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St. Peter Claver School, Huntington


In September of 1938, St. Peter Claver School opened under the direction of Sr. Pulcheria (Ann Maria) Ginschel. Its purpose was to meet the needs of the black community in a segregated city. In 1939, Sr. Celine Keck joined Sr. Pulcheria as a second teacher. This was a two-room school, with eight grades, and many of the students were non-Catholic. Many of the children were poor and received financial support from the parish.

The two classrooms were in the upper story of the church. This building was once the home of Walter Traveler Smith. His mother was once a slave, owned by a Mr. Twymen, who willed that upon his death his slaves were to be set free. They settled in Burlington, Lawrence Co, Ohio. All census records show Sr. Smith’s name to be William T. Smith, and his mother’s name was Nancy, born in 1823, Virginia. He was born in Virginia in 1849, and was living in Burlington, Ohio in 1880; by 1910 he and his family have moved on to Huntington. He is listed as a farmer, carpenter, and teacher.


Although segregation in the schools became illegal in 1954, it took years to enforce this law. Finally, in 1965, the little school in Huntington was no longer needed. The students were transferred to other parochial schools in the city: St. Joseph School, Sacred Heart School, and Our Lady of Fatima School.