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Schools in Alexander

By Frank Chamberlain

Alexander is a tiny community that lies a few miles south of Stephenville and Dublin. Like many of these small rural areas, Alexander had its own school. In the early years of the twentieth century, there were as many as 132 small school districts in Erath County. The first record confirming the existence of a school in this town is a voucher dated as February 1883. In 1886, the first free school was established in town, serving fifty-six students. A husband and wife tandem, B.E. and Anne Cook, were the teachers in this small two-room log building. Mr. Cook taught the upper grades and Mrs. Cook taught the primary grades. The two left Alexander in 1892 in order for him to assume the job of principal of the Stephenville schools. Mrs. Cook was also given a job there and left as well [Eoff 92,182; Stephenville Empire-Tribune 3/14/99; Stephenville Empire-Tribune 1/1936].

In the second year that the Cooks taught in Alexander, a series of rather unfortunate incidents occurred. A local father became upset because his son had been “thrashed” by Mr. Cook and burned the schoolhouse down. A replacement building was planned, but it was also set ablaze before it could be completed. Whether the same disgruntled parent was responsible for this second act of arson is unknown. Following this second incident, a committee was appointed to keep a constant vigilance over the new construction site. Incredibly, a third attempt at destroying the school was attempted, despite the presence of these guards. This time, the guards foiled the ill-advised arsonist by discovering the fire in its early stages and spreading the alarm, thus saving the building. This culprit was then chased by irate townspeople into his home (!) where he was apprehended. He was later indicted and sent to prison. Despite the satisfactory ending to this episode and over twenty years free of fire, this new school also burned to the ground in 1911. Perhaps fed up with such regular schoolhouse conflagrations, officials built the next school out of rock [Eoff 92; Gray/Gilbert 66; Stephenville Empire-Tribune 1/1936].

Two other area schools became part of the Alexander School District in the 1920s. The Bowman Ridge School was absorbed in 1923 and that schoolhouse became the science laboratory and the woodworking shop. In 1929, the Union Grove School became a part of the district. This building became the primary department for grades one through six. The Alexander School District was officially consolidated in 1931, and placed under the control of one superintendent. It became a four-year high school in the 1936/37 school year, making it one of three high schools in the county along with Stephenville and Dublin. That same year, football was introduced to the campus. Girls’ basketball had already been played at the school for years [Alexander High School Reunion pamphlet; Gilbert/Gray 87].

In 1952, only five seniors graduated from the high school, followed by just three students the following year. The Alexander School closed in 1953 after seventy years of operation. The students of the community then began attending either Dublin or Hico schools [Alexander High School Reunion pamphlet; Gray/Gilbert 87].

“Alexander Boomed as the First Railroad Town in Erath County”, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, January 1936, section II.

“The Little Old School House”, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, March 14, 1999.

Alexander High School Reunion pamphlet, 10/12/1988.

Gray, A.D. and Cecilia Gilbert. Alexander, typescript reference book. 1988.