Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Quince Orchard Colored School (built circa 1874)
MSA SC 5496-047805
Constructed near Darnestown, Rockville District, Montgomery County, Maryland

Biography:

Although Montgomery County began building public schools for white children in 1860, not until 1872 did Maryland pass a law ordering the establishment of black public schools in each district of the state. Rather than automatically erecting these schools, the county required citizens to apply to the Montgomery County School Board for each school's establishment. Furthermore, the state levied a separate tax on the county's African American property owners, although they were already paying taxes to support the county's white schools.

During the years spanning 1872 to 1878, a group of at least seventeen African American farmers, laborers, artisans, and property owners used funds authorized by the Montgomery County School Commission to gradually purchase about an acre of land in the Darnestown area. The property stood just south of the late Frederick A. Tschiffely's farm, and would "be used exclusively for the education of the colored youth of the neighborhood."1 The collaborators included Charles Beander, John Brashear, Garey Green, George W. Johnson, John Wesley Johnson, Carlton Mason, Thomas Neverson, James Ricks, Nathaniel Warren, and Solomon Williams. Respected and influential members of the black community in that area, many—if not all—had been born into slavery. At least half could neither read nor write,2 likely providing their motivation in providing an education for their children.

The resulting Quince Orchard Colored School, named after the area's colonial-era fruit orchards, was constructed in 1874 in northeastern Darnestown.3 The county paid the teachers approximately twenty-five dollars per term, a third of the pay rate for teachers at the white public school across the street.4

The schoolhouse continued its function for nearly thirty years, but suffered an abrupt demise when a fire destroyed the building in February 1901. According to a special dispatch in the Baltimore Sun on February 19th, the suspects had already attempted to start fires in other areas of the neighborhood.5 An article on February 8th had described arson attempts against three white residents of Darnestown, the first occurring at John Jones' grocery store, the second at the home of H. Cissell, and the third at the residence of Clyde Griffith, who noticed two men running away.6 Although the School Commissioners along with the school's insurance company offered a $150 reward, no records show the offenders ever being arrested or brought to trial.7 The Washington Post alleged that Mississippi-born Giles F. White, an "active negro democrat" who taught at the school, had inspired the hostility that led to the arson.8

In 1902, the school relocated to the one-room schoolhouse that had stood across the street, which the county moved to the site of the burned-down building. The Quince Orchard Colored School remained a schoolhouse for African American children until the desegregation of Montgomery County schools in the mid-1950s.
 


1.     MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records), Liber EBP 5, Folio 386, 1868-1868, MSA CE 63-15, Deed, Thomas Neverson, George W. Johnson, and Charles Beander to Gary Green, James Ricks, and Carlton Mason.
        MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records), Liber EBP 18, Folio 428, 1878-1878, MSA CE 63-28. Garey Green, James Ricks, Carlton Mason to Samuel Jones, Walter M. Talbott, and William T. Jones, School Commissioners of Montgomery County. September 16, 1874.
        MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records), Liber EBP 18, Folio 429, 1878-1878, MSA CE 63-28. Henry Wright, Cyrus Bowen, Edwin Davis, Cornelius Awford, and William Wright to Samuel Jones, Walter M. Talbott, and William T. Jones, School Commissioners of Montgomery County. September 16, 1878.
        MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records), Liber EBP 18, Folio 433, 1878-1878, MSA CE 63-28. A.R. Wadsworth, Richard Sedgwick, Wilson Powell, Thomas Adams, and John Wesley Johnson to to Samuel Jones, Walter M. Talbott, and William T. Jones, School Commissioners of Montgomery County. October 2, 1878.

2.     U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) for Garey Green, 1870, District 4, Montgomery County, Page 115, Line 4.
        U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) for James Ricks, 1870, District 4, Montgomery County, Page 12, Line 16.
        U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) for Carlton Mason, 1870, District 4, Montgomery County, Page 119, Line 13.
        U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) for Giles White, 1900, Wheaton District, Montgomery County, District 66, Page 30, Line 67.

3.     "Darnestown Historic District, Gaithersburg," Montgomery County, M: 24-19. Maryland Historical Trust. www.mdihp.net.

4.     Nina Honemond Clarke. “My First Teaching Job, Quince Orchard, Maryland." Flower of the Forest: Black Genealogical Journal 1.6 (1987): 152-159.

5.     "Schoolhouse Burned." Baltimore Sun 19 February 1901: 9. Baltimore Sun Historical Archive. Enoch Pratt Free Library.

6.     "Incendiaries in Mongomery."Baltimore Sun 8 February 1901: 8. Baltimore Sun Historical Archive. Enoch Pratt Free Library.

7.     Nina Honemond Clarke. “My First Teaching Job, Quince Orchard, Maryland." Flower of the Forest: Black Genealogical Journal 1.6 (1987): 153-154.

8.     “Object to Negro Democrat.” The Washington Post 14 March 1901: 9. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. www.proquest.com.
     


Researched and written by Rachel Frazier, 2010.

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