Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986 Page: 38
are operating in the Central Texas Hill
The autonomous one room school
teacher was responsible for the success of
the school program. However, a teacher
had two sources of help: the three person
Board of Trustees, usually parents of students
in attendance, and the County Superintendent.
The county judge often
acted as an ex-officio superintendent. The
trustees were responsible for hiring, the,
teacher's salary, a place of residence,
the needed supplies in the schoolhouse,
and the maintenance of the school building.
The County Superintendent's duties
included keeping all school records, distributing
state funds, and inspecting
the schools. But when something went
wrong, it was most often the sole responsibility
of the teacher to improvise and
to keep the small educational system
In the beginning some of the instructors
were imported, highly respected,
scholars; professors from "The Old Coun
try" who came to Texas to teach the children
the basics of the German language.
One such person was Jacob Brodbeck,
first a teacher in Fredericksburg and later,
during the Civil War, at the one room
school in Luckenbach. Professor Brodbeck,
scientist, engineer, and eccentric,
was dubbed "The Wilbur and Orville
Wright of the Hill Country." Although a
teacher, his primary concern was in researching
and inventing a flying machine.
He informed his students as early
as 1847 that one day man would fly. From
observing the mechanisms in clocks, he
contrived a model airplane. The successful
trial flight of his model encouraged
him to leave the Hill Country for
San Antonio to continue his aviation
Generally, the country school teachers
of Central Texas were not as well trained
as the old world scholars. Many rural
teachers from the late 1880s to 1920s
were high school students who could pass
the teaching certification exams. Such a
teacher was Sam Ealy Johnson, the father
of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Sam, who had
not graduated from high school, passed
the special state exam in 1896 and became
the schoolmaster at the one room
Rocky School in Blanco County.
More highly trained teachers, those
who had attended the University or one
of the few Normal Colleges, gravitated
toward the graded town schools. It was
not until the expansion and growth of the
Normal schools in the 1920s that college
trained teachers filtered to the small
schools in the Central Texas communities.
It was not uncommon for rural instructors,
who had originally entered the
profession by passing the exams, to continue
with their own education and eventually
earn college degrees. The late Ella
Col d of Fredericksburg is an example of
such a person. Born in 1906, Ella was a
product of the early schools of Gillespie
County. She attended the two room
school in Willow City and later boarded
with relatives in Fredericksburg so that
she could complete her last year of high
school. From 1925 to 1927, following
A PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT
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Essay by Stephen Harrigan
150 photographs, 40 in color
Texas Historical Foundation
Essay by William A. Owens
Picture research and captions
by Richard Pearce-Moses
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supported by a generous grant from Du Pont
and Conoco, its energy subsidiary. The Texas
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Historic Texas and Contemporary Texas are
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986, periodical, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/m1/38/ocr/: accessed March 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.