Paige Private School Society
Paige Private School Society
The Lutheran School and Farmer School were in operation but the people of Paige desired to have a public school. So, on July 17, 1889, an election was held in Hagmann’s store with A. B. Bachman as presiding officer, at which the citizens voted to incorporate for school purposes. The goal of forming this school was not accomplished, so the Paige School District was abolished by an election in May 1893.
The 1894 census of scholastic population of Paige taken by T. B. Greenhaw, Paige city assessor, lists 115 children between 8-17 years of age.
A Paige Private School Society was organized by John Ebner, Alfred Fuchs, August Fuchs, J. C. Fischbeck, Diedrich Jantzen, Ed Goerner, August Marosko, J. E. Pauls, Albert Orts, Sr. and T.B. Taylor in a meeting over Pauls’ Store May 29, 1895. Albent Orts was elected president; D. Jantzen, vice president; T.B. Taylor, secretary and J. E. Pauls, treasurer. It was decided to find a suitable place and build a house, 24 x 90 feet and 24 feet high, with a ten-foot hall, sixteen windows, each with eight panes and shutters and six doors for a school.
The following week Albert Orts donated the north one-half Bachman gin lot for the location. The gin tank was on the spot where the school was to be built. John Ebner and August Fuchs offered to drain the tank and fill it in for fifty dollars. The adjoining south half of the Bachman gin lot was purchased for seventy-five dollars for school purposes. The building, two rooms and a hall, was completed by September. It was built by J. C. Fischbeck at a cost of $826.51. Each Society member paid ninety dollars for the building. The gin well was cleaned by John Ebner and August Marosko for three dollars and thirty cents so that it could be used for the school.
In October 1895 Prof. Kiehl of Belmont, Missouri and Clara Heiligbrodt of Bastrop were hired for a ten month two-term period. Tuition for students was ten dollars for a full term and seven dollars for one-half term. The following year the teachers were A. T. Wilkes and Miss Nanno Maynard. The school year was reduced to eight months and tuition to seven and five dollars. By midterm it was found that the public school was unable financially to operate more than one term. Miss Maynard was released and Prof. Wilkes then held a term of private school. In 1897 and 1898 Prof. Behrens also held private school for the second term. By this time the people were beginning to realize the value to their children and to the town of a good school and were patronizing it more, so that thereafter public school was held the full two terms. Between 300 and 400 people attended Prof. Behrens' closing exercises of school on July 5, 1899. These programs usually included songs, recitations, marches, and plays.
Beginners through third grade were taught in the “little room” and fourth grade and above were in the “big room." This was in the days when slates were still used. From the beginning German was taught in the public school. The reading book had the story in English on the left page and in German on the right page. The last teacher of German in the public school was Christian Leifeste. The subject was discontinued at the beginning of World War
II. In 1904, and probably earlier, the children's recess sport was baseball. It was played on a field south of the schoolhouse with broom sticks for bats and a rubber ball. About 1911 a girls basketball team was formed. The uniforms were white bloomers and white blouses trimmed in blue braid. Nora Burgdorf was a member of this team.
State school records show that in 1906 Paige school had fifty double desks. The male teacher was paid $338.50 and the female teacher $240 per school year.
When boys became old enough to work in the fields, they quit school to help at home. Prof. Behrens, realizing the importance of education, taught night school in his home which he had just purchased. It was the former Holman Hotel. There were about eight boys in the class, held three times a week, two-hour sessions, at a charge of two dollars per month. Alex Fuchs attended this night school in 1906 and 1907, at age fifteen and sixteen.
In 1908 both rooms were provided with “new patent double desks.” At this time Paige school had ninety-five pupils. The building wouldn't hold them all so the beginners were taught in the Behrens house. By 1910 some were being taught in the Christian Church. The Paige population in 1910 was 500. The church building was used for school until 1913.
The Texas Legislature had created a system of common schools in Texas in 1854. Bastrop County was divided into twenty-three districts by the county commissioners and county judge at that time. Children’s names and ages (between eight and sixteen) in a district were to be given to the tax assessor to determine the amount of tax money the district would receive. Sixty-two cents per student was received in 1854. Funding from state taxes was not sufficient to maintain free schools. By 1889 local taxes were being levied in districts to supplement the state school tax.
On April 11, 1907, commissioners court met to lay off the county of Bastrop into school districts as provided by Section 50, Chapter 124 passed by the 29th Legislature. Thirty-nine Common School Districts were formed. Paige was in District No. 5.
An election was held in the Paige schoolhouse March 16, 1910, to vote a tax of fifteen cents on $100 valuation of property for the purpose of supplementing the State School Fund apportioned to the district. Twenty-nine voted for, twenty-four against.
The Paige Private School Society deeded the school building and lots it stood on to the Paige Common School District No. 5 on October 14, 1910. To relieve the overcrowded condition, the district rearranged the dividing walls of the school, making three thirty-foot rooms from the existing two forty-foot rooms and ten-foot hall. The outside cedar blocks were replaced by brick blocks and the shuttered open windows were replaced with window panes.
This enlargement was not found to be sufficient, so the populace moved to build. On May 31, 1913, a request was made to the county court to incorporate for school purposes only. Then on July 2nd, by a vote of 45-2, the Paige Independent School District was formed. Seven trustees were elected the same day: Albert Rachui, C. Fischbeck, Fred Zander, Albert Orts, Paul Herklotz, Charles Kuhn, and Hy Brunken. A $2,500 bond issue was passed July 9, 1913, to enlarge the school building. That summer a hall and another room were added on the south side. Paige now could select their own teaches. While under the Common School District, the teachers were hired by Bastrop. The new south room was so high off the ground that wood to be used for heaters was stacked underneath. It is known that some schoolboys would hide their “Run Johnny Run” smoking tobacco and a jug of wine in the wood to be used either at recess or on the way home from school.
At this time each desk had an ink well on it. This was a square-cut glass container with a round opening. After filling the well, the top from the purchased ink bottle was used to close the ink well.
In 1918, during World War I, teachers were scarce. Christian Leifeste recruited Rosa Lee Schutz at a teacher institute that year. She was only seventeen years of age.
The free textbook law was passed in 1919. The state would now furnish students' books.
It is worthy of note that one man spent 42 years as a school trustee – Alex Fuchs was elected in 1921 and served many of those years as board secretary. Mrs. Olga Schultz had a teaching career of 57 years, most of them in and around Paige. The 1895 school building and its additions was used for many years. A new schoolhouse was deemed necessary in 1953. Thirty thousand dollars in bonds was voted to build the new schoolhouse east of town on a sixty-eight-acre tract which had been willed by Fedor Soder to the “German School of Paige” and deeded to Paige School Community No. 93 on April 3, 1899. Houey was the architect, Hazel and Jones of Austin the contractor and the painting was done by Vernon McPhaul and Lawrence Wichman. The first classes were held in the new building in January 1954. The final grade in high school was never taught at Paige and children had to go elsewhere to graduate. From 1936 through 1941 the seniors were bussed to Elgin, then to Giddings and later to Bastrop. At the beginning of the fall term of 1946, all high school students were transferred to the Giddings school.
School bus drivers: To Elgin – Gussie Budschick 1936; Bill Grossman 1937-41; Local – E. F. Herklotz 1939; Emil Vogel 1940-42; Henry Bauerle 1970; From Pin Oak to Paige – Louis Beck 1942; Joe Keilberg 1943; From High Hill to Paige by own car – Alfred Stiewert 1946; Otto Eschberger 1947, 1950-66; To Giddings – Malcolm Hill 1943; Albert Schultz 1946, 47; Morris Chapple, Jr., 1948-51; Adolph Haverland 1952; Walter Kessel 1953-55; Rev. Henry Newman 1956; Dan Zimmerhanzel 1957, 58; Reinhold Graeter 1959-64; Henry Bauerle 1965-69; Thomas Baca 1970-73; Amando Hinojosa 1974 (four months), finished by Marlin Marcum; Marlin Marcum 1975; Bill Baca 1976; To Bastrop – Renee Richardson 1977
The first school bus owned by Paige was wooden. Jim Herklotz went to Wharton to buy the four-cylinder International bus. He said the motor was so noisy that people here called it the "cornstalk cutter.” It was square-shaped with a slightly curved top. The top had an overhang of several inches on each side over the windows. The children who rode the bus called it the "cracker box.” Herklotz, its first driver, had a box that he put on the floor beside him when needed. That was where an unruly child would have to ride. The bus route went east, turned on the Friendship cemetery road, passed south of the Arthur Marburger land, on west to Mesquite, up the Potato Road to Fair Oaks and back to Paige. Emil Vogel drove the old bus for three years.
Over the last few years, the number of students kept declining. The Bastrop Independent School District annexed Paige District No. 903 in 1977 and the Paige School closed its doors. Many of the children who had been attending the Giddings school preferred to finish their education there rather than change to Bastrop, so they continued in Giddings but had to furnish their own transportation.
In the late 1800's, as the town of Paige was prospering farming community the local residents began to see the need for a school to educate their children. In 1895 a group of local farmers, merchants, a doctor and a carpenter formed a society to be known as the Paige Private School Society. They were John Ebner, Alfred Fuchs, August Fuchs, J.C. Fischbeck, D. Jantzen, Ed Goerner, August Marsko, J.E. Pauls, Albert Orts, and Dr T.B. Taylor.
Their bylaws spelled out the usual duties of the board and the members as in the following excerpt;
Article IX It shall be the duty of every member to attend all meetings when possible, comply with bylaws, rules and regulations, obey orders of the superior officers and assist in every way for the good and advancement of the Society. It shall be the special duty of each member to see that enough funds are in the hands of the Treasure to meet all drafts, vouchers, orders, etc. promptly.
May 29, 1895 – first meeting:
The Society met and J.E. Pauls was called to chair who proceeded to elect officers as follows: Albert Orts, President; D Jantzen, Vice President; T.B. Taylor, Secretary; J.E. Pauls, Treasurer.
The first order of business was selecting a site for a school building and erect a house thereon. A house to be 24 x 90 feet, 14 feet high with a 10-foot hall, 16 - 12 x 20 windows, 8 light and shutters, with 6 doors. Meeting Adjourned.
June 8, 1895 meeting:
President Albert Orts generously donated the Bachmann Gin lot to the Society. It was decided they proceed at once to build a school building. J.C. Fischbeck offered to build the schoolhouse for $754.86 and the offer was accepted.
July 25, 1895 meeting:
The Society met and secured H. G. Kiehl of Belmont Missouri $600.00 for a 10-month term and same had been accepted by wire and that Miss Clara Heiligbrot of Bastrop had been secured as assistant teacher. Tuition was set at $10.00 for a full term and $7.00 for a half-term.
The Society continued for 19 years with most of the original members still serving on the board.
March 6, 1914 meeting:
Since there is no further need for the existence of the Society, the question of termination of the same was discussed. It was after due deliberation, decided to turn all the affairs over to the trustees of the independent district and their successors in office.
Signing for the Society:
This building remains today as a reminder of what started here May 29th 1895.
Content courtesy of author and historian Doris Laake.
PAIGE PRIVATE SCHOOL SOCIETY
IN THE LATE 1800s, THE TOWN OF PAIGE OPERATED TWO SCHOOLS, THE LUTHERAN SCHOOL AND FARMER SCHOOL. ON MAY 29, 1895, PAIGE COMMUNITY LEADERS JOHN EBNER, ALFRED FUCHS, AUGUST FUCHS, J.C. FISCHBECK, DIEDRICH JANTZEN, ED GOERNER, AUGUST MAROSKO, J.E. PAULS, ALBERT ORTS, SR. AND T.B. TAYLOR ORGANIZED THE PAIGE PRIVATE SCHOOL SOCIETY IN ORDER TO BUILD A COMMUNITY SCHOOL. EACH MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY AGREED TO CONTRIBUTE AT LEAST $90 TOWARD THE PROJECT. THE NEXT WEEK, THE SOCIETY'S PRESIDENT, ALBERT ORTS, DONATED HALF OF THE BACHMAN GIN LOT FOR THE SCHOOL SITE. THE TWO-ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE WITH A HALLWAY WAS COMPLETED IN SEPTEMBER 1895.
GERMAN WAS TAUGHT AT THE NEW SCHOOL, WITH TRANSLATIONS IN ENGLISH, UNTIL WORLD WAR II. BASEBALL WAS A BELOVED SPORT DURING RECESS AND GAMES WERE WELL ATTENDED. WITH EACH YEAR THE STUDENT POPULATION GREW UNTIL THE SMALL BUILDING COULD NO LONGER HOUSE ALL GRADES. THE SCHOOL GRADUALLY EXPANDED TO INCLUDE THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, HOLMAN HOTEL AND BEHRENS HOUSE FOR VARIOUS GRADES.
THE COMMUNITY FORMED THE PAIGE COMMON SCHOOL DISTRICT IN 1907, WHICH EVOLVED TO BECOME THE PAIGE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT IN 1913. THE SOCIETY DEEDED THE SCHOOLHOUSE TO THE PAIGE SCHOOL DISTRICT ON MARCH 6, 1914. A BOND PASSED TO ADD A HALL AND CLASSROOM. THE SCHOOLHOUSE WAS USED UNTIL A NEW BUILDING WAS ERECTED IN 1953 EAST OF TOWN.
IN 1977, THE BASTROP INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT ANNEXED THE PAIGE DISTRICT AND STUDENTS TRANSFERRED TO BASTROP OR GIDDINGS SCHOOLS. ALTHOUGH THE PAIGE SCHOOL CLOSED, ITS IMPACT AND HISTORY REMAIN THROUGH THE MEMORY OF STUDENTS, FACULTY, TRUSTEES AND THE COMMUNITY.
MARKER IS PROPERTY OF THE STATE OF TEXAS