Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie
From Hill Town To Strieby
From Hill Town to Strieby is Williams’ second book and picks up where her first book about her ancestor, 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 her second book, she documents extensively the Reconstruction-era community of Hill Town, later known as Strieby, and the American Missionary Association affiliated church and school, led by the Rev. Islay Walden, serving both Hill Town and Lassiter Mill. She analyzes both communities’ educational improvements through census records, World War I Draft signatures, and grade levels completed per the 1940 census. In addition, she documents four generations of the two principal founding families, the Hills and Lassiters, as well as family relationships of those buried in the cemetery, adding names gleaned from death certificates of those without cemetery markers. She concludes with information about the designation of the Strieby Church, School, and Cemetery property as a Randolph County Cultural Heritage Site.
In From Hill Town to Strieby, Ms. Williams portrays precious local narratives of two rural, vibrant, North Carolina, African-American communities in progressive evolution. There is a natural elegance, incisiveness, and clarity in her portrayal of these outlying domains. It is a book of scholarly tenacity, creative boldness, and near-acrobatic balance, as it promises to become an essential addition to the history of rural America.
Thomas D. Rush
Author of Reality’s Pen: Reflections on Family, History & Culture and Randolph County native.
Although conditions in rural North Carolina precluded the advancement of African-Americans, the Reverend (Alfred) Islay Walden, an illiterate slave, defied the odds by obtaining advanced degrees and initiating the transformation and growth of Hill Town. The reader is immediately drawn into this narrative, its people, and their legacy. Ms. Williams has brilliantly captured the history of a community that sought–and achieved–the American dream.
Carol Kostakos Petranek, Co-Director, Washington D.C. Family History Center
Margo Williams’ outstanding research examines the progress of Strieby School students against the racial disparity of public school support for African Americans in North Carolina. There are examples of Strieby descendants making their impact on Randolph County and beyond. It tells the history of my community and family as it speaks of the power of self-determination and the impact of Strieby descendants past, present, and future.
Elbert Lassiter Jr., Lassiter family and Strieby Church descendant.
In From Hill Town to Strieby, Margo Williams masterfully tells the heroic story of the Rev. Islay Walden, poet and church founder, the American Missionary Association, and the early struggle for education, community, and racial uplift. Her meticulous research has led to the designation of the Strieby Church Cultural Heritage Site. A must-read for those interested in the role of church and education in nineteenth and twentieth century rural African American life.
Roland Barksdale-Hall, Author of Farrell and African Americans in Mercer County and past editor of the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
Paperback – July 6, 2016