South Carolina Education - Laurens County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1785

Laurens County

Laurens
 
On December 20, 1810, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which, among other things, authorized the incorporation of the Wadsworthville Poor School in the Laurens District. According to this Act, trustees were elected in March of 1809, and they are named in the Act. Some sources have identified this school as the Wadsworth School for Poor Boys of Dunlap's Battalion.
On December 21, 1811, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to allow the trustees of the Wadsworthville Poor School to sell certain unsuitable property and for the proceeds to benefit the school. Six (6) trustees named.
On December 21, 1814, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the incorporation of the Laurens Library Society.
On December 18, 1830, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the incorporation of the Laurensville Male and Female Academy. The Act also authorized the Academy to have assets up to $5,000 and was chartered for fourteen (14) years.
On December 19, 1833, the Soouth Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the trustees of the Wadsworth Free School to acquire a suitable lot in the lower Saluda battalion, and build proper school buildings as they deem appropriate.
On December 19, 1849, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which included the re-incorporation of the Laurensville Male and Female Academies, extending the charter for an additional fourteen (14) years (Section X).
On December 20, 1856, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Laurensville Female College and named twenty-four (24) trustees of said college.
On December 20, 1878, the South Carolina General Assembly passed and Act to re-incorporate the Laurensville Male Academy and to extend the charter for said Academy indefinitely or until repealed.

30-14 - FRIENDSHIP A.M.E. CHURCH & CEMETERY / BELL STREET SCHOOLS

This church held its first services in a nearby brush arbor shortly after the Civil War and was formally organized in 1880. Trustees purchased this 3-acre lot, and members and friends built a frame church here, naming their congregation Friendship A.M.E. Church. The present brick church on South Bell Street was built in 1937. The cemetery here includes graves of veterans of American wars from World War I to Vietnam.

Friendship School, founded in 1883 by Friendship A.M.E. Church, eventually grew to include grades 1-11. In 1926 it became a public school, moved into a new building, and was renamed Bell Street School. It was the first accredited black high school in the county. The 1950 school nearby became an elementary school in 1956, renamed Martha Dendy School in 1960. Later a middle school, it closed in 2008.

On December 19, 1887, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a special school district in the town of Laurens Court House in Laurens County, and authorized voters to decide upon an additional special school tax not to exceed two (2) mills on real and personal property. On December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 12/19/1887, by increasing the special tax to four (4) mills on real and personal property. On December 16, 1891, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 12/19/1887, by increasing the number of trustees from four (4) to seven (7).
On December 24, 1888, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Thornwell Orphanage in the town of Clinton in Laurens County, named five (5) of the many trustees appointed, and authorized assets up to $500,000. On January 5, 1895, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 12/24/1888, by naming five (5) of the current Board of Visitors and defining that seven persons appointed by the Synod of South Carolina, five persons by the Synod of Georgia, three persons by the Synod of South Georgia and Florida, and two persons by any one of the other Synods connected with the Presbyterian Church in the United States will be included in the Board of Vistitors. The amended Act also identified three new schools - Thornwell Seminary for Orphans, Thornwell Mission Training College, and Thornwell Technical Institute.
On December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Clinton College Association, in the town of Clinton in Laurens County, managed by the Clinton Presbyterian Church, and authorized assets up to $500,000. This association was set up to oversee/manage the Presbyterian College of South Carolina and the Clinton Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies, and others if built.
Also on December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to authorize the Wadsworthville Poor School in Laurens County to sell all or any part of the lands left by the last will and testament of Thomas Wadsworth, deceased, for the support of a poor school in Laurens County, if in their judgment it will be best for the interests of the said school. The proceeds arising from the sale of such lands shall be applied by the said Trustees to the support of the said poor school in such way and manner as shall be best calculated to carry into effect the intentions of the said testator.
On December 22, 1891, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require the School Commissioner of Laurens County to divide each township in said county into six school districts, and to call for the election of trustees for each said school district.
On December 24, 1891, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize voters within the town of Laurens Court House, in Laurens County, to decided upon issuing bonds up to $10,000 for erecting suitable school buildings, in repairing or improving school buildings, and in providing suitable furniture and apparatus for same. The Act also authorized voters to decide upon an additional special tax not to exceed one (1) mill on real and personal property to pay the interest on said bonds, if approved. On December 20, 1893, the South Carolina General Assembly passed and Act to amend the 12/24/1891 Act, by reducing the special tax from one (1) mill to one-half (1/2) mill on real and personal property to pay the interest on all bonds. On February 25, 1897, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 12/24/1891, by authorizing the tax to pay the interest on said bonds to increase from one (1) mill to two (2) mills on real and personal property.
Also on December 24, 1891, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to establish a new special school district in Laurens County, to be known as the Ora School District, named five (5) trustees, and authorized voters to decide upon an additional special school tax not to exceed three (3) mills on real and personal property. On December 15, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the 12/24/1891 Act, by redefining the boundaries of the Ora School District. On December 23, 1893, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the 12/24/1891 Act, by redefining the boundaries - again - of the Ora School District.
On December 24, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to create a new special school district from portions of Laurens County and Greenville County, to be known as the Princeton Graded School District, named six (6) trustees, and authorized voters to decide upon an additional special school tax not to exceed three (3) mills on real and personal property. On December 21, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to repeal the Act of 12/24/1892. Unexpended taxes are to be refunded to tax-payers. Reason for the repeal not given.
On December 18, 1893, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a new special school district in Laurens County, to be known as the Cross Hill School District in the town of Cross Hill, named seven (7) trustees, and authorized the voters to decide upon an additional special school tax not to exceed three (3) mills on real and personal property.
On January 4, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a new special school district in Laurens County, to be known as the Hurricane Academy School District with the Hurricane Academy at its center, with all of the rights, powers, privileges and liabilities as are provided for school districts by the General School Law of South Carolina approved December 24th, A. D. 1888.
On December 18, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a new special school district in the town of Waterloo, in Laurens County, named seven (7) trustees, and authorized voters to decide upon an additional special school tax not to exceed three (3) mills on real and personal property.
 
 
 
 
 

Here at Young’s School in 1915, Dr. Wil Lou Gray (1883–1984) initiated for her native county of Laurens a seven-school program of night education for adults which led to the adoption of a state-wide system and her national recognition as a tireless and effective opponent of illiteracy.

The Laurens County Training School, located here 1924-1954, had its origins in Gray Court School, a one-room school founded ca. 1890 on the grounds of Pleasant View Baptist Church. The training school, opened in 1924 in a building constructed with assistance from the Rosenwald Fund, taught grades 8-11 until 1948.

This school, at first emphasizing farming and homemaking skills, later expanded its curriculum to include more academic courses and became an accredited high school in 1948-49 with the addition of grade 12. The school closed and was later demolished when Laurens County schools were consolidated in 1954.

30-17 - BELL STREET SCHOOL / MARTHA DENDY SCHOOL

This school, built in 1950, was the third African-American school on Bell Street. Friendship School, founded in 1883 by nearby Friendship A.M.E. Church, was a combined elementary and high school. The frame school was replaced in 1926 by a brick school, named Bell Street School, with students in grades 1-11 until grade 12 was added in 1948-49. In 1937 it became the first black high school in Laurens County to be fully accredited by the state.

Bell Street School burned in 1949, and this school opened in 1950. It became Bell Street Elementary in 1956 when a new high school was built. In 1960 it was renamed Martha Dendy Elementary School in memory of principal David Dendy’s mother. It became a junior high school when county schools desegregated in 1970, then a middle school in 1972, and a 6th grade center in 1997. The school closed in 2008.

 
 
 
 
 


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