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Former Resident Remembers Early Days of Collegeport

The following article by Alice Slone Morrison was published in the May 31, 1978, issue of The Daily Tribune, Bay City, Texas. Mrs. Morrison died March 15, 1980.

Baptist Academy

The first portion of the article included information on
Palacios Baptist Academy.


Gulf Coast Industrial Arts University

  In Sept. 21, 1907 when the Academy started by Howard Payne College ( Brownwood , Rev. J. M. Carroll was president; Mrs. W. H. Travis was vice president; and Professor Fredrick Edmond Smithen was dean. Will Travis was president from 1908 to 1909, but January, 1908 Union Baptist Association (new sponsors) told Travis that in June, 1909, Rev. M. M. Wolfe was going to be the new president, Travis said that was not fair so he went then across the Tres Palacios Bay to the Hurd Land Company (who was laying out a new town) and suggested they start a college over there. Everyone agreed. Thus because the results of a college in Collegeport. Collegeport started May 25, 1908 . In June, 1909, Mr. W. H. Travis began building the Gulf Coast University of Industrial Arts. His brother, Rev. M. A. Travis came down from Canada and helped build the University.

It had to be different than the Palacios Academy . So, this one would have students that completely worked their way through college.

The Gulf Coast University of Industrial Arts opened for the first time Sept. 20, 1909 in Collegeport. Mr. W. H. Will Travis was president and taught English and Science. Rev. M. A. Travis was dean and business manager and taught Education and Religion. Miss Kendrix taught History and Home Economics. Mr. Moore taught Agriculture and was head of University farm and nursery (Citrus and figs). Mrs. Van Dorn taught music (voice, piano and choir). Miss Young taught grammar school (came from Huntsville Normal College ).

In the University, there were fifty students that lived in the dorms; thirty came to classes from their homes off campus and from the hotel.

The building was a quadrangle of 200 feet with a south frontage. On the left (west) side was the girls dorm (40 x 75). Then, back of the west side housed the city public school (1 through 6 grades) while they were there from 9 to 3 p.m. The college used it later.

On the right side was the chapel (40 x 125). The remaining east side housed the boy's dorm.

Now between the west and east sides on the north was the laundry, kitchen and large dining room (also play room 80 x 40).

On the west front by the girl's dorm, was a forty foot square room for Miss Kendrix, Dean of Women (also Professor). Ten feet of this space was the private piano room. Joining the chapel-side was a forty foot square bedroom for President and Mrs. Travis. President W. H. Travis' office took off ten feet facing south. There was a forty foot south front opening that led into the patio of a hundred and twenty foot square of grassy lawn.

Every room opened into the center patio which held a baseball field and on the back, near the kitchen, was a basketball court. In the patio near the music room was a weestach tree which inspired the University song, Tune of "The Old Apple Tree."

"In the courtyard of Old GCU--It was there that I first met you! etc."

There was no running water at this college because the University was planned and built in such a short time (one summer). Betty Hill (Blessing) carried the water in a red wagon. It took lots of water to run three washers of clothes before lunch, besides the dorm water. All the water came from a pump on the north side, near the two chicken yards, cow shed, and tractor barn. Back of this, there were two outdoor 3 hole toilets which used sheets of Sears catalogs for toilet paper. They were used in the daytime by all the college students and the public school pupils.

In the dorms, each two students shared a china washbowl and pitcher of water, and a coal oil lamp on a chest in which clothes were kept. The students slept on half beds with a throw rug in between each bed. At the end of each dorm was a six foot bathtub. In those days it was quite proper for as many as 8 girls to bath (one at a time) in the same tub of water. Then the tub was refilled and the others took their turn bathing. At this end, there was a china commode and 10 granet buckets of water to fill the open toilet tank after each flushing. This water emptied into a cesspool. This china toilet and cesspool was a Northern newspaper feature of the University. Over at the Palacios Academy, they had piped running water, but didn't get the good write ups.

There were two - one burner coal oil stoves that held the tea kettles of water on top. This was heated for bathing. In each dorm, a curtained off place for hanging clean clothes completed the room lay-out.

Girls worked in the kitchen, and the laundry because most of the wash was for the hotel and townspeople and they sold one hundred loaves of bread daily.

The boys planted the farms, and acres of fruit trees. Cow feed was sold all over the country as Mr. Moore had just perfected a new feed for South Texas .

Breakfast of three courses was served at 5 a.m. and consisted of cream of wheat or oatmeal. Then appeared fried eggs, bacon, hash brown potatoes and biscuits. Last, came hotcakes, or French toast with jelly and homemade cottage cheese, milk and coffee. This completed the meal. Each side of the table had long benches to seat 5 and two chairs at each end resulting in 12 students at a table.

There was a class before the boys took their lunch to the University Farm (learn by doing). Half the class worked in the citrus and fig nursery. After they returned at 4 p.m. they attended other classes. The girls took piano, voice, sewing and cooking classes during the day. They had sandwiches for lunch. Each Saturday, the students had sack lunches so everyone could do more things.

At 5 p.m. dinner consisted of steak, potatoes, rice, beans, salad, and dessert, and plenty of homemade bread with lots of milk and coffee. The food was served family style in large dishes up and down the extra long tables. The students could take as much as they wanted to eat -- even up to 3 helpings, but nothing was ever to be left on the plate or that person would get scolded. The blessing at each meal was said after everyone was seated. "Thank you God for this food, Amen" was said by all fifty students and the five College professors. Then, the big dishes were passed.

After supper, there was a class, and at 6:30 everyone was free to have fun. Each night had a special party such as ice-cream, candy pull, pop corn, etc. Church in the chapel was both morning and evening on Sunday.

A great event was the President's Fraternity Initiation. After the first 9 weeks of college, students who made 6 A's on 6 courses were initiated. There was one boy and thee girls at the Junior College Academy; and two boys (Tom Slone and Frank Slone) and four girls (Alice Slone, Nora Smith, Betty Hill, and another girl) of the Senior College . The girls wore long white cotton dresses, and the boys wore white pants and shirts. The candlelight service was held in the Collegeport Chapel with three hundred people watching. President Will Travis was 6 ft. 4 in. and President M. M. Wolfe was 5 ft. 7 in. standing there in their white suits.

The University at Collegeport was advertised in the big northern newspapers and hundreds of northerners came south to get out of the cold winters. By now, there were a thousand people living in Collegeport. There were community boat rides, large enough to hold 100 people, box suppers, hay rides, fish and oyster fries, etc.

Twice a month, the Palacios Academy and the Collegeport University would get together and hear a Friday night music concert, or see a Saturday afternoon baseball game every two weeks at a different college. Hurds Boat Service would take the students to the Palacios Baptist Academy landing (now Foley Addition) or bring a load to the Gulf Coast University (from that landing, the students would walk 5 blocks to the University).

Because President Wolfe at the Palacios Academy required girls to wear gloves at musicals, one visiting GCU student who lost a glove in the Tres Palacios Bay   one windy day, wrapped that hand in first aid gauze to attend the musical concert held in the basement of the girl's dorm.

In 1913, a three story red brick building housed the University (the public school grades used 2 rooms from 9 to 3 p.m. ). After 1927, pupils went to Palacios Schools. On this land now stands the Collegeport Community House.

The First Wedding

  It was on one of those October boat rides going to the Gulf of Mexico for sightseeing with a lunch at Portsmouth Lighthouse that Paul Morrison proposed to Alice Slone. Paul had come down from Pennsylvania with a group of people. He and his brother, Sam, were living in the hotel. Paul first met Alice in the History class of the college.

Paul Hayes Morrison was born in Henniker , New Hampshire , Jan. 9, 1888 , to Mr. and Mrs. George Morrison. (Mollie's mother was President Hayes' first cousin...grew up together.) His daddy's line came over on the Mayflower. Paul finished Coraopolis, Pa. High School and attended Carnegie Tech College . There were four boys and a girl in the family.

Alice Edna Slone was born in Turnersville, Texas on November 14, 1886 to Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Renfro Slone (mother Amanda Kessiah Jones--kin to Pocohontas). Before the American Revolution, three Sloane brothers came from England to America after a year, one stayed in New York and changed his name to Sloan (large hospital there named for his heir). One boy, Bill spelled his name Slone and went to Kentucky; and Alice's line, John Slone, went to Virginia. Alice graduated Magna Cum Laude from Louise High School in 1908 and attended Draughan's Business College that fall in San Antonio .

Two weeks after the engagement party, Paul left the University early that morning and walked down the road to catch the Hurd boat going to Palacios to get the University's supply of ice (4 blocks of 300 pounds each). A wagon was waiting at the pier, on both sides to deliver the ice. When Paul got off the boat at the pier, he walked to the railroad station to catch a train to Bay City . In Bay City , he went to the Matagorda County Courthouse and got the marriage license. Then, across the street, he got the wide gold band at Tetts Jewelry Store. In the afternoon, Paul caught the train back to Palacios. That night, he boarded the Hurd Boat that went back to Collegeport.

The wedding was at Rev. M. A. Travis' home (14 x 18) on Dec. 14, 1909 at 8 p.m. There before 10 friends, Rev. Travis performed the ceremony. Mrs. Van Dorn played the piano and Mrs. Travis served wedding cake and coffee.

The groom wore a double breasted navy blue serge suit and stood in front of a small table. The bride marched to the altar to the tune of the wedding march. She wore an ankle length suit of soft white wool with a batiste high neck tucked blouse. The high topped leather shoes, and the felt-veiled hat were in black.

They were the first couple to marry in Collegeport, Texas .

They traveled to Coraopolis, Pa. to live for 2 years and then returned to Texas in 1911 and started working in a hotel in Marlin. Then Paul became light changer on the railroad in Irving, ran a taxi in San Antonio and Houston. They returned to Collegeport with the Slone brothers in 1921 to farm rice. In June, 1923, Paul hired in at the Humble Oil Refinery in Baytown where he worked until he retired in 1947.

The Paul Morrisons (1926) were charter members of Baytown's First Baptist Church. Mrs. Morrison was a fifty year member of Goose Creek Eastern Star and Mr. Morrison went to York Rite in the Masons.

The Morrisons raised two foster nieces as their own children. Dr. Minnie Alice Robertson was given a formal art debut with 300 people, then became director of art at Lee College. Wanda Reba Robertson, a former secretary of Baytown 's Humble Refinery, married Walter Roussels. The Morrison's grandchildren are Sherri Boone who is teaching at A&M University and getting her Ph.D. in English; and Walt Slone is attending North Texas University majoring in music and photography.

Mr. Paul Morrison died at his home in Baytown on their 38th wedding anniversary and is buried in Palacios.

Alice Morrison lives in their home in Baytown and enjoys visits from the relatives, has a nice flower and vegetable garden, does a lot of reading and keeps a daily diary.

The Slone Family

      Mr. Jesse Renfro Slone read about the Collegeport University and decided to take his children there. After telling his new baby daughter (now Hilma Slone Huitt) good-bye, he started out to enroll his oldest daughter, Alice, and son, Tom, his stepdaughter, Nora Smith, his nephew, Frank Slone, and a Jackson County neighbor, Will Frisbree. After a 2 day wagon trip (spent the night near Blessing by lantern light) they arrived a week early to help get the University working smoothly.

Tom Slone was head of the horses and cows, later in life, he farmed rice and had a very large ranch of hundreds of cows and show horses. Nora Smith became head of the laundry. The college did the town's laundry. She got her degree in three years and taught public school. Frank Slone was head of building and painting. Later, he became a house builder in Houston . Will Frisbree was head of the Fig Nursery. Later, he turned to farming in Jackson County . Alice Slone was head of the college kitchen. Later, in 1923, she started the Baytown School Cafeteria and in 1926 was head of cafeteria at Houston San Jacinto High School for 18 years. She later became Baytown's First Baptist Church choir director using her musical talents.

J. R. Slone had 19 children and raised 2 stepdaughters. The Slone children were: Virgil, Beulah, Alice, Tom, Jones, Minnie, Alazine, Chase, Lanford, Crockett, J. C., Freddie Mae, Hilma, William, Joe, Omega, Beatrice, Teddy and Annie. The 2 stepdaughters were Nora and Willie Smith.


Copyright 2005 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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This page was created
Jan. 10, 2005
This page was updated
Oct. 20, 2006