by Mary Kate Durham
Granbury Magazine – Fall 1985
As seasons change year after year, we find one thing as definite as Christmas and birthdays – it is school time again! This has been so for almost 100 years in Hood County.
There are county school records still available from 1896 and forward for some of the schools. In the earlier years, transportation was limited to riding horses, buggies or walking. Most all school children accepted walking to classes as part of their education. There were as many as 40 schools in the county, so that limited the distance to four miles or less. With large families in most homes, walking was a social time as well as transportation.
The numerous schools are gone from sight now. Two or three buildings have been converted to other uses, few are here as piles of rubble, but most have seemed to disappear. The memories of each are far from gone. They live in every ex-student. Some of these are no older than their forties because World War II time finally saw the closings.
Along with Allison, Antioch, Asbury, Arrington, Bald Knob, Bethel, Colony, DeCordova, Ellis, Elm Flat, Fairview, Fall Creek, Fort Spunky, and Friendship, there was Herring – later known as Herring-Hightower, Hill City and Kristenstad. Could you find Lollar Branch, Live Oak, Mambrino, Mitchell Bend, Marvin Chapel, Neri, New Hope or New Harmony on the map today? Mt. Zion accommodated an all-black student body. Farther into the list is Paluxy, Panter, Pleasant View, Prairie Creek, Rock Church, Rough Creek, Shady Grove, Stockton, Temple Hall, Thorp Spring, and Waples. Some changed their names along the way. If I try to point these out, I may show my lack of knowledge, so each of you will be the expert. Was Cottonwood later called Cresson? Contrary Creek later changed. Was there a Hays College? How many have I missed?
The three existing school systems in the county today, Granbury, Lipan, and Tolar, were here all along with the others. Granbury High School’s first graduating class finished eleven years of school in 1901. It was noted later that they may have been the first in Texas to have completed a grade as high as eleven. There were six girls and one boy. The white frame building that sat on the present-day parking lot at North Hannaford Street and West Pearl Street was replaced in 1917 by a three-story, red brick structure that was used until the late 1950’s.
With Granbury College and Add-Ran College at Thorp Spring, early-day education was continued to a higher level within Hood County. The colleges also offered an academy section that allowed younger students to attend before college age. Many families bought land or homes in Thorp Spring and in Granbury for the sole purpose of moving their children nearer the bigger schools. Most of the county schools offered classes only through the 8th or 9th grade. Students desiring more education often found room and board in homes nearer the high schools. My mother and others I know did this. A little money and their extra work in the homes made them welcome.
Even though my school years did not begin until 1930, my parents moved to Granbury for the express purpose of being nearer the better educational opportunities. Music lessons, etc., were included. Even though we lived more than a mile, I did walk when needed. Automobiles had become so common by that time, so most times I could find a ride. I started to school in the basement of the big red school building and graduated on the top floor. It was an interesting climb. I have never experienced first-hand the life in the country school.
My father had grown up in Acton and later came to both the county colleges for his higher education. My mother’s family lived in Mitchell Bend and later in Stockton Bend. She finished in Granbury and attended Mary Hardin Baylor long enough to obtain a teacher’s certificate. Her experiences as a teacher in Acton, Waples, Granbury, and Rocky Point were the source of the stories I grew up with. Acton school was held in the old Masonic Lodge Building. Since her future husband lived within sight of the school, interesting stories resulted. However, the best came from Rocky Point. Mother traveled by horse and buggy through pastures with gates to be opened along the way. She would also pass by Elizabeth Crockett’s log cabin each day. Upon arrival, she was the ONLY teacher for the school. Rocky Point was one of the one-teacher schools in the county. Along with teaching there was water to be drawn from the well, fires to be built in the wood-burning stove on cold days, etc. Having a few students near her age and size did have some good advantages.
The 1919 annual teacher’s report from Rocky Point shows that 24 students were enrolled in grades one through eight. They attended school for 112 days. The teacher’s annual salary was $390.00. She even reported a classroom library of eight volumes valued at $5.00. Why do you suppose her recommendation at the end of the year was for consolidation of more teachers and less grades for each?
Were those really the “good old days” or have they just arrived in 1985 with only three large school systems serving all of Hood County? Granbury does have the new concept of two community schools with grades one through five. Fleets of school buses move students to Lipan, Acton, Tolar, and Granbury daily. Large parking lots at the high schools accommodate the student’s own vehicles. Walking is out of style. In Granbury it is nineteen blocks from the town square to the high school. That is an unheard of distance to walk today. With one or two years of pre-school and twelve grades to finish, it takes a long time now to finish basic schooling. This must be another kind of “progress.”
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