From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)
Lawrenceburg Colored School.pdf
Lawrenceburg Colored School 2.pdf
Lawrenceburg Colored School 3.pdf
Lawrenceburg Colored School 4.pdf

African American Schools in Anderson County, KY

There were colored schools in Anderson County, KY prior to the year 1900 and the exact date of the first colored school is not known. In 1880, 21-year-old John Trunt(sp) was listed in the U.S. Federal Census as a schoolteacher who lived in the East District of Lawrenceburg, but there is no indication as to where the school was located. Trunt(sp) was a boarder with the John Penny family. {Trunt may not be the correct spelling of the last name, it is difficult to read the handwriting of the census taker}.

There were still colored schools in Anderson County in 1895, according to the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky...for the two years beginning July 1, 1895 and ending June 30, 1897, there were five districts, each with one school that was taught five months per year. Three of the school buildings were frame structures, and the other two schools were taught in churches or other buildings. The colored schools were under the county system. There were six teachers and an average of 113 students attending school on a regular basis. By 1901, there were still five districts with five schools and six teachers [source: Biennial Report...beginning July 1, 1899 and ending June 30,1901]. One of the schools was taught more than five months.

In 1901, there were four school buildings, one made of log and three frame structures, and the fifth school was taught in a church, or rented building, or in the teacher's home. The average attendance was 169 students for the school year 1899-1900, and the teachers earned an average of $46.61 per month. There was an average attendance of 135 students from 1900-1901, and the teachers earned an average of $41.55 per month. For both years, the Negro teachers earned more than the white teachers. There was one student from Anderson County who graduated from the State Normal School for Colored Persons for the scholastic year 1900 and 1901 [now Kentucky State University].

In 1916, there were two teachers listed in the Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 25-28, 1916: Mary W. Coleman [known as Mrs. Wally], p.26; and J. C. Diggs, p.27. By 1926, Raymond I. Pleasant had replaced J. C. Diggs and the Lawrenceburg Colored School was located in the Grove, it was Pleasant's first teaching job and he would become principal of the school. His wife, Catherine Utterback Pleasant taught at the Georgetown School in Anderson County, the school was in the African American community of Georgetown located off Lock Road in the area known today as the Georgetown School Road. Catherine and Raymond Pleasant are listed in the History and Families, Anderson County, Kentucky, by Turner Publishing, p.139.

W. M. Thomas was the Lawrenceburg Colored School principal in 1933, and he earned $65 per month for the reduced school term of nine months [The school term had been ten months. Source: "Lawrenceburg school term will be reduced," The Lexington Herald, 08/08/1933, p.6.] Mary Coleman and William Colman were the school teachers.

By 1935, William Coleman was a teacher and would become principal of the Lawrenceburg Colored School [source: KNEA Journal, v.6, no.1, p.52]. Prior to his arrival, Raymond I. Pleasant and Mary Coleman had added an unaccredited 2-year high school to the Lawrenceburg Colored School and there were 3 students [sources: Turner Pub., p.136; and KNEA Journal, Feb. 1931, v.1, no.3, p.11, and v.2, no.1, p.24]. William and Mary Coleman continued the unaccredited high school department, though in 1936, the school was still referred to as a city elementary school [source: KNEA Journal, October-November 1936, p.40]. Mrs. Lorelia C. Spencer was a teacher at the school in 1938 and she was principal of the high school department [source: KNEA Journal, v.9, no.1-2, p.52, and v.9, no.3, p.14].

According to historian Gary Brown, it was also in 1938 when the Lawrenceburg Colored School in the Grove burnt down and the new school was built on Lincoln Street. W. M. Thomas was a teacher at the school, and he left in 1939 to become principal of the Knob City High School in Russellville, KY [source: KNEA Journal, Jan.-Feb 1940, v.10, no.2, p.34]. L. L. Owens was principal of the Lawrenceburg Colored School in 1940 [source: KNEA Journal, October-November 1940, v.11, no.1, p.32]. Mrs. C. B. Daily was principal in 1945 [source: KNEA Journal, April-May 1945, v.16, no.2-3, p.29].

In 1940, the Negro teachers in Anderson County were William Coleman, Catherine Pleasant, and L. L. Owens [source: U.S. Federal Census]. Owens left, and in 1944, C. B. Dailey was principal of the Lawrenceburg Colored School, and William Coleman and Mary Coleman were the schoolteachers [source: "Lawrenceburg schools will open on Sept. 5," Sunday Herald-Leader, 08/27/1944, p.23.

In 1949, William M. Coleman was principal of the junior high grades of the Lawrenceburg Colored School [source: KNEA Journal, March 1949, p.19]. The Anderson County colored schools were consolidated around 1950 and students from the county were bused to the Lawrenceburg Colored School on Lincoln Street. William M. Coleman would again be named principal of the school. There was never an accredited high school for Negro children in Anderson County and the unaccredited high school department at the Lawrenceburg Colored School were dropped in 1945.

According to Lawrenceburg resident Ethel Thurman and historian Gary Brown, Anderson County paid for African American high school students in Lawrenceburg to be bused to Lincoln Institute in Shelby County and to Simmons High School in Versailles, and there were a few students bused to the old Dunbar High School in Lexington. See also "Anderson school to open Aug. 29," Sunday Herald-Leader, 08/21/1955, p.55. The Anderson County Schools began to integrate in 1963 when Negro high school students were given the option of attending the white high school in Lawrenceburg, or Lincoln Institute, or the high school in Versailles. According to historian Gary Brown, the following year, all other grades were integrated, and Robert Bird was the Superintendent of Schools. For this entry, assistance with geographic locations and names, the names of teachers, and school integration information were also provided by Jane Jones, Cathy L. Green, and Gary Brown.

  • Colored Schools (5)
  • Georgetown School
  • Lawrenceburg School (burnt in 1938)
  • Lawrenceburg School

*Additional information:
  • The early colored schools in Lawrenceburg, KY, may have been held in the African American churches and other buildings. The school on Lincoln Street was built in 1938 after the colored school in the Grove was burnt down. As mentioned above via Gary Brown and also mentioned by Stephanie Penny (as was told to her by her mother) via Facebook discussion, February 1-3, 2023.
  • When the Lawrenceburg schools were starting to integrate, in December of 1963, the Lawrenceburg Negro School on Lincoln Street was damaged by fire. SOURCE: "Anderson School damaged by fire," Lexington Herald, 12/25/1963, p.8. Today the building is known as Harvey Hall and is used as an event center. Herman Harvey owns the building. Information from Arlene Nance via Facebook discussion, February 1-3, 2023. 
  • In 1958, the teachers at the Lawrenceburg Colored School were William Coleman, Catherine Pleasant, and Lucille Bush. SOURCE: "Boyd named principal at Anderson School, Lexington Herald, 07/10/1958, p.14.
  • William Coleman was the school principal and/or a teacher at the Lawrenceburg Colored School from about 1935-1959. In the year 1959, he and Carol Spotts were the schoolteachers. SOURCE: "Faculty list in Anderson is announced," Lexington Herald, 08/18/1955, p.5; and "Anderson term opens Aug. 31," The Lexington Herald, 08/05/1959, p.13.
  • Catherine Utterback Pleasant was a schoolteacher at the Georgetown School in Anderson County from about 1925-1958. SOURCE: "Faculty list in Anderson is announced," Lexington Herald, 08/18/1955, p.5; and see item above.
  • The Lawrenceburg Colored School in the Grove (pre-1938) is remembered as being located on the far end of Lincoln Street, "under the hill", next to a slaughterhouse. Information from Cathy Murphy and Dr. Alicia Howard via a Facebook discussion, February 1-3, 2023.

       

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Anderson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Woodford County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Georgetown Community, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Versailles, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Anderson County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 21, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/index.php/items/show/465.

Last modified: 2023-05-12 13:29:33