African American Schools in Madison County, KY
In his master's thesis, History of Education in Madison County, Robert E. Little wrote that in the first quarter of the 1800s, slave owner Green Clay taught his Negro overseers to read and write [p. 42]. The slave's name was not given. Also according to Little, it was around 1850 that slave owner Cabell Chenault built a school on his property for his slaves [p. 42]. Chenault and his daughter taught at the school. It was in 1866 that the first public colored school classes were held in Madison County with as many as 34 students [sources: History of Education in Madison County, p. 43; the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Education in Kentucky; and the NKAA entry African American Schools - Kentucky, 1866].
Berea College, founded in 1855, was an integrated school beginning in 1865, led by Rev. John G. Fee (1816-1901). The school educated both African Americans and Whites and had an interracial teaching staff until 1904. House Member Carl Day, a Democrat from Breathitt County, introduced HB No. 25: "an Act to Prohibit white and colored persons from attending the same school." Berea College was the first interracial and co-educational school in the South. For more see Early Black Berea-Day Law by J Burnside.
According to author Richard D. Sears, John H. Jackson taught a school class in Madison County in 1868, and Cornelius C. Vaughn taught at a freedmen's school in Richmond in 1870 [source: A Utopian Experiment in Kentucky, by R. D. Sears, p. 91]. There were several colored schools in Madison County supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands [see NKAA entry Freedmen Schools, Kentucky]. In 1880, the teachers in Madison County were William Crawford, Elizabeth Crawford, Mary E. Crawford, and Milley Crawford, all in Glade, KY; Belle Bleston in Richmond; and John Harper in Kirksville [source: U.S. Federal Census]. From 1880 to 1881, there were 14 colored schools and 14 teachers [Little, p. 44]; the schools were taught in churches and rented buildings, there being only two or three colored school buildings [Little, p. 45].
In 1882, the Kentucky Legislature approved an act that would allow Samuel Watts, Sydney Campbell, and Madison Tevis to build a schoolhouse for colored children in District 12 on land given to them by W. C. Peyton less than a mile from the white school, Silver Creek Academy (also known as the Blythe School) [source: Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Regular Session - November 1881, vol. II, Chapter 1327, p. 878].
According to Little, in 1886 there were 27 colored schools [Little, p. 172]. In 1888, there were still 27 colored school districts in Madison County [source: Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the school year ending June 30, 1886 and for the school year ending June 30, 1887]. There were as many as 34 colored schools in 1893 and in 1897 [Little, p. 172], and the highest attendance was during the 1893-94 school term with 975 students [Little, p. 174]. In 1903, there was a colored school in Berea [source: "Berea and vicinity," The Citizen, 11/26/1903, p. 6; and the Joshua Crenshaw Report on the Berea Colored School 1905-06].
Within the Black American Series volume Berea and Madison County, by J. G. Burnside, there are pictures of former students, teachers, and principals at Madison County colored schools. The pictures were taken prior to school desegregation in Bobtown, Farristown, Middletown, Peytontown, and Richmond. Also included are students and faculty at Berea College prior to segregation in 1904. Other Colored schools in Madison County in 1912 were Concord School, Richmond City School, Valley View School, and Calloway Creek School [source: "Graduation Diplomas," Richmond Climax, 2/07/1912, p. 4].
During the school year 1932-33, there were 14 colored schools in Madison County [Little, pp. 172-173]. The Madison County Board of Education paid $4 per month per county high school student who attended Richmond Colored High School; there was no colored high school in the county.
In 1940, the teachers in Madison County were Elizabeth Bates, Robert Blythe, Lena Blythe, Willie Campbell, Warfield B. Campbell, Bessie Covington, Nancy Blythe Deatherage, Millie Embry, McMagustar Estell, Principal Margaret Fletcher, Jarman Haynes, Bessie Irvine, Ms. Charles M. Irvine, R. H. Jackson, R. L. Johnson, Roanna Maupin, Cabal Merritt, Andrew Miller, Jarnie Moran, George W. Parks, Rev. F. H. Shipes, Katherine Taylor, Anna Turner, Georgie Walker, Julia A. Walker, Aritha White, Dorothy White, Hazel White, Maggie B. Wilson, and Estella Yates [source: U.S. Federal Census].
The first schools listed as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p. 440, were Central High School and Foundation School (Private); Madison-Model High School was listed as white & integrated. The Madison County schools were fully integrated in 1963.
*Corrections made to the spelling of teachers' names based on information provided by Sharyn Mitchell, Research Services Specialist at Berea College, 3/2016.
- Green Clay Slave School
- Chenault Slave School
- Colored Schools (34)
- Berea College (interracial & co-ed)
- Berea College Foundation School [also referred to as Pasco School; records at Berea College Archives]
- Berea Freedmen School
- Bobtown School
- Brassfield School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p. 876]
- Calloway Creek School
- Concord School
- Farristown School
- Glade School
- Grapevine School [source: Kentucky School Directory, 1961-62, p. 876]
- Kingston American Missionary Association School supported by the Bureau
- Kirksville School
- Middletown Consolidated School
- Peytontown School
- Richmond American Missionary Association School supported by the Bureau
- Richmond Freedmen School
- Richmond High School
- Valley View School