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Civil War and Reconstruction

During the Civil War, fugitive slaves often fled to Union-occupied areas where military officers provided food, shelter, clothing, and medical attention. Fugitives sometimes had a chance for informal schooling. So did blacks who joined the Union Army, since literacy was important to being a good soldier.

The movement to emancipate the slaves carried with it the challenge of educating them for the responsibilities of freedom. After the war, abandoned Confederate military camps like Camp Davis, located near Twelfth and Kemper Streets in Lynchburg, became schools. The Camp Davis School was established by Jacob Yoder under the auspices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, a branch of the United States War Department.

Reconstruction-era teachers in Lynchburg incl

uded Elizabeth Frances “Fannie” Harvey, a white woman who taught privately and was hired by the Freedman’s Bureau to teach in the Jackson Street Church. Samuel F. Kelso, born to parents who had both been slaves, taught in the Twelfth Street School and served as a trustee of the Polk Street School. Robert Perkins, also a trustee of the Polk Street School, taught on Federal Street. George W. Perritt taught both in private freedmen’s schools and in Freedmen’s Bureau Schools. Laura Spencer taught at the Court Street Church School and Jesse Owings at Court Street School No. l. Other African American teachers in Lynchburg during Reconstruction included Emmeline and Carrington Ellis. Thomas Y. Scott taught freedmen in Campbell County, as did Booker Purvis. All of these individuals had acquired some education despi

te laws denying them the opportunity to learn to read and write.

Exhibit Items:

Camp DavisCamp Davis Elizabeth Harvey Display Elizabeth Frances “Fannie” Harvey JacobJacob Yoder
Samuel Kelso Freedmen’s Schools


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