Burson on Snow Hill

A Downhome Perspective on All Things Southern

Home About Us Blog Genealogy Recipes Gardening Manners and Etiquette Real Estate Destinations History
Hunting and Fishing Photojournalism Southern Furniture Maker Inspiration Write Life Opinion Contact-


Dr. E. G. Burson, Jr. on Snowhill Institute

Tour of Furman
Wilcox County Information
Wilcox County Historical Society
Palmer Cemetery
Wakefield History
Mount Moriah

Wilcox County True Blues
Flag Returns Home
Consuela Lee and the Snow Hill Institute--interesting story
William James Edwards biography-- founder of Snow Hill Academy  (Spike Lee's grandfather) who was reared on the R.O. Simpson place in Furman, Alabama
Dr. E. G. Burson, Jr. on Snowhill Institute

The genealogies of these Wilcox County Lines are included on this website because they are those of this webmaster.

Dr. Elkanah George Burson and Elizabeth Jane Knight Burson

Great Grandparents:


Elkanah Burson and Ellafare Christian Barge Burson

and  Napoleon Oscar Knight and Margaret Lucy Watson Knight


Great Great Grandparents:


Joseph Jackson Burson and Elizabeth Dunn Burson

and George Abel Barge and Mary Ann Slaughter Barge


Lewis Jackson Knight and Catherine Palmer Knight

William Watson and Elizabeth Jane McWhorter


Great Great Great Grandparents


Joseph Jefferson Burson and Leah Burson

And Benjamin Dunn and Susannah Dunn


Stephen Palmer and Juliet Hartwell Palmer

And Edwin Knight and Martha Comer Watts Knight


Abel Barge and Martha Faust Barge
and Reuben Slaughter and Semantha Fluornoy


James Watson and unknown

David McWhorter and Mary “Polly” Wardlaw


Joel Wardlaw Ramsey and Sharman Burson Ramsey

David Wardlaw Ramsey and Emma Virginia Hawthorne Ramsey



William James Edwards, the founder of Snow Hill Institute writes in his biography,Twenty-five Years in the Black Belt:

"As the time was nearing for my graduation, I was deeply worried about my Commencement suit. All of the other members of the class were sending home for their suits or for the money with which to get them, but I knew that my aunt was not able to help me, so I was at a loss to know where I should get mine. Finally, I decided to write to Mr. R. O. Simpson of Furman, Alabama, the man on whose plantation I was reared, and ask him to loan me fifteen dollars. I prayed during the entire time it took me to write the letter and when I had sealed it I prayed over it again. In two days' time I had an answer with the fifteen dollars. So all of my troubles and worries were banished and I proceeded to get ready for Commencement. I graduated second, with a class of twenty, on May 17, 1893. Our class motto was "Deeds Not Words."  (Twenty-five Years in the Black Belt, William James Edwards, p. 14)"

"Thus far, I have spoken of the assistance given me by the colored people and teachers, but no chapter about the founding of Snow Hill Institute would be complete without a mention of Mr. R. O. Simpson, the white man on whose plantation I was reared. Mr. Simpson must have known me from my birth. I well remember that in '78 and '79 he used to stop by to see my old grandmother when riding over his plantation. I think that my grandmother prepared meals for him on some of these visits to the plantation. I also remember that after the death of grandmother, when I was sick and living with my aunt Rina, some days he would see me lying on the roadside and would toss me a coin."

 "On my return from Tuskegee I found Mr. Simpson deeply interested in the welfare of my people; in fact, it seemed as if he was looking for some one to start an industrial school upon his place. We had many talks together. When he found out that I had returned to cast my lot with my people, he seemed highly pleased and said that he would give a few acres for he school if I thought I could use it to advantage. I decided that this was my opportunity and told him that I could. He first gave seven acres, and then thirty-three, and finally sixty more, making in all one hundred acres that he gave the school. In later years we bought one-half of his plantation, making in all nearly two thousand acres. While all of the white people in Snow Hill have been friendly towards the work, I have found Mr. Simpson and his entire family to be our particular friends and I have yet to go to them for a favor and be refused."  (Twenty-five Years in the Black Belt, William James Edwards, p. 39-40)

The account of William James Edwards (whose grandson is the filmmaker Spike Lee) is so moving and inspirational I am amazed that I had not heard before of this inspiring  man and this part of Wilcox County history.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon it before my father died.

Dr. Elkanah George Burson, Jr. is now 91 years old and afflicted with macular degeneration.  But his vision to past events still remains clear.

"Daddy," I asked.  "You own property that you call the 'Simpson Place' in Furman.  Do you remember a man named Mr. R. O. Simpson?"

Daddy thought awhile.  "I remember Miss Martha Simpson and Miss Mary Simpson.  And there was a Wade Simpson that ran a store over near Snow Hill.  I think their Daddy might have been R. O. Simpson.  They had a big white house just past Daddy's office downtown in Furman.  I think it was sold to a man from Monroeville and then it burned down," he said. 

I told Daddy about what I had read that Mr. William James Edwards had said about Mr. R. O. Simpson. 

Daddy said, "I met Dr. George Washington Carver over at Snow Hill Institute.  In those days that was a thriving educational institution.  I would go there to hear Speakers that came there from all over to talk.  Thought I could learn something from them.  There was an auditorium where Black folks and White folks would come together to learn from those educated people.  I must have been about 12 - 14 years old.  I remember driving up that road in a Model T.  There was not then the dissension between Blacks and Whites that came about later.  I don't remember anything about the Klan.  We all sat together and learned from those who came to talk. I was impressed with the scholarly gentleman."

I had not realized what a boon that Institute was to all in Wilcox County, indeed to folks who wanted to learn from all over. 

I would surely love to meet Miss Consuela Lee, Edwards daughter, and his grandson, Donald P. Stone, author of Fallen Prince: William James Edwards, Black Education and the Quest for Afro American Nationality.  Consuela Lee is an accomplished musician. 

Wilcox County is rich with history and inspirational with the story of those who have grown and flourished there. 





Antiques Baskets Classified Festivals Furniture Ghost Stories Inspiration Lily's Corner Pottery, Glass Ceramics Social Events Stationery Wines and Vineyards
Architecture Books Destinations Finance Garden History Jewelry Linens and Textiles Recipes Spas, Health Facilities, Beauty Products Stories Writer Sharman Burson Ramsey
Art Boutique Fashion Foods Genealogy Inns, Lodges Bed and Breakfast Lifestyles New Mothers and Children Southern Wedding Sports Unique properties Contact Us
List your Unique Propety Invite us to Visit and Review   Classified: Rental Properties, House Swaps, Camps, Private Schools, Listings in all the above categories Submit your Wedding, Festival or Social Event Add Store to Main Street Submit your Ghost Story