The Walnut Grove School house is an example of early black education in Columbia County that was started in 1920. This small school served the needs of one teacher earning $100 a year to teach 40 students in five different grades.
The school building sits across from the courthouse, which the Columbia County Historical Society moved, refurbished, and maintains for public display. It was one of about 30 one-room elementary schools for black children prior to the opening of the county’s “separate but equal” consolidated schools in 1956.
The school is tiny with no bathroom, for that the children would have to use a bucket or simply go outside to the woods.
It still has a blackboard, and some desks still fill the once used school. The walls and floors had large cracks in them and the only warmth during the cold winter months came from a stove set in the middle of the classroom. Schools of this type in that era were usually on or near the property of a church with the same name as did Walnut Grove School, formerly located beside Walnut Grove Baptist Church on Ray Owens Road.
School Houses of this type were in primitive condition, and also almost empty of furnishings and a lack of supplies.
Walnut Grove, and a few other very small school houses, were the only school experience most black children at that time would ever have, lack of transportation and poverty prevented traveling to Augusta to further their education.
The Walnut Grove school house, part of black education history, that still sits in Appling. For your Hometown Stories, I’m John Lynn, WJBF, News Channel 6.