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Sexton School Community Information

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Savage Family Cemetery

Sharksville News


Margaret Gilmore Seerden

About seven miles south-southwest of Bay City, a community known as Sexton Community developed in the early 1800's. The community expanded from where the Hamilton Savage property, A. Smalley League, was situated in 1984, west to the Colorado River, and then north for about five miles. Some of the early settlers living in this area were the Savage, Harris, McGehee, Fondon, Watkins, Hillery, Sexton, Smith, Hudson, and Yeamans families. Although the properties were often some distance apart, a community spirit developed between these early families.

As was the case in most communities in the early period of settlement, one of the first considerations of the families was to provide education for their children. The first community school was located across Boggy just south of the Greenberry Savage ranch house, near the Conrad Franz home. This school was known as Franz School, and was a one-room building, which was also used for church services. A fierce coastal hurricane destroyed this school, and in 1896, Manley Sexton, Jr. , deeded an acre of land to G. Savage, J. C. McGehee, Berry Watkins, Jr., and Thomas J. Harris, Sr., trustees, to build a school. The deed stipulated that the trustees had no power to sell the land, and in the event the property was not used for the purpose of teaching school, the trustees had the authority to remove all improvements and the property itself was to revert to Manley Sexton, Jr.

Manley Sexton, Sr., came to Matagorda County in 1836 from Canada. In 1842, Manley, Sr., bought property in the Lessassier League, north of Matagorda which was situated just north of Emilius Savage's land in the Joshua Nelson League. Manley, Sr., married first Mary Savage, widow of Emilius Savage, and second Mary Watkins. He and Mary Watkins had one child, Manley, Jr. At his death, Manley, Sr., owned 2,483 acres of land, 400 head of cattle, and 13 head of horses and mules which became the property of Manley Sexton, Jr. Manley, Jr., married Theresa Franz, daughter of Conrad Franz. Her sister, Amanda Jane Franz, married Greenberry Savage.

A two-room schoolhouse was built on the property, a water well was drilled, and an open shed was built to be used for community and school picnics. The shed was often used by the children as a place to tie their horses or park their buggies. Some of the children walked to school, others rode horses, and in the early days, Greenberry Savage's children came by buggy. Many of the children traveled several miles to school daily and would be gone from home from early morning until dusk. On one occasion, a mischievous boy struck the horse of the Savage children's buggy, the horse kicked-up, and one of the younger boys, who was sitting in the floorboard in front of the older girls driving the buggy, was severely injured. The buggy was righted with haste, the horse re-harnessed, and the children raced home. Although his injuries were serious, the young boy fully recovered. In later years, Margaret (Gilmore) Seerden rode her horse several miles to attend Sexton School. H. W. Savage, Jr., and Barbara (Savage) Stell rode their horse to Sexton School, and about a mile from their house they were joined by Billie Jean (Harris) Reynal who was walking. The horse soon learned to adjust his gait to the speed of the walking children, and the trip became a time for gleeful chatter.

In some cases, two generations attended the Sexton school. Mae (Savage) Gilmore attended Sexton School as did her daughter, Margaret (Gilmore) Seerden. Hamilton Savage, Sr., attended as well as his children, H. W., Jr., and Barbara; and Thomas Harris and his daughter, Billie Jean, attended. The Fondon children, James, Claud, Earl, Beulah, Ivy, Elsie, and Melvin; the Cole children, Annie Lee, Lillian, and D. W., Jr.; the Wiley children, Charles Henry, Delilah, Leslie, and J . C., all attended Sexton School.

The school seemed to be the bond that held the community together. One of the highlights of every year was the end-of-school all-day picnic. All residents of the community turned out with their best recipes, their most delicious barbecue, their horseshoes for "pitchin," and their games for the children. The picnic included the entire community, not just those who had children enrolled in the Sexton school. Often the picnic were held at a site on the river so the children could play on the sandy banks, the older and braver ones could swim, and the men could fish.

As was often the case in rural communities, the Sexton school was also the site for church services. Although services were seldom held weekly, every effort was made to have church at least once a month. The preachers were of various denominations, and would usually arrive on Saturday, spend the night with a family on a rotating basis, preach on Sunday just after Sunday dinner, and then leave. Barbara (Savage) Stell recalled the anxious preparations, the sumptuous food, and the welcome addition of "city" guests when it was their turn to host the "preacher." Sunday School and "singing" were held almost every Sunday, using materials furnished by various denominations and the two or three song books that someone brought from "town." If a family had a child to be christened, and had a religious preference, the event was planned at a time when that minister was due to preach. Sometimes the christenings had to be postponed several times if the weather was bad or the preacher was sick or had another engagement.

Some of the early teachers at the Sexton school were Jewel Thigpen of Mexia, Florence Moore of Palacios, Martha (Langham) Foley, Della (Senior) Oliver, Erna (Harbison) Mann, Beulah (Fondon) Watkins, and Veronica (White) Franz.

The Sexton School District was consolidated with the Bay City School District about 1934, and the community children were transported to Bay City by school bus. In the early 1960's the Sexton school property reverted to Theresa (Franz) Sexton, widow of Manley Sexton, Jr. She had the school building taken down and used the materials to build her home, situated on south Avenue F in Bay City. Theresa Sexton was a great-aunt of Margaret (Gilmore) Seerden, who began her school years by riding her horse the three miles or so to Sexton School.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, 399-401


Sexton News

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins and Ouida Rose spent Wednesday of last week in Bay City.

Mrs. John Newman, Christine and Miss Winifred Andrews were dinner guests at the Wiley home Thursday.

Mr. Charlie Wiley and Charles Henry were in Bay City Wednesday.

Mr. Aaron Fondon, Melvin, Mr. Earl Fondon, Charles, and Miss Marietta Webb, drove to Daisetta Saturday afternoon to bring Mrs. Fondon and Ivy home. They have been visiting relatives in Galveston, Anahuac and Daisetta during the past week.

Mr. Boyd Sifford, of Wadsworth, was a caller at the Wiley home Thursday.

Mrs. Bill Roland attended a show in Bay City Saturday evening.

Section hands killed a large rattle snake at the Colorado river crossing of the Missouri Pacific. The snake measured about five feet.

Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Ryman drove to Bay City Saturday evening.

Mr. Dal Hamlin is trying to get his cotton harvested double quick in order to get moved. The Hamlins are planning to leave for Crockett as soon as they are able to dispose of their crops.

Mrs. John Newman was in Bay City Monday having some work done on her teeth.

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins and Ouida Rose spent Tuesday evening in the Fondon home.

Mrs. George Mangum of Daisetta is visiting here at the home of her brother, Mr. Aaron Fondon. With Mrs. Mangum are Master Jimmie Magnum, her son, Mrs. Sam Davis, her daughter, and Mrs. Davis' little son.

Mr. Earl Fondon and little son, Charles, formerly of Bay City, have made their home here with Earl's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Fondon.

Mr. Charles Wiley was baling hay for Mr. Bill Roland Wednesday.

Mr. Charlie Branstetter has purchased a new car.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Savage, H. W. and Barbara, were in Bay City Wednesday.

Mr. Herchel Gilmore has his rice in shocks. If the fair weather holds, this lucky farmer's worries will soon be over for this year, but perhaps we should attribute his success to good sense and industry, rather than luck.

Quite a few people drove down from Bay City Sunday to purchase watermelons at the Wiley home. The Wileys are realizing a nice profit on [watermelons] this year.

Matagorda County Tribune, August 27, 1935

Sexton News

Last Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Wiley came down after their strayed turkeys, and visited awhile in the B. R. Watkins home.

Tuesday last Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins moved to their new home way down on the river.

Sam Watkins was in Bay City Thursday buying some furniture for his new abode.

Ivy Fondon was taken ill Friday. She fainted while taking part in the Spanish invitation on the city square. We have heard no further report, but trust she had recovered.

The social event of the week was a tacky party at the Newman home. It seems a most hilarious time was enjoyed.

Mrs. B. R. Watkins accompanied her daughter, Lillie, to Bay City Saturday afternoon.

Mrs. Hilary returned from Houston Saturday, where she had been with her daughter, Mrs. Moer of Wharton. Mrs. Moer has been ill for some time and is taking treatment in Houston. Mrs. Hillary spent Saturday night at her place here, going on to Wadsworth Sunday in order to get her grandson, Rufus Pile, back to school there.

The Wiley and McKelvy families put in a busy day Saturday getting a beef into cans.

Mrs. Ludell Deering of Houston is pending a few days with her brother Aaron Fondon.

Mr. and Mrs. Newman visited the Wileys Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Watkins of Wadsworth were all day visitors Sunday with his mother, Mrs. B. R. Watkins. Mr. Watkins going down to the woods to see after the cattle.

Sam Watkins made a trip to Bay City Monday to find a buyer for his turkeys.

James Fondon, Sam Rutherford, Chester McQueen and Ray Nicholson are camping on the river cutting wood for Mrs. B. R. Watkins.

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Harris and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Savage called on Mrs. B. R. Watkins Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Gene Watkins of Bay City is down in this vicinity bright and early every morning building fences.

Archie Rouse of Bay City called on Ivy Fondon Sunday night.

Dall Hamlin made a trip to Collegeport Sunday.

Mrs. James Fondon and son are staying with Mr. and Mrs. Jim Fondon of Wadsworth while her husband is away.

Some of the folks took advantage of the cool clear weather to butcher and are enjoying fresh pork.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 19, 1935

Sexton News

Last Monday Misses Helen and Irma Hinson visited Mrs. Beulah Watkins.

Sam Watkins made a business trip to Bay City Monday.

Mr. L. F. Miller, who has been away doing pipe line work, has joined his wife, Mrs. Lillie Miller, at her home here.

Mrs. Niva Watkins is spending a few days with her mother-in-law, Mrs. B. R. Watkins and sister-in-law, Mrs. Lillie Miller.

Miss Ivy Fondon and Mr. Archie Rouse attended the show in Bay City New Yearís night.

Thursday afternoon, Bill Gandy, of Bay City, brought the news to Fondonís that their son and brotherís wife were dying. They hurried to Newgulf to be with her in her last moments.

Mrs. Floyd Ryman was in Bay City Friday.

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins attended the funeral of Mr. John Grimes Saturday. Mr. Watkins being a pall bearer. The officiating minister preaching one of the most beautiful sermons we have ever heard. He did not urge the bereaved ones not to sorrow, but his plea was to make their sorrow a blessing and let their tears bring them closer to God.

A large crowd gathered at the Baptist Church in Bay City Sunday afternoon to pay their last respects to Mrs. Melba Fondon, deceased wife of Earl Fondon, who was reared in this community. Mrs. Fondon was stricken with double pneumonia and a week from the day she took to bed, she lay in her casket. Her grief-stricken family and friends could not realize that the girl who was so gay and smiling a week ago, was now gone and would never smile at them again. That was what made it so hard on those left behind. Those from the this community who attended the funeral were: Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Savage, Mr. and Mrs. Bill McKelvy, Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Viets, Mrs. F. F. Ryman, Mr. and Mrs. W. Hinson, Mr. and Mrs. Newman, Mr. and Mrs. Roland [Fondon?], Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Fondon and family, and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins.

The friends of Melba and Earl in this neighborhood were deeply shocked and grieved. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the sorrowing young husband and the little son.

Matagorda County Tribune, January 9, 1936

Sexton News

Mr. Tom Harris had employment in Bay City last week doing some repair work on the Morris Savage home.

Mr. Charlie Wiley made a trip to El Campo Friday to attend the rice meeting there.

Mrs. Emma Wiley and Mrs. Letha McKelvy went over to see Grandma Frick, who was very ill Friday.

Mr. Hanley, a cattle buyer of Houston, came out to Mrs. B. R. Watkins' to buy Mrs. Nina Watkins cattle.

Mrs. Beulah Watkins visited her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Fondon, Friday afternoon.

Miss Ivy Fondon and Mr. Archie Rouse attended the show in Bay City Friday night.

Mr. Hamilton Savage was in Bay City Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Ben Harrison was down at the B. R. Watkins home bright and early Sunday morning to do some butchering. Rufus Watkins came up from Wadsworth to help with the cattle.

Mr. Charlie Branstetter enjoyed a fish supper with Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins Sunday night.

The Newman's were visiting at the Wiley home Sunday, Christine remaining to spend the night with Delilah.

Mr. and Mrs. Savage were in Bay City Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins made a business trip to Bay City Monday. Mrs. Watkins and Ouida Rose taking out time to see "Little Men" at the Frels.

Monday morning Mrs. Nina Watkins and Mr. Lee Miller went to Bay City to arrange some business concerning Mrs. Watkins' cattle.

Little I. C. Wiley is on the sick list this week.

Matagorda County Tribune, January 16, 1936


Last week Mrs. Bill Roland gave a stork shower for Mrs. Preston Poole. Mrs. Poole was pleased and happy to receive many dainty little gifts. Refreshments of cocoa and pineapple cake were served to the following ladies: Mesdames Ollie Ryman, Arthur Ryman and Jim Fondon of Wadsworth; Mrs. Marion Anderson of Bay City; Mesdames John Newman, Sam Watkins, Dick Rutherford, Howard Rutherford and Miss Lugia Kadihsky.

Miss Ivy Fondon spent last Thursday night with Misses Helen and Irma Hinsen. Mr. Archie Rouse called and carried all three young ladies to the show.

Mr. Ben Wiley has returned from California, where he has spent several months. We are all happy to have Uncle Ben's cheerful smile among us again.

Miss Ivy Fondon spent last Saturday night and Sunday with her sister, Mrs. Beulah Watkins.

Charles Henry and Leslie Wiley have just recovered from the measles.

Ernest Coleman is staying at Sam Watkins and running Bill Smart's tractor, which Mr. Watkins has hired to do some plowing.

Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wiley called on Mrs. Otto Hudson Wednesday.

Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Ryman surprised Miss Irma Himen with a freezer of ice cream, cake and candy on her birthday Thursday. They spent the evening playing dominoes.

Messrs. Charlie and Ben Wiley, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins, Mrs. Bill Roland and Mrs. Dick Rutherford were in Bay City Friday.

Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wiley made a trip to Matagorda Friday night.

Mrs. Tom Harris spent last week with her father, Mr. Peter Ryman, who is ill. She returned Saturday with the report that her father is improving.

Little Charles Fondon has been staying with his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Fondon, for the past two weeks on account of the illness of his Aunt Erna Kuesel. Miss Kuesel has been dangerously ill with a throat disease, but is recovering now.

Mr. and Mrs. James Fondon, of Bay City, visited Mr. and Mrs. Dick Rutherford Sunday. Mr. and Mrs. Fondon and Mrs.. Rutherford called on Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins Sunday morning.

Little Leedell Rutherford is ill with the measles.

Mr. Charlie Branstetter was down at Sam Watkins' Sunday night for the usual weekly round of dominoes.

Matagorda County Tribune, March 12, 1936

Sexton News

Mrs. Bill Roland complimented her little daughter, Bertie, on her fourth birthday, with a big freezer of ice cream and devil's food cake. Guests were Mrs. Clyde Griffith and children. Mrs. Sam Watkins were callers at the Fondon home Thursday afternoon.

Mrs. Lee Miller and Freddye returned last week from a visit with relatives in Houston.

The new driver, Mr. Tom Harris, drove the school bus to Bay City Thursday, getting it ready to begin business Tuesday morning. Mr. Harris, with the help of Mr. Lee Miller and Mr. Ryman, of Wadsworth, moved the bus garage down to his place last week.

Mr. Aaron Fondon was in Bay City Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Floyd Morton, of Rockdale, called at the Wiley home Sunday.

Mr. Jack Hood, of Bay City, enjoyed Sunday supper with Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wiley.

Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Fondon and Melvin spent Sunday in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Cone in Gulf.

Miss Ivy Fondon and Mr. Archie Rouse attended the midnight show in Bay City Saturday night.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Savage, H. W. and Barbara, attended Sunday School in Bay City Sunday.

Mr. Aaron Fondon, Melvin, Mr. Charlie Wiley, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins, were in Bay City Monday morning.

Dinner guests in the Fondon home Monday were Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins and Ouida Rose.

Mr. and Mrs. Lee Miler, Freddye and Mrs. R. B. Watkins drove to Bay City Monday afternoon.

Miss Ivy Fondon and Mr. Archie Rouse went for a swim in the Bernard River Sunday.

Mr. Charlie Branstetter drove to Wharton Monday to visit with relatives.

Mrs. Nina Watkins has gone to Houston to be with her mother, who is ill.

Matagorda County Tribune, September 10, 1936

Sexton News

Mrs. Bill Roland was a Bay City visitor Monday.

Messrs. Lloyd Watkins, Lee Miller and Floyd Ryman were down driving the Watkins cattle out from their pasture on the river Sunday.

Aaron Fondon was suffering acutely from an attack of ptomaine poisoning Saturday. All of Mr. Fondon's children were at home Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. Riginald Stern of Boling, Mrs. Sam Watkins and Ouida Rose, and Earl, who was staying in town during the bad weather. Other visitors were Archie Rouse, Mrs. Fannie Fete, and Miss Marietta Webb.

Sam Watkins finished cutting his Blue Rose rice Friday afternoon. The farmers have been able to do very little threshing here, although some of the rice has been cut and shocked for several weeks.

Mrs. John Newman's sister, Mrs. Reed, arrived Saturday morning for an indefinite visit.

Miss Ivy Fondon, Miss Christine Newman, Messrs. Cletus and John Louis Newman attended a party at the Lowe home Saturday evening.

Charles Branstetter has moved all his belongings over the protection levee.

Mr. and Mrs. Lee Miller and Mrs. B. R. Watkins were shopping in Bay City Saturday afternoon.

Charley Wiley expected to finish cutting his rice Sunday.

Little Ouida Rose Watkins is staying with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Fondon, as the river is threatening the Watkins home.

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins spent Sunday night in Bay City.

Charlie Branstetter drove to Bay City Monday morning.

Cletus Newman and Miss Winifred Andrews were Wharton visitors Sunday.

Mr. Harris has a real job on his hands, getting the school bus in now as the roads are in a very bad state.

It is hard to tell which is more lowering, the sky or the farmers' faces. We hope the norther is going to clear up both.

Matagorda County Tribune, October 1, 1936

Sexton News

Mrs. Sam Watkins spent Monday of last week in Houston.

Miss Marietta Webb of Bay City, was a guest in the Fondon home last Tuesday night.

Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Ryman were shopping in Bay City Saturday evening.

Charley Branstetter has moved on a farm east of Bay City. We are sorry to have lost this fine member of our community.

Sam Watkins attended a livestock auction near Van Vleck last Friday.

Miss Ivy Fondon spent Sunday night and Monday in the Mixon home.

Cletus Newman was a caller in the Fondon home Sunday morning.

Mrs. B. R. Watkins and family are enjoying a new car.

Mrs. Reagan of Van Vleck, and Albert Bryant were business visitors at the Sam Watkins home Monday.

Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Watkins drove to Bay City Monday afternoon.

Miss Deliah Wiley was suffering with toothache Monday. Mr. Wiley carried her to the dentist that afternoon.

Mrs. Sam Watkins returned home Saturday evening having spent a week with her mother, Mrs. Fondon.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 17, 1936

Sexton News

Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Ryman were business visitors in Bay City Tuesday.

Will Hinsen called at the Sam Watkins home Thursday afternoon.

Sam Watkins was a suffer of the flu last week.

Charley Wiley was in Bay City Tuesday.

Albert Bryant brought home a nice Steeldust stallion last week, which he had purchased from Dave Dodd.

Dinner guests at the Fondon home Sunday were Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Cone and children of Gulf, Miss Marietta Webb of Bay City, and Mrs. John Newman and children.

Miss Ivy Fondon and Mr. Archie Rouse were quietly married Saturday evening Rev. Deutsch officiating. Mr. and Mrs. Rouse will make their home in Bay City, where Mr. Rouse is employed.

Little Ouida Rose Watkins spent the week end in the Hinsen home.

Mr. and Mrs. Will Hinsen, Miss Helen and Irma attended the program given at the Presbyterian church in Bay City Sunday evening.

Sunday afternoon callers at Willowbanks were Mr. and Mrs. Blondy Bell and baby, of Wadsworth ranch.

Mrs. Bill Roland was a Bay City visitor Monday.

Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Watkins of Bay City, visited in the Lee Miller home Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Charley Wiley and children attended a movie in Bay City Saturday evening.

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins were shopping in Bay City Monday.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 24, 1936

Sexton News

Mrs. Hamilton Savage was shopping in Bay City last Monday.

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Harris were guests for Christmas dinner in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Travis Thompson in Wadsworth.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Savage, H. W. and Barbara, spent the holidays with Mr. and Mrs. Robbins, Mrs. Savage's parents.

Christmas guests at Willowbanks were Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Fondon, Earl, Melvin and Charles and Miss Marietta Webb.

Mrs. Curtis Cone, of Gulf, and Mrs. Reginald Sterry of Wallis, visited Mrs. Fanny Fite and her mother, Mrs. Way, Christmas day.

Callers at the Fondon home Christmas evening were Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Sterry, Mr. and Mrs. Archie Rouse, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Watkins and Ouida Rose.

Charley Wiley was the purchaser of a new Case tractor last week. Mr. Wiley began breaking his rice land this week.

Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Sterry returned to their home in Wallis Saturday evening were Johnnie McKelvey and Booter Franz.

Miss Christine Newman entertained with a party Monday evening, honoring Miss Elizabeth Andrews, who is at home from Houston for the holidays. A large crowd of both young people and old married folks enjoyed a hilarious evening playing games of all kinds. Refreshments of cake and hot cocoa were served.

Mesdames Sam Watkins and Charley Wiley attended a show in Bay City Monday evening.

Miss Marietta Webb, Mrs. Sam Watkins, Ouida Rose, and J. C. Wiley spent Sunday night in the Fondon home.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 31, 1936


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