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

Craig, Susan Mary

(born: 1827) Susan Mary Craig was one of the first African American teachers in Mercer County, KY, according to information William McKinley Wesley obtained from Ellen T. Craig Harris (b. 1855 in KY) in preparation for his 1929 thesis The History of Education of Mercer County, Kentucky. (Susan Mary Craig's name is sometimes written as Mary Susan Craig in Wesley's thesis.)

Susan Mary Craig was a teacher before the Civil War. Her father was white, her mother African American, and she received her education at a white school in Harrodsburg, KY. Craig opened a school after the war, and her students were her children, including Ellen T. Craig Harris along with another daughter and son; and James Harris, the husband of Ellen T. Harris [p. 186]. The school was located on Fort Street.

Sallie Ann Taylor is recognized as the first African American teacher in Mercer County. According to Wesley's thesis [p. 187] Taylor started teaching school after Susan Mary Craig died. This could mean that Taylor continued teaching at the school that Craig had established. There was also a teacher at the school  named Landonia Simms from Ohio. Simms had been hired by Susan Craig to teach the classes that were beyond Craig's level of education. It was during this time that Craig's school was moved to Greenville Street.

Susan Mary Craig was the wife of Ransom Craig, a barber and Baptist minister in Harrodsburg and owner of $800 worth of real estate. The family members are all listed as mulattoes and free persons in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. In the 1860 census, Ellen T. Craig Harris is listed as the youngest child of the Craig family.

In the 1870 census, the household does not include Susan Mary Craig; by 1880 Ransom Craig had remarried (Celia Craig, b. 1832 in KY). His daughter  Ellen T. Craig Harris would become a school teacher who opened a school in her home. According to the information Ellen Harris provided to William Wesley, there were 40-50 students who paid $1 per month to attend the school. If there were two children in the same family, the cost was $1.50 per month [p. 187].

Ellen T. Craig Harris and her husband James T. Harris  had several children; Ellen's niece, Mattie Elliott, also lived with the family. They are all listed in one household in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census.

In 1920, Mattie M. Elliott became principal of the Harrodsburg Colored School, continuing the education of African American children in Mercer County that was started by her grandmother Susan Mary Craig.

Mattie M. Elliott's name is given as Maynette Elliott in Wesley's thesis and in the Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal. She was born in November of 1890 in Mercer County. She and other members of the Harris family are listed as white in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.

See also the NKAA entry African American Schools in Mercer County, KY and the entries for African American Schools in Kentucky.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mercer County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Harrodsburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Craig, Susan Mary,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-05-25 17:00:36