In the spot where the Technical College of the Lowcountry resides today, Rachel Crane Mather built a school where the daughters of newly freed slaves could learn to read, write and acquire skills to manage a household.
She came to the Lowcountry — as did many abolitionists — to help those for whom freedom was new pave the way to better lives.
The campus was on the banks of the Beaufort River, where students could look over the waters their ancestors had unwillingly crossed to America. But now this was a land of freedom and here young women would have a chance to become well-read women of grace.
Mather School stayed open for a long time, but closed in 1968 after serving as a boarding school for black students and as a co-ed junior college.
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At the recent Founder’s Day Observance, former students shared their experiences.
Alice Washington: Alice’s mother, Sheldonia Washington, an instructor of cosmetology and a native of Beaufort, wanted her youngest daughter to attend Mather School. Beaufort was home, and she was surrounded by good friends. She was happy. Alice found Mather School to be a place where her horizons were expanded. She remembered fondly the Rev. Reuben Dicks, a history teacher who instilled the importance of knowing history as well of being a part of history. She remembers the Penn School quartet coming to the campus to teach the girls Negro spirituals and how to sing harmoniously without a piano.
Dorothy Johnson Givens: A native of Dale, Givens made Mather School her home in high school. The training was great with a variety of teachers across racial lines who wanted all students to learn. There was so much religious teaching that it seemed as if there was Sunday School every day. In fact, students were a part of the planning, and many hours were spent making sure high standards were met both academically and in the religious realm.
There were four churches in Beaufort that Mather students could be seen at services: Tabernacle Baptist, First African Baptist, Grace Chapel African Methodist Episcopal and Wesley United Methodist. Many Sundays, one would see the Mather Girls walking to services
The school enrollment was not limited to students of this area, as students came from near and far. Near being Lowcountry and far being areas outside of the United States. As the school became a junior college, male students enrolled and joined Mather Girls as Men of Mather.
Meals were prepared and served family style. This was a time of setting the table and enjoying each other’s company with the best manners and social graces. From the snacks to the meals, pride of togetherness and thankful hearts were evident at Mather School.
The recipes I share with you today are from former students’ memories of meals they shared while at Mather School.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition.
Peanut-Butter Special Spread
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup finely chopped raisins
2 tablespoons orange juice
Combine all ingredients and serve on bread to make a sandwich.
1 1/2 quart meat stock
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 peppercorns
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
3/4 cup finely diced turnips
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced potatoes
3 cups diced tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped cabbage
1/4 cup cut green beans
1/4 cup chopped onion
Heat meat stock in large kettle and add seasonings. Add vegetables to stock. Boil stock mixture, cover for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Simmer soup for 5 to 10 minutes.
Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted brown sugar
3 tablespoon evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, salt, oats and chocolate chips together. Add vanilla to shortening; add brown sugar, cream until fluffy. Add egg and milk to fat mixture, stirring until blended. Add flour mixture, gradually stirring until mixed. Drop batter from teaspoon onto baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.