The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 50
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the Mexican practice of delegating such responsibility to local
authorities irritated the Anglo-Americans.
Upon entering Texas the settlers from the United States found
a considerably lower educational level than that to which they
had been accustomed. Many of the colonists had attended col-
lege; many more had attended academies or old field schools;
practically all were literate. On the other hand, only a small
percentage of the Mexican population of Texas could read or
Stephen E Austin, who played the dominant role in American
colonization, was vitally interested in education. Unable -to se-
cure a state school for his colony, he promoted the establishment
of private schools and even gave financial assistance to those
settlers who needed it to keep their children in school. Austin
also proposed the establishment of a state-supported "Seminary
of Learning" at San Felipe de Austin. Although this ambition
was never realized, San Felipe did have four schools at a time
when few other settlements had even one.30
The earliest American school in Texas was that opened by
Isaac M. Pennington in Austin's colony in 1823."7 From that
time on numerous private schools were opened in the American
settlements. They were usually old field schools or academies
similar to those found in the South. Many were transitory, de-
pending upon the presence of a schoolmaster in the community.
The length of the school year varied from school to school, as
did the curriculum and the quality of instruction. None of the
schools received any state aid. Occasionally, some instruction
would be given in the home of one of the settlers; more often
a separate "schoolhouse" was constructed. Usually the building
was a mere hut of pine logs. The better ones had wooden floors;
the poorer only earth. A bench or two, some homemade multi-
plication tables, and a few dog-eared textbooks completed the
equipment. One such schoolhouse at Williams Settlement in
1835 was only fourteen feet square." Some of the schoolmasters
aeFor the role of Austin, see Max Berger, "Stephen E Austin and Education in
Early Texas, 1821-1835," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLVIII, 387-394.
37R. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texas," Quarterly of the Texas
State Historical Association, VII, 52-53.
ss"Recollections of S. E Sparks," ibid., XII, 61.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/68/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.