NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) - When you think of the history of New Albany, deep roots lie within the churches and the schools.
Nearly 60 churches in Union County are a part of the Hallelujah Trail.
You can find a map of these churches at hallelujahtrail.org.
The historical markers designate churches that are at least 100 years old and still in use.
Jill Smith is the Director for the Union County Heritage Museum.
"The Hallelujah Trail was done to commemorate the Mississippi Bicentennial. When we looked at what was established first, of course, people came, but churches were established first," Smith said.
There's a one-room schoolhouse at the Union County Heritage Museum, which is an example of just one the 75 schools once present throughout Union County.
Sam Mosley is part of the concerned veterans of New Albany that is researching the influence of African Americans in New Albany's past.
Mosley attended school at the Beaver Dam Church.
"Back to after the war, when you began educating blacks, so we had to find a place for schools. The churches substituted as schools in this area," Mosley explained.
In the 1900s, African American students could attend the Union County Training Center.
African American students attended school until the 8th grade, until B.F. Ford stepped in.
"He was very innovative. He put in a system to move the grades up one or two every year until it got to be high school," Mosley explained.
The first graduating class was 1927.
"Through the years, he was responsible for building a gymnasium and establishing a curriculum that could stand up to any in the state," Mosley said.
The Union County Training School was later renamed for B.F. Ford, who served as the principal from 1921-1950.
Mosley shares other accomplishments during that time.
"There was a period between 1941-1948 where our basketball team went seven years without a loss," Mosley said.
The last graduating class at B.F. Ford was in 1969, marking the end of segregation.
The building was later used as an elementary school.