Berkeley County, West Virginia Biography of Frederick Randolph RAMER


         Frederick Randolph RAMER was born at Martinsburg, Berkeley County, West Virginia, January 1, 1869, and attended the public schools of that city. He graduated from Storer College High and Normal and began teacher in Summer School, 1889, when it had only two teachers. He taught there two years and resigned to learn the barber trade. He worked three years with the following well-known shop owners: Samuel Hopewell, Monroe Taylor, and Lewis Lambert. He left that position to accept a position as laborer in the United States Senate. While there, he attended night school; he served as an employee of the Senate 6 years (1893-99) and had the opportunity to listen to the debates and witness the scenes incident to the repeal of the purchasing clause of the Sherman Act. He heard Senator Allen make his 17-hour speech and listened to Senator Thurston’s appeal for Cuba. He worked with many men from the area and elsewhere who can be recognized in regional and U.S. history: Allison, Hoar, Hale, Lodge, Gorman, Hill of New York, Blackburn, Faulkner, Bailey, Butler, Jones of Nevada, Jones of Arkansas, Mark Hanna, Matt Quay, Harris, Morgan, Cockerill, Pettus, Tillman, Vest. Voorhees, and more.

         Frederick Ramer graduated from Howard University in 1899 with yhe degree of L.L.B. and was presented his diploma by the late President McKinley. He taught in the rural schools of Berkeley County for several years, then was a clerk in the Steam Engineering Department of the Norfolk Navy Yard (1907). He resigned to start teaching again. He served time in the U.S. Fish Commission; was an instructor in the first Summer School for Colored Teachers at Institute, West Virginia; attended Summer School at the University of Pittsburgh; and took correspondence and extension courses from International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the West Virginia Collegiate Institute.

         By continued attendance at summer schools, he was able to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Greek Letter fraternity; Masons; Odd Fellows; Knights of Pythias; Elks; Trustees Sons and Daughters of Enoch Hall; Trustee of Mount Hope Cemetery; member and trustee of Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church; and member of the Potomac Valleys Teachers’ Association, West Virginia Teachers’ Association, National Education Association, National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools, and National Sociological Society.

         During World War I, he served as a “Four Minute Man” among the African-American soldiers and civilians, helping to institute various government programs. He was an instructor in the Teachers’ Institute of Mercer County, West Virginia, in 1925.

         Frederick Ramer was married twice; he had two children from his first marriage and one by a second.

         In 1928, he continued his 16-year position as Principal of Summer Junior High School, a school he raised from a three-room, three-teacher, tumbledown shack to a 10-room Junior High School with four standard normal and four college graduates as teachers. He also conducted extension classes in social psychology for the West Virginia Collegiate Institute.


    Submitted by Marilyn Gouge and extracted from History of Berkeley County, West Virginia, 1928

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