The property was purchased in the early 1900s and was a strawberry field. It was considered to be in the country and was at the edge of the Bay City townsite. There were no streets in the area at the time and a fence had to be erected around the first school built there to keep the livestock out.
The first of three buildings on the Cherry site was erected to replace an earlier two-room schoolhouse that the district had outgrown. This impressive two-story frame structure had eight separate rooms, halls, and cloak closets. The principal for the new school was Professor J. E. Cowles and the three teachers were Minnie Mayes, Tenie Holmes and Julia Beasley. According to Ruby Hawkins, a teacher there in 1904, there was no Parent Teacher Association and very little amusement. There was no piano and no band. There was also no assembly room so every program was held in its separate room and enjoyed only by the students of that room. The salary was $30 per month (for as many months as the district was able to pay). There were many heavy restrictions placed on the teachers. They had to sign a pledge or contract not to dance during the term, not to play cards, and not to date except on Saturday nights with a curfew of 10 p.m.
The Jefferson Davis School was later built on Fourth Street, but by 1926 was too small to house students from all grades.
In the late 1920s the school board began making plans for the erection of a new high school on the old property located at Cottonwood and Eighth Street. The building was formally opened in September, 1930. It served as the Bay City High School from 1930 until 1949 when a new high school was built on Sycamore Street. The older building served as Bay City Junior High during the years 1949 - 1962. In 1962 the same building became the John H. Cherry Elementary School.
The building that is now John H. Cherry Elementary was completed in 1986 with the students moving from the old building to the new over the Christmas holiday break. The newer construction took place on the east side of the same site. The students had virtually no playground area during the construction period. The open house and dedication ceremony was held February 9, 1987.
Rudolph Martin was principal when the new building was constructed and served until his death in March, 1992. The current principal, Barbara Gordon began her service as Cherry principal in the fall of 1992.
Written by Mary Belle Ingram
Matagorda County, Volume I, pages 624 - 628
John Harvey Cherry was born January 25, 1891, on a farm near Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. He was the only child of George Collie and Carrie Pruett Cherry. His mother died when he was eighteen months old. John was reared by his paternal grandparents, and he attended elementary school in Milam County. He graduated from high school in Rockdale. After he graduated, he lived with his maternal grandparents while he attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College. John took subjects needed for the State Teachers Certificate. He married Alice Buffington on December 25, 1910.
In 1921 and after the birth of a son, John Harold, in 1920, John Cherry entered Texas A&M College and gained a certificate as a classer of cotton. He was the top student of 300 and 1 of only 20 to receive a special certificate. John was president of his freshman class and of the Schoolmasters Club.
John Cherry taught school for ten years in Milam County and seven years in Gonzales County. He received his BS degree from Southwest Texas Teachers College in 1934 and came to Matagorda County as a teacher in the Collegeport schools. On April 10, 1936, Cherry became principal of the Jefferson Davis Elementary School in Bay City and in July, 1944, superintendent of Bay City ISD, a position he held until his retirement in 1960. In 1951, John H. Cherry received his MEd from the University of Houston. During his tenure of teaching and as superintendent, Cherry saw the Bay City schools grow from three schools to seven campuses. He served the Region III Educational Center as a director for many years. In 1962 the John H. Cherry School was named in his honor.
Cherry was a member of the Bay City Chamber of Commerce and a charter member of the Bay City Lions Club. He was one of the originators of the Rice Festival, served as president of the Lions Club, and was honored with a life membership. He served as a director of the Crippled Children's Camp in Kerrville, Texas. He was a member of Gamma Mu, Phi Delta Kappa, and Who's Who in American Education. In 1952 he received a life membership in the PTA. He was an avid golfer throughout the years, and he played regularly each week through his 91st years.
John H. Cherry's life reflects that of a learned and scholarly man, who studied long and hard in many different colleges which gained him a high level of education which he used as a tool to give others a better knowledge of the things around them.
John Harvey Cherry died January 25, 1983, on his 92nd birthday. He was buried beside his wife, Alice Buffington Cherry, in Roselawn Memorial Park, Van Vleck.
Written by Mary Belle Ingram
Matagorda County, Volume 1, Pages