Although Sue Barefoot did not attend Clinton City Schools, she has spent many years involved in the making of its history. Barefoot became concerned that so many of the memories and history of the school system were unknown, and even lost, once she discovered that a compiled history of the schools was not available. She decided to do something about it by publishing a book entitled “Clinton City Schools — Past - 1821 to Present -2012.”
This is not Barefoot’s first book. She has written three others prior to the school history.
“I got into writing my first book by virtue of where I live,” stated the local author. “A cousin and my sister decided they wanted to do a family history of the Cannadys, my maiden name. Neither of them lived here in Clinton, and they were constantly asking me to visit the Register of Deeds office or go to this cemetery or that one, which I did. But after a period of time, they seemed to lose interest in completing the history of our family,” explained Barefoot.
So she decided to take on the task herself and complied the Cannady Family History. The book is now out of print but can be found all over the United States.
“It became the thrill of the hunt to complete the book,” she attested. “I then felt the need to do a book on my husband’s family, Nathan Barefoot, so I began work on that book as well.”
The author stated that she still had a few copies of the Barefoot Family History available.
The cookbook Barefoot wrote includes family recipes and was not for public sale but was only for relatives and close personal friends so it is not widely available.
And now there’s the school history.
In the preface of her latest book, Barefoot explains why she wrote it, stating that the memories included are not complete.
“This brief history timeline of the Clinton City Schools was written for the purpose of preserving precious memories that had almost been forgotten….This writing is an attempt to preserve many of these memories for those that want to take a walk back in time or for those generations to come that want to learn about the good ole days.”
Barefoot shared that she had attempted to document information available from interviews of past studenst, friends, educators, staff and others who have been witness to the development of the Clinton City Schools. The author expressed that there are many untold stories that are not in the book because someone did not respond or provide the requested information before she had to meet a deadline. In some cases, she stressed, the information was simply not available.
Another quote from the book reads, “Most genealogy buffs cringe at the thought of destroying data that becomes more valuable as the years go by. Old photos, annuals, documents, awards, newspaper articles and the like are welcomed at either the J.C. Holliday Library Genealogy Room or at the Sampson County History Museum. Let’s all strive to save these precious records for the coming generations before they fade away like old memories.”
Barefoot was quick to express her appreciation to Joel Rose, president of the Sampson County Historical Society, for the many hours he spent helping her compile the information and finding many old facts and photos that are included in the book.
The author has gone back to the very beginnings of formal education in Clinton and actually the formal education of many of the county citizens because public schools did not exist and most people had little or no knowledge of how to read, write and do arithmetic. Soon after the American Revolution, Americans began to see the need to educate their men. As a result, according to Barefoot’s history, private boys schools began to spring up. Neighboring Duplin County had a couple of male academies before the first academy for male students became available in Clinton.
Clinton Academy was chartered in 1821 with other academies to follow in the county.
Rose explained, in some of his contributions to the book, that girls needed only to do a few simple “feminine accomplishments,” such as learning to read and discuss literature and some history, to speak well, to write with a “pretty hand,” to know a little geography, to play a musical instrument, all attributes of the proper lady and once the attainments were acquired, finding a proper husband should be easy.”
In the school history, Barefoot moves on to include the establishment of Sampson Training School in 1924, the first school in the county for African-Americans that was accredited by the state and made available for state funds. Throughout the book records are shared with who was superintendent, principal and various faculty members where Barefoot was able to find the information. As she moves through the years, when articles and photos were available, Barefoot included them in the book. Photos and drawings of old buildings, some that still exist, are also in the publication.
While the author stated that she could not find many records at the schools or central office — some of which could have been destroyed by several fires at the old Clinton High School, now home to Sunset Avenue School, and the old central office building on Kerr Street — she was able to find information at the J.C. Holliday Library, The Sampson County History Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and East Carolina University Library as well as from old annuals and what old records she did find.
“It is interesting that much of the information I discovered is not known by the average person in Clinton. I was able to uncover some information that even the Sampson Alumni Association did not have available. As I did research, I found that many of the more recent annuals did not include the entire staff in their editions. It concerns me that so much information that we take for granted might be lost if it is not documented in some manner for future generations,” expressed Barefoot.
The Clinton City Schools history takes the reader from the very beginnings to current day. Some of the information is very interesting, other parts even humorous, such as salaries from many years ago. The photos included in the book will bring back memories when the reader is able to discern who is who in some of the pictures. There are also some sad memories with photos and stories of the burning of old buildings.
The last chapter of Barefoot’s book is a compilation of several people, some former students, friends and staff sharing their memories of the Clinton City Schools. The memories shared provide a look into the history of the schools and the thoughts of those who had great love for the system and the schools.
“I hope that people will enjoy reflecting back on the memories that the Clinton City Schools bring. As I state in my memories in the book, ‘As the years go by, precious memories of all the former years still come to mind. I’m sure my few memories here are small so I encourage everyone to write down your memories and share them so everyone will have a better knowledge of dear old Clinton City Schools. Don’t let the memories fade,’” remarked Barefoot.
Copies of “Clinton City Schools — Past - 1821 to Present -2012” are available at the Sampson County History Museum and will be available at the Clinton Street Fair this Saturday. The cost of the book is $25. To order the book, call 910-990-1675. The book can be mailed anywhere in the United States for and additional $5 for shipping cost through priority mail. Barefoot will accept cash, check or money orders.