Martha Barringer, 98, Remembers Her Younger Days at Siloam School

Martha Barringer oral history interview

By Alicia Benjamin

Martha Barringer may be 98 years old, but that doesn’t stop her from cooking her own meals, washing her clothes, gardening, doing crossword puzzles and babysitting her great-grandchildren. “She’s a very strong woman,” her daughter Maxine said.

Ms. Martha, born on September 26, 1923, was the daughter of Will and Rosella Granger Barringer who had 12 children. Her father also had six additional children.

Ms. Martha, the only one of her 18 siblings who is living, is also an important historical figure in African American history. She attended the Siloam School in Mallard Creek, one of the oldest remaining schoolhouses in Mecklenburg County and one of Charlotte’s last standing Rosenwald Schools.

Named Scrub Hill School when she began going to school, the small wooden building that was surrounded by woods was renamed Siloam School shortly after Ms. Martha started attending, she told told Adria Focht, president and CEO of the Charlotte Museum of History, during a recorded interview in August 2021.

Maxine shared some of the memories her mother has shared with her over the years. Ms. Martha’s teacher was Rosella Alexander who gave Ms. Martha a dress because she was one of the smartest students at the school. “She also told me how the boys would cut wood to heat the pot belly stove and how sometimes she had to walk in the rain with holes in her shoes, so she would put cardboard in them.”