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Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Doyle School

The Doyle School, Kerrville, as it appeared in the 1990s
The Doyle School, Kerrville, as it appeared in the 1990s.
Click on any image to enlarge.
For most of its long history, Kerr County has rarely been exemplary in its treatment of its black citizens. With very few exceptions, especially in the early days of the county, inequality was the only story here.
Educating Kerrville’s young black students, until desegregation was completed here in 1966, meant those children attended a separate school from the rest of Kerrville’s children. The last of these school campuses in Kerrville was called the Doyle School, which still stands at the corner of Barnett and Paschal streets.
There were a few schools for African-American children before Doyle.
The first school in Kerrville for black students was in a Methodist church, led by the church’s pastor, Rev. Patton, according to a news story published in this newspaper in 1995.
There were other schools, too.
According to a history of the Doyle School, the "first records of black students finishing a course of study in the Kerrville area was in 1885 when three students graduated from the tenth grade. There were only two more records of graduates between 1885 and 1900. However, from 1900 until the integration of the black school [completed in 1966], complete records are on file.
The students of the Cabbage Hill school, Kerrville
The students of the Cabbage Hill School,
Kerrville around 1912
"The first record of a black school in Kerrville was in 1909. A new white school was built and one of the old buildings was given to the black community. In order to have the frame structure moved, they would have to come up with the money to have it moved. The black community raised $53 to move the structure to their property." Sources differ as to where that first school was sited, though it was likely near the intersection of Schreiner and Francisco Lemos streets; other sources say an early name for the school was the "Cabbage Hill School."
Early teachers in that school included a Mr. Burton, and later Mrs. A. W. (Annie) Doyle.
Ms. Doyle and her husband, Henry, came to Kerrville because he was ill with tuberculosis. In those days many came to Kerrville seeking health.
Annie Magnolia Walker Doyle, Kerrville teacher
Annie Magnolia Walker Doyle,
Kerrville teacher
She was a teacher, and he was a pastor, and they both were well-educated; Henry had a doctorate and Annie was a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute.
Soon after their arrival here, "she collected money and purchased three lots...and persuaded the members of the school board to donate an old school building for the purpose of establishing a school. She was the only teacher at the school, and served as principal for more than 25 years," according to the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
After Henry Doyle died in 1913, Annie stayed on and continued to teach. She was paid $85 per month to be the sole teacher at the school, which was considerably less than other teachers in the Kerrville school district made at the time.
She passed away in 1937, and in 1940 a married couple, B. T. and Itasco Wilson arrived in Kerrville to teach at the "Kerrville Colored School." One of the first things the Wilsons did was change the name to the “Doyle School,” in honor of Annie Doyle. Though the school represented the division of our community, with students separated by race, and with funding inequalities between the two separate systems, many of the former students have justifiable pride in their former school, and are proud to be part of the Purple and White of Doyle High School.
Itasco Wilson at her 100th Birthday Party, Kerrville
Itasco Wilson at her 100th Birthday party,
2010 in Kerrville
That's because, despite the injustice of the situation, Doyle School had great teachers and support from its families -- and because of their determination, students received an excellent education there. The hurdles the school and its students faced were not fair, but the school overcame them with grace and strength.
Doyle’s first graduating class consisted of one student. The largest class included 12 graduates.
Doyle School’s last commencement took place in 1963. The following fall, the high school students were integrated into Tivy High School. Integration of the elementary school followed in 1966.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who misses B. T. and Itasco Wilson.  They were such fine people, and wonderful educators. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times, February 23, 2019.
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