This would have been around the beginning of the 20th century. They later moved to California about 1910. She even told me the name of one of the texts they used - I have it in my records and will look it up. I wonder if the Rozier listed as a teacher is a relative.

Donald Thomas said...

Can you provide information on an African Americans school named (Mary Fleming) it was located on Highway 441 south of Dublin, Ga. I believe it open approx 1956

Donald Thomas said...

Can you provide information on an African Americans school named (Mary Fleming) it was located on Highway 441 south of Dublin, Ga. I believe it open approx 1956