Throughout the entire existence of Cross
Cut, by far its greatest collective
pride lay in its school. Its
citizenry as a whole was by no means well off financially; many, in fact, would be hard pressed to find two
nickels to rub together. But the scrimping and saving practiced at home did not extend to their children' s
education. They saw to it that the Cross Cut School was always the best there was to offer in northwest
Brown County . Education was not looked upon as a luxury, but rather a necessity. In point of fact, long
before the town itself, or even its two churches came into being, the first community structure erected in the
area was the school house.
Exactly when it was built is not
recorded. Precisely where it was located
is also shrouded in vague history,
but, according to stories handed down by word-of-mouth, it was located adjacent to John Bloodworth's
general store -"somewhere on the Holloway." Current maps depict two Holloway Creeks, East and West,
beginning near the Callahan County line and flowing southward on either side of the town site. The two
streams converge into a single waterway before merging with Pecan Bayou. Mr .Bloodworth undoubtedly
choose a location somewhere on the creek where a constant source of water was available. But that was
before dams were built to form stock tanks and mini-Iakes along its path. Today, one would generally be
hard pressed to identify which slight depression in the terrain represents its former channel, so determining
what would have been a "choice location" during the pioneer days is virtually impossible.
The little schoolhouse on the Holloway
was the first of four that would
serve the Cross Cut community
over the ensuing half-century, and, thanks to Marie's scrapbook, we can see the class of eager youngsters
who stirred the dust on its playground and shifted uncomfortably on its hard, wooden benches as they
attempted to master the 3 R' s behind its board-and-batten walls.
Watson wore two distinctly different hats
in the community. On Sundays,
Reverend Watson delivered the
word of God from the Holy Bible. Each Monday through Friday during the school year, however, Mister
Watson taught the word of William Holmes McGuffey as contained in his Eclectic Reader, more commonly
known as, McGuffey's Readers. From 1836 to 1857, Mr. McGuffey (a Presbyterian minister and college
professor, himself) published illustrated reading books for the firs six grades of elementary school, and for
years, nearly all American schoolchildren learned to read from them. Not surprisingly, along with teaching
youngsters to read, McGuffey's Readers also taught children to respect the U. S. governmental and
economic system, while playing an important roll in forming the moral ides of the u. S. in the 1800's and
early 1900's. When young Bransford Eubank attended school, the classification by "grade" was replaced by
that of "reader", i.e., lst reader, 2nd reader, 3rd reader, etc., rather that 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, etc.
As strange as it may seem to those of us educated in today's modern school system, the one room, all grade
method had a distinct advantage over separate grade, separate subject classrooms. As Bransford put it,
"first readers" would begin the day giving their lessons orally. They were followed by second readers, then
third, and so forth. Repetitious, certainly, but because of that repetition, Bransford found he could review
that which they had already learned, and get a jump on that which was coming the following semester .
The second schoolhouse was located in
Cross Cut proper on land specifically
designated for that purpose in
the original, 1904 town plot by Dick Pentecost. Referring to the town map in Chapter Ten, you will see the
school lot bounded by Clark Street to the west, Live Oak Street on the south, and Banty Alley on the east.
Keep in mind that at the time of this construction, neither Commercial Street, nor any community owned
buildings north of that right-of-way were in existence.
The best guess at the year of
construction for this second "one-roomer"
would be circa 1904: the year the
town map was officially recorded at the Brown County Court House. It would certainly be no later than
1908 as records show the Baptist congregation held winter meetings in it prior to construction of their
church building in that year .The photograph shown is believed to have been taken of a class in that building,
giving us a rare opportunity to see the children of the Cross Cut Pioneers, and the Spartan surroundings in
which they learned their 3-R's. It is difficult to tell due to the glare from the windows (those portions were cropped), but the number of students during this particular school year appears to be somewhere between 55 and 60 children. By 1910, that number must have grown considerably because in that year , the townspeople turned their thoughts to incorporation. From records stored in the Brown County Court House comes the following:
The State of Texas
County of Brown
Whereas, an election was held in
the town of Cross Cut in this
county on the 28 day of March, 1910, to
determine whether such town should form an incorporation for free school purposes only withiin the
boundaries hereinafter, and returrns of said election have been duly made to and canvassed by me, from which
return it appears that at said election 38 votes were cast for “Corporation” and 20 votes for “No Corporation.
Therefore I, A. M. Brumfield
in my capacity of country judge
for Brown County, do adjudge that said election
resulted in favor of such incorporation and I do hereby declare the inhabitants of said territory hereinafter
declared duly incorporated for free school purposed only within said boundaries, the name of the incorporation
being Cross Cut Independent School District.
(The boundaries described thereafter ran approximately from the northwest corner of Brown County, south
to Pecan Bayou, east along its banks to southeast corner of Joe Eubank's property, then north along Red
River/Paint Creek to the Brown County) Eastland County line, then west again to the starting point. You
may recall this is the ara we decided earlier to designate as "Cross Cut". On the same ballot as the proposed
incorporation, were the names of those men running for seven positions as school trustees should that
proposal pass. (This addition would seem to indicate prior knowledge as to the eventual outcome of the first
vote, and expeditiously eliminate the necessity of another election after its passage. ) His Honor, Judge
Brumfield gives us the results of that election in the same document:
And whereas on the 28th day of March, 1910, there also was held an election for seven trustees for said Cross
Cut Independent School District and returns of said election having been duly made to me and having been
canvassed by me, I find from such returns I find that at said election there were cast 58 votes of which Jess
Byrd received 39 votes; A. F. Willlis received 34 votes; R. W. Pentecost received 36 votes, J. W. Newton
received 38 votes; W. M. Armstrong received 31 votes; J. R. Pyle received 32 votes; S. R. Chambers received 32
An impressive list it was. By now, hopefully, the reader will recognize most of the names of those first elected
trustees, and remember their backgrounds and qualification for the positions on the fledgling school board.
Some things never change, whether one
goes forward in time or looks
to the past, as we are doing here. The
people of Cross Cut voted to supply "free education” to its citizens. But then, as now, there was no such
thing as a free lunch, and then, as now, the ultimate answer to financial shortfall was the dreaded "T" word:
August 10, 1914
It is ordered by the court, that , there be levied a special school tax, on each one hundred dollars
valuation of the taxable property in the following named Common School District for the year 1914, at
the rate set opposite each district as follows to wit: Districte No. 1, Cross Cut, 36 cts.
The town was growing rapidly at this
point in time, and the more families
that moved into the area, the
more children there were in need of an education. By the same toke~ the more students there were, the
greater was the need for teachers. Who were those early educators, those men and women who stepped to
the front of the class to teach their younger neighbors the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic? A
fairly complete list can be found in the "County Superintendent's Register of Teachers Certificates and
County Institute Attendance for Brown County, State of Texas." The register, located in the courthouse
basement, was "prepared by State Department of Education in
Austin, TX, and covers the period 1907-1923."
STATE CERTIFIED CROSS CUT TEACHERS
The "County Scnool Trustees of Brown County, Texas" in 1928 were, G. W. McHan; W.H.G. Chambers; L. A. Nunn; Dr. A.M.Bowden; and A.J. Newton. These gentlemen negotiated the purchase of a parcel of land adjoining Cross Cut' s north town limit and to the west of what was then known as "The Williams Edition" from Mrs. R.S. Williams. On May 22, 1928, Mrs. Williams, before R. W. Pentecost, Notary Public in and for Brown County, Texas, signed the following:
THE STATE OF
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS;
County of Brown, State of Texas
.THAT I, Mrs Williams a widow; for and in consideration of the sum of Six Hundred and No/l00 ($600.00) to me in hand paid by Cross Cut Common School District No.1. ..have Granted, Sold, and Conveyed. ..all that certain lot, tract, and parcel of land. ..north of the original town plot of Cross Cut and west of the Williams addition to said town of Cross Cut. ..containing Six (6) acres more or less.
Construction of the new schoolhouse was
apparently begun immediately
and completed, by today's standards, in record time:
approximately three months, just in time for the opening of the 1928 Fall semester. Only one problem remained. How to dispose of the old, no longer needed schoolhouse across town. Again from records at the Brown County Court House comes this:
The closing verbiage, shown in red, was a handwritten addition to the typed text. The underscored blank space was illegible due to an ink blob in the center of the word. Bottom line, the School Board sold a no longer needed, two room wooden building, along with approximately 1-3/4 acres of land for $1,000, and purchased 6 full acres across town for $600, turning a tidy $400 profit in the bargain.
This was one of those rare cases where
everybody won: Mrs. Williams
got considerably more per acre for her land than was the going price at
the time; the School Board got rid of a liability, more than tripled
size of their school property, and came away $400 richer; Mr. Jim
took that which the School Board viewed as a liability, cut it in half,
moved his family into one of those halves, relocated the other half to
the corner of the property and converted it into a service station; and
lastly, the citizens of Cross Cut got a school ground large enough to
a schoolhouse, gymnasium, basketball court, tennis court, and baseball
field -with room to spare. With the opening of that magnificent new
Cross Cut began its brief but glorious run in the West Texas sun, and
list of teachers given earlier expanded to include such familiar and
Gafford, Mrs. Ruel
Wilby, Mr .