Cass County

Hickory Hill's First School

First School Built in 1848

The last wooden school building in Avinger is shown above, with the class attending at that time.
Left to right: Mary Smith, Lowrie Hall, Morrine Pattillo, Essie Webb,
Edith Hall, Velma Patman, Bunny Peek, Lottie Alsup, Melbe McCain, Sue
Webb, Rosebud Truelove, Ray Weel, Pat Patman, Edd Hall, Ezra Haynes, George Alsup, Gerris Smith, Ross Smith, G.W., Mr. Smith, Teacher, Nan Orr, Blain McCain, Esta McCain, Hermie Haynes, Bettie McCain, Hazel Hall, Nettie McCain, Lucy Smith, teacher, Ezella McCain, Brunetta Coulter, Myrtle Alsup, Ray McCain, Flodger McCain, Cleve McCain, Lester Bolding, James Smith.

This information was found in the vertical files of the genealogy department of the Longview Public Library.

Special Historical Edition
June 18, 1954


The earliest record of any kind of a school in this vicinity goes back to the old Lewis A. Pattillo home, built about 1848. The story has it that the first Hickory Hill school was held in one room of this stately old, colonial style building.

Names of the teachers in this school are not known; among those who attended were children of the Cottons, Pattillos, Hendricks, Kimbles and possibly some of the Johnsons and Sturdivants. Later on a one room log school was built in the Hickory Hill community.

The next school building of record was located on the old Jefferson and Clarksville road a short distance north of the Dr. J.H. Avinger home. Mr. John Hearne, John Rhyne, Sally Abernathy and Sarah Bonds were some of the pupils at this school. One of the teachers was a Mr. Sheldon. In 1895 this same building, of frame construction, was moved to a site just across the street from the present Baptist church. Mr. Jake Rhyne was among those instrumental in instigating this transfer.

An old handwritten deed, now in the possession of Mrs. Kirk King, a descendent of the grantor, reads as follows: "I, G.W. Allen of the county of Morris, state of Texas, for and.....the sum of one dollar.......paid by the Avinger (white) school grant, sell......all that tract or parcel of land to wit: commencing at the southwest corner of the town lot deeded to D. Simmons off of the Jacob Spedell H.R. running East with variation of line of Simmons lot 101 yards. Thence north 55 yeard, thence West 101 yards, thence South 55 yards to place of beginning. Being a part of the Edward Kimble H.R. survey containing one acre more or less. The conditions of this deed is such that when it ceases to be used for school purposes it reverts back to me (G.H. Allen or heirs)......August 8, 1895." Witnessed by M.D. Avinger, Notary Public.

Mrs. A.V. Simpson recalls attending this little school. It was of simple, unsealed box construction. Miss Josie Taylor and Mr. J.C. (Fannie) Archer were two of the teachers.

Those who still remember this school recall that the trams of Mr. A.M. Rhyne's sawmill ran along one side of it. The old public road ran along the other side.

In 1892 this little frame school building was torn down and operations moved to the Baptist church building which had ceased to be used for church purposes. The building stood further back from the present road, at that time, and faced the present railroad right of way. Some of the teachers in this school besides Mrs. Archer and Miss Josie Taylor, were W.B. Betts and E.B. Cloninger. Toward the last, church services were resumed on every other Sunday and the building served as both school and church.

The Baptist church being in process of becoming reorganized, it became necessary to move the school again. Its next location was over adjacent to the Methodist church on the approximate site of the present parsonage. This was also a one room building of box construction, differing from the others in that it was larger and both walls and overhead were sealed.

Teachers in this school were Mrs. Josie Starnes, Charlie Cobb, a Mr. Chadwick and a Mr. Jarvis. For a list of the students, refer to the group picture.

All of the schools up until this time had been jointly supported by various local citizens. In 1912 the first election was held for purpose of organizing an Independent school district and voting public, state authorized bonds to construct a large, first class, permanent building. L.H. Avinger donated four acres in the northwest corner or town, the site of Avinger's present school plant, for the new school.

As was to be expected, there were many pro's and con's in this big issue of the day. The pro's won out and among other things celebrated their victory by shooting anvils. The loud reports resulting from this almost forgotten stunt of placing an abundant supply of gunpowder between two large anvils and then setting it off with a long, lighted torch, could be heard for miles around.

Contractors who built the new, four room, two story brick building were Parrish and Knight of Daingerfield at a cost of $5,000.00. School board officials who signed that first bond issue were D.R. Coulter, president and J.M. Mitchell, secretary. These particular securities, known as the 1912 issue, were 40 year bonds, the last of which were paid off two years ago.

This proud looking new brick building with its fortress like front, the words PUBLIC SCHOOL across the top of its facade and its tall flag pole with the big round ball at the top, proudly flew its country's flag all through World War I. The 1920's saw a continuous stream of students enter as little first graders and leave as almost grown graduates.

During the summer of 1935, work was begun on a major addition to the school building. The front projection of the old 1912 structure was torn off and a larger, four room wing built in its place, becoming a part of the original structure. The original four classrooms were kept and are still in use today but considerable revamping was done to them then and since in the form of new windows and complete interior redecoration.

A large combination gymnasium and auditorium, with stage at one end, was part of the same construction program. It is the same gym, with additional improvements, that is still in use today.

Students and teachers of the school at that time recall, without too much enthusiasm, the rigors and inconveniences of attending school in both churches and Simson's potato warehouse located next to the railroad track. The latter, commonly referred to as the 'tater' house contained the high school. Partitions divided it into three poorly arranged sections that, besides being dark and dirty, were pretty poor substitutes in general for class rooms.

Everyone was glad when the new building was ready for occupancy along about March 1935. These buildings constituted the entire plant, improvements being made, both outside and inside from time to time, until 1949.

A new and separate brick structure, the present grade school, was built in the summer of 1949. A present construction program is underway to finish it and to renovate the old two story structure, the latter to become the High School and Office building.

Some former superintendents looking back from the present time to about 1920 are: Odell Floyd, W.W. Cooper, Walter Turman, Edmond Aycock, D.L. Hatcher, Mr. Miles, B.F. Vanderslice, Mr. Walker, L.R. Hickey, X. Carton and Miss Browning.

Duncan Thompson, Supt.
Mrs. Denman Yarborough................High School Principal
Donaly Ayers...................................Vocational Agriculture
Harold F. Carlisle.............................Coach
Mrs. Janice Surratt...........................First Grade
W.G. Glover....................................7th & 8th Grades
Mrs. W.G. Glover............................5th & 6th Grades
Mrs. Tom Clark...............................3rd & 4th Grades
Mrs. George Caton..........................Home Economics
Mrs. Earl Blankenship......................English
Mrs. Edmond Aycock.....................2nd Grade

Johnny Loudd................................Principal
Mrs. Vivian Wright........................3rd, 4th & 5th Grades
Mrs. Jessie Turner.........................1st and 2nd Grades

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