LITTLE ROCK, S.C. – A South Carolina historical marker was unveiled on June 21 to honor the Leland Grove School and the late James K. Braboy (UNCP Class of ’28, ’58).
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South Carolina historical marker on Hwy 57 near the Little Pee Dee River.
James K. Brayboy
Braboy served as principal, teacher, bus driver and custodian from 1934-70 at the American-Indian serving, two-room school. The white, wooden school building is a private residence today, standing on a sandy ridge near the Little Pee Dee River on S.C. Highway 57.
The historical marker was endorsed by the Dillon County Historical Society and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, who were both represented at the ceremony. A proclamation from the state House of Representatives was presented.
Approximately 75 former students, family and friends attended. Bobby Brayboy, a nephew, and Judge James Lockemy (UNCP Class of ’71) of Dillon, S.C., served as moderators. Newspaperman and Dillon County historian Carly Wiggins, who wrote several newspaper columns on Braboy, discussed his legacy.
Braboy grew up in the Pembroke area, and the family is well known in the region and state. A niece, Barbara Braveboy-Locklear ’90, organized the event. Also in attendance were Braboy’s nephew, Dr. Ray Brayboy ’69, his wife, Beatrice ’69, and their daughter, Mary Beth Locklear ’03,’12.
Other relatives in attendance were: son-in law, Cecil Gray Madden Sr.; grandsons, Cecil Gray Madden Jr. and James Kay Madden; great-grandson, Cecil Gray Madden, III; nieces, Patsy B. Baker, Joy B. Locklear and Hilda B. Jones; nephew, Curtis B. Woods; great-nieces: Pamela Baker, and Jennifer Jones Lambert; great-nephew, Anthony Baker.
Some of the crowd that gathered in rural South Carolina for the unveiling of the historical marker honoring legendary educator James K. Braboy and his little school, Leland Grove.
Born in 1907, Braboy was the oldest of 19 children. Three of his surviving sisters - Carolyn B. Jim, Lucille B. Revels and Linda B. Shipp - attended along with other descendants.
Braboy and Leland Grove School are connected to the university in many ways. Brayboy was a member of the first class at the university to earn two-year degrees. The school’s most famous student was English E. Jones, UNCP’s first American Indian chancellor.
The historical marker itself made history, Judge Lockemy noted. It is the first time in South Carolina an American Indian has been honored with a roadside marker.
Barbara Braveboy-Locklear provided additional historical insights: “As late as 1952, the two-room school had no indoor plumbing, not even a pump. The school did get an indoor hand pump in the mid 1950’s. Prior to that, water was carried from a spring near McInnis Bridge.
Leland Grove School as it appeared in an earlier time.
“There were no outdoor toilets. The only heat the school ever had was from a ‘Warm Morning’ pot-bellied stove, fueled by wood or coal, which Braboy would have to light the fire each morning. When Braboy came to the school in 1934, there were no busses, and the Indian children walked six or seven miles to school, across dirt roads and wooden bridges. He taught all seven grades for years before another teacher was added to teach grades 1-3.
“In addition to being a teacher, he was principal, custodian, and later the bus driver. It was also said that before the school had a cook, Braboy would prepare and cook food grown in his own vegetable garden, and food purchased from his own pocket.”
Braboy was named South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year in 1970 and was a finalist for national Teacher of the Year. He died in 1976. As the Rev. Robert Mangum said in his invocation: “If you were touched by this man, you were a better person for it.”