The First School South of the Brazos River
By John H. Bates
The minutes of the commissioners court of Knox County of May, 1888, on record in the county clerk’s office in Benjamin, record that the court appointed a Mr. Reeder (Grandfather of Knox City’s Joe Reeder) and J.H. Bates, (my grandfather) as school trustees for a district that included all of Knox County lying south of the Brazos River in Knox County.
Soon after the appointment, J.H. Bates and Newt Martin, who lived across the line in Baylor County made a trip to Albany, in wagons, and brought back two loads of lumber, which they used to construct a small one-room school house.
The new school house was built on the quarter-section west of what is now the E. A. Jones home place. This land is the northeast one-fourth of Section 19, Block 2, D & W Railways Company.
In 1890, Bill and Ab Benedict were operating a store and Post Office about one-fourth mile north of what is now the John Cure home place. The store was on the east side of Section 22, Block 2, D & W Railways. This section is know to early settlers of the community as the Benedict section, and is the section which they filed on when they came to Knox County in 1886.
T. M. Anderson was hired as the first teacher for the new school. Among the pupils were children of the Martins, Newsoms, Parks, Calthrops, Sherills, and Bates.
On opening day of school, Bud Holt came to the school house with a sulky plow, and plowed a furrow across the prairie to what is known as the Lawson place north of the present town of Goree. This furrow was for his children to follow in crossing the prairie.
Other teachers of this first school were Jeff Bowden and Miss Laura Bedford, who later became Mrs. E. C. Fancher of Seymour. Later, Miss Rebecca Bedford, sister of Mrs. Fancher, taught the school. In 1892, during the time Miss Rebecca taught, a tornado demolished the building. The community rebuilt the school, using some of the lumber that was not destroyed by the storm, but moved the school to the southeast corner of the Bedford section, later known as the John Cartwright farm, and today is land owned by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jones. The site of the school was on land that lies west of the present day Farm Road 266, and one mile south of Hefner. The building stayed there until at least 1902 and Lee Coffman taught one term there.
The building was finally sold to E. M. Coffman and used as a tenant house for many years.
Today, some of the lumber that J. H. Bates hauled from Albany in 1887 is in a house on the west edge of Goree on land owned by Mrs. Georgia Maples and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Calbert Hasken and children.