Historical Newspapers: Dr. John Jefferson Smallwood
Dr. John Jefferson Smallwood (1863-1912), born enslaved in North Carolina, attended Hampton University, Shaw University, and Wesleyan Wilbraham Academy. After his schooling, he went back South and found his mother, Mary Eliza, a daughter of Nat Turner. He took care of her until her passing, defying brutal odds, as they had been separated during slavery.
In 1892, Dr. Smallwood founded Temperance Industrial Collegiate Institute in Surry County, Virginia. This location was literally in the landing spot for the first enslaved Africans brought to Virginia in the much now lamented (for every reason except empathy for the enslaved) year of 1619.
The following years would find Dr. Smallwood in positions of being an agriculturalist, engineer, educator, fund raiser, accused party, champion, writer, husband, and father. In 1912, at what should have been his professional zenith, Dr. Smallwood passed away. Initially, his very capable widow, the former Rosa Banks (b.1875), took the helm of the school. Eventually, the school’s ownership and leadership changed hands and existed in some semblance of its former self until 1928, when it shuttered.
The legacy of Dr. Smallwood’s efforts live on, especially in the pages of historical newspapers. Here are several examples that give greater insight into the life of this brave man:
Here are some other items of interest relating to Dr. John Jefferson Smallwood: