Aura Imes and George Imes
following article was made possible by the
Friends of Midland
organization, which contributed photographs, information and primary
research materials from their archives. Originally formed to rescue
and rehabilitate the historic Midland Cemetery, the Friends of Midland
also have an interest in local African American history, including the
Hygienic School. They are very interested in hearing from former
students of the Hygienic School, and can be contacted at the following address:
or the students and teachers posing beside their ageing school building for an unknown photographer, the moment would have been very special, not only because it was a break from their daily studies, but because a photographic portrait was still a formal occasion. It required planning, because furniture had to be moved outside; it required arranging by height, with small kids up front and perhaps on the chairs, medium and tall kids in the back; and it required everyone to look at the photographer at the same time, and not move as he took the picture. Blurred faces in the shots are evidence that a few kids simply could not contain their excitement, and turned their heads at the wrong instant.
Five minutes later, or as much time as it took for the teachers to direct everyone back inside, probably taking their chairs with them, they would have been gone. The spot would have been empty of smiling children and stern-faced adults. For us, however, the special moment in the 1890's when Aura Imes and her students concentrated on holding still for the camera, or when George Imes lined up his students next to the distinctive brick walls and tall shuttered windows of the Hygienic building, is a moment frozen in time. As we study the faces, clothing, shoes, bare feet and hairstyles, we can almost imagine ourselves there, listening--or perhaps imagine them here with us, telling us stories. . .
Aura C. Imes graduated from Steelton High School in 1894, according to notes kept by a former teacher, and after receiving her teaching certificate in 1902 began teaching at the Hygienic School. She married into the Manley family.
A history of the Imes Family lists Aura Channing Imes, born March, 1873, the oldest child of George H. Imes and Lucinda Armstrong Clark. She married Arthur Emmanuel Manley on June 26, 1918 in Harrisburg. Prior to her marriage Aura lived with her mother and younger siblings--her father George died in 1892-- in Steelton at 221 and later 223 Ridge Street. Aura's youngest brother, George Lake Imes, graduated from Steelton High School in 1900, and went on to become Secretary of Tuskegee Institute, where he worked closely with George Washington Carver, and knew the school's founder, Booker T. Washington.
Although the caption gives a date of 1886-1887, Imes Family descendants have confirmed that the teacher above is Aura Imes, with her class, probably circa 1903-4. Please click on the picture for a larger (110 kb) image.
The Friends of Midland would like to hear from anyone who can identify some of the children in this and any of the other images here. Please write or e-mail to us if you have any information on these persons, their descendants, and have family history to share.
George Hezekiah Imes was the father of Aura, discussed above. He was born in 1844 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and grew up on a farm in Juniata County, where he was also able to attend school. When war came, he enlisted as a corporal in the 43rd United States Colored Troops regiment, and was promoted to sergeant by the time of his discharge. After the war, in 1870, he married Lucinda Clark and settled in Harrisburg to raise a family. Despite receiving wounds in the war that would bother him throughout his life, he rose to prominence as an educator and publisher in Harrisburg. He died in 1892 in McAllisterville, Juniata County.
Harrisburg historian Calobe Jackson, Jr. notes that George Imes was one of four Black principals in the Harrisburg School District in 1880. He believes that George Imes moved his family to Steelton shortly after that date.
Please click on the picture for a larger (188kb) image.
Other Steelton Articles:
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This page was updated March 21, 2023.