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Below is a transcription of Mary Belle Batte's Thesis for her Master of Arts Degree at Southwestern University in 1938.
The transcription and photos were submitted by the Milam County Genealogical Society.
Links to photos in the Thesis and actual pages are located in the Milam County Archive.
Click here for scan's of Mary Batte's Thesis.

**Please note that mistakes are kept in context since this is a transcription of the original.**




A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment

Of the requirements



Southwestern University

Georgetown, Texas

August 1, 1936


/s/ J C Godburg

/s/ B.J. Bruton


This thesis is affectionately

dedicated to

Mr. & Mrs. R. L. Batte, Sr.

My father and mother

Table of Contents
Chapter I: Topography of Milam County 1
 1. Location and boundries
 2. Elevation
 3. Contour of surface
 4. Nature of soils
 5. Temperature, Humidity and Climate
 6. Natural Resources
 7. Flora and Fauna
Chapter II: Early Penetration of Spanish Missionaries 13
 1. Spain's object in establishing missions
 2. Early travelers in Milam County
 3. Source material on missions in Milam County
 4. Story of the missions' establishment
 5. Schools connected with Missions
 6. Presidio connected with Missions
 7. Decline of Missions
 8. Legends of Missions
Chapter III: Penetration of Settlers from the United States Until 1836 26
 1. Granting of Contract for Nashville Colony
 2. Estimate of land included in grant
 3. Establishment of Nashville Colony
 4. Description of life at Nashville
 5. Education prior to the Revolution
Chapter IV: Educational Endeavors from 1836 to Civil War 41
 1. Milam County's part in the Revolution
 2. Organization of the County
 3. Establishment of Cameron
 4. Reminescenses of an early citizen
 5. First schools in Cameron
 6. Other schools in the County
Chapter V: Education from Civil War to 1900 65
 1. Two Important School Centers
     (In Eastern Portion of Milam County)
     A. Maysfield
     B. Port Sullivan
Chapter VI: Other School Centers of Importance
in the Eastern Portion of the County
 1. Types of Schools
 2. Center of population in an early period
 3. Baileyville
 4. Barrons School
 5. Ben Arnold
 6. Branchville
 7. Burlington
 8. County Line
 9. Curry
10. Fox
11. Jones Prairie
12. Phillips School
13. Yarrellton
Chapter VII: Education from Civil War to 1900
(In Western portion of the County)
 1. School Conditions
 2. Early superintendents
 3. Ad Hall
 4. Bryant Station
 5. Buckholts
 6. Cameron
 7. Corinth
 8. Davilla
 9. Eldridge
10. Gause
11. Millerton
12. New Salem
13. North Elm
14. Rice
15. Robinson
16. Rockdale
17. Salem
18. Sandy Ridge
19. San Gabriel
20. Thorndale
21. Val Verde
Bibliography: 144
     A. Books
     B. Unpublished Material
     C. Periodicals
     D. Newspapers
     E. Interviews
Appendix: 147
     A. Parochial
     B. Independent School Districts
     C. Common School Districts

Table of Illustrations
1. Scene in Milam County  7
2. Map of Missions 15
3. Marker for San Xavier 17b
4. Marker for Candelaria 19b
5. Marker for Ildefonso 21b
6. Map of Robertson's Colony 30b
7. Maysfield Elementary School - 1895-96 65
8. Maysfield Preparatory School - 1895-96 71b
9. Maysfield School, Late 90's 74b
10. Maysfield School, 1898 76b
11. Map of Present Schools in Milam Co. 90
12. Cameron Public School, 1892 111


From the earliest childhood my father and mother have recited legends affecting Milam County. Because my father had an intimate acquaintance with the important personages of Milam County over a span of three-quarters of a century, and because of his personal interest in the development in the county, it was only natural his interest be transferred to his daughter.

Being engaged in public school work, and having available leads and introductions to pioneers who are rapidly passing away, the writer felt it timely to gather and make a record of such information as was obtainable. If by collecting, asserting and recording the information available the writer has helped any one to reach a better understanding of how the present school system has come into being, the time and effort has not been in vain.

A number of individuals have been exceedingly helpful in giving information and clues as to sources of information. The writer is indebted to the following: Mrs. Jeff Kemp; Dr. Amelia Williams; Mrs. L. Van Perkins, Judge E. A. Camp and Miss Katherine Henderson.

Credit should be given to many others and recognition there-of will be found in the body of the thesis and the bibliography.

Chapter I

Topography of Milam County

     "To the eye Milam County presented the appearance of a vast stretch of undulating country, threaded at intervals by clear streams of running water and divided almost equally between the timberland and prairie. All kinds of game such as buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, wild hogs, and turkeys were there in abundance, while the climate was ideally perfect. It was the hunters home, the pioneers paradise, and the poets dream of breathing beauty."(1)

     Such were the words of W. W. Oxsheer in his story of his life to the author of the Lone Star State. The inhabitants, he states, were a little rude at times but possessed such qualities as honesty, bravery, generosity, steadfastness in purpose and friendship, as well as being very hospitable.

     In this section it is the purpose of the writer to present Milam County as it appeared to the explorer, early Spanish settlers or to early Spanish travelers, and to give a somewhat extended account of the natural resources which attracted settlers from the North and East. Obviously the development of schools in a new country must await the coming of settlers interested in establishing permanent homes. And the coming of settlers depends in turn upon the potential wealth nature has deposited in a given area.

     Milam County is located in the east-central part of Texas. Its boundary line is irregular and its shape is almost rectangular. Its longest sides, which are almost parallel, are from 30 to 35 miles in length and extend in a northeast-northwest direction. On the short northeast side it is bordered by the Brazos River and on the west by a northwest-southwest line and two shorter lines of different bearings. A line drawn diagonally across the county connecting its corners farthest apart would measure about 50 miles. Its land area is 1,122 square miles, about the size of the state of Rhode Island. Its present population (1938) is about 37,915.

     The elevation of the county varies from 300 to 500 feet above sea level. The general slope is to the southeast while the highest points are along the western and northern borders where the elevations are a little more than 500 feet above sea level, notably at Buckholts, Davilla, Lilac, and Thorndale, and at the extreme southwest corner of the county.

     The elevation at Cameron is about 400 feet and at Fort Sullivan nearly 300 feet above sea level. The elevation on Little River where it enters the county in the Northwest corner is about 400 feet and where it joins the Brazos River in the East the elevation is about 275 feet. The lowest elevation in the county, about 250 feet, is a point where the Brazos River leaves the county at the southeast corner.

     The surface of Milam County is predominatly rolling or gently rolling, though small areas of rough land and some good-sized areas of flat land occur. The bleak-prairie region comprises about two-fifths of the entire county. It begins in the northeast corner about 3 miles west of the Brazos River and extends in an irregular southwesterly direction, just south of Thorndale on the western border. This region is a rolling prairie and is separated by numerous shallow valleys. The uncultivated portions contain scrubby scattered growths of small mesquite trees and thorny shrubs.

     The remainder of the county is in the east Texas timber belt. This is a gently rolling region and in its uncleared area covered with rather heavy forest growths, mainly of oak trees. Along the Brazos, Little, and San Gabriel Rivers there are broad flat river bottoms, also some rather wide strips of creek bottom lands in various places. These lands in their virgin state or covered with heavy growths of elm, hackberry, ash, pecan, and other trees.

     In the southeastern part of the county are a few small, rounded, stony hills extending from a point near the county line south of Rockdale in a northeasterly direction. These hills form a semi-circle, passing near Milano and thence just north of Gause. The most prominent of these is Sugar Loaf Mountain, located a few miles north of Gause.

     From the higher hills and promontories there are noteworthy views of the surrounding valleys. Unique among these is the ever delightful view from Sugar Loaf Mountains.

     In the northeastern part of the country, just west of the Brazos River, are some very interesting ravines. These ravines are typical, in clear coloring and general characteristics, of the canyons in the west and southwest portions of the United States. There are other ravines of lesser magnitude along Elm Creek in the vicinity of Waco Crossing.

     Milam County lies within the coastal plain and is in the humid region. The soils are composed of 32 varieties and range from a black waxy to a sand loam. The former is found in the black prairie region and is a part of the belt of black land country extending from the Red River southwestward nearly to the Rio Grande. The color of this soil is black as the name indicates; and the most important productive of these black prairie lands are known as Houston Soils. These soils are suited to the production of cotton, corn, forage crops, small grains, alfalfa, and sweetclover; however, cotton is grown almost exclusively. This region is underlain by a calcerone deposit and the soils have been formed from calcerous clays and marls. The area of this black land covers about two-fifths of the county.

     The remaining three-fifths of the county contains what are known as noncalcerous soils. These are light in color and are more or less sandy, and are found in the east Texas timber belt, extending over a large part of Texas east of Milam County. There are many kinds of sandy loam and they are adapted to various kinds of crops. The Milam fine sandy loam is especially suited in the growth of vegetables, fruits, berries, and grapes, and, in a lesser degree, to cotton, corn, and grain crops. The Wilson soils are better suited to cotton and grain crops, as are also the Bell and Trinity Clays. Nearly all of them produce both kinds of crops if properly managed. In fact, only a very small percentage of the land in the county is entirely unsuited to farming.

     Occasional overflows cover the Little River bottoms. This is especially true of the extensive area known as the Trinity clay soil. This soil occurs chiefly in the northern part of the county in long, narrow strips of bottom land, varying in width from one-fourth of a mile to as much as one mile. The largest areas lie along Walker, Pond and Little Pond Creeks, and somewhat smaller areas are found along Elm, South Elm, and Alligator Creeks in the southwestern part of the county.

     Alluvial soils cover all along the north banks of Little River. The recent-alluvial soils belong to the two general groups: (1) Those soils consisting of very recently deposited alluvium, occupying the present flood plains along from streams and from overflows, receiving from time to time additional accumulations of sediments from overflow waters; and (2) Old-alluvial soils which lie on high stream terraces and remnants of very old stream deposits which lie on some of the highest uplands as a thin veneer spread over the older formations. The recent-alluvial soils of the present flood plains comprise dark calcerous soils composed of sediments washed partly from limy uplands.

     The older alliuvial soils of the terraces and old stream deposits which lie above present overflow and resultant sedimentations consist of sandy and clayey deposits which are of sufficient age to have developed characteristics resembling those of the soils on the older formations. These soils comprise dark calcerous and non-calcerous soils, underlain by calcerous clays which lie over limy beds of gravel. The parent material of these sandy soils has probably been washed from areas of sandy soils lying near the headwaters of Little River. The old stream terraces range from a few feet to 150 feet above the bordering flood plains of streams. Some isolated remnants are far from any present stream way. Such ancient terrace remnants occur on the high divides, the highest of which is between Cameron and Buckholts and in the vicinity of the Friendship school. In such places the soils are underlain by beds of gravel resting on marl.The gravel consists largely of chert which has washed from formations further west.

     These alluvial soils furnish Milam County with an almost inexhaustible supply of fine gravel. At a depth of between 5 and 50 feet below the surface there are beds of sanded and rounded small gravel of chert, quartzite, and quarts, and in places some rounded limestone gravel and shells in association with the other gravel. The gravel ranges from fine to small, but in some soils it is as large as 2 or 3 inches in diameter. Some layers of the gravel 2 or 3 feet thick are cemented into a concrete of conglomerate. On some slopes the gravel beds lie near the surface and crops out in spots. In some places gravel beds constitute as much as 60 to 80 per cent of the soil.

     Statistical figures over a period of ten years show an average rainfall of 36 inches. The rainy season sets in during the late winter with the heaviest rainfall during the months of March, April, and May. The drought period occurs during the months of July, August, and Sept-ember and sometimes causes great damage to the crops if the preceding winter months have not been sufficiently rainy to enable the soils to store adequate moisture.

     Milam County has a mild and healthful climate. The summers are long and sometimes quite hot, but the cool southerly breezes afford a distinct relief. The winters are short and mild, with, however, occasional freezing temperatures. These cold spells, called northers, come suddenly and are accompanied by heavy north winds and sometimes cold rains. They last only a few days. The lowest temperature occurs during the month of January and February.

     During the summer months there are occasional hail-storms which damage the crops to some extent. Heavy windstorms are very infrequent. On an average the first killing frost occurs on November 16, and the last on March 13. This gives an average frost-free season of 248 days.

     Oil sands constitute a considerable area in the vicinity of Minerva. Designated as Minerva Green Sand Markers these sands extend in a southwesterly direction to Rockdale. Oil is found at a depth of from 100 to 1100 feet. Oil is also found at Tracy at a shallow depth of from 120 to 320 feet, but this oil is not commercialized.Tracy and Rockdale are about equidistant from Minerva but Tracy lies in a northerly direction from Minerva and just due north from Rockdale.

     Lignite coal beds are found near Rockdale and south and east of the city. These are extensive in nature.

     The watershed of Milam County occurs at Rockdale. The upheaving of the earths surface at this point forces the tributaries of Little River to flow in an opposite direction from that of the mother stream. This is caused by a geological fault which occurs in the northwest section along Little River. At Buckholts there has been considerable shifting of buildings due to this faulting of the earths surface. It is not known whether this fault has any connection with the immense Balcones Fault which crosses Little River just west of the county.

     Milam County is notably rich in its varied flora and fauna, embracing, as it does, many Mexican varieties. Wild flowers are numerous and begin to bloom quite early in the Spring. Among the first to appear are the Texas Bluebonnet, Indian paint brush, several pecies of the family ceryopsis and calyopsis. Other varieties include the primrose, windflower, anemones, phlex, daisy, aster, Queen Annes lace, white thistle, and grass flower. To-wards the end of the summer the lovely standing cypress is seen frequently in wooded areas and in early fall the colorful goldenrod. This latter variety is found in patches in scattered areas and many people like to drive to these places to enjoy their beauty. This is also particularly true of the Texas bluebonnet and dog-wood blossoms.

     In the river valleys there are groves of trees consisting principally of pecan, cypress, cottonwood, and several species of oak. In the timber country the common varieties are elm, blackjack, walnut, hickory nut, mulberry, bois darc, eucalyptus, juniper and low growths of mesquite. Willow trees and Dogwood line the springs and among the shrubs are button willow, chaparral, sea cane, accaccia, bird of paradise, persimmons, sumac, coral berry, yucca, huisache and youpon; also seven varieties of sensitive plants.

     Wild dewberries and blackberries are plentiful all over the county. In many places these grow by the roadside along the fences. Wild huckleberries are also found in some places.

     The most common variety of animals include the coyote or prairie wolf, the grey wolf, jack rabbit, several species of fox, cottontail rabbit, raccoon, opossum, wildcat, and armadillo. A few skunks and minks are found in the swampy lands.

     The mocking-bird is the principal song bird and it and the lark-sparrow are common in the county. The scissor-tailed fly catcher, Texas bird of paradise, is common on the prairies and in the lightly wooded districts. The screech-owl, woodpecker and ground cuckoo are found mostly in the southwest. Among other varieties are the cardinal, dove, bob white, wren, blue jay, robin, black-bird, crow, humming-bird, killdee, pigeon, Mexican canary, quail, and a few orioles.

     The most common varieties of fish are catfish, buffalo, bass, carp, gasper goule, and bream and white perch.

     The snake family includes the green or chicken snake, the garter snake, and the venomous rattler, copperhead, moccasin, and spreading adder.

     All in all, the territory now designated as Milam County offered the prospective settlers all of the indocuments a home steader might desire. Rich soil for farming, good timber for the building of homes, fish and game in abundance for food, a mild and healthful climate during nearly all seasons of the year, regular rainfalls and an ample water supply, and a navigable stream, the Brazos. It is not strange, therefore, that settlers early sought these lands in which to make their homes. 

1  Oxsheer, W.W. "Life of W.W. Oxsheer"  The Lone Star State  (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1893)

Chapter II

Early Penetration of Spanish Missionaries

     About 1714-1715, Spain became very much interested in Texas, chiefly because France was settling the Mississippi as well as the Red River Valley, and was getting too close to Texas for the comfort of the Spanish government. Hence the Spanish government made some efforts to populate this territory. The Spanish government, probably, did not hope to make heavy settlements due to the difficulty of obtaining suitable immigrants, however it did have an interest in establishing indisputable claim to this territory. The Spanish government also intended to make friends with the Indians. In line with their aims, the Spanish Government began to build a line of forts across Texas, and sent priests to convert and educate the Indians, and soldiers to protect the priests. The soldiers were, as a rule, a very domineering and overbearing lot and did much to undo the work of the priests.

     An early report of Spanish travelers in Milam County has found in the records of Captain Ramon who told of crossing the San Andres River (Little River) on May 31, 1716, just above where it flows into the Brazos. (1) He also tells of naming one of its (Little Rivers) branches the San Xavier. In 1720 Agnayo, a Spanish governor from San Antonio traveled across Milam County and had to wait seventeen days for the San Andres (Little River) to return to its banks after an overflow. In 1732, Bustillo, who was traveling from San Antonio in a war against the Apaches, crossed the San Andres (Little River). In his party were one hundred and fifty-seven Spaniards, sixty Indians, one hundred and forty pack loads of supplies and nine hundred horses. (2)

     Dr. Herbert E. Bolton (3) has given us our first extensive history of the missions that were established in Milam County. His material was assembled in 1914 and 1915, and soon thereafter published. During the last few years a Catholic priest, Father Tous, assembled additional material for the archives of his order. Father Tous was ordered to a Spanish University to teach about two years ago and nothing has been heard of him since the present Spanish Civil War began.

     According to Bolton there were three missions in the San Gabriel group. The first and one that endured the Longest was San Xavier de Horsacitas, the other two were Candelaria, and San Ildefonso.(4) (See map on missions). The name San Xavier (pronounced San Havyer) was corrected to San Javriel and later called San Gabriel, its present name. Austin referred to the river as San Javriel on a map in 1829. (5)

     About 1774, Fray Francisco de los Dolores y Veana, a missionary at the Mission San Antonio de la Valere, (now the Alamo), while searching for Indians, came upon a large encampment near the junction of San Xavier and Arroyo Animas (San Gabriel and Brushy Creek). These Indians belonged to the Mayeye, Deadose, Yojiane, Bidai, and other tribes. Dolores tried to induce them to come with him to the mission in San Antonio but they refused. They did promise to visit the Alamo at a later date. This they did. Seventeen Indians, including four chiefs, visited Alamo Mission and requested the Fathers to come and establish a mission for them. (It seems that these Indians really wanted protection rather than religion or education, but they took the latter to get the former. -- author) The request was taken to Mexico City by Father Ortiz with the result that the Viceroy ordered the establishment of three missions on the San Xavier. (6)

     Meanwhile, Dolores had made many visits to the Indians and had not waited for the Viceroy to grant permission for the establishment of the missions, but had gone ahead and established a temporary mission. The Viceroy gave his per mission December 26, 1846. The temporary mission was made permanent and became San Francisco Xavier de Horcasitas. The leading tribes for the mission were the Mayeyes, and the Deadoses. San Ildefonso, founded in 1749, drew its converts from the Bidai far beyond the Brazos. Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria, founded in 1749, drew its Indians from the Cocos from down the Colorado. (see map) Shortly before March 11, 1751, Captain Joseph de Ecay y Musquiz inspected the missions and found three hundred and forty-nine Indians at religious services. One hundred and sixty-one were at San Xavier; one hundred and seventy-six at San Ildefonso; and one hundred and two at Candelaria. Of these seventy-seven were baptized. (7)

     There were schools in connection with the missions, too, and the Fathers worked diligently to educate the Indians. At a ceremony on the occasion of laying the cornerstone of the new San Gabriel School, Judge E. A. Camp states that the first pupils in San Gabriel, meaning the Indians at the mission schools, ran away and that today they were endeavoring to build a school there so as to be able to hold the present-day pupils. (See picture of present school in supplement.)

     Hostile Indians molested the mission and raided it four times within a year, killing four Spaniards and four Indians and stealing many horses. This history of the missions indicates that thirty soldiers had been sent in 1749 to protect these missions.

     In 1751 the Viceroy ordered the building of a garrison (shown as the Presidio on the map). Prior to this time the armed forces were under the command of Lieutenant Calvan, but when the Presidio was built, the number of soldiers was increased to fifty and Captain Phillipe Habage Y Teran was placed in command. Soon after this an epidemic of smallpox reduced the population of the mission very greatly. One day about four months after this epidemic, messengers from the Hainai and the Nevedache came to the fort and related that their tribes were going to campaign against the Apaches. They invited the mission Indians to join them and later, when warriors of five tribes appeared, the neophytes joined them. In spite of the entreaties of the padres, one fine day all of the neophytes of San Ildefonso deserted in a group and never returned to the mission, although later they returned and camped only a few miles distant. The San Ildefonso mission closed somewhere between 1751 and 1758. (8)

     To make bad matters worse, trouble arose between the priests and the soldiers. The cause of the trouble seems to have been the excessive cruelty of Captain Rabago toward the Indians, as evidenced by frequent desertions. One night, about May, 1752, almost all of the Cocos left Candeliria in a body and returned to their former home on the Colorado. This left the second mission almost deserted. (9) The friction between soldiers and priests continued until May 11, 1852. On this day Father Ganzabel went from San Ildefonso, his mission, to Candelaria, to visit with his brethren. This must have been just a few days after the Cocos left. At dark, as Father Gonzabel stood in the doorway of the mission, a tailor, Carvallos, was killed by a musket shot. As Father Gonzabel stepped to his side, he himself was killed by an arrow. The priests thought he was killed by the soldiers. (10)

     The mission was maintained for three years more, but apparently with little success and more abandoned by the priests themselves. The missions were counted by some as a failure, but not so by others, since the missionaries were credited with having saved two hundred souls. If they were a failure, they were no more so than many other missions established by the Spanish. Of those saved many were baptized after they were almost dead with smallpox. (11)

     The missions were abandoned for many reasons. The primary reason being that the territory called Western Louisiana was ceded to Spain by France in 1762 and so there was really no reason for Spains maintaining a line of forts or to make an attempt to settle Texas. Specifically the forts in Milam County were abandoned because the Indians had deserted them and because they were too far from San Antonio to be governed from there. Moreover, the priests and soldiers could not live together without fighting. This was proved by the history of the missions.

     These missions were built of logs, adobe or rock. Dr. Boltons record seems to show that they were log buildings, as were many of the missions elsewhere in the early days in Texas.(12) The buildings may have been constructed of logs and had stones used in connection with them. Mr. Noah Smithwich, in an account, relates that he saw the raise of one of the missions in 1840, and that the mission seemed to be of adobe. He says that they were crumbled ruins but one could tell something about the plan of the buildings and surroundings. (13)

     According to a legend, the San Xavier mission seemed to have been built of rock with a huge golden cross on the steeple. The legend also refers of six bells. The equipment was valued at $1,804.50. Apparently, the buildings must have been of remarkable workmanship, whether made of logs, adobe, or rock. If the buildings were constructed of rock, the material must have been hauled over considerable distances. Since the traces of the ruins are almost entirely gone, one may assume that the buildings were, in the main, constructed either of wood or adobe.

     There are traces of a dam on the Ditch Valley farm, as well as faint marks of an irrigation project. Some stones used in connection with the buildings are to be seen there, also. The ruins are nine miles northwest of Rockdale and all near Kelb Hill.

     Dr. Bolton has given the location of San Ildefenso as very near Caandelaria, either at Hicks barn or Witchers house, and near the Presidio or fort. The ditch shown on the map was one that was a part of the irrigation equipment for one or all of the missions. Father Tous in his article on San Ildefonso Mission, places its location on Little River, five miles northwest of Gause. He gathered his information from the archives of his order in Spain. He identifies San Xavier de Horcasitas as Nuestra Sonora de los Delores and gives the location of Candelaria as unknown. He recites a legend about his location of San Ildefonso. This hill he speaks of may be Sugar Loaf Mountain. (See appendix) (He, Father Tous, hoped to publish all this work as a complete history of the work of his order in early Texas.)

     The Father Mariano, mentioned in the succeeding legend, is the same as Father Dolores. (14) Before the mission was abandoned in 1755, legend had seized upon it; and when Dr. Bolton discovered the site hardly twenty years ago, he found that legend had kept treasure hunters familiar with the grounds and ruins. He quotes Father Mariano, priest of the time, on legendary causes that contributed to final abandonment of the mission.

The sacrilegious homicides having been perpetrated, the elements at once conspired, declaring divine justice provoked; for in the sky appeared a ball of fire so horrible that all were terrified, and with as notable a circumstance that it circled from the presidio, when it exploded with a noise as loud as could be made by a heavily loaded cannon. The river ceased to run and its water became so corrupt that they were extremely noxious and intolerable to the smell. The air became so infected that all who went to the place, even the merely passing, became infected by the pest which became so malicious that many of the inhabitants died and we all found ourselves in the last extremes of life. Finally, the land became converted into a thicket, in which opened horrible crevices that caused terror. The inhabitants became terrified and in order to escape the complete extermination that threatened them, they moved more than thirty leagues away, with no other permission than that granted them by the natural right to save their own lives".

     "We learn how rich was the San Gabriel Mission for whose cross of gold men have blithely sought, when we read that the total properties transported from it and its two sister missions, including six bells, were inventories at $1,804.50". (15)

     "The thriving mission soon had built a large rock church on whose steeple was a cross of solid gold. Converts were added to the new religion rapidly until it became so powerful that the Indians became to fear it. They planned to put an end to it and accordingly took the place by surprise one night and murdered the pries. The Spaniards were so horrified that they decided to abandon the mission at once. Immediately they buried the body of the priest, then took the cross from the steeple, and, together with some gold found in the priests possession, located a second place and buried these taking care to cover the spot with charcoal and ashes so that no mineral rod should locate it.

     "Many years later when a new church was being built in Mexico an old Mexican who remembered the tale from his ancestors, persuaded the priest to try to find the gold cross for the new church. The old Mexican died during the trip but left directions with his companions. Soon the priest was obliged to go back home; however, he met a young Irishman named Mike Welch, to whom he entrusted the secret and who promised to continue the search. Accordingly, they soon found the skeleton of the priest together with a crucifix which Mr. Welch kept. From this location it was easy to find the buried cross as the place had been charted as they finally came upon the charcoal and ashes. At this juncture one of the men became so sick it was decided to postpone further digging until morning. That night one of the men disappeared. As soon as Mr. Welch discovered this fact, he went to the unfinished hole and there saw that a large pot had been taken out. It was well understood by him that the missing man had found and stolen the treasure as he was never heard of thereafter. Mr. Welch kept the crucifix until a few years later when It was lost." (16)

     "One night some Mexicans with nine jack loads of stolen goods passed near the home of an old man named Snively who lived near Thorndale in what is now Milam County. As the times were troublesome and traveling beset with dangers, these Mexicans decided to bury the gold and wait for more peaceful times to carry it into Mexico. After they had put it in the ground, they decided it would be better to bury a man with it to protect it. None of the party would forfeit his life, however, so they rode back to the house they had passed. Finding Snively alone, they made him swear to protect the gold and then killed him and buried him with it. They then marked the site and left -- never to return.

     "Since that time many have searched for this hidden treasure but none has ever found it. Mr. Welch is confident that he once located the spot but the moment he started to dig for the treasure a great flood came down the river and obliterated all traces of it forever. Thus the elements conspire in helping Snively to protect the gold." (17)

     "A man named Pope who lived in the post oak grove near what is now Thorndale had a hoard of old somewhere on the premises. He lived entirely lone and there was not a house within miles of his hut. One night just as he turned to go through the gap into his hut, he was murdered by a villain who knew of his hidden gold. Perhaps the gold wash hidden too well. Anyway, the murderer did not find it. Popes body was found and decently buried but apparently his spirit was not at rest. At any rate, a strange dog was soon thereafter near the gap. No other dog would venture near it and horses would shy at it when they met it on the road. It refused to move when hit by a stone and a bullet had not the slightest effect upon it. If anyone tried to touch it, it disappeared by anyone who rode by at sunset would be sure to see it; however, if a party of several persons came by, it would be invisible to all save one particular individual. This ghost dog continued to appear for several years, but finally disappeared forever. Since then a gate has taken the place of the gap near which Pope was killed. It is said that no matter how one closes it, it will open of itself and remain open." (18)

     "On the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, in almost its exact center, there is a deep hole of considerable circumference which appears to have been covered with loose dirt. The remaining surface is comparatively level and of hard, rough rock. According to legend, this hole in the center was blasted out and used as a hiding place for a fortune in gold. This fortune was hidden by the Spaniards and is thought to have been the property of the missions on the San Gabriel.

     "For many years the Mexicans dug for this treasure and it is thought that some knowledge of its existence was handed down to the members of the race. It is not know if it was ever found." (19)

  1  Henderson, Katherine, The History of Milam County County Until 1850  (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University, 1924, p.8)
  2  Henderson, Katherine, The History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University - 1954)
  3  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E. Texas in Middle 18th Century (California Press - 1915); pages 135-278
  4  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E. Texas in Middle 18th Century (California Press - 1915); pages 135-278
  5  Henderson, Katherine History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis) Texas University 1924, page 7
  6  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E., Texas in the Middle 18th Century (California Press - 1915) pages 135-278
  7  Ibid. page 135-278
  8  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E. Texas in Middle 18th Century (California Press - 1915) pages 125-278
  9  IBID
10  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E. TExas in the Middle 18th Century (California Press - 1915) pages 135-278
11  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E., Texas in the Middle 18th Century (California Press - 1915) pages 135-278
12  Ibid
13  Henderson, Katherine, History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University, 1924) page 18
14  Henderson, Katherine, The History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University, 1924) page 19
15  Bolton, Dr. Herbert E. "The Founding of the Missions ofthe San Gabriel River, 1745-1749" published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, April 1914.
16  Von Blittersdorf, Louise:  "Buried Treasure Legends of Milam County" published in Legends of Texas edited by J. Frank Dobie, Published by Texas Folk-Lore Society,
      Austin, Texas, 1924.
17  Ibid
18  Von Blittersdor, Louise: Buried Treasure Legends of Milam County published in Legends of Texas edited by J. Frank Dobie, Texas Folk-Lore Society, Austin, Texas,
19  As related by Judge T.S. Henderson

Chapter III

Penetration of Settlers from United States
Until 1836

     The record from 1755 to 1823 in the history of Milam County seems a blank. No doubt some traveled through this territory, but no record is to be found. It was occupied by the Indians but by no other people for any length of time.

     The Nashville company was formed in 1822 in Nashville, Tennessee. It was purely a business proposition. There were 52 men in the company. Robert Leftwich was commissioned to go to Mexico City to secure the grant for the company. He was accompanied by Andrew Ervin. These men selected the land from a map shown them by Austin in Mexico City. Ervin returned to Nashville. In 1825, after two and a half years, the contract was granted. However, it was granted in the name of Robert Leftwich. This angered the stockholders very much and to make bad matters worse Leftwich wanted extra money for his work in Mexico City. In order to secure this money, the company had to be reorganized. The number of shares was raised from fifty-two to seventy-four. Each of these was in eight parts so there was really five hundred and ninety-two shares, valued at $50 per share.

     In 1826, Dr. Felix Robertson came to Texas with a group of young men to explore the grant. Among this group was his son, Sterling C. Robertson, who had spent some time in Mexico after Mexico had gained her independence from Spain. The company camped at the junction of Little River and the Brazos. While exploring the county Robertson and his company spent considerable time in hunting and fishing. While in the vicinity he also visited Austins colony, and others.

     On March 7, 1827, the company drew up papers asking for the grant in their names or the name of the company. They asked that Hosea H. League be empresario. He was a member of Austins colony and stockholder in the Nashville Company. The new contract was granted in October 18, 1827. Sterling C. Robertson was employed to guide citizens to the new grant. (1)

"On the fifteenth day of October, 1827, the Legislature of the state of Coahuila and Texas, by act of concession, appointed H. H. League empresario for the purpose of settling people in the country in the boundaries therein mentioned, and by the same act, James Overton, N. Patterson, John Davis, Richard Hyde, E. B. Marshall, Andrew Hynes, James Roan and John Shelby were appointed directors to give instructions as to the manner of settling the country, which said board of directors vested the authority of settling families in the colony in Sterling C. Robertson, one of the original stockholders, by virtue of which authority the said Robertson made application to said empresario League, to enter upon said land his families and settle according to the law of colonization, which permission was granted by said league to said Robertson, with full authority to lay, establish, and settle thereon the Nashville colony. This letter of authority dated October 16, 1830." (2)

     Robertson became empresario of the colony on October 1, 1830. League put him in charge because he, League, was in jail for connection with a shooting. League was considered a friend of education in Austins colony.

"After the Mexican provinces had declared themselves free and sovereign, and subject only to federation, a national colonization law was adopted August 18, 1824, one provision of which authorized the legislatures of the different states for form colonization laws for the occupancy of the public domains within their respective districts, on terms that were not at variance with federal constitution. Accordingly, the newly formed state of Coahuila and Texas, having organized its government, the legislature, on March 24, 1825, decreed such a law, one provision of which required, in order to people the land by the colony system, a certain number of families to be introduced within a given time, at the expense of the immigrants themselves. The particulars of the system were as follows, in brief: The empresario first presented a memorial to the State Government asking for permission to colonize certain waste lands which were designated, as well as the number of families he proposed to introduce. To afford ample choice to settlers, the tract designated and usually conceded by the government was greatly in excess of the appropriation to be finally made; but after the establishment of the settlement and the completion of the allotments of the colonists, and the assignment of the premium land to the empresario, all the surplus land reverted to the state. The distribution of the allotments was under the control of a commissioner appointed by the state, but he had power to make an assignment without the approval of the contractor. If the contractor failed to introduce the stipulated number of families within the term of six years, he lost his rights and privileges in proportion to the deficiency and the contract was totally annulled if he had not succeeded in settling 100 families. The premium granted to a contractor was five square leagues* of grazing land and five labores of tillage land for each hundred families; but he could not acquire a premium on more than 800 families.*

     "Every family whose sole occupation was farming received 177 seres (one labor) of agricultural land, and if it is engaged in a stock-raising also a grazing tract sufficient to complete a square league was added. these families whose sole occupation was cattle-raising received each a square league, less one labor. (177 acres) An unmarried man received one-fourth of the above quantity. The State government alone could increase the quantities in proportion of the size of a family and the industry and activity of th colonists. Eleven square leagues was the limit of land that could be owned by the same hands as prescribed by the national colonization law. For each square league, or sitie, as it was denominated, the colonists paid an exemption sum of $30 to the State, $2.50 for each labor not irrigable, and $3.50 for each that was irrigable; but these payments were not demanded until after the expiration of six years from the time of settlement, and then only in three installments at long intervals. Contractors and the military were exempt from this tax.

     "Thus the terms offered settlers were very liberal, except that they required them to be of the Catholic faith and gave preference to Mexicans. However, after the promulgation of the above laws as increased tide of immigration set in from the United States, and little or no regard was paid to the religious character of the law. In a few years nearly the whole of Texas was parceled out to empresarios, though none fulfilled their contracts except Austin. Settlers, however, continued to come in and improve the land, mainly from the United States little or no regard was paid to the religious character of the law. In a few years nearly the whole of Texas was parceled out to empresarios, though none fulfilled their contracts except Austin. Settlers, however, continued to come in and improve the land, mainly from the United States, with the inevitable results, as almost anyone might have seen, of turning eventually the province of Texas into a member of the American Union. The population increased from 3,500 in 1821 to about 20,000 in 1830. (4)

     The foregoing quotation shows something of the system under which Robertson established his colony. these grants included all territory in a block which began west of the Navasota crossing of the old San Antonio and Nacagdoches road thence west into said road to the divided ridge between the waters of the Colorado and the Brazos Rivers, thence northwest with said ridge of hills to the Comanche trails, thence with this trail to the Navasota River and down said river to the beginning. The grant included the water drain of the Little River, the Bosque, and all other streams flowing into the Brazos. It has been estimated that the colony was one-sixth the total area of Texas and was as large as the state of Tennessee, or 40,000 square miles (5) (See map)

     The colony included all or part of what are now nineteen counties. These lands were divided and subdivided from 1846 to 1855.(6) Some of the counties carved out of this are: Brazos, Burleson, Hill, Williamson, Milam, McLennan, Bell, Limestone, Navarro, Burnett, Lampassas, Robertson, Bosque, Coryell, Hamilton Erath, Hood, Comanche, Brown, and Eastland. (7)

     Miss Jean Adams in her article on Nashville states that 32 counties were carved out of this territory. (8)

     As stated, in 1830 and organization known as the Nashville Company was formed. Robertson and Alexander Thompson were made managers. Undoubtedly these two men made a trip to the colony in the early part of 1830 and later in the year began to introduce families. Thompson brought his family there and began to build a few cabins at the site which was later called Nashville. (9)

     Some time in 1831 Robertson had trouble with the Mexican Government and his contract was revoked. He went to Saltillo and made representations of his expenses and labors (Mr. Brown says that Robertson spent $45,000 in all) and his contract was renewed on April 29, 1834. The same legislature revoked it again in 1835 but the revolution was already brewing then and it did not hurt his plans for colonization. (10)

     Not many families were settlers in the colony before 1836. As has been stated, Thompson brought his family in either toward the close of 1830 or early in 1831. He was the first to settle in Nashville. Another early settler was J. P. Jones, who settled at what is now known as Jones Prairie and lived there for some time. He had come south for his wife's health but had to leave because of hostile Indians. The Mexican government also granted the Davila grant to Miguel Davila and this included the later town of Davila. (11)

     Davidson had settled on what is now Davidson's Creek near Caldwell but later in 1834 moved up on Little River by way of Nashville and made a crop in the spring and summer of 1835. In the fall he returned to Nashville. In the spring of 1836 he returned to Little River and in the Indian raids of that year he and a man named Crouch were killed. (See map)

     When Robertson came to the colony in 1834 he settled a village at the falls of the Brazos. This village was located at the site near the present town of Marlin. He named this town Sarahville de Viesca, in honor of the Spanish governor of that time. The settlement was abandoned but was re-settled much later under the name of Fort Milam. (12)

     The whole grant at this time was referred to by some as Viesca and by others as the Nashville colony. These names were applied until the first year of the Republic, after which it bore the name of Milam, one of the heroes of the Texas Revolution. Milam or Viesca was one of the original 23 counties of the Republic. (13)

     The town site of Nashville, as already indicated, was settled by Alexander Thomson, the right-hand man of Robertson. Nashville was on the southwest land of the Brazos about two miles below the mouth of Little River. The site was just east of the place where highway #79 crosses the Brazos. The place may also be identified by the railroad bridge across the Brazos. Nashville was on a prairie that extended to the river bluff. There were springs gushing from the bluff, and timer was found not far away. (14)

     In the background were small belts of timber, with lots of post oak and live oak in the open. Less than a mile to the south a large timbered region set in, extending to the northeast of Williamson County near Thorndale. To the west the heavy timber bordering the Little River was visible. On the north was a wide bottom, extending from the Brazos four or five miles to a line beyond the Little Brazos, or Hearne. in old times this bottom was covered with a thick growth of heavy timber and dense underwood, now mostly cleared and in cultivation. On the southeast the prairie extended a mile or so down the river, and in that direction was a wet weather branch flowing into the river. Near its east bank was the cemetery.

     The town was named Nashville by the colonists for the capital of Tennessee, for many of the people of the colony came from near Nashville, Tennessee. The town was laid out by General Thomas J. Chambers, who owned eleven leagues of land crossing the site. The ferry, in 1835, was placed near where the railroad bridge now stands to accommodate the few settlers on both sides of the river.

     Mr. Brown describes the village as follows:

"The village of Nashville consisted of an aggregation of small log and board houses erected near the river bluff. Some of the log dwellings were double pens, without hall between, some with halls (dirt floors), others single penssome were of hewn, some of unknown logs; a few were framed and weather boarded with whip-sawed edges. Openings between logs were chinked and daubed'.

"As a sample of the log dwellings of the time, a description of my father's log hut is here given: It was built of hewn cedar logs, one room 16X18 feet, about 9 feet high, plain chimney at one end, covered with oak boards about three feet long, showing 18 inches held in place by two poles. There were two small unhewn log houses close by one for smoke house, the other for corn crib. (The field, enclosing some 8 or 10 acres, was south of the dwelling.) Those homes are still standing (1905) and can be plainly see3n from the car windows. There are about 100 yards west of I.&G.E. railroad track and probably the same direction from the river. After we left the village another living room was added to the east end, probably by Captain W. D. Thomson, who occupied the premises many years.

"It is impossible, after the lapse of 63 years, to give the names of all the families that lived in and near Nashville. In 1836, and up to the winter of 1839-40 when I left there, I knew nearly everyone. The village was small, not over 15 or 20 families in town and the immediate vicinity. there were many comers and goers from time to time. I call to mind the following residents:

McLennan, John McLennan, Neill
Bowles, Calvin Harrell, Jacob
Crouch, Jasper Shaw, James
Bell Thomson, W.D.
Brown, John Duff Davidson, Robert
Bailey, Lige *Howlegg, Capt. James
Childers, Capt. Goldsby Chapman, George
Chapman, Herman
*The first surveyor  of the municipality of Milam.

     Among those at Nashville, more or less, and at different times, in the middle and late '30s, were:

Thomson, Thomas Robertson, Sterling C.
Thomson, E.S.C. Swisher, James G.
Tyler, O.T. McLennan, Laughlin
Erath, George B. Eastland, Capt.
Strough, Ethan Fleury
Bird, Capt. John Roberett, James
Wilson, W.S. Griffin, Naus
King, W.B. Bryant, Ben
Rowland, Joseph Campbell
Coleman, R.M. Barron, Thos. M.
Cullens, Danniel Clark, David
Curyell, James Frasier, Stephen
Cummings, Moses Johnson, Frank W.
Connell, Mrs. Matilda F. Graves, James
Moore, William Washington, Lewis
Parker, Isaac Parker, Daniel
Farley, Moses Raymond, N.C.
Duffau, F.T. Stickney, E. Lawrence
King, W.H. Craddock, John R.
Hubby, C.M. Pool, John
Roberts, William Roberts, Thomas
Taylor, John (Lawyer) Green, George
Moore, Lewin Cross, Jacob
Icleberger Chambers
Chambers, Albert
     "Nashville was the colonial capitol, where empressario Robertson had his land office, kept his papers and records, and transacted his business.

     "Indian visits occurred every now and then. It happened more than once that on arising at morning, moccasin tracks were found in the yard, showing that Indians had visited us in the preceding night.

     "On one occasion mother came to the crib where her children were at play, and told us to get out quickly as Indians were in close proximity. We all scrambled out and ran to the house of Mr. Bell, the largest in the village, where we found the rooms crowded with women and children, the doors barricaded and several men in the yard with guns, standing guard. The alarm soon died out. The alarm was caused by Indians running a couple of men right into the town.

     "On another occasion the members of our family stood at the front door of the dwelling and saw about forty Indians on Horseback enter the village, passing within 150 yards of us. We quickly learned that they professed friendship. They soon departed.

     "I do not remember the date, but it was some time in the late '30s that John McLennan, Sr., brother of Neill, Sr., while proceeding on foot from Little River to Nashville, when at a place on the road, seven miles from town, known as the "Sugar Loaf" (a small round eminence), was killed by Indians. This occurred early in the morning. The same day several men went after his remains. The body was strapped on a horse, his head and arms hanging on one side, and his legs dangling on the other. He was thus brought in and placed on planks. His body had in it several arrows. I will never forget the horrid scene presented by his mangled body, scalpless, and the protruding arrows. The spectacle was revolting. The memory of it is vivid after 65 years.

     "Living, in the olden time, was attended with many hardships and perils. The men hunted game in the bottoms of the Brazos and Little River and in the post oaks south of the village. There was much danger but they took the risk.

     "The people used corn bread almost exclusively. Wheat flour was seldom seen. At rare intervals a barrel or two of the flour was brought from Houston by ox team; but as a rule, it was too expensive and seldom used. People were too poor to purchase it. Hog products, beef and chickens, gradually came into use. There were no luxuries. A few vegetables were raised at autumn and spring. It was a hard life, but with care it brought health and strength. Wild honey was on the table now and then. the corn was ground into coarse meal in steel mills. Nearly every family had one.

     "I do not remember that any schools were operated while I was there. Afterwards, when I attended school in the early forties, there were no steel pens in use. Writing was entirely taught with goose quills. Teachers were usually experts in repairing and mending them. They did well for a while, but required frequent mending.

     "The men usually wore buckskin clothes. Later they had, at times, cotton drilling and Kentucky jeans. The women made their own clothes from the small patches of cotton grown near their dwellings. They and the children usually gathered the staple and picked away the seeds by hand. This was mostly done at evening by fire light. The women carded, spun, and wove the cloth on hand looms. The cloth was dyed with oose from the bark of trees.

"There were no friction matches in the early days. When at home or traveling, fires were usually lighted with flint and steel, using punk, and sometimes firing a wad from a rifle and igniting dry leaves and twigs. It was an invariable rule, to cover coals and burning chinks with ashes before retiring at night.

"I do not know when Nashville was finally abandoned. It ceased to be the county seat in1845. It must have finally gone to decay about the time of the Texas and Houston Central Railroad reaching Hearne, soon after the close of the Civil War in 1865. Several old Texas towns were ruined by railroads. long before this, however, some families had left there. the Davidsons family moved to Austin in 1846; N. C. Raymond and the family moved to Austin the same year, and W. D. Thomson and family moved to the capitol in 1855. Other families migrated elsewhere. There was a post office at Nashville up to the beginning of the civil war. the desertion of the town must have been gradual, and no doubt finally ceased to exist some time in the sixties." (18)

     Another settlement was called Tenoxtitlan. This was 10 of 20 miles down the Brazos from Nashville and is not in Milam County as it stands now. It was used as a resting place for travelers and was important in that day. (19)

     There were many Indian fights and many raids. Among the most important were the "Elm Creek Fight" and the "Post Oak Fight". One may read of these in Mr. Brown's accounts.

     His account also gives character sketches of the more important citizens of Nashville. These Indians, in the year 1836, became so menacing that settlements were abandoned and the families moved to Fort Nashville. These facts as well as the distances between the homes of the colonists, who did not live in the settlements mentioned, made schools impossible.

     Under conditions as described schools were impossible. Probably a few came into being during the early forties. No record of any have been found from the time of the closing of the missions (in the middle eighteenth century to a very few organized a few years after) to the close of the Texas Revolutionary War. Even Nashville was without a school, at lest at that time. the lack of schools was one of the prime grievances against the Mexican government at that time, and the main grievances of the revolutionists. The following is taken from the Lone Star State concerning education before the revolution.

"Education in Coahuila and Texas was at an extremely low ebb. Only in the town of Saltillo was there a fixed appropriation for the maintenance of a common schoolmaster, and that was a scanty one. the education of the children of servants to write was prevented, on the fear that on growing up they would want higher position than that of servitude. In 1880 the Congress endeavored to remedy this evil by enacting a law to establish schools of mutual instruction on the Lancastrian system, but the law did not establish the schools. In these schools were to be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, the dogmas of the Catholic religion, and Ackerman's catechisms of arts and sciences, the teacher's salary being fixed at $800 a year. The next year was another law adopted, to establish primary schools on a similar plan, with a similar result. The people were indifferent to educational progress. Among the settlements of Austin's colony a few private schools were established, and, in 1829, the first Protestant Sunday-school in Texas was opened, at San Felipe de Austin, by t. J. Pilgrim, of the Baptist church. It was soon interrupted, however, when fears were excited by a litigation that the public would recognize it as a violation of the colonization law." (20)

  1  Henderson, Katherine History of Milam County 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University -1924) pps 31-38
  2  Brown, Frank R. Nashville - Old Settlers Reunion 1905
  *  A square league was a tract of 5,000 varas square, and contained 4,428 acres. A labor was 1000 varas square, and contained 177 acres. Twenty-five labores were equal       to one sitie, and five sities composed one hacienda.
  4  The Lone Star State (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1893) page 34
  5  Henderson, Katherine, The History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University - 1924) page 40
  6  Henderson, Katherine, The History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University - 1924) pp. 40
  7  Ibid
  8  Adams, Jean Cameron Herald -  May 30, 1935
  9  Henderson, Katherine: History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University - 1924) pp. 41
10  Henderson, Katherine: The History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University - 1924) page 41
11  Ibid
12  Henderson, Katherine, History of Milam County Until 1850 (Unpublished Thesis - Texas University - 1924) pp. 1
13  Brown, Frank R. Nashville - Old Settlers' Reunion -  1903
14  Ibid
**Footnotes 15-17 are not in the original thesis as this is either a mistake or omitted by Ms. Batte.
18  Brown, Frank R. in Old Settlers' Reunion - 1903
19  Brown, Frank R. in Old Settlers' Reunion - 1903
20  Lone Star State (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company 1893)

Chapter IV

Educational Endeavor from 1854 to Civil War

     Materials and records for this period are extremely scarce. In the first place, few records were kept by the early settlers. Many of the records of Milam County that were kept, were destroyed in 1874 with the burning of the Court House. However, bits of information have been secured from private sources and from the memories of old settlers. While some of the information from the memories of settlers is inaccurate, most of it has been corroborated by other evidence. Such information as the writer could secure, and such as has the ring of authenticity, is given herewith.

     Milam County played an important part in the revolt of the colonists against Mexico and the beginning of the Republic of Texas. Sterling C. Robertson was a delegate from Viesca (Nashville colony) to the constitutional convention which met at Independence from March 1 to March 17, 1836. He was one of the fifty-seven signers of the Declaration of Independence. This paper was written by George C. Childress, a nephew of Sterling C. Robertson and co-worker of Thomson in establishing Nashville. A few days later Robertson helped to draw up the constitution of the Republic of Texas and again was one of the signers.

     Later when the convention had news of the fall of the Alamo, it disbanded on March 17, 1835. Robertson went at once to Nashville, organized a company of soldiers and marched at once to the aid of General Sam Houston. He and his men were a part of Houston's army at the Battle of San Jacinto. For his services Robertson was given six hundred and forty acres of land. George Green, an ardent friend of education, and another prominent citizen of the Nashville colony at that time, fought with him. Later Colonel Green moved to Cameron and built in 1840 the house in which the writer lives. In the painting of the Battle of San Jacinto, when Houston is receiving Santa Anna, Robertson is shown.

     When the men of the colony went to join Houston, the families began to hurry to the Sabine River. This was known as the Runaway Scare. They got as far as the Trinity and could not cross as the river was on a rise. While they were waiting, the news came of Houston's success at San Jacinto and the colonists came back. Robertson had placed all his papers and other things of value in a wagon and put it in the care of E. S. C. Robertson, his fourteen year old son. When it was remarked that the boy was too young to be entrusted with such valuable papers, the father said the lad was equal to the occasion. He proved he was. The first man to move back to Viesca after the Runaway Scare was John Marlin. Later Captain Joseph Daniels built Fort Milam on the site of Viesca. (1)

     On December 28, 1835, nineteen days after Ben Milam fell in the battle of San Antonio, the provisional government of the Republic of Texas changed the name of the Nashville Colony from Viesca to Milam Land District of Milam County. (2) In a short time (1936) an election was held in the district or county and the following were elected officers: Massilon Farley, county judge, William T. Thomson, County Clerk; John Beal, Sheriff. County court was held in Nashville in the year 1835. In the early '40s the court was moved to Caldwell and to Cameron in 1846. Robertson served two terms as Senator from Milam Land District to the Senate of the Republic. (3)

     Something of the dreams these early pioneers had for the growth of the county may be noted from the minutes of a meeting to organize a college town for the County. The plans are complete in every detail.

     The plan called for no less an ambitious project than the University of Texas, many years before the Legislature reserved the name for a still larger enterprise. By a coincidence, Southwestern University, located at Georgetown, Texas, operated under this name for several years before it adopted the present name.

Republick (sic) of Texas, County of Milam

     At a meeting of the Stock Holders of the Texas University at the house of Col. E. L. R. Wheelock on the tenth day of May, 1837. Present a majority of the whole number. On motion of Col. Richard B. Jarmon, seconded by A. B. Perry, Esq. Col. E. L. R. Wheelock was appointed President Protem, Masselon Farley, Esq. appointed Secretary, protem, and Elijah Powers, Esq. apipointed Treasurer (sic), protem, to said company.

     And upon notion of Col. R. B. Jarmon seconded by A. B. Perry and Elijah Powers, Esqrl, it was unanimously resolved. That whereas E. L. R. Wheelock, Masselon Farley, R. B. Jarbon, Elijah Powers, A. G. Perry and Wm. D. Moore and their associates, have appropriated and deeded unto the Texas University Company one Labor of Land including the town of Lamar within the County of Milam by vesture of which the Texas University Company is created soly (sic) for the purpose of Promoting education and disiniuating (sic) Knowledge upon correct and liberal principals (sic) entierally (sic) Republican, do adopt the following Rules and Regulations, and by Laws for the Government of the affairs of Said Company, and the village (sic) of Lamar, until the Said Company shall be able to obtain a charter from the Government for Said Company, (until revoked or altered). By a Regular Meeting of Said Stock Holders and the adoption of a Constitution.

     Art. 1st. The company shall be Governed by a President, Secretary, Treasur (sic), and foar (sic) Directors, to be chosen out of the Stock Holders (sic) by a Majority of the Votes given, and to hold their office Twelve Months, if not sooner removed by a vote of two-thirds of the whole number of Stock Holders (sic).

     Art. 2d. The President, Secretary and Treassur (sic) and Directors, shall previous to entering upon their duties, take severally an oath before Some Officer legally authorized to Administer Oaths, That he will faithfully and honestly, according to the best of his Skill and ability discharge his duties as such for the sole benefit, and use of the Institution for Education and promition of Knowledge and so far as in his power prevent the misapplication of the funds or property of the Texas university Company from the intention of the donors, which oath shall be deposited with Chief Justice of the County and Entered upon the Books of the Company.

     Art. 3d. The Secretary shall Record all transactions of the Company at their different Meetings all the proceedings of the President and Directors in a Book provided for that purpose and Shall attest all acts of the President, and Board of Directors and countersigned (sic) all drafts for Moneye drawn from the Treasury.

     Art. 4. The Treasur (sic) shall give a Bond with such Security as Shall be approved of by a Majority of the Stock Holders (sic) at the Meeting in which he was Elected, which Bond Shall be deposited by the President of the company in the Office of the Chief Justice of the County for Safe Keeping for the Security of the Stock holders. He will safely keep all Money, Goods, wears (sic) belonging to the Institution he shall pay no Money out unless by an order from the President, countersigned by the Secretary, and upon an appropriation made previously at a regular meeting of the President, and Directors all of which payments and disbursements he shall regularly inter on a book for that purpose, he shall keep his Books open at all times for the inspection of the Stock Holders (sic), and shall balance and have audited his accounts quarter yearly before the President and Directors, and afterwarward ofterer, if required.

     Art. 5. The President, Secretary, Treasur (sic) and Trustees shall be Elected annually (sic) on the last Saturday in December, in each year, by a majority of votes given by the Stock Holders (sic). Each Stock Holder (sic) having One Vote, and commence upon their duties on the first day of the succeeding year, in case of death of the President, Secretary, or Treasur (sic), the remaining part of the Trustees shall fill the Vacancy from any one of the Stockholders for the remaining part of the time. Publick (sic) notice shall be given by positing in writing Ten days previous to any regular, or special meeting of the Directors at three of the most publick (sic) places in the County of any Election of Officers.

     Art. 6. To entitle a person to become a member and become a stockholder with the priviledge of One Vote he must be one of the Original Fifteen, or have subscribed and paid for the use of the Institution One Hundred Dollars or have Deeded in Trust for the use of the Institution, one labor of land in fee simple with the Republick (sic).

     Art. 7. No one stockholder shall be intitled to more than one Vote.

     Art 8. The President Secretary Treasur (sic) and Trustees or a majority of them shall have full and ample power to Transact all the business appertaining to the company by opening Books for donating, Contracting for the necessary Buildings for the Institution.

     Art. 9. Fifteen Acres of Land shall be set apart for the male Institution and (sic) Two Acres of Land, for the Female Institution for the purpose of Erecting (sic) suitable Buildings for the Institution.

     Art. 10. One hundred lots in the Town of Lamar may be taken by such persons as will pay to the Treasury of the company, for the benefit of the Institution, one hundred dollars, for Each lot, so taken, or will secure Ten Dollars per annum to the Institution until paid, at which (sic) time he shall be intitled to a Deed.

     Art. 11. Thirty Three lots to donated (sic) to Persons who will improve the same on the following plan (To wit) Those Lots fronting the Publick (sic) Square shall front Twenty five feet and be fourteen feet from the Ground to the top of the plate, and shall be improved by the first day of March next 1836 and should they not have improved by that time they can keep the same by paying to the Treasury, One Hundred Dollars, for the benefit of the Institution. The remainder of the Lot Except One to Extra to (sic) R. B. Jarmon, M. Farley, E. L. R. Wheelock, Elijah Powers, and A. G. Perry, in Consideration of services rendered and to be rendered and four lots reserved for a Hotel. The Proprieters shall improve at least one of their lots in Two years, or pay One Hundred Dollars.

     Art. 12. No Tipling, or Dram shops, or Gambling House, Billiard (sic) Tables or disoerderally (sic) Establishments shall be Erected, but are hereby Strictley (sic) prohibited, and it shall be the duty of the President, Secretary Treasur (sic) and Trustees, to make it a part of the contract in conveying all Deeds either by purchase or donation, excepting that of a permit to the Keeper of Hotel, to furnish to Travelers (sic) and others in their own Tavern, or Barr Haem (sic) (Room?)

     Art. 13. The President, Secretary, Treasur (sic) and Trustees, are requested to use great precaution in donating, Lots to an orderally (sic) correct and industrious People, that it may have an influence (sic) in laying good Examples to the Students.

     Art. 14. All of which was unanimously adopted, and ordered to be Spread on the Hournals of the Company.

     Art. 15. Resolved that E. L. R. Wheelock, R. B. Jarmon, Masselon Farley, Elijah Powers, A. C. Perry, William Walker, and Robert Henry be appointed President, Secretary, Treasure (sic), Trustees, protem, and (sic) they take such steps as may be necessary to obtain a Charter from Congress, with such privileges as is usual for such Institutions.

     Art. 16. Resolved, That the Sympathies, of our Enlightened President, Vice President and Members of Congress by invoked in our laudable cause.

     Art. 17. Resolved that we adjourn this Meeting until a Meeting in course unless ordered by the President and Trustees to meet sooner.

M. Farley                                                                                           R.L.R. Wheelock
Secy                                                                                                 President
Pro tem                                                                                        Pro tem

  1  Brown, Frank. Nashville. Old Settlers' Reunion. 1903
  2  Ibid
  3  Kemp, Lina, Cameron Herald, November 21, 1935


     In January, 1842, the Congress of the Republic of Texas named commissioners to establish a permanent county seat for Milam County. It was to be called San Andres and was to be near the center of the County. Later when Captain Ewen Cameron was killed by a special order of Santa Anna Because of his participation in the Miers Expedition, the name was changed to Cameron. The county was re-organized in 1846 and Cameron was made the county seat. The court was moved from Caldwell to Cameron. Caldwell with its division has been included in the Burleson County. (1) The first officers were: W. W. Oxsheer, District Clerk; Isaac Standifer, Chief Justice; Francis Duffer, County Clerk; and John McLennan, Sheriff. * (2) The first court was held in November, 1846, by Judge Baylor, a lawyer and a preacher. Many lawyers were present; among these were: J. D. Giddings, William H. White, A. M. Lewis, James Norris, and John Taylor. (3)

     Cameron was incorporated by the state legislature on April 4, 1846 and the following commissioners were appointed: W. D. Thomson, Isaac Standifer, Winfield Bailey, J. Turnham, Daniel Monroe, Benjamine Bryant and Augustus Sullivan. (4) Cameron was laid off by A. W. Sullivan, Benjamin Bryant, Daniel Monroe and John Hodson. It was surveyed by George Erath with the assistance of George Green. (5)

     It was first planned to locate the site of Cameron on the South bank of Little River near where the old McCown bridge was until a few years ago. These plans were changed because of the fine spring at the present site. The land on which the present site of Cameron was placed belonged to Daniel Monroe, who was prevailed on to donate 50 acres upon which to build the town.

     "The first building erected in Cameron was a court house. It is described as follows: 'It was thirty feet east and west by twenty feet north and south, about nine feet high to the eaves, built of upright studding mortised into sills and plates, weather-boarded on the outside, floored with plank cut out by hand with a whipsaw, and covered with boards rived and shaved. There was a door on the north side and one on the south side and a window in each end. On the south side two shed rooms about ten feet square were added which were used as clerk's offices, there being a passage between leading to the courtroom. Jacob Cross and Wiley Jones took the contracted and erected the building.'" (6)

     After a few years the above court house became inadequate and a new one was built. The new building was a two-story frame building. The dimensions are not known but there was a large hall running north and with offices located on the first floor. The second building, with all of the records, was destroyed by fire in 1874. After a year another court house was built but this was reported unsafe in 1889 and the present court house was built at a cost of $75,140.00.

     The first settlers of Cameron built their rude cabins in the woods along Little River and in the Riber bottoms along the breaks from a mile to a mile and one-half from where Cameron now stands. The tall trees and dense undergrowth afforded them shelter from the Indians as well as fuel for warmth and cooking, and material for their fences as they began to lay claim to their lands. Proximity to the river made it easy to pressure water for household uses as well as game from its depths. Living was thus made comparatively simple for them until the first eventful overflow when they were forced to seek higher ground.

     It was after this overflow that Shapley P. Ross moved his family to the site where Cameron now stands. His house was near the spring referred to and was located where the Cameron City Park now is. This was the first home built at the present site of Cameron and it was here that Lawrence Sullivan Ross, son of Shapley P. Ross who was called Sul Ross, played as a boy. Sul Ross was a confederate general and was governor of Texas and President of A.&.M. College. (7)

     The first families who settled in or near Milam County were: Daniel Monroe, Joshiah Turnham, Giles O. Sullivan, John and William Thompson, and their widowed sister, Miss Frasier; Mat Jones, Mr. Northam, and an old Bachelor, Dad Andrews, and Shapley P. Ross. (8)

     Mr. Turnham came about 1840. After the overflow already mentioned, Mr. Thurnham moved his family to the place known as the McCown homestead. Among his children was Susan Turnham, aged 5. She was raised in this county and many of descendents were reared in Cameron. She later married J. W. McCown Jr., and leaves us a history of Cameron in the early forties.

     Among the early recollections of Mrs. McCown is that of one of the first schools built in Milam County which stood nearly a mile east of the old Turnham homestead. This school was called the Miles schoolhouse. The teacher was a Mr. Lamkin. The school opened in the spring and closed in the fall because there was no way to heat the structure. Walls were logs, roof clapboards took the place of windows. There was no truancy among the children because the woods were full of Indians, bears, Mexican hogs, and other varmints. **

"The first religious service held in this part of the county was at Cameron, Texas, by a Methodist preacher, Mordeica Yell. The place of worship was a brush arbor.
"At first the only neighbors were those who came together in 1840. This party consisted of five families; S. P. Rose, G. O. Sullivan, W. W. Wortham and John Thomson.
"The first event of importance in the new settlement was a tragedy. One day Sullivan was priming an old flint lock musket, when it was accidently discharged and killed a man named Wiley, who had lately joined the settlers. Wiley was buried in the old Cemetery, his being the first grave dug there. In 1842 William Wilson settled where Aunt Lizzie Wilson lives now. Uncle Billie Lamkins, grandfather of Sealy Lamkins, settled in the bend, now known as the South Bend. John Beal settled 7 miles east of Cameron and W. W. Oxsheer ten miles down the river and there neighbors were close and plentyful for those days. I recall vividly the coming of the Wilson and Lamkins families. When the first came in sight someone suggested Indians and hasty preparations were made to fight or run, as might be found advisable. After a few trying moments or suspense we began to rejoice greatly when we learned they were friends who were coming to join us in our wilderness.
"As soon as our scare was over we became greatly interested in the long procession that followed the advance guard. In those days means of transportation were limited, and yet it was vitally necessary to feed and clothe them and some of the Negro servants were carrying spinning wheels, some had lambs in their arms, as a flock of sheep was being brought along, and others had useful household or farming utensils.
"We had to go to Houston for all supplies that the forests and fields did not furnish. As we raised nothing to sell we had to hunt for wild honey, all sorts of plets and these with buffalo tallow was our medium of exchange. The first call of the settler would be for powder and lead, next coffee and sugar and calico, and always some castor oil and rhubarb for the children. It makes me sick yet when I think of that bad dose.
"In 1852, my father began the erection of the brick house on the old homestead, two miles south of Cameron, and this being the second brick house built north of the old San Antonio road and west of the Trinity makes it one of the land marks of Central Texas. The house in which we lived for a short time was located nearer the river just above where the south piers of the bridge now stand. In April, 1852, the river rose so high that all our houses were washed away. My mother was sick at the time and father was not anticipating so great a rise delayed moving her until the water entered the house and then she was carried out through a window and shortly afterward the house was swept away by the great flood. When the brick house was completed it became the stopping place where every traveler, friend, or stranger found heart-felt welcome, and so it was my good fortune to meet many of the distinguished men of Texas. There, as a young girl, or later as Mistress of the house, I met General Sam Houston, Governor Reynolds; my cousin, Governor Sul Ross; Judges Baylor, Buckholts, Bryaddus, Ford, Onions, Henderson, and many others whose names I do not just now recall.
"Amusements in the early days were limited. Hunting and fishing was not sport, even for the boys, for mostly by the gun and rod we lived.
"When flour and meal gave out we had dried buffalo steak for bread and fat, juicy bear for meat. Of such as we had we freely gave. And when the young people had a dance they most certainly enjoyed themselves as the dances often lasted two or three days. You see, when you rode a pony 20 or 30 miles (we sometimes went to Waco) you could not be expected to dance a few hours and take at once the long ride back.So we danced and sang the hours away while we rested. (9)*

     One can see from Mrs. McCown's article that the school equipment was very meager. It is to be noted that this school mentioned was the first schoolhouse to be erected in Milam County. This was in the early forties. The seats were split logs. The only instruction given before this time was given by parents to their own offspring and there was very little time for this. It took all the strength and will-power of these pioneers to live to say nothing of learning.

As Mr. W. W. Oxsheer put it,

     "Schools, of course, were not plentiful, nor were those we had what they ought to have been, but we had not then come to depend so much on books as now. The newspaper was not regarded in those days as a household necessity, nor had the electric telegraph brought the utmost parts of the world to our door." (10)

     It must be borne in mind that although we have heard much and thought more of the wisdom of the "Fathers of Texas", who provided so generously with public lands for the support and the most necessary of our free institutions, the public school, there were very few public or free schools until a later date. Most of the planters did not approve of the free schools as the laws then provided for them and would not allow their children to attend them.

     Knowing the wise provisions of the Fathers, it does surprise us much to find of record is the archives of Austin

an act to incorporate the Milam Liberal Institute, at or near the Town of Cameron."
Approved, March 20, 1848.

     The city was laid off in 1846; the school history begins very soon after the town was begun. Doubtless the neighborhood boasted of schools before, but there is no record of it. In the charter of this institute, each subscriber was required to donate $10.00 over and above the tuition paid for his children. In this document George B. Erath, George Green, Isaac Cook, N. M. Hubby, Daniel Monroe, William Lamkin, and J. J. Turnham are named as the first Board of Trustees.(11) These noble men, beterans (sic) of San Jacinto, and the heroes who redeemed this country from the savages, still have dessendents among us, who are just as interested in the welfare of our schools as their fathers were.

     Mrs. Lou Green Streetman, a daughter of George Green, who was one of the trustees of the first school of Cameron, was probably a pupil at the earliest school here, and remembers several different schoolhouses of the pioneer type used at various times for school purposes; she names three, but best remembers the log schoolhouse that stood in the block east of where the post office now stands. Later, she went to school to Mr. Hancock, and at this school Mrs. Susan McCown, who as a little girl was Susan Turnham, was also a pupil; and they remember many happy incidents of this time. The names of their schoolmates include many of Cameron's citizens of the present day. Later, Mrs. McCown went to an Irishman named Fogarty, in the same building.

     At this same log schoolhouse, Mr. W. B. Streetman taught for a number of years, and here fell in love with and later married one of his charming pupils, Miss Lou Green. There are a number of citizens in Cameron who still remember Mr. Streetman as their teacher. Among other pupils, Mrs. Mary Tucker Arnold Remembers the spelling matches held in his school, where for prizes, Testaments were given. Mrs. Arnold was once the recipient of this prize and treasures it still. Mrs. Arnold refers to an eccentric man, E. Porter Gould, living near the schoolhouse, who owned a black bear, very popular with the children. He took an active interest in the school, and having no children of his own to send, selected Mrs. Arnold, then little Mary Tucker, and paid her tuition at that school because her father sent more children to school at that time than any other patron, and then, doubtless, Mary had attracted his attention while playing around the famous bear. Mrs. Arnold was the mother of Mrs. Mamie A. Hefley of Cameron, Mr. John Tucker was a pupil of Mr. Streetman in 1854 and for several years more. Mr. T. G. Sampson, perhaps the oldest native citizen of Cameron, began his school career in the old log schoolhouse. On his first day at school he rod a pony and was attended by a slave, Frank Woods, who looked after his young master's wants with patient fidelity. His first teacher's name was Frank Tarver, who no doubt made a great pet of Mr. Sampson. A conversation with Mr. Sampson in one of his reminiscent moods is perhaps the most interesting thing a Cameron Citizen can enjoy. Mr. W. T. Hefley started to school about this time and remembers as his first teacher, Mr. W. G. Cranke, who afterwards became a Major in the Confederate Army, and who won distinction in military circles. Later a noted lawyer, from Alabama, Mr. Dawson taught school for a term.

     Mrs. Johnnie Faulkner had a very good private school in 1857 or 1858 in Cameron. She was a widow and had nothing when she started the school except her three children and a piano. She was considered an authority on any educational subject. Mrs. Faulkner taught music as well as all school subjects. Her piano was used to practice on as well as for lessons. This was one of the first pianos in Caeron. the tuition in this school was not high. It must have been about $2 per month. It has been said that her influence was felt not only in an educational way but in gaining high morals and high standards of living throughout the community. When Mrs. Faulkner came back to visit many years after, one of her old pupils called all his children in and asked her to bless them. the above is given as an evidence of her wonderful character.*

     About this time our schoolhouse grounds were purchased. This property was deeded first by J. C. Rogers and M. A. Lamkin in 1857 to George Green and others as Trustees of Milam Liberal Institute but that the deed was perhaps lost before being recorded for September 26, 1884, and another deed was executed conveying the property to J. B. Moore, J. C. Rogers, W. V. Hefley, and John C. Oxenford, Trustees for Milam Liberal Institute and their successors.

   1  Lone Star State (Lewis Publishing Company - Chicago 1893)
   2  Brown, Frank R. Nashville - Old Settlers' Reunion 1903
   *  Some of these men are mentioned in Mr. Brown's article as outstanding citizens of Nashville
   3  The Lone Star State (Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1893) page 257
   4  Gamiels Laws, Vo. II, p. 1351-1352
   5  Lone Star State. (Lewis Publishing Company - Chicago, 1893) p. 257
   6  Lone Star State. (Lewis Publishing Company - Chicago, 1893) p. 257
   7  Lone Star State. (Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, 1893) page 256
   8  McCown, Mrs. Susan - the Cameron Herald, December 16, 1915
   *  The above mentioned school was known as "an old field school". It must have been started about 1844 or 1845. Later Mrs. McCown went to a school four or five miles  
      west of this school on the way to Bear Creek. The teacher of this school was Jim Overton. Some of the more distinguished pupils were the Ross, Wilson, and Turnham             families. - author
   9  McCown, Mrs. Susan.  The Cameron Herald, December 20, 1915
   *  It was in the brick house mentioned above that the author's grandparents were married. The author's grandmother had been boarding at the Turnhame and there had        met her husband-to-be
 10  Lone Star State. (Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1893) page 258
   *  This sketch was related to the writer by Mrs. T. S. Henderson of Cameron)


     Mrs. Sharpe, a lovely little lady of 91 summers gave the author this ;picture of the schools in the late fifties. Her father was a teacher of a private elementary school. He was very strict and demanded perfect obedience. He was strict with his own children. He did not make education play, but hard work. He expected the boys with beards to mind just as well as the six year old ones.

     When she was seven years old (1856) she came with her father to Port Sullivan. He taught school there for one term. He was not connected with the college to be later mentioned. In this private school there were so many children who did not know their A.B.C's, that he got his seven year old daughter, Mrs. Sharpe, to help him. He had given her instruction beyond this before. the next year, 1856, he taught at the County Line School. This school was right on the line of Milam and Bell Counties, hence the name. Here she went to school with her father for five months and this was one of the longest terms she attended. She was now eight and when they had a spelling match she spelled down the whole school. She remembers one big boy laughing and saying he though she would never miss. Her father had one habit of interest. He never gave out a word in spelling but once.

     The schools were log cabins as crude as the farmers, with dirt floor and split log benches. These were made by splitting logs in half and putting the pegs in for legs. There were few schools with windows and these were only openings with no panels. Few books were to be had at this time, and these were old and had been handed down in the family. The children were eager for education and studied coming and going to school. They read everything they could get their hands on out of school. The boys were sent to school until they could figure to the square root of three, but the girls did not go regularly. the terms were usually six weeks to four months. The Tuition paid was about $2 per pupil per month. Sometimes the teacher accepted his wages in supplies. *

     In the late thirties the grandfather of Mr. W. J. Smilie came to what is now Robertson County and settled on the Brazos. This was a part of Robertson's grant and was, of course, a part of the Milam Land District. Mr. Smilie's mother was a little girl. There was a school started on the Jim Nance land at a popular crossing or ford on the bank of the Brazos River. It was taught by a man named Picar. Two of the pupils were Bud and Levi Abies. Later this school was moved to Cadde. This was in Milam County proper. When this school was moved, the huts of the Cadde Indians were still standing. It was near a spring and was the site of a Cadde Indian Village. Later the school was moved to a place where the Cadde church was. There is still a school at Cadde.

     There was also a school in 1849 at Nashville as Mr. McThompson mentioned in an article, that he was in school when a steamboat came up the Brazos. He described the school as a log house with dirt floor and split log benches for seats. The teacher was Mr. Irby Kid. The sketch is humorous and makes interesting reading. He also brings out the quaint custom of making little boys wear a robe-like dress until they were ready to start to school and then they began to wear pants.

     In 1859 John Todd and family came from Georgia, originally from South Carolina, and settled near Maysfield, in what is now known as the old Todd place. Mr. Todd was a lawyer by training but an educator by preference. He was deeply impressed for the need of education, not only among the youth but also among the adults. He became a teacher and taught adults mainly. His schools were in Maysfield and Yarellton. He began this work in 1849 and taught all during the Civil War. Mr. Todd was a graduate from Wake-Forrest college. *

     The town of Port Sullivan was begun in the early fifties. Robert E. Lee Was stationed there (Port Sullivan) and Nashville for two winters before that time. He and his soldiers ranged along Little River and the Brazos to keep the Indians under control. It was during his stay there that the town of Port Sullivan was begun by A. W. Sullivan, who had helped to lay off Cameron. It was on a navigable part of the Brazos and near the mouth of Little River, and was an important port. It grew to much prominence later.

     We can readily see that there were but few schools in Milam County prior to the Civil War. These were small, unorganized schools with only a few families attending. They were, of course, all private schools. Those in Cameron were perhaps better organized than any others at this time, but these were very poor schools. A fact that had not been recognized at this time is that no school can become permanent without continued support. It is also true that no school can be at its best without wholesale support of parents as well as teachers.

Mr. Newton's School 1895-1896
Elementary Section
Maysfield, Texas
Mrs. McCombs and Miss Emmie Slaughter - Teachers.

   *  Mrs. Sharpe's father was William Carroll Sypert, who began teaching 98 years ago and taught a great deal in Milam County. Mrs. Sharpe is the grandmother of Mrs.              C.M. Edens, Georgetown.
   *  The above information was given the author by his grandfather, Mrs. Olive Walker of Cameron

Chapter V


     The history of Maysfield schools was secured from Miss Amelia Williams, Mrs. W. T. Hefley, Jr., Mr. "Ches" McKinney and Mr. H. W. Massengels. Mr. Massengels loaned the pictures to the writer.

     Maysfield was named for the Mays family, the descendents of whom still live there. the community is small. R. B. Mays gave the land for the townsite.

     The year of 1860 saw John Todd farming and teaching a school near Maysfield, called the Allen school (just below the Allen place on a branch of Walkers' creek). This was a small school and Robert Todd, son of John Todd, a boy of nine at that time, remembers the following pupils: Kly Wickson, Lily Allen, Laura Allen, Margaret Cullins, John Beal, Alcey "Turk" Beal, Mary Beal, Julia Beal, Harriet Todd, Eugenia Todd, Eliza Todd and Robert Todd.

     One of the very first schools was organized in 1861, known as the Pebble Grove school, a name given to it by the father of Mrs. Looney, whose name was W. W. Easterwood. He said that there was both a grove and many pebbles there. The cemetery is still known by that name. It is near Maysfield. The school building was of logs as were the benches and table. Mrs. Looney went there with her brother. He was eleven and she was nine. This school was taught by a Reverend Anderson, a Baptist preacher, who was later president of Baylor.

     Sometime in the early sixties this Pebble Grove school was taught by Captain A. J. Stone. There were about thirty pupils. Captain Stone taught to fractions. He used the blue-back speller and McGuffey's readers. Mr. Chester McKinney stated that he attended this school in 1866.

     Information leads us to believe there was a private school taught by Miss Josie Wilson at this period and it was held in what was later a saddle shop. It had a dirt floor and little or no equipment.

     There was a very famous private school located on Mrs. Elizabeth Moss McCulloch's place and was taught by a man named C. C. Penuel. Mr. Penuel was a Boston man, a graduate of Harvard. His school was established before 1866. Possible Mr. Penuel taught at two different times. His wife helped him at one time. Mr. W. J. Smilie went there in 1876-1877 and he says that Mr. Penuel never accepted over 25 or 30 pupils. Once every month Mr. Penuel had a spelling match and many of the older people came and were chosen by the children and participated in the match. Some of these men remembered by Mr. Smilie were Herbert (Hub) Williams, Dave Mays, Tyres Sneed, Ed Atkinson, and Dr. Aikin. The spelling matches were great times in the lives of the children. Mr. Penuel seemed to have had a wonderful education and was a very fine teacher. He was very strict and demanded respect from his pupils. He did not take anything but selected pupils and they must pay tuition regularly. Some of the pupils were Dwight Phipps, Cooper Allen, Alsey Allen, W. J. Smilie, J. H. Smilie, Laura Jones, Jess Jones, Will Beard, Nelly Williams, Marcus (Bunk) McCulloch, Jack McCulloch, Henry (Gulf) Beal, Harold (Nick) Beal, Rebecca Stoneham, Emma Stoneham, Lillian Beal (Mrs. L. B. Snead), Jess Stone, Tom Stone, James Woodson, (later head doctor in Woodson Clinic in Temple), and Annie Woodson. there must have been many others but there is no record to be found of them.

     John Todd taught two terms on the John E. Tyson place (now owned by Hubert Atkinson). This was a large school, some 60 or 65 pupils attending--children came from far and near. Robert Todd remembers these pupils: Two or three Allison children; Lilly and Laura Allen, Jim and Alec Bradford, whose parents had "Refugeed" with a large holding of slaves from Arkansas; Bill Easterwood, who came over from Port Sullivan and boarded in the district. A slow but painstaking pupil who kept Mr. Todd at lunch and recesses explaining problems which he did not understand. Although some of Bill's classmates often laughed at his persistence, John Todd predicted good things for him. He was later known as Colonel Bill Easterwood of Dallas, now deceased. His son also known as "Colonel Billy" Easterwood. Other pupils were: Edgar McNutt; Al, Emma, Jeanna, and Love Massengale; Frank Moss; "Bunk" McCulloch; Dave and Mandy Muckelroy, orphans; "Chas" and Beaky McKinney, children of Newt McKinney; and another McKinney girl, niece of Newt McKinney; Al, Jim, Ann and Amanda Mayes; and the Todds, Harriet, Eugenia, Eliza, and Bob.

     The academy was built in Maysfield in the late sixties. Mr. Robert Todd says it was established as a result of a gift of 4 acres by Mrs. Rice who had been "holding a school" on her farm. She was a married woman with two children, Alice and Ed, and owned the land lately owned by Mr. Charlie Butts (now in possession of his daughter, Susie Butts). She conceived the idea of giving the community 4 acres of her land on which to establish an Academy. Naturally she was awarded the contract for teaching and held it for about ten years. It was established in 1865 or 1866. It was considered later a free school. This meant that it later received a sum of money each year from the school fund. The building was situated on four acres of land, and is just one mile east of the town of Maysfield and on the Maysfield-Branchville road. It was made of cottonwood and oak planks sawed from trees grown locally and sawed at Lester's Lake. It was built just before or just after the civil War. It was later partly of logs. It was roughly ceiled, walls and overhead, and was weatherboarded outside. It may have been painted, but later did not show signs of it. The outer walls were not joined to the floor and a crack an inch wide let in the light and air all around the room. There were four windows on the north, two on the west, east and south, and also two doors on the south. the floors were of plank twelve inches wide. It was used as a community meeting place. All denominations used it for church, taking turns in using it. Dances were held there for the older young people.

     At one time John Oxenford taught there. He later went to Cameron. He was an excellent teacher when he was sober. A Mr. Finey taught there in the early eighties. He is remembered as beating up the boys, but the one who remembers is very sure he had to beat up the boys as he had a tough proposition. Later or before, Mrs. Yates, Miss Betty Gibson, Mrs. Dansforth, and Mr. O'Conner taught there.

     Mr. McKinney remembers that just before they caught their horses in the afternoon to go home, they sang the multiplication tables and the A.B.C's. He also remembers that when Mr. Oxenford was teaching that there were forty or fifty pupils and that he taught as far as anyone wanted to learn.

     There was later a school in Maysfield called the old Presbyterian school. The school was never a Presbyterian school - was always strictly non-religious; however, because the founders were Presbyterians, and the first teacher was a Presbyterian preacher, the general public did have the idea that it was a Presbyterian organization. The history of the school is something like this: Mr. E. D. Atkinson, Mr. Bruce (R.B.) Mayes, and Mr. Hubert Williams, father of Dr. Amelia Williams, all had growing families of young children to be educated. The public school at Maysfield at that time was considered very, very inferior (1888-1889), and these men considered they were committing a "terrible crime" to allow their children to grow up in ignorance. The public school at the time did not last over six or seven months in the year, and the teachers, according to the opinion of these men, were unfit to train their children. What school there was was held in what was then known as the "old academy". It was used as a community center. All denominations had church there, each taking its turn in using it for the purpose. The Presbyterians were the first denomination to build a church at Maysfield. It was erected in 1885 or 1886. The "old academy" was located a mile east of Maysfield on the road to Branchville.

     At that time the Negroes had the power of the vote, it being before the development of the primary system; consequently, these Negroes were herded together and "voted" according to the will, the desire, or the animosity of some community faction or other. Mr. Williams and his friends thought the "wrong element" had control of the school.

     It was in 1889, that Mr. J. E. P. Newton, who had been pastor of the Presbyterian church at Cameron for several years, came to Maysfield to become the full-time pastor of the newly built Presbyterian church. Before this time, at times afterward also, the preachers at the Maysfield churches - Presbyterian and Methodist - preached only one Sunday in a month, or two at most. The congregations were not able, or they thought they were not, to pay a preacher for his full time. Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Mayes, Mr. A. L. Massengale, and Mr. Williams got together and agreed to build a little one room house somewhere and hire Mr. Newton to teach their children. This they did in 1889. The fall of 1889 was the first term of this school.

     Mr. Massengale gave an acre of land as his donation to the scheme--he had previously given the acre of which the Presbyterian church is located. The acre given for the school adjoined the church-yard acre.

     Dr. Amelia Williams gives the following description of the school:

"The house built was about 50 ft x 30 ft. It was a frame structure, ceiled throughout within and weatherboarded without. The first composition blackboards I had ever seen were installed, and many years passed before better ones were made. Every teaching help then known was put in that school -- maps, charts, globes, geometry figures, standard unabridged dictionary, the newest type desks, even a good supply of switches, a help the teacher seldom had to use. The building and equipment were all paid for by my father, and Mr. Atkinson, with some assistance - not much - from Mr. Hayes, but Mr. Hayes gave his moral support to everything that was done. Uncle Al also sent his children to the school and blew warm and cool, by turns, in enthusiasm concerning the venture. Mr. Newton, the teacher, was a wonderful man. He was little appreciated or known by the pupils at large, for he as too modest and reserved - never cold or "stuck-up" as some reported him to be. Why he ever wished to settle at Maysfield is beyond my understanding, but I have often heard him say that it suited him. I know that he held several degrees of varied rank from several colleges and universities, besides his ministerial preparation.

"There were about twenty or twenty-five pupils in this private school, at first. The patrons paid the tuition monthly, and some of them paid in farm products - corn, potatoes, bacon, hams, lard, etc. The bulk of the expense fell upon the founders. I think the salary, at first, was about seventy-five dollars per month.

"The school term lasted from January to January with certain periods of vacation--about two weeks at Easter (while Mr. Newton made his garden); two or three weeks the first of June; two or three weeks the first of September; and always two weeks at Christmas; In other words, all told, the term was about ten months of every year. The school was not strictly graded, although there was considerable class organization. No pupil was retarded, however, for the sake of a class; but was allowed to progress as rapidly as he was able, providing only that he mastered the work in hand. It was really a good school. Probably a little too much emphasis was placed on mathematics and Latin, as compared with the emphasis on English; but no pupil who ever studied Latin grammar under Mr. Newton had any trouble in mastering the grammar of any other language he might wish to study. For instance, I read German, French, and Spanish fairly well. I have never had difficulty with grammar of construction of any of these languages. I learned all that with Mr. Newton and his Latin grammar. This is the universal experience of all his old pupils, so that I suppose he really stressed English through his strict drills in the Latin. That was the old-fashioned way of teaching.

"The fame of this school soon spread; many were begging to send their children, although they had to pay tuition and lose the public appropriation per pupil - all of which went to the school of the Maysfield district. My father died in February, 1890, the first year of this school; but among the last admonitions to my mother, he urged that she continue the interest in the school scheme, or any other plan that might be evolved for the education of his children. She carried out his wishes to the best of her abilities. She always had a minor - a woman's - voice in the plans for the school, for that burden fell to the lot of Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Newton, but she always paid half of all the expenses, just as Mr. Atkinson did.

Maysfield School
Late 1890s.

     "But by 1892, the school had grown to such great numbers - about forty or fifty - that the first little room was considered too small, and one teacher could not handle all the work. Consequently, a two-story addition was added to the first room. the upstairs floor was fitted out as a concert hall. there was a regular stage with drop curtains, foot-lights, etc. This hall became the regular community center. All expenses, lights and other small items, were always borne by the owners of the building. Mr. Atkinson and my mother; but even so, they came in for much abuse from the country-side in general, for various petty offences or remiss performance of duties for the comfort of those who need the hall - always rent free.

   "It came to pass that the majority of the people of Maysfield wished to send a majority of their children to "Mr. Newton's School" as this school came to be known; but many did not wish to pay the necessary tuition. For a year or two their children were permitted to come and pay tuition if they could, or if they wished to do so, but the number got too great, and the burden was too heavy -- I do not think I mentioned the matter, but it must ever be remembered that the founders of this school were poor men in this world's goods, but they were determined to give their children some of the advantages that they themselves had received in other states in their own youth, and they got the notion somehow that it would do no good to train their own children and have them grow up in a community of young people who did not enjoy as good training; so, as far as it was possible, they tried to make their school open to all who would come. But the growing numbers made the burden too great for their pocket books, so they had to make the rule that only those who would pay the tuition could attend the school. Pretty soon those who wished to attend Mr. Newton's school, but who were unwilling to lose the free-school money of the state, made the proposition that there should be a survey census made to determine the number of children whose parents wished to withdraw their appropriation from the general district and in this way make of the Newton school a free school for as many months of the year as the state money would pay. this was done, and the school district was divided. this was the first great mistake. Of course, the dividing of the school funds created a great furor, and it developed two opposing factions in the community, that for lack of something to fuss about at the moment, continued to bicker over schools.

    "In 1896, Mr. Newton was elected County School Superintendent. After that there were several principals employed for the old school. But with Mr. Newton's resignation, all the power and strength for education that the old school had ever enjoyed was dead. Both Mr. Newton and my mother died in 1898, my mother in October, Mr. Newton in November. For about two years the school - the public school - was held in the Maysfield school building. In fact, as I have already said, there were two schools within a mile of one another, for the school at the "old Academy" had been continued right along. In about 1900 one family monopolized the school situation at Maysfield. Mrs. Crits, the mother of the family, taught the Academy, and the daughter, Fanny Crits, taught a little public school known as the "Cross Roads School". This school was held in what we Maysfield folk called "The post cake". It was about a half mile from the Atkinson old home, and about a quarter of a mile from the Sophie Moss Barmore home. I do not know much about this school, except that since I can remember, a school had been held there for a few months in each year. It was considered a "very poor school" by the folk I knew. It may have been a better "place of learning" than it had the reputation of being; I do know, however, that the attendance was always small. the Crits family, of whom I speak were the father, mother, and sister of the present Judge Richard Crits, one of the justices of the Texas Supreme Court.

    "But, before the Crits family became the intelligencia of Maysfield, the founders of the old Newton school were again face to face with a school problem. The two younger Atkinson children, my two youngest sisters, the Mayes twins (Minnie and Jennie), also R. B. Mayes, and the Newton children were getting along to the age when they should be in college. All the older children of these families had been sent to college after Mr. Newton resigned his work at Maysfield. The public schools had again become very inferior; they did not begin to give the students preparation for college. These folk solved the problem by closing the entrances between the little old first room that had been built in 1889, and the main two-story building erected later. The Maysfield faction of the public school was permitted to continue to hold school in the main building - still rent free except that the school trustees obligated themselves to make all repairs for damages done the building during the school term - damages such as putting in window lights, etc. This was another mistake. The owners of the building should either have given the building absolutely free of all charges as in the past, or definitely closed it to the public, for considerable feeling resulted in the effort to enforce the repair of the building by the school board. In the small room of this building, the families mentioned set up another private school. It was absolutely a preparatory school for college. Competent graduates of the University of Texas were emplyed to teach--rather coach--the children mentioned, for college. This private school lasted two, maybe three years.

    "About this time Mr. Atkinson's store building burned. He decided, in the face of the strong opposition, and the continued nagging concerning the school building, to close it for school purposes, and to open his store in it. Thus the building became a store. The hall above was also closed for community purposes, because it was soon believed to be unsafe - I believe, on second thought, that no insurance companies would take the risk of insuring mercantile business as long as the community center was above the store. At any rate, the hall was closed to the public. The old building was burned some five or six years ago and the Maysfield Mercantile Company has its store building on the site. That ended the history of the so-called "Presbyterian School" at Maysfield.

    "At one time, just before Mrs. Crits was the teacher at the old academy, a Miss Gertrude Wallace, a sister of Mr. Eugene Wallace of Cameron, taught at the academy for a term or so. Mr. Emory Camp taught there for a few terms before Miss Wallace. During the tenure of these three teachers, the academy had a pretty fair school. This was after Mr. Newton resigned from the Maysfield school, and even after his death.

    "After Mr. Atkinson took over the old Maysfield school building for a store, the Maysfield faction was against the necessity of building a school house. By some means, the two factions managed to agree long enough to decide to unite, move the old Academy building to Maysfield and consolidate the three schools--the one at Maysfield, the one at the cross roads, and the one at the academy. This they did, and the Maysfield faction moved the consolidated school in this old building which was moved to Maysfield and located not far from the site of the present brick building. After several years, this old building which was moved to Maysfield and located not far from the site of the present brick building. After several years, this old building was burned and the present brick building was erected. The consolidating and the development of the present school by the united factions of the Maysfield school have taken place in the last twenty years.

    "Mr. Newton was criticized by some for not ever reading the Bible, because it was supposed to have been a religious school. He never said a single word concerning religion during school hours. For the first few years he did teach a singing class, and the singing lesson was the first period of every day; and he taught the songs he used in his church service, but after the school was opened to others than the children of the founders, he no longer taught singing. He never opened school with the reading of the Bible. This whole venture was merely an experiment on the part of the founders of the school to solve the problem of having their children taught as they thought they should be taught. I do not believe that these men had any idea or desire to found a school for any other purpose except for the immediate necessity mentioned above. Books were kept of the expenses of the experiment, and they showed that they, the founders, had spent something like $10,000."


    All information relative to the Port Sullivan schools was furnished by Mrs. W. C. Looney, Mrs. A. E. Brady, and was secured from an article by Miss Marjorie Rogers of Marlin. The first two ladies attended the school at different times.

    It is not a matter of general knowledge that Milan County once had a good-sized port. One of the early settlers, A. W. Sullivan, stopped at a point some miles distant from, and directly north of, old Nashville, on the west banks of the Brazos. Here he found a splendid harbor, the possibilities of which he hoped to exploit. Others followed and in time a fair sized town developed. The town was named Port Sullivan in his honor. For many years boats, transversing the course of the Brazos, tied up at this point.

    Many of the early settlers of Port Sullivan were the following: Dr. Chent, one-time representative of the County and uncle of Mrs. A. E. Brady; Capt. E. T. Thompson, large landowner and father of Mrs. Brady; Tom Anderson and Mr. Barton, wealthy planters; -- Wilson; Davis; Easterwood; Mr. Barton; Dr. Jones; and Mr. E. A. Brady, a ginner.

    Port Sullivan enjoyed a rapid growth from the beginning and as a trade center became a serious rival of Nashville. In 1874 when the I.&G.N. railroad was extended westward from Hearns to Rockdale, Port Sullivan began to decline. The inhabitants began to move toward the railroads. The shifting population was so complete that the college dissolved.

"Nothing is left of Port Sullivan College but the memory of the place where it once stood. The accomplishments of her many students throughout the state is the only monument that has been erected to the memory of this pioneer institution."

    Since the above statement was written, the state has erected a monument at the site of the old college. It will last no longer, although it is made of stone, than the effects of the education given to the people of the country. The education given to these people has made education of prime interest to succeeding generations.

    The college, more strictly speaking, the academy, was founded by a Rev. and Mrs. Carver, opened for business in the early sixties, or late fifties, as far as the data found show. The original name, the Port Sullivan Female Institute, was changed to port Sullivan College when it became an institution co-educational. the school was under a Methodist although the Baptists helped organize it.

    The college stood on the outskirts of Port Sullivan, on an eleven acre tract of land, covered with many beautiful trees. There were two buildings. One, the college proper, was a large, wooden, two story structure, painted white. A side porch with huge white columns extended the whole length of the two stories, and presented an imposing sight. There were eight rooms in this building, four upstairs and four downstairs, including a large room at one end used for a chapel. All these rooms were large, and were used as classrooms; except, of course, the chapel which was used only on occasions. the whole building was nicely papered, ceiled, and well furnished. the other building served as a dormitory and dining room for the boarding pupils and teachers. This building was called "Steward's Hall" or "Stuart Hall." Cooking was done in a separate building, as was the custom in those days.

    The school was well equipped. the furniture consisted of good desks and excellent blackboards. the college was so ultra modern for its day that it bought a piano for its music department, a novelty at that time and mistakably referred to as a melodian. the rooms for the boarding students were well furnished and comfortable. The dining hall was well kept and the food well prepared. Dr. Church during his presidency had acquired some wonderful rosewood furniture, some of which can still be found in the community. The school was heated by a large fireplace in each room. The head of the school was always spoken of as the President. He was assisted by a staff of three to six teachers. In general, the women teachers had charge of the music, and the elementary grades. The curriculum, in addition to music and the elementary subjects, included Latin, French, Advanced Mathematics, English (Rhetoric), History, Literature, and later Elecution.

    This system was strict. Cheating was punished by assessing demerits. Awards consisted of report cards and diplomas. Some of the teachers were: Mr. Garner and his wife, and their contemporaries; Mr. Prohl, Mr. Critenden, and Miss Clark from New York. Mr. Alden taught some time later. Reverend Joseph P. Sneed, a Methodist preacher, taught. Dr. Church was President here at one time, (1864-1865) and his wife and daughter taught with him. At this time Mr. Oscar Lawrence taught the young men's department and is remembered as a perfect disciplinarian. He married the daughter of Dr. Church. Dr. Church was a Methodist preacher. In 1860-69 C. S. DuBose was the principal. In 1871 Colonel Fontaine, and his sister, Miss Sally, had charge of the college. they were both from Richmond, Virginia. Miss Sally was the music teacher. They went to Belton in 1878. In 1878, Captain John D. Morrison had charge of the college. He was a very stern man and all the pupils were afraid of him. There were at least five teachers at this time, but the names of the others could not be found except Mr. Chapin. He was a Northerner and the people did not like him, but he soon won the boys over for he taught them to play the unheard game of baseball. Until this time they had played only town ball and bull pen. Mr. Chapin was in the college in 1868 and 1878, and was still found there in 1878 or '79.

    The pupils at Port Sullivan were from well-to-do planter families, and may be regarded the young aristocrats of Milam County of that day. The pupils were not only drawn from the county but more from all over Central Texas and more distant parts of the state. All the families of the pupils had been slave owners. Some of the families had moved to Port Sullivan to educate their children and others sent them for many miles to board in private homes, either in the town or in the college. It has been said that some pupils walked or rode horseback three miles or more.

    Some of the people who attended Port Sullivan college were: Mrs. W. C. Looney, Nee Mary Hughes Easterwood; her sister Lizzie, Lela Streetman; Johnnie Hall; Joe Newman; Mrs. A. E. Brady, nee Sally Thompson; Mr. Winship Allen; Mr. F. G. Sampson; Mrs. H. F. Smith, Cameron; and Mr. Joe Foster.

    These others also attended there, and are either dead or have moved away from the immediate vicinity: Mr. W. B. Streetman; Hon. James McKinney, all of the Oxsheer family, including Mrs (sic) Smith mentioned above; Mrs. Julia Tyson, nee Beal; the McLaughlins; the Hearnes, Miss Bama and Miss Irene; the Massengales; the Sneeds; the Wilson family; the Watts family; Tom Thomson; Col. Henry Easterwood; Tom Anderson; Miss Maude Harlan; Miss Maggie Duncan; Mrs. Susan Vinson; Miss Jessie Latimore; Miss Wilson; Miss Davis; Tom Jones; Jim Smith; (Mr. Smith who later taught at Cameron) Misses Mary and Mittie Lawrence, sisters of Mr. Lawrence, who taught; Henry Lewis; Tillie Anderson; Lilly Martin, whose people at one time had charge of the dining hall; Misses Streetman, Laura and Eugenia; Miss Fannie Cawthern; the Burtons; the Burnetts; and many others. There are as many as 300 students there at one time; so, of course, only a partial list can be secured.

    The following statements were secured through personal interview from a number of pupils who attended the old Port Sullivan College:

    Mrs. Looney remembers that Professor Garner and his wife were in charge of the school when her older sister, Lizzie Easterwood, was in school there in 1859 or '60. Miss Lizzie boarded there because her family lived in Maysfield at the time. The family moved to Port Sullivan and opened a store when the slaves were freed. Mrs. Looney herself went there to school in 1864 or 1865 when she was in the fourth grade. Mr. Oscar Lawrence, in charge of the young men, had married the daughter of Dr. Church. This daughter taught music in the college. Dr. Church came from Tennessee and was a highlyeducated man. At the time Mrs. Looney was in the school, there were 30 or 35 boarders. Steward Hall was built during the time Mrs. Looney attended the college which was from 1854 or '55 to 1872. Miss Cassa Sneed was the first graduate according to Mrs. Looney, but later Miss Mary Lawrence, a sister of Mr. Oscar Lawrence, also graduated.

    Mrs. Looney was also kind enough to tell about a May Fete given by the school in 1872. At this time Colonel Fontaine and his daughter, Miss Sally, were in charge of the school. Mrs. Looney was the Queen of the May Fete and was given a solo to sing by Miss Sally. She remembered how hard she had to practice on it. the theme of the festival was visits and homage paid to the queen by groups depicting night, morning, and evening. All the pupils of the school were in these groups. There were five or six maids of honor. Two of these were Willie Anderson and Lily Martin. Her brother, Henry Easterwood, and Tom Thomson, carried the canopy, and a small boy, Tom Anderson, was the crown bearer. Misses Tillie Anderson and Lily Martin crowned the queen. the dress the queen wore was the first one she ever had that was not made at home. It was bought in Calvert and made there by some ladies that were very fine seamstresses.

    Mrs. A. E. Brady's description of the college Fellows: She told about the course of study and the system of grades and records. She is the authority for the fact that Captain Morrison, in charge during her stay in 1878, was a very stern man. She remembers that they used the chapel to study in, that during her time in the school was beginning to decline and there were only three teachers. At this time, there were about eight hundred people in Port Sullivan.

    Miss Duncan relates that the girls played checkers and mumble peg, and that they walked and chatted under the shade trees. She reports that the social status of the town was good. there were no young men who drank, and very few of the girls danced.

    Mr. Winship Allen remembers that during the war the attendance was good. there were as many as thirty boarders at one time. Mr. Allen attended in 1868-69. To him is attributed the story of Mr. Chapin and baseball. Mr. Allen comments, also, as did the others, on the attendance at church, which was held on Sundays in the chapel. It was a Union service and the grounds were gathered from miles around. An account given by him of the church at Little River would be suitable for those union services also.

"Young men did much of their courting at church. We attended Little River church, out from Calvert, near Jones Prairie. Entrance was through two doors, one for women and one for men. We took our sweethearts to one door and let them go in alone, for we were not allowed to sit with them. After church, we met the girls outside at the women's entrance. Single and married men sat together on one side of the church; single and married women sat together on the other side. There was one bench directly in front of the pulpit for deacons; and two benches, one on either side of the pulpit for other prominent church members. These benches were known as the 'amen pew'. The preacher had the only songbook. He would repeat aloud the lines of a song--one line at a time--and the congregation would sing the line. A favorite hymn was 'On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand'. Much of our pioneer social life centered around the Little River Church, now one of the oldest churches in the state.

"Our greatest fun was to have all day preaching and dinner on the church ground. What wonderful things to eat--cooked in Dutch ovens or barbecue pits. Many of the women rode horseback to church and wore long riding skirts that almost touched the ground. Girls blushed easily in those days. If a young lady caught a man looking at one toe of her shoe, which had slipped out from beneath her skit, she jerked her foot back quickly and blushed. We always accompanied young ladies to the hitching posts and helped them on their horses." (1)

    In reconstruction days, an oyster supper was given at the college for General John B. Hood, who was visiting in the neighborhood at the Barton's. The officers in this supper belonged to the Fourth Texas Regiment, Hood Texas Brigade Company C. This company drilled at old Blockhouse Springs. These officers are:

Captain,   W.P. Townsend
First Lieutenant,     D.U. Barsize
Second Lieutenant,    B.T. Turner
Third Lieutenant, P.E. Wood
First Lieutenant,    J.P. Grizzle
Second Sergeant,    H.W. Davis
Third Sergeant,    J.C. Roberts
First Corporal,    A.F. Streetman
Second Corporal,    M.L. Livington
Third Corporal,    J.W. Hill
Fourth Coroporal,    J.A. Adams (2)

    There are two important reasons for the decline of Port Sullivan College. The first is the building of the railway through Hearne and Calvert. This drew many families to these towns and many from Port Sullivan. The other reason is that the Agricultural and Mechanical College was built in Bryan in 1878, and Salado College in Bell county was at its peak as an educational center about this time and slightly later. Also at the other end of the county, Davilla was beginning to become an educational center. Mrs. Looney relates that the international and Great Northern Railway was the prime factor in ruining the old college. This came through Calvert in about 1873 or 1872.

   1  Rogers, Marjorie, Houston Chronicle
   2  Hood Texas Brigade - Polly - page 319 (Neale Publishing Company, San Francisco, 1910)

Chapter VI

Schools in the Eastern Portion of the County
From the Civil War Until 1900

    During the period of the Civil War and shortly thereafter a new type of school developed in Milam County, commonly referred to as the academy. This type of school differed from the preceeding private school in that it was not tax supported. Academies like the earlier private schools developed in response to a deeply felt need for education, particularly education of the advanced type.

    The buildings and equipment were meager as compared with present day standards, but adequate for the times.

    All of the academies in Milam County seemed to be community projects rather than privately owned and controlled. The necessary funds for erection of buildings or renting suitable quarters were secured by subscription. For operation purposes, tuition fees were charged, usually two dollars per month per pupil. Occasionally a philanthropic minded individual adopted a child not his own and paid its tuition fees. A case in point was little Mary Tucker, already referred to in connection with the schools at Cameron. Since money was scarce in those days, the officials quite often accepted supplies in lieu of money, and not infrequently took board in the house of patrons of the school. Practices in this regard varied with customs in different settlements. In some communities teachers lived in the school building. In other communities teacherages were provided. In at least one institution, buildings were erected with funds derived from taxes.

    The private school were usually exclusive and served only wealthier families. The teaching was done either in private houses of the teachers or in buildings rented by the teachers for this purpose. As in the case of academies, tuition fees were charged. Most of the fees were in terms of money, supplies, or board, or a combination of all three methods. While some of these private schools did very good work, they lacked the prestige of the academy. For this reason, in the first place, the academies enjoyed a more widely distributed patronage support, which led to better organization; and in the second place, the teaching personnel was of a superior type as compared with those of the private schools.

    The teaching personnel in several instances consisted of northern men; northern because immigrants from the north had had access to higher education, and men because stern disciplinarians were required to control and keep at their tasks the bigger boys.

    Indeed, in some communities it was considered fashionable for the big boys to break up the school. In some instances, however, women teachers were allowed to serve as assistants, but rarely as principals in the organized schools. Unfortunately, in some instances, some of the best trained men who taught during this period were victims of the drink habit. Less objection to this habit was voiced than today, due to the prevailing attitude of the towns. This may have been more prominent then because drinking teachers would not be tolerated in the organized schools of today. The ones who drink would quickly lose their places.

    Two of the academies were incorporated under the laws of the state of Texas. these were the Milam Liberal Institute at Cameron and the college at Port Sullivan.

    The first settlers in the Brazos and Little River valleys were more or less wealthy families who had come to Texas with their slaves. the rich farming lands made the plantation system highly profitable. On arrival, the pioneers settled with their families and slaves on the plantations. the building of railroads into and through the territory disturbed the social-economic equilibrum. Towns sprang up along the railroads, and in time the women and children of the plantation owners were moved to town into suitable mansions. the men commuted between plantations and towns. With them came the desire for learning and culture. Their shifting affected the schools.


    The first schools near Baileyville were at Smithland. Mrs. Davis (1875-75) taught there and went to Jones Prairie (Barron school) later. The next teacher was Mrs. McNeil, who also went to Jones Prairie. At this time, the school was moved to Baileyville. Some of the teachers after the school was moved to Baileyville include: Mr. Phelps; Mr. John McNeil; Mr. Bob Crawford; Dr. McBean; Colonel Weathen, graduate of Harvard; and Mr. Knight. These were remembered by Mrs. W. J. Smith.

Barron's School

    Mrs. P. H. Mckinney related this information. This school was started in the late eighties. It was first taught by Miss mary(sic) Davidson. Miss Marian Burke, who later married Mr. Coy Campbell, taught there. Miss Katie Hammond (Mrs. Stricker of Houston) taught later, as did Mr. Oscar Kidd (1898-1899). (Mr. Kidd is now a lawyer in Cameron). and Mr. Horace Monroe. Mr. Monroe later taught in Cameron and was a teacher of the writer's mother. He was very strict. This Barron school was very near Jones Prairie, and the two schools, Tarver Grove and Barron's where(sic) later consolidate into the Jones Prairie school. Some pupils remembered by Mr. Kidd are: the Pool children, Bertha, Mary, Carrie, and Juilia; Luis Chamberlain (Mrs. Voss Harlan, Branchville); Mabel Chamberlain (Mrs. Hugh McKinney, Jones Prairie); Arthur and Sue Atkinson; several Griffen children; Rodney Anderson; and a family of children named Black.

Ben Arnold

    This history of this school was secured from Miss Katherine Sproul: The first school was located one and a half miles east of Ben Arnold on the Dink Terry farm. It was known as the "Sunflower School". The teacher was Miss Nettie Houghton who later married a lawyer in Cameron, Luther McBride. they moved to Dallas. This school was not a public school but was known as a subscription school. The building was a wooden structure erected on the prairie in 1889. It was destroyed by fire in 1891.

    The first public free school was built in Ben Arnold in 1892. It was located just back of the present building. It was a wooden structure 30 ft. x 40 ft. The enrollment the first term was fifty-two. The trustees were Dr. J. C. Midkiff, now of Yeleta, Texas; Vince Kabler (deceased) later lived at Cameron; and Mr. W. A. Sproul, who is now seventy-five years of age.

    The first teacher was named Walker. He taught one term and located in Fort Worth, and was engaged in the real estate business. Other teachers were: John Little, one term; Mr. Weatherby, one term (1893); and Mr. Grant (1894) who probably is now located in the Gause section.

    It is not known who followed Grant and Neither is it known just when Howard Nelson Phillips taught. He taught one term assisted by his brother Robert, now of Weatherford, Texas. He is editor of the "Weatherford Democrat" and is also postmaster there.

    Howard Nelson Phillips taught two terms here, went to Branchville for one term, then back to Ben Arnold for one term. He moved to Crockett, Texas, where he taught in the high school. From there he went to Grovton, Texas, and practiced law; then back to Crockett in law practice until his death in 1935.

    Baranoman succeeded Phillips in the first term he went from here to Oklahoma and died.

    T. S. Williams from Marlowe came to Ben Arnold in 1900. That was the first year the school board employed two teachers. His assistant was Miss Margaret Terry of Curry. they were to have taught a second term, but Mr. Williams, who was studying medicine, resigned in 1901 and moved with his family to Stillewell, Oklahoma, where he began the practice of medicine and continued until his death. Upon his resignation Miss Terry took the principalship, and Miss Eva Fraim, (Now Mrs. John A. Smith, of Cameron) of Gause became assistant.

    Miss Terry taught here intermittently as principal and assistant for a number of years, as she secured her education. She was one of the most beloved of all the teachers. She is now Mrs. J. W. Harrell, A.B., M.A. Baylor University, assistant librarian. Her husband, J. W. Harrell, is head of the Mathematics department at Baylor, but is away on leave in Colorado recuperating from tuberculosis.


    Branchville has not been settled long, compared top these other places. It was only a small place when Mrs. Looney first remembers it. Her father called it Branchville because his son, W. B. Easterwood, had a branch store there, his man store being at Port Sullivan. Also he called it Banchville because there were so many little creeks there, and they are commonly called branches in Milam County. the first school there was near the place where the Grady Walston home is now. Mr. W. A. Morrison, who was a friend of education in Milam County until his death a few years ago, was the first teacher. Miss Sanger, from Cleveland, Ohio, was the next. Then Mrs. L. L. Blaylock was next. Miss Sally Irving was a later teacher, as was Miss Edna Sprinkle, who later taught in Cameron many years, who was one of the writer's early teachers, and an excellent teacher. She is now dead, but has left her stamp on the youth of Cameron.


    The history of this school was secured from Father Tim O'Sullivan, who is head of the Catholic church at Burlington.

    This town was established bout the late seventies or early eighties. it was at first made up of Irish people, mostly, and were Catholics. Some of the descendents of these families still remain, but the community is now made up of additional nationalities, with the German probably predominating now.

    The first public school was established in the year 1882. It was on the grounds now occupied by the parochial school. It was on the grounds now occupied by the parochial school. the first teachers were: Mr. T. J. O'Neill; Miss Mary Rountree; Miss Elizabeth Green; John F. O'Shean; T. C. Jones; and Mr. Shaw. Mr. O'Shean later taught in Cameron and much later in San Antonio at the Lady of the Lake College. Mr. Shaw later lived in Cameron.

    The Sisters of Divine Providence came to Burlington and taught in the public school, beginning in 1899, and for eight years following. At this time, 1898, the public school was moved to the present location, and the parochial school was established and taught in the building formerly occupied by the public school. the public school is located just off Highway #77. At one time the parochial school had as many as 150 pupils, but now teaches only to the eighth grade, and so has many less pupils. The public school is now an independent school district, but many of the pupils are transferred to Rosebud.

County Line

    The information about this school was secured from Mrs. W. F. Sharpe; Dr. V. E. H. Reed; and Mrs. W. T. Hefley, Jr.

    In 1868-1869 Mr. John Todd taught what was called the County line School. This school got its name because the Milam-Bell county line ran through the school building. It was in the old Hendrix settlement. The Hendrix children attended.

    Two of the early teachers were Oscar McAnally and E. M. Scarborough. Mr. Scarborough later went into business, and the Scarborough store in Rockdale and in Austin belonged to him.


    The information about this school was secured from Dr. E. H. Reed.

    Just when Curry was established cannot be ascertained, but three of the teachers were: Miss Etta May (Mrs. C. V. Terrell); Miss Mary Lackey; and Miss Texana Reed, later Mrs. Rucker. Mrs. Rucker was probably the first teacher there. She was educated at Davilla and is the sister of Dr. Val Reed of Austin, and the aunt of Mrs. Jeff Kemp of Cameron.

Fuchs or Fox

    The history of this school was secured from Mr. L. H. Fuch.

    The Fuch family came to the community west of Buckholts in 1893. the school was established at once on the Baskin Ranch. It was called the Baskin school, but is now called the Fox school because Mr. Fuchs owns the Baskin Ranch now. the first teacher was Miss Ethridge, and the pupils were the Halsey children, now of Lubbock, and the Fuchs children; Mrs. L. H. Schildron; Mrs. Anna Yelisko; Mrs. R. P. Lehmann; and L. H. Fuchs.

Jones Prairie

    All material secured on these schools was obtained from the following: Mrs. F. H. McKinney Sr; Mr. J. H. Smilie; and Mrs. W. T. Hefley Jr., granddaughter of Mr. John Todd.

    As was already mentioned, Jones Prairie was settled in 1835 by a Mr. Jones. He had to leave the settlement at different times because of Indian raids, but always returned, and as the writer has mentioned before, his descendents are still living in the community.

    For many years private schools were taught in and about the settlement. One of the first of these schools was located on the Beal place. In 1867 John Todd taught one term and the old Rufe Beal place above the Todd place. Edward Todd attended there. there was also a second school taught in the Little River Church (mentioned in Mr. Allen's reminescenses). John Todd taught at Little River Church in 1864. Robert Todd operated his father's wagon train to San Antonio the year when cotton from the district was sold to the government. Robert Todd does not remember very much concerning this school except that the Todd children; some of the Pool children, including "Doc" Pool and his sisters, attended. Some of the teachers were remembered by Mrs. McKinney as Mr. L. R. Taylor in 1866; Mr. Duncan taught a school there in 1867 and Mr. Nathan Letcher in 1868. Some of the pupils included the children of the Beal, Rogers, and McKinney families. There were, of course, others whose records cannot be found.

    In 1871 a school was opened at Tarver Grove. Still another school was taught by Mr. Tarver near here. The Tarver Grove school was first taught by Mr. Hightower, a graduate of a university and a very learned man. Mrs. Allen and then Mr. and Mrs. Davis taught here in 1873-74. These last named teachers had taught in Cameron and Port Sullivan. Mrs. P. H. McKinney Sr. remembers the above teachers at Tarver Grove during the years. The building constructed in 1871 is to be described later.

    Mr. W. J. Smilie speaks of a school in this neighborhood that preceded the Traver Grove school which he attended in 1868. It was located on the homestead of H. B. Stoneham on the old Waco-Port Sullivan road. It was a log house, very poorly equipped. In 1868 his first teacher was Mr. Hightower, followed by Mrs. Allen in 1869. After 1869 the men of the neighborhood came together and built a box schoolhouse on a central point. The teachers were:

John H. English
Thomas C. Seven
Mr. Wood (taught from 1870-1873)

    These pupils attended:
                                Bailey, Charles
                                Bell, Bill
                                Boyeman, Nathan
                                Boseman, D. B.
                                Smilie J. H.
                                Smilie, W. J.
                                Smith, Bailous
                                Smith, Speight
                                Stoneham, Rebecca
                                Stoneman, Annie
                                Stoneman, Will

    The Smiths mentioned above were the sons of Mr. Smith who built the first courthouse in Milam County. Mr. Smilie went to school in Robertson County in the year 1873-74, and then returned to the Tarver Grove school in 1874-75.

    The Tarver Grove schoolhouse was built in 1871, and was the first schoolhouse built near Jones Prairie. The building was on the Branchville-Cameron road near the place where Dr. Fontaine now lives. It was a long box building, was made of lumber, and had home-made desks and blackboards made of planks painted black. It was considered for the next few years after 1874 one of the best schools in the county.

    In 1874 Mr. Donavan was placed in charge of the Tarver Grove school. he completely reorganized the school system of the community. His outstanding work merits extensive treatment.

    Mr. Donavan was born and reared in Ireland. He was educated for the priesthood and given a splendid education. Just before time for him to take the vows he decided he could not be a priest. Due to the displeasure of his family and because he desired to escape compulsory military service, he ran away to America. He landed in Collorine, Alabama, and true to the Irish characteristic, made a contract to dig a ditch. This ditch was to be paid for by the square yard. His employers were two brothers who were interested in the educational field. When he had finished, the brothers began to try to compute his wages. They asked him if he knew how much they owed him, and he smiled and told them. They then asked how he knew and he showed them how he had arrived at the amount by using a stick in the dirt. When asked if he had figured it out before, he told them that he had made a mental calculation while they were arguing. they asked then if he was educated, and he told them about his training. They told him that they would find a school for him. He taught a few years in Alabama, and then went to Shreveport, La., and finally drifted to Jones Prairie, Texas.

    He had a plan of operating a school. He went into the community and asked the leading men to make him a note for $1,000. They were to pay off this note at $100 a month for ten months. This meant that he was receiving $100 a month when the average salary was $55 a month. Besides this he picked his pupils. Those he did not want for any reason, he would not accept. H would not under any conditions accept over 35 pupils and really did not want over 30. If he was accepted by the leading men of a community as a teacher he picked out his pupils and called all the Pupils' parents together and explained all his rules. he said that he was to be complete master of the children from the time they left their yards until they returned to them. He also had a rule that any differences between the children would be talked over by the children at the schoolhouse before him and their parents. He also reserved the right to dismiss any child from his school that did not come up to his expectations. Mr. Donavan was a strict, but very good teacher. He never allowed pupils to use paper and pencil in mathematical work until they had come to long division. He used Quackenbass' Analytical method of teaching. Some people who attended Tarver Grove school in 1874-1875 are: W. J. Smilie; J. N. Smilie; Miss Willie Pool (Mrs. P. M. McKinney); Rosa Rogers; George Rogers; Dick Jones; Will Cargill; Mollie Cargil; Lew Cargill; Will Tarver; Della Pool; Bob Pool; J. P. Pool and Mollie Ables. The Pool boys mentioned became lawyers in Waco. The above information concerning Mr. Donavan was related by W. J. Smilie.

    Mr. Donavan stayed for many years and Mr. Foreman took his place. Mr. Foreman was also highly educated.He taught there until 1881 when he committed suicide. He did this because he had broken a vow to discontinue drinking. During the regime of these above mentioned men, Jones Prairie had in the Tarver Grove school one of the best in that section of the county.

    After Mr. Foreman's death the school term was reduced from ten months to six months. Mrs. McNeal stayed for many years. She was followed by Mr. Knight. His daughter taught also. Later Mrs. Davis came to Jones Prairie from Smithland. She was followed after one term by Mr. Powers.

Phillip School

    The history of this school was secured from Mrs. W. T. Hefley Jr., and Mr. J. R. Collier, and Mr. J. P. Collier.

    This school was between Maysfield and Cameron. One of the teachers was Mr. Edward Nelson Phillips. John Todd was elected to teach the Phillips School in 1861. This was a much larger group near the Phillip place. There were besides the younger pupils 22 adult (or about grown) pupils. Robert Todd remembers the following pupils who attended there: Laura and Lily Allen, daughters of Alsey (called "Turk") Julia and Mary Beal, all children of John Beal; some McKinney children; and the following Massengele children: Bill, Mack and Lum, (all older and left for the Civil War the next year) Al, Joanna, Emma, all children of Alfred Massengeles; Bruce Mayes; Dave Mayes; Ann Mayes; Dan Mayes; Al Mayes; Jim Mayes; and Amanda Mayes, children of "Squire" Mayes; Sam and Clint Monroe (relatives of President Monroe) and another brother, Dick (a Civil War hero); Frank Mose; Anthony (ant) and Henry Shape, about gown; Jess and Al Sherill, who left for the Civil War the following year; Margaret and Ruanna Sherrill; Harriett, Eugenia, Eliza and Robert Todd, children of John Todd, teacher of the school.

    The information concerning this school in later years was gotten from Mrs J. R. Collier and Mr. J. P. Collier, brothers who taught there, and were succeeded by a third brother, J. B. Collier. Mr. J. R. Collier began to teach in 1878. His salary was only $35 per month and the first year he had fifteen pupils. The next year he received $40 per month and had 35 pupils. The third year his salary was $85 per month and he had sixty pupils. The forth year he received over $125 per month and had more than one hundred pupils enrolled. This year he had two assistants. Mr. Collier taught six months and attended Baylor University at Waco for six months in each of these four years.

    Mr. J. R. Collier gives these conditions prevalent in the schools:

"Our buildings were very poorly conditioned and no accommodations as to the heat, lights, water and equipment. In the rural communities in the winter time we were forced to close the school for days at a time on account of cold weather. Some of the pupils rode horseback as far as ten miles, while others walked distances from one to four miles."

    He remembered these families as pupils: the Phillips; the Massengales; the Allens; the Todds; the Evans; the Gages; the Thompsons; the Littles; the Goodsons; the Jones and the Coles.

    Mr. J. P. Collier of Adrian, Texas succeeded his brother and taught in the Phillips school for four years. He taught ten years in the county from 1884 to 1894. He also taught at Buckholts and Leachville. He gives the following concerning conditions:

"At that time rural schools were not graded like they are now, but the pupils were grouped according to their advancement and ability. I think both teacher and pupil compared very favorably with teacher and pupil of this age. Teachers were more respected and honored than now by the pupils, and the teacher was the leader in all communities and took more interest in the pupils than they do now. I do not think, with all the new methods, that the teachers get more out of the pupils now than they did then. During that period all teachers did all they could to develop the child in morals. It sees now that all the teacher does is to see that the child passes the grade, and there is little molding of character, but left to drift along. I enjoyed my time while teaching. It was always a delight to life one of the pupils to a higher place. I was on the board of examiners the last four years of teaching."

    A third brother, J. B. Collier, also taught there. He married one of the pupils; as did Mr. J. P. Collier. A fourth brother taught near Rockdale. All of these brothers married Milam County girls.


    The information concerning this school was secured from Mrs. W. T. Hefley Jr.

    This settlement was named for Judge Yarrell. Mr. John Todd taught here in 1871-1872. He died before completing the second year there. The school ran through August in 1872; he became ill in that month, returned home to Maysfield and died.

    Robert Todd remembers here only the names of these pupils: Joe Eplin; the Wilkersons; the Mowdy children; Jerry Perkins; and the Youngs.

    This school was in the so-called "Alabama Settlement". There were settlements from three states about Yarrellton. The "Alabama Settlement" lasted about two years (1869-1871); then the Arkansasans "broke up", and went home to Arkansas.

    John Todd had about forty pupils at Yarrellton and was assisted by his daughter, Frances Todd, who still lives near Gause, Texas. Mr. Frank Garner also taught here. This was considered a wild settlement. the citizens had been known to come in the schoolhouse horseback and empty their guns.

Cameron Public School
Built in 1892
(Now used as Community Center)

Chapter VII

Development of Education From the Civil War
to 1900 in the Western Portion of County

    The western portion of the county was developed slowly. There were few early settlements and these were found near the water holes or springs. There were a few settlements also along Little River of the creeks flowing into it. The first schools, with the exception of Cameron and Davilla, remained small until a very late date because of the scarcity of pupils. Later, when the Santa Fe and I.&C.N. railroads came through, the settlements began to grow and new settlements were established. These settlements grew rapidly. the towns of Rockdale, Thorndale and Buckholts were established because of the railroads. the building of the railroads throughout other parts of the country was the cause of the decline of Davilla, an inland town. Davilla, which at one time had the largest school in this section of the county, declined into only a very small village.

    Immediately after the Civil War, in 1866, the carpet-baggers undertook to establish public schools for blacks and whites on equal terms. Dr. T. A. Pope was the first country superintendent, or strictly speaking, district superintendent for two counties including Milam County. Some years later, in 1880, the schools were placed in the hands of the County Judge by the Commissioner's Court. At this time a census was taken and a state apportionment of about $3 or $4 per pupil was made to each district.

    Thereupon each community elected and provided a regular salary. If the funds were too meager for a full school term, and they usually were, the teacher's income was supplemented by receiving free board in the homes of patrons. Frequently the income was supplemented by tuition fees. According to Mr. Frank Clement who began teaching in 1882, the salary never averaged over $50 or $60 per month.

    Mr. Clement* gave a clear account of how a teacher could obtain a teacher's certificate. When applying for a certificate he appeared before the Certification Board, composed of Mr. Tom Henderson; Mr. Bill Streetman, and Mr. John Oxenford, and was questioned about various and sundry things until they were satisfied as to his qualifications. Later, he received a scholarship to Sam Houston's Normal College granted by Governor O. M. Roberts. At that time, a teacher who held a certificate from a normal was held in high esteem. Mr. Clement and Miss Lou Streetman were the only teachers in Milam County who held that distinction. Mr. Clement's interest in schools has been continuous and his services have been outstanding. He served as County Superintendent from 1894-1904, and from 1908-1914, a total of fourteen years. He was a friend to Milam County education. When he completed his last term as County Superintendent in 1914 there were 81 common school districts, as compared to 92 today. Many of the older schools have been consolidated and new ones have been created. During his term of office there was only one independent school district, today there are six. Mr. Clement in his time advocated the consolidating of schools, but he vigorously opposed the erection of large buildings unless the community was assured of a long life and a large population. His idea of subsequent changes have been justified. Changes have occurred in the population due to the development in industries and the building of new railroads, both of which drew the population away from the earlier centers.

    In 1890 Mr. W. A. Morrison was the leading spirit in a movement for creating the office of County Superintendent. The office was created, and Captain J. F. Thompson, Mrs. Meta McCown's father, was made County Superintendent. The incumbent was a graduate of the University of Mississippi, and served for four years from 1890 to 1894. The other county superintendents, aside from Mr. Clement were:

                                                                Newton, J. E. P. - 1894-1896*
                                                                Gillis, Graham - 1904-1908
                                                                Chadwick, James F - 1914-1924
                                                                Robbins, Mrs. K. K. - 1924-1935
                                                                Newton, Guy T - 1935-to-date

    Both of these last superintendents were teachers of the writer in the Cameron schools. (1)

   *  Father of the present County Superintendent, Guy T. Newton
   *  Robbins, Mrs. K.K. Cameron Herald, March 18, 1925

Ad Hall School

    The information concerning this school was obtained from Mr. Henry Hailes through Miss Jean Adams, and from Mr. D. K. Hall.

    The old Hardy Scarborough home was the site for the first school. It was a tiny log house called "scrondge out". Later Jim Givens donated the land for a school and a church; the latter being called "Given's Chapel". It was a good building. Some of the teachers remembered by Mr. Hailes were: Captain Jinks; Mr. Noble; Miss Mollie Looney; Mrs. Frank Graham; Mr. Black; Mr. Rankin (1891; and Mr. Huffetutler (2 years); and Mr. William Richard (1898). It was a large school. There were ninety to one hundred pupils. Some of the pupils remembered were: Pete Hall; Sookie Edwards; Addie Fawcetts; Ed Hopkins; Mrs. Charles Gilliam; the Flemings; the Halls; the Laws; the Deckeries; the McNeils; the Wades. In later years there have been two fires. Until the last one (1927) the people of Ad Hall had saved some old log benches from the first school, but these were lost in the last fire.

Bryant Station

    According to Dr. V. E. H. Reed: Mr. Henry Hailes, and Miss Jean Adams, the Bryant Station School was but a tiny school before the Robinson school closed. After the Robinson school was closed, the people built a new school. the hall of the new building was used as a meeting place for the Masonic Lodge. this school was built on the Jesse Bryant land near a spring, later owned by the Blankenship family. Mr. E. M. Scarborough attended this school before the new school was built. Another who attended before 1869 was Hank Hailes Daniels. Pupils who attended with Mr. Hailes were: lfred Cook and Little John Briant. Later John Peeler; John Lewis; the Blankenship and Raney boys, were enrolled. The first teacher, according to Mr. Hailes, was Mr. Renfro. Later Mr. Heints; Mr. Walter Williamson and Mr. Roberts taught there. The enrollment ran from 40 to 50. The present school building was built when the Masonic Lodge "went down". Mr. Oscar McAnally, the writer's maternal grandfather, taught there. He was educated in Nashville, Tennessee, and Davilla. He was later editor of the Cameron Herald.


    The information concerning the Buckholts schools was furnished by Miss Jean Adams and is in Substance as follows: The first school at Buckholts was opened as a private school in 1884 by Mrs. Sarah Joyce, assisted by her sixteen year old daughter, Ida Joyce. The location of the school was just across the street due west from the present school grounds. Mrs. Joyce was the writer's great grandmother, and Miss Joyce her maternal grandmother.

    In 1885 the ground for a school was donated by Judge Buckholts, the grandfather of Miss Jean Adams. More ground was added to the property and the third school built in that city is now on approximately the same location as the first two. Mr. D. H. Criswell was one of the first teachers. Mrs. Annie Walshak Maresh, now living in Buckholts, was one of his pupils.


    The early settlers of Cameron demonstrated their interest in education by founding the Milam County Liberal Arts chartered in 1859 or in 1860 on grounds purchased in 1857. The building was 30 or 40 feet wide, and ninety feet long, with a chimney at each end. It was a frame building and unpainted. the lumber was bought at the mills built in East Texas and shipped by the Houston, Texas Central Railway to Millican, the terminus of the railroad at that time; and then to Cameron by wagon. Movable wooden partitions placed at varying distances divided the long school room into compartments to suit the needs of the teachers. The seats, desks, and blackboards were homemade, and all bore evidence that the boys were skilled in the use of their knives. The same old bell that was in the belfry of what is now spoken of as the "Old Grammar School" stood in the yard. The first organ in Cameron was kept in a box-like compartment in one corner and was drawn out only on Sunday Mornings, and on state occasions to be played by Miss Floretta Streetman, now Mrs. Hicklin, the mother of Mrs. R. L. Brown. The building was used for preacdhing services on Sunday night. Candles placed in brackets along the walls and stately pillars, served to light the spacious room. the walls of the building were covered with mottoes, proverbs, and hieroglyphics, which none but the writers thereof and their sweethearts could understand. This building was erected by the father of C. W. Lawrence.

    Some of the teachers who served the Liberal Arts Institute became influential citizens who later helped shape the affairs of the state. Among the teachers were the following:

Name of Teacher Period of
Smith, J.L. 1861-1865 Probably the first teacher. Educated at Port Sullivan College, and Baylor at Independence, from here he graduated. Later taught at Salado.
Streetman, W.B. 1863 Married Miss Lou Green, one of his pupils
Miles, Mr.
Miles, Mrs. 1866-1867
Flinn, Mr. 1867 In charge of Academy. Took room and board at G.A. Batte
Flinn, John Son of the Principal
Flinn, Julian Son of the Principal
Martin, Michohat 1868 Teacher in Academy. Nicknamed "Cage".
Anderson, Mr. 1869
Anderson, Miss Annie 1869 First teacher of H.L. Batte Sr.
Took room and board at home of Capt. S.A. Batte. The Andersons were people from the North.
Greer, W.D. 1870 A queer bearded Welshman, a graduate of Yale. After being home of Capt. Hefley then of Capt. Batte, moved to school buidling. Possessed a "clown" dog "Jack".
Tillman, Mr. had as his assistant Miss Jennie Fulton.
Cameron, Mr. Henry Started, and resigned to Mr. H.L. Hall.
Lee, Morgan C. 1874 Lived in the Baptist parsonage.
McNeil, Mr. Taught two years.
Crawford, A.E. had previously taught in Cameron
Oxenford, John C. 1878-1880 An highly educated Englishman who later became County Clerk. Later became drinker and died in asylum.
Ellis, J.N. 1880
Dillard, Mr. 1881 Split in School

    While Mr. Dillard was principal, a difference arose between two factions of the town, and in 1881-1882 two schools were maintained. One was taught by Mrs. Homan, in the academy, and Prof. Dillard taught the other school in the building that was later known as the Cameron Herald building. Mrs. Homas had come to Cameron many years before and had conducted a private school for some six or eight years. She taught music as well as other subjects. At this time, a Mrs. Nellie Clark taught a private school in a double log house where the old Pope home now stands. The writer's father remembers taking a little girl, Mollie Moore by the old academy, and continued a few blocks to this school. After Mr. Dillard left Cameron the Patterson brothers took over his school, and many of the older people remember the time when the Grantham brothers stabbed the Patterson brothers. At one time a Mr. Clement and a Mr. Seay came to Cameron to open a private school, but neither of them succeeded, for they both died that year. They lived with Captain Wolf.

    The writer's father, Mr. R. L. Batte Sr. reports that there were not grades before 1883. The textbooks used were: McGuffeys Readers; Davies' Arithmetic; Webster's Dictionaries; Murray's Grammar; Webster's blue-backed speller, and a geography. The public schools were not held in high esteem, and many families sent their children to private schools.

    Later the grounds were re-surveyed by Dr. Reed, and a new public, or tax supported, school was built. The building burned as soon as it was finished, but a new one was built of stone. The stone building, in turn was replaced by a brick building in 1898. The following were trustees: B. J. Arnold, president of the board; J. M. Hefley; D. Kemp; J. P. Thompson; Dr. V. E. H. Reed; J. B. Mood, and one other whose name cannot be ascertained. Some of the teachers who taught in the new building at different times were: Smith; Ragsdale; E. A. Cockran; Miss Ada Henderson; Miss Mildred Baskin; Miss Seabow; Miss Lola Streetman; Mrs. Cockran; Miss Mollie Moore; Mr. Frank Clement and probably Mrs. Lina Kemp. These did not all teach at the same time, however.

    Some family names on the Cameron school rolls are:

Arnold McCord
Ackerman McCown
Batte McLennan
Brooks Moore
Fortner Reno
Green Reese
Greer Rogers
Henderson Sampson
Hefley Smith
Kemp Streetman
Ledbetter Thompson
McAnally Tucker

   *  Information concerning the schools of Cameron was obtained from personal interviews with Dr. V.E.H. Reed; Mrs. Jeff Kemp; Mr. Lee Batte; Mrs. Lee Batte; Mrs. Fanny McLane; Mr. Tom Sampson; and Mrs. T.S. Henderson.


    This information was secured from Mr. Henry Hailes through Miss Joan Adams.

    Some of the first teachers were: Walter Williamson; Mr. Richards; Jessie Pollock Blankenship; Mr. Jenkins; and Miss Mollie Moore of Temple. No more information could be secured.


    The Davila grant was given on October 18, 1833 by the Mexican governor to Miguel Davila. Davila lived in Mexico, and there is no record that he ever came to, or lived on, his grant. He sold it in 1839. Finally in 1856 the grant came into possession of D. T. Chamberlain. the part that was left in Milam County became known as Davilla (written with two l's).

    Bill Bond built a house on this grant in 1864. His neighbors were Jackie Cook and Jim Murrah. In 1868 Harvey Chamberlain came to the settlement, and was identified with it for many years. The town soon gained many industries and became a commercial center. Dr. W. F. Sharpe came to Davilla in 1871, and his widow still lives there at the age of 91. Mrs. W. P. Sharpe, whose mind is still alert and vigorous, gave in substance the following account of the Davilla school.

    A school was started by Mr. Robert Hood, a Confederate veteran from Mississippi. He seems to have had a good school, and built up an excellent reputation for his school. He came to Davilla in 1856, and stayed for six or seven years, until about 1873. In December, 1873, a Mr. Ragsdale came to Davilla and opened a school under the auspices of the Masonic Order.

    This school was of the academy type, and was well equipped. Later the academy moved into the Hendrix building, a two-story building. the books were bought by the pupils but the buildings was thoroughly equipped in other ways by the management. There good desks and blackboards. All grades were taught. The lower grades were taught by assistants, who were women. The main teacher was also a woman. Mrs. Ragsdale also taught. The advanced subjects were taught by Mr. Ragsdale, and it is said of him that there were few better teachers. His work was so well done that many students came here to prepare themselves for college. At one time the enrollment reached about two hundred. It was considered an honor in that day to be a graduate under Milton Ragsdale. The school term ran for seven to eight months.

    The reputation of the school spread to the far reaches of the state, and on to other states. As a result the little county village prospered, numbering at one time over 1000 citizens. One family alone had 15 children in school. The out-of-town people boarded with private families, or lived with friends. Some pupils came from other parts of the state, and a few from other states. The academy was known as the best school in Central Texas. A humorous story was circulated about a farmer saying that he was going to send his boy to Davilla to get educated in book-learning if it took a whole year. One of the pupils who the writer asked about was her maternal grandfather, Hon. Oscar F. McAnally. Mrs. Sharpe states that he rode the first train he ever saw from Nashville to enter college, where he later graduated. Among other students who later became influential citizens of the state was Mr. W. A. Morrison of Cameron, a very intelligent man who influenced Milam County education at a later date. Other pupils were:

Alford, DeWitte Hefley, John H.
Alford, Tom Herman, Annie
Allen, Will Herman, Frank
Aycock, Terrell Herman, Milton
Barker, Andrew Isaacs, Mrs. Leonard
Barker, Colvin
Barker, Tom Jackson, Mrs.
Bayman, Mrs. Jones, Lily
Blankenship, Felix
Blankenship, Sam King, Annie
Bullard, Emma King, Ben
King, Frank
Campbell, Dan
Cook, Dick Laughlin, John
Laughlin, Nannie
Davidson, James Luny, Sam
Douthit, Mrs. W. F.
Douthit, Mary Mayfield, Ida
Douthit, Mildred Mays, Miss
Durant, Randolph Menhinney, Roy
Miller, James
Early, Amy Murrah, Jim
Early, Rockie Murrah, Joe
Murray, Ibernin
Farrar, Mollie
Fowler, Chas. Park, Frank
Fowler, Eugene Peeler, John
Fowler, Wiley Pierson, Columbus
Pope, Fannie
Goode, Delia Pope, Mrs. Mary
Goode, Lillie Pruitt, Mrs. Mattie
Goode, Sallie
Graham, Frank Reed, Dr. Val
Graham, George Reed, Clara
Graves, Tom Reed, Mrs. Silas
Reed, William
Rogers, Mrs. Annie
Rogers, Mrs. Lou
Rogers, Tom
Ross, W. C.
Rucker, Miss Texana
Sanford, D
Sharpe, Addie
Sharpe, John, Hon.
Sypert, Parmelia
Sypert, Sallie
Tarran, John
Taylor, W. C.
Templeton, Jennie
Tribble, Addie
Tribble, Gnome
Walker, Winona
Williams, Tom

    At one time there were about 250 or 300 students enrolled at Davilla School.

    The Ragsdales were very well educated teachers. Mr. Milton Ragsdale taught in Davilla for 12 or 15 years. Mrs. Ragsdale who also taught, was the daughter of McKenzie who founded McKenzie college, a forerunner of Southwestern University. Miss Ada Henderson, a very prominent educator in Milam County, taught in Davilla as assistant and teaching the primary grades. She came to Cameron in 1855 and taught there until just before her death in 1927 or 1928. She is almost a legend in Cameron. Her pupils both loved and respected her. It can be said that no one has ever instilled into as many people in a lifetime, the morals and high standards that she gave to the Cameron people, who passed through her hands as a primary teacher. No one will ever know how wide spread her influence was. Mr. Hammond, a Yankee, came to Davilla after Ragsdale left. After a year or two the school began to decline, for the reason that the school had been built around Mr. Ragsdale, and when he left the school was like a ship without a rudder.

    In 1890-95 Mr. Frank Clement taught in Davilla. He remembers Davilla as being a great educational center. In the citizens of Bell and Williamson counties, as well as of Milam County attended school there, Davilla became a public free school sometime between 1895 and 1896. Mr. Clement is of the opinion that this school began operation before the Civil War.


    The information concerning the Eldridge Schools is very meager. Miss Jean Adams and Henry Hailes have been able to furnish a few items.

    Mr. Hailes, who came to Milam County in 1865, remembers the oldest school near Buckholts to be the Eldridge school. It was begun before the Civil War for the children of a number of families who came from Alabama. It was located one mile north of Dr. Eldridge's place between Ad Hall and Corinth. It was not used as a school in the late sixties, but Mr. Hailes repeats that he occasionally saw the old building until it fell to decay. Some of the pupils were: Tuck McDonald; the two Eldridge boys; the Daniel children; and the Smith boys. One of these is John Smith, who is still living.


    The material given herein was related to the writer by Mr. and Mrs. Deane Ferguson.

    Gause got its name from one of the early settlers, Judge Gause. It was only a small settlement until The railroad came through in 1882, and then it began to grow. The school was organized in 1874 and built by free contributions from early settlers. All materials for the building were hauled by ox teams from Grimes county. the grounds were donated by the New York and Texas Land Company. the furniture was all home made. This building was used until after 1900. This building was constructed by Mr. Dan Fowler and Mr. Dave Evard.

    The attendance in this school averaged from forty to sixty. The number enrolled was from 75 to 80. There were some pupils who walked five miles to school. the length of a term averaged from three to six months. The teacher's salary averaged from thirty to fifty dollars per month.

    Some early teachers were:

Adams, F. M. Little, Miss Jennie
Blulding, H. C. Little, Sam (two terms)
Booth, De Witte C. Phillips, O. K.
Holt, Miss Charity Powell, Mrs.
Jackson, George Purvis, G.
Jackson, John Rankin, McKenzie

    Some of the families who attended were:

Bailey Jones
Cockerham Lister
Cox Little
Crunk Luce
Davis McAnally
Dawson McElvey
Dollar Meeks
Duncan Morean
Ely Moore
Ervin Murphy
Estell Murray
Ferguson Owens
Gause Peoples
Gidley Pool
Gordon Powell
Harrison Shafer
Harty Stewart
Hearne Taylor
Hearrell Terry


    The information concerning this school was secured from Mr. Frank Clement.

    In the seventies a man named George Miller, but commonly known as "Beardy" Miller, left his estate to be used for the purpose of building a fine school for the children of his community. His estate, when it was settled, was found to have furnished eight or ten thousand dollars for this purpose. The plan was carried out in 1874-1875, and the school was known as the "Beardy" Miller Academy. The first teacher was Jack Clement. The building is still standing and the school is now called Millerton, located five miles east of Thorndale. The story is told that when Dr. T. A. Pope was district school superintendent under E. J. Davis, the "carpet-bagger" governor, he made a trip to inspect the schools in that portion of the county. When he rode up on horseback on "Beardy" Miller's house, Mr. Miller was sitting on the porch. Dr. Pope said, "I'm T. A. Pope, school superintendent, and I have come to inspect the schools." Mr. Miller looked him over and said, "Yes, I knew you for a d---- Yankee when I saw you carrying that umbrella!"

New Salem

    Mr. Oscar Kidd, a lawyer of Cameron, taught school at New Salem in 1895-96. He remembers as pupils: The Vitrop children, Carl, Maril, and Fred; two De Bose girls; one whose name was Fannie; Grace McKinney; Elbert McNeil and his brother; some Dass children; Ernest and Dell Foster, and their sister; the McBurnet children, and others. This school is south of Rockdale is still in existence. It was considered a very good school in that day.

North Elm

    The information given here was secured from Mrs. Arthur Baskin at Cameron.

    She attended this school from 1884 to 1886. She remembers as teacher, a Mr. Rogers. He was assisted by his sister. Miss Mattie James taught the next year. She is now Mrs. John Sapp at Rosebud. Some of the pupils were the Barretts; Harbours; Minchews; Ellis'; and Lee Amerino. The school was taught only in the summer.


    The information concerning Rice schools was secured from Mrs. Jeff Kemp.

    Evidence has been found that leads to the conclusion that there was a school in the Rice community before the Civil War. In 1868 Captain William Sewell was teacher in the school. He was an excellent gentlemen. Reverend George Morrison, a Presbyterian minister and uncle of Attorney W. A. Morrison of Cameron, was teacher for many years. Mr. Duke preached and taught school for some time. Other teachers were: Mrs. S. M. Burns, Sr.; Miss Edna V. Trigg; Miss Olive Todd Walker; Miss Etta May, later Mrs. C. V. Terrell; Miss Nora Duncum; Miss Annie Thank; Mrs. Tom Evard; Robert Wiley; W. O. Taber; and Dr. J. L. Crane. A school building was erected in 1875, and is now being used for a church. Later the district was consolidated with Hoyte.


    Mr. Henry Hailes and Miss Jean Adams report that the Robinson school was taught by Dr. Newson in 1868, and was attended by Mr. Hailes. This was the last year it was in operation, the pupils having been transferred to Bryant Station school. It was situated west of the Corley place near a spring. The official name was "Judge Robinson" school.


    Material concerning Rockdale schools was secured from Rockdale Lair, 1926, and Mrs. W. A. Morrison, assisted by her friends.

    Rockdale, located in the southern part of Milam county and in a southwesterly direction from Cameron, was established in 1873, when the International and Great Northern railroad reached that terminus. It was laid out on land belonging to Hon. Cyrun R. Smith; B. F. Ackerman; and George Green, large landholders residing in Cameron. It was named by Mrs. B. F. Ackerman, wife of the above mentioned, and incorporated at an early date.

    At once, many people from various parts of the county began to flock to flock to this new town. Tents sprang up as if by magic, to be replaced by crude wooden structures later on. From that time on, Rockdale grew rapidly in population and trade, and became a successful rival of Cameron until 1881, when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe completed its road to that town.

    Mrs. Ackerman relates this story about the naming of Rockdale.

    As she and her husband drove toward town for the opening ceremony, they passed a huge rock standing alone in a valley. When he asked her what she would name the town she gave the name "Rockdale". The officials of the railroad agreed, and "Rockdale" it has been ever since.

    In 1874, a few weeks after the I.&.G.N. railroad reached Rockdale, the first school in the town was organized by Miss Molly Roby. Miss Roby taught for six months, and though realizing the lack of educational advantages, was finally forced to give up on account of poor patronage.

    It was not until the following fall that an attempt was made to re-organize the first school. Miss Maggie Hall, a slight, girlish young lady, who had attended Baylor University in old Independence, and who had taught several years in the Bryan Public school, felt the great need of education for the young. In September she opened a private school in one small upper room of a house owned by Mrs. Cole, located where the Matson home now stands. Miss Hall taught her little school for the nine months term of 1874-1875.

    In the meantime, the town had been incorporated, and the citizens decided that the time had arrived for them to secure the benefits of education under the administration of Governor O. M. Roberts. To achieve their purpose the council appointed a board of trustees consisting of Dr. W. A. Brooks; R. H. Hicks; J. H. Stribling; A. E. Fullenwider; Dr. A. C. Walker; Rev. W. E. Copeland, with E. M. Scarbrough (Mayor Ex-Officio) chairman - a sturdy, strong group of pioneers.

    An old abandoned storehouse at the corner of Cameron and Green streets was appropriated, and the public school of Rockdale launched. Very meager indeed were the furnishings of the first school. Miss Hall, who had been elected assistant teacher, had a small desk at the front of the room, while Mr. W. Wyatt, who was principal, had a small platform at the rear of the room. Mr. Wyatt's only recommendations were, that he was a Confederate soldier, and could "wallop" the boys. His platform was equipped with a desk, a box of sand used as a cuspidor, and a bundle of switches. the principal's general attitude and the sight of the switches aroused the resentment and tears of the pupils. However, under these primitive conditions the first public school of Rockdale dragged through its first session.

    One term for Mr. Wyatt was enough for the school board. Mr. Brickhouse was elected to be the principal for the new term. Miss Hall again accepted the position as assistant. Mr. Brickhouse conducted the school in such a way as to gain the respect and confidence of both the pupils and parents, despite the fact the same poor old building and equipment was used. Mr. Brickhouse was a clean, quiet gentleman of middle age, and a widower with five children.

    At the beginning of the next term, Miss Hall resigned her position and built a small schoolhouse on the site of Conc. R. Isaac's present home. There she taught a private school for girls. She was assisted by her Aunt Mrs. Marsh. Mr. Brickhouse taught this session in the old building without an assistant, which now almost amounted to a boy's school, since most of the girls attended Miss Hall's school. At the close of this term of council offered to rent the new building of Miss Hall's for the use of the public school and elect her as principal. She gladly accept ed this offer, and for the next two years school was conducted under these circumstances.

    Following the close of school in the spring of '79, Miss Hall resigned and was married to Mr. R. H. Hicks. Mr. and Mrs. Hicks continued to be identified with the social, religious, and educational and business interests of the town, serving in many capacities throughout the year.

    School attendance was growing rapidly. The trustees, realizing the need for a larger building, rented the old Brooks' Hotel on the corner lot where now stands the J. L. Lockett home. Mr. C. W. Rainwater, as principal, and Miss Ella Meekin (the late Mrs. A. H. Wilkins) as assistant, were in charge of the classes. The school grew and prospered under their leadership for its next two terms, after which the hotel was bought by Mr. Lockett.

    In this connection it might be said that there were a number of private teachers in those early days. Mr. O. F. Roberts, a maternal grandfather of Mrs. H. T. Coulter, a Presbyterian minister of the old school, organized and taught a private school in a church building which served the needs of all denominations. The building was located where the Presbyterian church now stands. Here also a Mr. Waddel, an Episcopal minister, conducted a private school. The section around the church building was still timberland, and the story is told that here redheaded Mr. Waddell was often seen with a switch chasing the "bad boys" of the school out among the trees, trying to catch and punish them. Other teachers in the early and later stages of the private schools were Miss Nannie Breeding and her sister, Mrs. Crabbe; Rev. W. E. Copeland; Miss Fannie and Imogene Rugeley; Mrs. Bell, and Miss Ellen Ghent. The Jews for a number of years conducted the German-English Academy with Mr. Harmon and Burlinger in charge. It occupied the site of the R. L. Hale home, and was sometimes used as a synagogue.

    After the sale of the Brooks Hotel, the school was moved to the Methodist church where Mr. James Kinnard, a nephew of Dr. W. N. Kennard, a much-loved physician in those days, and Mrs. R. H. Hicks conducted classes for another term, at the close of which they resigned. Miss Meekin and Miss Sallie Kennard were appointed for the following term.

    Conditions were improving, but the citizens realized more and more the need of a school building large enough to accommodate the ever-increasing number of children. it was about February 5, 1883 that the first official board of trustees was elected by the people. This board was composed of A. E. Fullenwide; R. H. Hicks; C. H. Coffield; James H. Hill, Sr.; Ben Lowenstein, Sr.; Rev. J. H. Stribling and Rev. W. E. Copeland.

    The new board immediately got busy. Bonds to the amount of $10,000.00 were issued and plans laid for a new modern brick building to be built on the beautiful hill west of town, later to be known as College Hill. These were great days for Rockdale. the building was completed about the time Grover Cleveland was elected for his first term as President of the United States. A great double celebration was planned, and when the day arrived, and the new school building was pronounced ready for inspection, a huge gathering assembled up on the hill. There were speeches, handshakings, and general rejoicing by young and old.

    Mr. J. W. Clark, a native of Virginia, who attended Virginia Military Institute, and Emory and Henry College of Virginia; and who had taught at the school with a principal and a fine staff of teachers, served as superintendent for eight years with inteligence and devotion. He helped to establish an educational institution fully graded and affiliated with the State University. Since this earliest period it has been recognized as one of the best small schools in the state.

    Mr. Clark resigned as superintendent and moved away in 1890. Mr. F. L. Norton was elected to fill his place. Mr. Norton successfully piloted the affairs of the school for the next nine years. During that time his wife died, leaving him with seven children. He moved to Denison where he remarried and still resides. About this time Mr. C. E. Brennan, a forceful young man with very modern ideas, became head of the schools. The modern ideas did not appeal to many. Mr. Clark was recalled, and accepted. This time Mr. Clark taught until 1910, when he moved to Georgetown, where he passed away a few years later.


Mrs. Bob Nabours at Cameron went to Salem in her school days. She remembers as teachers Mr. Kenneth King, (1873); Miss Belle Smith (1874); Mr. Gus Smith. The school was held in the church. Mr. Jim Nabours taught there once, and he had the pupils all study aloud.

Sandy Ridge

According to the information secured from Mr. Henry Hailes through Miss Jean Adams, the school was opened about the time the present Bryant station school was built and the first teacher was Sam Blankenship. No more information concerning this school is obtainable.

San Gabriel

According to Frank Clement, San Gabriel schools were established in 1877, and the second and third teachers were Mrs. Clark and Mr. Clement. the first school was held in a one room log building. San Gabriel now has one of the best rural schools in the county. A new building has just been completed. Mr. Jamie Clark is given the credit of securing this building for San Gabriel.


The school in Thorndale was established in 1882. A new building was erected in that year. The first teacher was Miss Annie Clement. She was a sister to Mr. Frank Clement, who was mentioned as a friend of education in Milam County. Another brother, Mr. Jack Clement, taught at Millerton, or "Beardy" Miller's school. Other teachers taught in the order given:

Miss Jennie Jones Mr. Walker
Mrs. Jennie Averitt Mrs. C. V. Prescott
Captain J. J. Carter H. C. Starnes
W. K. Clemonts E. B. Echols
Colonel Stith Miss Mattie Clement
Miss Hope Bassett

Val Verde

    This information was attained from Dr. V. E. H. Reed.

    Just when the Val Verde school was started cannot be ascertained, but Mr. Oscar McAnally taught there in the eighties. He was later editor of the Cameron Herald and member of the Texas legislature.


    This study gives evidence that development of schools must await the development of settlements or increase in population, and that when population shifts from one location to another, schools inevitably follow.

    It seems clear that, so far as Miles County was concerned, pioneers were intensely interested in schools. the pioneers established schools as soon as their homes were built. An evidence of the fact is the efforts made by pioneers in establishing private schools long before the tax supported school idea became dominant. In a real sense the schools of Milam County repeated the development of public education of the State of Texas as well as other parts of the United States. In general, periods may be designated as private, academic and finally tax supported schools.

    One notable aspect in the development of education in Milam County is the interest shown and efforts extended in institutions of higher learning.

    Unfortunately, records for some schools have been lost, and only fragmentary evidence could be given. When the material presented is reviewed as a whole, we get a fairly accurate account of education in Milam County.



Bolton, Dr. Herbert E., Texas in Middle 18th Century. University of California Press, 1914. Pages 135-278.

Campbell, William Giles, A Form Book For Thesis Writing, Los Angeles, University of Southern California Press, 1933.

Gammels Laws, Vol. II, page 1351-1352

The Lone Star State, Chicago, Lewis Publishing Co., 1895, page 34, 37, 257-59.

Polley, Hood's Brigade, San Francisco, Neale Publishing Co., 1910, page 319.

Von Blitteradolf, Louise. Buried Treasure Legends of Milam County. Published in Legends of Texas. Published by Texas Folk-Lore Society, Austin, Texas, 1924.

B. Unpublished Material

Henderson, Katherine. History of Milam County Until 1850, unpublished M. A. Thesis, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1924.

McCown, Mrs. J. W., Jr., My Life, unpublished.

C. Periodicals

Belton, Dr. Herbert E., "The Founding of the Missions on the San Gabriel River 1745-1749." Southwestern Historical Quarterly, April, 1914.

D. Newspapers

Cameron Herald, July 2,1925, "San Gabriel Missions"
                                           1926, "San Ildefonso Mission site discovered."
                           May 30, 1925, "Spots of Historic Interest" - Jean Adams.
                           Mar. 18, 1926, "Educational Progress in Milam County" - Mrs. K. K. Robins.
                            Dec. 16, 1915, "Life of Mrs. J. W. McCown, Jr.
                          Nov. 13, 1835, "Spanish Missions" - Bernice McLerron.
                          Nov. 21, 1935, "Old Nashville" - Bernice McLerron
                          Aug. 13, 1925, "History of Rice Community" - Mrs. Jeff T. Kemp
                          Mar. 11, 1937, "Calvert Business Man Recalls Pioneer Times" - Marjorie Rogers.
                          May 30, 1935, "Port Sullivan" - Bernice McLerran
                           Dec. 21, 1930, "Time Dims the Brilliance of a Pioneer Texas Town" - Marjorie Rogers.

E. Interviews

Adams, Miss Jean - "Education in and about Buckholts"
Baskin, Mrs. Arthur Sr. - "School in Yarrelton"
Batte, Mrs. R. L. Sr. "Education in Cameron?"
Batte, Mrs. R. L. Sr. "Education in Milam County"
Brady, Mrs. A. E. - "Schools in Port Sullivan"
Camp, Judge E. A. - "Education in Rockdale"
Clark, Mr. Jamie - "Schools in San Gabriel"
Clement, Mr. Frank - "Education in Milam County 1832-1938"
Clement, Mr. Jack - "Schools in Thorndale"
Collier, Mr. J. R. - "Schools in Milam County"
Collier, Mr. J. P. - "Schools in Milam County"
Ferguson, Mr. Deane - "Schools in Gause"
Ferguson, Mrs. Deane - "Schools in Gause"
Fuchs, Mr. L. J. - "Schools at Fox"
Hall, D. K. - "Schools in Ad Hall"
Hefley, Mrs. W. T. Jr. - "Teaching by John Todd in Milam County"
Henderson, Mrs. T. S. Sr. - "Education in Cameron"
Jenness, Mrs. Ida - "Schools in Leechville"
Kidd, Mr. Oscar - "Teaching Experience in Milam County"
Kemp, Mrs. Jeff - "Education in General in Milam County"
Looney, Mrs. Mary Hughes - "Education in Port Sullivan, Branchville, and Maysfield"
Massengale, Mr. H. W. - "Schools in Maysfield"
McGehee, Miss Alice - "Schools in Cameron"
McLane, Mrs. Fassie - "Schools in Cameron"
McKinney, Mr. Chez. "Schools in Maysfield"
McKinney, Mrs. F. H. Sr. - "Schools in Jones Prairie"
Moody, Mrs. Wallace - "Schools in Minerva"
Morrison, Mrs. W. A. - "Education in Rockdale"
Nabours, Mrs. Bob - "Schools at Salem"
O'Sullivan, Father Tim - "Schools in Burlington"
Peebles, Mrs. - "Schools in Milano"
Ralston, Mrs. J. E. - "Schools in Cameron"
Reed, Dr. V. E. H. - "Davilla and Cameron Schools"
Rowlett, Miss Gussie - "Schools in Rockdale"
Sampson, Mr. Tom - "Schools in Cameron"
Sanders, Miss Imogene - "Schools in Minerva"
Sharpe, Mrs. W. F. - "Davilla School and other Early Schools"
Smilie, Mr. W. H. - "Education in Milam County"
Smilie, Mrs. W. H. - "Education in Baileyville"
Sproul, Miss Katherine - "Education in Ben Arnold"
Williams, Dr. Amelia - "Education in Milam County"
Walker, Mrs. Olive Todd - "Education in Milam County"

Present Schools in Milam County
(Data based on Years 1936-1937


Cameron Catholic School
Burlington Catholic School
Marak Catholic School
Thorndale Lutheran School


Yoe High School
Number Teachers - 17
Number Pupils - 476

Yoe High School
Yoe Memorial

Ada Henderson School
Number Teachers - 16
Number Pupils - 525

Ada Henderson School
Cameron Gym

Cameron Old School Building
Burlington Public School

Gause Public School
Milano Public School

Rockdale High School
Rockdale Grammer School

Rockdale Gym
Thorndale Public School


Ad Hall
Number Teachers - 4
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 95
High School - 17

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 52

Ben Arnold
Number Teachers - 4
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 62
High School - 30

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 53

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 22
High School - 7

Number Teachers - 4
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 75
High School - 25

Bryant Station
Number Teachers - 5
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 79
High School - 15

Number Teachers -6
Number Months in Term - 9
Elmentary - 181
High School - 33

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 27
High School - 7

Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 90

Number Teachers - 3
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 54
High School - 14

Number Teachers - 3
Number Months in Term - 7 1/4
Elementary - 66

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 54
High School - 9

Number Teachers - 3
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 85

Number Teachers - 4
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 79
High School - 16

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 44
High School - 9

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 18

Elm Ridge
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 94

Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 25

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 40

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 7 1/4
Elementary - 34
High School - 15

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 38

Gay Hill
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 36
High School - 8

Hamilton Chapel
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 49
High School - 10

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8 1/2
Elementary - 66

Jones Prairie
Number Teachers - 4
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 121
High School - 12

Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 26

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 52

Number Teachers - 5
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 101
High School - 25

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term -8
Elementary - 45

Number Teachers - 3
Number Months in Term -9 1/2
Elementary - 66
High School - 11

New Salem
Number Teachers - 5
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 96
High School - 16

North Elm
Number Teachers - 3
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 33
High School - 15

Oak Hill
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term -8
Elementary - 34
High School - 9

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 19

Pin Oak
Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 33

Pleasant Hill
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 36

Val Verde
Number Teachers - 4
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 95
High School -32

Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 29

Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 65

Number Teachers - 5
Number Months in Term - 7 1/2
Elementary - 43
High School - 42

Sandy Ridge
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term  -8
Elementary - 33

San Gabriel
Number Teachers - 10
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 190
High School - 41

Number Teachers - 10
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 182
High school - 95

South Elm
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 26
High School - 8

Talbott Ridge
Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term -7 1/2
Elementary -25


Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 67

Two Miles
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 8
Elementary - 39
High School - 6

Walkers Creek
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 26
High School - 5

Watson Branch
Number Teachers - 2
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 24
High School - 8

Watts Switch
Number Teachers - 1
Number Months in Term - 7
Elementary - 26

Number Teachers - 3
Number Months in Term - 9
Elementary - 53
High School - 18

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