Rockdale,TX Class of 1965
Yearbook of the Rockdale, TX RHS Class of 1936
Rockdale Public School
In 1874, a few weeks after the I & G N railroad reached Rockdale, the first school in the town was organized by a Miss Molly Roby. Miss Roby taught for six months, and though realizing the lack of educational advantages, she was finally forced to give up on account of poor patronage.
It was not until the following fall that an attempt was made to reorganize the first school. Miss Maggie Hall, a slight, girlish, young lady, who had attended Baylor University down in old Independence, and who had taught several years in the Bryan Public School, felt the great need of education for the young. So 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 1874-75.
The town had been incorporated, and the citizens decided it was time they should have the benefits of the public schools that had been secured for Texas under the administration of Governor O. M. Roberts; so the council appointed a board of trustees consisting of Dr. W. A. Brooks, R. H. Hicks, Rev. J. H. Stribling, A. E. Fullenwider, Dr. A. C Walker, Rev. W. E. Copeland, with E. M. Scarbrough, (Mayor, Ex-Officio) chairman — a strong sturdy group of pioneers.
An old abandoned storehouse at the corner of Cameron and Green Streets was appropriated, and the public school of Rockdale was launched. Very meager indeed were the furnishings of this 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 he 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; so Mr. Brickhouse was elected to be the principal for the new term. Miss Hall again accepted the position of 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 that the same poor old building and equipment were used. He was a clean, quiet gentleman of middle age, 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 Conn R. Isaac's present home. There she taught a private school for girls. Mr. Brickhouse taught this session alone in the old building, which now almost amounted to a boys' school, as most of the girls attended Miss Hall's school. At the close of this term the 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 accepted 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, educational and business interests of the town, serving in many capacities throughout the years.
Mrs. R. H. Hicks, El Paso, Texas
The former Miss Maggie Hall,
first teacher in Rockdale schools
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. G. W. Rainwater, as principal, and Miss Ella Meekin (the late Mrs. A. H. Wilkins). as assistant, were in charge of the classes and proved competent teachers. The school grew and prospered under their leadership for the next two terms, after which the hotel was bought by Mr. Lockett.
We might add here that there were a number of private teachers in those early days. Mr. O. F. Rogers, 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. This building was 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, red¬headed Mr. Waddel 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, and Miss Ellen Ghent. The Jews for a number of years conducted the German-English Academy, with Professors Hammon and Berlinger in charge. It occupied the site of the R. L. Hale home and was sometimes used as a synagogue.
But back to the public school. After the sale of the Brooks Hotel, the school was moved to the Methodist church, where Mr. James Kennard, a nephew of Dr. W. R. 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 next 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. Fullenwider, 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 modern new 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 was held up on the hill, and 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 Austin, Bastrop, Bryan, and Navasota, was elected superintendent of the new school with a principal and a fine staff of teachers. Mr. Clark served as superintendent for eight years with intelligence and devotion, and 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, when 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, and after election of superintendents, 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.
Mr. C. G. Green, a quiet, refined gentleman, very diplomatic and under¬standing, reigned modestly and well from 1910 to 1919, when he moved away. Mr. G. L. Marshall successfully carried on the affairs of the school for three years. 1919-1922. It was during his time that the need for a larger school building was again realized, and in 1922 the new, very modern $75,000.00 brick, fireproof building was constructed. At the same time the old building was turned into a modern, one-story primary building. And once again the people of Rockdale felt that ample provision had been made for the education of their future citizens. The trustees at this time were Fred H. Graves, John E. Cooke, W. A. Coffield, T. D. Rountree, Ben Lowenstein. Jr., C. R. Isaacs and E. B. Phillips. The city council was composed of Mayor H. C. Meyer, and Aldermen P. H. Perry, Sr., A, P. Perry, Jr., L. W. Sledge and E. H. Coffield, with City Attorney E. A. Camp, and City Secretary, E. T. Kemp. Mr. Marshall served through 1922, when he moved to Grandview where he died in 1925.
In 1922-23 Mr. J. M. Hodges was Rockdale's superintendent. After leaving Rockdale Mr. Hodges moved to Tyler, where he is still connected with the Tyler schools and Junior College.
Mr. C. G. Green returned to Rockdale in 1923 to conduct the affairs of the school. He is now in Hamlin, Texas, heading the schools there.
Mr. A. W. Franklin served as superintendent during 1924-25, when he resigned and became superintendent of the Junior High School at Wichita Falls.
In 1925-26 and 1926-27 J. C. Wilkerson became superintendent. Mr. Wilkerson is now editor of the "Chief" at Comanche.
Mr. S. P. Conn who is now with the schools at Floresville served as head of the schools in 1927-1928.
In 1928 Mr. S. C. Miles, the present, much beloved superintendent, came to Rockdale. and by his steady devotion and kindly interests in the affairs of rhe schools and the pupils, has built up the school within the last eight years to an envied position. During this time one teacher has been added to the faculty of the Primary School. During 1929-30 the Home Economics Depart¬ment was enlarged by adding a fully equipped dining room. Some of the courses have been revised and the Library improved. In 1933-34 the campus was terraced and beautified. The Vocational Agriculture Department was added to the school system in 1933. and during the summer of 1934 a plot of ground was purchased, and a beautifully lighted football field and athletic park was provided for athletic purposes. The term of 1934-35 saw the addition of a commercial department to the high school curriculum; a full time librarian was added to the faculty; and the stage was equipped with a beautiful rose velour curtain. Five school busses have been secured, bringing children in from the rural districts. The year 1936 sees the schools of Rockdale provided with a beautiful new auditorium building which will be used as a gymnasium and perhaps for additional class rooms.
We could hardly fail to mention the part music played in the education of the youngsters. There were a number of private music teachers in those pioneer days as well as the later and present times. One of the first of the private teachers was a Mrs. Kreutter. who taught German in the public school and music in a private home. Mrs. Kreutter was a graduate of the Conservatory of Music of Boston, and came here from New York. There was also Miss Fannie Rugeley, Mr. Milton Ragsdale, Miss Mary Hill, a Mrs. Morscheimer, Miss Lalu King, Mrs. Crable, Mrs. W. T. Wright, and later Mrs. C. M. Perry, Mrs. W. C. Marrs, Mrs. M. R. Reddell and Mrs. L. W. Sledge. The trustees some-time during 1900-05 built a one room house on the southwestern part of the campus to be used for the teaching of music, which for many years was a hanging out place of the students at recess and noon, and many pleasant gatherings were held in and around this little music house. Miss Sammie Osborne was the first music teacher to be elected; she was followed by Miss Nell DuBois (Mrs. Stevens, Tucson, Ariz.), Miss Grace Longmoor (Mrs. W. A. Coffield of Waco), Miss Norris Walls (Mrs. B. C. Tharpe, Austin), and Miss Margie Lockett (Mrs. L. W. Sledge). The little music house did not last so many years; it was torn down and thereafter music teachers taught in private homes.
Some of the trustees who no longer serve on the board and have not been mentioned, but who have been interested in the affairs of education, and who have given, and some still do, of their time in service to the Rockdale schools are Messrs J. E. Longmoor, A. P. Perry, Jr., Emmett Kemp, Ira Perry, G. M. Ryan J. T. Beasley. W, L. Baird, E. A. Wallace. I. P. Sessions, J. W. Garner, C. K.Stribling, Ed Gunn, Ed G. Simms, W B. Smith, and C. M. Sessions.
The personnel of the school board has changed every two or three years: to the present board, as well as to those of other days, we would say. "Well done, my good and faithful servants."
First high school building
Group of students at the Little Music House on school campus