Purcellville Colored Schools

PURCELLVILLE colored schools, Mt. Gilead District


(See also Carver)

Schools for Blacks were given number designations, in addition to their names.  The same system was used for White schools except that they were given letter designations.  In 1938/39, the number designation for Purcellville Colored (also known as the Willing Workers School) was #21. Source 1.7 1939 Socio Econ Study

  1. General History:
  • 1910:   Two acres of land known as the “Emancipation Grounds,” were purchased adjacent to what would become known as the Carver school.  The grounds were where Blacks held religious, social and civic activities.
  • Using funds from the Willing Workers Club (organized in 1917) and Clarence Robey, the original Purcellville Colored School in 1919, a two room, frame construction. Cost of construction was $3,000.  Source: Report of Survey Committee on Long Range Planning for Loudoun County, Jan, 1940.  See Edwin Washington Catalog, 2.2 County School Board, 1918-1952.  That structure later became the Lyles Funeral Home.
  • By 1936, the Purcellville Colored School was considered very overcrowded and thus had to use rented space.  The Superintendent (Oscar Emerick) also felt it was an unsuccessful school at that time and needed to be replaced by a new school building, though Carver would not be built until 1948. (Source:  Emerick Report to the School Board, Feb 12, 1936, Edwin Washington Catalog, 2.2, County School Board), Restoration and Preservation of Historic Carver School, Purcellville, Va., 2004.  According to Nancy Emerick, Oscar’s great grandson’s widow, Oscar considered the construction of Carver as one of his greatest accomplishments. (Source: Interview by Larry Roeder, 9/23/2016).
Willing Worker School House, (Purcellville Colored) about 1940
Willing Worker School, (Purcellville Colored) about 1940
The Willing Worker School House is not Lyles Funeral Home. (photo by Larry Roeder, 2020)

2)   Instructors At Purcellville Colored School:

  • 1930/31 Academic Year:
    • On April 2, 1930, the patrons of the Teachers League of Purcellville Colored School petitioned the Mount Gilead School Board and O.L. Emerick, Superintendent to have Mrs. E.M. Norton returned as Principal.    Purcellville 1930   (Source: EWP, 2.5A Colored Petitions.)
    • The request was agreed to and the Loudoun County School Board elected Norton principal on June 10th, 1930.  She also taught grades 4-7.  She had 24 years experience, seven in Loudoun County and was paid $65 a month.  Sources: (a) Loudoun Times Mirror Staff. (1930, June 12). School Board Holds Its Regular Session. Loudoun Times Mirror, p. 1. (b) Virginia Dept. of Education, Lists of Teachers, 1892-1975. Richmond, Virginia, USA:
  • 1930/31 Academic Year:  In July, Harriet E. Tall was also appointed for primary education at Purcellville, instructing grades 1-3.  Ms.  Tall had no prior teaching experience, was paid $60 a month; but had been educated at Storer.  Sources:   (a) Loudoun Times Mirror Staff. (1930, July 10). School Board Holds Its Regular Session. Loudoun Times Mirror.  (b) Virginia Dept. of Education, Lists of Teachers, 1892-1975. Richmond, Virginia, USA:
  • 1942/42:  William S. Randall and Rosalie M. Washington were instructors:  Source:  Loudoun Times Mirror, Times Staff, School Board (from page 1), pg. 2 showed colored teachers. April 16, 1942.
  • 1948:  George Washington Carver School was constructed.  See below.

2:   Insurance:

  • 1924/27:  Purcellville Colored was insured by LCPS system for 1924/27  in the Mt. Gilead District, Loudoun.  Source:  Edwin Washington Catalog 11.1 Insurance Record.  (1924-1957) Page 32/33 (54/55).

3.   George Washington Carver School in Purcellville


Undated Photo of Carver class.  See  http://www.fairfaxunderground.com

The eight room George Washington Carver School in Purcellville (now the Carver Senior Center) was considered the county’s first modern elementary school for black children.   The Carver Alumni Association http://www.carveralumni.net/ has preserved much of the Carver School history. Please come check the Carver Center library in Purcellville. #AdvisoryBoardofCarverCenter

From the Minutes of the School Board on January 11, 1927, we learn that “colored people were heard concerning the erection of a new colored school at Purcellville. Action was delayed”  until construction began in 1947 on seven acres bought for $2,000 from Joe Cool’s heirs in 1945. (Scheel E. , The Story of Purcellville, 1977).   The school was then closed in 1968, with integration, and turned into a storage facility until renovated into a senior center in 2007.

4.  Rosalie McWashington was Carver’s initial principal. The campaign for a new school had begun in 1927.  In 1946, McWashington came to Carver with 15 years prior teaching experience, according to the Annual Reports of the Superintendent found in the LCPS Archives in Round Hill, and continued to instruct at Carver at least through the 1952/53 academic year.  While she was the Principal the first year, that role changed to Alfred Talbot, Jr. the following year.  He arrived with a BS degree from Hampton and then proceeded to obtain a Masters Degree.  McWashington studied at West Virginia College and by 1949 was shown to have obtained a BS, though it’s possible she might have had one all along.

As for Mr. Talbot, his  “class lists” end in 1952-53 when he taught 8th grade…..for the last time?  The first class list with his name on it was during the 1947-48 school year when he taught 7th grade—then again in 1948-49.  In 1949-50 he changed to 8th grade and that continued until his last year, 1952-53.  We don’t know if he retired or transferred

The petition files in the LSPC Archives contain an undated petition (Patrons and Citizens of Purcellville Colored School, unk) Carver Petition complaining that Rosalie McWashington was transferred, which the patrons felt was an injustice.   This had to have been before May, 1956 because the petition appears to have been signed by her husband, a taxi-driver named Linden McWashington who died in an auto accident May 19, 1956. (Orr, 1956).  That said, Rosalie McWashington taught through the 1957-58 school year……usually teaching 4th grade.  It is also possible that she remarried after her husband passed away because the next school year, 1958-59, there is a Rosalie J. Austin teaching 4th grade through 1965-66…and the handwriting looks very much the same!  Rosalie Austin didn’t teach in 1966-67, but returned in 1967-68 to teach 6th grade at Carver.  That’s the end of the class lists.  We don’t know if she retired or transferred someplace else…..or if she was the same person.  Sources for Section 4:  (a) Orr, R. (1956). Certificate of Death #12547 for Linden McWashington. Purcellville: Department of Health.  (b) Patrons and Citizens of Purcellville Colored School. (unk). Petition to School Board of Loudoun County. Purcellville: Purcellville Colored School.<

Sources for section 3.