The African-American Schools of Louisa County
Former African-American Schools
in Louisa County, Virginia

Mt. Garland

Personal accounts: Sarah F. Winston and Hortense Gordon Lewis

 A History of Negro Education in Louisa County

In 1949, Mrs. Alice Fountain wrote this essay on Louisa County's African-American schools. 
She taught at Mt. Garland, located near the line between the Cuckoo and Jackson districts. 
Children from both districts were among her students. 

The background of Negro Education in Louisa County forty or more years ago wasn't very bright. Mr. Frank T. West was Superintendent of the public schools, the Board was made up of men appointed from the local districts.

The schools for Colored Children were sparse. They were mostly log cabins, very small and poorly equipped. Seating capacity wasn't considered and the few seats they had were straight benches without backs or desks.

These schools were taught by white teachers. Some of the children walked eight and ten miles a day. Small children could not make the walk, therefore they were deprived of the little training they may have gotten until they were larger children. The patrons were cooperative and took advantage of what they had by sending their children when they could. Mt. Garland 1903

In the year 1903 some of the forward-looking people of the Mt. Garland Baptist Church organized "The Willing Workers Club."  The objective was to build up the community in every way possible. The meetings were held each month and each member paid a small fee. Entertainments of various kinds were given to replenish the treasury. Soon they found they had a very nice bankroll. Members then began to think in terms of intellectual accomplishments.

A committee was called to map out plans for a school building. The land was purchased (½ acre) and with the combined efforts of the community and friends, a two- room building was erected. Much of the labor and material was contributed by white and colored friends.

In 1904 the school threw wide its doors with two teachers, Mrs. A. E. Ashburn, a college graduate from Virginia Theological Seminary and College and Mrs. M. L. Andrews who was a most ardent worker from the beginning.

Through the untiring efforts of the teachers and the cooperation of the patrons, the work grew. There were blackboards, maps, charts and comfortable desks. A large bell in the yard was attached to a rope and called the children for school duties. A large eight- day clock graced the hall for correct time.

This was a pay-school. Each patron paid $1.00 per month for each child. Here for the first time in the county, secondary work was taught to Negroes. A fair knowledge of the fundamentals of Algebra, Civil Government, Astronomy, Rhetoric and General History was taught aside from the Elementary and Primary work.

The fame of the school soon spread abroad. Homes whose moral and religious influence were elevating, were secured for students coming from the counties of Caroline, Hanover, Spotsylvania and other places too far to commute daily. Seven dollars per month was charged for board and lodging.

Choruses and Literary Societies were instituted. The pupils were taught to speak, sing and write. The societies gave programs in and out of the county to secure funds to help run the school. The nearest free school was about two miles and was taught by a white man.

The year after this school began to operate, the school board cut this free school out and gave the amount of $20.00 per month to Mt. Garland. Mt. Garland was in session for seven months and the free school was in session only five months. The "Willing Workers" supplemented the additional two months.

After a few years this two-room building wasn't sufficient to take care of the increased enrollment of pupils, so the "Willing Workers" bought two acres across the road in the Jackson District, on which a modern four-room frame building was erected. This school was operated for several years with two or three teachers.

Second Mt. Garland
A second school, shown above, was a four room building constructed in 1925.  Photo from Paul Everett Behren's.  Used with permission.

There was also a school at Hopeful, owned and operated by the Negroes just as Mt. Garland was. Miss E. F. Ashburn was principal and Miss Lucille Jackson was the primary teacher.

Free schools were now in most every community. In 1921 a Rosenwald School was built at Louisa. Mrs. Zelda C. Morton was Supervisor for Colored Schools. Rev. B. D. Ellis was the principal. Secondary work was taught in the free schools for the first time. There were three teachers, six subjects were taught and five pupils to begin high school.

From this humble beginning the school system of Louisa County has grown by leaps and bounds. After the passing of Superintendent West, the mantle dropped to Superintendent D.B. Webb. Under his administration the Negro Schools have realized a great improvement. Many of the one-room schools have been replaced by two-room frame buildings.

In 1933 though the efforts of Mr. T. C. Walker, who was then State Legal Advisor for Negro Schools, the schools in the communities of Mt. Hope, Buckner and Bumpass were consolidated with the Mt. Garland School, which had previously been taken over by the County.


Thelma Jones, Spurgeon Moss, Hazeline Thurston,
Alice Fountain at Mt. Garland in the 1940s.  Photo courtesy of Sarah F. Winston

Transportation was a major problem. A committee was sent to the School Board to ask for a bus. The Board didn't feel that they could furnish a bus at that time. Through the combined efforts of the four leagues, a bus and driver were secured. How was he to be paid? The committee went to the School Board again. This time the Board agreed to pay a part that year for transportation. Each patron was taxed 25 cents a month per child to defray the expense of the bus. The next year the County took over the expense of the bus.

There is a Training School at Louisa with an efficient group of trained teachers. The school is accredited and graduate students are able to meet the requirements for entrance to many of the Grade A colleges.

Mrs. Edythe R. Carter is our very capable Supervisor. Her work through the Board is very outstanding.

Buses for Negro Children commute from all points in the county, carrying children to Louisa for both high and elementary work.

Most of the teachers are certified. The pay-scale has been raised. This is an incentive to the teacher to keep up to the highest standard in preparation. As the teachers improve so does the work of the children.


(This hand written account is from Mrs. Alice M. Fountaine of Bumpass, Va
to Mr. Behrens. 1949. Typed by Fay Tyler,  November 2007)


 

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