HILL COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

1875-1980

By Mrs. Walton Smith and Homer W. Porter

Taken from “History of Hill County” by Hill County Historical Society pages 35-42

In 1875 the Texas Legislature passed an act establishing a public school system for the state at large. School communities were established in Hill County (some had already been established), and each community was given a number. By 1883 there were 82 common schools in Hill County (75 white, 4 colored): by 1894 there were 112 white schools and 11 colored schools; by 1905 there were 120 white and 7 colored; by 1930 there were 89 common school districts and 13 independent school districts.

After 1949 and the Gilmer-Aiken Law, many schools were consolidated. Again in the 1950s and 1960’s integration forced many more schools to consolidate or close up altogether. Today there are no common school districts and only 12 independent school districts in Hill County. They are: Abbott, Aquilla, Blum, Bynum, Covington, Hillsboro, Hubbard, Itasca, Malone, Mt. Calm, Penelope, and Whitney.

This is a partial list of the school communities of Hill County and their number at some time between 1875 and the present:

School # Name or Names Town Near Today
1 Prairie Valley Whitney
2 Union or Grub Hill Woodbury
3 Brandon Brandon
3 Jessie (No. given to Jessie later) Hillsboro
4 Wilkes (In James Community) Hillsboro
5 Hillsboro Hillsboro
6 Kirby (No. given to Kirby later) Abbott
7 Bois d'arc Itasca
8 or O Aquilla Aquilla
9 Covington Covington
10 Cottonwood Covington
11 Blanton Covington
12 Union or Red Point Whitney
13 Hunt or Atchison Woodbury
14 or C Peoria Peoria
15 Arnott Hillsboro
16 Wakefield of (Woodrow Wilson) Blum
17 Woodbury Woodbury
18 Salem Irene
19 Mt. Springs Hillsboro
20 Yates Peoria
21 Pierce Brandon
21 Mustang Creek Covington
22 Hodges Itasca
23 White Irene
23 Independence Irene
24 Oak Valley Aquilla
25 McDonald Osceola
26 Elm Springs Hillsboro
27 Live Oak Blum
28 Eureka Itasca
29 Scott's Chapel Abbott
30 Towash Whitney
31 Elm Mott or Huron Whitney
32 Oak Hill or Chrisman Covington
33 Ft Graham Whitney
34 Liberty Hill Whitney
35 Grove Creek Bynum
36 Steiner Valley Whitney
37 Prairie Dale Hillsboro
38 Union Bluff Peoria
39 Lenity Itasca
40 Derden Covington
40 Brushy Knob Covington
41 Hill Dale or Rockwall Itasca
42 Cold Corner Hubbard
43 McGowan Mt. Calm
44 Bonita Blum
45 Dabney Mt. Calm
46 Mt. Calm 1 & 2 Mt. Calm
46 Yocham Mt. Calm
47 Files Valley Itasca
48 & 120 Shiloh or Cooper Osceola
49 McGowan Valley Whitney
50 Bethlehem Whitney
51 & 124 Treadwell Abbott
52 Bowman's Grove or Boman Dale Hubbard
53 Denton West
54 Brooken's or Brooken's Branch Abbott
55 Honest Ridge Hillsboro
56 Rienzi Malone
57 Richland or Iverson Istaca
58 Bethel or Glass Whitney
59 Lebanon Aquilla
60 Rock Creek Blum
61 Richland Mertens
62 White Rock or "Honey Flat" Irene
63 Union Valley Itasca
64 Leon Hillsboro
65 Wilbanks (near Derden) Covington
65 Mertens (No. later given to Mertens) Mertens
66 Willow or Vaughan Vaughan
67 Wood Hillsboro
68 Union Hill Covington
69 Liberty Grove Abbott
70 Cottonwood Hubbard
71 Alligator West
72 Itasca Itasca
73 Lovelace Hillsboro
74 Hubbard Hubbard
75 Revier Hillsboro
76 Prairie Point Woodbury
77 Frazier or Frazierville Hillsboro
78 Hickory Valley or Hickory Flat Aquilla
79 Post Oak Hubbard
80 Malone Malone
81 Pleasant Hill Itasca
82 Union Whitney
83 Prairie Grove Aquilla
84 Caruthers Kimball
85 East Cottonwood Brandon
86 Chapel Grove Blum
87 DeLamar Whitney
88 Savage Hubbard
89 Herbert Hubbard
90 Pecan or Whistle Creek Brandon
91 Carr or "Hot Rock" Hillsboro
92 Herbert, colored school Hubbard
93 Mountain View Hillsboro
94 Tarver Whitney
95 or 96 Mesquite Mt. Calm
96 Wafer Hubbard
97 Corinth Brandon
97 Bynum 1880 - given later to Bynum  
98 Abbott Abbott
99 or P Blum Blum
100 Massey (Bell Springs Community) Abbott
101 nothing listed here  
102 Brigman Mt. Calm
103 Prairie Valley or Prairie View Bynum
104 Irene Irene
105 Pleasant View or Pleasant Hill Covington
106 Daugherty or Lovelace Hillsboro
107 Hammel Branch Brandon
108 Midway Brandon
109 Nothing listed here  
110 Pin Oak Hubbard
111 Lone Star (1893) Abbott
112 Cowley Covington
113 Brooks Woodbury
114 Lakenon Brandon
115 Griffin Hubbard
116 Penelope or Zee Vee Penelope
117 Cunningham (at Menlow) Hillsboro
118 Culp Aquilla
119 Davis Bynum
120 Cooper or Shiloh Osceola
121 McMurray Hillsboro
122 Oak Valley Birome
123 Lee Summitt or Lea Summitt Itasca
124 & 51 Treadwell Abbott
161 Mayfield Hillsboro
T Birome Penelope
OH Files Valley Home Itasca
  Fairview Abbott
  Bunyon Mt. Calm
NUMBERED COLORED SCHOOLS
5 Ross Hillsboro
24 Oak Valley Aquilla
30 Towash Whitney
65 Mertens Mertens
72 Itasca Itasca
89 Herbert Hubbard
108 Midway Brandon
OTHER NEGRO SCHOOLS
Abbott
Brandon
Bynm
Covington
Hillsboro
Hubbard
Irene
Itasca
Malone
Mertens
Mt. Calm
Whitney

 

Mr. Homer W. Porter, now of Dallas, supplies additional information about the growth of the public school system in Hill County:

Like most counties in early Texas history, Hill County had problems obtaining schools for the various areas of the county.

The service rendered in Hill County by the Masonic Lodge is shown in the establishment of schools. There was a Masonic sponsored school in Hillsboro in 1857, closed in 1883; Peoria in 1875, closed in 1881; Osceola in 1877, closed in 1877.; Files Valley in 1880, Woodbury in 1881, and Itasca in 1884. In most instances, the first floor was used for the school, and the second floor for the lodge. The schools were co-tenants with the lodges. In only one of these schools, the one located in Peoria, did the school have its origin with the lodge. This lodge furnished the buildings, equipped the rooms, and governed the school by a board elected from its board. The Masonic Lodge Schools served Hill County for a long period of time, and at that time there were only a limited number of additional schools in existence.

The status of free schools of Hill County is revealed in the following survey made in the years 1889-1890. This survey shows that Hillsboro, Hubbard and Whitney were independent schools. In addition, there were ninety-six common school districts. Frazerville was District No. 77. The records indicate that in 1858 the county had on hand, in the form of a School Fund, $539.12. The amount distributed to indigent children was $112.13.

In 1891, a total of sixteen districts were supplementing the public fund by extra local tax. The school term ranged from three months to nine months, and where the taxpayers paid a supplemental fund, the school term lasted from seven to ten months.

One of the early important schools taught in Hill County, of which there are now any records available, was that of Judge H. W. Young at Peoria, established in 1853. During his second year he had about 100 students, many coming for a distance. It is not known when this school closed. Judge Young was elected County Judge.

In the first record of an order for a school fund in Hill County, we find the following minutes of a proceeding of the Court held December 1856, “Ordered that the Treasurer of the State of Texas be authorized to pay to the Treasurer of Hill County, the sum of $29.92, due Hill County under Sections 12 and 13 of the Act of January, 1854.”

“This appears like a small beginning for so great an institution as the public school system of a county, but there are three very important elements to consider in such connection. The sparce population, the little appreciation of a scholastic education always held by pioneers in ever section of the country, and the great struggle they always have to undergo for a bare living under precarious circumstances.”

(Contemporary writer)

Mrs. Pennybacker in her Texas school history had this to say, “One great trouble that handicapped the public free schools of the South, before the Civil War, was the fact that they were considered the special property of the poor and needy. Parents who were able, were expected to pay for the education of their children. So long as this feeling existed, the free schools failed to become the active, living force they now are.”

In the pioneer days of Texas, a psychology that was older than the State itself, arrayed the people against the free school system as a state policy. That Texas statesmen who were called upon to shape the policies, and guide the progress of this great commonwealth, fully realized the importance of public education, is clearly shown by the record of their deeds. As far back as 1832, Texans asked the Legislature of Coahuila, Texas, for a grant of land for public free school purposes; the grant was never made.

In a survey made for the years 1937-1938, there were seventy common or county schools in Hill County. There were 4,870 students attending these schools. Very few of these schools are now in existence; consolidation and busing closed them.

An illustration of one of the schools that no longer exists is that of Frazierville, as written by Mr. Jim Williford, an early teacher. Jim M. Williford received his teaching certificate from North Texas Normal College August 6, 1898, and taught at the Frazier school that year. He reported the school activities regularly to the newspaper. On January 18, 1899, the “Mirror” printed the following report. (The “Hillsboro Mirror” consolidated with the “Hillsboro Reflector” November 15, 1898).

For the month ending January 6, 1899, the following pupils received the highest grades in examination on each branch:

SPELLING, Ben Adams; fifth reader, Ellen Varnell; 1st lower arithmatic, Mattie McMillian, Sallie Frazier and Ben Craig; 2nd lower arithmetic, Eva Frazier; higher arithmetic, Bob Frazier; grammar and school geography, Dick Varnell; W & L grammar, Bob Frazier; Hydes grammar, Bob Frazier; U S History, Bob Frazier; Phys, geography, Bob Frazier; Latin, Dove Dickson; 1st algebra, Dove Dickson; 2nd algebra, Thompson and Bob Frazier.

Perfect in deportment, Sloss McMillan, Garnett McMillan, Ben Adams, Earnest Gorman, Nellie Dickson, Annie Frazier, Aggie Frazier, Mary Frazier.

Perfect in attendance, Bob and Charlie Frazier, Isaac Brunson, Andrew Gorman.

Present enrollment is 46, the general average for the second month not as good as 1st, which was on account of Christmas. It is my urgent request that pupils are present every day possible.

Rev. H. T. Brunson who fell from a ladder some time before Christmas and hurt himself very bad is able to be out again.

We have preaching on 1st and 3rd Sunday and singing in the evenings. One and all cordially invited to attend both.

Success to the MIRROR and its readers.

Yours truly.

J. M. Williford

Trustees for the Frazier School during the year 1898-99 were A. T. Brunson, R. T. Frazier, and W. A. Craig. Teacher’s and Trustees’ Post Office was Hillsboro.

As the pioneers built their homes, attention was directed also toward the construction of school buildings and churches. In many instances one building served for both purposes. Many were the laymen who built and organized churches which represented their particular beliefs. This act was the dream which culminated in the symbol of their individual rights for which they had sought this new country.

Each community historian has included in his remarks the establishment and functioning of its own churches.