Did Yancey County Students Attend the Mars Hill Colored School In the 1950s?

Madison County Board of Education Minutes of July 2, 1956 state, “The Board voted to accept negro elementary school children from Yancey County under provisions of agreement to be worked out by the Superintendent. It was specified that Yancey County must bear the initial expense of converting the building to a two classroom unit and that additional expense incurred after this initial outlay should be shared.”

Did this proposal ever happen? The short answer is MOST LIKELY, it did not. The microfilm copy of the Yancey County Board of Education Minutes for the time period does not mention such a proposal. It should be noted however, that minutes for July and October, 1956 [if meetings occurred at those times] are not on the microfilm. It is my guess Yancey BOE initiated a proposal to Madison BOE, but would not or could not bear the expense that Madison County BOE specified.

Yancey County Board of Education Minutes do reflect the following:

October 4, 1954 – The Board visited the colored church to see if their basement would be suitable for elementary students in the winter months, and determined that it would be suitable if no rent was to be paid. The Board proposed to install three new doors if they could use the basement all year, if funds permitted.

August 17, 1956 – The Superintendent was to request the Asheville City School Board of Education to allow high school students to attend Stephens-Lee and “our 7th & 8th grades to attend the colored junior high school that desire to go there.” Pearl Jordan Oliver was approved to teach at the Lincoln Park School.

In the 1950’s, there was only one colored elementary school in Yancey County. It was a “dilapidated one-room schoolhouse” named Lincoln Park Negro School. Some time before 1959, students attended school in the Griffith’s Chapel Church basement. In the 1958-59 school year, 7 of 27 elementary students went to Lincoln Park School, and 20 rode a bus to school in Asheville.*

Research submitted by Dan Slagle, 2015.

* Ashley Cole Brewer, Masters thesis, “Get On Board, Children: The Story of Integration in Yancey County, North Carolina,” Appalachian State University, 2011.