Henderson County, Kentucky


On Tuesday, November 21 st 1871, the Common Council of the City of Henderson passed the following ordinance:

“Be it ordained by the Common council of the City of Henderson, that the following named residents of the City of Henderson, Dr. Pinkney Thompson, H. S. Park, A. F. Parker, Jacob Held, Jr., and Y. E. Allison, be and they are hereby appointed Trustees of the public school for colored children in the City of Henderson, established by an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, entitled an act to establish a public school for colored children in the city of Henderson, approved March 10 th 1871; Said Trustees to hold their office for two years and until their successors are qualified.”

On the twenty-seventh of the same month the following named persons, being a majority of those named in the above ordinance, to wit: Jacob Held, Dr. Pinkney Thompson, H. s. Park and Y. E. Allison, met at the dwelling house of Jacob Held, in the City of Henderson, and took the oath required by law and the constitution as such Trustees; which oath was administered by E. L. Starling, Mayor of said city. Whereupon they organized by unanimously electing Jacob Held President and Y. E. Allison permanent Secretary.

The Trustees purchased a lot at the corner of First and Alves Streets, 75 X 200 feet, and had erected thereon a frame building with two rooms, each 30 X 30 feet. The school was opened September 2d 1872, with Professor Sam'l Harris (white), superintendent and teacher, and Mrs. E. P. Thompson (colored) assistant. The latter served three months and resigned, after which the Board employed Mrs. Mary Letcher who, with Professor Harris, continued in the school to the close of the session in 1874.

After this the Board employed John K. Mason, superintendent and teacher, and Martha J. Mason, his wife, assistant, who still occupy the positions. Mason and his wife were citizens of Louisville, but had for several years been teachers in the Runkie Institute at Paducah, Kentucky.

In 1878 the City Council added another room to the school building and another teacher, Miss Virgie D. Harris, a graduate of the school, was employed as second assistant. Miss Harris held the position to the close of the session June 1882.

The Board having made other additions to the building, the session of 1882-83 opened with four teachers, as follows: John K. Mason, superintendent and teacher; Mrs. Martha J. Mason, first assistant; Miss Alice D. Moting, second assistant; William H. Hall, third assistant.

This school is governed by the same rules and the same textbooks as are used in the public schools for white children, and its sessions are of the same length, ten months. This school has three departments, namely: primary, elementary and intermediate, in the latter physiology and bookkeeping are taught. The attendance has steadily increased from 145 pupils in 1874 to 368 enrolled in 1882, an increase of 152.4-73 per cent.

In addition to the revenues derived from the sources authorized by the act of the Legislature, approved March 10 th 1871, this school receives its pro rata of the State fund for common school purposed, which, at $1.30 on each of the 588 persons of school age enrolled in 1883, amounts to $764.40.

The average cost of maintaining this institution is about $1,300 per annum. This school has proven a blessing to the children of colored parents, as it is a credit to those who were instrumental in its organization. No bickerings or complaint has marred its peace, and at no time has a demand necessary been denied. Many of our best people have manifested an interest in its good government and blessings, and a commendable spirit of liberality has ever guided the Council in its protecting care.

History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Edmund L. Starling, pgs 425 - 426


Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2005 HCH&GS