Lytle, Mary Elizabeth Ecton(born: 1869 - died: 1941)
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Ecton Lytle was the second African American teacher in Gary, IN. She was probably born around 1869: she is listed as a one-year old in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census. The family, including her parents Samuel and Gabriella Ramsey Ecton, lived in Blue Ball, Clark County, KY. She was hired to teach in 1910, two years after Everett Simpson had been hired to head the 12th Street Avenue school for Negro children.
The school system had a policy that married women could not be school teachers, but special consideration was given to Mrs. Lytle, who taught grades 1-3. There weren't many Negroes from Kentucky living in Gary in 1910, Lytle being the only Negro school teacher. Others who migrated to Gary were employed by the mines, mills, and industries.
The school for Negro children was developed as a result of the growing Negro population. By 1930, there were 825 Negroes from Kentucky living in Gary, 21 of them graduating from Roosevelt School by 1936, the same year that 39 students from Kentucky were enrolled in Gary Schools [kindergarten through senior class]. All 21 graduates had entered the school in 1929, and all of their fathers' were truck drivers.
Lytle retired from the Gary Schools by 1936. In 1940, she lived with her sister Anna Meadows and brother James Ecton, both from Kentucky [source: U.S. Federal Census]. She died in Gary June 7, 1941.
For more see A History of the Growth of the Negro Population of Gary Indiana (thesis), by J. F. Potts; Children of the Mill, by R. D. Cohen; and Gary's Central Business Community, by D. Millender.