Miss Lucy Jurney’s School
On September 16, 1881, the Charlotte Democrat ran an ad for “Miss Lucy Jurney’s School for Boys and Girls at Davidson College.” The sixth term of the school was to begin on September 17 and would last for nine months. The Democrat remarked that “The School is a good one, and Miss Jurney is very popular with her patrons.” According to historian, Mary Beaty, the school, which existed from around 1875 until the mid-1880s, was held in the building more recently known as Lingle Manor on Glasgow Street.
Lucy Jurney, who conducted the school, was an interesting woman, especially for one who came of age in the second half of the 19th century. The daughter of Peter C. and Sallie Reeves Jurney, she was born in Iredell County on July 19, 1850. By 1860, she and her father, a physician, were living in Surry County, North Carolina; her mother may have died, as there was no adult female in the household. Her father must have remarried, because in 1870 Lucy was back in Olin Township in Iredell County, this time with Peter’s new wife, Nancy, and several siblings. Olin Township is located north of Statesville along present-day I-77. By 1880, 30-year-old Lucy was working as a teacher, and was the only child living in the household. This would have been during the period that she was conducting her school in Davidson.
The Davidson school must have closed by 1884, because by then she was teaching at Moore’s Female Academy in Mooresville. During this time, she also taught in the summer normal schools held by the state of North Carolina, teaching in the school in Boone in 1885 and 1886. By 1887, Lucy was teaching fourth grade at the Murphey School in Raleigh, where she was responsible for 56 female students. She continued to teach at the normal school, teaching reading and English at the school in Sparta, North Carolina, in 1887. By 1888 she was working at the Methodist Female Seminary in Durham.
According to the State Chronicle, in February of that year, she took a civil service exam in Charlotte, “making a remarkably high record,” and by November she had been appointed to a job in the Signal Service Department in Washington, D.C., a part of the Department of Agriculture, which apparently issued meteorological reports. She remained in Washington until June 1897 when she married Lazarus T. Stimpson, who was a manufacturer from Turnersville in Olin Township. Stimpson must have had young children, as Lucy Jurney’s obituary mentions that she had a stepson and two stepdaughters. After a long period of ill-health, Lucy Jurney Stimpson died in Turnersburg on March 7, 1917, and was buried at Snow Creek Church. Her obituary in Boone’s Watauga Democrat noted that “she was indeed a good woman, and her exemplary life will indeed be a guiding star to many with whom she came in contact…”
Nancy Griffith lived in Davidson from 1979 until 1989. After a career as an archives and special collections librarian, she retired to Davidson in 2015. She has published a number of books and articles on local history, and has just completed a history of the Ada Jenkins Center.