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History Of Selden Normal And Industrial Institute, The

From "Selden Normal & Industrial Alumnae Association Meet: August 7 & 8, 1982."

The book was scanned, converted to text via Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The text has not been proofread, or edited.


The History Of Selden Normal And Industrial Institute

The idea of a high school or normal (now called a junior college) and industrial school for Southeast Georgia was originally conceived by Rev. Samuel G. Dent, Sr. while he was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Rev. Dent introduced the idea to a fellow student, Rev. H. A. Bleach, who later became principal of the school, and together they discussed the idea with one of their instructors at the college, Miss Carrie E. Bemus, Miss Bemus, a native of Ripley Crossing, New York, had been a teacher in a normal school in Pennsylvania and was impressed by the idea. This all occurred during the year 1892.

Miss Bemus knew that such a venture would require a sturdy financial foundation if it was to stand a chance for success; therefore, she stayed at Morehouse for eleven years after the idea was fint discussed, saving her money, for she knew that little funds would be available in this area. Miss Bemus finally came to Brunswick in the year 1903 and met with Rev. Dent and other Negro leaders of the community at the Fint African Bap- tist Church. That very night the Christian High School and Normal and Industrial Insti- tute was founded. It was decided that the courses of stud' would be grouped into two categories, academic and practical industrial trades. Some of the course titles were as follows: Cooking, Sewing, Millinery, Music, Farming, Gardening and Carpentry. She later added courses in Shoemaking, Nurses Training, Teacher Training and Busi- ness. Miss Bemus believed that such training would lead young people to a richer and more useful life and also that these trades were essential to the needs of all citizens. She placed her life's savings into the project that night.

The search then began for just the right location for the new school. Rev. Dent, a native of St. Simons Island, offered a piece of land there. It was thought, however, that this would not be an ideal spot because of transportation difficulties. Rev. Dent was named Chairman of the Board. Another Board member, Mr. Charles A. Shaw. who was a partner in Floyd's Barber Shop, located a building at the corner of Wolfe and H Streets which became the school and later the Brunswick Boys' Club. Mr. Shaw enroll- ed his two sons, Charles and William (Bill) as the fint two students. A large house at the corner of Amherst and H Streets was secured for female teachen and to serve as a girls dormitory. Several small houses on Amherst, G and H Streets were secured for the boys. Miss Bemus summoned Professor H.A. Bleach, who was then teaching in Missouri to act as her assistant. She engaged the following teachers: Miss Ella Smith and Miss Maggie Rogers from Spelman College; Mrs. Edward Carry of Tuskegee Institute; Miss Trudie M. Houser, Mr. Albert Shootes, Mr. James Edwards, Mr. James Monroe, Miss Carrie Nelson and Miss Frankie Watkins from Fisk Univenity; Miss Josie Shaw, Mrs. Susie Seabrooks of Brunswick; Miss Ella B.P. Bohannon of Western College and Miss Frances Coleman of Howard University in Washington, D.C. The school was now ready to open its doors to a large enrollment who was waiting for instruction to begin. Doors officially opened in the fall of 1903.

So large was the enrollment that the school was becoming known far and near. As the school grew, the original building became inadeauate and more room was needed ofter the first year. With part of her own savings, Miss Bemus purchases 65 acres of land north of Brunswick between Southern Junction and Freedmen's Rest. This would provide the necessary acreage for the building where trades would be taught and also land for the students to farm for cultivation. Her concern and worry about adeauate funis for the school began to become a sthin on Miss Bemus' health. She needed more room for girls as well as a building to house the administration. She' then located still another seemingly adequate spot, where Selden is today, within the City of Brunswick. She remembered that she had some long time friends in Pennsylvania who were Christian Philanthropists, Mr. E.P. Selden, a steel industrialist, and his brother, Dr. Charles Solden, who was a medical missionary to China. She knew she could call onthem, and did so only a*er exhausting all of her personal funds as well as all otherfundscoming in- to the school. Dr. Selden came to Georgia, inspected the site, and purchased it for. the school. The buildingsron thR.site were included ln the sales price and Selden mov- ed. The buildings were renovated and the grounds were cleaned so that it was even more beautiful than it is today. There were no funds to build a boys dormitory, however and they had to still be housed in yet another place. An appeal went out for funds to aid in building additional buildings.

The members of the Glynn County Board of Education and the officials of the City.

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