In July 1949, the Alumni Association of Talladega College honored Kate Savery, celebrating the 50th anniversary of her graduation. Kate Savery was a career educator and an active clubwoman. She was the daughter of founder William Savery. The Detroit Tribune. (Detroit, Mich.), 09 July 1949. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Link


William Savery had a family to think about when he traveled to the 1865 Colored Men’s Convention in Alabama. His commitment and work to Black education directly impacted his children and grandchildren, whose carved their own careers through education. Below are some biographies of the women in his family.

Frances ‘Fannie’ Savery was born in April 1846 in Alabama as an enslaved person [1]. She married William Savery prior to emancipation and the couple had nine children, including Mary, Cicely, and Kate. She was a housewife according to the 1880 Census [2]. The family lived in Talladega, owning a home on Poflar Street [3]. Unfortunately, she was widowed in 1899. She passed away on February 5, 1922 in Talladega [4].

Mary Savery was born in 1865 in Talladega, Alabama. Records show she was enrolled in Talladega College’s Primary Department in 1871. She married William E. Youngblood on June 26, 1888. They moved to Terrell, Texas, where she worked as a school teacher and raised two children: William and Clarence [5]. William was a life insurance agent and his career enabled them to become homeowners at 205 S Valley Street. She passed away on May 30, 1943 [6].

Cicely Savery Gunner was born around 1867 in Talladega, Alabama. After graduating from Talladega, she taught at Cassidy School. She married Reverend Byron Gunner, who also graduated from Talladega, and they moved to Hillburn, New York. The couple had three children: Mary Frances, Cicely, William, and Joseph. Cicely Savery Gunner taught in the city public schools for 35 years. She was also the former president of the Empire State Federation of Women’s Clubs and the honorary president of the Northeastern Federation of Women’s Clubs. In New York, Cicely Gunner and her sister, Kate Savery, were part of a vibrant Black community. Her daughters, much like her, pursued their own education and careers: Mary Frances was a teacher, and Cicely graduated from Talladega College and trained to be a nurse at the Lincoln School for Nursing.[7] She passed away on July 15, 1943 [8].

Kate Savery was born on May 19, 1880 in Talladega, Alabama. She became a teacher following her education at Talladega College. She moved to Hillburn, New York in 1917 and became principal of Hillburn Brook School [9]. She resigned several times in protest of the racist conditions of the segregated school system. Kate Savery was active involved with NAACP and active in various clubs including the Avery Club and Paul Laurence Dunbar Literary Club.  She passed away on July 15, 1966 [10].


[1] Frances Savery. Alabama Deaths and Burials, 1881–1952. Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2010.

[2] Frances Savery. Year: 1900; Census Place: Talladega, Talladega, Alabama; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 0089; FHL microfilm: 1240040

[3] Ibid.

[4] Frances Savery. Alabama Deaths and Burials, 1881–1952. Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2010.

[5] Mary Savery. Year: 1920; Census Place: Terrell Ward 1, Kaufman, Texas; Roll: T625_1825; Page: 25A; Enumeration District: 37

[6] Mary Savery. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

[7] “Nurse Dies.” The New York Age, 27 April 1946.

[8] “Hillburn, N.Y.” The New York Age, 24 July 1943.

[9] Brathwaite, Jamila. “Hillburn Educator, Kate Savery.” AAHS of Rockland. December 17, 2017.

[10] Kate Savery. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014.


Written by: Rachel Nelson for ENGL/HIST 677, taught by P. Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware, Spring 2019.

Edited by P. Gabrielle Foreman

Revised by Samantha de Vera

Acknowledgements: Michelle Byrnes for further edits, visualization contributions, and technical assistance.