Visitors Guide to
The Hamilton Primary School
107 East Main Street
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
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
Directions: The Hamilton Primary School is located off of County Road
9 in the center of Otterville.
more about the Jerseyville area.
Comprehensive site that covers all aspects of the school.
N 39 03.058
W 90 23.862