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

African American Schools in Simpson County, KY

Elijah P. Marrs is credited with opening the first school for Negros in Simpson County in 1866; he had returned home from service in the American Civil War [source: Ante-bellum free Negroes as race leaders in Virginia and Kentucky during reconstruction (thesis) by C. B. King, pp. 115-116]. The students paid $1 per month to attend the school, and Marrs was paid $25 per month salary.

The school lasted for one year; Marrs left in 1867 to teach school in Lagrange, KY. Between 1866 and 1870, Simpson County, KY had a Freedmen School in Franklin supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands [see NKAA entry African American Freedmen Schools].  The school teacher was mobbed and had to be saved by U.S. Troops. In spite of the mobbing, there continued to be colored schools in Simpson County. In 1880 the teachers included Henry Bogan, Joe Perdue, and Eoline Malory [source: U.S. Federal Census]. 

Between 1885-1887, there were ten colored school districts in the county [source: Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, School Years Ending June 30th 1886 and June 30th 1887, p. 130]. A decade later, there were 12 colored schools with 15 teachers at these schools, which were held in three log cabins and nine frame buildings with an average overall attendance of 363 students during the 1895-96 school term and 400 students during the 1896-97 school term [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1895-1897, pp. 681-684].

Between 1899 and 1901, one student from Simpson County attended the State Normal School for Colored Persons (now Kentucky State University) [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1899-1901, p. 144]. For the 1909-1910 term, the Negro teachers earned an average wage of $47 per month [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1909-1911, p. 50]. In 1919,  the Simpson County Colored Moonlight School  had 68 adult students who were taught by Gertrude Mahin, Iola Ryons, and Bessie Lawrence, all of whom taught at the colored schools for children. Harlem Renaissance poet Blanch Taylor Dickinson, born in Franklin, was a school teacher in 1916 through 1923 when she taught in Franklin along with Miss Effa B. Dixon, Mr. W. H. Bogan, Mr. T. B. Williams, Mrs. W. L. Lawrence, Miss Lizzie Moore, and Mr. A. E. Robinson [source: Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 25-28, 1916, p. 37; and April 18-21, 1923, pp. 51, 56, 66, 69, 72, & 80]. [Blanch T. Dickinson taught in Todd County, KY during the 1924 and 1925 school terms; her husband Verdell Dickinson was from Todd County.] 

In 1925, the Franklin Colored School System was one of ten systems in the state to have a colored superintendent, T. C. B. Williams [see NKAA entry for Colored Superintendents]. Williams was over the four elementary teachers and one high school teacher in Franklin. The eight elementary schools in rural Simpson County were under the county school system. Each elementary school had one teacher [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, pp. 68-69]. The school teachers included Mr. T. J. Dixon, Mrs. Effie Dixon, Prof. D. T. Wright, Miss Cora Mae Barlow, Mrs. Lula Bradley, Mrs. Mary Burrs, Mrs. G. G. Mahin, Mrs. L. B. Payne, Mr. W. H. Bogan, and Prof. T. C. B. Williams [source: Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 22-25, 1925, pp. 49, 50, 51, 53, 56, 68, 72, 82, & 83]. By 1940, the teachers at the colored schools were Josephine Berry, Lula Bradley, John Bradley, Mary E. Burrus, Virgie L. Burress, Cathrin Douthett, George Douthett, Hulean Gumm, Wilson and Mary Hale, G. B. Housten, Cora M. Jackson, Hubert Neal, Margrette Neal, Tom Payne, Mary E. Stringer, Blanch Taylor (Dickinson), and Tucker Wright [source: U.S. Federal Census]. 

The Simpson County Schools are first listed as integrated in the Kentucky School Directory, 1963-64, p. 143.

  • Colored Schools (12)
  • Elijah P. Marrs School
  • Franklin School
  • Lincoln School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Simpson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Franklin, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

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

Last modified: 2022-09-28 18:33:47