Marvin T. Jones presents photographs, maps and narrative of his community’s 275 year-old history of landowning mixed-race people in North Carolina’s Hertford County area. The written history of the Winton Triangle began in 1584 when the English first learned about the area. The three main towns of the Triangle are Winton, Cofield and Ahoskie. The Winton Triangle’s story is that of a new people who cobbled success and identity despite colonization, wars, slavery and discrimination. Jones uses maps, documents and photographs to tell this 400+ year old story. This presentation has been given many times in North Carolina and as far as Arizona.
Marvin T. Jones is the keynote speaker at the 2017 Black History Month Genealogy Conference (BHM) hosted by the State of Maryland and Washington DC chapters of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society, Inc. (AAHGS) and the African- American Special Interest Group, Washington DC Family History Center. The conference is scheduled for Saturday February 4, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at the Laurel Family History Center. The theme for the 2017 conference is “From the Archives to the Classroom with African-American Genealogy: The Crucial Role of Education in the History of African Americans.” Among the topics of Jones’ speech are Winton Librarian Katie M. Hart, Pleasant Plains School and C.S. Brown School.
This is a free conference where people can learn about advances in genealogy. After January 6, please register at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chowan Discovery took part in two programs on Dec 11, 2016 in Hertford County. The first was was to celebrate three milestones at Pleasant Plains Church: its 165th anniversary, the 150th anniversary year of the founding of its school – Pleasant Plains School, and the school’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places. After the service conducted by Pastor W. Robert Ashe, the church served a meal in the fellowship hall where Marvin T. Jones recounted the history of the school and the process of putting it on the Register. Historic preservation consultant Joanna Braswell of Smithfield, Virginia was acknowledged for her valuable contribution to the nomination.
Chowan Discovery thanks Church Trustee McCoy Pierce, Deacon Dr. Terry Hall, Reverend Ashe and the congregation of Pleasant Plains for making the day possible.
Shortly after, the Cultivator Bookstore in Murfreesboro hosted a Chowan Discovery presentation about Mrs. Katie M. Hart. She founded and ran the Hertford County Colored Public Library from 1938 to 1969. It was the only public library for people of color in northeastern North Carolina during the jim crow era.
Mrs. Hart, then a teacher supervisor, on her own, began a small library for people of color in 1931. In 1938, she began a bookmobile service and within a few years opened a library building in Winton. Her bookmobile served Hertford and Gates counties, and her books were available to all people. Mrs. Hart retired in 1969 at the time her library merged with the Albemarle Regional Library. The talk/slide presentation has many images of Mrs. Hart, her bookmobile, library, home and gravesite. Included are an interview with Dr. Dudley Flood and reminisces taken from Ben Watford, John Eley, Jacqueline Vann Jones and Shawnee Smith Ball. Mr. Eley, a piano student of Mrs. Hart, attended.
Chowan Discovery is thankful to Barbara Boone Buescher for sending information about Mrs. Hart and her mother; and to Caroline Stephenson and Jochen Kunstler of Cultivator for the invitation to present.
June 2016: A nomination put forth by Chowan Discovery, historic preservation consultant Joanna Braswell and Pleasant Plains Baptist Church has resulted in the placing of Pleasant Plains School on the National Register of Historic Places. This was just in time for the 150th anniversary of the school’s founding!
The school was founded in 1866 by Pleasant Plains Baptist Church. Among the builders of the first school house were Marmaduke Hall, James Reynolds and church founders Jesse Keene, Willis Weaver and William Jones Sr. William David Newsom, who later served in the N.C. House of Representatives, was the first teacher. Within 30 years, Pleasant Plains School and its leaders were the parents of four other schools: Union School, Cotton School, Walden School and the everlasting C.S. Brown School. Within a few years of the school’s founding, it began part of the Hertford County public school system although the church continued to own the land up to now.
Before the nomination process began, N.C. State Office of Historic Preservation agents, Scott Powers and Reid Thomas, visited the current Pleasant Plains School house and community. This school house, which succeeded the 1866 one, is a Rosenwald building funded in 1920. The school closed in 1950 and the church bought the 3-room schoolhouse from the Hertford County public school system for one dollar in 1951.
After making repairs to the schoolhouse, Pleasant Plains Church added in-house plumbing, gas heating electricity, a kitchen and a bathroom. Playground equipment was purchased for the grounds. Pleasant Plains Schoolhouse then became a community center and fellowship hall, hosting Vacation Bible School programs, the Pleasant Plains Boy Scouts, family reunions, teas, parties, picnics, activities for the Hertford County Office of Aging, and a summer camp for a Washington, D.C. school.
Joanna Braswell, a consultant from Smithfield, Virginia, provided guidance, historical research, architectural assessments and the final writing for the nomination. Using interviews with former students and document research, most of the nomination’s history section was produced by Marvin T. Jones of Chowan Discovery. Part of the research included support for the documentary film ROSENWALD. Jones met several times with the film’s director Aviva Kempner, contributed a blog post about Pleasant Plains School, and spoke to theater audiences at the first public showings of the film. Jones also presented the school’s history at the second National Rosenwald Schools Conference in Durham.
Support for this milestone was made possible by support from the Pleasant Plains Baptist Church deacon and trustees boards, led by Reverend W. Robert Ashe, Deacon Dr. Terry Hall and Trustee McCoy Pierce, and the Chowan Discovery donors, volunteers and advisors.