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

African American Schools in Boyd County, KY

One of the earliest schools for African Americans in Boyd County was the American Missionary Association School, which was supported by the U. S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands [see NKAA entry Freedmen Schools, Kentucky]. The school was established between 1866-1870. The Catlettsburg Colored Common School District was established by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1873 [source: Common School Laws of Kentucky: 1922 by the Kentucky Department of Education]. The colored school in Ashland was established in 1874. According to W. B. Jackson in his thesis, all of the colored school districts were established in 1874; there were no school houses, yet school classes were held for two months at an unspecified location in Catlettsburg and in Ashland [source: The History of Education in Boyd County, by W. B. Jackson, pp. 56-60 & 128-133].

The following comes from W. B. Jackson's thesis: In 1877, there were 99 students in the two colored schools with an average attendance of 100%. There were two male teachers who earned $18.63 per month. The school records for the Ashland colored school start with the year 1881 when the school classes were held in the Methodist Church on Central Avenue. The school was supported by donations from the African American community. The teacher's salary had increased to $20-$25 per month. There were three African American trustees who were appointed by the County Commissioner of Education. Both the Catlettsburg and Ashland colored schools operated independently until about 1894 when the schools came under the City Board of Education. William Reynolds was the school principal at Ashland, and there was one teacher. The school classes were held in a rented building at the corner of Fourteenth Street and Winchester Avenue. A school building was later built at Nineteenth Street and Greenup Avenue. In 1903, a new brick building, Booker T. Washington School, was constructed in Ashland at Seventh Street and Central Avenue, with J. J. Rogers as principal. The teacher was Effie Carter, who was joined by a second teacher.

The Booker T. Washington School and the Catlettsburg School had grades 1-8. The two school districts were merged in 1912 when the Acts of 1912 by the Kentucky Legislature established the act to repeal the act that had established the Colored Common School District in Catlettsburg. The Cattlettsburg district was dissolved, but the school continued. In 1922, Principal Rogers, at Booker T. Washington School, was replaced by C. B. Nuchols, who had been a teacher at the Taylor County Industrial High School for Negroes. Nuchols added an industrial department to the Booker T. Washington School, along with a two year high school. In order to accommodate the new courses, two additional rooms were added to the Booker T. Washington School in 1923, and two more teachers were hired. The first high school graduation was held in 1925.

Catlettsburg students in the 8th grade could go on to high school at Ashland at a cost of $30 per semester. In 1927, a teacher/football coach/voice teacher was hired at the Booker T. Washington School. In 1931, the two year high school became a four year high school, one of the 16 approved Negro high schools in eastern Kentucky [see NKAA entry High Schools, Eastern Kentucky, 1948]. There were 179 students at the Booker T. Washington School in 1932, and 28 of the students were in high school. The school staff members were C. B. Nuchols, principal; J. H. Cooper, teacher and coach; Emma B. Horton, teacher; Georgia B. Richmond, teacher; R. W. Ross, teacher; and Sue M. Thomas, teacher and home economics instructor. In 1932, a modern school building was constructed in Catlettsburg on the east side of the city. There were 18 students the first year. Mrs. Daisy Keeton was the teacher, and she was succeeded by Willa Lee Preston. [See also the NKAA entry Catlettsburg Colored Common School District.]

The Negro teachers in Boyd County in 1940 were Decora Asher, John D. Cooper, Helen L. Daniels, Robert W. Ross, Sue Thomas, and Alice Thomas [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The first schools in Boyd County to be listed as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p.421, were Ashland Independent Schools at Bayless, Crabbe, Means, Wylie, Ashland Sr. High, and Holy Family. The Boyd County schools were fully integrated in 1962.

  • American Missionary School supported by the Bureau
  • Catlettsburg School
  • Methodist Church School
  • Ashland School
  • Booker T. Washington School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Boyd County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Ashland, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Catlettsburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Boyd County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-10-01 15:12:11