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

African American Schools in Marion County, KY

Around 1824, Father Nerinckx, a Catholic priest and educator in Kentucky, started a Negro sisterhood in Loretto, KY, that in the long run was to provide a teaching sisterhood for the education of the colored race [source: The Growth and Development of the Catholic School System in the United States, by Rev. J. A. Burns, pp.232-233]. Several Negro children were adopted and educated, and in May of 1824, three of the girls were admitted to the religious veil. Father Nerinckx died a few months later and the project ended.

Between 1866 and 1870, there was a Freemen School in Lebanon, KY [see NKAA entry African American Freedmen Schools]. In 1869, the trustees of what was referred to as the African School of Lebanon, KY, were Senaca Wade, John McElroy, and Allen G. Drake; the trustees exchanged a lot of land with John Goggin, and the new land was thought to be a better location for the future colored school house [source: Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Adjourned Session 1869, chapter 1634, pp.539.540]. The Lebanon School for Colored Children was opened in 1872 by the Sisters of Loretto [source: Loretto: annals of the century by A. C. Minogue, p.236]. In 1880, Ella Maskes was the school teacher at the Lebanon Colored School [source: U.S. Federal Census].

There was a colored school in Raywick in 1888, but without a building or a teacher, and the school trustees did not accept the offer of a Sister from the Loretto Convent to operate the school [source: Ten Years a Priest by Rev. John Culleton]. It took until January of 1890 for an agreement to be formed between the school trustees and Rev. Culleton; the colored school would be turned over to the Catholic Church and Rev. Culleton would see that a school house would be built in Raywick and a teacher from Ohio, Ms. Anna Culliton, would teach the school with one of the Sisters from the Loretto Convent [p.65]. It was agreed that until the colored school was completed, the Negro children would be taught in an unused room in the white school house.

In response to the arrangement, The Louisville Times newspaper accused Rev. Culleton of ordering Negroes in Raywick to take charge of half the St. Martha School for white children. The new colored school building in Raywick opened during the spring of 1890. In 1894, the Poplar Corner School was constructed by the Marion County Board of Education, according to the history provided Ken Bell on his website Bells Chapel Restoration Project, August 2007. Ken Bell's aunt, Cleo Bell Spalding, was a teacher at the school.

From 1895-1897, there were 13 colored schools in Marion County [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, 1895-1897, pp.545-548]. Most of the schools were in session for 5 months. Though there were over 1,000 Negro children counted in the school census, the average attendance was 293 for 1895-96, and 286 for 1896-97. The schools were taught by 13-14 teachers each year. The average salary for 1895-96 was $50.72 for male teachers and $32.61 for female teachers, and the following school year, the salaries were $49.11 for males and $23.04 for females. The colored common schools graduates (grade 8) for the years 1897-1901, were Walker Roberts, Daniel Burton, Charles Johnson, Early Ray, James B. Maxwell, and Annie Carter [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, 1899-1901, p.66].

In 1916, Ms. Emma Rice, J. W. Roberts, and Ms. Georgia Thomas were the teachers at the Lebanon Colored Schools [source: Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 25-28, 1916, p.34 & 36]. Also around 1916, there were two Catholic colored schools, St. Francis Xavier School in Raywick with 67 students and one teacher, and St. Charles School in St. Mary with 65 students and one teacher [source:Negro Education: a study of private and higher schools for Colored People in the United States, Department of the Inferior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1916, No. 39, V.II, p.278]. In 1925, there were 6 colored schools in Marion County, and 3 elementary schools and one high school in Lebanon [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, pp.68-69]. The principal of the high school was J. B. Sterrett, and it was an A (accredited) school with five teachers and 143 students [Kentucky Public School Directory, 1926-1927, p.62]. In 1932, Ms. Nettie Lee Hughes was principal of the new Rosenwald School built in Lebanon, KY, the school was featured on the cover of the KNEA Journal, October-November 1932, v.3, no.1.

In 1940, the Negro teachers in Marion County were Helen P. Foster, Mary D. Henderson, Mary E. Lancaster, Lelia R. Lyons, and Mary Smth [source: U.S. Federal Census]. St. Augustine School was the first in Marion County to be listed as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p.440.

  • Sisterhood of Loretto - Negro Sisterhood School
  • Freedmen School
  • African School
  • Raywick School (pre-1890)
  • Colored Schools (13)
  • Lebanon School
  • Lebanon School for Colored Children (Sisters of Loretto)
  • St. Augustin Ladies' Academy in Lebanon [source: Progress of a Race, p.640]
  • St. Francis Xavier School
  • St. Charles School
  • St. Mary School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p.877]
  • St Monica School [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1955-56, p.223]
  • Rosenwald School
  • Banks Chapel / School
  • Poplar Corner School / Bells Chapel

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Marion County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Loretto, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lebanon, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Raywick, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Poplar Corner, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about St. Mary, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Belltown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Marion County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2018-12-04 14:35:20