The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update


February 15, 2014

Celebrating diversity

City's black community has long history


In 1928, Frank Taylor and his wife, Bonnie, came to Anderson, but were unable to find employment. Mr. Taylor was in need of work and decided to open a bakery. On his first day of business, Taylor sold only three pies. Though the baker by trade was discouraged, he and his wife committed themselves to making their business a success. One morning, Taylor took a basket filled with bakery items to a Delco-Remy plant and made limited sales to employees. Day after day, Taylor returned to the factory with his baked goods and sales began to increase.

Management at the GM plant purchased a trial order of four dozen pies that sold out immediately at the concession counter. At the peak of production, Taylor sold an average of 164 dozen products on a daily basis in one factory alone. Operating from their home on Chase Street, Frank and Bonnie’s sales flourished, making it necessary to move into a larger home in the 1400 block of Madison Avenue. As the business continued to grow, the Taylors moved their bakery for a third time to Sherman Street, where they employed nine workers and owned two delivery trucks.

Though members of Anderson’s black community were thriving in business, the importance of educating black youths became a priority for many parents and civic leaders. With this in mind, Hazelwood School was erected in 1897 on Madison Avenue. The school was later demolished and replaced with a new learning facility.

Five years later, Shadeland School was built on West 14th Street to accommodate more students. Construction of the five-room schoolhouse cost $5,000. Shadeland was razed with a larger school built at the original site.

It is not known if Henry Tompkins attended either school, but he is listed as the first black student ever to graduate from Anderson High School, followed by Thomas Reynolds.

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