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

Williamsburg (KY) Colored Academy

(start date: 1883  -  end date: 1955) 

In 1883, the American Missionary Association (AMA) opened a church and a school in Williamsburg, KY, that was attended by both Negroes and whites. The effort was to be a copy of what had taken place at Berea College in Berea, KY. When some of the white children left the school in protest of the mixed attendance, the AMA refused to change the policy, and the white children returned. The school would eventually be for whites only.

The Williamsburg Colored Academy was opened for Negro children at some point in the 1880s. It began as a one-room cabin for grades 1-8. Though it was claimed that there were few Negro children in the area, the school continued to grow, and by 1889 there were 307 students, (see Report of the Commissioner of Education [available at Google Books]).

Rev. Henry Bond was the sole teacher of the school during the early 1900s. He is listed as a member of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association in the association's 1923 journal. Other teachers included Jane Arthur (mother of Henry Bond), Miss Mae Jones, Miss Ruth Bond (daughter of Henry Bond), Miss Mamie Smith, Viola Shields, Thelma Smoot Lewis, Benjamin O. Burrus Sr., and Professor Holliday S. Skillman. The Williamsburg Colored School was closed some time after 1958. According to historian Karen McDaniel, the high schools integrated in 1955 but the African American students continued in grades 1-8 at the Williamsburg Colored School until some time after 1958.

Also, thanks to Karen McDaniel for the following information: a c. 1938 photo taken in front of the schoolhouse with teacher Thelma Smoot and the school children in Whitley County, Kentucky, History and Families, 1818-1993.

The colored school building has since been converted into a residence located on Hickory Street [renamed Roy Chappell Street]. This entry was suggested by Carrie Stewart, a 1942 graduate of the Williamsburg Colored School.

For more see the Annual Report of the American Missionary Association, 1883, pp. 23, 51-52; American Missionary, vol. 37, issue 12 (Dec. 1883), pp. 376-382; and The Bonds, by R. M. Williams. See also African American Schools in Whitley County, KY and entries for African American Schools in the NKAA Database.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Whitley County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Williamsburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Williamsburg (KY) Colored Academy,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 1, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-01-31 21:30:26