28 April 2006

Historical Marker Dedication Honoring
Black Education in Chambers County

Anahuac, Texas

Chambers County Historical Commission held a Dedication Ceremony last Friday at George Washington Carver campus with a historical marker, recognizing the black education history of Chambers County.

Research conducted by Chambers County Historical Commission member Jean Epperson revealed the numerous black schools that existed in Chambers County, beginning in 1869.

Schools were created at Wallisville, Turtle Bayou, Turtle Bay, Black Branch, Double Bayou, Old River, Cedar Bayou, and in the St. Paul Methodist Church building.

In 1869, the Freedman’s Bureau was instrumental in seeing that a one-room school was built in Wallisville to accommodate about sixty students.

By 1886-1888, the Report of Superintendent of Public Education listed nine black schools with 171 students.
The average school term was about four months, and teachers received $29.41 to $35 per month.

By May of 1939, Chambers County had four common school districts, two consolidated school districts and four independent school districts. A total of 12 black teachers served the districts.

By May of 1940, the first modern school building was constructed for the black students of Anahuac.
This wooden structure was later sold and moved in 1948, when a new brick Carver school was approved and built. It was used through 1968, when the county school districts implemented desegregation through the “freedom of choice program”.

CCHC Chairman Bob Wheat introduced County Judge Jimmy Sylvia, who spoke of the importance of our history.
“If we don’t keep reminding people of our history, we are going to lose it. And we have lost a lot”, he said.

Pct. 2 County Commissioner Judy Edmonds also spoke of the importance of our history, and the continued programs as historical markers are placed throughout the county, as reminders of our history.

Mrs. Epperson spoke of the four years of research that went into the requirements of the Texas Historical Commission for historical status of black education of Chambers County.

Also among the speakers at the dedication ceremony was former teacher and principal Herman Williams.
Williams began teaching at Carver in 1957, after his graduation from Prairie View A&M.

Williams’ wife, Esther, who served as a teacher at Carver, recalled the duties of teaching at the school. Each teacher had so many duties, they really needed to be “Jack of all trades”, she recalled.

Mr. And Mrs. Williams said the installation of the marker “is something they will always remember and treasure”. “We appreciate the efforts of the Chambers County Historical Commission – ‘thanks’ on behalf of all Carver students and teachers”, Mr. Williams said.

M.Q. Bradford, a former student of the Winfree Elementary School in Barbers Hill School District, finished the eighth grade, attending from 1931 through 1939. When World War II broke out, he joined the U. S. Army, serving in the Europe campaigns and in the Pacific, attaining the rank of Tech Sergeant. After the War, Mr. Bradford went to work with Exxon, retiring after 35 years and five months. His education helped him to become a leader of the community of Old River/Winfree, where he served numerous years on the city council and Barbers Hill School Board. Mr. Bradford, who states that his faith is a big part of his life, is a life-long member of the St. Emily United Methodist Church.

“There is no limit to what one can achieve, if only with a limited education”, Mr. Bradford said.
“I encourage all kids to get an education”.

Former student of Carver, Vernon Coates, related his experiences with Mr. And Mrs. Williams as his principal and teachers. “They were stern, but well liked and respected”, he said. “Kids today don’t understand what black students of yester-year went through in getting an education. This marker was a long time in the making, and is very well appreciated”, Coates added.

Several other ex-students spoke of memories of the old school, saying that looking at the marker will help them to never forget what Carver has meant to them.

Texas Historical Marker
Picture and Text

Article written by CCHC Chairman Bob Wheat, and Photos taken by Stephanie Rowland
Chambers County Historical Commission


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