Lincoln High School History
The history of this school goes back to 1885 when a few earnest Negro citizens in and about Ruston, Louisiana, with the aid and encouragement of many good white citizens (the late Mr. J. H. Mays Sr. furnished the bulk of the money) began the school. It was chartered in 1891. It was the purpose of those in charge to establish a school that would adequately provide for a moral literary and industrial education for any and all who would accept the advantages offered.
The school was located in the southwestern section of the town of Ruston, the county seat. The training offered began with the primary department and extended through the normal course.
The curriculum of the first eight grades was the traditional three R’s. The course of study was referred to as Primary, Intermediate, Grammar, Sub-Normal and Normal Department which included Music, Domestic Science, Hatmaking and Fancy work for girls, Manual Training and Agriculture for boys.
Persons completing this course of study and passing a satisfactory examination in each study would be awarded a diploma.
A handicap to the effectiveness of the program was the short school term. The catalogue of 1910-11 gave the terms as three in number: two with three months each and one with two months. First term was October, November, December. Second term was January, February and March. The third term was April and May.
Two factors contributed to the early success of the work of Ruston Normal Colored High School. First, Mr. Israel S. Powell, Principal, had the rare quality of character that allowed him to get along with people of all walks of life. He sold the program of the school to the people of Ruston so well that the Parish Board of Education contributed to its support. The second factor that helped was that Negroes were eager for learning.
For about three decades Ruston Normal Colored High School was one among the few schools in the state offering Negro Youth Training above the elementary grades and its graduates received degrees in the teaching professions but also in Community life.
For fifteen years I.S. Powell directed the activities of the embryo school. His services won him a reputation as an able educator and administrator. In 1915 he went to Baker, La. as an instructor at Leland College, his alma mater.
Others to follow him as principal of Ruston Normal Colored High School were Professor Hamilton, G.S. Hawk, S.B. Belton and Mrs. Ira A. Lewis.
By 1922 the dilapidated two-story frame building which housed the school was completely destroyed by fire (on what is now West Line Ave. near the Rock Island Railroad tracks). Instruction was carried on in various churches and fraternal halls of town.
Immediate steps toward the construction of a brick plant were taken and in 1924-25 a two story eight room brick structure was completed and opened for use. Ruston Colored High school was reorganized in 1924-25 in Washington Heights (presently Oak Street) under the leadership of Mr. H.L. Campbell, Superintendent, Mr. I.A. Lewis as principal, and seven teachers. It was named Washington High school because of the newly created section of town. Later Washington was dropped in favor of Lincoln and Lincoln High School became its permanent name.
Principal Lewis directed the development of Lincoln High School from a meager, privately supported plant to a parish supported institution.
The death of Mr. Lewis in October 1936 marked the beginning of the administration by Mr. J.K. Haynes 1936-1949: Mr. J.H. Owens 1949-1950, Mr. Eddie Davenport 1950-1952, Mr. Aubrey Land 1952-1966 and Mr. Alonzo Davis 1966-1970.
A twenty-six-room brick veneer structure was completed in October 1950 (presently Lincoln Elementary School) under the honorable Morelle Emmons, Superintendent.
The consolidation of schools promoted a separation of elementary and secondary school at Lincoln in 1953. The present Lincoln High School is located on Arlington and Mayberry street, housing grades 9-12, Principal Alonzo Davis and 25 teachers, 2 lunchroom workers, 1 maid, 1 custodian and an enrollment of approximately 500 students.
Ruston Daily Times August 1968