When former slave, Islay Walden returned to Southwestern Randolph County, North Carolina in 1879, after graduating from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, as an ordained minister and missionary of the American Missionary Association, he moved in with his sister and her family in a secluded area in the Uwharrie Mountains, not far from the Lassiter Mill community along the Uwharrie River. Walden was sent to start a church and school for the African American community. When the church and school were begun this was, not surprisingly, a largely illiterate community of primarily Hill family members. The Hill family in this mountain community was so large, it was known as “Hill Town.” The nearby Lassiter Mill community was larger and more diverse, but only marginally more literate. Walden and his wife accomplished much before his untimely death in 1884, including acquiring a US Postal Office for the community and a new name – Strieby. Despite Walden’s death, the church and school continued into the 20th century when it was finally absorbed by the public school system, but not before impacting strongly the literacy and educational achievements of this remote community.From Hill Town to Strieby is Williams’ second book and picks up where her first book about her ancestor Miles Lassiter, an early African American Quaker [Miles Lassiter (circa 1777-1850) an Early African American Quaker from Lassiter Mill, Randolph County, North Carolina: My Research Journey to Home], left off. In From Hill Town to Strieby, she provides extensive research documentation on the Reconstruction-era community of Hill Town, that would become known as Strieby, and the American Missionary Association affiliated church and school that would serve both Hill Town and Lassiter Mill. She analyzes both communities’ educational improvements by comparing census records, World War I Draft record signatures and reports of grade levels completed in the 1940 census. She provides well-documented four generation genealogical reports of the two principal founding families, the Hills and Lassiters, which include both the families they married into and the families that moved away to other communities around the country. She provides information on the family relationships of those buried in the cemetery and adds an important research contribution by listing the names gleaned from death certificates of those buried in the cemetery, but who have no cemetery markers. She concludes with information about the designation of the Strieby Church, School, and Cemetery property as a Randolph County Cultural Heritage Site. 416 pp. 146 illustrations.
From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina by Margo Lee Williams is an exemplary, incredibly researched, piece of literature I profoundly believe should be on every bookshelf both taught and treasured! From Hill Town to Strieby by Margo Lee Williams follows the compelling growth of one free rural African American community when a former slave, who has been freshly ordained as a Minister, and his wife start a church and school whose effects lived on long after his untimely death. From Hill Town to Strieby by Margo Lee Williams captivated all of my attention, I was drawn in by the awe-inspiring detailed research and further enticed by preserved photographs of the community and its people!
In 1879 Islay Walden returned to Southwestern Randolph County, North Carolina, setting in motion a sequence of events that would have long lasting and far-reaching effects. Islay Walden moved in with his sister and her family after graduating from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary as an ordained Minister. The American Missionary Association sent Walden to start a church and school for the largely illiterate Lassiter Mill and Hill Town community near his sister’s secluded home in the Uwharrie Mountains. Islay Walden and his wife accomplished many things before his early death in 1884; including acquiring a United States Post Office for the community as well as officially renaming Hill Town, originally named for mostly “Hill” family residents, to Strieby. The church and school Islay Walden began impacted the quality of life for all neighboring residents by improving literacy in the community until it was inevitably absorbed into the public school system in the twentieth century.
From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina by Margo Lee Williams is a thought-provoking, masterpiece of literature! From Hill Town to Strieby by Margo Lee Williams should not be greedily consumed with haste, rather savored over time so the beauty of history can be fully absorbed. From Hill Town to Strieby combines painstakingly unparalleled research to create an evocative narrative that will inspire delight in any reader, which shows what an outstanding author Margo Lee Williams is!
Margo Lee Williams is a brilliant author; she has elegantly designed a stunning recreation of rural Randolph County, North Carolina through insurmountable research that I deeply admire and enjoy! It is no small task to allure an audience with a well-documented historical text, yet Margo Lee Williams creates a riveting and engaging dialogue with ease. She has an aura of intelligence that shines brightly through her astonishing writing style which shows what a remarkably talented author she is! I love the meticulous attention to detail prevalent throughout From Hill Town to Strieby; Margo Lee Williams has compiled the most comprehensive genealogical records, spanning back four generations, I have ever encountered. Margo Lee Williams brings history out of the pages and back to life in sensational detail!
From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina by Margo Lee Williams is a prodigious piece of literature I fell in-love with immensely! From Hill Town to Strieby by Margo Lee Williams will captivate any reader with its intriguing narrative, insuperable quality of research, and vividly timeless historical photographs! From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina by Margo Lee Williams is a historically accurate, meritorious, work of non-fiction that is as entertaining as it is educational. I unambiguously and enthusiastically award From Hill Town to Strieby by Margo Lee Williams five stars!
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