TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION APPROVES MARKER FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN SCHOOL
February 4, 2021
The Texas Historical Commission approved a request from Granbury ISD to place a historical marker for an African American school on February 3, 2021.
The state commission included the Keith Street School application among fifteen projects approved at a quarterly meeting in Austin. The 27” x 42” large marker will be paid for through the Undertold Program, an initiative to address historical gaps, promote diversity of topics, and proactively document significant underrepresented subjects or untold stories.
The project was spearheaded by former GISD facilities director Randy Leach, who retired from the school district in December.
After approval by the City of Granbury’s Parks Board in September 2020, Leach commented that the marker would represent where the school once stood along the east side of Keith Street near present-day Lambert Branch Park. As early as 1893, African American children attended the North Side school built next to two churches along the banks of the branch near the railroad tracks. The school was in operation until GISD officially desegregated all campuses in 1964.
“Some of the North Side survey area’s significant historic and cultural resources have been lost, but many still remain, reflecting its rich history,” according to Survey of Historic Resources: North Side of City – Granbury, Texas published in April 2009. “Loss of the . . . African American churches and school makes it even important for residents of Granbury to understand, cherish, and preserve the North Side’s remaining historic resources.”
A draft narrative for the historical marker submitted to the commission states:
“In the late 1850’s, A.F. Keith migrated to the north central Texas area soon to be named Hood County. Keith brought his slaves to the area, and those slaves took Keith’s last name. After the Civil War, the freed slaves settled in Granbury’s north side and the Colony west of Granbury. Keith Street is named for the African Americans who lived in the area. In 1872, a one-room African American school was erected next to the Mount Ebo Baptist Church. The Granbury News reported in 1893 that African American L.W. Walters was the teacher. Mrs. McCuan was hired to teach the students in 1897 was also African American. The establishment of the Pleasant Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church followed in 1904. The African Americans worked in the town’s mills and cotton gins. As stonemasons, they helped build the limestone buildings on the Historic Square. In 1964, faced with losing federal education funding, the Granbury Independent School District officially desegregated all twelve grades, allowing thirteen African American students to attend classes. The two churches and the school have since been demolished.”
Leach thanked the Bridge Street History Center including local residents Jake Caraway, Cody Martin, Teresa Sims, and Maurice Walton. Others providing information were Karen Nace and Jo Perkins. In addition, James Dickens was instrumental in finalizing the application to the commission.