The African-American Schools of Louisa County
History of the Schools

Court House District

The following portion of the handwritten narrative of Louisa County's schools by Mrs. Zelda C. Morton in 1949 follows the section under the Green Springs district . Document in the Louisa County Historical Society Archives.

"Louisa or Court House District-Whatever was done in the field of Negro education in Louisa District between 1865 and 1870 may be attributed to the Freedmen's Bureau, New England missionaries, a local lawyer and the Negroes themselves.

Schools may have been opened sooner in this district than some others, because the County seat was located here, it was more accessible, more thickly populated and easier for a number to assemble for action.

The first school we can learn of prior to the establishment of the public school system was taught by a Miss Julia Shore from some point in New England."This was the gift of New England to the freed Negro; not alms, but a friend; not cash, but character: They lived and ate together, studied and worked, hoped and hearkened in the dawn-ing light. In actual formal content their curriculum was doubtless old-fashioned, but in educational power it was supreme, for it was the contact of living souls."
From The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois
Her teaching and influence must have been exceptional, as we know of two of her pupils who became merchants in the town, two who managed their business as building contractors and one who later became a teacher and a representative in the Virginia House of Delegates. During this period the Negroes provided the places for teaching, the fuel for the school, and boarded the teacher from house to house. For those who did not attend the week-day school, one local lawyer, a Mr. Henry W. Murray of Dublin, Ireland, taught a Bible Class and Music Class on Sundays.

After 1870 demands were made from many points in the district. These demands were met in most instances. The School Board paid the teachers and furnished fuel, the patrons looked for or provided a building. Both white and colored teachers taught these schools. The School Board was slow in erecting buildings. In 1916 when there were 48 schools in the county, only 10 buildings belonged to the county.

Not until 1883 was a school building erected at the Court House. This was a two room frame building and would serve the community until 1926. About the time this school was built, teachers were coming to us from Washington, Richmond and Lynchburg. Many of their pupils were encouraged and prepared to enter the State school at Petersburg and Hartshorn Memorial College at Richmond. By the 1890s Louisa was using mostly her own talent.

In another ten years Louisa had a set back. Salaries were reduced and terms cut. Teachers were paid one salary regardless of certification. This caused many teachers to leave the county. Only a few who had a deep interest remained to carry on the work, and many of these impaired their health trying to eke out an existence on 4 or 5 month terms and $18.00 per month salary.

Hampton Institute, in 1905, made known that they had a fund for helping to extend terms of such schools as ours. They gave one month's salary, provided the patrons raised enough for one month. For at least 20 years, the schools were helped in this way.

In 1916 a teacher in Louisa District was appointed Supervisor or Jeanes Teacher. (Lucille Holt) More information was now made available for improving school conditions. The school at the Court House had a small fund for improvements. Learning of the Rosenwald Fund, they began at once to raise funds for a building. By Oct. 1917 every dollar was raised to meet the Rosenwald appropriation. When the School Board met, the people were told it would be a year before the building could be erected. Imagine the discouragement when the time stretched out to 9 years.

1926 saw the completion of a 5 room Rosenwald building. Before this building was erected, in fact in 1922, with just 3 teachers the principal at Louisa attempted to do some High School work. Nothing was provided, however for High School work until 1929 when Mr. W. D. Gresham and Dr. Dillard secured help and the school was then designated Louisa Training School. It does now 4 years of High School work.

Supervisors have worked untiringly trying to improve all conditions of schools in Louisa. The Elementary and High School plant now consists of four buildings and a lunch room. A principal, a supervisor and thirteen teachers make up the faculty, but it is still far from our desires. Our county being wholly agricultural, we feel that some plan for interesting these boys and girls in developing rural communities would be a wonderful asset to the educational program."

Green Springs District   •   Court House District    •   Cuckoo District   •   Jackson District

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Funding for this project was provided by The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and
The Louisa County Historical Society