Column reaches old school board member

I received a letter this week from the son of one of the last school board members of Doole School, Oscar Betsill, who was also Pct. 3 Commissioner for many years. Jerry Betsill, presently of Brady, tells me he grew up at Doole. He shared with me a brief history of the Doole, Stacy, Brown Town, Crossroads/Gansel area. I was surprised to learn that during the 1930s and early 1940s Doole had two churches, two gins, a telephone office, two cafes, a meat market, picture show, blacksmith shop, ice house, drug store, cobblers shop, barber shop, three grocery stores and four gas stations. There was also a community natural gas system and community water system. The first public school in the area was Brown Town School, founded in 1884, at Brown Town, just southeast of the present community of Stacy. As Stacy developed in the 1890s, the Brown Town School was moved to present day Stacy. In 1916, school bonds were voted to replace the original frame school building with a concrete structure. Stacy consolidated with Doole School in 1936, and Doole continued to use the concrete structure for a school bus shed for several more years. Crossroads School of Concho County was moved east a few miles in 1908, to provide schooling to children of a farming and ranching community called Gansel, located on the McCulloch-Concho County line. The school was located just west of the current FM 503 and on the north side of the current FM 765. Logan Dean and J.J. Pate established the first stores in the community, and in 1910, Tom Cobb built the first cotton gin. In 1912, the people of Doole were advised that the name Gansel could not be used for the post office they were seeking, and they chose Doole as their second choice, in honor of Brady Postmaster, David Doole, who assisted them in obtaining the post office. Thus, the Crossroads/Gansel School became Doole School. Another school located about five miles east-southeast of Doole School operated during the 1920s. This school, called East Gansel, was located about one mile south of present FM 765 on the County Road now designated as CR 330. East Gansel School was later consolidated with Doole School. Doole School was damaged by fire in the late 1930s and a new brick high school was built using WPA (Works Progress Administration) labor. This school was located about 1/4 mile northwest of the old school building, on the hill where the present Community Association building now stands. Native stone fences, many of which are still standing, surrounded the school and ball fields. The ticket booth, which guarded the entrance to the ball field, is still in good condition. After WWII, the community began to decline and Doole School attendance also declined. The junior and senior high school grades were bussed to Melvin starting in the late 1940s and the elementary school was closed in 1953. Members of the last school board were Oscar Betsill, Harold Brown, Walter Browning, Floyd Guice, Earl Murray and Benton Ward. The school property was deeded to the Doole Community for use as a community facility; the school building was later torn down and the present Doole-Stacy Memorial Community Center was built in its place. Construction of the center was completed in February 1992. I have lots of questions I plan to ask Mr. Betsill for future stories. Meanwhile, do you know about any of Doole’s businesses or area related history or news you would like you share’ Thank you so much Jerry for your letters. Round Mountain – I called my dear friend at Round Mountain, Annie Mae Rodgers Miller, to ask who was in the picture with her that Gloria Barr and her mother Ollie Myers had loaned me. The Rodgers place where Annie Mae (and next door her younger sister Mary) still live and the Myers place around the corner are both a very short distance to where the old Round Mountain school once stood. Annie Mae’s father was named John Leslie (not Weslie) Rodgers; he also went to Round Mountain school, as I had noted before. He married Eva Lee Anderson who went to school at Holt and they were close friends with the Armentrout girls (Cara married a Myers). During my research for “South of the River,” I’m finding nearly everyone is related to everyone else somewhere. I even found that my husband, Wayne Mitchel, has relatives that married into the Myers family distantly through his great grandparents. Mr. Gober with the dogs and his wife Loury Gentry, sister to grandma Gentry of the Myers Clan (was in my article on April 17), is one. There are others also. It boggles the mind! Last week Martha Myers Graham’s story told of life at Round Mountain School and on the Myers farm. Martha told me that they only had church when a traveling preacher would come. They would hold services in the schoolhouse. Martha’s dad, Hirem Myers, would load all the family in the wagon and they would all go. Life on the farm was mostly work and school. When they did have free time, they would make up games to play. In the spring they would pick yellow flowers that looked like little ducks and float them on water. They would also arrange rocks on the ground to make rooms and play house. Martha remembers when mamma showed her and Anna how to pick feathers from the geese to make pillows. You would pick some soft down on its under belly and some of the bigger feathers from wings but not all in one spot. Just ones the goose could afford to lose. There were cucumbers and beans to hoe. We had to climb the peach trees and pick for canning. Martha’s dad made sorghum molasses. Hirem would have his boys chop the leaves off the sorghum stalk then put the stalks through the squeezer. Three vats for cooking flowing into each other were prepared. The first vat cooked some of the water out. The second vat more water was cooked out. In the third vat it was boiled down to a finish. This procedure took all day. Dad wouldn’t allow anyone to attend the fires but himself for fear someone would get hurt. At the finish the syrup was put in metal syrup pails. Sometimes a batch was made three days in a row. I remember a neighbor Bill Crawford, who would come for some pails of syrup. Others would trade us for syrup. Come the first frost we would kill a hog. The liver and the like were cooked first so it would keep. (Some cooked meat was put down into the lard so it would keep longer. We would just dig it out when we wanted to use it cook it again and enjoy) The hog was cut up, salted down and left on a board or table til water drained out. Then the meat was hung in the smoke house till we needed salt pork. We cooked down all the trimmed fat in big black wash pots to make lard for the coming year. One hog rendered produced two or three ten gallon metal cans of lard. What was left over was cracklins. Momma made lye soap of it and put the pieces in a big wooden barrel to last a year. We washed everything with it, clothes, dishes, hair and body, and anything else that needed cleaning. I talked with Martha’s sister-in-law, Mrs. George (Ollie) Myers. Ollie told me they would make cotton pockets to put the ground sausage in. It was then hung in the smoke house for later use. She remembers rendering the cracklins in a big black wash pot on the Myers place to make lye soap. The lye was bought in metal cans and added to the pot of cracklins and water. It was boiled until the lye ate up all the cracklins and it was done. The pot was left to set overnight, then with a butcher knife the soap was cut into squares of the desired size.

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