Schoolhouse quality prompted consolidation, but not integration

Posted 9/17/19

Last week, I told you how I found a clutch of school tax forms from 1924. When those were copied, some had other things copied onto the back. I hate to waste interesting things, so …

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Schoolhouse quality prompted consolidation, but not integration


Last week, I told you how I found a clutch of school tax forms from 1924. When those were copied, some had other things copied onto the back. I hate to waste interesting things, so …

Ten Mile School’s building was a bit west of what some now call Ten Mile Baptist Church, on FM 2289. An earlier school building was farther west, and a later one was built just across the road from the church. The land was originally given for a school on June 10, 1914 by J.J. Bledsoe and his wife, Irene. After the building was torn down, the unused land was sold to Colvin Walker in 1975.

The Museum has a good photo of Hollis School, taken during the 1915-1916 term. It was located between Madisonville and North Zulch, north of present Highway 21. An attachment to the photo identifies students and the teachers, J. Ethel Winborn, a lieutenant colonel retired from the Army, and Miss Ozell Newman (who later married Marshall Parker).

We have a photo of Center School’s building in the early 1900s. The first school in that community was called Liberty or Old Liberty and stood on what is now Oak Ridge Country Club property. That first structure served not only for education but also as a church for the Mormons until their church was built on Highway 21 near Jozye Cemetery.

A photo of High Prairie School also is available in the Museum, thanks to the late Nina Lou Wilson McCaig, who attended that school between 1930 and 1937. It stood on what is now FM 2289, west of High Prairie Cemetery. My father, his siblings and others attended that school. I know he lived in town with a sister when he went to high school, because High Prairie only offered earlier instruction.

The varying sums of school taxes shown for around our county amazed me. I tried to find more information. I finally located a Master’s thesis done at the University of Texas by Herman Wrenn in 1936, entitled “Educational Survey of County with Plans for Reorganization…” It explained that the quality of school facilities in the different districts here varied greatly.

Some were a crude shack with crude benches, and some were much more. Improvements had been costly, hence some of the districts owed interest on those expenses. In 1931, Midway had issued a bond for $35,000 to fund improvements.

The above-named author was in favor of some consolidation, and he said that for 24 years preceding 1933, no local schools had been consolidated. During 1934-1935, Cobbs Creek, Elwood, and Connor Schools consolidated, which he deemed that very positive.

He also that stated that in 1935, there were 26 school districts in Madison County, covering 25 “white” schools and 13 “colored” schools, for a total of 38 school buildings employing 43 instructors. Attendance varied according to the population in each area. Brushy had 13 whites and no colored. Madisonville had 419 whites and no colored. Chapel Hill had no white and 62 colored. The author included the fact that only Midway, North Zulch, and Madisonville offered 11 grades.

That’s the way things were then, almost 100 years ago.

However, not long ago, I talked with a man who told me that in about 1960, he had lived with his grandfather within two miles of my home then and now. I did not know him then.

I rode a school bus to Madisonville every day. Every day, he walked cross-country to the above-named Chapel Hill School, at a distance of at least a mile, maybe more. That fact amazed and embarrassed me.

Our school bus went right by where he lived. But he was the wrong color to ride that bus.

Again, I thank God some things have changed.

As I’ve said repeatedly, we are in dire need of your interest in Madison County Museum. The lack of interest discourages me and makes feel like I’m spinning my wheels writing these Musings. Madison County Historical Commission oversees the Museum, and we sure would appreciate your membership. MCHC’s new year begins October 1, and $25 membership covers an individual or his/her family.

The Madison County Museum, at 201 North Madison, Madisonville, TX 77864, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The Museum’s mailing address is P.O. Box 61, and the telephone number is 936-348-5230.