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UNCP Home Spotlights Ronald Hammonds Honors Education Pioneer Stephen A. Hammond
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Ronald Hammonds Honors Education Pioneer Stephen A. Hammond

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Stephen A. Hammond was an education pioneer left a remarkable legacy.  In his determined pursuit of education, Stephen A. Hammond rode a bicycle from the Saddletree community north of Lumberton to Pembroke daily to attend the little school that is now The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Croatan Normal School had just opened in 1887, and the school began training American Indian teachers like Hammond, who would spark a local revolution in education. Before attending school in Pembroke, Hammond attended Magnolia School and the Thompson Institute, an African American subscription school in Lumberton. He completed his studies in Pembroke in 1896, and at the age of 21, he began a long teaching career. 

Stephen Hammond’s legacy as a teacher, farmer, preacher and founder of one of the area’s great families is huge in this community and far beyond. To honor his grandfather’s legacy, Ronald Hammonds has endowed a scholarship in his name. 

“The endowed scholarship represents the legacy of Stephen Andrew Hammond and his pursuit of education, commitment to his family and community and his dedication to faith,” said his grandson, Ronald Hammonds. A farmer and agri-businessman, Ronald Hammonds continues the family legacy in the Saddletree community. 

The endowed a scholarship was established with a gift of $10,000 to the UNCP Foundation, Inc. The Stephen A. Hammond Endowed Scholarship Fund is a perpetual gift that will provide the resources needed for UNCP students to obtain a college degree. The recipient must be a resident of Robeson County with demonstrated financial need. 

Before Stephen A. Hammond’s death on April 3, 1951, he had accumulated and managed 700 acres of farmland. He had seven children from two marriages, who by the time his second wife, Sarah, died at age 82, had produced 35 grandchildren, 80 great grandchildren and six great, great grandchildren. His descendants became successful farmers, educators, brick masons, lawyers, nurses, welders, doctors, a CPA, an aviator, a West Point graduate and Superior Court Judge Dexter Brooks.

A community leader, Hammond was High Chief of his community’s Red Man’s Lodge, which was the tribal leadership of this period. At the June 4, 1937, celebration of UNCP’s 50th anniversary, he and the Rev. D.F. Lowry were called on to talk about the early days at the school. As a preacher, Hammond gave 20 years of service to several area churches and served as moderator of the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association. As a teacher, he gave 35 years of service to the public schools. At the time of his death, The Robesonian newspaper wrote that “one of the most prominent members of the Indian race” had passed. Hammond was eulogized by Rev. Lonnie Jacobs: “The Christian influence of Rev. Hammond will continue to exert itself in the lives of hundreds of persons who have know him as a teacher, preacher, farmer or just as a friend.”

Humble does not adequately describe Hammond’s beginnings in life. He came from a single-parent family that was very poor. He “beat the odds” that were heavily weighted against American Indians during the Jim Crow era, when segregation was the law. 

Hammond was born to George Washington and Carolina Hammond on June 30, 1874. With first wife, Florence Revels, he had three children, Dennis, Henry and Docia. In 1903, he married Sarah Margaret Bell, with whom he had four children, Lelia, Stephen Jr., Eunice and Mary and raised a grandson, Lloyd.

The recipients of the Stephen A. Hammond Endowed Scholarship must be a full-time undergraduate student majoring in science, math, education, or an agriculture related program. The recipients must maintain the university’s minimum GPA standards. The award is renewable.

For more information about the Stephen A. Hammond Endowed Scholarship or other giving programs at the university, please contact the Office of Advancement at (910) 521-6252 or email advancement@uncp.edu.