The Coleman Schools
by Ralph Terry

from A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission 

The first school in Coleman was begun in 1877, a year after the beginning of the town as county seat.  There are conflicting records as to who taught the first school ... some records say it was taught by two lady teachers, one being a Mrs. Collier; another version says by a Mr. Rogers; and yet another says that Judge Jonathan Miles owned a private school and that his niece, Anna Miles, taught there.  But, all of these versions are the same after that ... it was located in the then southeast part of town, which is now 415 Commercial; a tuition of $1.50 per month per student was charged; it was in session ten months of the year; and had an enrollment of 15, only 4 of which were boys.  A plot of land was set aside for school purposes and the street leading to it was called College Avenue.  About 1880, a frame school was built at the east end, near the present old railroad station.  J. J. Callan, W. O. Reed, and a Mr. Mobley were among the first teachers; and A. H. Viets, was one of the first principals.  In 1886, classes were held over the saloon on the corner of Pecan and Commercial.  In 1887, the school was moved to a two story building on Commercial Avenue.

The first permanent school building was constructed in 1888, and remodeled in 1892, located on Colorado Street, north of 2nd Street, with C. R. Chambers as superintendent and Mrs. Chambers, principal.  By 1893, eleven grades (the twelve grade system did not come into being until the 1940’s) were taught and on May 11, 1894, Coleman High School held its first graduation exercises.  The five members of that class were all girls: Wood Murray, Minnie Williams, Anna Bradbumn, George Bowen, and Florence Dibrell.  Their diplomas were presented by A. B. Hamilton, who was the superintendent and principal combined.  During the regime of superintendent J. E. Hickman, which began in 1902, the new Public School Building was erected at the foot of the hill at the end of Pecan Street in 1908.  This building was later called West Ward Elementary School and was torn down in 1983, with only a few classrooms now remaining at that site.

C. H. Hufford accepted the position of superintendent in 1917 and the South Ward Elementary School was built in 1922 (enlarged in 1927) at the site of the first rock building of 1888, which was removed about the time that the new South Ward School was built.

South Ward School - 801 South Colorado Street
taken about 1935

The Public School Building then became solely a high school building.  In 1926, a new high school building was built on North Neches, which is presently (1983) serving as Coleman Junior High.  At this site, a homemaking cottage (which was torn down in the late 1970’s), Graves Gym, and a band hall, cafeteria, Ag shop complex were built in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  J. T. Runkle was superintendent from 1939 to 1946; Terrell Graves from 1946 to 1966, and C. E. Castleberry from 1966 to present.  Coleman Junior High (now serving as South Ward Elementary School) was built in 1951, with a gym being added in the late 1950’s, which has recently been converted to classrooms.  The old South Ward School on Colorado was torn down in the early 1970’s, and a new Coleman High School was finished in 1976.

As early as 1887, a Negro school was located in Coleman, with one teacher.  This school was located north of the railroad, as in 1900, Will Tramel, John Fossett, and Frank Culpepper, the trustees of this school came before the county commissioners requesting that they be given use of land where they had built a new school, as the old one had been washed away by the 1900 flood.  This school was later moved to a location on East 2nd Street, and as General Humphrey and his wife, Vivian Luvemn, were long time teacher and principal there, the school was called Humphrey High School.  It was integrated with the Coleman schools in the fall of 1965.

A Mexican school was established in 1929, with a Miss Tafolla of San Antonio being the first teacher.  This school was called “El Alba” (The Dawn) by its patrons.  It integrated with the Coleman schools in the 1940’s and the building was used as a girl scout house for many years.

A band was organized at CHS by James King in 1929.  Since the beginnings of UIL competitions, Coleman has competed in many scholastic events, with some individuals progressing to state level.  In 1910, Coleman High School had an affiliation of 16½ credits and by 1934 had 34½ credits.  Coleman has always maintained an above average standard of teaching, student activity, and civic pride.  Through the years, CHS has had many organizations ... language, literary, science, debate, choral, press, photography, nurses, but those that have remained for long times are: agriculture and home economics (actually started in 1914 with the Baby Beef and Corn Clubs, but were not given the Future Farmers and Future Homemakers names until late in the 1940’s), Christian Council in 1952 by Ronald Howell, Future Teachers in 1955 by Ada Croom and Maurine Burroughs, Student Council in 1924, and Library Club in 1938 by Ruth Saunders.  CHS had a newspaper beginning in the fall of 1911 called the “Algerita,” which lasted only a few years.  A second newspaper, called the “Round-Up” began in April of 1922 and was published until 1966.  An attempt at a newspaper was made in 1982, but only two issues were produced.  Year books were put out irregularly from 1912 until 1923, called the “Mesquite.”  In 1947, publication of the “Corral” annual began and has been published each year since.

Athletics were introduced at Coleman in 1910.  Football has always been the most popular sport and was played at four different locations in the now city park area, until Hufford Field was built in 1934.  For many years after it was built, it was said to be one of the finest football fields in West Texas and one of the first lighted fields.  It was first enclosed by a nine-strand, eight foot barb wire fence, with the rock wall being built in 1940.  During modern times of UIL competition (since 1946), CHS has won the district championship 13 times and bi-district, 5 times, winning the regional championship in 1946, which was as far as an “A” school could advance at that time.  In boys basketball, CHS has won or tied the district championship 24 times, advancing to regional 11 times and to state 3 times.  Fourteen of these district championships have been under the coaching of Jack Baucom, who played on 3 district championship teams himself.  All of these since Coleman’s first gym was built in 1948.  The girls first entered district play in 1950 and have won or tied 8 times for district.  In addition to these sports, CHS has had teams in tennis, track, volleyball (first in 1934), and baseball.  The “Bluecat” mascot was selected in November 1923 by a committee made up of the presidents of each class, the football captain, and three teachers.  The name was suggested by Sim Gideon, a football back of the time.  Before then, the school was referred to as “The Blue and White” or “Coleman High.”  CHS held its first homecoming in 1954.  In May 1983, Greg Martin (Senior) and McCord Wilson (Sophomore) won the AAA state championship in tennis doubles --- they had lost in the first round of the state finals the previous year.  This was the first state title in nearly 20 years of any kind ... Riley Dunn had won the state title in the 100 and 220 yard dashes in both 1963 and 1964.

The reason for the number of new buildings being built very quickly was due to the rapid increase in the school population.  The total enrollment in 1926 was twice that of 1917, due largely to the oil activity in the county.  In 1933, another large increase was made in the enrollment as a result of a transfer law which permitted pupils from anywhere in the county to attend school at Coleman.  In 1934, Echo, Anderson, Indian Creek, Silver Valley, Junction, New Central, White Chapel, and Bowen consolidated with Coleman for high school purposes.  This swelled the high school enrollment to 369, and the total enrollment for the system to 1400, and made it necessary to purchase five new buses to transport rural students.  In 1936, Silver Valley and Rae abolished all grades above the seventh and those grades came to Coleman.  In 1958, Burkett closed and many of the students came to Coleman.  A high level of over 1300 pupils was again reached in the early 1960’s.  In recent years, the enrollment at Coleman has been on a decline with under 900 students enrolled at present (1983).

For more detail on the Students of Coleman High School, SEE:
Coleman High School Alumni Website
Information about all past students of CHS - - -  Their Early Days - Graduation - Reunions - Sports

Known Schools - 1860-2004
School Index
Coleman County Index
Use the Search Engine to search the Coleman County website.

Please send any suggestions or comments about the schools of Coleman County to:
The Coleman County Historian

This page updated October 21, 2006
Copyright © 1982 - 2006 by Ralph Terry