Brief History

In 1931, J. Edgar Thomas, Susie Wharton Thomas, and William H. Bailey sold a lot in the town of Accomac containing 0.842 of an acre to the trustees of the Accomack County Colored High School Association for $750.00. The trustees, Reverend R. C. Hughes, W. J. Laws, R. H. Hall, G.W. Downing, Mary N. Smith, C.H. Ewell, and Alma Parker, purchased the property and in 1932 built the first secondary school for black children in Accomack County. This school was named for Mary Nottingham Smith (1892-1951), a trustee of the school and a person well known on the Eastern Shore. Born in Northampton County, Smith had worked in the Accomack County school system since 1921 as a Jeanes Educational Supervisor.

The Jeanes Foundation (also known as the Negro Rural School Fund) was founded by a Quaker, Anna T. Jeanes, to improve vocational training programs for teachers of black students. In 1953, a larger high school, also named Mary Nottingham Smith, was built on another site. The old 1956 Smith High School became T.C. Walker Elementary School, named after an African-American attorney from Gloucester County. This building was demolished in 1987.

As part of integration in 1970, the new Mary Nottingham Smith High School was renamed Mary Nottingham Smith Middle School, and remained active in this role until around 2004.

The Virginia African American Heritage Program

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