The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 202
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
healthy climate. Susan, his wife, was also from Mississippi, where
she had received the traditional female instruction.? The family
possessed two books, the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress, and took
several newspapers. For at least a year James was one of the six
trustees for the school in Meridian, and he made it a rule in the
family that every child should go off to a private school for one
year to complete what John called his "twenty-one years of service
for the common good of the family." Every year, too, each child
spent three or four months in the public school of Meridian.
According to Ed Nichols, John, like many other little boys of
the time, visited school before he was old enough to attend. Ed
recalls in his autobiography, Ed Nichols Rode a Horse, that he
would notice John, his brothers and sisters, and the neighbor
children "coming down the road in the morning, two and two,
some of them barefoot, laughing, talking, a book satchel over one
shoulder, a dinner bucket in one hand." John would spend the
day with the older children. Ed Nichols says, "He was a pretty,
fat little fellow four or five years old, and I can see him now as he
ran along by their side, sometimes holding his sister's hand, some-
times holding to Richard's. On these days when Johnny came to
school, the pupils studied something like half the time and
watched him the other half. The little rascal was full of mischief."2
When John started school in earnest, he was at the top of his
class. Report cards for weeks in 188o and 1881 show grades of 98
and loo. The aims of his teachers were, if nothing else, inclusive;
the subjects taught were spelling, reading, arithmetic, geography,
composition, history, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, sur-
veying and navigation, bookkeeping, astronomy, philosophy,
moral philosophy, mental philosophy, botany, physiology, geology,
Latin, Greek, French, drawing and painting, and music." Even
before he had mastered this curriculum, John was teaching the
children around him, among them his best friend the negro boy
Nat Blythe. In the Adventures John writes:
I found Nat resting under the mulberry tree studying a Webster's
iSee her "A Trip to Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLVIII, 254-261,
for proof of intelligence and nobility of character and a detailed account of the
rigors of frontier life.
2Ed Nichols, Ed Nichols Rode a Horse (Dallas, 1948), 56-57.
sJohn Lomax, School Papers (MS., Archives, University of Texas Library).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/223/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.