The Elysian Fields Colored School

A Brief history of the Elysian Fields Colored School and Booker T. Washington

From the 1870s until 1954 there were many “Colored Schools” in the Elysian Fields area.  These schools were located in Mt. Pleasant, Oak Grove, Central Springs, Pine Hill, Strickland Springs, Shady Point, Sunny Point and Oak Hill.    The first official Elysian Fields Colored School was erected near the Elysian Fields Baptist Church in 1926 and served the community for many years. 

On March 5, 1954 the Elysian Fields School Board made up of Annie B. Hamilton, Henry Sanders, Mabel Benton, Ray Marshall, Estelle Osborne, Zenobia Watson, Emma Lattimore, and D. H. Fluellen renamed the Elysian Fields School Colored School to Booker T. Washington School.  A new building  was opened for Booker T. Washington in August of 1956 and it was located on FM 451 where the Elysian Fields Elementary School now stands.

The School Board decided that Booker T. Washington would operate on a “split session, beginning July of 1954, teaching for six (6) weeks and then dismissing for the harvesting of crops.”  Additionally, In August of 1956, the law required all children who are six (6) years of age by September 1, must start attending school.

On March 11, 1958, the Elysian Fields School Board and the DeBerry School District met to discuss consolidating the two districts.   The students attending DeBerry School were comprised of residents of DeBerry and Bethany, Louisiana.   In 1959, the Boards adopted a resolution to consolidate The DeBerry Colored School with the Elysian Fields School District.   The consolidation of the two school districts was to take place in the fall of 1961.  In 1960, after approving the consolidation of the two school districts the Board approved adding another building to the Booker T. Washington campus due to the increased population at Booker T. Washington.  The sole Principal to oversee the Booker T. Washington School from 1954 to 1970 was Mr. D. H. Fluellen.  The 1970 – 1971 School year was the start of something new….the first full year for the newly integrated Elysian Fields Independent School District.



From The E.F. Colored School to The Elysian Fields, ISD
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Timeline:

1870: A record search revealed “Colored Schools” were prolific throughout the surrounding Elysian Fields communities and one such school was the Elysian Fields Colored School.  The Elysian Fields Colored School was erected near the current site of the Elysian Fields Baptist Church.  Ironic enough and as history would have it, I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Buelah Jernigan, a former Colored Elysian Fields School student and witnessed Elysian Fields Colored School affixed on her high school diploma.  No, Mrs. Jernigan is not a century year old but the mere fact that someone so significant and vital in Elysian Fields history still exists is a wonderful testament. 

1871 to 1878:  The first noted teacher of Elysian Fields Colored School was Mr. Durant.

1890 – 1893:  Jordan Williams was added to the faculty.

1893 – 1910:  V. Cox, Isam Spears, Jim Brown, C.A. Dudley, W.J. Brown and Mr. Oakley were all noted principals of the Elysian Fields Colored School.

1926:  The Elysian Fields Colored School was relocated to the site where Elysian Fields Elementary School presently sits today.

1939: The Elysian Fields County Line Rural School Board designated the Elysian Fields Colored School as a two-year high school.  During that year an extra room was built and an additional teacher was hired (Mr. Richard Anderson) and he his salary was $40.00 per month.

1939:  The Board restricted bus drivers from allowing Negroes from riding the school bus during the school term.

1940:  The Board authorized the purchase of a removal partition between two adjoining rooms at the Negro School.

1940:  The hiring of Mrs. Annie Bell Hamilton and Estelle Osborne to teach at Oak Hill Colored School.  And Clyte (Spears) Anderson and Vivian Smith were hired at Elysian Fields Colored School.  Finally, the Board voted to equalize the negro teacher’s salaries where they each earned $45.00 per month.

1941:  Mr. J.D. Sanford was hired as principal.

1941:  Mr. Dewit Suber was hired as the janitor for the Elysian Fields White School earning $30.00 per month.

1941:  The Board hired Mr. Mathis to cut out a pattern for Negro School seats and for the Negroes to make them.

1943:  Mr. G. Thomas was hired as principal.

1945: The Board hired Mrs. Annie B. Hamilton as Principal and teacher at the Mt. Pleasant Colored School along with Mrs. Emma Lattimore as a teacher.

1947:  Mr. J.G. Chatman was hired as Principal of the Elysian Fields Colored School and Claude Daniels was hired as a teacher.

1948:  Mr. D.H. Fluellen was hired as Principal of Elysian Fields Colored School and Mr. Ray Marshall was hired as teacher of Health, Physical Education and Bus Driver.  Also hired ware Estelle Osborne to teach Primary, Helen Johnson to teach second and third grade, Emma Lattimore fourth and fifth grades, Ophelia Hatten English fifth through eighth grade, Creacy B. Leary, English and Spanish, Lemma Wallace, Home Economics, and  Mr. Jesse D. Spears to teach History.

1948:  The Board voted to move the Mt. Pleasant Colored School and hire Mrs. Hamilton at the Elysian Fields Colored School.

1949:  The Board appointed Mr. Ray Marshall to serve as Principal of the Elementary and moved Mrs. Hamilton to teach classes at the High School. 

1949:  Mr. Henry Sanders was hired to teach science at the high school.  He also started the first football team and assumed the coaching responsibilities of the existing boys’ basketball team.  Mr. Claude Daniels coached the High School girls’ basketball team and Mr. Ray Marshall coached elementary.

1951:  Mr. Roy Marshall was hired to teach Agriculture.

1951:  The first bell system was installed at the Colored School at a cost of $56.36.

1952:  The Board changed the bus route along Highway 79 from Lather’s yard to the Tank Farm Road, affecting children going to Carthage, De Berry and Elysian Fields Schools.  The students desiring to attend Elysian Fields were picked up by De Berry’s bus drivers and dropped off at the De Berry School.  They were then picked up and dropped back off by the Elysian Fields School buses.

1954:  On March 5, 1954 the Board approved the recommendation made by the colored teachers (Mrs. Annie B. Hamilton, Henry F. Sanders, Mabel Benton, Ray Marshall, Estelle Osborne, Zenobia Walton, Emma Lattimore and D.H. Fluellen to rename the Elysian Fields Colored School, Booker T. Washington

1954:  The Elysian Fields County Rural Line School was converted into the Elysian Fields Independent School District.

1954:   Vernon D. Sanders and Zephyr May were hired at Booker T. Washington.

1954:  The Board determined that the negro school (Booker T. Washington) would operate on a “split” session, beginning that July, teach for six weeks and then dismissing for the harvesting of crops.

1955:  The Board did not re-employ Claude Daniels, Mabel Benton and Estelle Osborne because of the low attendance at Booker T. Washington.

1956:    Attendance rose to 325 and the Board hired Earl English and Louise Wilson.

1956:   August of that year a new building was erected and the faculty sent a letter to the Board expressing their appreciation for the new building.

1956:   Mr. Fluellen asked the Board for bleachers to go into the gyms but was refused and instructed to use the portable bleachers on the football field in the gym.

1956:   In August a law was changed that required children that turn six (6) by September 1, must start attending school.

1957:   Mr. Noble Bowman, Mr. A.D. Anderson and Norma Lee Johnson were hired as bus drivers.

1958:   March 11, the Elysian Fields School Board and De Berry School Board met to discuss the consolidation of the two districts.  That district was to be Elysian Fields School District.

1958:   The Board decided to permit students who transferred to Carthage to continue until graduation and the Bethany children from the Louisiana side would be able to attend the consolidated school.

1958:   The De Berry community fought against the consolidation.

1958:    Mr. Stephen Alexander was moved up to be Principal of De Berry School where Mrs. Victoria Davis was once the Principal.

1959:   The Board adopted the resolution to consolidate De Berry and Elysian Fields School Districts.

1959:   The Board approved the first senior trip.

1960:  The consolidation occurred in 1961.

1960:   De Berry Colored School teachers hired by Elysian Fields District included, Ollie B. Hodge-Lester, Verdie Hall, Pauline McWilliams-Moore, L. Lester and Stephen Alexander.

1960:  The Board approved an addition onto the Booker T. Washington School due to the consolidation with De Berry School.

1965:   On January 3, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law, requiring integration of all public schools.

1965:   The First African American students enrolled and attended Elysian Fields White School.

1970:   Booker T. Washington and Elysian Fields Schools became fully integrated in September 1970. 

1970:   The Board turned the Booker T. Washington School into the Elysian Fields Elementary School.

1970:   Two Principals (D.H. Fluellen and Stephen Alexander) along with thirteen (13) teachers were hired by Elysian Fields Schools (Mrs. Mary Fluellen, Mr. Ray Marshall, Mrs. Vernon D. Sanders, Mr. Henry Sanders, Mr. Jesse D. Spears, Mr. N. Hamilton, Mrs. L. Lester, Mrs. O. Lester, Ms. Maxine McAfee, Mrs. Z. May, Mr. O. Moore, Mrs. R. Williams and Mrs. F. Bennett).

*Mr. Fluellen served as the Junior High (Middle School) Principal and the designated principal to address the disciplinary issues of all Black students at the High School.

*Mr. Sanders later retired as the High School Principal of the Elysian Fields High School.

1971:  Graduating Class- Julian M. Stephens, Frankie Russell and Vivian Williams became the first African American students to earn academic scholarships at Elysian Fields High School.