Longs Chapel, Rockingham Co., Slide Show

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Lucy Simms

Despite its demise by 1930, Zenda left a lasting legacy in the area, particularly Harrisonburg, where many Zenda residents eventually relocated. After her stint at Zenda, Lucy Simms (standing) was appointed a teacher in Harrisonburg in 1878. Until her death in 1934, she taught at the segregated Effinger Street School in the city’s black Newtown section. Her obituary in Harrisonburg’s Daily News-Record stated, “She taught three generations in many of . . .[the city's African American] families and it is estimated that 1,800 boys and girls were instructed by her.” The paper also reported that her funeral “was the most largely attended” African American memorial service in Harrisonburg up to that time.
   Simms was a classmate of Booker T. Washington while the two attended Hampton Institute. She once wrote of her early teaching career, “I tried to sow such seed in that mountain soil that it should yield, in time, abundant crops.”
   Later this month (February 2011), Simms will be honored for her work by the Library of Virginia. She is pictured here with three generations of her students: (L to R) Roberta Wells, Helen Irving-Wells, and Roberta Irving.  (Photo courtesy Billo Harper)