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Reflections by Sammy Way: The history of Sumter-area schools, part III

By SAMMY WAY
Sumter Item archivist and historian
Posted 7/12/20

Reflections remembers the development of Sumter's education system and the construction of numerous schools attended by local students. The author used historic data retrieved from The Sumter Item archives. An article written by John Mitchell in the …

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Reflections by Sammy Way: The history of Sumter-area schools, part III

Posted

Reflections remembers the development of Sumter's education system and the construction of numerous schools attended by local students. The author used historic data retrieved from The Sumter Item archives. An article written by John Mitchell in the 65th Anniversary-Progress Edition in 1959 also made extensive use of the writings of Dr. Anne King Gregorie and Cassie Nicholes. Due to the length of the data used, a degree of editing was required. This is part three in a series; read the first two parts at www.theitem.com. Parts four and five will appear at a later date.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

"During the 1870s, public schools in Sumter developed rapidly, with a White Girls School, White Boys School, Black Girls School and Black Boys School (Lincoln School)." In 1908, Morris College began what was known as Morris College High School. It featured a rigorous curriculum for young Black males and females from the community. Students who attended the school were also allowed to board on the Morris campus. Morris College High School had a highly respected academic program which served the Black students for a number of years.

"The first superintendent of the city schools was J. B. Duffie of Columbia, a graduate of Union College. He resigned in 1895 and was succeeded by S. H. Edmunds, a graduate of Davidson College and a former assistant principal of the Sumter High School Department. His first assistant, D. L. Rambo, received $60 a month, while the seven women teachers got $35 a month each."

"In the fall of 1896, Miss Linnie McLaurin was elected as an additional assistant. She resigned the following spring but returned in 1906 as a seventh-grade teacher, and when the Girls High School was built in 1917, she became principal, a position she held for 20 years. When death ended Dr. Edmunds' career in 1935, she became acting superintendent until March 1, 1936."

FRUITFUL YEARS

"The 40 years of Dr. Edmunds' administration brought many changes and tremendous growth and development in the Sumter city schools. At the time of his death, enrollment was 3,898 pupils with 92 teachers and property valued at $417,950."

Between 1891 and 1937, graduates of the high school totaled 2,632. Since then, the school system has continued to grow in step with the population.

Superintendents since Dr. Edmunds have been W.F. Loggins, William Henry Shaw, E. R. Crow, James D. Blanding, John L. Southwell and Dr. L. C. McArthur.

Until 1952, schools in the county functioned under the county superintendent of education. After consolidation of the rural schools, Dr. Hugh T. Stoddard, a former coach and principal of Boys High, was named superintendent of District 2, rural schools.

Buford S. Mabry would become superintendent of county schools.