When You and I Were Young: Early Dallas Schools
Back to Main Page



Editor's Note.---Following is the eighteenth of a series of articles by Mrs. Foster, a resident of Dallas for many years, concerning interesting people and events here a quarter of a century ago.


     "How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood' 'and surely "fond recollection" can present to view none more carefree than our school days. Sometimes when we reminisce, my friends tell me of early school days in Dallas.
     Its schools had a reputation for thorough teaching and high standing and many a family moved to this city to educate the children, as was the case with the father of Mrs. McDermett, and Mrs. Stahl, and of Dr. Elliott, whose other children, Maria, Mrs. Joe T. Lacy and A. L. Elliott were in the school of Professor Scales. To this school went, also, Mrs. J. J. Collins, Miss Ella Randall, who married John Bookhout, Miss Ida Mays, later Mrs. J. J. Gamon, and the Misses Lizzie and Marian Brown before they entered the Aldehoff school. Another early school was that of Professor Grove on Main and Harwood, and I have been told that he held to the old-fashioned maxim of "spare the rod and spoil the child." He used to go to the woods, said my informant, and get switches and put them on tin roof where the water stood after a rain, to keep them limber, and save up the whippings till he got a good switch.

Some Early Day Teachers.
     Friends have told me that the very first teacher in Dallas was Miss Maggie Johnson, who married Captain Jenkins of McKinney, and lived there many years, and that the first music teacher was a Miss Robison.
     Mrs. Mary K. Craig taught for a time with Professor Grove and then with Mrs. Dickinson.
     In July , 1860, a beautiful and accomplished young woman married in Kentucky, a young lawyer, and in October, 1861, Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Coughanour came to Rockwall, Texas.
     They came overland with a young baby and brought with them, a negro girl whom they were obliged to sell or else lose in Little Rock, Ark.
     Mrs. Coughanour stayed in Rockwall while her husband went to war, and it was two years before he could obtain a furlough and again see his wife and child.
     At the close of the war, there was no business for a lawyer, and Mr. Coughanour's law library had been stored in Memphis.
     Mrs. Coughanour's father had been killed in the war, and it was two years before the letter containing news of his death reached the family in Texas.
     Mr. Coughanour opened a school in Dallas and taught one year and then established this law practice.
     Mrs. Coughanour taught with Captain Hanna for a time, and in 1872, opened a select school for girls. She was a graduate of the Elkton, Kentucky college at the age of fifteen and had taught there before she married.
     Mr. and Mrs. Coughanour owned a whole square in what was then the fashionable residence district of Dallas. Their home faced McKinney avenue and the school, which was the first properly equipped school building in Dallas, was at the corner of Carter and Caruth streets.

Some of Early Pupils.
     Among her early pupils when she taught with Captain Hanna were Mrs. McDermett, Mrs. Stahl, Henry Smith and his wife, then pretty Ellen Bond, Oliver and Jeff Thomas, S. P. and Tom Scott, Harry Prather, Mrs. Eckford, Mrs. Tom Field, whose children followed her; Ripley Harwood, Mrs. Barnett Gibbs and J. W. Barton, whose father owned a farm which is now the Belmont, suburb of Dallas. Later came Mrs. Jeff House, Mrs. Seth Miller. Josephine Stephenson Obenchain and her sister, Mrs. Banty Kenyon. The Cole girls, May Thomas, Addie Ballard Stemmons, Belle Barclay, Clifton Hughes, Tillie Murphy, Ada Murphy, Bell Burrus, Alice Irvine, Mattie Thomas, Josephine Rosenfield and Anne Goldthwait, an artist, who has now a studio in Greenwich Village, New York.
     Mrs. Coughanour also taught her own daughters, Mrs. Sickles and Mrs. W. L. Topp.

Taught Music.
     In addition to the common branches of learning, she instructed them in music, French and literature.
     An old pupil says that she never rides on the street car through "Little Mexico," that she does not remember the perfume of the big syringa and lilac bushes and see the coral honeysuckle and the lovely green lawn. The school was a happy meeting place for parents and their daughters.
     Before the Christmas holidays, they adjourned for a delightful Christmas dinner, and in the summer before the close of school, they had wonderful picnics on the lawn.
Mrs. Coughanour taught until about 1888.

Prof. Von Aldehoff.
     Prof. H. W. Von Aldehoff was born in Dusseldorff the same year that Queen Victoria was born. A brilliant scholar, he graduated at 19 from Bonn university and came to America, intending to travel for one year and then return.
     He fell in love with America and never did return, although by so doing, he forfeited his share in his father's estate, which the crown confiscated, because he had never served in the army.
He landed in Galveston and then came to Houston, where he remained for some time. Houston was, at this time, the capital city of the republic, and here he translated Spanish land titles for its president, Sam Houston.
     The capitol building was where later, the Capital hotel, was built, and it has always seemed to me a great mistake to change its name to the Rice hotel. What significance has a millionaire, compared to the memories evoked by the early capital of the republic, near the famous battleground of San Jacinto and in the city named for its hero, Sam Houston?

Taught in Tennessee.
     Prof. Von Aldehoff, continuing his travels, went to Kentucky, where he married. After the death of his young wife, he went to Tennessee, where he married Rowena Sevier, a granddaughter of the first governor of Tennessee.
     He taught for many years in Chattanooga, and in some cases, three generations of the same family went to school to him, and some of his pupils became distinguished generals, congressmen and senators.
     About the time the public school came to Tennessee, his lease ran out. The building where he had served as principal of the Masonic academy was to be torn down, his son and his son-in-law wished him to join them in emigrating to Texas, and so, the Von Aldehoff family, in 1872, became residents of Dallas and Rock College, built for Prof. Aldehoff, was established on Cantegral street.
     Among the pupils were the Misses Lizzie and Marian Brown, daughters of John Henry Brown, the Texas historian.; Anna Webster, now Mrs. James McKeand, Lida Forman and Kate Schwing, the Good family, J. J. Jr.; Ben McCullough and Bettie Good, who married a son of Sam Houston; the Greers, Tom, Ella, Will and Dick, Sallie Dent, who lives now in California; the Works, Alf John Gus, Ida and Tom, whom now we call Judge Work; Zollie and Will Martin, Annie and Minnie Boll, pretty Lula Smith, who became Mrs. Robert Berry; Lula, John and Fred Hughes, Walter and Bev Stemmons, Frank and Reuben Reeves, Mary Nussbaumer, who became Mrs. Sam Peterman; Nellie Sizer, who married W. D. Belt. Theodore , Henry and Adolf Nussbaumer, Sam and Gray Dent, Ida Schwing, Francie Yetzer, now Mrs. Emil Frick; Juliette Harwood, now Mrs. J. J. Collins; Bettie Norton, who became Mrs. Donald Hinckley, and Annie Hinckley, now Mrs. W. P. Jackson; Laura Frichot, Ben Cabell, Walter Stegall, Edwin and Robert Gaston and his children, Blanche and John Sevier Aldehoff. Although Prof. Von Aldehoff graduated at 19, he never stopped studying. He was versed alike in almost every known language and in mathematics.
     In the later years of his life, he devoted himself to private pupils, and his versatility enabled him to teach whatever was required.

Early-Day Visit Recalled.
     Miss Marian Brown recalls a story of her school days when she and Nellie Sizer started to visit Juliette Harwood, who lived then near Eagle Ford.
     It had been raining and the streams were full and the Trinity was way up over the road. The young folks were on horseback and Ripley Harwood guided them safely through the water, to the consternation of his mother, who exclaimed: "Do you mean to tell me that you brought those girls through that flood?" To which he calmly replied: "Of course, I did. How else could they get here?"

Prof. Jones' School.
     Prof. W. K. Jones came to Dallas about 1880, but was called back to Tennessee by a flattering offer to teach again there, he having been connected with Martin college. However, in 1884, he returned to Texas and purchased the Dallas Female college, which had belonged to the Methodist church.
     He brought with him many of his teachers, among them Miss Wilkerson, who had graduated under him, and who taught in Dallas one year. She then went back to Tennessee, and was followed by her distant cousin, Lee Hughes, whom she married in 1886, returning with him to Dallas.
     When I first knew Mrs. Hughes in the Pferian club some thirty years ago, I often heard her speak of "Cousin Lee," and naturally supposed they had with them some young cousin by the name of Lee.
     Finally, from words dropped, this did not seem to be the case, so I said to her one day: "Please tell me who is Cousin Lee?" and she said: "Why, my husband, of course. I always called him 'Cousin Lee' before we were married, so I just kept on!"
     After that, I think that to many old persons, he was always "Cousin Lee."
     Mrs. Hughes taught mathematics in this college. She recalls her most brilliant pupil, who had the courage to graduate in a calico dress because she could afford nothing better.

Other Teachers.
     Other teachers were Miss Griffeth, who taught music; Miss Rosa Phillips, who married Fred Hughes, a son of Dr. Hughes; Miss Jennie Samuell, voice; Misses King and Moore, English, and Mrs. L. Q. C. Lamar, Jr., art.
     Mrs. Lamar's beauty and charm and kindness of heart made her a great favorite with pupils and teachers, who have always loved and admired her.
     Among the pupils of this school were Minnie Miller, Mattie Burford, Ada Ranch and sister, Jane and Sallie Worthington, Mattie Caruth, Linda Alford, Mattie Leake, Grace Dexter, Mamie Jones, Josephine Field, Cora and Hattie Stemmons and Lucy Keller.

Colonel Cole's School.
     James Reid Cole had, for many years, a successful school on San Jacinto near Pearl street. He was a native of North Carolina, his father having come from Virginia. Colonel Cole wrote a book, in which he advised his children to claim all the good Coles for relatives, but to avoid all the bad Coles.
     His father was a soldier in the war of 1812. He was a planter, a magistrate and a minister. He died when James Reid Cole was a small child, and the widow went to live with her parents, and Colonel Cole's recollections of life on the plantation, its orchards, the chestnut trees, the honey from the bee bums and the long, sweet cakes his grandmother made, are entertainingly written.
     He tells a story of going to the blacksmith shop when a small boy and picking up a piece of iron from the ground, which happened to have just come out of the fire. This taught him to keep his hands off things that did not belong to him.
     He tells of the wedding of one of their slaves to a man from a neighboring plantation and of the great preparations made for the wedding, and the dance that followed, and he feels that while the negroes were happy and well cared for, that as an abstract principle, slavery is wrong.
     He tells of his first school, to which he walked three miles and back, when he was 5 years old.

Had Prominent Neighbors.
     Among his neighbors were J. E. B. Stuart, A. W. Terrell, John H. Traylor and Alfred M. Scales, whom he met many years later, on the battlefield, or in Texas.
     A. W. Terrell was minister to Turkey and was sent from Texas; John H. Traylor was a member of the Texas legislature and A. M. Scales became governor of North Carolina.
     Mr. Cole tells a war story about a good old Presbyterian who gave him and others a severe lecture about running away from a losing battle. Said he: "Don't you know if it had been predestined for you to be killed, you would have been killed anyhow?" "Yes, sir," I said, "but the fact that we did run, shows that it was predestined we should run and therefore, we should not be blamed for doing what it was predestined we should do."
     He looked like he thought his doctrine was loaded at both ends , adds Mr. Cole.
     Colonel Cole first opened a school at Greensboro, N. C., and then came to McKenzie college, Texas, as professor of ancient languages. He next was principal of the Masonic institute at Bonham, and then studied law and was a member of the legislature.

Did Not Like Politics.
     Politics did not suit him, and he next lived five years on his farm, and then spent some years as president of the North Texas Female college at Sherman and of the Agricultural and Mechanical college, then superintendent of public schools at Abilene and then settled down in Dallas to conduct Cole's Classic and Military school.
     Professor Cole tells a war story which he says he never told before on Rutherford B. Hayes and he cautions his readers that they must not tell it!
     He says that one night, just after the close of the war, passing through East Tennessee, he made the acquaintance in the car of a sociable man who was a Federal general, as Mr. Cole was a Confederate colonel. He said his name was Hayes, and finally, he said: "Suppose we go to the water tank and have a drink," and from his overcoat pocket, he pulled a flask of whisky.
     Now that certainly looks as if Lucy Webb Hayes had him in good training before he became president, doesn't it? Professor Cole pays a beautiful tribute to his wife--his "Mary of the Glen."
     The faculty of Colonel Cole's school is listed, besides himself as president, as Capt. E. P. R. Duval, Miss Katie Cole and Mrs. May Cole Deatheridge, and later Captain Duval became also his son-in-law.
     References are Messrs. Schoellkopf, Sanger, Blaylock, Padgitt, Fretz, Doran, Worley, Hamilton, Maxwell, Traylor, Barry Miller, J. B. Simpson, Wathen, Abrams, Cabell, Wilkins, Judge Watts and General Wozencraft.

Some of His Scholars.
     The children of these leading citizens attended the schools, as did many others, including the Flippens, Ardreys, Lucas, Atkins, H. H. Smith, Letcher, Leake, Carter, Richard Morgan, Kahn, Estes, Crawford, Blankenship, Doggett, Gaston, Wolfe, Holloway, Garlington, Carnes, Gannon, Dr. A. P. Smith, Dr. Rankin, Clower , Prather, Straus , Camp, Lindsley, Bower, Hughes, Moseley, Abrams, Adoue, Coke, Williams, Barton, Townsend, Gillespie, Wilkins, Pope, Slaughter, Caruth, Metzer, Harry, Bookhout, Harmon, Worley, Stratton, House, Campbell and Thruston.
     In addition to the faculty noted in the catalog, Frank Reaugh gave lessons in art and Professor Murphree in expression. Miss Ella Cole also assisted her father, and Mr. Harmon gave a business course.
     This was the first military school in the city, and the uniform was the same as the fatigue at West Point, gray with black trimmings and dark blue cap.
     It was established in 1889 and functioned for twenty years.

Early Day Kindergarten.
     A popular kindergarten of not so many years ago, although the children in the group are all grown, and most of them have married and have children of their own, was that of Mrs. Annie Biser, whose assistant was Miss Basye deJarnett.
     When these children were a few years older, most of them went to the Misses Collier, who taught in Dallas for many years.
     Their cottage on Browder street still stands, and is now a second-hand furniture emporium.
     The Misses Collier were cultured and charming women, and were prominent in patriotic societies. Both died a few years ago, as did Mrs. Mary K. Craig, who, in her later years, conducted classes for women in literature and took parties on European trips. Her portrait hangs in the Mary Craig room at the Y. M. C. A.

- March 22, 1925, Dallas Times Herald, Sec. V, p. 7, col. 1-4.
- o o o -