Remembering a 19th Century Educator…

My Paternal 2nd Cousin–5 times removed, from Linden, Amelia County, Virginia

Anna Peyton Bolling (1836-1919) was born 177 years ago. At that time, her father, John Peyton Bolling, was 48 and her mother, Anne Field Gilliam, was 40.  Anna was the sixth of seven children born to Petersburg, Virginia farmers.  Anna had six siblings, namely: Mary Field, Lucy Skelton, Arabella Gilliam, Evelina T., Fanny H, and John Peyton, Jr.Anna Peyton Bolling Relationship Chart

William DeBoulonge Descendant Chart (128x160)Our nearest relative in common was Robert Bolling, III (1730-1775),  who descended from the ancient aristocratic Bolling’s of France and then Yorkshire, England.  This family dates back to the first century.  In fact, Amelia County, Virginia, gets its name from Princess Amelia, daughter of George II of England.

Anna’s middle name “Peyton” was given to her in honor of her Peyton family lineage, a practice in naming across many families.  The Peyton name goes back to England and yet more notable aristocrats and politicians. Sir John Peyton, 1st Baronet (1561 – 1616) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1593 and 1611.  By the 1700’s,  descendant Thomas Peyton and his son, Sir John Peyton, lived in Gloucester County, Virginia.

But, it was Robert Bolling’s family who in the early eighteenth century acquired the land and established the seven square mile unincorporated town of Petersburg, Virginia
37.227927900000000000 x -77.401926699999990000)

When the first Petersburg public school system was established in the late 1800’s, the Petersburg High School had a teaching principal, R.M. Cary, and an assistant teacher, Miss Anna Bolling. Her salary was $500 a year. Anna Bolling became official principal of that school in 1876 after acting in that capacity for several years. She served as principal until 1907.

Anna_P._Bolling_Junior_High_SchoolFor  31 years, Anna Peyton Bolling, a woman of strong personality, made an indelible impression on the generations of pupils who came in contact with her as teacher and principal. 

By 1926, architect Charles M. Robinson had designed and built The Anna Peyton Bolling School located at 35 West Filmore Street in  Petersburg. Thousands of children attended here throughout its 40+ years as a junior high school until it closed in the late 1960’s.  Notice if you will, the Second Renaissance Revival architecture as you look at the image on the left.

The 1970s brought school integration to Petersburg and the 1972 annexation of parts of Prince George and Dinwiddie counties added to the school-age population and increased crowding in some schools. It was also during this period that Virginia phased out junior high schools throughout the state in favor of middle schools which housed sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. In 1974, all seventh graders attended a new high school built in 1973. In 1998, the National Register of Historic Places included the Anna P. Bolling Junior High School as a historic building.

But, after the Anna Peyton Junior High School closed, it was used as offices by the city’s health and social services departments. Finally, those too departed and it was left vacant. In the late 1990’s-early 2000’s, the Anna P. Bolling Junior High School re-entered community life as a moderate-income apartment building.  Upon calling the Petersburg Historic Society today, I learned that it is once again under renovation.

AnnaPeytonBollingHeadstoneAnna Peyton Bolling never married.  She died 08 FEB 1919 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Virginia. She, among many other Bolling family members, is buried in Blandford Cemetery, in Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Virginia, USA.

Here’s the inscription from her headstone:

Anna Peyton Bolling
Daughter of
John P. and Anne F. Bolling
Born at Linden, Amelia County, Virginia
September 30, 1836
Died February 8th, 1919
in her 83rd year.
Principal Petersburg High School
for 31 Years from 1876 to 1907
having taught continuously at this school for 39 Years
from October 1868 to May 1907.
Member B Street Presbyterian Church
63 years 8 months and 27 days from
May 12th 1855 to February 8th 1919.


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