North Carolina Education - Sampson County

Year County Established

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Sampson County


In 1875, Isham Royal founded Salemburg Academy, a one-room, private educational institution for girls in Salemburg, North Carolina. Private academies such as Salemburg flourished before the widespread introduction of public schools. One of the first principals was Marion Butler, later a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. In 1914, the program reorganized as the Pineland School for Girls following receipt of a donation of $70,000 from Benjamin N. Duke, son of Washington Duke, namesake of Duke University, and a commensurate contribution from local citizens.

In 1926, the curriculum was broadened, several more buildings constructed, and the library expanded. The school became Pineland Junior College and served as a female only institution. A young men’s division, the Edwards Military Institute, was added and was named for Methodist minister Anderson Edwards, who had contributed his life savings to the construction of the military academy.

The campus prided itself on accepting and educating children of all ages, with classes ranging from kindergarten to junior college. The pupils often came from broken and single parent homes. With the addition of summer classes, many children remained on campus year round in dormitories. For the young boys, regular military training did not begin until age fourteen, but all ages were required to dress in military uniforms. In 1952, the schools had the youngest college president in the United States, W. J. Blanchard, a World War II veteran, who at the time was thirty-two (32) years old.

On July 1, 1965, the two schools merged and became Southwood College. However, by the late 1960s enrollment had decreased significantly, and the school closed its doors in 1973. That year, the North Carolina Department of Justice took over the grounds, and developed the North Carolina Justice Academy for the training of North Carolina criminal justice officers.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.


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