Elizabeth Scott Flood

Varigated roseElizabeth Thorne Scott was an educated black woman who emigrated from New Bedford, Massachusetts, with her husband Joseph Scott and young son Oliver during the California gold rush.  The date of their arrival in the gold fields near Placerville is unknown, but according to the special 1852 Census taken in California, Joseph was a gold miner that year and Elizabeth was a 24-year-old, native New Yorker. Also unknown is the date and cause of Joseph’s death, but it is believed that Mrs. Scott was already widowed when she left Placerville. Elizabeth and Oliver were living in Sacramento when she saw a need and filled it, opening her home as the first California school for black children on May 29, 1854. Fourteen black children enrolled; she received $50 per month as teacher, collected from the one dollar per week tuition fees paid by the students’ parents. Soon Mrs. Scott’s classrooms were open to Native American and Asian children as well, and as the number of pupils increased, the class location was changed to the basement of St. Andrews African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she was an active member.  St. Andrews sponsored conferences and other events in the black community and it is likely that she met her second husband Isaac Flood, a man involved in many civic and social causes, through fellow church members.  In 1856, Elizabeth moved to his residence in present day Oakland, California. There, in 1857, she pioneered another school for black children from her home.  Elizabeth Thorne Scott Flood died in Oakland in 1867. March is National Women’s History Month.