Some oral history hinted at the possibility of a Unison Colored School, but we are in doubt. Rumor had it there might have been a Unison Colored; but we don’t think so. We also consulted with Mitch Diamond, Unison Preservation Society” on 15 November 2014, who provided the following report.
“ I have explored your question with several historians and examined various histories of African-American education and life in this area. No one has any knowledge of a specific African-American or “colored” school in the village of Unison itself and none is recorded in any of the studies we examined. However, there are several other possibilities that came up in our research. The most likely is that Ms. Gillem taught in or close to the village of St Louis, which is right next to the village of Unison and was the largest African American community in the area in the period you mention and had a school. … The other possibilities are that she taught in the village of Willisville, another African American community about 2 miles from Unison, where there was a school, or that she taught in a private home (there are some examples of African American teachers working with students in private homes in this area early in the last century). I am sorry that, so far, we can’t provide any more specific information. If you have any more information that might help us discover more, please let us know.”
Possible leads on instructors
- 1894/95: Miss Annie E. Gillem of 1157, 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC was a Black instructor, operating on a Second Grade Certificate: Source: Lists of Teachers, 1892-1975 ( 1895ColoredA Census of Colored Teachers 1894/95 – Done Dec 10, 1894), Richmond, Virginia, USA: Virginia Department of Public Instruction/Education. Note: Gillem instructed the following year 1895/96 at Leithton. Are these the same school by different names?
- 1895/96: No records
- 1896/97: Miss Annie E. Gillem of 2022 10th St., NW, Washington, DC, returned to Unison, instructing on a 2nd Grade certificate. She had instructed at Leithton the previous year. Source: Lists of Teachers, 1892-1975 (1897ColoredCombined Census of Colored Teachers 1896-97 – Done Dec 15, 1896), Richmond, Virginia, USA: Virginia Department of Public Instruction/Education.