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February 16, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Schools: Col. John M. Harris

Slate River Ramblings_Harris-Farm_2009

John M. Harris Farm (2009), Photo by Joanne Yeck

During the 19th century, private schools for young ladies and gentlemen came and went in Buckingham County. Previous posts at Slate River Ramblings highlighted Rock Mill Academy, Homer Male Seminary, Oak Grove Academy, and others. Many are yet to be discovered.

In 1840, my ancestor, Col. John M. Harris, operated a school on his Sharps Creek plantation in the northeastern part of the county. The name of the school remains unknown, though the 1840 census offers statistical details. That year, thirteen students were enrolled and an unidentified mature man (age sixty–seventy) was living with the Harris family. He may have been the school master.

The Harris family’s oldest children were likely taught there, in addition to the youth of the neighborhood and, possibly, boarders. While the specifics of Col. Harris’ own schooling are unknown, he was a well-educated member of Trinity Presbyterian Church, a Justice of the Peace, and a Colonel in the Buckingham County Militia. He and the older gentleman were identified on the census as “learned professionals.”

It is not known how long this school operated; however, by 1845, it was reconceived and advertised in the Richmond newspapers as East Farm Female Seminary.

Next: East Farm Female Seminary

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