Although the education of individual slaves was never outlawed in Virginia, it was strongly discouraged and schools for enslaved people were explicitly banned. At the beginning of the Civil War, it is estimated that fewer than 10 percent of slaves were literate. Following the war, education became the single most important means to social and financial betterment, and educators were revered within the Black community. Many prominent Lynchburg educators are interred at Old City Cemetery. Here are three:
Ottawa Anna Gladman Curle (1857–1885)
Grave Coordinates: (37.4151286, -79.1553780)
Ottawa Gladman was born in Lynchburg on January 27, 1857, to Thomas G. Gladman, a highly regarded barber, and Selena Ann Gladman, both free people of color. She and John W. Curle, a mail carrier, were married in 1881. Trained as a teacher at Howard University, Ottawa was one of the first three African American teachers in the Lynchburg public schools. She died on May 18, 1885, of kidney failure.
Frank Trigg, Jr. (1850–1933)
Grave Coordinates: (37.4161190, -79.1564435)
Frank Trigg Jr was born enslaved in 1850 in the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, where his parents worked for Governor John B. Floyd. Floyd returned to Abingdon after his term as governor, taking the Triggs with him. When Floyd died in 1863, Frank Trigg became the property of his son-in-law, lawyer Robert Hughes. Trigg worked as a field laborer until 1865, when his arm was amputated in a threshing machine accident. Thereafter, he devoted his life to educating himself and others. He attended Hampton Agricultural and Normal School (now Hampton University), where he was a friend of a fellow student, Booker T. Washington, and graduated in 1873. After additional education at Norwich Academy in Connecticut, followed by teaching for several years in Abingdon, Trigg moved to Lynchburg in 1880. During his 22 years in Lynchburg, Trigg taught school, served as the principal of the Jackson Street High School, co-founded the Virginia Teachers Association, established a library for Black residents, and organized summer continuing education institutes for Black teachers. After Lynchburg, Trigg served as principal of Princess Anne Academy (now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore), where Trigg Hall currently houses the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences. He tried to retire in 1910, but then served six years as principal of Virginia Collegiate and Industrial Institute in Campbell County near Lynchburg and another ten years as president of Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. He finally retired in 1926 to his home on Pierce Street in Lynchburg. Frank and Helen Trigg had eleven children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. He died in 1933.
James Mozee (1862–1941)
Grave Coordinates: (37.4149654, -79.1555413)
James Mozee was born in Platte County, Missouri, in 1862 and taught in Missouri for 21 years before moving to Lynchburg in 1908 to be near the family of his wife, Lelia Perkins Mozee. He taught in the Lynchburg public schools and in 1924 became assistant principal at the all-Black Dunbar High School. As the second African American principal of the school (19301932–19381937), he was required to work under a White “supervising principal,” unlike his successor C.W. Seay. Mozee was noted to have several automobiles but never learned how to drive, allowing different students to chauffeur him around town. He died in 1941 at the age of 79. A wing of the former Dunbar High School, now the Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School, bears his name.
Obituary, The Lynchburg Virginian, May 19, 1885, p1.
Virginia Death Register for Lynchburg, May 18, 1885
Obituary, TDN, May 19, 1885
Frank Trigg Jr
White, Jane, Lynchburg’s Professor Trigg: From Slave to College President, Lynch’s Ferry 2000 (Spring/Summer)
A Hampton Graduate, The Colored American, Vol 9, No 41, Feb 7, 1903, Washington, DC.
Price, Madalin Trigg, A Family Love Story, self published, 2005
Fitch, Nancy Elizabeth, Trigg, Frank J., African American National Biography, Vol 7, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham , Oxford University Press.
Obituary, The News, Lynchburg, Va., July 29, 1941.
Camm, Leslie M., James W. Mozee, biography written based on interviews of former students, in the OCC collection
Faculty Changes in Public Schools; Dunbar Will Have Negro Principal, The News, July 20, 1938
Delaney T, James William Mozee 1962–1942, News & Advance (Lynchburg, Virginia) 19 Feb 2013.