A Surviving African-American One-Room Schoolhouse

An old Cecil County schoolhouse where African-American children were taught for nearly 80-years still stands on a quiet hillside outside Pleasant Hill.  Benjamin Griffin donated the property for the Cedar Hill School on Feb.11, 1871.  His deed said “that in consideration of my regard for the education of the colored children of my neighborhood and the sum of one dollar,” he was granting the land.   The nearby church, Griffith AUMP, was also built on land also donated by Mr. Griffin.  The church was dedicated on June 7, 1874, at a service conducted by the Rev. E. W. Scott of Elkton.

Once the one-room school opened, generations of African-American children from the Cedar Hill community were educated  there.  But by 1948 the board of education reported that the building, which had served its purpose well, should be closed because of its physical condition.  Soon thereafter the building that had been a proud part of the small community closed and the children were transported to George Washington Carver School in Elkton .   Integration of the county school system was still over a decade away.    

A 1921 list of African-American Schools shows that Miss Bowman is teaching at Cedar Hill


15 responses to “A Surviving African-American One-Room Schoolhouse

  1. Records residing with the Cecil County School district also indicate that Mr. Griffin also served, along with two other African Americans in the Cedar Hill community, on the board that operated the school.
    February 28th, 1871

    “The following were appointed as the District School Board for Colored School #1 in 4th district: Benjamin Griffith, Wm G. Valentine, David Henderson.”

    Then there is this puzzling note from the Cecil County School Board meeting of August 11, 1885:
    “Commissioner Scott recommended the closing of school No 4 in the 5th district and the colored schools at Calvert and Cedar Hill on account of slight attendance. Mr. Scott was there authorized to close them.” Scott dies in November, 1885.

    The 1880 Census lists Mr. Griffin as a Cooper at the age of 71.

    • I am a descendent (Great grand or gg grand daughter of Benjamin Griffin)..I am happy to come across this article to assist me in documenting our family history that continues in Balitmore, Cecil and Anne Arundel Counties area.

      • Tunga Johnson

        Hi, A. B Pruitt

        I would love to hear from you. I too am a descendent of Benjamin Griffin. My family currently lives in AA Co. I have been researching my family since 2006.

  2. Thanks for sharing this info.

    • Hi Mike….I am still interested in getting photocopies of the information that you have about Mr. Benjamin Griffith / Griffin

      • Pruitt, so sorry for the long delay in getting those materials to you. Over the weekend, I’ll create a PDF of the files and mail them to you.

  3. A. B. We are pleased you found this information to be of value. Mr Griffin did a lot for the community. We would be pleased to send photocopies of the material we have.

  4. A.B. Pruitt: I am a recent Masters grad from the University of Delaware. My Masters thesis was on African American veterans of the Civil War related to Cecil County. I came across Mr. Griffin’s name several times in my research. I would like to swap information with you as I think he played a critical role in African American history in Cecil County during the late 19th century.

    • Hi…My name is A. B Pruitt and we e-mailed some time ago about Benjamin Griffin….I am still interested in learning about him and see what you might be able to share/send that you have about him and other Harford County African Americans ….Thanks so much.


  6. Larry, it sure would be sad to see that bulding lost. Someone told me that Bob Jackson owns the property. Hopefully someone will have an interest in preserving it. I can’t imagine it’ll survive too many more winters.

  7. Tunga Johnson

    Hi, I am also a decendant of Benjamin Griffin. I have been researching my family history since 2006. Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.

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