From Slavery to Principal

John F. Parker
Snowden School for Boys

Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on, “From Slavery to Principal” February 28, 2019.

I have been researching John F. Parker, the second principal of Snowden School for Boys for a number of years, I found that his accomplishments and his strength to endure hardship and health issues were extremely courageous.

He was born into slavery on his owner’s plantation in Alexandria. After he was emancipated, he worked for several years before becoming a teacher then a principal. Unfortunately for him and his wife, their only child died before his 10th birthday. John had a brother, William Madison Mason Parker who married Mary Hooe. They had several children. Through his brother’s children and grandchild, John’s legacy is known today. His great-nephews and nieces are the Taylor family, Donald, Charlene, John and Alvin; his Dogan family, Bettie and Thelma (Sugar); his Burke family is Frances Burke; he also has many more relatives and great-great nieces and nephews that hold their heads up high because John was such a great man.

You can read the article, “From Slavery to Principal, from the Alexandria Gazette Packet on page 6 at

Mr. Patrick H. Lumpkins (Snowden School Class of 1896 – 1897)

Mr. Patrick Lumpkins' Class

Patrick H. Lumpkins was one of the teachers at Snowden Public School for black boys. The school was located on Pitt, between Gibbon and Franklin Streets in Alexandria, VA. During the school year of 1916 – 1917, Mr. Lumpkins became the Principal of Snowden School. He replaced John F. Parker, the former principal due to Mr. Parker’s declining health.

Mr. Lumpkins was born in 1855. He married Ms. Lucy A. Webb. They had two children, Helen and Patrick, Jr. For the school year of 1896 – 1897, he taught 3rd and 4th grades and he had 51 students in his class. The students were:

James Ball – age 9, grade 3rd
Robert Cooly – age 12, grade 3rd
Ferdinand Carter – age 11, grade 3rd
James Edmonds – age 15, grade 3rd
Charles Hardy – age 12, grade 3rd
Arthur Jackson – age 11, grade 3rd
Richard Lane – age 12, grade 3rd
Norman Murray – age 8, grade 3rd
Richard Lane – age 12, grade 3rd
Norman Murray – age 8, grade 3rd
Corneliuss Nelson – age 16, grade 3rd
George Simms – age 12, grade 3rd
Isaac Carter – age 16, grade 3rd
Willie Ball – age 11, grade 4th
Randolph Blue – age 12, grade 4th
James B. Craig – age 12, grade 4th
Frank Howard – age 10, grade 4th
Arthur Milton – age 13, grade 4th
Charles Robinson – age 9, grade 4th
Frank Simms – age 9, grade 4th
Allen Taylor – age 12, grade 4th
Robert Webb – age 11, grade 4th
Ollie Dudley – age 15, grade 3rd
James Dixon – age 9, grade 3rd
Herbert Akers – age 11, grade 4th
James McCorkle – age 13, grade 3rd
Andrew Blackburn – age 15, grade 4th
William Cupid – age 12, grade 4th
Walter Gaskins – age 14, grade 4th
William H. Johnson – age 15, grade 4th
Richard Jackson – age 12, grade 4th
Joseph Jackson – age 15, grade 4th
George Lee – age 11, grade 4th
Henry Lucas – age 12, grade 4th
Richard Lancaster – age 12, grade 4th
Arthur Miller – age 12, grade 4th
Isaiah Palm – age 14, grade 4th
Walter Smith – age 11, grade 4th
Courtland Smith – age 15, grade 4th
Park Tancil – age 11, grade 4th
Henry Webb – age 12, grade 4th
William Waters – age 15, grade 4th
Isaac Williams – age 15, grade 4th
James Harris – age 15, grade 4th
Romeo Essex – age 14, grade 3rd
Robert Wills – age 12, grade 4th
James Smith – age 11, grade 3rd
James Peters – age [?], grade 3rd
Clinton Baltimore – age 11, grade 3rd
Samuel Tucker – age 12, grade 3rd
James W. Burke – age 11, grade 3rd

Snowden School – 1893 Teachers’ Census

Snowden Public Black School for Boys

Shortly after the civil war in 1867, the Freedmen Bureau commissioned George L. Seaton to build two schools for the African Americans in the City of Alexandria.  George, a highly respected African American carpenter built the Snowden School for boys located at Pitt Street between Gibbon and Franklin Streets.  The school was a two-story built frame building with six classrooms.

The first principal of Snowden School was William F. Powell and his assistant teachers were Miss Sarah A. Gray and Miss Carrie Claggett.  Snowden School had a Black Board of Trustees that continued to monitor the Black Education in the City of Alexandria.

Prior to the Snowden School becoming the Black Boys Public School in Alexandria, it was known as the, “Seaton School.”  Once the City of Alexandria took over the School building, the School was named Snowden, after a white educator in Alexandria, but many people referred to the Schoolhouse as the “Seaton Building.”

Alexandria Black Boys School
1893 Snowden School Teachers' Census

Every school year, the State of Virginia required all counties to provide a school census of their teachers.  The 1893 School year for the City of Alexandria School listed the following teachers for Snowden School:

Mr. John F. Parker – 810 North Columbus Street, Alexandria, VA

Mr. William H. Madella – 217 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA

Mr. Patrick H. Lumpkin – 810 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA

Mr. Norman B. Pinn – 816 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA

Mr. Richard A. Diggs – 325 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA

Mr. Ros(z)ier D. Lyles – 405 North Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA

Mr. Robert B. Thompson, Substitute – 500 block of North Columbus Street

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