September 24, 1864
Erskine Ramsay, a mining engineer, investor, longtime Birmingham Board of Education president and well-known millionaire philanthropist, was born at Six Mile Ferry, Pennsylvania. Ramsay grew up in his father’s machine shop and managed a general store at 13. He joined the senior class at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and graduated as head of the class the following June. At 18, Ramsay became superintendent of the Monastery Mine and set a goal of surpassing four tons of coke per oven per charge. At 20 years old, he oversaw the third-largest coke producer in Pennsylvania. Despite his position, Ramsay handed his earnings to his father, who gave him an allowance. He later was named assistant general manager and made supervisor of Southwest Co.’s Linn Iron Works, forcing Ramsay to move to Pratt City, then to Birmingham. Though unmarried and childless, Ramsay was asked to join the Birmingham Board of Education in 1922, serving as president of the board for 19 years. In 1930, the board named the new Erskine Ramsay Technical High School in his honor. Today, Ramsay is a four-year magnet high school, one of the three international baccalaureate schools in the Birmingham metropolitan area. Ramsay was inducted into the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame in 1998, 45 years after his death.
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