Get to Know Rappahannock County
African American Heritage
Prior to the Civil War, slavery was a part of most of the farms and estates in Rappahannock County, and descendants of those slaves make up a large part of the current African American population. After emancipation, many African Americans were engaged in farming, while others were blacksmiths, stonemasons and bricklayers. When jobs were at a premium during various periods, some family heads moved north and/or west to find work to support their families. Local black churches formed during and after reconstruction became not only houses of worship but also cornerstones of social interaction and strength.
Two major foundations encouraged the education of African Americans. The Anna T. Jeans fund of 1908 was designed to aid in making shop work, homemaking and vocational skills part of the curricula. In 1917, Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck, created a foundation to donate funds for erection of schools for African American children.
Rappahannock County had three Rosenwald schools: Flint Hill, Amissville and Scrabble. The Scrabble School, opened in 1921 and closed in 1967, is the only remaining Rosenwald School. Abandoned and nearly forgotten after it was closed, Scrabble School re-opened in 2009 after an extensive restoration. The building is now the home of the Rappahannock Senior Center at Scrabble School. It also houses the Rappahannock African-American Heritage Center, which features an exhibit that tells the story of the school, the community it once served, and its place in local, state, and national history. Please visit scrabbleschool.org for more details.
Some Key People and Events
In Guide My Feet, Hold My Hand by Mary Goins Gandy is the story of Goins' great grandmother Kitty Payne, who was emancipated, kidnapped, enslaved again, jailed and freed. In Beyond The Rim, James Russell relates the legendary oral history he learned from former slave Caroline Terry, his great grandmother.
John Jackson, born in the county in 1924, became a noted blues musician and took his talent to the White House. Daniel Russell taught himself to read and write while enslaved and became a teacher in the county in 1871. Anna Green and Julia Boddie were responsible for educating many and instilling the highest of values in those they touched.
In I Stretch My Hands to Thee, James Wilson Kilby, born in Rappahannock County in 1917, recounts his life and activism during the civil rights movement in Warren County. Most notable was the suit he filed in 1958, Betty Kilby et al. vs Warren County Board of Education, seeking to eliminate segregation.
Isaiah Wallace, who was born in Rappahannock County in 1876, loved learning from an early age and worked tirelessly to organize people to obtain Rosenwald funding for schools both in Rappahannock and Culpeper counties.
Towns & Villages
Civil War in Rappahannock County
African American Heritage
Our Sustainable Way of Life