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  • Texas | Columns | Lone Star Diary

    Lavaca County's
    Old Brown School

    by Murray Montgomery
    Murray Montgomery

    It has always been my opinion that old newspapers make the best sources when researching the past; and Ive spent quite a bit of time going through many aged issues, both in bound books and on microfilm.

    Recently, I came across this article describing the history of the old Brown School near Hallettsville. People who were raised in Lavaca County, Texas, are probably familiar with the old school and I decided to reprint this article, which appeared in The Tribune on Jan. 10, 1933, in hopes that it would stir some memories and perhaps more information would come forth.

    I have been unable to find any information as to when Brown School closed. Some of the locals in Hallettsville said it was probably sometime in the 1940s. However, there is no historical marker where the old school used to stand the place is overgrown with brush and weeds.

    This piece was written by T.H. Leslie and was called The Brown Public School partially viewed historically. The original article appears below and has only been slightly edited.

    The Tribune, Jan. 10, 1933 Forty-six years ago, the first Brown School building was located at its present site [in 1933]. This was one-half mile northeast of St. Marys Parish and about three miles northwest of Hallettsville, Texas.

    It was built in the fall of 1886 on an acre of land given by Benjamin Brown. The school was named for Mr. Brown because of this donation.

    The lumber for this building was hauled from the nearest lumber mill which was then in Flatonia. The school was a one-room building and was very scantily furnished. Long rough lumber benches served as seats. Blackboards were unknown. Pupils used an unsanitary slate. Water was carried a long distance from neighboring farms.

    Among the first teachers were: Mrs. Emma Stacey, Mr. Chandler, Jim Donnelly, Ned Tarkington, Frank Slavik, Jeffie Dufner, Alice and Laura Lee. The first trustees were Wm. Koch, Joe Pesek, and August Aflbach. They were said to have served long and faithfully.

    The school terms were from three to five months in length. Subjects taught were the three Rs and spelling. Only a second class elementary certificate was required by the teacher.

    In the fall of 1906, the present [in 1933] two-room building was erected. It was furnished with comfortable seats, and a well dug on the grounds. During this same year Mr. Charles Pagel gave another acre of land to the school campus. The course of study was enlarged and the standards of teachers were also raised.

    Some of the trustees of that period were: Ed. Bucek, Joe Dufner, August Afflebach, Bud and Fr. Brown, John Till, Frank Holub, and Jim Dufner. Teachers of this time were: Agnes and Callie Koniakovsky, W. Holbert, Vallie Strunk, Sybl Chapman, Josephine Thatcher, Nina Willis, Edith Hajek, and Dixie Bright.

    Some students who attended this school were: Carl Dufner, physician and surgeon of Hallettsville; Mary Kubala, and Bertha Janak, trained nurses; Mary Lelia, Anna Mae, Ima, and Helen Pagel; Ruby Dufner, Jeffy Dufner, dentist in San Antonio; and George Bohuslav, teacher; Lydia Dufner, and Mae Dufner.

    Since 1920, Brown School has made many improvements. Better desks, a library, maps, a victrola, modern blackboards, and a sanitary drinking fountain are among those needed equipments.

    The course of study now includes the ninth grade of work, the grounds have been improved, and much playground equipment has been supplied.

    The following teachers have taught Brown School since 1920: Mrs. E.J. McKinney, Inez Timm, Helen and Lelia Pagel, Annie Timm, Magnolia Nachlinger, J.G. Konvicka, Mrs. Gussie Franta and Miss Emilie Darilek.

    Trustees of this period were: Adolph Bohuslav, Joe Schulte, Henry Holub, Emil Koch, J.C. Kite, and Frank Haas.

    During the last two years Brown School was twice winner in the Lavaca County Rural School Fair, at Sweethome. The school won second place during 1930, and first place during 1931.

    Teachers from 1886 to 1933: Mrs. Emma Stacey, Mr. Chandler, Jim Donnelly, Ned Tarkington, Alice Lee, Ruby Lay, Sadie Rogers, Laura Lee, F.J. Slavik, Ima Dockery, Jeffie Dufner, Rosa Smith, Agnes Koniakovsky, Willie Halbert, Teresa Kavanaugh, Callie Koniakovsky. Miss V. Strunk (Valley), Sybl Chapman, Mill J. Thatcher, Nina Willis, Gussie Matula, Edith Hajek, Dixie Bright, Mrs. E.J. McKinney, Inez Timm, Helen Pagel, Annie Timm, Magnolia Nachlinger, John G. Konvicka, Gussie Franta, and Emily Darilek.


    Murray Montgomery
    July 25, 2011 column
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