Prudence Crandall Interstate Memorial Marker

(620) 329-4425
Osage St and Hwy 160, Elk Falls, KS 67345

Prudence Crandall, 1803-1890, operated a boarding school for girls in Canterbury, Connecticut in 1831. In 1833, she admitted a black girl named Sarah, which caused much furor among the other parents. Demands of segregation caused Prudence to close her school, but she reopened it as the first Black female academy in New England. This began a period of intense persecution and violence which eventually closed the school and sent Crandall to jail. A number of influential people came to her aid, including Calvin Philleo, a Baptist minister whom Prudence later married. Her trial went all the way to the Supreme Court in 1834. Although dismissed on a technicality, legal arguments used in her case were submitted in the Supreme Court more than a hundred years later in the historic civil rights case of Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education.

After the death of her husband in 1874, Prudence and her brother Hezekiah traded sight unseen for a homestead west of Elk Falls where they lived out their lives. Prudence retained her interest in education, conducting a free school in her home for neighboring children.

When she was 83, the Connecticut Legislature granted her an annual pension as part restitution for the cruel outrages inflicted on her as a citizen of their state. She is now the Connecticut State Heroine and the Prudence Crandall Museum operates in her home in Canterbury, CT.

Today her grave lies beside her brother, Hezekiah, in the Elk Falls cemetery. An imported Italian marble headstone was provided by friends from Connecticut.

Several biographies have been written on Crandall’s life, including one by Marvis Olive Welch which describes her move to Elk Falls in 1877 from letters Prudence wrote to her niece. In 1991, Walt Disney/NBC produced a movie about her life called She Stood Alone.

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