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September 1, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Catholic School at Axtell

SRR_Catholic School_African-American


In 1907, Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch announced the opening of another school at Axtell.

Open Catholic School

MANTEO, VA.  September 1 – A Catholic school for negroes has been established at Axtell, with one teacher in charge.  This School is intended to prepare pupils for the Catholic school at Belmead.

The Catholic school at Belmead (a.k.a. Saint Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural School) was located in Powhatan County, east of Buckingham County, south of the James River. In 1969, the surviving structure was accepted to the National Register of Historic Places. According to the application:

Belmead’s architectural significance has long tended to overshadow its important as a site associated with the education of southern Negroes. Some years after the War Between the Sates, Belmead was sold by the Cocke family and passed through several hands until it was bought in the 1890’s by Colonel Edward de Vaux Morrell and his wife Louise (Drexel) Morrell of Philadelphia for $28,000. Mrs. Morrell was the half-sister of Mother Katherine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1897 the Morrells conveyed Belmead to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, naming it St. Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural Institute in honor of Mrs. Morrell’s mother Emma Bouvier and her patron Saint, Saint Emma.

Does a Slate River Rambling reader know more about the African-American school at Axtell?

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