From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American Schools in Paris and Bourbon County, KY

Some of the early colored schools in Bourbon County were built and supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands between 1866 and 1870 [see NKAA entry Freedmen Schools, Kentucky]. The Negro common schools began around 1874, according to James R. Welch in his thesis titled The History of Education of Bourbon County. In 1880, the school teachers were George Nelson in North Middletown; Eugene Jones, Reuben Butler, and Henry L. Gowen in Paris; Elisha Lewis in Millersburg; A. Wm. Knowx in Clintonville; and Annie Trotter in Hutchison [source: U.S. Federal Census].

The following comes from Welch's thesis: In 1881, there were 1,765 colored school age children counted in the school census, and not many of them attended school. There were 16 colored school districts, with 15 schools. In 1885, there were 22 colored schools. In 1886, there were 24 colored schools, according to the Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, pp.227-230. All of the schools were held in full session [5 months] up to the 1893-94 school year, which was about a decade prior to the beginning of a continuing decrease in the number of schools and students [source: The History of Education of Bourbon County].

The number of school districts held constant between 1890 and 1908, with 22 to 24 colored school districts and a daily attendance from a high of 1,063 students in 1893-94, to a low of 532 students in 1902-03. The attendance numbers picked up, but started to slip again in 1906. From 1908-1919, the number of colored schools decreased from 20 to 12.

The following is a compilation of newspaper items on the history of Paris and Bourbon County colored Schools; the articles contained quite a bit more information than was printed in most other Kentucky newspapers for the same time period. Reverend Graves, who died in 1902, had come to Paris, KY in 1901 to become principal of the Paris Western Colored School. There were 248 students and seven teachers, and the numbers would remain consistent for the next several years. The prior year there was a high school graduating class of eight: Katie L. Long, Anna E. Parker, Fannie B. Buford, Dora B. Kimbrough, Jimmie R. Fields, James B. Woodward, and Keatha R. Williams.

Graduation ceremonies were initially held at the Opera House in Paris, KY, with admission costs of 10 cents, 15 cents, and 25 cents. A smaller school system was the Millersburg Colored School, where in 1901 there were three graduates: Frank R. Lewis, Lucile Jefferson, and Hattie B. Mayburry. Manual training was introduced in the Paris school in 1907 with 26 men and boys enrolled in the newly established night school. The Colored teachers' wages for the year totaled $2,550. Mrs. Nettie H. Grant was the school principal at the Claysville Colored School in 1907, which was the year that the Colored Bourbon County Teachers' Association held their meeting at the school [source: "Colored Bourbon County Teachers' Association," Bourbon News, 11/12/1907, p.4, col.6]. 

In Paris, at the end of the school year in 1909, there were two graduations, one for 7th graders held at the local Colored Christian Church, June 11th at 8p.m., and one for high school graduates held in the new city school auditorium, June 1st at 8p.m. [source: "Calendar of Colored School," The Bourbon News, 06/04/1909, front page]. In 1909, new colored schools were scheduled to be built in Ruddles Mills and Jacksonville. The following year, several colored schools in the county were consolidated: Ruddles Mills School with Glentown School; Millersburg School with Shipptown School (the school location was undecided); and Houston School with Amentsville School.

By 1910, a new school was being built in Centerville, and the Sidville School was to be repaired if church members would agree to help raise funds for the repairs. In 1915, Cora W. Stewart reported that the Paris Colored Moonlight School was one of the best in the state for Negroes [source: Cora Wilson Stewart and Kentucky's Moonlight Schools by Y. H. Baldwin]. See photocopy image of Cumensville School on p.12 at Rosenwald Schools in Kentucky, 1917-1932 [.pdf].

The following is additional information from Welch's thesis. The total number of students had continued to decrease. During the 1908-09 school term the average elementary school attendance was 587 colored students, and by the end of the 1932-33 term, the average attendance was 296. An industrial training school opened in Little Rock in 1914, it was established with support from the Slater Fund. It was developed into the Bourbon County Training School for colored persons in 1918, and was also referred to as the Little Rock Training School.

In 1925, G. W. Adams was principal of Western School which had 9 elementary teachers and 5 teachers at the Class 1 Level B high school that had an enrollment of 112 students [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, pp.41 & 69]. In 1940, the Negro school teachers in Bourbon County were Mattie F. Alexander, Howard Allen, Minerva Bedford, Charles R. Bland, Nora S. Bland, Sallie F. Brooke, Charles Buckner, Jessie Buford, Mary Butler, Nannie Butler, John Derrickson, Dewese Grant, Dorothy Hankins, Ola Delle Jacobs, Mary Elizabeth Kellis, Anna McBonner (sp), Carrie Murray, William Reed, Minnie Steele, Ennis Toles, Elizabeth Thomas, Archie Thomas, Mattie Whaley, Betty Williams, Lily Mae Williams, Clara Mae Woods, and Willa Wright [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The first schools to be listed as integrated in Bourbon County were Bourbon County High School, North Middletown High School, and Paris Independent 7th Street Schools, all in the Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.842.

For more see The Bourbon News articles - "Colored School Commencement," 06/12/1900, p. 1.; "Millersburg," 02/15/1901, p. 2; "Commencement items of the Paris High Schools," 05/31/1901, p. 3; "New board elects teachers," 07/05/1901, p. 3; "A tribute," 05/02/1902, p. 5; "City Schools," 09/09/1902, p. 5; "Meeting of school board," 06/14/1907, p. 1; "Expenditures," 07/16/1907, p. 8; "800 pupils," 10/08/1907, p. 6; "Calendar of Colored School," 06/04/1909, p. 1; "School Improvement League in session," 08/24/1909, p. 3; "County School Board," 11/16/1909, p. 4; "County School Board meets," 05/10/1910, p. 1; and "Recent meeting of the County Board," 08/12/1910, p. 1.

  • Amentsville School
  • Baptist Church School (James. M. Thomas' School) [source: History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky by W. H. Perrin & R. Peter, p.119]
  • Bourbon County Training School [Little Rock]
  • Brentsville School
  • Browntown School (submitted by Myke Carter; photo image by The Feedman)*
  • Caneridge School
  • Centerville School
  • Claysville School
  • Clintonville School
  • C. M. Clay's School [source: "The New School Law," Bourbon News, 07/14/1908, p.1]
  • Cumensville School
  • Currentsville School [source: "Counties aided on extension of terms," Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal, January 1932, v.2, no.2, p.24]
  • Glentown School
  • Houston School
  • Hutchison School
  • Jacksonville School
  • Jackstown School [source: "The New School Law," Bourbon News, 07/14/1908, p.1]
  • Little Rock School
  • Methodist Church School (Reuben Butler's School) [source: History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky by W. H. Perrin & R. Peter, p.119]
  • Monterey School
  • Millersburg School
  • Millersburg Freedmen School
  • Moonlight School
  • North Middletown School
  • Paris American Missionary Association School
  • Paris Freedmen School
  • Ruckerville School
  • Ruddles Mills School
  • Shipptown School
  • Sidville School
  • Western School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.842]

 See photo image of Clintonville Colored School building at Kentucky Digital Library - Images.

*Browntown was an African American Community on Townsend Valley Road in Bourbon County, KY, from the 1800s-sometime in the 1900s [source: The Feedman, Browntown Church Flickr site].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: African American Schools, Freedmen Schools - Kentucky, 1866-1870
NKAA Entry: Bourbon County Training School (Little Rock, KY)
NKAA Entry: Reed, William B. "Chief"
NKAA Source: The History of education of Bourbon County (thesis)
NKAA Source: Report of the Superintendent of public instruction of the Commonwealth of Kentucky for school year ending ...
NKAA Source: Cora Wilson Stewart and Kentucky's moonlight schools : fighting for literacy in America
NKAA Source: The Bourbon news (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Kentucky public school directory (serial)
NKAA Source: History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas counties, Kentucky
NKAA Source: Kentucky Negro Educational Association journal (periodical)

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“African American Schools in Paris and Bourbon County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 12, 2018,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 21:02:50