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North Brevard History - Titusville, Florida



Highway marker at the site of a Titusville Negro School.


Our Principals

A History of the Negro School in Titusville, Florida

This is the story of the "Negro School" in Titusville, Florida. It is compiled from various papers, most unidentified as to source, in the files of the North Brevard Historical Society. Some of the photos were scanned from newsprint and are thus not very clear.


Produced and hosted by Dave Rich, creator and editor of the North Brevard Business Directory (www.nbbd.com) in August of 2014.

If you have further information about these schools, it would be welcomed by the webmaster. Please eMail it to: nbbdcom@gmail.com.

Memories and photos of the schools and school events are welcomed.
Photos of teachers, staff, and people who attended, with brief biographies (no more than 200 words), are also welcomed.

A "Pine Hill Negro School" was built in southwest Titusville In 1950.
Do you know anything about it? Here's what we have:


From a paper titled "BLACK SCHOOLS" in the archives.

BLACK SCHOOLS

The first school for Blacks was taught by Miss Annie McGraph (white) in a school on Washington Av. There were 6 students, in 1883.

Three years later the school was moved to South and Dummitt St. where it remained until 1915. It was one large room. When the new school for whites was built in 1915, their 1-12 gr. school was moved to Deleon St. for the Blacks. It was an elementary school, grades. 1-6. As the students progressed, another grade was added until it became a full high school!

This building had two classrooms upstairs and two downstairs. As the school grew more teachers were added. Almost each year additions were being made to the building. The instruction was reading, writing,arithmetic, and civics. Strict discipline and corporal punishment was permitted without question.

Faculty: 1936-37
See the 1936 faculty.
This building burned in 1931 and was replaced by another. In 1936, students were bussed from Mims and LaGrange, and some went to out-of-town schools.

In 1956 A new, beautiful/red brick building was built on DeLeon St.. This building, named Gibson was a fine facility with a library, a gym, home ec. suite, science labs, auditorium , an industrial arts department, and a music room and a cafeteria. In 1968 integration took its toll on the Black's having their own school, football team, etc. With the extra students, THS was over-crowded, so all of the tenth grade students were house at Gibson. Andrew Gibson came to Titusville before 1900 and was a persistent champion for the betterment of education of his race.


From a paper titled "THE EARLY YEARS" in the archives.

THE EARLY YEARS
1915 - 1935

102 years ago, the first Negro students attended school in Titusville, Florida. Six first-graders were taught by Miss Annie McGraph (white) on Washington Avenue. No known record as to who these students were exists, therefore it is not known who their descendants are.

Roderick & Eleanor Harris
Roderick & Eleanor Harris
In 1886, the school was moved to South Street and Dummitt Avenue where it remained until 1915. There are several persons who remember attending school at this site. Mrs. Eleanor Milton Harris remembers the school as one large room which contained all grades. These were all elementary grades, moving from primary to full elementary (1-6). Mrs. Harris also attended school at the "new site," Wager Avenue, for two years (1915-1917). There were grades 1-8, and the curriculum consisted chiefly of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The first to graduate from eighth grade was Roderick Harris in 1915.

Mrs. Ella Favson Pratt remembers the Wager Avenue site school which was the former white high school moved to Wager Avenue in 1915. It had two classrooms upstairs, and two classrooms downstairs. The rooms were very large, and as the school grew, dividers were used so that more than one teacher could teach in the same area.

The instruction at the school was reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and civics. Mr. Levi Simpson. who left school in 1921, recalls that Professor Rochelle who taught and was also in charge of the school, taught the boys some fundamentals of carpentry. Throughout the years discipline was most exact, and corporal punishment was expected and permitted without question.

Ms. Louise Wallace remembers with fondness attending the early Wager Avenue school. It was still grades 1-8 when she left school in 1927. Some of her schoolmates were Shelley Godboltde, James "Buster" Hawkins, Roosevelt Kier, John B. King, Nancy Marshall (Wright), Clyde Scott, Willie and Mary Mays, Willie Mae Favson, and Vannie Simpson. Some of the teachers during this time were Professor Lockett, Miss Carrie Gilbert, Mr. Turner, Miss Victoria Gibson (Rogers), and Mrs. Ella Warren.

By the time Mr. J.W. Smith left school in 1928, the ninth grade had been added. He, along with Bernice McDowell (Warren), were among the first 9th-grade graduates.

In 1929, girls basketball was added. Some of the first girls to play were Charlotte Green (Roberson), Louise Green (Atkinson), and Genevieve Sewell (Long). They played a limited schedule, but remember the games as fun, and enjoyed going to other schools to play.


The following come from what appears to have been a spiral bound booklet that was likely to have been from the 1985 Negro School Reunion.


Cover to the 1985 Negro School Reunion booklet.

Blacks Recall 1st School In Titusville

July 16, 1985 | By Stephen Kindland of The Sentinel Staff

COCOA — For blacks in north Brevard County, formal education dates back to 1915. That was the year ''six strong horses'' and a band of determined men literally uprooted the old Titusville High School -- a gift from the county school board -- and moved the aging, two-story plank building.

Obtaining Titusville Negro School, as it was renamed, was a ''very significant step'' toward equal education, said Frank Williams, one of seven 1945 graduates of the school.

The second-hand building was the first time blacks had a free-standing building that was acknowledged by the county as a school, he said.

About 400 former teachers, administrators and students of the school they called ''The Old Barn'' will commemorate that historic step during the school's first homecoming Friday through Sunday in Titusville.


DOCUMENT 1

This is the story of a school. It was not a pretty school. It was old, and wooden, and sadly in need of a coat of paint. There were not very many students at school at one time, and not very many of those who started out stayed on to finish. The faculty was small, and most of them did not have a baccalaureate degree or an area of specialization. The community was small and poor — and Black. This does not seem to be the basis for anything worth telling or celebrating — but sometimes, somehow, some things add up to equal more than the sum of the parts.

Titusville Negro School was such a place. Its students have gone out into the world and made places of worth and dignity for themselves because whatever that old barn of a school lacked in material things, it more than made up for in nurturing, caring, inspiring, pushing, prodding, and struggling — always to get the best for its students, and let them know that only they could set the limits for their achievement. Love and joy, comradeship and support were always there, so memories of this very special place — The Old Barn- — are always pleasant even when we remember the unpleasant.

On this joyous occasion — this once in a lifetime homecoming — share our joy and wander through memory lane with us.

Old school building that was moved.

This is the building that was moved to the Wager - DeLeon Avenue site to become the first school building for Blacks in Titusville.

Not all of the building was moved — only four classrooms — the bell tower was removed and the roof lowered.

The Old Barn.

The Old Barn. Click for an enlargement that opens in a new window.
Click for an enlargement that opens in a new window.
This is the building that replaced the original building when it burned in 1931. The auditorium and restrooms on the rear were added several years later.

DOCUMENT 2

Through 1935, the school had come from its beginnings as a primary school to a full term school with nine grades. In 1936. the tenth grade was added, and in 1937, the eleventh grade. Finally, in 1938, the twelfth grade was added, and Titusville had a Negro High School.

In 1936, the first transported students from Mims and La Grange came to junior high school.

small Black communities throughout the South, had no high school so that students could continue beyond what was offered locally without sacrifice on the part of both student and parents. It was customary for students who wished to pursue their education beyond junior high school to live with friends or relatives in a town that had a high school, or to go to boarding school such as Fessenden Academy in Ocala and Boylan-Haven School in Jacksonville. For example, Genevieve Sewell went to Eustis in 1930. Bernice McDowell and Victoria Gibson went to Boylan Haven. Other students who went to other schools upon completion of the highest grade at Titusville Negro School were Ruth Wilson, Orlando and Ft. Pierce: James Hawkins, Fessenden: Blanche Wilson, Fla. Memorial; Elizabeth Harris Orlando: Arie Bell, Miami. There were many others who went to various places to extend their education and/or graduate.

At the end of the decade of the 20's, the Black school had grown to nine grades. By the end of the 30's, we were a school of twelve grades — a high school! Mary L. Warren and Dorena Thomas were the first graduating class in 1938. The next year, the class of 1939. consisted of David Simms and Virginia Powell.

Dorena Thomas was one of the first persons to graduate from high school at Titusville Negro School. She was the class valedictorian and came back to the school to teach after attending college. She is presently retired and lives in Melbourne. She is married to Eddie L. Thomas a former teacher and principal at the school.

DOCUMENT 3

GIBSON SCHOOL 1957-1968

The journey from 1883 to 1968 - this eighty-five years - was a long one, characterized by many starts and stops along the way. School for Blacks in 1883 was extremely casual in approach and totally segregated. In 1915, which marks the beginning of the development of a systematic approach to schooling for Blacks in Titusville, the designation of a site that was to be used exclusively as a school and a free-standing building for educational purposes were noteworthy milestones. As noted earlier, this was the beginning of our romance with "the Old Barn. - This came to an end in 1956.

THEN THERE WAS GIBSON. This beautiful new red brick complex was a fine facility with far more accommodating features than had been available to Blacks in this area before. It was segregated. It would be pretense to maintain that it was equal to "The White Schools." It was, nonetheless, an important beginning toward equality of educational opportunity and quality education. It was a school spread out over spacious acres and boasted of a library, gymnasium, home economics suite, science laboratories, cafetorium, industrial arts shop, and a music suite. The principal who opened this school was Daniel Delagall, one of our honorees today. He was followed by James R. Greene - a fine and progressive educator who is now deceased. He began the task of curriculum expansion and led us to full accreditation by the Southern Association. Mr. Greene was followed by Dr. Frank E. Williams whose six-year tenure as principal witnessed the greatest period of growth and development for the school. He continued the curriculum expansion and development begun under Mr. Greene and added some new departments and activities to move Gibson toward a school with more offerings to serve the needs of the students and the community better. Mr. Willie Turner joined the administrative staff as assistant principal during this time. After Dr. Williams left to become a part of the Superintendent's staff in the County Office, Dr. Walter Quick served as principal for a year. The final year of Gibson, 1968, saw Gibson as an elementary school with Willie Turner acting as principal.

A few years ago. the graduates of Gibson celebrated with a school reunion. This year. the -old timers- from Titusville Negro School are celebrating. We have all committed ourselves to the idea that the next reunion will encompass all of us because we realize that the schools are one and the same - a part of that journey begun so long ago toward equal educational opportunity. We are now closer to that goal and perhaps, someday, the quest will end.





OTHER WEBSITES ABOUT LOCAL SCHOOLS

Clifton School House, built around 1890-1891, on North Merritt Island
Contains interesting details on what was expected of the students.

Clifton School House Archaeological Project

History of North Brevard Schools
Compiled by: Jewell Lemon - July, 1997


8/5/2014
North Brevard History
North Brevard Historical Society
Education Directory