Fred Douglas / Jackson High School History
Corsicana, Navarro County Texas


Jackson High School Index


From the 1970 Jacksonian, yearbook 
of Jackson High School, Corsicana, TX

Fred Douglas School



Eighty-eight years is a long span in the life of a man or a school.  What do the years mean ?  For man or school , the years are a benediction, if they are filled with hones sweat of service to humanity.

Fred Douglass - G. W. Jackson is a school -- a public school.  But a school is an empty thing with out the beating hearts and yearning souls of mortal men.  And down the eighty-eight years of Fred Douglass - G. W. Jackson's existence, men have lived and dreamed until every rock has joined the choir invisible to bless their memory.  For every man or child whose foot has touch this hallowed soil, found a spirit, and has broadeded and deepened it until what began as an ambitionless meandering stream has become a purposeful river upon whose tides, now turbulent, now tranquil, float the destiny of countless human hopes and dreams.

The humble student, from every nook and cranny in the land, has left the echo of his laughter upon the wind as well as his hopes within the lurking shadows of our halls and byways.  Men of dedication have worked here in order to develop a new society which would enlighten the world of education with new concepts and ideas for a better tomorrow.

Could we do better at the close of eighty-eight years than to pay homage to this amalgam, this spirit ?

Can we do less than dedicate our lives to the task of fostering these past years and stimulating them so that those students who have journeyed this path, these halls, will be better men because of it ?


Mayor of the City ..... Mr. Lyons

School Committee .... J. E. Whiteselle, George Philips, M. Drane

Superintendent of Schools ... J. T. Hand

Principal of Negro School ... G. W. Jackson

Assistant ... Mrs. Fannie Hall

Second Assistant ... Miss Mary Stokes



J. E. Blair ... Superintendent

W. P. McCammon, President

Mrs. C. A. Middleton

Sam Jackson

Mrs. T. A. Millsr

Mr. John S. Murchison ... Mayor of City

Mr. C. G. Davidson

Mr. C. T. Bannister

Mrs. J. E. Butler



John T. Hand  1882-1888

J. M. Carlisle  1888-1889

Charles T. Alexander  1889-1892

M. Howard 1892-1893 *

John T. Hand 1893-1897

H. S. Melear 1897-1902

J. W. Cantwell 1902-1908

John Edward Blair 1908-1921

Herbert D. Fillers 1921-1931

W. H. Norwood 1931-1956

Robert Ashworth 1956-1958

Dana Williams 1958-1962

Oscar E. Bounds 1962-1963

O. E. Hendricks 1963-1966

Don Bowen 1966-

* The accounts of Mr. W. H. Norwood in the Navarro County Scroll and of Mrs. Eloise Stover in her History of Navarro County before 1900 give the name of E. M. Foust as superintendent during the year 1892-93.  However, an old Corsicana High School diploma bears the name of M. Howard as superintendent and E. M. Foust as principal.  This diploma was dated 1893 and belongs to Hallie Ransom who graduated that year.  Also personal interviews with people reveal that they remember the name Howard as superintendent but do not recall the name Foust.

The history and memories of Fred Douglas - G. W. Jackson High School run through many of our own lives.

In view of the fact that the records of our school were burned twice, we are unable to give exact facts and data accurately for which this day time calls.  The history of the school's beginning is compiled from information received from loyal ex-students and excerpts from a booklet titled Forty-Four Years of Service written by G. W. Jackson, the first principal.

Public schools in Corsicana were not under the control nor the management of the city prior to 1881.  Schools were taught in the city under trustees.  Teachers were employed to teach in the community school as long as the funds drawn from the state were available.  Teachers were employed either owing to the number of children in the community school or according to the amount agreed upon by the trustees.  Our schools were taught in the churches of the city.

The pastors of the churches were, as a rule, the teachers of the school.  These were Rev. Z. T. Pardee, Rev. W. W. Hay, Rev. T. V. Davis, and Mr. Hall, a local teacher of some prominence.

In 1881 Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas took its schools in control and elected as the first superintendent, Professor J. T. Hand.  he prepared a course of study and began the first graded system of public schools in the city.

There were three school buildings which were two stories in height, two for white and one for Negro.  The two white schools were located on West Collin Street.  The high school was called Collin Street High School with the grammar school and primary school all in one building.  The Negro School was located on East Fifth Avenue in the heart of the major Negro community.

The first principal of the new school was G. W. Jackson, a native of Alabama.  He came to Texas during the later part of 1876 and came to Corsicana in 1877.  He taught his first school in Texas at Old Waderville which is near Kerens, in the Robert Colbert community.  This school was a log cabin school house on the Colbert plantation

In the fall of 1880, he resigned his position to enter Fisk University to further pursue his education.  One year before completing his requirements at Fisk, he left school in 1882 to open the new Negro school at Corsicana, which he held for one year.  He then resigned to enter college again to finish his course of study.

W. H. Scott, of North Carolina, a classmate of G. W. Jackson was recommended to the school board to take his place for one year.  He was elected and held the position with much merit for the year until G. W. Jackson was put in charge to begin the third session of the city schools.

After resigning, Mr. Scott went to Ft. Ben County in South Texas.  He later entered Meharry Medical College and finished his course of study in medicine.  He then returned to Texas to practice his profession.

The third year of school developed so rapidly that it was recognized over the state as a leading organization among the schools in Texas.  The school received a rank among the best Negro schools in the state, also.

The essentials necessary to warrant the proper steps in the building of a good school, were a strong and progressive faculty, a receptive pupil, and proper equipment.  Corsicana attempted to secure the best teachers by searching the country for those personnel who possessed the best qualities.  The first teachers came from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, and Texas.  Not only the scholarship of these teachers was considered but their character as well.   The work of the first year in the school was done by two teachers - the principal and Mrs. Fannie Hall.  Later a third teacher was added the last half of the year.

The city of Corsicana was one of the first in Texas to erect a brick school house for the Negro population.  The new building was built to accommodate about three hundred pupils but was destroyed by fire after twenty-three years.  When the city replaced the school, they erected two brick rooms and several small frame buildings.  Later the city replaced the old structure with a twelve room brick building and auditorium.

The first building was called Fred Douglass.  The name was suggested in 1912 by a group of white ladies of the city who had been called upon by the School Board to select names for the schools.  The principal and teachers were very assiduous in teaching the youth how to behave at home, on the streets, at church, and in all public places.  The teachers were imbused with the teaching of the "Holy Writ" which impresses the training of the youth in these words: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from you."

The first two years of the school were spent in developing conditions which would warrant the organization of higher classes, and as soon as these were assured, the school moved up a step by adding the Grammar School, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades.  With the Grammar School organized, the third step in the development of the upward trend of education began.  In rapid succession, the following departments were organized: the primary school, the grammar school, and the high school.

In two years the school had developed conditions to the point of organizing high school classes.  The eighth grade was organized with the high school with five teachers being employed.  The high school department was in name only as the principal was required to teach all classes in all branches from the seventh grade through the high school.

Professor J. M. Carlisle was elected to take the place of Professor J. T. Hand, who resigned after four years of service to take a similar position in Dallas.  Carlisle was in charge of the city schools, after which time he became State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The following superintendents were in charge of the schools in the city, J. T. Hand, James M. Carlisle, Charles T. Alexander, J. T. Hand (2nd term), Foust M Howard, H. S. Melar, J. N. Cantwell, and J. E. Blair.

The high school faculty was organized under the direction of Superintendent J. N. Cantwell.  There were three teachers doing departmental work-the principal and two teachers.  The system of education had made rapid progress.  About this time Booker T. Washington, had established his institute, and his doctrine of industrialism had begun to attract the attention of the educators in the country.  The principal, Mr. Jackson, became an ardent advocate of the Washington doctrine.

Mr. Jackson called the attention of the Superintendent of schools to the fact that the Negro children need the Booker T. Washington type of education, and that industrial education needed to be added to the school's curriculum.

In order to establish this type of education, an industrial department was required.

The principal requested the school board and the superintendent to grant him permission to undertake the raising of money from private citizens and to put up sufficient buildings on school grounds to house the industrial department.  Permission was given Mr. Jackson and soon he had solicited funds to erect the girl's industrial cottage and the boy's work shop.

This industrial department was organized in 1905, with Miss Ann Ayers of Tuskegee in charge.  The development represented the self help of the Negro people, as well as the generous spirit of the white citizens.  A sum of $800.00 was solicited from both white and Negro for the building and equipping this department.  Captain C. H. Allyn and James Garrity, each contributed $1200.00 to insure the operation of this branch of the school work.  In 1907 the boy's Manual Training Ship was established.  E. H. Earl of Tuskegee was elected teacher of Manual Training.

We can point with pride to Mr. Clifton Brewer, a graduate of Fred Douglass.  After teaching here for seven years as manual training instructor, Mr. Brewer resigned and went to San Antonio, Texas where he taught trade work for twenty-one years.  His shop was classed as one of the leading shops in the state of Texas in the field of industry.

The introduction of industrial studies in the Negro school of Corsicana had to undergo a critical period and to win the approval of the people.  The new education was not accepted at first by the people because they had not had the industrial education taught in their own school.  However, after several meetings, they agreed to the organization of the classes.

The steady development of the improvement of Fred Douglas was the organization of two brass bands for the boys.  The first organization  was the High School Concert Band in 1910 by Robert H. Hardee as director.  After six months of strenuous-training, the band made its initial appearance.  This band became famous by winning in contests over Cleburne and Terrell school bands.  Many of the members of the band became great musicians.  Among these include the Elkins Twins, Vernon and Herman, Ashford and Harold Hardee, Roy Gray, Brent Sparks, Matthew Dunn and a number of others.  The band lasted for only two years due to lack of financial support.

The second organization was developed by Mr. Ben Lowe who continued to further develop the music department but with little progress.  This was due to the fact that there was not enough talent in the number that composed this organization.

A Mother's club was organized in the year 1912 with the objective to enable parents and teachers to co-operate in the education of the young, and give opportunity for patron's of the school to aid in the management and support of the school.  Mrs. O. C. Williams was elected president of the club.  She did her best to arouse the parents to unite in work and to up-lift the race.

The steady development of the school's success, called for another organization composed of all girls in the high school and grammar grades.  The attendance of the meeting was compulsory.  They met twice a month on Fridays during the school hour, and time was allotted to special programs of literary and social training.  The White Rose Association grew out of the necessity for lectures and talks concerning woman virtues.

The boys of the grammar and high school were organized into an association, known as the Boys Improvement Association, for the purpose of conducting debates, hearing lectures on subjects in hygiene, and in manly conduct.

During the early years of Fred Douglass School, there were Oratorical Contests.  Participants were Laura Applewhite, Lillian Hardee, Lela Davis, Jessie Blue, Thomas Schoffner, Leonard Powers, Clifton Brewer, Ima Johnson, Burnett Dellans, Buzz Love, Coltrell Dellans, Foster Mackey and Aubrey Knox.  Winners from the local contest competing with other schools (Terrell, Dallas, Ft. Worth) were: Lillian Hardee, Burnett Dellums, Foster Mackey, Cottrell Dellums, Buzz Love, Aubrey Knox, and Lela Davis.

Fred Douglass was noted for many musically talented students.  The High School Choral Club was organized, featuring Buena V. Pardee-Hollins as the operatic soprano.  Her performances had the quality of excellence.

In later years, the Harmonica Club, the Latin Club, and the English Club were sponsored by Mrs. T.Morris-Knox.  The famous xylophonist, Leon Hardee, gave several musical programs.  Principal G. W. Jackson brought to us many popular singers.  Some of these were: Miss Anita Patty Brown, Miss Partia Washington, Roland Hayes, The Famous Williams Singers, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Paul Quinn College Singers.

Among the many noted speakers at our school were: Booker T. Washington, Mrs Booker T. Washington, Roscoe Conkins Simmons, W. T. Vernon ( U.S.  Secretary of the Treasury), A. S. Jackson (Paul Quinn College), and R. R. Wright, an outstanding banker.

An award given to the best student of Fred Douglas School was the Ed Call Scholarship Medal which was made from a $10.00 gold piece.  The man responsible for this reward was Mr. O. Edward Call, a criminal lawyer.  He was an outstanding speaker in the legal profession.  The following students were given this award for their outstanding ability: Robert Ervin, Birdie Bunn, Goster Mackey, Marguerite Johnson, and Egbert Mayfield.  Mrs. N. L. Perry and Mrs. M. L. Jackson gave to the highest honor students a five dollar gold piece for many years.

With the burning of the old Fred Douglass School and the erection of the new building, the board of education changed the name to G. W. Jackson High School.  This was done in recognition of the service of the principal and was dedicated accordingly.

Mr. Jackson served in the new school three sessions, 1925, 1926, and 1927 with L. E. Lister as acting principal in the third session.  At the opening of the school in September 12, 1927, B. A. Jackson, son of the former principal, was elected to serve as principal.  He resigned after one year of service and moved to New York City where he now resides.

C. O. Rodgers was elected the fourth principal of Jackson High School.  His administration brought about better school discipline, new teaching methods, and a deeper love by the students of Jackson High.  His distinguished personality was an asset to the community as he sought to make the Jackson school program the model for the city.  Mr. Rodgers resigned to become principal of Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Mr. J. Nathaniel Nelum, a former graduate of Jackson High School, was asked by the board of education to serve as acting principal.  He accepted while delaying his plans to further his education.  At the end of one year he resigned in order to enter the University of California at Los Angeles where he received his master's degree.  Later he received his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Texas.  For sixteen years he taught at Texas College and is now serving as chairman of the Educational Department at Bishop College.

H. T. Wise became the next principal of Jackson High School.  His administration was marked by improvements in both physical development and in program of service.  Among these improvements include the Jackson high School Bear Park which was purchased by the faculty and citizens of Corsicana.  In addition, the annual feature of the Girls' Follies was organized under the influence of Mr. Wise's revolution.

Mr. H. T. Wise was succeeded on September 1, 1934 by Walter F. Cotton.  Mr. Cotton, a historian, artist, and leader in his profession worked continuously in movements for the betterment of the youth and the school.  An extensive building program included the building of a cafeteria, new homemaking department, auditorium, new shop, and a vocational agriculture building.  He gave the school the slogan - "Gateway to Unborn Million."

The first annual in the history of the school was made by the senior class of 1945 and its sponsors.  the events were many and varied that inspired each succeeding class to try and attain still greater heights.

In the year 1946 a high school band became part of the curriculum and was organized by M. J. Crawford.  He was succeeded by Harlan Moore.  Following the service of Mr. Moore, Mr. Dazell Lee became the new band director.  Under his direction the Jackson High School Band earned numerous awards for outstanding performances in concert, sight reading, and marching competition.  Many of the former members of the band are now contributing as band directors and professional musicians.

In the fall of 1954 another step was added to the history of Jackson High School.  Harlon R. Powell was hired as visiting teacher and served for two years.  He was succeeded by LaSalle Donnell.

Career Day was introduced by Mrs. Johnnie Dee Hardee and consultants were summoned to make this event a success.  The third year of Career Day was sponsored by Miss J. M. Moore and Mr. A. C. Phillips.

Due to ill health, Mr. Cotton resigned in 1958 as principal and served as visiting teacher for the district for two years.  Cotton's administration was followed by E. L. Washington.

Mr. Washington had previously served as principal of Dunbar High School in Mexia, Texas.  Jackson High School continues to progress under his supervision.

In August of 1959 the school was destroyed by fire and the main building and auditorium were demolished.  However, in September the school was opened according to schedule.  The high school occupied the elementary building and the elementary school was housed in temporary quarters.  The high school building was remodeled and a cafetorium constructed.  The students moved into the structure in October of 1960.

Jackson High continued to grow in its number of students and teaching personnel.  She reached new heights with addition in the curriculum such as speech, reading, and an extended library program.

The story of music at Jackson is synonymous with the music story in many other schools.  Music was formerly regarded as something extra but is now an integral part of the curriculum.  In 1963 speech was added to the school under the direction of Mrs. Molly Sparks.  As a result of the continuous effort of Mrs. Sparks, man honors have been achieved and contests have been won.

The faculty of Jackson High School continued to prepare themselves to meet the current changes.  We are proud of its many successes and the thousands of alumni who have reached the heights of greatness.  Now let us maintain this pride as we look toward to the future where we all will be as as one body striving for greater goals and achievements.  Finally, may our dear Jackson High School reap rewards of gratitude long after the strains of the "Alma Mater" have died away, long after the final curtain has been drawn.

History of Jackson Elementry 1956 - 1970

The development task of independence occurred for Jackson Elementary School in 1956, when the cord attaching the elementary and high schools was served.

A group of professional-minded people put their heads together and decided that our children would benefit educationally, socially, physically, and morally by separating the departments; therefore, grades one through six were called Jackson Elementary; grades seven through twelve, Jackson High School.

Mr. Harlon R. Powell, formally visiting teacher in the Corsicana System, was appointed principal of the Jackson Elementary School, with the following faculty:

Martha Moody, Rexie Cooksey  ---- Grade One
Eleanor Carroll, Arizona Lacy -------- Grade Two
Thelma Davis -----------------------------  Grade Three
Mildred Clay ------------------------------  Grade Three and Four
Marie Hudson ----------------------------  Grade Four
Christine Orr ------------------------------- Grade Five
Harlon Powell ------------------------------ Grade Six
Bonnie McMillan ------------------------- Special Education 

In January, 1962, another breathtaking event occurred.  The Principal and staff of Jackson Elementry moved into a completely new brick building.  This building consisted on nine classrooms, speech room, library, and modern office facilities.  Dedicatory services were held for this great occasion on March 4, 1962, at 3:00 p.m. Master of ceremonies for the dedication was Dr. Dana Williams, Superintendent of Corsicana Public Schools.  Robert Gladney, member of the Board of Education, was principal speaker.  Other platform guests include Mayor R. S. Reading, Mrs. Dana Williams, Mrs. Dean Milkes, Distruct Judge James C. Sewell, Miss Sarah Holman, Ezra Carroll, Rev. Perry and Rev. Jones, Edward Washington, and Harlon R. Powell.  Music for this occasion was furnished by the Jackson Elementary Chorus, under the direction of Mrs. Imogene Brown.

This group of teachers worked diligently in trying to promote the welfare of the children.  As time passed, more teachers were added to the staff.  Under Title I, a remedial reading teacher, a physical education teacher, a nurse, and teacher aides were added.  The following teachers have served at Jackson Elementary:

Cleo Lee, Joyce Henderson, Vernett Hicks, Ozell Reese, Jewel Day, Althea Smith, Imogene Edwards, Elmer Hatcher, Lillian Steward, Joy Perry, Barbara Gardner, Becky Supersinsky, Freddie Gardner, Jake Griffin, Martha Moody, Arizona Lacy, Thelma Davis, Marie Hudson, Christine Orr, Mildred Byrd, Winifred Johnson, Eleanor Carroll, Eloise Sanders, Benja Ragsdale, Dorothy Canady, Eugene Slaughter, Birdie Howze, Grace Jones, Marilyn Christopherson, Carolyn Winn, Bobbie Barham, Patsy Fortner, Roxie Cooksey, Artena Harris, Bonnie McMillan, Zoe Ann Mitchell, and Jimmie Buchannan.

Title aides were Emma Jones, Irene Quarles, Ruthie Allen, Bettie Calhoun, Easter Fointain, Lola Caruth.  School nurses were Lila Rutherford, Cretchen London, and Clyde Bullard.  Arie Adams has served as custodian for Jackson Elementary from its beginning.

During the fourteen years, three persons have retired from service.  They are: Christine Orr, Martha Moody, and Marie Hudson.

The last staff of Jackson Elementary consisted of the following teachers and aides:

Harlon R. Powell ----Principal
Mildred Byrd -------- Multi-Grade 1 & 2
Winifred Johnson --- Multi-Grade 1 & 2
Eleanor Carroll ------ Multi-Grade 1 & 2
Eloise Sanders ------- Multi-Grade 1 & 2
Benja Ragsdale ----- Grade 4
Dorothy Canady ---- Grade 5
Eugene Slaughter -- Grade 6, Music
Artena Harris ------- Speech
Grace Jones --------- Remedial Reading
Zoe Ann Mitchell --- Physical Education
Freddie Gardner ---- Visiting Teacher
Dazell Lee ------------ Elementary Counselor
Clyde Bullard -------- Title I nurse
Lola Caruth ---------- P. E. Aide
Easter Fountain ----- Library Aide
Ruthie Allen --------- Building, Reading Aide

Among the many special occasions held at Jackson Elementary was the "Rex Ingram Day." The snowybearded Negro actor was reared in Corsicana more than half a century ago.  He was the guest of Jackson Elementary Principal, Dr. Harlon R. Powell, who, as a boy, knew Ingram when he lived in Corsicana.

Other events included the Jackson Elementary Annual Spring Music Festival held in 1968.  Eugene Slaughter, trainer and director for the group, gave the audience an entertaining evening.

The Physical Education Program has played an important role in the history making of our school.  Jackson Elementary was declared Team Champions in the Corsicana Elementary Olympics, along with winning honors in the YMCA Track and Field events.  We also received sole possession of first place in the Gra-Y Football.

The inspiration we have received from our principal and the cooperation of our parents have enabled us to work toward our goals.  Through the fourteen years we feel that most of them have been achieved.  We can proudly say, "A JOB WELL DONE !"

School Song


Jackson, Beloved Jackson,

Is the best school in all the land.

Jackson, beloved Jackson,

True to her we must always stand.

Her colors, green and white,

We'll protect with all our might.

Jackson, beloved Jackson,

We pledge our lives to you. (repeat)

Coda: (SHOUT)




Desegregation finally ended G. W. Jackson High School, which burned and was finally razed in 1974. The new Boys and Girls Club is built approximately where the school was once located.


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox