Thursday, December 22, 2022

Lytle School Legacies

The new Lytle's Grove Rosenwald School, 1927 
I used to love tagging along with my mother on her field trips through the Carolinas to cemeteries and other sites related to our family history. One day we took a ride out to "the country" and made a few stops. We went to Columbus Chapel AME Zion in Davidson, N.C., to see if we could find the grave of my third-great-grandmother, Mary Nance Lytle. We didn't find it, and I doubt a headstone exists. Nevertheless, we paid our respects because we knew our ancestor 
was there somewhere.

Torrence-Lytle School
Torrence-Lytle High School
Another stop was Torrence-Lytle High School in Huntersville. The school was originally called Huntersville Colored School when it was founded in 1937, but the name was changed to Torrence-Lytle High School in 1953 to honor Mary Nancy Lytle's son, John Frank Lytle, and his long-time associate and friend, Isaac Dale L. "Ike" Torrence. Both men played instrumental roles in creating the school.

In the letter below, dated September 24, 1935, Nathan Carter Newbold, director of North Carolina's Division of Negro Education, is replying to a letter from John Frank Lytle. The letter is addressed to J.L. Lytle, in care of I.D.L. Torrence. The topic is the need for high schools and transportation in northern Mecklenburg County, to accommodate more than 200 black children who are prepared to advance but have nowhere nearby to go to school. 

Lytle's Grove School, according to family history, was founded by John Frank Lytle and Lois "Lula" Alexander Lytle, my second-great-grandmother who was a teacher. It was located at NC-73 and Poplar Tent Road in Mecklenburg County near the Cabarrus County line.

In his February 1914 report on rural schools for negroes, Newbold referenced a visit to Lytle Grove School. He wrote: "This is a single-room school, but two new rooms have just been added, one for an additional teacher, and the other for a kitchen. This is furnished with stove and utensils, and has a convenient pantry, etc. A large number of patrons greeted us here, and the meeting was held in the church nearby. Talks were made by the visitors, and some demonstration work was done by the teachers."

Newbold was describing the original school building (below) which was later replaced by a new school constructed nearby with Rosenwald funds (see top photo).

Old Lytle's Grove School, 1927


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. (n.d.). Survey and research report for the Torrence-Lytle School.

Chris Folk Papers. (n.d.). A history note: Torrence-Lytle School. University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Corine Cannon Oral History, 2019. Pearl Digital Collections. Presbyterian Historical Society.

Griffith, Nancy. (2021). Rosenwald Schools: Special Davidson history column for Black History Month. News of Davidson.

New Lytle's Grove School. State Archives of North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction: School Planning Section, School Photographs File, Box 5.

North Carolina Digital Collections. (n.d.). Correspondence: Rosenwald Fund, Box 4, Folder E, 1927-1928.

North Carolina Digital Collections. (n.d.). General correspondence of the director, last name J to L, September 1935-August 1936.

North Carolina Digital Collections. (n.d.). Report of N.C. Newbold, State Supervisor rural schools for Negroes for North Carolina, For the Month of February 1914.

Old Lytle's Grove School. State Archives of North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction: School Planning Section, School Photographs File, Box 5.