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School History

The Town of Free Union

Sometime in the early 1800s, a free black man known as Nick set up a blacksmith shop at the crossroads where Free Union is now. Soon, a few other buildings sprang up and it became known as Nicksville. During the 1830s, the Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians did not have the funds to build denominational churches, and so they joined forces to build one small brick church in 1837 near the blacksmith shop, on land donated by Dickenson and Sarah Burruss. This "union" church was "free" to all races and thus became the Free Union Church. James Ferguson taught school in this Church to black students following the Civil War, and it is purportedly the first school of its kind in Albemarle County. Some time around the Civil War, a Post Office was established, and in order to avoid confusion with the nearby town of Nixville, the name Free Union was adopted.

It took residents of the area nearly 100 years to stop calling Free Union Nicksville, but finally the name stuck. The name Nicksville is long gone now, and that's probably a good thing. After all, there's a Nicksville, Ariz., but the only Free Union in the United States is right here in Albemarle County.

The School

In 1984 a group of parents gathered around a kitchen table in Free Union and decided to start a school. Their goal was a lofty one: to create a community-based elementary school that provided the highest quality of education through small classes, outstanding teachers, and sound and tested programs. Although the school began as a parent-run, parent-built chinked log schoolhouse in the heart of rural Free Union, for many years now it has had a professional head and teaching staff. And as its founders intended, parents are still an active part of the school community.

More than a quarter century later, Free Union Country School remains committed to providing a respectful learning environment where motivated students are challenged to become imaginative, critical thinkers and compassionate members of society. Rooted in American progressive education tradition and current research on how children learn best, the classroom approaches are interactive, collaborative, and inclusive of social development. Parents enjoy the school community and the active partnership in their child’s education.

Today, Free Union Country School looks forward to growing stronger in its educational program. Enrollment is nearing capacity and programs continue to expand. Planning for the long-term viability of the School has become more important than ever.