African American Schools

In 1866, the Missouri legislature required each township or city board of education in the state to establish and maintain schools for African Americans in jurisdictions where black school-age children numbered twenty or more. This is when the first school was organized for African American children in Butler. They met in an old schoolhhouse on south Delaware Street in Butler that had been erected after the Civil War.  The building had been used as a school and church services as the town tried to rebuild from Order No. 11.  The “African Academy”, as it was known, is described as sitting south of the Presbyterian Manse.  The original location of Butler’s Presbyterian Church was on the southwest corner of Fort Scott and Delaware Streets.  In 1871, The Bates County Record, reports, “the colored school commences at the old school house under the direction of Mrs. R. B. Morse. We understand that some twenty scholars are enrolled.  The school is free to all colored pupils who may wish to attend.”

The school building was more than likely moved: for in 1880 the school is found on Block 2, Lot 1 of the Christian and Condee Addition of Butler. In September of 1882 Mr. G. W. Lowrey reported 30 students on the first day. This school must have fallen into disrepair as a Letter to the Editor of the Butler Weekly Times urged a vote on a new school.  The motion carried and a new school was finished in 1887 on block 4 of Mary Page’s Addition to the Town of Butler.  This school is the present Douglass school building.

The school was a one room schoolhouse with grades kindergarten through 8th grade attending. African American students wishing to further their education would have to attend high school in another community. With the passage of Brown Vs. The Board of Education in 1954, Douglass School was closed and African American students integrated into the Butler School.

Location of the first African American School on Delaware Street

The lot to which the original school was moved. Block 2, Lot 1 of Christian and Condee’s Addition.

The present location of the Douglass School.

The Douglass School