School at Mulberry

 

    When Mrs. Bowman’s grave was the first in a new cemetery in 1881, a log building on the site served as both school and church.


    1883: Thomas Lightfoot deeded the county judge two acres in the Hardin Hart survey “for school purposes.”

 

    1891 December 29: Commissioners’ Court approved corrected field notes for boundaries of local school districts in Fannin County. “Mulberry Ridge” was No.92.


   1901 May 21: Commissioners’ Court heard Dr. Looney’s petition “to change School District and to create New District...division of Mulberry School District No. 92...petition signed by a majority of the qualified voters...no protest...ordered...

a New School District cut off from Mulberry School District No. 92...from J. E. Spies place to Milton Smith farm...to NE corner of Syl Reed farm...so as to leave out of the Mulberry District the School house and land of the colored school No. 2 of the Mulberry District No. 92....” The “colored school” became part of Sandy District No. 94.


    1906 June 16: School bond election, Mulberry (District No. 92): 20 cents on the $100 valuation of property.

    County Superintendent’s “Register of Teachers’ Certification and County Institute Attendance” dates from 1905. Among teachers listed in the Ravenna/Mulberry area were Mattie Lightfoot (1905), Frank Deupree (1906), Fannie and Goldie Culpepper (1909), Anna Corzine (1910), Beatrice Finley (1910), Lula Shockley (1910), Vera Garrett (1915), Merle Spies (1915), F. A. Spencer (1917) and Effie Phillips (1918).

    Frank A. Spencer, born in Mulberry in 1878, was instrumental in erecting a three-room school building. Frank’s grandparents, Elisha (1819-95) and M. A. (1824-98), were buried at Mulberry.

    “Colored Teachers” in 1905-06 were E. H. Garland, H. B. Smith, Malinda Dupree and M. B. Johnson.

    The Register’s second volume lists white and colored teachers together. Among them: Vergie Johnson (1921), Alma Jones (1921) and Milton Deupree (1924).


    1911 March 17: “County Schools” by Supt. Parker. Mulberry, District No. 92—Here I found D. E. Porter in charge. Some of the people told me that he was giving good satisfaction and upon visiting the school I could see why. Porter is an incessant worker in the school room. Where a teacher works it soon begets work in the individual in each class. Pupils and teacher are doing good work. I heard some arithmetic work that was hard to beat. ...


    [On the] 8th day of September A.D. 1915, the County Board of [School] Trustees of Fannin County, Texas met in joint session with the local trustees.... Among the many questions discussed at this joint meeting...the following are of greatest interest to the betterment of conditions in our rural schools: use of monthly report cards; promotion certificates; course of study; consolidation of rural schools; sanitary drinking fountains; sanitation of school building, out building and grounds; progress in regard to contagious and infectious diseases; and the efficiency of the work done in the schools. 


    1915: Odie Boyd walked to school “on the hill”. She remembered, “Dee Lyday had a mean pit bulldog. Grandpa Bramlett cut me a big stick and stuck it in the corner of his yard. He told me to carry it every morning till I got past that bulldog. Then I’d lean it in a corner, against a fence post. Walking to school, we came first to the red gate going into a field belonging to Mr. Croff Parks. That was about half way. Then we’d come to the sandbed at the foot of the hill. About half way up was a winding gate. We’d walk along the edge of the woods, across the pasture, go through another winding gate, and come out behind the church. Then we were at school.”


    1917 January 2: (Bonham News) School Law Is Enforced. Children of Fannin County Will Have to Attend School. From the office of the County Superintendent Frank Young there are going at the present time hundreds of letters.... “This is to notify you that the child or children whose names are now represented by you are of the compulsory school attendance age and are required by law to be in school and many not be legally kept out by you during the compulsory school attendance term beginning the 1st day of December 1916 and ending the 23rd day of March, 1917. You are also warned that receiving this notice renders you liable to a fine for each child each day absent.”

    ... Mr. Young says that he had found several families where none of the children are going to school. In some cases the head of the family has had to make affidavit that he is too poor to purchase the necessary books, then the county has furnished them. In one family six children of school age were found, none of whom had ever been to school. They were all signed up for the first grade. They will be in school from now on.

    The chief argument that was urged against the Compulsory Education Law was that it would be necessary to furnish additional teachers and be an additional expense upon taxpayers. There is no question but what additional teachers have had to be hired in Fannin County because of this law. Mr. Young estimates that at least twenty new teachers have been added....


    Faye Bond Burkett remembered school days: “As Clarence Hall recited the multiplication tables he’d pause after every answer: ‘Is that right? Is that right?’ The teacher was Effie Phillips, the most high-tempered person you ever saw. When she asked John Cruz, the Mexican boy, if he knew an answer, he responded eagerly, ‘You bet’cha.’ Mrs. Phillips beat him so bad the rest of us wanted to crawl under our seats.”


    Odie (again): “Mrs. Phillips lived with three sons in a small house behind Perry and Zona Parks’ house. They later converted it into a smoke house. Miss Zona told her what to think, but at school she was undisputed master.” School board members often influenced teachers to rent rooms from them, and Miss Zona did not miss her opportunity. Faye said the pupils wondered, “Miss Zona and Mr. Perry don’t even have children. Why should they care?”


    1923 April 10: A petition to the county judge requested a bond election for “buying, building, equipping and repairing public school houses” in County School District No. 92—Mulberry, and “authorizing a tax upon all taxable property... sufficient to pay the current interest on said bonds.” The election took place on May 12 “at the school house” with R. T. Russell as presiding officer. Approved— bonds totaling $3,500 payable over 20 years at 6%—24 for, 8 against.

 

















Mulberry school as built in 1923




Teachers and Pupils at Mulberry  (1929)


front row includes: Ralph Crumby, John William Hall, Leonard Ball, Lois Jackson, Sidney Underwood, Liza Ortiz ; second row includes: Ollie Jackson, Vernon Neal, Dorothy Threadgill, Georgie Hope, Geneva Parks, Annie Loy Price, Mildred Johnson, Icy Crumby, John William Parks; third row includes: Vera Johnson, Maurine Threadgill, Lois Cain, Jennieve Aderholt, Bertha Lou Crumby, [?] Underwood, [?] Cox, Joe Connally; fourth row includes: Bloss Vasquez, Homer Ball, Mary Cox, Lena Mae Johnson, (three teachers: Lillian Robinson, Hollis McKinney and Frances Rosser), A. D. Lambert, J. T. Threadgill, J. P. Hope, Russell Jackson; back row includes: Audry Cain, Paul Ashley, John Connally, Woodrow Bond, Eunice Threadgill, Frances Lambert, Evelyn Crumby, Dovie Burkett, Willie Bell Threadgill, Kathryn Ashley, Ruby Price, Oleta Crumby, Alpha Threadgill, Hugh Neal, Hugh “Squeal” Ashley



In the summer of ‘31 the Mulberry school


was about to add two grades and become a tenth grade school. The County School Board made it official on August 28. An additional teacher would be hired; other decisions were pending, but the beginning of school was overshadowed by a contested school board election. Jewel Gay had become twenty-one; he would be able to vote, and because he was living in Ravenna, Perry and Zona Parks asked him to come back and live for a week with them, to vote. “It came to war,” Jewel said. “Woodrow Bond threw his hat on the store porch and fought Azberry Bramlett. Tommy Bond fought Pierce Donaldson on the corner.” In the first round the candidates were Perry Parks, Alva Cain, J. P. (Pierce) Donaldson, D. T. Burkett and R. C. (Roland) Price.

    June 30: Alva Cain signed a bond in his suit against Perry Parks; Pierce Donaldson (married to Perry’s niece, Mandy) joined Cain’s side against Parks.  A jury was waived on July 23; the judge agreed with Alva that ballots had not been properly endorsed: Election judge’s name didn’t appeared on the back of all ballots cast for Perry. “Impossible to ascertain the true results of said election...for Common School District No. 92, Mulberry...declared void.” A new election was ordered on August 29 for “the purpose of electing two persons....”  J. C. Parks, J. F. Hall and J. M. Lamb would be judges.

    After the second election Perry sued Alva, claiming the election “illegal and void” because ordered by the County Judge instead of the district’s trustees; and the election judges were illegal because appointed by the County Judge. (J. W. Burkett and J. L. Patterson had replaced J. C. Parks and J. F. Hall before the voting.) And two “aliens,” Felipe Basquez and Lola Rogers, were permitted to vote for Pierce Donaldson and Alva Cain.

    Returns showed 23 votes for Pierce Donaldson, 23 for Perry Parks, 24 for Alva Cain and 20 for Clayton Hall. And three negro voters—Vergie Johnson, Charlie Oliphant and Sam Smith—“duly qualified residents, property tax paying voters... offered themselves to the said Judges” but were “forbidden to vote.” Permitted, they would each have voted for Perry and Clayton. Acting illegally, the judges “permitted one of the candidates, to wit, the said J. P. Donaldson, to come into the polls and dictate to the Judges who should vote and who should not vote...usurping the duties and responsibilities.... Donaldson was invited...to come into the polls and say whether or not the...three voters [Johnson, Oliphant and Smith] should or should not vote.... Judges substituted the judgement and will of...Donaldson, a candidate, for their own judgment...all of which was in strict violation of the laws of the State of Texas.” And the judges permitted Dennis Miller to vote athough he was not yet twenty-one and not a resident “citizen of the said school district.” Miller voted for Donaldson and Cain and “changed the election results.” Without three illegal votes and three denied votes the election results (Perry Parks claimed) would have been 20 for Donaldson, 21 for Cain, 23 for Hall and 26 for Parks. Finally, Pierce Donaldson and Alva Cain “and other persons supporting and working for them...used vehicles to convey voters to the polls, which...voters were not physically unable to go to or to enter the polling place without assistance.”

 

    1931 September 26: (Perry continuing) Alva was—


   ...not legally elected...acting and is threatening to act as Trustee.... The school year...is now at hand, and it is true that the school of the said District should be in Operation, and the teachers should be employed and their work begun. That to permit the said J. A. Cain to function as such Trustee in the important matters of employing teachers, and the other duties of a Trustee in connection with the opening of a school and the first part of the school year would be wholly unjust and inequitable. That the teachers in the said school District have not yet been employed. That it would be to the best interest of the said School District and of the said school for the Court to restrain the said J. A. Cain from acting as such Trustee in any way until the cause can be finally decided on its merits. That to fail to do so would cause a serious division of sentiment and feeling in the said District and in the support which the District would give to the school until the matter is settled, and would upset conditions in the said District to the extent that it would virtually ruin the chances of the said District for a successful school for the current year and would be to the great detriment of the District and all its resident citizens, and particularly to the children of scholastic age residing in the said District. That the said J. A. Cain is acting and is threatening to act as such Trustee in violation of the rights of the Applicant and to all other residents of the said District and of the District as a whole.... That Applicant is entitled to an Injunction refraining the said J. A. Cain from any way acting as such Trustee....

Wherefore, the Contestant prays the Court...the ballot boxes containing the ballots cast...be opened, the votes recounted and examined, and the election be in all things declared null, void, and of no effect...that the court order a new election....


1931 October 1: [Alva Cain posted a $500 bond. Pierce Donaldson and R. T. Lipscomb (Bonham lawyer) signed as sureties. Alva’s reply to “the Honorable A. P. Parks, Esquire,” was delivered by his attorney:] ...you have accepted the results...and have permitted your name to go upon the ticket as a run off candidate with J. P. Donaldson...you are estopped.... 

Felipe Basquez and Lola Rogers were not aliens but were legally, qualified voters and were citizens of the State of Texas; that Vergie Johnson, Charlie Oliphant and Sam Smith...were not in any manner deprived from their right to vote...they all three are negroes and that the election was for white trustees...denies especially all allegations...as to the illegality of the conduct and fairness of the judges.... Dennis Miller was 21 years of age.... 

That [Mulberry] School District is one of the best school districts in Fannin County, Texas; that its population is largely of white people and that the voters on said occasion have voted against A. P. Parks being Trustee and have cast their legal ballots for J. A. Cain duly electing him Trustee...that A. P. Parks was not entitled to have his name to appear upon the ticket as a candidate for the office of trustee for the reason that he did not file his written application as requested by law...for the reason that his name was not submitted by five legal qualified voters... and for the further reason that A. P. Parks did not and does not possess the proper legal qualifications of a trustee of said Common School District.  Respectfully submitted [and signed by] J. A. Cain.


    1931 October 2: Fannin County Commissioners’ Court recorded that A. P. Parks was elected with 29 votes in a run-off election; J. P. Donaldson received 28 votes....


Mulberry School  (1934)


with teachers (row four from front): [?] Warren, Gladys Hall, Everet Parker, Odie Crumby and Bernice Alder; back row from left includes: Cleveland Lambert, Kenneth Neal, Ralph Crumby, Hugh Ashley, A. D. Lambert, Belton McGuire, Bloss Basquez, Liza Ortiz; second row from back includes: Wanda Crumby, Genevieve Aderholt, Haddy Grace Price, Daisy Finley, Kenneth Berrentez; second row from front includes: Steve, Jr., Lloyd and Floyd Carroll, John William Hall; front row includes: Walter Carroll (with goggles), then Earl Johnson




“Cook Shack” with “Miss” Grace Cain

photo from Dean Price’s souvenir “book” for his mother Sybil (1947)

    Dean, Janice Hall, Gene Ball, ?, Omajewel Ball






   














Teacher Gladys Hall’s First Grade class (1947)

at Mulberry school.

Photo from Dean Price’s souvenir “book”

(below) Dean, Gene Ball, Janice Hall...



from Dean’s “book” ...

“Dear Sybil”






School at Mulberry was “consolidated” in 1949. All students below ninth grade went to Ravenna. Clayton heard Gregory read and remarked to Gladys, “He’ll never graduate.” A diary subsequently shows how hard Gregory worked through high school in Bonham to prove that wrong, though he wouldn’t know yet what “college” meant.