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Hockessin Community News
  • Bringing black history to life: Community celebrates marker commemorating historic schoolhouse

  • There isn't much in the way of documentation about the tiny, one-room log schoolhouse where Hockessin's few black children went to learn beginning as early as 1829.

    But that's sort of the point.
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    • Text of the Historical Marker
      Local tradition states that a school was present at this location as early as 1829. However, in 1878 the first documented school for African-Americans in Hockessin was established in th...
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      Text of the Historical Marker
      Local tradition states that a school was present at this location as early as 1829. However, in 1878 the first documented school for African-Americans in Hockessin was established in this vicinity. The school was funded and built primarily by the local African-American community and church. Additional support for materials, books, and the teacher's salary was provided by the Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of Colored People. Students typically attended school from two to five months between November and March to coincide with the agricultural off-season. Depending on the time of year, enrolled students varied from less than 10 to approximately 40. In 1891, responsibility for funding Delaware public schools was transferred to county superintendants and the school was placed in District 107. The land on which the school stood was sold in 1900 by Edward McGovern to Lodge No. 4 of the Colored American Protective Administration. Shortly after, the land was conveyed to School District 107. In 1920 the original school was replaced by Hockessin School #107C (colored) on nearby Mill Creek Road, a school funded by P.S. du Pont's Delaware School Auxiliary. The original 1878 schoolhouse is now incorporated into a private residence on this property.
  • There isn't much in the way of documentation about the tiny, one-room log schoolhouse where Hockessin's few black children went to learn beginning as early as 1829.
    But that's sort of the point.
    As Hockessin Historical Society President Joe Lake points out, Delaware was a slave state, a northern outpost of the Old South, and educating black children was unlawful.
    "It wasn't well-documented because they didn't want it to be document," Lake told those attending Wednesday's unveiling of a historical marker commemorating the schoolhouse's location off Grant Avenue and Mill Creek Road.
    But after significant research by Lake and Hockessin resident Darleen Amobi turned up enough evidence of the schoolhouse, the state agreed it should be acknowledged with a historical marker.
    That evidence included some accounting logs mentioning funding for the schoolhouse – believed to have been provided by Hockessin's Quaker population. Also, Amobi's genealogy research revealed that at ancestor of the McGovern family was employed as a teacher who purchased the property where the schoolhouse stood on what is now the Poindexter family farm.
    Documentation can only be traced back to 1878, but local tradition has the school dating back nearly half a century earlier.
    According to Lake, Hockessin's population was roughly 200 people around 1829. Only 10 percent or so was black, meaning a very small number of children were likely being educated at the school.
    "It was a very small number," Lake said. "It could have been kept secret. It was possible."
    Lake, who authored a book called "Hockessin: A Pictorial History," said other schools like the one off Mill Creek Road were known to exist in the area.
    "Near the intersection of Doe Run and Little Baltimore Roads, there was once a chunk of limestone reading, 'Eden School.'" Lake said. "Eden was a hamlet on the Delaware-Pennsylvania border. Neither state has any records of such a school."
    Schools at Corner Ketch and the Hockessin Meetinghouse have virtually no official records, but are mentioned in various stories passed down over the years.
    "Hockessin was an Eden in a slave state," he said.

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