Commentary

Rosenwald school ownership tied up with history

This is the third column on the Rosenwald school in Davilla. I n 1833, before Texas became a State, Miguel Davila, a citizen of Coahuila, Mexico was granted 49,000 acres where the Davilla community now exists.

In 1839, after Texas Independence, Davila sold the land to surveyor D. T. Chamberlain, who sold town lots with the restriction that alcoholic beverages should never be sold in the settlement. At the same time a portion of the land was given the name of its first owner, but the spelling was changed adding an additional “L”.

By the 1880’s there were 350 residents, three churches, three gristmills and cotton gins, a steam sawmill and a school district.

Davilla had a three-teacher school for 161 white students and one-teacher school for 38 black students.

The school district was said to have consolidated with Bartlett in Bell County. When Milam first became a county, it contained all or parts of 32 counties. By 1850 those had been divided and Bell was one of those counties.

Rural schools shared a common county superintendent.

Children from Davilla Rosenwald schools were transferred, or consolidated, with Bartlett or Cameron depending on their residence location.

Question. If the deed lists the owners of Davilla Black School as trustees B. H. Keith, I. N. Robinson and O. P. Brown, and their successors in office for public school purposes for “colored children in said district for such school purposes forever” and that deed also lists the location of the school building to be in Davilla, and all of that certain lot or parcel of land lying and being situated in Milam County, Texas, and described as part of the Daniel Alexander grant, how can the issue be resolved of who owns the historic Rosenwald School Building, which the ancestors of Davilla residents now want to restore to be used by their non-profit organization as a Davilla Community Center?

This issue is important as so few Rosenwald School Buildings still exist. Restoration of Rosenwald School in Davilla is an important piece of black history.

Rosenwald Schools, and the early development of Texas History. Moving in 1833 from what was referred to as New Spain to a new state, Texas, and a unique educational opportunity for blacks in the United States.

maryjoygraham@yahoo.com


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