After the Civil War ended and Reconstruction began, white southerners began trying to address the lack of educational opportunities for their children. There was no free public school system in North Carolina, and the more rural the area, the less opportunity there was to receive basic instruction by qualified instructors.
Many of the well-off farmers in the area would set up their own small school to educate their and their neighbors' children, usually no more than ten to fifteen children of various ages. Flora Huff specifically mentions one such school -- Play Hill -- in Kith 'n Kin. In 1898, the school property was deeded to Robeson County by Fulton and Cattie Floyd's heirs: C. A. Floyd, Etna Floyd Griffin, Charity Floyd Rogers and Olin Floyd.
Schools such as this one were better than nothing but insufficient for the times. School terms were usually only two months long, unsuitable for more than just learning the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Rev. A. R. Pittman, pastor of Ashpole Baptist Church, recognized this and began a one man campaign which culminated in the establishment of The Cape Fear Baptist Associational High School and Ashpole Institute.