Saturday, February 2, 2008

Helen Croom's School

Helen Croom’s School
Another possibility for Joel’s education was the Croom’s School , an elementary school for young children. This quaint little schoolhouse, just off Washington Square, was located in the backyard of Major Stephens Croom and wife Mary at 1001 Augusta Street.[i] The Crooms purchased the home in the fall of 1877. Stephens’ sister, novelist Elizabeth Whitfield Croom Bellamy, moved into the home after the death of her husband, Captain Edward Bellamy. Following Stephens’ death in 1884, Elizabeth and her sister-in-law, Mary Marshall Croom, started the school to help make ends meet. [ii]

Traditionally, upper class southern woman from the nineteenth century received very little formal education and were usually sent to a finishing school where they were taught French, music, art, needlework and proper etiquette expected of refined ladies. William and Julia Croom, however, encouraged their daughter Elizabeth Whitfield Croom to acquire a university education. In fact, William and Julia moved their family from Florida to Columbus, Georgia in 1850 so that both Elizabeth and her brother Stephens could receive an advanced education. In Columbus, Elizabeth attended the Reverend Thomas Bog Slade’s school for girls. Receiving one of the best educations available to women living in that era, she finished her education in New York City at the Springler Institute where she graduated in 1856. Three of the children of Harry and Elizabeth Daisy Pillans attended Croom’s School. These children, Harry, Mary Isbell, and Laura Edith Pillans, were second cousins of Joel Ninde. [iii] [iv]

[i]The names of the students attending the Elizabeth Bellamy and Mary Marshall Croom School were Mary Isbell Pillans, Laura Edith Pillans and Harry “Hal” Torrey Pillans, second cousins of Joel Ninde. Other students include Venetia and Mary Danner, Richard V. Taylor, Jr. (Dr. R. V. Taylor), Clara Walkley, Wilhelmina Walkley (Mrs. Steele Partridge) and their brothers, Cecil and Early Walkley, Eunice Semmes, who later moved to Montgomery and married Judge J. Winter Thorington, and the Upham girls. History of Barton Academy -no index -Mobile Public Library, Mobile, Alabama.[ii] George Tatum, Press Register “Little School Taught by Mrs. Croom Remains.” Sunday, July 8, 1963.[iii] Laura Pillans never married. Laura is aunt of Mary Van Antwerp and great aunt of Palmer Hamilton, lawyer/architect in Mobile. [iii] Great Aunt Laura was Laura Edith Pillans, unmarried (b. June 7 1885 d. Nov.30 1973). She taught school. Her siblings were Palmer Pillans, Mary Isbell Pillans, and Harry Torrey Pillans Isbell records, 910 Government Street, Mobile, Alabama.[iv] The Velma and Stephens G. Croom Collection South Alabama Archives. “Recollections from Miss Laura Pillans” July 5, 1962.

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