By Brenda Johnson

The monthly Upshur County Hospital Auxiliary meeting will be held on April 11 at Bubba’s across from Robroy Industries on Highway 271.  All members are encouraged to be there.

Porter Click says he saw the first Purple Martin on Monday, March 27th. That is four days early but considering the warm weather maybe the Martins decided to come vacation until nest building time. Porter says the Martins will need the extra days to evict the Starlings who have taken over the Martin house. Just as a note, almost all birds are protected. One exception is the Starling which  is probably what the Martins tell the Starlings come eviction time.

WORDS OF WISDOM:  You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

Thought for the day:  Tact is the ability to shut your mouth before someone else decides to do it for you.

This week we will start on Chapter IV of A History of Upshur County,  Texas,  by Doyal T. Loyd.  Mr. Loyd was a prominent teacher among other professions of Upshur County and spent his entire life here.  He thanks Mrs. Geneva Spencer Venn for typing most of this book for the printer.  

EDUCATION IN TRANSITION:  About 1903 permanent school districts were organized and given a name, boundaries and number.  At that time there were 45 schools in this county.  In 1905 schools were empowered to vote bonds to build school buildings and buy equipment.  This was a great step forward.  

In 1907 the State Legislature required counties with over 3000 scholastics to have a County Superintendent.  Mr. A.F. Shepperd was appointed first County Superintendent.  Then came B.B. Elder, A.L. Bradfield,  Grady McPeek, Maude Palmer, O.J. Beckworth, Fred Covin, Frank Smith, Jesse Denson, Harlan Thacker and Norman C. Tuel.

From about 1907 to about 1930 the population of Upshur County increased rapidly because as a rule there were from 6 to 12 children per family, and cotton was king.  Schools grew from one teacher to 4 and 6.  Schools were graded, books were furnished.  Extra-curricular activities were increased.  

The Interscholastic League was established with nearly every school participating in spelling, declamation, essay writing, debating, boys’ and girls’ basketball, and track.

In the early 1920’s, 39 schools in Upshur County were members of the League.  The old County Meet was held for three days in the spring with all the schools competing in most of the events.

From three to five thousand people would attend the County meet held in Gilmer.  This was a great event in the lives of the youngsters.

Upshur County produced some of the finest basketball teams in the state.  The rural schools had only 8 or 9 grades, so the children who aspired to higher education and were financially able came to Gilmer, but not by school buses.  They boarded or furnished their own transportation.  

About 1930 the great economic depression gripped the area.  The price of cotton fell to a low of 5 cents a pound.  It was then that Upshur County people  left by the thousands and all of the youngsters, practically, went to the cities.  Upshur County population dropped from 30,000 to 20,000, with a great majority of those left being people of the upper age bracket.

Scholastic population dropped, therefore, causing schools to lose teachers.  Then they were forced to consolidate.  All schools bought school buses and by 1949 the former 55 school districts were reduced to approximately 13.  All except a few of these were high schools.  There are only 8 now.  All operate twelve grades.  These school districts are Gilmer, Big Sandy, East Mountain, Union Grove, Harmony, New Diana, Ore City, and Union Hill.

COUNTY  BOARDS:  In 1911 the state passed a law permitting counties to establish a system of county boards of education to classify schools and to consolidate two or more districts to form rural high schools.

The commissioners’ court appointed the following men: J.M. Perdue, W.H. McNair, H.L. Sewell, W.F. Shrum, and P.K. Williams.

In 1917 the board was composed of J.M. Perdue, E.H. Brawley, G.H. Baird, J.F. Taylor, and W.R. Stephens.  In 1921, W.A. Phillips, J.F. Taylor, G.H Baird, A.A. Harrison, and G.C. Hart.  In 1927, A.L. Bradfield, T.V. Kennard, L.J. Dalrymple, H.J. Fennell and T.J. Atkinson.  In 1934, O.T. Craig, J.B. Webb, H.J Fennell. W.W. Presnell, and T.J. Atkinson.  In 1940, G.H. Baird, J.B. Webb, Fred Rosenkoetter, Carl Loyd, and H.J. Spencer.  In 1948, J.B. Webb, J.C. Duncan, H.J. Spencer, E.C. Palmer, and Carl Loyd.  In 1965, Dr. J.L. Fenlaw, J.B. Hagler, C.L. Martin,   Claud Bowden, and Troy Snow.

As can be seen by reading the names, these men have been highclass citizens interested in doing their best for the boys and girls of Upshur County.  They have at all times done their utmost to raise the standards of education in the county, thereby rendering a great service.

THE CONSOLIDATION STORY:  In 1884 there were 41 community schools in Upshur County and the average school term was two and one-half months.  

August 10, 1891, the first recorded consolidation of schools was held.  Diana and Gum Creek schools combined and formed Emory School.  This building was just west of the present Graceton Church of Christ.  

In 1903 there were 45 schools and during the 1913-1914 school term there were 55 schools, a great majority of them one-teacher schools.  

By 1928 the 55 schools had been reduced to 37 by consolidation and; by 1952 there were just 13.  Today there are only 8 schools left.

In 1915 Piney Grove, Caney and Simpsonville formed Simpsonville.

About 1927 Bettie, Olive Branch, and Forest Hill formed Union Hill and later Simpeonville, Brumley and Perryville joined Union Hill school.

About 1927Rhonesboro, Brice, Rosewood, Little Mound, Latch, Soules Chapel, Enon, Peach, Honey Creek and others in Wood Co. formed what is now Harmony School

Union Ridge, Poor Creek, Nix Chapel, Cox, Concord and Lafayette formed Union Ridge.  They had a fine school there for a number of years, but now they are consolidated with Gilmer, except Lafayette, which went to Pittsburg.  Also Fairview, Lone Mountain, Indian Rick, Kelsey and Enoch have joined Gilmer.

Independent Springs, Newsom, Coffeeville, Boxwood, Cedar Springs and Ore city formed Ore City.

Graceton, Ashland, James, Stamps became New Diana.

Glenwood, Pattonfield, Bethlehem, and Sand Hill consolidated with East Mountain.

Union Grove is composed of West Mountain and Mings Chapel.

Pritchett and Center Point are now part of Gladewater.

Big Sandy consolidated with Red Rock, Cross Roads. Pleasant Grove, and Shady Grove.

Next week Chapter IV will be continued starting with ATTEMPT TO SELL UPSHUR COUNTY SCHOOL LAND.