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

African American Schools in Pulaski County, KY

One or the earliest colored schools in Pulaski County, KY was the Freedmen School located in Somerset. The school was supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands [see NKAA entry for Freedmen Schools]. Not too long after the school was established, the teacher at the Freedmen School was run out of town, but that did not deter the effort for there to be colored schools. In 1880, there were schools with the following teachers: William P. Barker who was 15 years old; Charlie Goings; and Robert Owens [source: U.S. Federal Census]. In 1886 there were 6 colored schools [see NKAA entry African American Schools, 1886].

Ten years later, there was a court case concerning clarification on the appropriation of taxes between white and colored schools in Pulaski County: "Board of Education of Somerset Public Schools v. Trustees Colored School District No. 1, Pulaski County" [online at Google Books]. The taxes were needed to support the 10 colored schools that had an average attendance of 224 students for the school year 1895-96, and 256 for the 1896-97 school term [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, July 1895-June 1897, pp.653-657]. There were 11 Negro teachers at the 10 schools, they earned an average monthly wage of $34.79 during the 1895-96 school term, and the following year, male teachers earned $28.33 per month, and female teachers earned $20.17 per month. Nine of the 10 schools were taught for 5 months, and one school was held more than 5 months. Seven of the school buildings were log cabins, and three of the schools were held in frame buildings.

One student from Pulaski County attended State Normal School for Colored Persons (now Kentucky State University) during the 1900-01 school term [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, July 1899-June 1901, p.144]. The following biennium, there were 5 students from Pulaski County at the State Normal School for Colored Persons [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, July 1901-June 1903, p.81]. During the same time period, in the Pulaski County colored schools, the teachers' average monthly salaries were $31.00 for 1901-02, and $22.87 for 1902-03 [p.355]. In 1925, there were 4 elementary teachers and 1 high school teacher in the colored schools in Somerset, KY, and two teachers in the rural schools [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1925-1926, p.68-69].

By 1927, the teachers in the various Pulaski County colored schools listed in the Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 20-23, 1927, were Miss Arneeda Gilmore and Mrs. Ollie M. Gilmore [p.45]; Mrs. Bertha Bogle [p.37]; Mrs. Blanca Brown [p.38]; Miss Virginia E. Lackey [p.50]; and Mrs. Betty McClasky and Prof. E. B. McClasky at Dunbar School [p.51]. More than a decade later, there were at least nine Negro teachers in Pulaski County, KY, according to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census: Ernest Alexandria who had lived in Cynthiana, KY in 1935; Christine Barger; Mae Brown; Bertha Dorye; Virginia Lackey; Perry McDowell; Maggie Smith; Hatha Weat; and G. P. Wilson who was the principal at Dunbar School. In 1956, Pulaski County schools started to integrate their student populations at the county schools, Somerset High School, and St. Mildred School [source: Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p.446].

  • Freedmen Colored School in Somerset
  • Colored Schools (10)
  • Dunbar School (built in 1909)
  • Bourbon School [source: Pulaski County's Schools of the Past rev. ed. by M. B. Tucker, pp.11 & 84]
  • Garner School [source: Pulaski County's Schools of the Past rev. M. B. Tucker, p.30]
  • Owens School [source: Pulaski County's Schools of the Past rev. M. B. Tucker, p.11]

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Pulaski County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Somerset, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Pulaski County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-26 22:23:22