SECRET SCHOOL

Prior to 1860, the education of free blacks in St. Louis was undertaken by churches and religious leaders. As far back as 1818, Reverend John Mason Peck, a white missionary from Connecticut, had established a Sunday School for black children. Although instruction at Peck's school emphasized sewing and religion, students also learned some reading, writing and arithmetic. In 1847, Peck moved the school to the basement of John Berry Meachum's First African Baptist Church. By this time, however, Missouri had outlawed schools for African American children and so the classes had to operate in secrecy. According to some historical accounts, John Berry Meachum operated a school for black children on a steamboat on the Mississippi River to avoid the Missouri state regulations. Follow the Perspectives link below to read what some authors have written about the boat.


See the steamboat where John Berry Meachum may have operated a school
See Meachum's Church