Visitors Guide to the
The Hamilton Primary School
107 East Main Street
Otterville, Illinois

Gravel Parking Lot Illinois Historic Site

In the early 1800's, having failed at conducting a slave plantation in a humane way, Dr. Silas Hamilton, moved north from Mississippi and freed his slaves. In 1830, he settled in Otterville with three of his former slaves, George Washington and another couple. When Dr. Hamilton died in 1834, he left provisions in his will for the building and funding of a private school. This school became the first free integrated school in the United States. The school was originally built in 1835, and the present building was erected in 1873.

After Dr. Hamilton's death, George Washington lived with the Gilbert Douglas family and became a successful farmer imbued with a strong sense of community spirit. When he died in 1864, he left a sizable estate with provisions for a monument to Dr. Hamilton and a trust fund for the education of "colored persons, or Americans of African descent." The trust fund is still in existence today.

Dr. Hamilton, George Washington and Gilbert Douglas are buried in a crypt at the corner of Main and Hamilton. This is the only instance in the United States where a master and a slave are buried side by side. The monument to Dr. Hamilton is located next to the school and is the only monument dedicated to a master by his slave. The Otter Creek Historical Society holds an annual event in June to raise money to refurbish the school, which is in need of considerable repair. Check the June Calendar page for details. The school was placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Visiting the Hamilton Primary School
     Visiting Hours
          Tours of the school are available by contacting Jean Marshall at 618-498-6868 or 618-786-2196.
There is no charge to visit the Hamilton Primary School.


Directions: The Hamilton Primary School is located off of County Road 9 in the center of Otterville.

Learn more about the Jerseyville area.

www.hamiltonprimaryschool.com - Comprehensive site that covers all aspects of the school.

GPS Coordinates
N  39  03.058
W 90  23.862

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