South Carolina Education - Beaufort County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1800

Beaufort County

Beaufort
 
On March 22, 1786, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Beaufort Society and the St. Helena Society. The Beaufort Society was authorized to build a free school or seminary in the town of Beaufort. The St. Helena Society was authorized to build a free school or seminary on St. Helena Island. Both schools were to provide a free education to the "poor, helpless and indigent children as they shall judge proper objects of the charities hereby intended."
On December 20, 1791, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate a new "Society for promoting and encouraging the education of children, and assisting and establishing schools for that purpose, in Beaufort District."
On December 19, 1795, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act authorizing the building and management of a college in the town of Beaufort.

Beaufort College, a college preparatory academy founded in 1795, occupied this Greek Revival building from 1852 to 1861. The school opened in 1804 at Bay and Church Sts. but closed in 1817 after a yellow fever epidemic, reopening in 1820 at Newcastle and Craven Sts. This building designed by John Gibbs Barnwell II featured two classrooms, two offices, and a library modeled after the one at S.C. College, now the South Caronliniana Library at the University of S.C.

Beaufort College closed its doors in 1861 when Beaufort was occupied by Federal troops. For the rest of the Civil War it was a school for former slaves and part of a hospital complex serving both freedmen and Federal soldiers. It also served as headquarters for the Freedmen's Bureau here during Reconstruction, then became a public elementary school in 1909. In 1959 the University of S.C. acquired this building for its new Beaufort campus.

On December 19, 1807, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the incorporation of the Beaufort Library Society with assets authorized up to $5,000. On December 20, 1820, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included extending the charter for the Beaufort Library Society for an additional fourteen (14) years.
On December 20, 1810, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which, among other things, authorized the Beaufort District Society to raise $5,000 via a lottery to pay for the construction of a new school in the Beaufort District.

The Society, founded in 1814 to educate and provide relief for destitute children, built this house in 1895 and leased it for many years, using the income to help the needy. Tenants included the Clover Club, which operated a circulating library here (1910-1917), and an infirmary (1917-1925). Funds from the 1982 sale of the house continue to provide relief for people in need.

[Note, the society might have been founded in 1814, but it was not incorporated until the next year. See the Act directly below.]

On December 16, 1815, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the incorporation of The Beaufort Female Benevolent Society. The charter was authorized for fourteen (14) years.
On December 18, 1818, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the incorporation of the Black Swamp Academy in the Beaufort District, and named seven (7) trustees of said academy. The Act named this the Blackswamp Academy.
On December 18, 1830, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the incorporation of the Grahamville School Academy in the Beaufort District. The Act also authorized the Academy to have assets up to $5,000 and was chartered for fourteen (14) years.
On December 20, 1837, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which extended the charter of the Beaufort Library Society for fourteen (14) years (Section II). In Section VII of the same Act, they incorporated the Beaufort Male Benevolent Society.
On December 19, 1849, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the re-incorporation of the Black Swamp Academy in the village of Robertville in the Beaufort District (Section X), and extended its charter for an additional fourteen (14) years.
On December 16, 1852, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Beaufort Female Seminary in the town of Beaufort, named nine (9) trustees, and authorized assets up to $25,000.

One of the first schools for blacks in the South, Penn School, was reorganized as Penn Normal, Industrial and Agricultural School in 1901. As a result of this change, incorporating principals of education found at both Tuskegee and Hampton Institutes, Penn became an international model. Its program was removed to the Beaufort County school system in 1948.

After Union occupation of the sea islands in 1861, two northerners, Laura Towne and Ellen Murray, came to assist the freed blacks of the area establishing Penn School here in 1862. The earliest known black teacher was Charlotte Forten, who traveled all the way from Massachusetts to help her people.

In old Lawtonville Community, across from this site, was the first Morrison Academy. a one-room elementary and college preparatory school. It was later moved 3.4 miles north of here on Orangeburg Road to be near the home of Rev. John Timothy Morrison, headmaster from 1865-1905, minister, legislator, Lt. C.S.A.

[Note - When first opened, the Morrison Academy was in Beaufort County. In 1878, it was in Hampton County. The marker above is in Hampton County]

Shortly after the Civil War [1868], Mather School was founded here by Rachel Crane Mather of Boston. In 1882 the Women's American Baptist Home Mission Society assumed support of the venture, operating it as a normal school for black girls. With some changes, the school continued until 1968, when it was closed and sold to the state for the educational benefit of all races.

On February 9, 1882, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Mather Industrial School near the town of Beaufort in Beaufort County, and authorized assets up to $25,000. All officers were to be appointed by Mrs. Rachel Crane Mather.
On December 24, 1888, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to renew the charter of the Beaufort Library Society for an additional fifty (50) years.

Sheldon Union Academy, later Sheldon School, opened in 1893 on this site and educated the black children of rural Sheldon community for almost fifty years. The original Sheldon Union Academy board, which founded and governed the school from 1893 to 1918, included S.T. Beaubien, M.W. Brown, P.R. Chisolm, H.L. Jones, S.W. Ladson, F.S. Mitchell, and N.D. Mitchell.

Sheldon Union Academy, founded by an independent group of community leaders, was a private school until 1918. That year its board deeded the property to Beaufort County, which built a new public school on this site. Sheldon School, which taught grades 1-7, closed in 1942 when the county consolidated its rural black schools.

This is the site of two schools that served the black community of southern Beaufort County for most of the twentieth century. Bluffton Graded School, a small frame building constructed about 1900, was followed in 1954 by an elementary and high school named for Michael C. Riley (1873~1966), longtime trustee of Beaufort County School District #2.

From 1954 to 1970 the elementary school educated Bluffton's black students in grades 1~8 and the high school educated Bluffton's and Hilton Head's black students in grades 9~12. After county schools were desegregated in 1970, it was an elementary school for Bluffton's black and white students until 1991. A new Michael C. Riley Elementary School opened nearby that same year.

This one-room frame school, built ca. 1937, was the first separate school building constructed for African-American students on Hilton Head Island. It replaced an earlier Cherry Hill School, which had held its classes in the parsonage of St. James Baptist Church. After the black community on the island raised funds to buy this tract, Beaufort County agreed to build this school.

This was an elementary school with one teacher, with an average of about 30 students. It had grades 1-5 when it opened in 1937, adding grade 6 the next school year. The black community helped pay for maintenance of the school and also supplemented teacher salaries. Cherry Hill School was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

 
 
 
 
 
 


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