Thursday, April 18, 2019

Oliver and Lucy Derritt, Negro Educators

Oliver James Derritt (1858-1937) was born in 1858 Madison County Virginia.  He graduated Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in 1883 and became a public school teacher in Virginia where he taught for forty-seven years.  Thirty-six of those years were in the Staunton, Virginia school system.  He retired in 1920 as principal of the colored school in Staunton with over 400 pupils.  His wife, Lucy Emma Poindexter (1872-1932) was also a teacher.  They had married in 1892.  After his retirement Oliver and Lucy Derritt moved to the Salisbury area living in the Spring Hill area.  They continued to work in the colored schools in both Wicomico and Sussex county.  In the 1928-29 school year they both taught outside of Delmar at Delaware school 213-C, Owens Corner School (Mt Nebo, Del.)

The school was relatively new at this time having been built in 1922 for 80 students.  At the time the Derritts taught the school had 41 students.

above Owens Corner Colored school.

above Oliver J Derritt

above Lucy Poindexter Derritt

The Derritts had for children; Ernestine Winfred (1897-1974), Oliver James (1898- ), Wendell Hugo (1900-1975), Leslie Everett (1901-1930). John W. (1909- ), and Andrew Poindexter (1909-1978).

Ernestine Derritt married a medical Doctor Arthur Davis Brown (1887-1974).  Note: Brown was sometime spelled Browne.  The couple moved to Salisbury where he practiced.  It is assume Oliver and Lucy moved to Salisbury to be near their daughter.

Dr Brown was a very light colored Negro and when the lynching of Matthew Williams in 1931 occurred in Salisbury he was able to mingle with the crowd undetected as a Negro and watch the lynching.  He later testified to the Maryland grand jury on the lynching.

By 1930 both Oliver and Lucy Derritt were living with the Browns.  In 1932 on a visit back to Staunton, Virginia she died.  In 1937 Oliver Derritt would died at his son-in-laws house in Salisbury.


  1. Bless you for this article on my great-grandparents. I have been searching for sometime about the Delaware period and could not find it. I am encouraged by the thoughtfulness of the author to inform me of this writing. My mother and family will enjoy receiving news of this article.

    Monique (Millsap) Bunch

  2. Thank you for your help in writing this and allowing me to use the photographs.

  3. This write up is wonderful. You have added to my knowledge of my 2nd great uncle and his wife. I appreciate the message I received about visiting this site. The pictures are magnificient. I have only seen pictures of Oliver and Lucy when they were much older.

  4. Loved this about my 2nd great uncle and his wife. I had only seen older pictures of them. Thank you so much. New information and pictures? My heart is full