Memories Rare Report Card Reveals History Lesson

Scrapbook Clippings

 from The Hood County News, 3 November 2007

by Pete Kendall, Staff Writer, Hood County News

We would like to express our gratitude today to Granbury resident Sherry Marlar for thinking about us when she came across the book “Public School Methods” at a Fort Worth book sale 

Actually, she thought of Granbury historian Mary Kate Durham first, but we’ve never minded playing second fiddle to Mary Kate, who passed on recently.

I called Mary Kate and told her about the book and a report card inside, and she wanted to see it,” Sherry told us. “But she said she wasn’t feeling well. I never did get he book to her.”

The book is precious in its own right, 54 yellowing pages of instruction in such areas as alphabetization, pronunciation, synonyms, the community home, the meaning of thrift, public health, digestion, infectious diseases and what are referred o as stimulants and narcotics: alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

All well and good, a refresher manual fort he mind and soul, but even more intriguing where the report card and letter enclosed.

The report card was for Rough Creek Public School, District 4, for the school year beginning Dec. 1, 1919.

The student was Zelma Nash. The teacher was Henry Davis

Zelma Nash was a student in good standing at Rough Creek School in 1919, as this report card attests. The scholastic document was signed by a man who needs no introduction to Hood County historians, Judge Henry Davis (at right, as pictured in his younger days on the wall of the Masonic Lodge). Davis was a teacher in his early years.He (Judge Henry Davis) read all of the county records, jotting down notes while making use f whatever scrap f paper that was handy, all sizes and kinds of paper, pens, and pencils.’Mary Kate Durham

Zelma, according to Hood County records, was born in Hood County on May 3, 1906 to James J. and Ada Cordelia Segars Nash. James was a farmer, according to the

1900 census. He and his wife are buried in Rough Creek Cemetery. Selma’s later life is pretty much a mystery to us – she never married, died March 14, 971 and is buried in the McPherson lot n Lipan’s Evergreen Cemetery — but she was obviously an excellent student in her younger days. At Rough Creek, she recorded grades of 80 or above in reading, spelling, deportment, language, arithmetic, geography and history. Rough Creek was rather a strict school, evidently. The report card states that “5 percent will be deducted from the monthly grades for each day the child is absent. The teacher may help the child do this work after school.” Henry Davis, the teacher of records, needs no introduction. Judge Davis, who died Nov. 4, 1976 at he age of 84, was considered Hood County’s leading historian for many years, the predecessor of such as Mary Kate.

According to a Hood County News obituary, Davis was born Nov. 15, 1891 in Hood County, spent his early years at Shady Grove School and rode his horse into Granbury to finish high school, graduating in 1913. He attended Trinity University in Waxahachie and was issued a teacher’s certificate. He taught students like Zelma in the winters and continued his college studies in the summers. After serving in World War I, he resumed teaching. He received a degree from Peabody College for Teachers  in Nashville, Tenn. And his post-graduate degree from Canyon (TX) State College. He wrote two books that were published by the latter. After returning to Hood College,  Davis was elected county judge. He served from Jan. 1, 1951 to Jan. 1, 1956. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, a Master Mason for over 50 years and a member of the Royal Arch and Council. It is said that Davis studied Hood County history so intensely that he committed much of it to memory. His historical notations on  paper became known as “Judge Davis’ Notes.” Mary Kate wrote of Davis: “The courthouse was closed and locked during the lunch hour, and Judge Davis remained in the building pursuing his hobby. “He read all of the county records, jotting down notes while making use of whatever scrap of paper that was handy, all sizes and kinds of  paper, pens, and pencils. If Judge Davis was not busy with the duties of County Judge, he was copying records. “He arrived early and left late. Unfortunately he did not  possess good handwriting nor organization skills so reading his notations is a tedious task. “After his term as County Judge ended, Judge Davis continued to come to the County Clerk’s office  reading and copying records. He was slight in stature, always dressed respectably, and seemed to have a photographic memory concerning Hood County records and citizens. “It was said that Henry Davis never held any real job (paid) in his life except as one-term County Judge and as the hotel raconteur. Those  who  said this must not have counted teaching as real work as the Judge taught at various schools from about 1915 to the 1950s. “When Judge Davis died in 1976 his sister (he  was a lifelong bachelor) gave the box containing his loose papers to the Hood County Library. Some genealogists organized his papers by sorting them; as best they could,  by family  surname and by placing them in family  folders. “The family folders now have other data added, such as family group records, pedigrees and newspaper  clippings  that have been added by researchers visiting the library.” [ed note: these records are not in the Granbury Depot archives]

Which brings us to the letter that was stuck in the book. We think Mary Kate and Judge Davis would have gotten a particularly big kick out of it. It was written by Zelma,   then a resident of Thorp Spring, and dated March 12, 1923.It reads: “Dear Ola, I thought I would answer your letter and tell you why I like to live near Thorp Spring.  There is a college here and a good public school and there also is a store and a post office here. There are good people that live here and they have church every Sunday and  nearly always have some entertainment. We have good teachers in our public school and I think they have good teachers at their college. Well, I guess I had better stop writing for this time and study my lessons.

“Yours truly,

“Zelma A. Nash”