Tag Archives: segregated schools

Miles Vandahurst Lynk and the University of West Tennessee

13 Jun

My dissertation research on historically Black college and university (HBCU) architecture often leads me to places I did not expect.  It often leads me to defunct HBCUs, and one of these schools is the University of West Tennessee. I first discovered this school several years ago while reading GP Hamilton’s The Bright Side of Memphis book. This book featured a quick history of the school and its founder Miles V. Lynk. This past spring while researching the UWT I quickly discovered how intertwined the school and its founder actually were. You see in many ways Miles V. Lynk was the school and he also happened to be a native of Haywood County, TN.

              Miles V. Lynk

Lynk had quite the exciting life as detailed in his autobiography, Sixty Years of Medicine; Or, The Life and Times of Dr. Miles V. Lynk, an Autobiography.

A few quick facts about Lynk,

He was born in Haywood County, TN on June 3, 1871, to formerly enslaved parents

He received his certificate to teach school in Haywood County at the age of 13.

At the age of 17, he enrolled at Meharry Medical College.

He was named after two CME Church bishops, William Henry Miles and Richard H. Vandahurst

He published the first medical journal for African American physicians known as The Medical and Surgical Observer

In 1900 he founded the University of West Tennessee in Jackson, TN and later relocated the school to Memphis in 1907.

The State of Tennessee honored him and the University of West Tennessee with a historical marker in 1996 in Memphis at McLemore and Krayer Streets.

 

 

 His autobiography details his life growing up on a farm outside of Brownsville, TN. In the text, he describes the death of his father and his quest to find employment as a school teacher before enrolling at Meharry Medical College. Because he was looking for employment in Fayette County, Tennessee, Lynk soon discovered that his teaching certificate would only be accepted if he could find a white man to refer him.  Of this experience, Lynk stated, “That struck me like a bombshell as I had never been in the employ of a white man; in fact, my abhorrence for slavery was so great that I would never hire to one for money” (24). One of the men that Lynk reached out to for a reference happened to be the man who enslaved his father who then refused to give him a reference. Lynk described how this encounter influenced him and how he prayed to the Lord that he’d never have to do anything like it again.

 

 

By 1908 when the University of West Tennessee relocated to Memphis and was featured in GP Hamilton’s The Bright Side of Memphis Hamilton described the school as “two commodious and well-arranged buildings known as North and South Hall respectively… The grounds and buildings are valued at $15,000” (258). However, according to reports the school struggled and found itself described as “without merit” and “ineffectual” according to a report known as the Flexner Report written in 1910 which provided detailed accounts of medical schools.

 

 

Despite this, the UWT graduated about 155 students before closing in 1924. After living a very accomplished life, Lynk passed away in Memphis on December 29, 1956, at age of eighty-six.

 

Article on the University of West Tennessee in the Memphis, TN newspaper The News Scimitar January 16, 1920

Google Map showing the University of West Tennessee Historical Marker at the corner of McLemore and Krayer Streets

 

-Tiffany

 

Sources:

Flexner, Abraham. “Medical Education in the United States and Canada.” New York, New York, 1910. http://archive.carnegiefoundation.org/pdfs/elibrary/Carnegie_Flexner_Report.pdf.

 

 

Hamilton, Green Polonius. The Bright Side of Memphis: A Compendium of Information Concerning the Colored People of Memphis, Tennessee, Showing Their Achievements in Business, Industrial and Professional Life and Including Articles of General Interest on the Race. Memphis, Tennessee, 1908.

 

 

Lynk, Miles V. Sixty Years of Medicine;: Or, The Life and Times of Dr. Miles V. Lynk, an Autobiography. Twentieth Century Press, 1951.

 

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African American Schools in Lauderdale County

16 Dec

In 1962 a survey report of the Lauderdale County schools was published. The following schools are listed as African-American schools and there were 2555 students enrolled between these schools.

Lynn*

Elcanaan*

Knob Creek*

Rosenwald*

Durhamville*

Fort Pillow

Gold Dust Consolidated

Halls Consolidated

Johnson Consolidated

Lauderdale County High

Lillian Fountain

Palmer Turner

The survey report lists several of the deficiencies of these schools. For example, Lauderdale County High School was deficient because several students did not have textbooks in their classrooms and the library did not have an adequate amount of books given the number of students among other things.

Does anyone have any memories of attending these schools?

* indicates Rosenwald Schools

Source: Lauderdale County Schools Survey Report 1962 by Tennessee Department of Education

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

 

 

Sanborn Maps

11 Aug

This summer I was introduced to what are known as Sanborn Maps. These maps were created by the Sanborn Insurance Company as insurance maps, but what they also did was go into detail about the structures on the maps. Details are listed such as what the structures were made of, if they had fireplaces, if they were more than 1 story etc. What I most enjoy about these maps is that they give you a way of putting together neighborhoods that are long gone.

For example, I never knew that the Morning Star Baptist Church was once located on present day Spring Street and used as an annex to the Lauderdale County Training School. All of this information I gained from a Sanborn Map of Ripley.

LCTS 1927 Sanborn clip

Feb 1927 Sanborn Map, Map #5 showing Lauderdale County Training School and Morning Star Baptist Church on Spring Street (previously Handsome Street)

Now I am also curious as to how Handsome Street became known as Spring Street.

Now for the limitations…

Sanborn Maps were only done for specific areas. From what I can tell maps were never created for Henning or Durhamville which is a shame given their close proximity to Ripley. It would have been interesting to discover the neighborhoods of Durhamville especially since that town’s original structures have been lost to history.

Now for the possibilities…

Imagine just what can be discovered and created using a combination of Sanborn Maps, land deeds, and public memory? I’ve got a few ideas running through my mind and I cannot wait to try them out.

– Tiffany

– Source: Feb 1927 Sanborn Map of Ripley, TN, Map #5. sanborn.umi.com