HILL COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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 1960s 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|
|2||Union or Grub Hill||Woodbury|
|3||Jessie (No. given to Jessie later)||Hillsboro|
|4||Wilkes (In James Community)||Hillsboro|
|6||Kirby (No. given to Kirby later)||Abbott|
|8 or O||Aquilla||Aquilla|
|12||Union or Red Point||Whitney|
|13||Hunt or Atchison||Woodbury|
|14 or C||Peoria||Peoria|
|16||Wakefield of (Woodrow Wilson)||Blum|
|31||Elm Mott or Huron||Whitney|
|32||Oak Hill or Chrisman||Covington|
|41||Hill Dale or Rockwall||Itasca|
|46||Mt. Calm 1 & 2||Mt. Calm|
|48 & 120||Shiloh or Cooper||Osceola|
|51 & 124||Treadwell||Abbott|
|52||Bowman's Grove or Boman Dale||Hubbard|
|54||Brooken's or Brooken's Branch||Abbott|
|57||Richland or Iverson||Istaca|
|58||Bethel or Glass||Whitney|
|62||White Rock or "Honey Flat"||Irene|
|65||Wilbanks (near Derden)||Covington|
|65||Mertens (No. later given to Mertens)||Mertens|
|66||Willow or Vaughan||Vaughan|
|77||Frazier or Frazierville||Hillsboro|
|78||Hickory Valley or Hickory Flat||Aquilla|
|90||Pecan or Whistle Creek||Brandon|
|91||Carr or "Hot Rock"||Hillsboro|
|92||Herbert, colored school||Hubbard|
|95 or 96||Mesquite||Mt. Calm|
|97||Bynum 1880 - given later to Bynum|
|99 or P||Blum||Blum|
|100||Massey (Bell Springs Community)||Abbott|
|101||nothing listed here|
|103||Prairie Valley or Prairie View||Bynum|
|105||Pleasant View or Pleasant Hill||Covington|
|106||Daugherty or Lovelace||Hillsboro|
|109||Nothing listed here|
|111||Lone Star (1893)||Abbott|
|116||Penelope or Zee Vee||Penelope|
|117||Cunningham (at Menlow)||Hillsboro|
|120||Cooper or Shiloh||Osceola|
|123||Lee Summitt or Lea Summitt||Itasca|
|124 & 51||Treadwell||Abbott|
|OH||Files Valley Home||Itasca|
|NUMBERED COLORED SCHOOLS|
|OTHER NEGRO SCHOOLS|
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.
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.
J. M. Williford
Trustees for the Frazier School during the year 1898-99 were A. T. Brunson, R. T. Frazier, and W. A. Craig. Teachers 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.