Susan Wright Sampson was born ca.1852 in Wilmington, NC. Affectionately regarded as "Susie" by her family, she was fourteenth in a sibling group of fifteen brothers and sisters. Her mother, Fannie J. (Kellogg) Sampson (1811-1882), was a free woman of color. Her father, and was manumitted as a young man. The family identified ethnically as mulatto (possibly a mix of Scottish and African heritage) and were long time members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Sampsons were considered a very prominent black family in the Wilmington community. shares of stock in the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad. They owned several properties and even
After completing her primary education Susan attended Oberlin College in Cleveland, Ohio where she lived with her brother Benjamin and his wife and children. Oberlin College was the first mostly white collegiate institution to admit African American students. Unfortunately, the death of her sister-in-law disrupted her education at Oberlin after only a few years of attendance. Eventually, she made the decision to return to Wilmington and pursue training to become a licensed public school teacher, officially earning her teaching certificate July 29, 1880.
Image of Susan B. Dudley Teaching Certificate: Courtesy A & T Archives, Susan B. Dudley Collection
Susan thrived as a faculty member and instructor at A & M college. Her first assignment was to teach English literature and ancient history for the college's preparatory school. She also supervised activities such as dramatics and debate. In her role as nominal dramatics director, Susan was highly successful. She wrote, produced and directed plays which were often performed the Wednesday night of commencement week also known as "Industrial Night'.
After resigning as faculty from A & M College, Susan started a small private school for primary children in her home as well as a music club for those interested in learning the piano. She and some of her close friends also started a literary, dramatics and social club called the Chatauqua Triangle, with Susan mainly in charge of the dramatics side of the triangle.
Image of Event Program: Courtesy A & T Archives, Susan B. Dudley Collection
"Mr. & Mrs. Dudley and their surviving daughter Vivian"
Images Courtesy A & T Archives, James B. Dudley Collection
Shortly after Susan began her post as teacher at Peabody School, a new principal named James B. Dudley was appointed. Soon a courtship blossomed between principal and teacher and they were married on February 23, 1882. The pair had two children, both girls. Their elder daughter Vivian, was born in 1887 and would become the future spouse of Dr. S.B Jones, British health officer at St. Kitts in the West Indies. Their daughter Inez died young but was one of the first graduates of the A & T's preparatory college.
James B. Dudley accepted the post of president of A & M College May 28, 1896. When the family moved to Greensboro according to some accounts, Mr. Dudley assumed his family would purchase a modest 8 room home. Susan on the other hand, desired to live in the type of home she remembered from her childhood in Wilmington. The family eventually built a 20 room mansion which was completed in 1910 off Dudley and Lindsey streets. The home has been described as very grand having two parlors, a three way staircase, a piano in every room, dining furniture made from solid oak, and sometimes a $40.00 electric bill.
Upon Mr. Dudleys sudden passing in 1925, Vivian decided to invite her grieving mother on several trips to St. Kitts which was where her and her husband were living. During these visits Susan was able to see several historic places including; the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton and the church where Lord Nelson was married.
Unfortunately, Susan fell ill on the boat back to the U.S during one of her trips which effected her health for the remainder of her life. In her later days she spent much of her time tending to her gardens and was often spotted playing board games with individuals on her homes' porch. Mrs. Susan B. Dudley passed away on April 10. 1933 from complications related to diabetes and pneumonia. She is buried in Pine Forest Cemetery in Wilmington, NC.