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Chisholm High School Family Tree Monument in New Smyrna Beach

Chisholm Family Tree Wall

In the days of segregation, the city of New Smyrna Beach was no different than
communities across the country. African American students were routed to schools
that were clearly separate but not equal. While not having the financial resources
that were allocated to white schools, that did not mean that students, faculty and
staff, did not have pride in their community school.

While there is no doubt that the end of legal segregation in education has been a positive for students
of all races, it was a difficult shift and has not been without issue. Many believe
that the end of segregation often brought the end of community schools and
contributed to a breakdown of local community.

Florida State University professor of economics and past director of African-American
Studies,  and current associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Patrick L. Mason  stated that teaching was considered to be one of the highest professions that educated African-Americans could achieve. “They were blocked from most other professions, so you get all these exceptional people who become teachers.”

Mason points out that one of the tragedies of integration was the loss of certain
black institutions, of which schools were most prominent. Black schools such as
Chisholm High School were shuttered and students were forced to white schools.
“We went from our schools, which were a thing of great pride, to their schools,
where we were tolerated.” Principals, teachers, and other staff, were often demoted
or put into roles well below their skill level.

Chisholm Wildcat
Chisholm Wildcat located at Babe James Center in New Smyrna Beach

As Chisholm student Michael Williams relates, “It was a neighborhood school, principals and teachers went to the same church, and these people were our role models.”

Roy Brooks, a 1968 Chisholm graduate stated, “At Chisholm, we had personal contact, not only between the teachers with the students, but also the teachers with the parents.” This interaction is something that is missing in the world of education today.

Chisholm High School can trace its roots to the turn of the 20th century. It was then that Leroy Chisholm, a local barber, turned two adjoining houses into classrooms for black children. Chisholm would later fund the Chisholm Academy, a school for middle school aged children. When grades 10 through 12 were added to the Academy, the name was changed to Chisholm High School.

Chisholm High School was closed after the 1969 academic year but its legacy is
not forgotten. The Chisholm Alumni Association is rightfully proud of their
school. On July 14, 2012, the association dedicated a monument on the site of the
Babe James Center in the heart of the Historic West Side of New Smyrna Beach.

The text of the marker reads:

Chisholm Family Tree
Chisholm Family Tree plaque dedicated in 2012

The Chisholm Family Tree

As a mainstay of shaping and cultivating
Our academic growth and maturity, we
Reflect on our proud high school heritage.
We hereby salute the students who
Attended Chisholm High twelve days,
Twelve months, twelve years; teachers
Who inspired and encouraged us;
Administrators and staff who nurtured us.
You were there for us! Let this monument
Be a reminder of our educational, cultural,
Athletic, and social experiences as we
Prepared for a whole new world. We heard
Your words, “Depart from here and use

 

Chisholm Family Tree Wall
Center panel of the Chisholm Family Tree Wall

Your mind toward making a resounding
Positive impact on the lives of others and
This world.” The Chisholm Family Tree Wall
Is dedicated to you and all the Chisholm
Family members world-wide. Thank you
For the memories and we are forever
Grateful. Come back again for a visit.

 

 

Chisholm Family Tree Wall Full View
Chisholm Family Tree Wall Full View

“Oh Chisholm High Forever Our Dear Alma mater Dear”

Dedicated on this date July 14, 2012 and sponsored by
Chisholm High Alumni Association

 

 

 

 

If you have information on Chisholm High School you would like to share, please
reach out to me or leave a comment to this post.

To learn more about Chisholm High School I recommend contacting the Mary S.
Harrell Black Heritage Museum.

In addition, you should reach out to the New Smyrna Museum of History.

The Chisholm High Alumni Organization has a Facebook page. If you attended
Chisholm High School, you are encouraged to get in touch with them.

Sources:

Daytona Beach News Journal July 14, 2018

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may
receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views
and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors
providing products.

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The Unforgettable Headstone of Roy L. Cook in Oakdale Cemetery, DeLand, FL

Roy L. Cook flat headstone

For me, one of the joys of walking through a cemetery is that you never know what you will find. It may
be an interesting inscription, the burial of the famous or infamous, or in the case of Roy L. Cook, well,
you will see shortly. I have never seen anything like this before.

For those easily offended, please consider this your warning. Text and images below may be offensive to readers. This post is not an endorsement of any beliefs that may have been held or espoused by Mr. Cook but rather putting forth historical fact. 

In May 1931, Roy Lewis Cook and his wife, Louise B. had been visiting Atlanta, Georgia. On May 10, they
were on the trip home when Roy began complaining of stomach pains. They stopped in Vienna, Georgia
at the office of Dr. F. E. Williams. Within an hour, Cook was dead from what his death certificate listed as
“probably cardiac failure. Possibly angina pectoris. Was pulseless and in collapse when I saw him and
remained so until death 20 or 30 minutes later.”

Only 43 years old, Cook left behind a widow, Louise, and children Gertrude and Roy, Jr., who went by
the name Louis. According to local newspaper reports, the Cook family were not mourning alone as
estimates between 1,000 and 2,500 people were reported at his funeral in the small town of DeLand,
Florida.

Roy L. Cook was born in DeLeon Springs, FL, October 2, 1888 to Lewis P. and Alice Cook. His father was a
farmer and it appears that the family was highly mobile. In the 1900 census, the Cook family, including
twelve-year-old Roy, were living in Wittich Township, Arkansas.

By 1910, Roy and his young bride Louise were living in Florida with extended family. Roy was working as an automobile mechanic. In 1917 the Cooks were living in Orlando, FL. where Roy worked for himself in the firm of Cook Automobile, Co. His World War I draft registration card states he was tall and slender, with gray eyes and black hair.

The young Cook appears to have been an enterprising person because by 1920, he and Louise, along
with their two children, were living in DeLand and Roy, Sr. owned his own garage. Still living in DeLand in
1930, Roy, Sr. was a partner in the automobile dealership Cook and Rowland. Cook and Rowland was
located at 133-135 S. Woodland Avene. The business was an authorized sales and service dealer for Buick
automobiles. They were also a Vesta Battery Service Station.

Cook was still young, appears to have been financially successful, and it turns out he was a highly
influential individual as we will see.

News of the elder Cook’s demise quickly reached DeLand. His partner L. L. Rowland and an employee
only listed as Mr. Miller left immediately for Georgia to help the stricken widow. They helped arrange
for transport of the body back to DeLand where funeral director J. M. Stith was in charge of
arrangements. Stith worked in the employ of the Griffith-Stith Funeral Parlor, that at one time was
located in the building known as the Dutton House.

The funeral services were held on May 13, 1931 at First Baptist Church with Dr. I. E. Phillips of
Jacksonville in charge. Reports state the church was filled to overflowing with hundreds standing
outside. The same report estimated more than 500 cars from across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama were
at the church grounds. Newspaper reports posted a long listing of pallbearers and honorary pallbearers
including local judges.

Roy L. Cook flat headstone
Roy L. Cook headstone depicting his membership as a Mason.

You may be asking why more than 1,000 people would attend a small town funeral for a small town car dealer. The town had a population only slightly higher than 5,000 in 1930. Yes, it was true that Cook was a member of the DeLand Masonic Lodge, was a member of the Royal Arch Masons, and the Order of the Eastern Star. This would hardly account for this type turn out however. Cook had a much more sinister side in his life and his funeral brought to the public what many might not have openly known.

 

At the time of his death, Roy L. Cook, Sr. served as Grand Titan of the Ku Klux Klan of the State of Florida. It appears that local reporting had is title wrong, calling him the Grand Titian while he most likely served as Grand Titan.

Estimates place between 100 and 200 robed and hooded clansmen lining the Oakdale Cemetery driveway. They were
said to have held “drooping American flags, (and) bowed their heads as the funeral car passed.” At the
burial site, “the degree team of the Klan from Jacksonville conducted an honorary burial order.”
Clansmen from across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama attended the ceremony.

At the close of the ceremony, members from the Order of the Eastern Star placed more than 300 floral
assortments on the closed grave.

In the days immediately after the funeral Cook’s wife Louise was named executor of his estate and also
named beneficiary of all real and personal property.

Roy L. Cook Headstone
Roy L. Cook marker depicting his KKK membership

In May 1932, newspaper advertisements placed by the E.C. Tomoka Klan No. 17 Realm of Florida were appearing in the DeLand Sun News under the headline, “Klansmen Take Notice.” The announcement went on further to let the public know that a new monument was to be placed on the grave of Roy L. Cook, on Sunday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. George P. Bryan, a monument dealer based in Daytona Beach, erected the monument.

The memory of Roy L. Cook continued to be strong in the years after his death. Members of the Volusia Chapter 186 of the Order of the Eastern Star were reported by the press to hold annual memorial services for former members. After the November 1933 service, members laid flowers on Cook’s grave.

This post is not a tribute to Roy L. Cook. While he is long gone, his memory and most likely his actions cannot be forgotten. We must fight against actions by hate groups such as the KKK. These groups have terrorized our country for too long and we must not allow them to keep doing so. The marker to Roy L. Cook, now in place for nearly 90 years, is a reminder that there is more work to be done, more justice to be fought for, more equality to be won.

To learn more about the terrible and violent history of the Klan in Florida I suggest reading The Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Florida (Florida History and Culture) written by Michael Newton.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are
my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

Sources
Daytona Beach News Journal
DeLand, FL City Directories
DeLand Sun News
Georgia Certificate of Death
U.S. Census Bureau records
World War I Draft Registration Cards