Thank You Tri-State: Lyles Station

On a snowy January day, you could easily drive right past the Old Lyles Station School House, but step inside, and there's no missing the history that lives here.

"Because the time we came here, we were free blacks, this would have been in the early age of 1825," said Stanley Madison with Lyles Station.


A time when the opportunity to own land did not come easy, or at all for African Americans.

A group of black families settled here in Gibson County. Other places charged blacks a $500 fortune, plus the cost of land. In Gibson County, it merely took $2 an acre for a shot at freedom.

“To be able to have ownership of land was the most important thing," said Madison, "It was the key of your freedom, key of freedom of the next generation and key of freedom from here on."

Farming was their life, but education was their future. From early on, they paid a white man to come teach their children. In 1922, this schoolhouse was built.

“I was a youngster that got to go to school here... It was a very interesting day having first through eighth grade kids in one classroom.”

In the late 1950's, declining enrollment shut down the old school house. It stood empty for decades - but Stanley Madison could see beyond the falling walls and caving roof.   

The museum project began in 2003, but a simple renovation wouldn't work.

“So molded and warped they had to take all the way down... Started from very bottom and rebuilt the building in replica of what it was in 1922.”

A $1 million price tag. To save money, Madison did what work he could himself.

“Truckful by truckful, you came up late in the evening... I loaded the trucks, it took weeks, months.  Still not near as hard work as my ancestors did.  It was a labor of love. That was what this building was about from day one - a labor of love."

“He is the mastermind behind this," said Karen Johnson, "He almost did it single handedly. His love of Lyle Station and this community is unsurpassed.”

And now, once again,  children come here to learn in the 1922 classroom. They see the forefathers' farming tools, and hear of the underground railroad that ran right through here. 

“This is our roots. We go back more than 150 years," said Madison, "This particular site is so important for African American history to stay alive and to be here for the next generation and generations after. To know that the hard labor and love of African Americans that helped build this country to what it is today is so important for this building and this site to be here for now on.”


During this black history month, Eyewitness News is partnering with Lyles Station to offer Tri-State schools special tours.

They include showings of "America's Untold Journey - 450 Years of the African American Experience.”
        
For more information, you can contact Lyles Station at (812) 385-2534. 


Don't Miss

  • Home For The Holidays Page
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Tristate Professionals
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Pro Football Challenge
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Dr. Oz Wellness Network
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Community Calendar
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Video Center