The History of Vernon School in Mt. Hermon, Louisiana
|Vernon School in Mt. Hermon
African American School
While driving down the road in Washington Parish Louisiana, I saw a sign that said, “Vernon School Road,” as usual I decided to take the drive down the road to see if the old school building was still standing. I saw an old abandoned school building to my left, right across the road there were two elderly men sitting on the front porch talking so I pulled in the driveway and asked them if that was Vernon School and they both answered yes. They both directed me to Elder Albert J. Brumfield to get more information about the school.
The history of Vernon High School in deeply embodied into history of the the Black community which, like many other black communities, had its beginning during that period after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. During this period newly freed slaves moved away from plantations and away from slave masters to venture out on their own to experience this new found freedom. Many came to settle in this area of rich loam sandy soil, gentle rolling hills and a generous supply of loblolly pines. This area was inhabited by a few Flat Bush Indians and was unique among the other Florida Parishes is that it had no slave plantations.
The history of blacks of this community also intertwines the history people of this nation and of the world. We are a proud people of a proud heritage. We were born along the Congo, the Nile and Euphrates rivers. Our forefathers, the Nubian Peoples, shaped the history of the Nile Valley. The Ishango people living in that area more than 8,000 years ago and used a primitive multiplication system long before the Europeans. The African woman was tall, slender and beautiful. She was a good faithful mother and homemaker. The African man was tall, strong and could run faster and jump higher than any other man on the hemisphere. He was a great hunter, trapper and farmer. The English colonies need for free labor caused these proud people to be torn from family and friends and familiar surroundings and carried off to another continent where they were subjected to the institution of slavery for two hundred and fifty years.
|Vernon School for African American Students
Closed its doors in 1969
An ex-slave by the name of Jenny came into the area after being set free. Louis Vernon, a direct descendant of Jenny started a school in the building on his property in 1885. This was only twenty-years after the Emancipation Proclamation. During slavery it had been against the law to teach slave to read or write. The denial of the opportunity was apparently the motivation needed to inspire the Vernon’s to start a school in Mt. Hermon, La.
As interest grew it became necessary to acquire additional land for the school. So on August 25, 1925, forty years later, three acres of land were purchased from the Vernon’s to erect a school on the present site. According to the courthouse records, the deeds were signed by Ed Vernon, D.M. Brumfied and Dave Wrought, who was one of the earlier bus drivers. Fraser Vernon served as the school’s first principal.
Later the Rosenwald Fund contributed money toward a building at the present site. The Rosenwald fund contributed to the building of more than 5,000 schools for Negroes in the rural south. In June 1949 the high school building was added. In November 1951 the elementary building was built, in March 1954 the gymnasium was added, In May 1958 a lunchroom was added and in 1960 a new classroom wing was built. In 1961 with funds from the P.T.A. a covered walkway was built, and the P.T.A., also built an agriculture/shop.
The School Board purchased and additional 4.7 acres for the school in 1960 from Isadore Vernon who was the first bus driver for Vernon School and another portion in 1961 from Marcel Dyson, Crimal Dyson Williamson and Arthur Williamson.
Vernon High School was a place were many careers were launched as many young black men and young black women came into this community as teacher to help develop the minds and lives of young black boys and girls. Many devoted their entire lives to this task. Students from Vernon now serve this community, this state and nation as engineers, teachers, farmers, housewives, dentists, medical doctors, veterinary medicine, counselors, doctors of education, postal workers, businessmen, insurance brokers, and in virtually all areas of work. Other have served in the military as officers and enlisted men, other have won the purple heart and still other gave the ultimate sacrifice–their lives. Others became attorneys, ministers, nurses, law enforcement personnel, interior designers and their numerous contributions are immeasurable. Students regularly competed at local, regional and state events in music, sports, public speaking and academics. Some romances started here and developed into life-long companionship.
In addition to the Fraser Vernon others have served the school as principal. Mr. R.J. Lawrence served
in the late 20s. He was followed by Mr. Almore B. Dyson who served as principal from 1930 until the 1954-55 school year. Mr. Ruben H. Cornist served as principal of the school from that time until the school closed in 1969.
Source: Vernon High School History Booklet, submitted by Barbara Brumfield