Skip to main content

Connect Iredell

Mary Charlton Holliday

From the book Preserving Our Heritage Copyright © 1998 Republished with permission from Secure Development Corporation

Iredell County schools progressed under the able leadership of Miss Mary Charlton, who became the wife of Dr. Robert S. Holliday, M.D.

A graduate of Hampton Institute in her native Virginia, Mrs. Holliday served as the Jeanes Supervisor of the Iredell County black schools until 1956 when she retired.

The Jeanes Fund was left in 1907 by Mrs. Anna T. Jeanes, a wealthy Quaker of Philadelphia, to Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, to give domestic science and industrial training to black schools in the South and to have general supervision over this conduct.  The county commissioners hired Mary Charlton Holliday as supervisor of the fund.

Mrs. Holliday became the guiding spirit in the school.  In 1919, she organized the first Better Homes Club for African American women at Chestnut Grove, east of Statesville, and encouraged farm families to obtain an African American extension agent.

In the early 1920s, Mrs. Holliday became acquainted with former Sears-Roebuck president, Julius Rosenwald, a philanthropist who had established the Julius Rosenwald Fund which matched funds raised by communities and county boards of education.  Mrs. Holliday succeeded in getting five Rosenwald schools in Iredell County, including Amity, Houstonville, Unity, Chestnut Grove and Scotts.

Mrs. Holliday came to rural Iredell County in 1915 and spent 41 years teaching and supervising black schools in the county.

Upon her retirement in 1956, the Iredell County Board of Education said, “Her influence will be felt for many years in homes, schools and communities throughout the county.”