Joseph Purvis was born in 1837. Unfortunately, Joseph would die at the young age of 14 due to meningitis. He was burried in McGrawville along with two other students from the school. Following his death, there were numerous documents mourning his loss as it was considered a big blow to the school because not only did Joseph pass away, but so did Anna E. Pierce, another student of the school. There were poems written about the two students by Tacie Townsend, who would later marry Joseph's father, Robert Sr., after the death of his mother, Harriett. Also, William G. Allen wrote an article about the two students in the Frederick Douglas Papers.