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Closing Exercises for Ripley Colored Public School

12 May

One hundred and fourteen years ago a group of young African Americans participated in closing exercises for what was known at the time as the Ripley Colored Public School.

 

From the Lauderdale County Enterprise – May 25, 1900 Edition

Closing Exercises Ripley Colored Public School

The Ripley Public School will close the most prosperous session since its existence on Thursday and Friday night, May 31st and June 1st 1900. An elaborate program has been prepared and the teachers are sparing no pain to have everything an up to date affair thus showing their efficiency and the discretion of the board in electing them. The school is now upon on a graded system and working nicely. The program is as follows.

Part I

Overture                                                                                             Band

Chorus

Invocation                                                                                           Rev. A.G. Currin

Chorus

Is Patriotism a Sham?                                                                     Frederick Clay

The Gambler’s Wife                                                                        Maggie L. Russell

Duet – Father is Drinking Again                                                  Missus Tyus and Hightower

Recitation – Two Sisters                                                                Miss Jessie Hightower

We Are Coming                                                                                Anna B. Thornton

Solo – An Outcast                                                                            Mrs. Jennie Rice

Recitation – The Raven                                                                  Miss Fae Russell

Progress of the Negro                                                                     Fannie Dupree

Trio – There Are Friends That We Never Forget                     Misses Norvell, Pearl & Jessie Hightower,

Is It Wise To Begin Now?                                                              H L Dupree

Solo – I Am The Merriest Girl That’s Out                                 Miss Maggie L. Russell

Part II

Music                                                                                                    Band

Chorus

Progress of Invention                                                                     Willie Peebles

Recitation – Brought Back                                                            Lela L. Crook

Solo – Boys Keep Away From The Girls                                     Howard L. Dupree

Recitation – Home Instruction                                                    Maggie B. Tyus

Trio – Friendliness and Sad                                                          Missus Thornton, Russell, Crook

Benefits of Education                                                                     W.D. Graham

Solo – Friends of my Youthful Days                                           E. Buchanan

The Coming Woman                                                                       Fannie Norvell

Solo – The Young Man Across The Way                                     Missus Jessie Hightower

Address                                                                                               Professor W.H. Fort – Principle Bruce Street High School Dyersburg

Awarding State Certificates                                                            Captain E.T. Hanks – Superintendent of Public Education

Song Of The Steeples                                                                        Dr. S.R. Clay

Benediction

Friends and Patrons of the school are cordially invited to attend.

 

A few interesting facts about the school at this point.

The school did not become officially known as Lauderdale County Training School until 1919 according to the 1985 Lauderdale County High School Reunion Booklet.

The list of graduates that I have of Lauderdale County Training School does not start until 1908, so exact graduates of earlier classes are currently unknown.

The principal during this time period is thought to be Professor M. L. Morrison. It is believed that he was principal from the early 1900s – 1912. He then served as principal again from 1944 – 1945.

It also appears that the school was around prior to 1900 due to this being noted as “the most properous session since its existence” by the Lauderdale County Enterprise.

 

I decided to see what I could find out about the speakers on the program. It is a good chance that they were students at the school.

Frederick Clay – There are 2 possible “Fred Clays” on the 1900 US Census for Lauderdale County. One Fred Clay was born in 1889 to Harry and Frances Clay making him about 11. The other Fred Clay, also listed as Frederick in some places, was born in 1886 to Hugh and Ellen Clay making him about 14.

Maggie L. Russell – Born in 1885 making her about 15. Her parents are Isaac and Corinna Russell.

Anna B. Thornton – Born in 1886 making her about 14. Her mother is Mary J. Houston (Thornton Washington).

Fannie Dupree – Born in 1886 making her about 14. Her parents are Calvin and Mary Dupree.

H L Dupree – also known as Howell L. Born in 1883 making him about 17. His parents are Calvin and Mary Dupree.

Lela Crook – Born in 1885 making her about 15. Her parents are James and Janie Crook.

 

I found the titles of some of the poems or readings a little interesting for a school program. The Gambler’s Wife was written in 1844 by Elizabeth Caroline Grey. Another interesting title was Father is Drinking Again, but I could not find anything that looked like it might have been a poem or short story with that title. I also noticed that The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe written in 1845 was on the list of readings.

Cheers to the Ripley Colored Public School (Lauderdale County Training School) on a successful year end ceremony.

 

 

- Tiffany

-Sources: Lauderdale County Enterprise May 25, 1900 edition, Lauderdale County Highschool 1985 Reunion Booklet

 

 

Lost Ripley – Lauderdale High School

22 Jun

Lauderdale High School was originally known as the Lauderdale County Training School. It was a school only for African Americans in Ripley and it dates back to the early 1900s and perhaps even earlier. The last graduating class of the school was in 1969, 15 years after Brown  vs. BOE declared separate but equal schools unconstitutional. As was the case with most schools for African Americans only it was closed and the students were sent to the previously all White Ripley High School.

Technically the building isn’t lost because it is still standing, but it is still a former shell of itself. Years ago I had read in the Lauderdale County Enterprise that there was a group trying to restore the school and turn it into an African American history museum.

I am not sure why the words “Ripley _____ High School” appear on the building. Maybe the school for African Americans was moved into the former Ripley Junior High School for Whites? Maybe the building was used as a junior high school after it ceased being Lauderdale High School?

If you would like to visit the site where African Americans in Lauderdale County were educated it is located on Spring Street.

 

Lauderdale High School

Lauderdale High School

 

- Tiffany

- Photo Source: My own

- Source: Lauderdale County Training School 1985 Reunion Booklet

Jet Magazine – September 25, 1952

20 Jan

I can’t say that I am surprised that the Black schools were closed so that the children could help pick cotton.

Jet Magazine September 25, 1952

Jet Magazine September 25, 1952

More telling is the line describing the schools that stayed open because those children’s parents were involved in industry, business, or domestic work jobs.

A few of the schools that would have closed are

Booker T. Washington High School

Melrose High School

Manassas High School

Douglass High School

I hope to find more documentation of the other Blacks schools of this time that would have closed due to King Cotton.

 

- Tiffany

Soruce: Jet Magazine September 25, 1952

Lauderdale County Training School – Part 3

16 Dec

More graduates of Lauderdale County Training School

CLASS OF 1929

Fannie V. Barbee
Anna L. Crook
Mary Jane Ford
Eddie B. Givens
Willard D. Hayes
Ada Mable Johnson
Saul E. Moore
Mary Julia Pierson
Eddie Mai Williams
Lillian Mai Washington

CLASS OF 1930

Gorden Buchanan
Laura Mai Currie
Rebecca M. Helm
Mary H. Rogers
Jessie L. Russel
Almeda Sawyer
Lucille Temming
Mary Thurman
Hatie M. Walker

CLASS OF 1931

Alma Beatrice Crook
Nannie A. J. Currin
Alice Lucille Glasper
Montell B. Hamb
Mary F. Holloway
Eva E. McCorkle
Lucy Bell Nelson
Collie J. Parker
Lucy C. Sawyer
Ernest Watkins
Alonzo J. White

Source: Lauderdal County Training School Reunion Booklet

-Tiffany

Lauderdale County Training School Graduates – Pt 3

24 Jul

Lauderdale County Training School Class of 1928

Lauderdale County Training School Class of 1928

Lauderdale Country Training School Class of 1928

Lauderdale Country Training School Class of 1928

Lauderdale County Training School Class of 1928

Class of 1928

Lauderdale County Training School Class of 1928

 

 

 

-Source: Lauderdale County Training School Reunion Booklet

- Tiffany

SR Clay – Follow Up

23 Oct

A few months ago I wrote about Simeon “S.R” Clay on this blog. From that point on I wondered what had happened to Simeon. As we know he graduated from Meharry in 1899 and moved back to Ripley, TN. I found a US Census entry for him on the 1900 census, but had been unable to locate him on any further censuses.

 Well I found SR Clay and his family. While reviewing old photographs that I had taken of Canfield Cemetery in Ripley I came across a photo of his tombstone. He and his wife Mintie both passed in 1906 according to their tombstone, just six years after they had moved back to Ripley. What happened to them? The State of Tennessee did not require the completion of death certificates until 1908.

 I then began to look for their children. I easily found his daughter Nannie on the 1920 Census. She was listed as living alone in Ripley, TN. She was the head of her household and she owned her home. She also worked as a teacher in the public school. According to the tombstone she passed in 1924. SR Clay’s daughter Elvise died in 1919 according to the tombstone. I have not yet been able to locate any records on her.

 

- Tiffany

Source: Tombstone Picture – my own

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Year: 1920;Census Place: Ripley, Lauderdale, Tennessee; Roll: T625_1751; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 94; Image: 685.

Honorable Mentions – Who’s Who of the Colored Race 1915

23 Aug

While browsing the book Who’s Who of the Colored Race published in 1915 I came across an entry mentioning Ripley, TN. The entry belongs to Edward Bailey, son of Edward and Peggy Bailey of Brownsville, TN. Edward left Brownsville, attended Fisk University and became very successful in the field of education. He married Fannie Virginia Perdue of Ripley, TN in 1894. Together they had 4 children. Edward Bailey went on to become the principal of Bruce High School in Dyersburg, TN. He also worked at Lane College, was principal of Covington Grammar School in Covington, TN, and also worked as principal of Gibbons High School in Paris, TX. He was a member of the National Teachers Education Association and the Tennessee Teachers Association.

- Tiffany

SOURCE:

Who’s Who of the Colored Race Volume One 1915. Ed. Frank L. Mather. University of Michigan, 1915. 15. Google Books. Web. 23 Aug. 2011. <http://books.google.com/books/about/Who_s_who_of_the_colored_race.html?id=RFZ2AAAAMAAJ&gt;.
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