White Deer Land Museum

Pampa’s First School Was In 1903-04

In 1903, J.S. and Minna Wynne bought the Eli Vincent house at 109 South Cuyler and moved from their ranch near Panhandle so that their daughters, Alice and Beryl, could attend school in Pampa .

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

According to Beryl Wynne, families then living in Pampa included those of Dr. V.E. and Josye von Brunow, John E. and Ellen Chapman, Sam C. and Emily Case, A.A. and Adeline Holland, Thomas H. and Emma Lane, Charles T. and Sophia McCarty, J.C. and Issadore Rider, Hal and Edith Townsend, Wiley P. and Katie Vincent, Eli and Georgia Vincent, Bruce Waterfields, McGees and Whaleys.

Single men included George Tyng, Charles A. Tignor, Will T. Wilks, Ace Harmon, Ballard, Fay Martin (telegraph operator) and another man whose name Beryl Wynne did not remember. Presumably there were others — M.K. Brown came to Pampa in April, 1903.

School District VI ( Pampa ) of Gray County was established on February 10, 1903. Although Mrs. Andrew Kingsmill had turned the first shovel of dirt for a building in the fall of 1902, classes were not held in the building until 1903-04. Prior to that time, the few school-age children of Pampa attended school in other places. Some of these were Bell (1895), Lefors (1896), Canadian and the academy at Goodnight.

Constructed by White Deer Lands, the first Pampa school building was a white frame structure 16×20 feet with hand-made seats. It had a belfry and a flag pole. Once in the schoolyard, Beryl picked up a star from the first flag after it had become tattered in the Panhandle wind. At first she used it as a pattern for a five-pointed star, which was difficult for her to draw, and then she kept it for sentimental reasons.

The school building was located at present 513 East Francis in Block 29 of the original town of Pampa . The block, reserved by White Deer Lands for the location of a school, was in a pasture where 10,000 cattle grazed on land leased from White Deer Lands by the Scharbauer Cattle Company at five cents per acre, payable in advance.

Hover Over Camera Icon To Reveal Photo (Photo Of First School)

Pampa’s first school trustees were Will T. Wilks, employee of White Deer Lands, S.C. Case, a section foreman for the railroad, and John E. Chapman, operator of the coal chute for the railroad.

The first teacher was Mrs. Edith Townsend, whose husband, Hal Townsend, was the brother of Emily Case. In September, 1903, Edith Townsend took the teachers’ examination at Panhandle. Since there was no county board of examiners in Gray County , her papers were sent directly to the State Board of Examiners in Austin .

Beryl and Alice Wynne boarded in Pampa to attend the first school 1903-04 — (?) perhaps with the Eli Vincents. The J.S. Wynne family moved to Pampa in 1907. Probably 1903 is too early for the families she listed as living in Pampa when she came.

Arthur Lefevre, State Superintendent of Education, wrote to T.D. Hobart that he was glad to learn that educational sentiment in Gray County was very strong and that people had evidenced their interest by voting a special tax upon themselves. A resolution for a 20 cent school tax had been passed by five votes in County Commissioners Court in the spring of 1903.

Pampa ‘s first school was attended by ten pupils, ranging from grades one to six. Since they were so few in number, they were not grouped by grades. The pupils were Harland Case, Rettie Giesler, Wallace McGee, Larry Rider, Cliff Vincent, Lois Vincent, Scott Vincent, Van Webb, Alice Wynne and Beryl Wynne.

Each Monday morning for 24 weeks, Edith Townsend wrote a Bible verse on the blackboard. Each verse began with a letter of the alphabet, omitting X and Z. At the end of 24 weeks, Beryl received an award for having memorized the most verses. The award was a book, The Ship-Wrecked Girl, which Beryl kept for many years.

It is reasonable to suppose that the first school books included blue-back spellers and McGuffey readers. There were some hymnals, for the school building was also the meeting place for the Union Church and other community activities.

At Christmas time decorated Christmas trees were kept in the Johnson Mercantile building until just before Christmas. Then men of the community took turning plows and laid out fir trees all around the blocks. Afterward services were held in the schoolhouse.

(Most of this information was in a speech made by Beryl Wynne Vicars at a meeting of Pampa Genealogical Society in 1964.)

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article. Hover Over Camera Icon To Reveal Photo indicates a topic appropriate photo link.

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