Reconstruction brought educational opportunities to African Americans in Amherst County. Churches, benevolent white citizens, and northern missionary groups all did their part. Mrs. India Williams of Sweet Briar donated land. The county’s first missionary teacher from New England, known as “Buttermilk Jones,” taught in the Clifford area. Other schools included Scott Zion, established by a young African American who had been hired by a northern church. San Domingo was part of a Roman Catholic diocese, and St. Mary’s was founded by black citizens with the help of a former slave owner. Schools were also established at Galilee, Oak Hill, Mount Airy, Mount Olive, Rose Chapel Baptist, Timothy, and Union Hill.
The earliest schools were usually one-room log cabins with small windows. Students sat on long wooden benches, and equipment consisted of slate boards, pencils, and a rough table. Teachers were often white men from outside the county. By 1870 there were seven schools with an enrollment of 266. Five Rosenwald schools were built in Amherst. The Jeanes Fund paid county supervisors; the Slater Fund paid teacher salaries.