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  • Jessica Draper says:

    This is awesome and a story that needs to be known. 🙂 great job Ebie.

  • Steve Saylor says:

    I lived (grew up) on the campus at H-SC from 1968-1983. Playing (exploring) as a kid and working for the college for 5 summers…..there are few places on and around campus that I have not been. Great stuff, Elizabeth!

    * I remember Francis well. He would sing us a song about a chicken on occasion. One thing is for certain, Francis walked thousands of miles in his lifetime. I would love to know how many.

  • Jeffrey Harris '90 says:

    This is wonderful. I’ve spent the better part of an hour looking through the site, and reading the information. Your research answers some of the questions I had when I was a student (I was one of two Black men in my class) at H-SC, particularly about slavery at the school. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your research, and for presenting your findings.

  • Annie Allen says:

    I grew up on Grave Hill road now 1007 through the 70’s through the early 90’s. My friends and I would be seen anytime riding bikes, using the track or just playing a little basketball. We enjoyed going to the fraternity haunted house at Halloween. Every one in my family has worked there at one time. My Grandmother Elizabeth Allen known as “Lizzy” and my mother Lucy Allen worked and the kitchen and I still remember the peanut butter cookies. My grand father and father Frank Allen SR. and Frank Allen Jr. worked grounds there for years. I still have an uncle that works there, Edward Crawley. We have many memories there good and bad. Thanks for the history I really enjoyed reading the new information.

  • Gordy Coleman '69 says:

    This is fascinating and important work. My freshman year I lived in Venable and the urban (rural, really) legend was that some students brought slaves with them, and those slaves were housed in the Venable attic. Yet another legend was that Francis the Axman was a descendent of John Randolph of Roanoke. Any truth to either of these? VERY interesting work….good luck with your graduate work.

  • Clem Venable IV says:

    Awesome, awesome job!!! Thank you so much!

  • Elizabeth Baker says:

    Hi Gordy,

    I’m not certain whether or not Francis was related to John Randolph, but I’ll continue to look into it. Students did bring slaves to school with them, but I haven’t found specific documentation of where they stayed. I do know that early trustee minutes note that servants were stealing from students’ rooms and, following those incidents, were no longer allowed in any room but their owner’s.

  • Elizabeth Baker says:

    Hi Annie! Thank you for your comment. Mr. Crawley has been an enormous help to me throughout this project. I’ve known him since I was a baby! I’ll work on researching the Allen side of the family more. Check back soon for more information!

  • Krissy Vick says:

    Wonderful work, Ebie! I am beaming with pride for you!

  • Jody Carbone says:


    Thanks so much for this. I just discovered the site on Facebook. My family lived on campus from 1965 to about 1973. I loved seeing Francis on campus, and while he never said much I finally got him to smile one day (I think I was about 6 years old), from then on I was always greeted with a big grin. Seeing his photo was great, an opportunity to re-live forgotten memories and call up new emotions.

    It’s very sad to see that his grave is yet unmarked. Is this still true? Might it be possible to begin a campaign to gather donations? It’s silly really, he never realized it and I haven’t thought it for many years, but he was such a familiar face and known to so many, his life should be remembered and in his death, honored. You have my email, please get in touch if there’s something I can do.

    Thank you.

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