Prima Augusta (Fitzbutler) Washington

Prima Augusta (Fitzbutler) Washington (1868-1962) was born in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada on August 3, 1868, to Henry and Sarah Helen (McCurdy) Fitzbutler. She was the eldest of six children. Henry was the first African American graduate of the Detroit Medical College (1869) and the University of Michigan School of Medicine (1872). After graduation, he, Sarah, and their four children moved to Louisville where he organized the Louisville National Medical College, the first to accept African Americans. It became the best African American medical college in the US, and the only one owned and operated entirely by African Americans. Sarah graduated from the College and became the first African American female to receive a medical degree in Kentucky. Prima also graduated from the College, but she never practiced medicine. Her sister Mary and her brother James also graduated from there. James and Mary were physicians in Chicago.

Prima graduated from Central Colored School (now Central High School) in 1885. She then graduated from the Louisville National Medical College in 1901. Out of high school, Prima was working as a teacher in Louisville—a profession she would have for most of her life. She spent most of her career at Samuel Taylor Coleridge School. By 1920, she married James L.V. Washington, son of James L.V. and Mary Washington. James was on the board of directors of the Mammoth Life Insurance Company and a founding member of the Kentucky chapter of the Knights of Pythias. The couple did not have children. On May 15, 1946, James died at the age of 77. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery where Prima’s parents were buried. However, she had his remains moved to Eastern Cemetery in October 1946. On April 2, 1962, Prima died at the age of 93. She was buried in Section A, Range 29, Lot 8 of Eastern Cemetery. She shares a headstone with her husband. Photo of Prima is from “Courier-Journal” April 4, 1962.