Union School is located in the Brookman Community
off of Galilee Road, on the Johnson Tract. A private entrance called
Gilliard runs by the schoolhouse. It is unknown just exactly when the
first school building was built, or the current one standing today. But
here is what we do know.
From doing some family histories for some
African-American families, a couple mentioned that their grandparents attended
the Brookman School. I of course never heard of this school, and while
looking through recorded history, never saw a mention of such place.
Therefore, I assumed that this was just a country school, not so.
Ms. Ophelia (Johnson) Killens is the current
owner of the Union School, her grand-daughter, Robin Alston, was put in touch
with me to show me the school house, and ask if I had any history, which I only know
two people who attended the school, now three.
The family would like to have a public road
access through this land, so that more of their family members may build homes
on their ancestral lands. However, the county will not oblige the home
building permits, because there isn't a road big enough to accommodate the
traffic. The county also, will not put in a road, which the family want.
If a road is put in, it will travel right by this
historic, small, PUBLIC school that existed in the early 1900s, and quite
possibly during the late 1800s for the "colored" children of the Brookman
Community. The Gilliard family were the owners of this land during the
late 1800s and it transferred to Ophelia's mother Florrine (Gilliard)
who passed it on to Ophelia.
Children from all around attended this school, it
was one of about four on this stretch of highway. The current building is
the second school to be built on this site, a school built by the COUNTY, it was
not just some small country school, but a public school, like Glynn Academy or
the Colored Memorial.
This school housed kindergarten through the 8th
grade for the African-American families. After the 8th grade they would
come to town and attend the Colored Memorial School (still standing) on Albany
Street. From there they would go to the Seldon Institute (still standing).
Eventually, the Colored Memorial extended their classes making it unnecessary to
attend a third school.
The building has since been converted into a
small home by Ophelia in the 1950s, and is still being used as such by family
members. Originally it was one large room with a kitchen along the back
wall. This kitchen was also used in teaching children how to cook and fend
for themselves, like a modern day Home Economics Class. The windows and
some doorknobs are all original to the schoolhouse. The only alteration
was that two rooms were built onto the right side of the house, and walls were
erected inside to small, cozy rooms. A door off the right side of the house
led out to the playgrounds. This door is now enclosed into a little porch.
On the grounds surrounding the school house, the
children played stick ball, volleyball, tennis, and any game they could imagine.
The bathrooms were small outhouses about 80 feet away from the school building.
There was a girls and a boys, they were separated by about 60 feet. You
can still see the indention in the ground where the girls bathroom stood!
A few of the teachers, paid by the county, were
Mrs. Daisy (Mitchell) Waye, Arlie Baldwin, and
Killens' family have long been in this
county, and have lived on these lands for many decades. Not only did
Ophelia attend this school, but so did her mother. However, Ophelia didn't
finish school in the traditional way, she was scooped up by a Rev. Curry, who
was involved in the Dorchester Academy of Liberty County, Georgia.
One day he came up to Ophelia and said "Lil'
Trash (her nickname), I think you can make good with me, come along with me to
the school." She informed Rev. Curry that she couldn't afford to attend
the Academy as her father was already paying for one child to go to school, and
there was another one ahead of her ready to go off to school. The Reverend
asked her if she could work, and of course she said yes. So, Miss
worked her way through school, graduating in 1938.
Her days consisted of waking up, working the
laundry, fixing breakfast, then attending classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. then
back to the laundry, then fixing dinner, and finally to bed.
After graduation, the Union School asked her to
teach, but Ophelia wasn't ready, so she went to the Normal Institute to obtain
her teaching degree. By the time she finished though, the Union School was
no more. It had been closed down.
as mentioned above, the school house is now a small home, it has only been
altered slightly, you can still see the original form of the school house, a salt box.
Of course it has been painted a light green color, and some window awnings were
place above the windows. A living room with a fireplace has been added,
and the original back door was on the side, it is now in an enclosed porch with
a door to the back of the house.
To be almost a hundred years old, it is still a sturdy, beautiful piece of our
Glynn County history.
Special Note: So far no existing
photos of the building in its original form have been found, also, more history
would be appreciated. Anything that could help this family get their
public road access would be appreciated.