Many, many Georgia schools have been named for geography. The announcement that the soon-to-open Denmark High in Forsyth County was to be named for a person was a bit of a surprise. Few persons see their names on high school buildings here.
In the days of segregation, many schools were named for geography: Gray High, Tift County Industrial, Houston County Training, etc.
But there were many that weren’t, especially with new buildings opening in the 1950s.
George Washington Carver was a popular name for schools.
Two high schools, Carver (Columbus) and Carver (Atlanta) still carry his name. Bethune High in Folkston was presumably named for Mary McLeod Bethune. Washington High of Atlanta and a host of others honored Booker T. Washington. Two high schools, one in Montezuma and another in Thomasville, were named for Frederick Douglass.
Very few of these schools retained their name after integration. Black citizens in Harris County protested the renaming of Carver School to Harris County Junior High under total integration in 1970. The Board of Education, said the Harris County Journal, listened to those protesting, but refused to change the name of the schools.
Much local history has been lost because local school boards wiped these names off the map. As well as honoring nationally prominent African-Americans, many of these schools were named for influential locals, many of them educators.
The following are the stories behind some of the names of Georgia’s black high schools.
L.S. INGRAHAM (Sparta)
Little of Linton Stephens Ingraham’s legacy is left in Hancock County. The all-grades school named in his honor shuttered in the mid-1960s. The high school had transferred to the new Hancock County Training (now called Hancock Central) in 1960. There is a street named for him where the ruins of the school sit.
Ingraham had established Sparta Agricultural and Industrial in 1910 and taught for a half century.
Ingraham’s 80th birthday was
first page news in The Sparta Ishmaelite. When he died days later, it was one of the lead stories. Ingraham was still in charge of the school at the time of his death. He was buried on school grounds. When his wife, Anna, died in 1950, she was buried there as well.
Anna Ingraham took over the school after her husband’s death. It suffered several fires but was rebuilt each time. Eventually, she came to an agreement with the Hancock County Board of Education for its operation. By the 1950s, the buildings became overcrowded and a new school was needed.
Hancock County was in charge of the school when on October 5, 1943, the name of it was changed by the Board of Education from Sparta Agricultural and Industrial to L.S. Ingraham.
WILLIAM JAMES (Statesboro)
Currently, it has not been precisely figured out when Statesboro High and Industrial changed its name to William James, but based on archives of the Bulloch Times and Bulloch Herald, it likely occurred in 1948 or 1949.
When a new high school was built in 1955, apparently other names for it were pondered. In January 1956, an article asked that it continue to be known as William James.
James was a noted black educator in Statesboro and became principal of Statesboro High and Industrial. His wife, Julia, was a highly respected educator. Articles are inconsistent when James arrived in Statesboro. In 1933, it was said he had been there 30 years. Two years later, the time was given as 28 years. A native of the Bartow area in Jefferson County, it is known he was living in the Buckeye district of Johnson County in 1900, teaching school.
Once in Statesboro, he worked to build up the local school. Several articles noted he procured much funding for Statesboro High and Industrial from “northern sources.” James was able to get a Rosenwald school built in Statesboro and when it burned in 1924, $11,000 was raised locally (with $1,000 from the Rosenwald fund) to build another.
Julia James died July 29, 1933. Described in an obituary as being “about 60 years,” the 1900 census gave her birth as February 1881, making her 52. William James died May 5, 1935. His passing was noted on the front page of the Bulloch Times.
In requesting the school continue to be named for James, the Bulloch Herald in 1956 said, “Professor James devoted his heart and soul to that school. He almost single handed raised funds with which to build it. We believe it is fitting that the new school bear his name to honor him for the great devotion he had for the education of his people.”
J.W. HOLLEY (Sylvester)
Joseph Winthrop Holley was still living when the Worth County decided to name its new high school for him in 1955. Though born in South Carolina to former slaves, Holley (1874-1958), after an extensive northern education, moved to Albany. There, he founded Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute, now known as Albany State University.
Holley was to be the name of the new high school, said the Sylvester Local, but even before the building was ready, Oak Hill High was using the name. Classes finally began in the new building April 29, 1957. After total integration, Holley was an elementary school. It has since been demolished and no school in Worth County uses the name.
Another black school in Worth, Osie Whearry, which was in the Red Rock community, was named for a local educator. Whearry (1895-1976) taught at such school as Morning Star and Evergreen. The name of the school, which has long been abandoned, was approved by the Worth County Board of Education. Black citizens seemingly had little agency in naming their school as The Sylvester Local said “a large number of white people in that area” suggested the name (to the school board, it can be assumed) after African-Americans mentioned it.
Black citizens look to have had more influence in Talbot County.
A month before ground was broken January 8, 1954 for the new all grades black school in Talbotton, it was announced that it would be known as Ruth Carter. African-Americans petitioned the Talbot County Board of Education for the name.
Educators were honored in Carroll County as well when the new African-American elementary school was opened in Villa Rica in 1955.
Glanton-Hindsman honored one living teacher and one deceased one. Janie Glanton* was said to have taught for 35 years and was still doing so at the time of the article in the Carroll County Georgian. Hindsman – no first name was given for him** – was deceased but had taught for years.
* The Carroll County Georgian gave her name as Janie Glanton. An attempt to find a death record for Glanton has not turned up a ‘Janie’ but a Jennie Glanton who died in 1968. Jennie Glanton also appears as the wife and mother of two Villa Ricans who filled out draft information cards during World War II.
** Corry Hindsman was listed as a black educator living in Villa Rica in the 1910 United States Census. Hindsman was born in c. 1870. Very little else has turned up for this individual.
On the other hand, a white landowner was honored at the same time for Hudson Elementary in Bowdon. Fed Hudson (whose name does appear to indeed be Fed) reportedly donated the land and built the first black school in Bowdon.
Not all school systems were as reasonable to select an influential black person as a school’s namesake. Georgia rarely named rural county high schools after individuals, Mary Persons in Monroe County being a major exception. In these cases, a newly built black school was named for a white superintendent of schools.
Floyd Thomas Corry became the superintendent of Greene County schools in 1935 or 1936, a role in which he served until his death in an automobile accident November 29, 1955. Greene was in the middle of its building program when Corry died and months later opened several new schools.
Upon the opening – or shortly thereafter – of the new all-grades black school in Greensboro, it was revealed the school had been named Floyd T. Corry. The school was likely named by the Greene County Board of Education, who months later, was considering names for other educational buildings in the county.
The naming of Corry was announced at an assembly to the students. A column written by Corry school officials and printed in The Herald-Journal said, “the students gave an applause of approval” upon learning the school’s new name.
“Needless to say,” the article said, “they were conscious of the great man for whom their school had been justly named.” Everyone at Corry vowed to make Greene County proud of Corry’s namesake.
In December, Greene’s Board of Education announced the new black school at Union Point was named Darden-Thomas. No explanation of its origin was given. They deferred naming the new school at Siloam, which was eventually called Hubert-English.
BURGESS LANDRUM (Millen)
Burgess Landrum was another black school named for a white educator. It is unknown what input – if any – black citizens had in the name choice.
Jenkins County Training had been the black school in Millen. It was wiped out by fire in 1955, though plans had already been in the works to build a new school under the Minimum Foundation Program and State School Building Authority.
Crawford Burgess Landrum (1889-1973) was superintendent of schools in Jenkins County for more than 25 years and had announced his retirement (but was still on the job) when the school was named for him. The Millen News said Landrum “worked untiringly” on getting the new buildings. Besides the new black high school was also a black school at Birdsville-Herndon and a lunchroom and workshop at Jenkins County High. He already had the gymnasium at Jenkins County High named for him.
Burgess Landrum still stands as Jenkins County Elementary.
Another school named for its white superintendents was Harrison in West Point. It was named for W.T. Harrison, West Point’s superintendent (West Point was then a city system).
Sources: Brunswick News – Nov. 30, 1955; The Herald-Journal – Sept. 14, 1956, Dec. 7, 1956; Bulloch Times and Statesboro News – Nov. 13, 1924, July 27, 1933, May 9, 1935; The Sylvester Local – Dec. 15, 1955, Dec. 20, 1956, May 2, 1957, June 6, 1957; The Millen News – Sept. 17, 1953, Mar. 10, 1955, Apr. 5, 1956; The Sparta Ishmaelite – Sept. 5, 1935, Sept. 26, 1935, Oct. 7, 1943, July 20, 1950; Atlanta Daily World – Oct. 9, 1943. The Butler Herald – Nov. 1, 1956; Talbotton New Era – Jan. 7, 1954; Carroll County Georgia – Feb. 8, 1955; Harris County Journal – Feb. 19, 1970; Fisk Rosenwald database; Bulloch Herald – Jan. 12, 1956; New Georgia Encyclopedia – Albany State.