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

African American Schools in Woodford County, KY

A colored school in Midway, KY had its exhibition attacked by a mob on July 31, 1868 [source: Index to the Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States, 1871, p. 49]. The school may have been one of the two Freedmen Schools in Woodford County established between 1866 and 1870 [see NKAA entry Freedmen Schools, Kentucky].

In the Kentucky superintendent's reports for the years 1881-1886, there were 16 colored school districts; the Versailles Colored School was said to be a model school [source: Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1881-1886]. In 1880, the teachers in Woodford County included Jason Jefferson, Mary Taylor, P. Bronham, J. C. Hawkins, and George Jackson, all in Versailles, and Wallace Lewis in Midway [source: U.S. Federal Census].

According to the Simmons Elementary School website, the Simmons School existed in the late 1890s along with the Woolridgetown School and 17 other colored schools in Woodford County. When the Woolridgetown School burnt down, students attended school at a church in Big Spring Bottom.

Within the Hifner Photo Collection are pictures of all the Colored schools in Woodford County in 1892, including Simmons and Big Spring. The collection was created for the educational exhibit at the World's Fair and is available online via the Hifner Collection at the Kentucky Historical Society Digital Collections website.

During the 1895-97 school terms, there were as many as 18 colored schools. In the 1895-1896 school year, the average attendance was 525 students; in 1896-1897, 628 students [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1895-97, pp. 739-742]. The 20 teachers in the colored schools received, on   average, a monthly salary of $55.82 (for male teachers) in1895-1896, and $41.78 in 1896-1897. For the female teachers, the average monthly pay was $48.19 in 1895-1896, and $27.57 in 1896-1897. 

Various colored schools in Woodford County are mentioned in issues of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal. In 1916, the teachers listed in the journal were Emma D. Hale and Katie Hancock in Midway and Pearl E. Arnold in Versailles [source: Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 25-28, 1916, pp. 24-29] 

 In 1925, the Simmons Street School in Versailles had a Class 1 high school with J. L. Bean as principal overseeing two teachers and 59 students [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, p. 41]. There was no colored high school in the county among the nine elementary schools taught by 11 teachers [p. 68]. In Versailles, there were five elementary teachers and two high school teachers [p. 69].

In 1940, the Negro teachers in Woodford County were Jennie A. Bean, Gladys Carter, W. J. Christy, Ada B. Crawford, Elene Jackson, Rose I. Johnson, Ethelbert McClesky, Emma Minnie, Lula Rowland, Ada Scruggs, and Robin Stepp [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The first schools to be listed as integrated are Versailles High School, St. Leo, and Midway Independent Schools, all on p. 449 in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57. See also Historical Marker #2348 description and photographs of the Midway Colored School at the website.

  • Colored Schools (19)
  • Big Spring Bottom School (church)
  • Davistown School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Elm Bend School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Fermantown School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Fort Spring School
  • Frazier School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Jacksontown School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Midway School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Midway School (Hadensville, 1911-1958)
  • Midway Freedmen School
  • Milville School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Mortonsville School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Mount Vernon School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Nashville School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Simmons School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Versailles School [photo in Hifner Collection]
  • Versailles Freemen School
  • Woolridgetown School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Woodford County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Midway, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Versailles, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Davistown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fort Spring, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jackstown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Milville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mortonsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Woodford County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-05-17 16:16:10