Thursday, April 12, 2012

An extremely rare photo: Kerrville's "Cabbage Hill" School

Schreiner University recently allowed me to look through some glass negatives in their collection, acquired when the school took over the Charles Schreiner home on Earl Garrett Street.  The negatives, from what I understand, were once the property of Ralph Harmon, the aeronautical engineer/designer.  Quite a few of the images are of Kerrville, and most date to the turn of the last century.
One in particular interested me: a photo of a group of students, and I asked the library staff at the W. M. Logan Library on the Schreiner campus if I could possibly have the image scanned.  Here's what the scan revealed:
Click on image to enlarge
"Cabbage Hill" School, Kerrville, around 1902.
You'll  notice that some of the students have slates in their hands, and a close examination saw these names on the slates: "Margie Fifer, Willie Fifer, Earl Neal, Frankie Howard, Willie Dillworth, Daisy Raborn"  Recognizing the name Fifer, I contacted my long-time friend Clifton Fifer, and he said Willie Fifer and Margie Fifer were his great-uncle and great-aunt.
He suggested this image was taken of the Kerrville school for African-American children, which was nicknamed the "Cabbage Hill" School, which was near the intersection of today's Schreiner and Lemos Streets.  The principal was a Mr. Wheat.  Perhaps that's him on the far right.
Some research suggests Ana Walker Doyle taught at this school; later a different Kerrville school would be named for her: the Doyle School, where my friends B. T. and Itasco Wilson taught for so many years.
This photo is extremely rare; I've seen very few images of African-American schools, especially in Kerrville.  Part of the reason for its scarcity was economics; few families could probably afford a copy of this print.
The larger reason, though, was the same idiotic notion that separated students by race in the first place.
I am glad some photographer back at the turn of the last century chose to take a school portrait of this group of students.  I'm not proud of the racism that separated these students from others, but I am proud this photo exists as a reminder, so it hopefully never happens again.
My special thanks to Sara P. Schmidt, Associate Professor, and Reference/Special Collections Librarian, at the W. M.  Logan Library at Schreiner University


  1. That is a really interesting picture! The kids appear to be quite well dressed.

  2. Yes, and they look very earnest as well. Kind of hurts my old heart.

  3. I like this photo.

    I, too, am glad that times have changed.


Please remember this is a rated "family" blog. Anything worse than a "PG" rated comment will not be posted. Grandmas and their grandkids read this, so please, be considerate.



Related Posts with Thumbnails