When Dunbar High School transitioned from a segregated black high school to an integrated school in 1970-71, Carolyn Brown was there as school secretary. Earlier, she worked with C.W. Seay, the principal of Dunbar and the first African American elected to City Council since the 1880s. During the transition, many items were being thrown away, but Carolyn saved documents, photographs, graduation programs, and other pieces of the school’s long history.
In recent months, Carolyn contacted the Lynchburg Museum and agreed to let the Museum make digital copies of the extensive collection. Staff members and college interns worked on the collection for several months and recently completed the project. At that time, Ms. Brown decided to donate the collection to the Lynchburg Museum.
Museum Director Doug Harvey noted, “Collections like this are rare, as African American history was not often saved in the early to mid -20th century. This collection includes student newspapers from the 1920s, commencement programs, memorabilia from Jackson Street School, the predecessor to Dunbar, annuals, reunion photographs, and similar items. Carolyn Brown preserved an important and often overlooked part of Lynchburg’s history.” The Museum plans to put portions of the collection on its website in the coming months.
Another important part of local history was donated to the Museum this week. General James Dearing was born in Campbell County, attended West Point, and served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Rising to the rank of Brigadier General, he was wounded just before the surrender at Appomattox in a cavalry battle near Farmville. Brought to Lynchburg’s Ladies Relief Hospital on Main Street, he died there on April 22, 1865. James Dearing was the last Confederate General to die in the conflict and was buried on his 25th birthday.
Originally interred at the family home Avoca, now a historic house museum near Altavista, he was later moved to Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. The oil portrait of Dearing by Flavius Fisher was done in 1899 and bequeathed to the Museum by the late Mrs. Margaret Spruce Christian. Her husband was James Dearing Christian, Jr., a descendant of General Dearing and of John Lynch, the founder of Lynchburg.
The Museum, located at 901 Court Street, is operated by Lynchburg Museum System which also operates Point of Honor at 112 Cabell Street. For more information, call (434) 455-6226, visit the websites at www.lynchburgmuseum.org
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