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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Historic School Began In Harveysburg

Dallas Bogan on 23 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland:Heritage Press, 1979) page 54
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The village of Harveysburg had the first free Black School built in the Northwest Territory. Dr. Jesse Harvey, with his wife Elizabeth Burgess Harvey as its first teacher, built it in 1831.
A planter from Richmond County, North Carolina, Stephen Wall, sent agents north to locate an area or town in which his slaves could be educated. He was recommended to Dr. Jesse Harvey, and with the subject addressed, Dr. Harvey promised to open a Black school the following fall. Financing of the school was by the Grove Monthly Meeting of Friends, of which the Harvey's were members.
In the fall just before the opening of the school, Mr. Wall brought a number of bright young mulattos to Harveysburg. The children, numbering eight, were of three mothers and one father, their master. Along with Mr. Wall's children were other children, numbering twenty-five, which were also to be educated in Dr. Harvey's school.
Mrs. Harvey was a housewife, and mother of three children. She taught in the Academy of Sciences for two years; Isaac Woodward taught the school until his death and again, Mrs. Harvey was the teacher.
Mr. Wall, in his last will and testament, filed in 1846, set free the following slaves; "Little John and Alfred, children of Rody, also $1000 from my estate. Also to John and Alfred all the land I now own in the State, $5000 to Dr. Harvey to be laid out in land, $200 to Moses Burgers." Harveysburg Quakers were highly criticized for an institution comprising of an all Black school. However, opinions changed when positive sentimentality toward the oppressed people and opposition to the slave owners seemed overwhelming.
With the new trend in tact, the Harveys were highly criticized for not having integrated schools. Dr. Harvey was the first to integrate by building a seminary in 1837 that included classes for black students as well as white. The school closed in 1845 and from it came the building for the Zion Baptist Church.
Stories of Underground Railroad tunnels in Harveysburg extending to the high banks of Caesar's Creek have been constantly told. The one time Harvey homes and the former Masonic Hall on Maple Avenue are said to have been underground stations.
Sealed up places in the basement of the former Sabin home is on the list. The last resident in the Wales home was Dewey Simpson, who told he had found a secret entrance to an attic over the kitchen.
The Black school, customarily known as the East End School, operated from 1831 to 1906 as a one room school house, until it was merged with the other Harveysburg schools. The Harveysburg Historical Society, which was formed in 1977, has spent considerable time and money on the restoration of the building. Lucy McCarren said Wilberforce University showed considerable interest in the building as an extension of its Black history center, but money was the deterrent.
The Historical Society members bought the building in 1977 from Daisy Nash for $10,000. The monies raised by the society through different events were to be matched by various private and public grants.
The Bullskin Trace was the main north and south thoroughfare for Indian travel. It was also one of the main tracks for the Underground Railroad. Following this trace from North Carolina to Harveysburg was perhaps the main reason that Mr. Wall contacted Mr. Harvey concerning his interest in a school.

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