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The Phillis Wheatley School – Ridgeley, West Virginia

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The Phillis Wheatley School – Ridgeley, West Virginia

Ridgeley, West Virginia is located in Mineral County, directly across the Potomac River from Cumberland, Maryland. The text below is taken directly from "A Photographic History of Ridgeley and Carpendale, West Virginia", by Gary Lee Clites, Sr. and published in July 2012

"This building at 27 Potomac Street, now a private residence, once housed the only African American School in Ridgeley, West Virginia. The school was named the Phillis Wheatley School for Phillis Wheatley, a famous Eighteenth Century African American poet. Built around 1909, the school housed the African American students from Ridgeley and was used until the late 1930’s. After the school closed, Ridgeley’s African-American students traveled to Cumberland, Maryland, just across the Potomac River, to attend school.

Phillis Wheatley was America’s first African American poet and the first American woman to publish her writing. Born in Gambia, Senegal, in 1753, she was sold into slavery as a young child and was sent to North America. She was purchased by a Boston family. When they recognized her talent, they encouraged her. The publication of her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773 brought her fame and fans including George Washington and Thomas Paine. In 1778, Wheatley was freed after the death of her owner. She married a free black grocer. Unfortunately, Wheatley and her husband suffered severe poverty contributing to the death of both of their infant children. Wheatley herself died in 1784 at only 31 years of age."


Text : "A Photographic History of Ridgeley and Carpendale, West Virginia", by Gary Lee Clites, Sr. and published in July 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Photograph: Albert L. Feldstein

Note: West Virginia separated from Virginia and became a state in 1863, and Mineral County was formed from the western-half of Hampshire County in 1866.

Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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