From the 1970
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 ?
SCHOOL ORGANIZATION OF 1881
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
SCHOOL BOARD FOR 1915
J. E. Blair ... Superintendent
W. P. McCammon, President
Mrs. C. A. Middleton
Mrs. T. A. Millsr
S. Murchison ... Mayor of City
Mr. C. G. Davidson
Mr. C. T. Bannister
Mrs. J. E. Butler
SUPERINTENDENTS IN THE CORSICANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 !"
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)
JACK*SON EL-E-MEN-TA-RY !!
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.