Notes on the Life of Sarah Ann Blocker (1857 - 1944)
The remains of Sarah Ann Blocker lay in an unmarked, weed-covered grave in St. Augustine,
next to the grave of her friend and co-worker, Nathan W. Collier, whose grave is marked with a large tombstone.
You cannot mention Sarah Ann Blocker without including Nathan Collier and Florida Memorial College they were the heart and soul of Florida Memorial College for many years. He was president, she was listed at various times as vice president, matron, or teacher.
Both Miss Blocker and Mr. Collier were from Augusta, Georgia. How they knew each other is not known, but it could have been through church. They were both Baptist, although later in life they adopted the Bíhai faith.
Miss Blocker was probably one of the original teachers at the Florida Baptist Academy, founded in Jacksonville in October, 1892.
She had been teaching at the Florida Baptist Institute for Negroes in Live Oak (Sewanee Co. FL)
which was established in 1879 with support of the American Baptist Home Mission Society.
Dr. Gilbert resigned as president of the school in Live Oak and moved to Jacksonville, where he was asked to head the Florida Baptist Academy, opened in October, 1892. He asked Miss Blocker and the Rev. J. T. Brown to teach at the new school, positions they accepted. Dr. Gilbert resigned as president in 1894 and the Rev. J. T. Brown became president. Rev. Brown asked Miss Blocker to be his assistant.
When Rev. Brown resigned several years later, Miss Blocker recommended recent Atlanta University graduate, Nathan W. Collier for the post. Mr. Collier accepted. Miss Blocker and Mr. Collier worked together until Dr. Collierís death in 1941.
FBA became Florida Normal and Industrial Institute and moved to St. Augustine in 1918. That campus is now deserted, the buildings deteriorating, but the school flourishes in Miami, where Sarah A. Blocker Hall houses classrooms.
Students today probably do not know anything about Miss Sarah Ann Blocker. In truth, few facts are available about her early life.
Former students describe her as strict, but fair and add that she did not put up with any nonsense from the students. There are also stories about how she helped girls find jobs whose families could not afford the tuition and bent the lights- out rules so they could study later at night.
We know that she was probably born in Augusta, Georgia. Her death certificate lists her birth date as October 27, 1857 B a time of tremendous conflict and change in the south.
From her motherís Freedmenís Bureau bank account, we know that she was the second child and only daughter of Sarah Ann Stewart and Isaiah Blocker, Sr.
Were they slaves? Probably, but proof has not yet been found. Miss Blocker=s father was from Edgefield, SC (just across the river from Augusta), where there are many white Blocker families.
Her mother and maternal grandmother were both born in Delaware and we understand that Delaware to north Georgia was not an unusual migration pattern.
The elder Sarah Ann Blocker is listed as head of household in the 1870 census. She could not read or write, her occupation is listed as seamstress, and her mother lived with the family.
The 1880 federal census lists both Miss Blocker and her mother as seamstresses.
Miss Blocker is listed as a teacher in the 1888 and 1889 Augusta City Directory, and two of her brothers were school principals in Augusta.
Miss Blocker attended Atlanta University for two terms (1881-82 and 1882-83) and probably earned a teaching certificate. In those days, teachers were not required to have a four year college degree, but they were required to attend yearly summer classes.
Miss Blocker died in April, 1944 and was buried next to Nathan Collier on the FMC campus. When the school moved to Miami, both graves were moved to their present location.
From her obituary in The St. Augustine Evening Record. . .
The death of this beloved colored resident will be heard with deep regret throughout St. Augustine as she had numberless friends among both the white and colored populations.
She was known as a leader among Negro educators and had worked for half a century for the progress of her race. When she retired from active participation in the affairs of the Florida Normal a year or two ago she was accorded many honors.