Right the Record: Mollie Coleman Beck

(1910- 2001)

Mrs. Mollie Coleman Beck
Photo contributed by Mollie’s family

Author: Zann Nelson

Mrs. Mollie Coleman Beck, resident of Culpeper, and a member of Free Union Baptist Church was a lifelong educator in the Culpeper and Orange County Schools.

Through conversations with her daughter, Dr. Hortense Hinton, Mrs. Beck, as both a student and educator at Eckington School, speaks of her beloved community.

“In 1920 on December 20th, our family moved to the ‘Flats’ as it is known locally with our parents, Charlie Bruce, and Hattie Ann Thompson Coleman, accompanied by 6 children-Lucy, Matthew, Joseph, Mollie, Nettie Pearl, and Charlie Bruce, III. We lived in Grandpa Richard Thompson’s home. Were we happy to leave the farm –not to walk 4 or 5 miles to school! It was only 5 minutes to walk to school-the little one room across from Free Union Church. It was January 1921 when we first started Eckington Elementary, 3rd through 7th. The Senior League- made up of parents- would extend the term from 6 months to 7 and paid the teachers so we could stay a little longer.

Back in those days, the primary means of transportation was walking, horse and buggy, or riding horseback. The roads were terrible. Only one Black resident had a telephone, later two then three.

When I left Eckington, I went to Culpeper Graded then I left for Petersburg to complete high school and college at Virginia Normal, now Virginia State University.

Off to school I went nearly 7 years. I came home in the summers to work in town for $5 a week.

It was 1935 when I graduated college. I had been offered a job in Henry County, but my father insisted that I start here at home in this one-room school where I belonged. I taught at Eckington for 2 years. The parents were mighty good to the ‘Hometown’ girl.

One day I met one of the white boys I grew up with, and he said, ‘If I had my way, I would send my two children right down to the school by the church where you teach.’ I was glad he had such thoughts in mind at such an early time, it was 1935.”

Mrs. Mollie Coleman Beck had a great deal more to say on the subject of teaching at Eckington Elementary and perhaps, on a future occasion those gems can be shared.