Monday, August 17, 2015

Early Kerrville Schools

My friend Lanza Teague, who shares my interest in local history, recently let me copy a manuscript written by her aunt Anna Belle Council Roland, entitled "The Growing Pains of a Shingle Camp: the Story of a Town."
The handwritten document is full of interesting stories about our community's history. Since Kerrville schools are soon starting their new fall terms, I thought it might be interesting to share some local school history gleaned from Ms. Roland's document.
Her earliest mention of a local school tells about the one started in 1857, a year after Kerr County was organized, and Kerrville made its county seat.
"In the fall or winter of 1857, William E. Pafford began teaching the children of [Kerrville] in the county courthouse. Those children whose parents were unable to pay were sent to school at the expense of the county. Pafford was paid $73.25 per indigent [student]."
That first courthouse, which served as Kerrville's first school, was tiny, made of logs, and stood on Jefferson Street opposite today's courthouse square, about where the Grimes Funeral Chapels stands today. The first commissioners court meeting issued the following order: ""that there be a contract made by the County Court for the building of a temporary Court House in Kerrville, to be built as follows: Of logs sixteen feet long, skelped down and to be eight feet high, the cracks to be boarded up, sawed rafters and good shingle roof with gable ends well done up, good batten door strongly hung and corners sawed down."
Other schools were mentioned which came after that first school.
"For a time after the Civil War school was held at the corner of Water and Sidney Baker [about where National Car Rental stands today]. It was later moved to John Ochse's store at the corner of Washington and Main [about where the old sanctuary of the Notre Dame Catholic Church stands today].
"In 1878 a rock school house was bought. It was known as the Masonic or Quinlan Building. The upper story was not occupied by the school. This building stood on the corner of Main and Sidney Baker [again, where the National Car Rental car lot stands today].
"At a later time a two room school building was constructed on Jefferson Street. Professor J. C. Lord and Miss Jennie Bayles were employed as teachers. Because the male students were organized into a military company and drilled, Lord called the school 'Guadalupe Institute.'"
It wasn't until 1889 that the present school system had its beginnings.
"For over thirty years after the settlement of Kerrville, the school had no permanent home. Captain Joseph A. Tivy realized the need for a school, and expressed a wish to donate land for that purpose. Since it was necessary for the town to be incorporated to receive this gift, the town hastened to comply. Shortly afterwards, [Captain Tivy] made two deeds which he conveyed to the city: 16.23 acres out of tract 115 just east of tract 116, the original tract of the town in 1857. One of the deeds stipulated 'the land shall forever be used exclusively for a building or buildings in which to conduct the public free schools of the said town of Kerrville, Texas, and for the playgrounds and ornamental grounds in connection with the said building and other uses and purposes as commonly pertain and are germane to public institutions of learning.'
"Construction of the new school was begun in 1890, and the school opened in 1891 with an enrollment of 250. In 1895, Tivy had its first graduating class of three students."
From those first three graduates have come thousands of additional scholars. It is my hope this new school year is successful and safe -- for students, faculty, and all those who help educate our young people in Kerrville.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native and a Tivy High School graduate.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 15, 2015.

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