Each month, The Kentucky Explorer magazine receives literally scores of letters from our faithful readers. Whenever possible, we try to publish as many of them as possible in the 12 pages we have set aside for "Letters to the Editor."
Here are actual letters from our April 2003 issue:
Parksville Residents Wanting To
Restore Old School In Wilsonville
You'll probably not find Wilsonville, Kentucky, on any map. You'll probably not believe such a place exists unless, of course, you're familiar with the Danville or Parksville, Kentucky, areas. Wilsonville is a small area of Parksville, Boyle County, Kentucky, that was home to a small community of freed slaves shortly after the Civil War. The area is named after Charlie Wilson, an ex-slave and land owner, who established a church (the Wilson Chapel) in the area in 1875. No one knows for certain how Charlie acquired his land, but most likely he inherited the land from a former slaveholder. After he died his will stated that his remaining estate was to be given to the church to establish a school for Negro children. Public records list a Negro school opening in the area in 1897, however, the school wasn't officially known as Wilsonville until 1932.
The one-room school was lighted by kerosene lamps, since there was no electricity until the 1930s, and was heated by a potbellied coal stove. The students had an outhouse for a toilet and had to draw their drinking water from an outside well. The students lived in the Parksville community, but later they were joined by students from Junction City, Kentucky, after the start of busing in the 1930s. The school housed anywhere from 21 to 45 students (from the first to eighth grades), and they were instructed by one teacher. According to Ella Marshall, the school's last teacher, the students were separated according to grade level, and she had to divide her time between each class. Ms. Marshall taught there 30 years of her 54-year career.
With such dedication from Ms. Marshall, the community residents and church members of the Wilson Chapel thought it would be fitting to restore the old school, which closed in 1964 (during the era of integration), and turn it into a community center bearing her name for all to enjoy. Since many of the descendants of the former residents and church members have either died or moved away, their resources are limited and they're in need of some public support to accomplish this goal, and to preserve this little part of Kentucky's history. The church welcomes financial support, labor, materials, and knowledge of any kind of grants that could be made available. Anyone wishing to make donations, or have questions and advice, can contact Ella Marshall at: 859/ 236-2184; or Rev. Cheryl Hoskins at: 859/491-8308. Those wanting to mail in a donation can send it to: The Wilson Chapel, 5775 Alum Springs Road, Parksville, KY 40422. Make all checks payable to the Wilson Chapel.
641 Cottonwood Drive
Richmond, KY 40475
Family Brought Together
I would like to thank you for bringing me together with my father's side of the family in 1997. You had published a letter from Jeanette Therber, who was trying to find any of her grandfather's brothers and/or sisters. Her grandfather's name was Jocephas Green. One of his brother's names was Harvey. I tried to call the phone number that was listed, but never could get an answer. I sent her a Christmas card and wrote, "Hi! My name is Teri Walker. My maiden name was Greene. My father's name was Harvey. My grandfather's name was Cephas. My great-grandfather's name was Harvey. Our last name was originally Green, but my grandfather added an extra 'E' on the end of it." I gave her my address and phone number, and the following June I went to the family reunion and met my 96-year-old cousin, Beatrice; my 91-year-old cousin, Ray; my 89-year-old cousin, Helen; and my 86-year-old cousin, Ethel; along with many other cousins. Thank you for bringing them into my life.
I would also like to locate relatives on my mother's side. My grandparents were Charlie and Martha Reffitt. My grandfather was born February 8, 1896, and died in 1991. My grandmother was born December 15, 1899. She died December 8, 1978. Her maiden name was Dalton. I know my grandfather had two brothers, William and John. I don't know much more.
My husband, W. T. Walker, Jr., who grew up in Somerset, Kentucky, passed away March 27, 2002, from diabetic complications. We have so many people who still don't know about his death.
Again thank you for your magazine.
Teri G. Walker
1005 Autumn Ridge Drive
Lexington, KY 40509