Louisa County Historical Society

Themes of the Sargeant Museum

During the colonial period in Louisa, children were educated in community schools, churches, and later field schools.  These schools were paid for by the families of the students.  Neighbors would join together to hire and board a teacher who might also be the clergyman or church reader.  Students of families with means were prepared to enter college by attending boarding or parson’s schools.  By a law passed in 1672 poor children were apprenticed and by 1705 were required to learn to read and write.

   In 1760 Reverend James Maury and Revered John Todd, two local clergymen, created classical-style schools in Louisa.  These schools were elite and included such students as James Madison, Dabney Carr, and Thomas Jefferson.

    Public education did not exist in Louisa until 1871 when the citizens voted that one mill on the dollar would go toward the schools.  In 1871 High school - 1907Louisa Courthouse had nine public school teachers.

   In the early 20th century Louisa received the first matching funds from the state for public education.  With these funds the historic Louisa High School was built, located in the town on Fredericksburg Avenue.  This school and the buildings and 12.4 acres surrounding it, including the Sargeant/Pettit House, was purchased by the town in late 2002.

A wealth of information about African-American education in Louisa is contained in The African-American Schools of Louisa County, Virginia, presented by the Louisa County HIstorical Society. (Right: Mechanicsville School, ca 1920-1950.)

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Louisa County Historical Society • P.O. Box 1172 • Louisa, Virginia 23093 • 540-967-5975