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

African American Schools in Jessamine County, KY

One of the earliest African American schools in Jessamine County, KY, was Arial Academy, founded in 1868 at what had been Camp Nelson then renamed Arial. The school was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (see NKAA entry for Freedmen Schools). Ariel Academy was open to both girls and boys, then became an all girls school. The school was renamed Camp Nelson Academy, and in 1871, it became Fee Memorial Institute, organized by Rev. John G. Fee about a mile from the national cemetery on Danville Pike, according to the thesis of James Edward Nankivell, The History of Education of Jessamine County, pp.111-121.

The school had an independent board of trustees before it was turned over to the Presbyterian Church. There were 12 acres of land, a three story framed dormitory, and a school building. The school contained grades 1-8, and any continuing students went to Berea College for high school. The three teachers earned between $10-$12 per month, with free room and board. In 1904, Berea College became segregated due to the Day Law. Fee Memorial Institute continued with grades 1-8, until 1916 when a normal school training program for teachers was added, and the graduating students would do their practice teaching at Fee Memorial Institute.

In 1924, fifteen acres of land was purchased on the eastern border of Nicholasville and a new brick school house was constructed. The cost was $10 per month, per student, for room and board. In addition to Fee Memorial Institute, a second colored school in Jessamine County was established in 1873 in Sulphur Well [source: Nankivell, p.121]. By 1880, there were seven colored school districts in the county: three with frame school houses, districts 5-7; school was held in a tent in district 4; and there were no school houses in districts 1-3. The tuition was between 60 cents and $2.28 per three months of instruction [source: Nankivell, p.122]. The Nicholasville school had the lowest attendance with 11 students, and the Lee and Hervytown Schools had the highest attendance with 30 students.

All of the teachers were males, and they earned between $12-$27.68 per month. In 1888, a Colored Teachers Institute was organized [source: Nankivell, p.123-127]. By 1890, there was a school house in all of the colored school districts [source: Nankivell, p.128]. In 1891, there were four more schools, and there would be as many as 12 colored school districts before the number was reduced to seven by 1927. All of the schools, except the one in Nicholasville, were under the county board of education and had grades 1-8 [source: Nankivell, pp.130-134]. The Nicholasville school was under the city board of education and had grades 1-8 and a two year high school program. A new school building was constructed in 1930.

Another school was Keene Industrial Institute, a private school that was opened in 1900 by Prof. W. H. Parker [see NKAA entry for Keene Industrial Institute]. The school was moved to Beattyville in 1903.

In 1940, the Negro teachers in Jessamine County were Mattie M. Byrd, John C. Caldwell, Mattie D. Crutcher, Bettie M. Frye, Emma J. Guyon [Emma Jean Guyn Miller], Roberta Miller, Albert Myers, Cecil Payne, L. Payne, Molly Payne, Elna Pitts, Weldon Smothers, and Sadie Yates [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The schools in Jessamine County were integrated in 1963 [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1963-64, p.121]. See also Effect of Desegregation on Academic Ahievement of Negro Students of Jessamine County, Kentucky (thesis) by Eugene Martin Rasmussen.

  • Arial Academy
  • Camp Nelson Academy
  • Fee Memorial Institute
  • Sulphur Well - District 6 (frame school house)
  • Nicholasville School - District 1 (no school house)
  • Hervytown School - District 2 (no school house)
  • Keene School - District 3 (no school house)
  • Lee School - District 4 (school held in a tent)
  • Camp Nelson School - District 5 (box structured school)
  • Marble Creek School - District 7 (frame school house)
  • Troutman School - District 8
  • Troy School - District 9
  • Hickman School - District 10
  • Clear Creek School - District 11
  • Wilmore School [source: R. G. Harden, "Rosenwald-Dunbar 50th Anniversary Reunion," July 18, 2013, p.4  - copy provided by Hallie Miller]
  • Vineyard School [source: Carrie Mae Burdette Oral History Interview at University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.] [source: Hallie B. Miller - "Weldon Smothers was a teacher at the Vineyard School."]
  • Keene Industrial Institute
  • Rosenwald-Dunbar School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jessamine County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Nicholasville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Camp Nelson, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Sulphur Well, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hervytown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Keene, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lee, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Marble Creek, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Troutman, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Troy, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hickman, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Clear Creek, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Wilmore, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Vineyard, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Jessamine County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-10-27 00:24:25